During our stay at Martinal Chiado in Lisbon we went on a day trip to the Pena Palace in Sintra with kids. It was such a fairytale destination and the kids absolutely loved it, however there are a few things you need to know to make the day a success if you’re travelling with Kids.
The city of Sintra is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site and I was inspired to visit after seeing numerous incredible photos on Instagram with lots of comments about no filter being needed. When we booked in the trip to Lisbon at February Half Term I knew we needed to make the time to head out there for the day.
Sintra has several stunning palaces and castles, some of which date back to the 8th century, but most are built high up at the top of the Sintra Mountains. We only had chance to visit Pena Palace, and the Castelo dos Mouros (Moors Castle) but I can see why Sintra was the retreat of the Portuguese royalty.
I’m going to start with showing you why it’s worth it and why it’s a Fairytale destination, but then finish with some tips of how to do it successfully with kids! I think if I started with the ‘how to get there’ advice you might not go!!
The kids literally ran round the Pena Palace pretending different wings were Rapunzel’s Castle or Cinderella’s Castle, they thought beds looked like where Prince Charming slept and they decided different colours of buildings meant different Disney films. Their enthusiasm was infectious and a lot of older guests told me the kids stories had made their day. This first photo is all 3 of them pretending to be Rapunzel at the top of her tower! The colours of the owers against the vivid blue skies make these some of my favourite photos ever. For more Fairtyale inspiration, Netflights has 11 fairytale destination ideas of its own, drawing inspiration from Tangled and Brave among other Disney stories.
Lisbon to Sintra
Pena Palace itself is not the easiest place to get to from Lisbon on public transport, however driving presents its own issues due to lack of places to park and small windy roads. First you have to get to Sintra by train. You can buy a ticket from Rossio station (where the train departs from) or you can use your Lisboa Card if you have one as the train tickets are included with these passes. A ticket costs approximately 4 Euros return.
It’s an easy 40 minute train ride out to Sintra. Watch out for all the grafitti on the buildings on the way out, we loved looking at it.
With little ones (and if you’re not on a budget) it might be worth getting a car to drive you out to Sintra as depending on where you are staying in Lisbon you also have to get yourself to the train station too. For us it wasn’t too difficult it was just a 15 minute walk up and down a few steps!
The tricky bit comes though when you get to Sintra itself.
Sintra Station to Pena Palace/Moors Palace
When you come out of the station turn right if you want to get the bus.
When we arrived no-one seemed to know what they were doing and it all seems a little confusing, but turn right and join the queue at the bus stop. Make sure you have cash with you too for the bus tickets (we didn’t have any, queue quick run to the cash point for hubby). You need to catch the 434 bus which was 5 Euro per person and is hop-on, hop-off. We used this ticket for the trip to Moors Castle, Pena Palace and the return trip to Sintra Station.
The bus technically runs every 15/20 minutes and runs on a loop – but… it does get full, there is often no room on the bus that arrives and if congestion builds up then a bus might not come for a while! Don’t leave it too late to head back to Sintra station.
For those on less of a budget, a car, a tuk tuk or even a horse drawn carriage would be a lot easier. They are however really quite expensive. If you’ve booked a driver from the hotel you would avoid this problem.
Extra Tips when Travelling with Young Children
Pena Palaces may look fabulous for all the family, but I would exercise some caution if you have children still in a buggy. The journey to Sintra,the bus up to the palace and then the trip up the hill once you are there would be very difficult in a buggy. Not impossible but difficult. A baby sling would be easier definitely but depends on the age of the kids. I for one was very glad my children could walk, and not only just walk either, walk happily up the hills without needing any help at all.
One Tiny Leap has some great advice if you don’t want to fuss around folding buggies, pushing a small child uphill or dealing with cobbled pavements, she recommend a day trip to beautiful Obidos instead.
Sometimes it’s hard to explain what a place is like but I think a video always helps. This video is of the Moors Castle too as well as the Pena Palace but I hope you enjoy.
Compiled in association with Netflights