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Ultimate Pena Palace Guide

Welcome to the most beautiful palace in Portugal: National Palace of Pena (Palácio da Pena). A fairy tale palace with eclectic styles, in bright yellow and red tones, perched atop a lush green hill in the Sintra Mountains. A true masterpiece where history meets fantasy, and without a doubt one of Portugal's highlights.

In this comprehensive Pena Palace guide, we'll uncover everything you must know prior to your visit, from how to get there, to the best ticket options, and insider tips to guarantee an unforgettable experience when visiting Pena Palace.

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pena palace

Let’s warm up with some historical background on the castle, as you might be wondering: why is there a castle with its origins dating back to the 12th century, adorned with such bold colors in Sintra, Portugal. Was everyone colourblind back then? Or did they run out of the classic “castle-white” paint tone?

Pena Palace the most beautiful palace in Portugal

It all began with a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena which was located in this same spot. This chapel evolved into a monastery, eventually transformed into Pena Palace by the hand of Ferdinand II, known as the King-Artist (you can see where this is going, right?). With Manueline and Moorish influences, he let loose all medieval imaginary, adding lookout towers, access tunnels, and even a drawbridge.

visiting the bright yellow and red Pena Palace in Sintra

The monastery suffered heavy damage during the earthquake that struck Lisbon in 1755, but it was only abandoned almost one century after, following the abolition of the religious orders in Portugal (aka. the monks were “fired”). The colors of Pena Palace serve as a reminder of its various phases. The red portion of the palace is what remains from the monastery reconstruction, while the yellow denotes the newer construction, purpose-built as a palace.

When discussing must-visit Portugal highlights, Pena Palace is impossible to skip. It ranks as the single most important site in the Cultural Landscape of Sintra, classified by UNESCO as World Heritage in 1995.

How to Get to Sintra: Lisbon to Pena Palace

Visiting Sintra is usually combined with a stay in Lisbon. While you can start your journey from anywhere else in the country, if you don’t have a car, your public transportation of choice will probably go via Lisbon.

You can join one of the many Sintra tours, or visit independently. If you decide to go solo, you can count on this Pena Palace guide to get you there. We have broken down the several steps from Lisbon to Pena Palace, so no matter where you start your journey, you know what to do.

How to Get to Sintra from Lisbon

If you don’t intend to go from Lisbon to Pena Palace as part of a tour, the first step is to get to Sintra town center, which is approximately 7 kilometers away from Pena Palace. The easiest way to get to Sintra is to catch a train from one of the following stations in Lisbon: Rossio, Entrecampos or Oriente. Your destination station will be Sintra, it is a 40-50 minute ride and costs approximately €2.30. You can also reach Sintra by car by taking the IC19 and exit at "Sintra", then following the signs to “Sintra Centro”.

Rossio train station the best way to go to Sintra and Palacio da Pena

From Sintra to Pena Palace

Get to Pena Palace by Car

If you are wondering how to get to Pena Palace by car, the answer is, you basically can’t! You can’t get to Pena Palace by car unless it is via uber or taxi. While driving a car is a convenient option for reaching Sintra, especially outside peak traffic hours, it is not suitable for exploring the historical center. Currently, private cars are prohibited from entering the center and driving up from Sintra to Pena Palace. Therefore, you will need to park it outside of the historical center and either use public transportation or take a taxi. Please note that there are parking meters in this area.

Online there is a lot of misinformation about parking at Pena Palace, as much of it is outdated. The only current parking at Pena Palace available is for tour operators.

Get to Pena Palace by Bus

The public bus route 434 (Scotturb) takes about 30 minutes from Sintra station to Pena Palace. It has stops at the historical center of Sintra and at the Moorish Castle. It operates every 30 minutes, from 9am to 6pm, and you can buy the tickets directly with the bus driver (a one way ticket is €4,10).

If you are visiting several sites you can also purchase the Hop on Hop off Sintra bus tour option that lasts 24 hours and costs €13,50.

empty Pena Palace at opening time

Get to Pena Palace by Taxi / Uber / Tuk Tuk

Yes, tuk tuk! That is not a weird typo, it is indeed an option to explore Sintra. From Sintra station to Pena Palace is around a 15-minute taxi/uber ride (around €11 each way). Alternatively, if the chilly breeze of the mountain doesn’t bother you, there are plenty of tuk tuk drivers offering their services for both a full day exploring Sintra or a one-way trip.

Get to Pena Palace by Walking

Feeling brave? Willing to test that fitness level? This is the option for you! You can walk from the historical center of Sintra to Pena Palace following the directions on Google Maps. The trail is well-marked and there are some beautiful views of the surrounding area, but take proper hiking shoes as it will be about 1h 10 min of walking uphill, at a steady pace. We strongly suggest you don’t choose this option during summer time, at the peak of heat. The high temperatures will make this an experience to remember, but not for the right reasons.

best transportation methods to get to Pena Palace in Sintra

Most people visit Sintra on a one day trip, but we recently stayed overnight and it was a game changer. The historical center is beautiful and worth exploring, and we were able to be among the first people arriving at Pena Palace in the morning. You should consider it!😊

Sintra 1012 Boutique Guesthouse best budget hotel in Sintra
Cedros Nature House best hotel in Sintra with pool
Valverde Sintra Palacio de Seteais best luxury hotel in Sintra

Tours to Sintra

If you are short on time, enjoy having expert insights on the places you visit, or simply don’t want to deal with all the hassle of finding your way around Sintra, a tour with a Pena Palace guide might be the best choice for you.

man smiling in a tour at Pena Palace in Sintra

There are several Sintra tours from Lisbon that not only take you to the Pena Palace but also to other fantastic must-visit locations nearby. If you don’t need a Lisbon pickup, then consider joining one of the Sintra jeep tours available, which are fun and have an adventure edge to them.

Joining a Sintra private or group tour allows you to focus solely on enjoying and soaking in all the beauty of this magnificent part of Portugal. Not to mention, many tours offer skip-the-line access to the palace, which in peak season is a blessing. Here are a few tours to Sintra we can recommend:

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When to Visit Pena Palace

Visiting Pena Palace is possible year-round, so choose the time that suits you best, keeping in mind the following:

Pena Palace Hours of Operation

Pena Palace hours of operation vary depending on the season, so be sure to double-check on their official website prior to your visit. The opening time for the Pena Palace Park is always at 9am, but the closing time varies between 5pm to 7pm. The Pena Palace Park opens 30 minutes prior to the inside of the palace.

Pena Palace in Sintra at the best time to visit
Pena Palace triton facade

The best times to visit Pena Palace are either right when it opens or in the late afternoon.

seasons

The best time to visit Pena Palace is without a doubt during the shoulder season of Spring (March-May) or Autumn (September-November). These have the best combination of comfortable temperatures and fewer crowds. Nevertheless, there will always be a LOT of people, so don’t get surprised.

Man at the instagrammable Pena Palace patio
woman in Pena Palace during the best season to visit

Pena Palace Tickets

This is usually the easiest step when visiting a palace: you get there, you buy the ticket, you get in, you get out, boom! Well, not at Pena Palace. There are quite some tricks and turns to getting the best deal on your Pena Palace tickets. Let us break it down for you:

Pena Palace Tickets Online

Purchase your Pena Palace tickets online prior to your visit. It is not only the most hassle-free option, but you also get a better price than buying at the ticket counter. During peak season, tickets may sell out quickly, so it's advisable to purchase them at least a week in advance.

man visiting the Pena Palace in Sintra with an affordable ticket

Pena Palace Ticket Types

There are two types of Pena Palace tickets, which might not be immediately evident even on their official website: Palace + Park (€20) or Park Only (€10).

Of both Pena Palace tickets, the one you will see promoted on all platforms is the first, which allow you to explore inside Pena Palace with its intricate details and furnishings, its chapel and iconic clock tower, its breathtaking views overlooking the surrounding countryside, plus the extensive gardens featuring diverse exotic plants and hidden pathways.

The Park Only ticket might give the impression that it only grants access to the gardens. However, it allows you to explore the outside areas of the palace, including patios, chapel, and surrounding walls. So, if you are not interested in visiting inside Pena Palace (including its rooms, kitchen, and more), you really only need this ticket, which is half the price!

details at Pena Palace facade
interior of Pena Palace chapel in Sintra

Pena Palace Tickets Time Frame

With the purchase of the Palace + Park ticket, you will need to determine beforehand the time you wish to visit the interior of the palace. The hour you book must correspond to the time you enter the palace, not when you go through the ticket control at the park gate. If you arrive late,  there will be no tolerance, and you will need to purchase another ticket.

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Starting from January 2nd, 2024, residents of Portugal can benefit from free Pena Palace tickets on Sundays and public holidays. This offer applies also to several other major attractions in Sintra, including Castelo dos Mouros, Palácio Nacional de Sintra and Convent of the Capuchos.

tips

Explore the Pena Palace Park & Viewpoints

You can easily get lost in these gardens for hours! There are lakes, bridges, stables and amazing viewpoints. Save some time to visit the Pena Palace viewpoint of High Cross, the Temple of Columns, St. Catherine’s Heights, the Grotto of the Monk, the Little Birds Fountain, the Queen’s Fern Valley and the Valley of the Lakes.

man in Pena Palace gardens
small bird in Pena Palace park

There is a lovely chalet in Pena Palace park that nobody seems to visit, which is a shame. It is called the Chalet of the Countess of Edla. It was the personal space of Ferdinand’s second wife, the opera singer Elise Hensler.

woman in Chalet of the countess of Edla in Pena Palace, Sintra

transfer bus

On the official website, upon purchasing your ticket, you have the option to add a transfer service to avoid the “30 minute walk from the main gate to the palace’s entrance”. However, this is a bit of a scam, as it is a 7 minute walk from the main gate to the palace. Would only suggest this if you have mobility limitations, and even then it is important to note that the transfer will drop you off nearby, but you will still need to walk a bit, mostly uphill, to reach the palace.

Pena Palace Dress Code

While there is no specific Pena Palace dress code, we strongly suggest wearing comfortable shoes, as there is a lot of walking involved during the visit. Additionally, a jacket or windbreaker is recommended, as it can be VERY windy in the palace patios.

man showing the dress code of Pena Palace

Bring Snacks

There is one cafeteria available with some snack and beverage options, but as with most tourist attractions, the price-quality ratio is debatable. Therefore, when visiting Pena Palace bring some water and snacks to ensure you always have a tasty treat at hand.

You might want to buy yourself some Travesseiros or Queijadas de Sintra on your way to the palace. These are typical sweets from Sintra and a must-try. Pay a visit to Piriquita, they have been making them since 1862.

Visit Nearby Attractions

Visit Pena Palace in combination with other attractions in the Sintra area, such as Moorish Castle*, Monserrate Palace*, or Quinta da Regaleira and enjoy a lovely stroll down the streets of the historical center, you will adore this town with its colorful facades and friendly faces.

aerial view of moorish castle in Sintra

Planning Time

If you are ready to start planning your next trip, here you have all the usefull links you need to make it happen! By using them you are supporting our work as we might get a small fee from it. But hey! You pay the same (or might even get a discount), so is a win-win situation!

This applies to all the links in this website marked with a *

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