Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
Portugal

Pena Palace – a Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon

As if it were a page torn right out of a fairy tale, the Pena Palace and Park, is a fine example of 19th-century romanticism in Portugal. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before.  

Located just outside of Lisbon in the Sintra hills, the Palace was built in such a way that it is visible from any point in the Park. The park consists of a forest and lush exotic gardens with over 500 different species of trees originating from across the globe.  

Most deservedly, the Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Unique, absolutely it is! And, that is why it is a definite must-see place when in Lisbon.

Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com

Once Upon A Time...

In the middle ages stood a chapel dedicated to ‘Our Lady of Pena’ that stood on the top of a hill overlooking the town of Sintra. In the 13th century, due to its serene and peaceful surroundings, royalty ordered the construction of a monastery to house 18 monks. For centuries it was considered a quiet place for meditation. In the 18th century, it was severely damaged, first by lightning and then in the great Lisbon earthquake in 1755, reducing it to ruins all but the original chapel.

It wasn’t until 1838, when King Ferdinand II decided to acquire the monastery and the surrounding land which included a few other estates peppered along the Sintra hill. This led to the construction of the architectural marvel now known as the Pena Palace.

Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com

The Palace

The Pena Palace is a fusion of so many different styles from Neo-Gothic to New-Manueline to New-Islamic to Neo-Renaissance. It’s majestic and romantic. Almost the entire Palace stands on a rock formation in the Sintra mountains. So, are you ready for your tour? Come, let me show you… 

Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
The foundations and its enveloping walls, with two gateways (one of which is protected by a drawbridge)
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
The front of the Palace and main entrance
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
The depiction of a mythological triton, symbolizing the allegory of creation of the world
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
The front of the Palace with one its cylindrical tower
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
Views of the front of the Palace extending back to the red watchtower
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
The entryway to the Arches Yard at the back of the Palace
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
The entryway from the front and back of the Palace where pretty incredible, wouldn't you agree?
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
The Arches Yard features a wall of Moorish arches some leading to the Palace and others overlooking the countryside
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
Another entryway from the front to back of the Palace. This one is adorned with those amazing Portuguese tiles.
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
The restored structure of the old convent, and the clock tower
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
The original stone wall is still visible where the 13th century chapel once stood

The bright vivid colours slowly faded since their original painting in mid-19th century, to such an extent that it was visually identified as being entirely grey. In 1996, Pena Palace underwent an extensive restoration project, and this included repainting the exterior walls the original colours. Two decades later, the colours are still so bright and vibrant.

Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com

The Park

The Pena Park is a vast forested area of 200 hectares that completely surrounds the Palace. The same Romanticism style of the Palace is carried through to the majestic gardens. The King ordered vegetation from all around the globe, including sequoias from America, ferns from Australia, succulents from Africa, ginkgoes from China, cryptomeria from Japan; and Western red-cedar.

Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
Part of the original stone foundation wall along the winding pathways with some pretty periwinkle ground cover

The gardens are filled with a maze of walking paths, secret pathways, pavilions, ponds, and benches. It’s cool and shaded, with pockets of light streaming through the tall towering trees casts a warm glow. It’s so quiet and serene. Don’t rush your visit in the Park, because in my opinion, it is the real highlight.  

Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com
One of the many reflective ponds. Surrounding the pond where rose shrubs and towering trees. Couldn't resist capturing the reflection rather than the scene itself.

Getting there

Pena Palace is in the historic town of Sintra which is easily accessible by road or rail from Lisbon. By train, I took the Sintra Line directly from the Rossio Station (“Estação do Rossio”); it takes just under 45 minutes to reach the historic center of Sintra.

Purchase your ticket at the train station by buying the “Viva Viagem” card. The initial purchase price for this card is €0.50, but it is reusable for all other train/bus travel in and around Lisbon. All you do is top up the card on the machine and select Sintra as the destination. It costs €2.25 one way from the Rossio station.

When you arrive at the Sintra train station, take the tourist bus 434 from Sintra train station to the Pena Palace. The Palace is on a steep hill, about 5 km (or 3 miles) from the train station. So even though it doesn’t seem like it is too far, and you might want to  walk, think again as it will take double the time due to the hairpin turns up the steep mountain. The local area recommends visitors take the bus. First, there is very limited parking and the roadway is far too narrow to allow for the side of the road parking in most areas. As well, they are wanting to control the air quality and limit car emissions in this area. You will also find many tuk tuk tour companies offering you a private tour. These will be more pricey than the bus option and take longer to get to the top of the mountain. 

Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com

Park Admission

There are two different entrance fees for the Pena Palace – a ‘Palace and Park Ticket’ and ‘Park Ticket’. The ‘Palace and Park ticket’ allows entry to the Palace – exterior and interior and the Park. The ‘Park’ ticket provides entry to the Palace exterior only and the Park. I purchased the cheaper ‘Park’ ticket, and think for most visitors, seeing the colourful exterior and walking the Park grounds is the real highlight.

Lastly, as this is one of the most visited attractions in all of Portugal, A LOT (can’t stress it enough) of people go here. I visited in early March, Portugal’s winter and low season, and it was busy! I can’t image what it must be like in peak tourist season. Every guide book or article ever written about Pena Palace will tell you to get there first thing in the morning or towards the end of the day, otherwise there are far too many people to actually appreciate this destination.

Looking for current hours of operation and admission prices, click here

Explore More

From Pena Palace you will notice another castle off into the distance. That is the Moorish Castle, or The Castle of The Moors as it may be referred to. 

The Moorish Castle is a short walk from Pena Palace, or at least the entrance to it is. Once there it is a bit of a hike to get all the way to the castle and back. So if you are looking to explore more, this is a great option. Just save your stamina, as it makes for a long day. 

Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal | www.DreamPlanExperience.com

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45 Comments

  • Garth

    Looks like such an interesting place to visit, and an easy day trip from Lisbon. Thanks for all the info on how to do this. I’ve pinned your article for reference as we hope to go to Lisbon later this year.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you for taking the time to read it, and glad to know it will serve as a useful resource for your future planning.

  • Chantelle

    Wow! This is incredible! I love the arched entrance and the reflection pool! Your photos are gorgeous! Definitely pinning this for later.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      It is pretty incredible! I love the bright colours too, so unusual compared to other architecture. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • Rhonda Albom

    Pena Palace and the park are so enchanting. When I was there with my children, we spent a lot of time exploring the park. I didn’t notice some of the palace architectural features that you highlighted in your photos.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Isn’t it amazing? I was there in Portugal’s ‘winter’ so crowds are definitely light. As well, we were there just after opening. Thank you for your comment.

  • Carol Colborn

    Probably the best reason to visit Lisbon. aside from the day trip to Porto. This is such eye candy to me who loves the color yellow. Definitely a unique kind of castle. And so many instagrammable spots!!!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      It definitely feels that way when you are there. It is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Thanks for commenting.

  • Wendy

    I love the mixture of the different styles of architecture you did a great job explaining the styles and how they are incorporated into the Palace. I also love the colorful exterior. Thanks for the great day trip idea.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Wendy for you kind comment. The colourful exterior really requires no filter, the colours are that bright and vivid.

  • Kailyn

    This place looks awesome! I love learning about places I have never heard of, it’s always a nice surprise. I’m heading to Spain next week and I really wanted to add Portugal to my itinerary but I don’t think I can make it work… next time!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Kailyn for your comment and I do hope you enjoy Spain. It’s a fantastic county too. Yes, you will have to add it to your list.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Randy, you won’t be disappointed by adding it to your list. It definitely is unique architecture. Enjoy your trip!

  • Kevin | Caffeinated Excursions

    This post made me so nostalgic! Pena Palace (and Sintra in general) is a must for anyone spending more than a day or two in Lisbon. The color scheme and Islamic-inspired architecture are unlike any other building I’ve ever seen. Your photos also capture and highlight some stunning details, including those gorgeous tiles. I would go back in a heartbeat just to take it all in again 🙂

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Kevin for endorsing my recommendation of it is a must-see attraction! I hope you do get the chance to go again.

  • Josy A

    I love how colourful it is, as well as the huge mish-mash of styles!

    I think I’d have fun exploring the Pena palace and the park if it was the off season! It sounds like a bit of a nightmare when all the tourists are around though – maybe it is just too instagramable!?

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I definitely enjoyed exploring it in the off season, and really try to avoid all travel during the peak season. But I’d you fo first thing in the morning or towards closing time, I am told that you won’t be overrun with tourists.

  • Erica

    Your photos are spectacular! The vibrant, whimsical colors really make the palace look like it´s straight out of a fairy tale. Lisbon is without a doubt one of my favourite cities in Europe, but I have to admit this post is definitely making me kick myself for spending too much time enjoying the city sights and nightlife and not having visited the Peña Palace! It´s a shame to hear that it´s so loaded with tourists, but I suppose it can be expected for such a beautiful attraction so close to Portugal´s capital.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Erica for your comment. I am sure with you loving Lisbon so much that you will return and then you can add this place on your list.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Joanne for your kind comment. The Park was my favourite, so much so, I put my camera away for most of it and just wandered soaking it all up.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Portugal is such a fantastic country to visit, definitely worth adding to your list.

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