Explore 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 two palaces we visit are enormous, but we make the most of them within a half-day tour.
At the Quinta da Regaleira, the park 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 Pena 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.
At the end of this tour we finish in the historic Sintra Village. 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 €300 total, not per person
4-hour private driving & walking • skip ticket lines • our guides go inside the monuments with you • reservations required
the summer palaces of portugal’s nobles
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: 9:00am, or 9:30am
Afternoon: 2:00pm, or 3:00pm
Custom start times subject to guide availability.
Entry fees vary by season and age, but average a total of €20 per person for all the sights we visit.
Children under 6 years are not required to pay entry fees.
Ticket fees are additional.
Audio headsets when required in palaces for parties of 6 more more. Price €1.50 per person.
Food and beverages.
• 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 Mountians of Sintra: Discover the beautiful landscape as we traverse the hills.
• 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.
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.