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’s unlike anything I have ever seen before. And, that’s why Pena Palace is a must-see day trip from Lisbon. Use this as your guide to help plan your visit and make the most out of your visit! (Updated November 2022)
About Pena Palace Sintra
The Pena Palace History
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 Portugal. In the 13th century, due to its serene and peaceful surroundings, royalty ordered the construction of a monastery as a quiet place for meditation for monks.
In the 18th century, Palace Pena was severely damaged. First by lightning and then in the great Lisbon earthquake in 1755, reducing it to ruins. All that remained was the original chapel. In 1838, 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 Pena Palace.
Pena Palace Architecture
Most deservedly, the Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Portugal’s Seven Wonders. Why visit here? This national monument is incredibly unique. The Pena Palace is a fusion of so many architectural 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 incredible mountains just outside of Sintra town. It’s definitely worth a day trip from Lisbon to visit Pena Palace or Palacio de Pena.
A Detailed Look at Pena Palace Sintra
A picture is worth 1,000 words, right? The bright vivid colours of Pena Palace are not enhanced or edited. It’s the actual vibrancy of colour. Since the original painting from the 19th century, it has slowly faded over time to such an extent that it was visually identified as being entirely grey. In 1996, Pena Palace underwent an extensive restoration project, which included repainting the exterior walls of the original colours. Two decades later, the colours are still so bright and vibrant.
So how about we take a tour of the Palace’s exterior through photos, shall we?
Inside The Palace
The interior of the Pena castle is just as interesting. The interior reflects the decor of 1910 and resembles a museum. If you have the time and interest, it is recommended you tour the inside of the Palace as well as the exterior. We did not and elected to spend more time touring Pena Park and the nearby castles.
In The Pena Park
Located in National Pena Park, the Palace was built in such a way that it is visible from any point in the Park. Pena Park is a vast forested area of 200 hectares that 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. The park consists of a forest and lush exotic gardens with over 500 different species of trees originating from across the globe.
The Pena Palace gardens are filled with a maze of walking paths, secret pathways, pavilions, ponds, and benches. The Park is cool and shaded. With only small 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.
Visiting Pena Palace
How To Get to Pena Palace
Pena Palace is in the historic town of Sintra which is easily accessible by road or rail from Lisbon. By train, take the Sintra Line directly from the Rossio Train Station. In just under 45 minutes you will arrive in the city 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 434 bus from the Sintra train station to the Pena Palace.
While waiting for the 434 bus you will find many tuk-tuk tour companies offering private tours. Consider the higher cost and the slower speed at which tuk-tuks can operate.
Pena Palace Parking
The recommendation by tourist boards is for visitors to take the bus. There is very limited parking and the roadway is far too narrow to allow for parking. As well, as the desire to control the air quality and limit car emissions in this area.
The Palace is on a steep hill, about 5 km (or 3 miles) from the train station. So even though it doesn’t seem too far away, walking there will take you far too long due to the steep hairpin turns up the mountain.
There is an onsite restaurant perfect for those that are visiting over the lunch hour.
Admission and Tickets to Pena Palace
Opening times for Pena National Park and Palace are:
- Park – 09:00 to 19:00 with the last ticket and entry at 18:00
- Palace – 09:30 to 18:30 with the last ticket and entry at 18:00
- Entrance to the Palace is timed entry by appointment only
Prices Palace + Park
There are two different types of entrance fees for the Pena Palace. A Place + Park Ticket and a Park Ticket.
The Palace and Park ticket allows entry to the Palace – exterior and interior and the Park.
- Adult ticket 14 €
- Youth and Senior 12,5 €
- Family ticket (2 adults + 2 youth) 49 €
The Park ticket provides entry to the Palace exterior only and the Park.
- Adult ticket 7,5 €
- Youth and Senior 6,5 €
- Family ticket (2 adults + 2 youth) 26 €
Pena Palace and Park Entrance – book your tickets here.
(Updated: November 2022)
Guided Tours from Lisbon
- Lisbon: Pena Palace, Sintra, Cabo da Roca, & Cascais Daytrip. Discover Sintra’s beauty and history, its romantic Pena Palace, and the stunning coastlines of Cabo da Roca and Cascais on a full-day trip from Lisbon. For more information, click here.
- From Lisbon: Sintra, Regaleira and Pena Palace Guided Tour. Visit the most extravagant palaces of Sintra on a full-day trip. From lush gardens to imaginative architecture, transport yourself back in time to a fairy-tale era. For more information, click here.
- From Lisbon: Sintra Highlights and Pena Palace Full-Day Tour. Leave Lisbon behind and spend the day in Sintra on this 8-hour small group tour. Marvel at the stunning landscape and discover some of the grandest and most beautiful buildings in Europe. For more information, click here.
Things to Do Near Pena National Palace
From Pena Palace, you will notice another castle off in the distance. The Moorish Castle, or The Castle of The Moors as it may be referred to.
Moorish Castle is a short walk from Pena Palace, or at least the entrance to it is. Once there it’s 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.
Experience: Skip-the-line Castle of the Moors Fast Track entrance ticket here
Other places to visit include the National Palace of Sintra and Vila Sassetti.
Tickets for the Park of Pena include three other areas you can explore:
- Chalet and Garden of the Countess of Edla
- Valley of Lakes and Little Birds Fountain
- Temple of Columns, The Warrior and The Queen’s Table
RELATED READING: Check out this other must-see landmark in Lisbon Jeronimos Monastery
As a holidaymaker…
If you are planning a trip to Lisbon, visiting the magical Pena Palace is a must-see day trip to Sintra. Whether you have a full day to explore or only a couple of hours, this top landmark should not be missed!