Europe · Travel

Pena Palace – A Fairy Tale Castle in Sintra, Portugal

Sintra is a cool town west of the capital city Lisbon and it makes for a perfect day trip from the city as it’s only 40 minutes by train from Rossio Station.  We took the 8:11am train and arrived at Sintra just in time to catch the first 434 bus that departed from outside the station at 9am and headed towards our first destination.  This was a good way to beat the crowd and the tour buses that came into town a little later in the morning.

(Rossio Station in Lisbon)

Sintra is known for its beautiful natural scenery and historic castles and palaces.  But for us, the Pena Palace was our number one reason for visiting Sintra, and it should be on your list too if you can spare some time away from Lisbon.  Historically the palace was served as a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family, and nowadays it has been transformed into a museum that is also used for the government’s official state occasions.

This whimsical castle is perched on top of a high hill, and the style so unique with the multi-colored façades that looks like something straight out of a fairy tale.  Some also said that it looks like a huge lego/toy castle because of all of the vibrant colors.  Unfortunately it was very cloudy when we visited so the pictures really don’t do it justice.

The weather forecast that day called for afternoon rain and we had two other stops in addition to Pena Palace that we were hoping to make, so we decided against going inside the palace and instead just walked around its exterior and the gardens.  There are different ticket packages available and we got the combo tickets to both the Pena Palace (Gardens only) and the Moorish Castle at the main entrance of the palace.  Though the tickets can be purchased from any of the entrances at Pena Palace, Moorish Castle or National Palace.

There is still quite a steep hike from the admission/main entrance to the actual palace, way up on top of the mountain.  They do offer a tram service though that transports visitors from the admission area up to the palace and back down.  I think it costs around 3 Euro, though not sure if that’s the price for one-way or return.  We of couse elected to just climb walk it because it’s more painful fun this way.

(We are almost there! Just one more bend!)

(The ruins of Moorish Castle over on the next hilltop)

The architectural style of Pena Palace is pretty eclectic.  In addition to all of the interesting bright colors, there are many elaborate and intricate carvings and different designs on the windows and the entryways.

The gardens of Pena Palace is a vast forested and hilly terrain and one could easily spend most of the day exploring it.  But as we wanted to beat the rain and get to the next destination, we only briefly walked around the area immediately adjacent the palace before leaving this fairy tale castle.

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