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.

yellow palace with red clock tower at ena Palace Sintra

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?

archway to yellow and red towerPena Palace Sintra
The foundations and its enveloping walls, with two gateways (one of which is protected by a drawbridge)
yellow tower, purple tiles at Pena Palace Sintra
The front of the Palace and main entrance
purple tiles and stone window atPena Palace Sintra
The depiction of a mythological triton, symbolizing the allegory of the creation of the world
yellow cylinder tower at Pena Palace Sintra
The front of the Palace with one of its cylindrical tower
purple, yellow and red palace atPena Palace Sintra
Views of the front of the Palace extending back to the red watchtower
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal |
The entryway to the Arches Yard at the back of the Palace
Pena Palace A Must-See Day Trip from Lisbon Portugal |
The Arches Yard features a wall of Moorish arches some leading to the Palace and others overlooking the countryside
staircase, red tower at Pena Palace Sintra
The restored structure of the old convent, and the clock tower

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.

garden and stone wall at Pena Palace Sintra
Part of the original stone foundation wall along the winding pathways with some pretty periwinkle ground cover

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.  

reflecting pond at Pena Palace Sintra
One of the many reflective ponds. Surrounding the ponds were rose shrubs and towering trees. Couldn’t resist capturing the reflection rather than the scene itself.

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.

Palace Restaurant

There is an onsite restaurant perfect for those that are visiting over the lunch hour. 

Admission and Tickets to Pena Palace

Visiting Hours

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 €

Book your tickets here

(Updated: November 2022)

Things to Do Near Pena National Palace

view of castle from Pena Palace Sintra
Moorish Castle

From Pena Palace you will notice another castle off into 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. 

Other places to visit include the National Palace of Sintra and Vila Sassetti. 

pond at pena palace sintra garden
Valley of Lakes

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! 

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  1. I would love to visit Pena Place one day but fear it might be one of those places that gets overrun by visitors. How much time would you recommend spending here? I would also be intrigued by the Morrish castle and try to squeeze it in, too.

    1. It is definitely touristy, no doubt about it. But it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before and that’s what makes it so worth while. Yes, spending a whole day here allows you to visit all the castles in the area.

  2. Pena Palace is one of those places that you can’t believe they exist until you see them with your own eyes! I loved this guide and I would love to go back there! Sintra is a magical place that everyone should visit at least once!

  3. We were so sad that even with several trips to Lisbon we never made it to Sintra. The Pena Palace is sure a great reason to visit. I can see why it might be named one of the seven wonders of Portugal. I love all the colour and the fanciful design. And of course so much great Portuguese tile work! We would definitely take the bus up and maybe think about walking back down to the train – if we had any energy left.

    1. It’s definitely a site worth seeing. Don’t rush your day, there is lots to see beyond the castle, and walking down will be long, but I can’t think of a better way to take it all in as a nice slow pace.

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

  4. I just love your photos! We visited Pena last summer and you captured it beautifully! I love your photos of the park. We got terribly lost there LOL.

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

  6. 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!?

    1. 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.

  7. 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 🙂

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

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

  8. 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!

    1. 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.

  9. 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.

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

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

  10. 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!!!

    1. 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.

  11. 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.

    1. I just loved the park, actually preferred it a little more. It was so peaceful. Thank you for your comment.

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

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

  13. 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.

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

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