This full-day tour explores four spectacular palaces and the Sintra Village with time for a 1-hour lunch break in the Sintra village. Discover the mystical hilltops of this UNESCO world heritage site with our unique driving and walking tour. Sintra offers fairytale palaces and castles that have attracted eccentric and esoteric personalities since ancient times. Once the place of cult worship by Romans who built a temple dedicated to Cynthia, the moon goddess, it has since inspired wealthy families, writers, religious orders such as the Franciscans and the Hieronymites, and a myriad of occult groups who’ve found it an ideal paradise to commune with the natural and spiritual worlds. Today, the gardens and opulent palaces are a surreal mixture of history and fantasy for the curious to explore.
The Pena Palace Estate spreads over 200 hectares of mountainous terrain, but we focus our time inside of Pena Palace. Learn how the Palace, was created through the dreams of “The Artist King”, Dom Fernando II, sparing no expense in the creation of his colorful castle. The architect was Baron von Eschwege who worked with the king's visions to reinvent the abandoned ruins of a monastery into something that would rival the Castles of Bavaria. The result is an architectural offspring of many styles including Moorish, Gothic and Portuguese Manueline mixed with the Wagnerian designs of the Schinkel Castles of Central Europe. It is fanciful to an extreme, and there are oddities that need to be explained inside.
The National Palace began with Portugal's first dynasties, and over the centuries monarchs have rebuilt, expanded and redecorated, combining various artistic styles which reflect the tastes of the kings who lived here. As a result there are different names to the various rooms, like the Sala dos Cisnes (Swans’ Room), and the Sala das Pegas (Magpie). Some of the chambers are lined with decorative tiles (azulejos) ranging from the Spanish-Moorish styles brought by King Dom Manuel I, to the typical blue-and-white tiles of the 17th century. The most striking feature of the palace is the two 33 meters high conical chimneys of the kitchen which has become the symbol of Sintra.
The Queluz Palace was the official royal residence during the 18th century where queen Dom Maria I was forced to live after her husband Dom Pedro III died. Overtaken by grief and insanity her condition worsened with the death of her son 2-years later. She was kept away from public in a palace that has been described as the "Little Versailles of Portugal”. This fascinating location often overlooked by tourists, has exquisite Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical architectural styles, with gardens inspired by popular French designs of the time. Hidden behind the austere facades, Queluz is the most opulent of all Sintra’s palaces. Decorated with gilt gold carvings, mirrors frescoes, antiques and paintings that will transport you back to the Age of Revolution and the later Belle Époque when ladies in magnificent dresses gentlemen with white and grey wigs would gather in the spectacular ballrooms. Today, Presidents and Prime Ministers often visit Queluz for banquets with dignitaries.
The Quinta da Regaleira gardens becomes the focus of our attention with an extensive and enigmatic network of man made tunnels, festooned with symbols relating to alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar. The tunnels connect to grottoes, a chapel, an underground waterfall-lake, caves and a 27-meter well with a spiral staircase leading underground to recreate Dante's inferno. The estate once attracted the wealthy and elite from all over Europe. With one of our scholars we unravel the mysteries of the Quinta da Regaleira.
The Sintra Village is a charming medieval hamlet which today is lined with shops selling handmade artisanal items from all over Portugal. The village offers a commanding view of the Sintra Valley, National Palace and Moorish Castle. If time permits guests can visit the Piriquita Cafe to enjoy Travesseiros, a local phyllo-pastry filled with warm almond paste.
why do we use a dedicated driver and a separate guide?
We provide a luxury modern vehicle with heat and air conditioning, a driver, and an official guide who can take guests inside the palaces of Sintra. Unlike budget tour operators, our guides won’t leave you to wander the interior of the vast palaces on your own with no explanations of what you are seeing. Many budget tours of Sintra have the guide double duty as the driver. This is something we would never do, and you will have a dedicated driver for 3 reasons.
starting at €416 total, not per person
8-hour private driving & walking tour • skip ticket lines • our guides go inside the monuments with you • reservations required
the grandeur of sintra in one day
A tasting of Ginjinha, a cherry liquor of Portugal.
A stop at the famous Cafe Periquita for a Sintra Travesseiro pastry, (puff pastry filled with egg cream and almond paste).
Skip the ticket line with an official tour guide.
Round-trip transfer in a luxury vehicle with a dedicated driver at all times.
Authorization to enter sights.
90% downhill and stairs with upstairs and inclines. 10% in vehicle. No elevators available. Some cobblestones and unpaved paths on tour route. Must be able to walk for 1-hour without resting.
Wear comfortable athletic shoes. Bring windbreakers or umbrellas.
There are stops for clean restrooms, and food & beverage breaks if needed.
Hotel, apartment, or ship dock.
Meetings at hotels or apartments located outside of Lisbon can effect tour price because of fuel and time expenses.
7-days a week, year round.
Morning Start Times:
9:00am to 10:00am
Entry fees vary by season and age, but average a total of €40 per adult for all the sights we visit. There are senior and student ticket discounts as you enter. Children under 6 years have no ticket fee.
Ticket fees are additional.
Audio headsets when required in palaces for parties of 6 more more. Price €1.50 per person.
Lunch, food and beverages.
• Queluz Palace: The "Little Versailles of Portugal” is the most stunning of all Sintra’s palaces.
• National Palace: Themed rooms of Portugal's first monarchs and the icon of Sintra.
• Pena Palace: A dream-based palace built by D. Fernando II, “The Artist King”.
• Quinta da Regaleira: An enigmatic estate with mysterious symbols related to alchemy,
Masonry, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians.
• Historic Sintra Village: A magical village and testimony of Portuguese history. A for capital of
Romantic Era writers for the breathtaking landscapes.
• Serrra Mountains of Sintra: Discover the beautiful landscape as we traverse the hills.
• Time for a 1-hour lunch break at an authentic local restaurant or cafe suggested by guide.
• Optional tasting of Ginjinha, a cherry liquor of Portugal, and a stop at the famous Cafe
Periquita for a Sintra Travesseiro pastry, (puff pastry filled with almond paste).
Beware of budget tours
We use authorized guides, and you will go to the front of ticket lines. Many budget tour operators do not take their guests inside the palaces of Sintra, because they do not have authorization to speak inside as guides, and they cannot skip the ticket lines. They will simply park outside and wait while guests wonder the inside of the palaces and gardens on their own.
We will always be able to skip the ticket lines, but it is impossible for any guide to move head of the crowds passing through the palace chambers. Please be prepared for slow-moving crowds at the Pena and National Palaces, especially during the Summer.
December 25 and 31
1. We don't want our guests to wait for a guide to find a parking place before they lead guests inside the palaces. Parking
in Sintra can be hectic and there are often waits during the high season.
2. We don’t want our licensed and insured drivers to be distracted by conversations with guests. Because Portugal has
the highest accident fatality ratio per capita in the EU, it is very important that we keep our guests safe on the narrow
mountain roads of Sintra, while our guides explain the sights, culture and landscape.
3. The weather conditions in the Atlantic mountain, micro-climate of Sintra are very unpredictable, we encourage guests
to bring windbreakers and umbrellas, because the temps can vary dramatically from Lisbon, and the climate can
change very quickly bringing rain, winds, fog, or even hail. We like our guests to have the convenience of leaving their
unused personal items, like packs, coats, or umbrellas inside of the vehicle with the driver monitoring it all times.
Vehicle burglaries are common in the parking lots of monuments in Portugal.
half-day vs. full-day sintra tour
Due to the extreme crowds which move very slowly through the Pena and National Palaces, we must visit these 2 locations on this Sintra Full-day Tour. Please be prepared for slow-moving crowds at the Pena and National Palaces on this tour.