Sintra National Palace

A striking and eclectic mix of architectural styles, this is most likely the best preserved medieval palace in all of Portugal.

TravelCurious Tip

You can easily walk to the Sintra National Palace from the town — it take about 20 minutes, with a slight incline and wonderful scenery

The history of the Sintra National Palace begins one thousand years ago, when the Moors held the Iberian Peninsula. During the 12th century ‘Reconquista’ the original Moorish palace came into the hands of Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal. Although the original building was levelled, something of its spirit remains. The windows with surmounted arches, the glazed tiles that cover the walls in geometrical patterns, and the manicured interior courtyards are all echoes of the Moorish influences that first shaped the Palace.

The Palace’s long history has been closely intertwined with the fortunes of Portugal’s monarchy, who lived here from the early 15th to the late 19th century. Alas or hoorah, the monarchy is no more, and the Palace is now a museum. Enjoy a tour around its lavish rooms, with their eclectic flourishes of Moorish, Gothic and Manueline styles.

One For Sorrow

The Palace’s oldest rooms surround the central courtyard. The Sala dos Árabes is lined with wavy arrays of azulejos; the expansive Sala dos Cisnes has a magnificent ceiling depicting dozens of swans; and the Sala das Pegas is decorated with 136 magpies, each of which holds a rose and a scroll with the words “Por bem.”

The story goes that the King was making an advance on one of the ladies-in-waiting by passing her a rose behind the back of the Queen when a magpie snatched it from his hand. Red-faced, he excused himself, saying “foi por bem” — it was for the best. Annoyed by the subsequent whispering behind his back, he rebuked the court’s women by commissioning a magpie for each of them - 136 in total - since they loved to chatter and had a glint in their eyes for any bit of gossip.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Lisbon
This municipality is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its vast 19th century Romanic monuments.
Sintra City Hall
An unusually flamboyant town hall, and one of the most prominent landmarks in the town of Sintra.
Castle of the Moors
Built between the 8th and 9th centuries, this military outpost in Sintra played a key role in the Reconquista against Arab rule.
Quinta da Regaleira
This romantic UNESCO World Heritage Site displays the wealth and extravagance of the Portuguese elite.
Well of Initiation
This ceremonial well features a spiral staircase into a tunnel system that connects it to other monuments and caves around the park.
Portal of the Guardians
One of the main features is the Portal of the Guardians which stands at one end of a courtyard. This long curved structure is flanked by two towers with a central pavilion, hiding the entrance to a tunnel that leads to the Initiation Well.

Related Tours

All Inclusive Private Tour of Sintra, Pena Palace & Quinta da Regaleira
If you've not yet visited Sintra you're in for a cultural, historical and visual treat. Just 20 miles from the centre of Lisbon, Sintra is known for its spectacular setting and grand Mansions of the Portuguese Elite. On your private full day tour of Sintra, you will:

  • Enjoy an all-inclusive and fully guided tour with an Expert Licensed guide, with all tickets included
  • Travel leisurely by train from Lisbon to Sintra in just 40 minutes, with return tickets included
  • Be immersed in a fully guided tour of the Pena Palace, including the Palace interior and the Gardens 
  • Take some free time for lunch in the Sintra town.
  • Learn about the history of the town on a guided walking tour, where you’ll see spectacular Sintra National Palace from the outside. 
  • Step into the majesty of the Quinta da Regaleira Palace and Gardens, including the Well of Initiation, underground caves, the labyrinth and waterfall
  • Relax on a panoramic drive through Sintra Natural Park with an electric TukTuk, the fastest and most fun way to travel in Sintra! 
Your private tour of Sintra will start at Rossio Train station in central Lisbon, where an early departure means you’ll be one of the first to enter the Pena Palace and will guarantee you get to visit the interior rooms of the Palace.  Today Portugal's most famous attraction, the Pena Palace was built in the 19th century as a summer home for Portuguese royalty. It was built by King Ferdinand II who had a very flamboyant and larger than life taste. It is an adaptation of 16th-century monastery ruins and an imitation of a medieval fortress. The Palace boasts spectacular views over the natural park and Lisbon (on a clear day) as well as beautifully landscaped gardens. Enjoy a 30 minute walk through the gardens to see our favourite section: the valley of the lakes. 

After, travelling back to Sintra town with an electric TukTuk, enjoy free time for lunch after which your guide will take you on a walking tour through Sintra town and the Quinta da Regaleira, another incredible palace with even more spectacular gardens. The resplendent gardens are even classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within the "Cultural Landscape of Sintra! Commissioned and owned by a well-known Freemason, Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, the four-hectare property is famous for its enigmatic buildings and underground tunnels. Monteiro filled the property with symbols linked to masonry, alchemy, Tarot mysticism and more. Your guide will expertly guide you through the extensive and puzzling system of tunnels, grottoes, caves, as well as a waterfall and a labyrinth carved into the bedrock! You will of course not miss the Well of Initiation, a spiral staircase composed of 9 levels of 15 steps, often thought to symbolise the nine levels of Hell from Dante's Inferno.

Your day will end with a tuktuk ride back to Sintra train station, where you will catch the train back to Lisbon. 


Join the fastest growing community of professional tour guides.


Use our easy to integrate toolset to include Tours & Attractions in your customer journey.