In our recent 2024 Easter family holiday trip to Lisbon, we’ve decided to take a day out to visit the beautiful city of Sintra. We have heard about this destination for so long that this time we couldn’t miss out.

Weather wasn’t the best during our holiday but luckily one sunny day was forecasted on our first day in Portugal. Sintra here we come!

After booking our train ticket to Sintra from Lisbon Rossio train station, we took the train in the morning around 10am. The journey takes around 45 minutes, which is plenty of time to enjoy a takeaway breakfast with hot drinks. It goes without saying we took in our bag some nice sweet Portuguese pastries and also fresh local fruits.

our day out in Sintra with kids starts with the train
Source: BabyBreaks

I would advise you to take an earlier train at 8am to beat the crowd when arriving in Sintra. Trust me, I wish I have knew this before!

Upon arrival at the Sintra station, we headed right to find the local 434 bus that takes you to the most famous landmarks including Pena Palace. Try to avoid the tour guides and Tuk Tuk that are welcoming you with leaflets as soon as you are outside the train station. Usually, they are very expensive and don’t add any value to your trip with your children.

Ticket price starts at €7.60 for a return ticket or €15.20 for unlimited journey with both 434 or 435 buses. Since we were visiting Sintra for the whole day, we took the unlimited option for piece of mind.

Bear in mind that there might be a long queue with tourists trying to board the 434 especially in high season. So best to take the bus as early as you can and visit Sintra old town in the afternoon.

The bus makes 4 stops before returning to the Sintra station:

  • São Pedro de Sintra
  • Sintra National Palace
  • Moorish Castle
  • Pena Palace

So since it was raining on arrival, we decided to stay on the bus to make the whole return journey, which took about 50 minutes.

With young children, I wouldn’t dare to go to these places walking up the hills but with teens, it is quite fun.

Around midday, we visited the town of Sintra with souvenir shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. The old town of Sintra is very nice to explore with narrow streets. We have found an amazing bakery, which serves the local pastry travesseiro that is made of puff pastry, sugar, almond and egg yolk. Very yummy and filling too. In Addition, I was very surprised to eat the best Pastéis de Nata I have ever tasted in our time in Portugal found at Fábrica da Nata. To me, this was much lighter and flaky that the one we found in Belém. I guess it is a question of personal taste.

After spending 1 hour strolling the street of Sintra, our children were quite hungry, so we were on the hunt to find a place to eat. Sintra is full of restaurants with people showing you the menu with photos when you pass by them. My rule of thumb in any cities I am visiting is to avoid these places. My son keeps making fun of me about this rule.

Source: BabyBreaks

Luckily, we have found a nice restaurant called Dona Maria with an amazing view over the National Palace. The place can feel a bit posh but I can assure you the price is affordable and children are very much welcome. Children were pleased with their chicken dish and equally we had a nice grilled octopus with potatoes. Service was efficient and quick to deliver our food. Overall, Dona Maria is a very good place to eat with family and chill after a long morning exploring every corner of Sintra.

Source: BabyBreaks

From the restaurant terrace, we could see the trail path leading to Pena Palace and the sun was out. So begun our adventure to walk with our children in this hilly side of Sintra. We were surrounded by so many lush gardens and trees that we kept stopping our journey to take pictures. One of the highlights of our walk was to spot the beautiful Villa Sasseti.

Source: BabyBreaks

After 1 hour walking up the park, we finally arrived at the entrance of Pena Palace at 3pm, which still has a big crowd purchasing tickets. Unfortunately, tickets to visit the interiors of the Palace were sold out for the day. So we only visited the gardens and the exterior of the palace. Which is plenty to fill 2 hours we had in the afternoon.

Source: BabyBreaks

Pena Palace was originally built as a monastery in the Middle Ages but was later transformed into a royal summer residence by King Ferdinand II in the 19th century. The palace’s architecture is complex blending Romanticism, Neo-Gothic and Moorish influences. Its colourful façade features intricate carvings, ornate tile work, and decorative battlements, making it look like something straight out of a fairytale. No wonder why the Pena Palace is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Source: BabyBreaks

Surrounding Pena Palace is a vast parkland filled with lush gardens, winding pathways, and hidden follies. My kids loved running and played amidst the towering trees and colourful flowerbeds, discovering hidden nooks and crannies as they go.

Then, we headed down to explore the Valley of the Lakes, a beautiful park with little ponds full of fishes and birds like ducks or swans. Away from the crowd, this walk was a fun part for the kids in the Pena Palace vicinity.

Around 5.30pm, we found our way out by taking the bus back to Sintra train station at the Pena Palace entrance where you purchase tickets. And we took the train back to Lisbon ready for our dinner at Bairro do Avillez.

As you could have guessed, our day trip to Sintra with our children was a great success despite the fact we ran out of time to visit more the area. So I cant’ recommend enough to take a day or two to explore Sintra if you are on holiday in Lisbon or Cascais.

5 Things I Wish I Knew before visiting Sintra with our Children

  1. Plan ahead and take an early morning train to Sintra
  2. Buy in advance entry tickets to Pena Palace and Moorish Castle
  3. Choose the right time entry slot to visit the interiors of the Palace
  4. Book an early dinner in Sintra before heading back to Lisbon and crash out at your hotel room or apartment
  5. Spend 1 or 2 nights out in Sintra so you can fully immerse yourself in the city without rushing to visit everything


day out in sintra with kids

BONUS: Visit the Moorish Castle

If you wake up early and have booked your tickets to visit Pena Palace in the afternoon, you should definitely explore the Moorish Castle.

The Moorish Castle dates back to the 8th and 9th centuries when the Moors controlled the Iberian Peninsula. It served as a strategic defensive fortress during the Moorish period and later played a role in Portugal’s Reconquista. Today, the castle’s well-preserved walls, towers, and battlements offer a glimpse into its storied past.

Walking along the castle’s ancient walls is like stepping back in time. Kids will love exploring the maze-like pathways, climbing up the towers, and imagining what life was like for the castle’s inhabitants centuries ago. Be sure to keep an eye out for the castle’s resident peacocks, which roam freely around the grounds and add to the enchanting atmosphere.

Visiting the Moorish Castle provides a valuable educational experience for your kids, allowing them to learn about medieval history, military architecture, and the cultural exchange between Christian and Islamic civilizations in the Iberian Peninsula. Interpretive signs along the castle walls provide insights into its history and significance, making it a fun and educational outing for the whole family.


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