Located in the Greater Lisbon area along the Portuguese River, Sintra is a city of about 400,000 residents that’s particularly well-known for its abundant castles and palaces.
For those staying in Lisbon looking for a convenient day trip option, Sintra is usually no more than an hour away, depending on traffic, which is often bumper to bumper during rush hour and other peak travel times.
Sintra is one of the country’s architectural wonders and is also known for its friendly people, vibrant food and art scenes, and stunning natural beauty.
Below are 15 of the best tours of Sintra that previous visitors have ranked highly.
1. Sintra Walking Tour with Palace, Castle, and Old Town Visit
After meeting their guide at a central location and getting an overview of the day’s events, guests of this Sintra walking tour will set out to visit many of the city’s most iconic attractions.
Especially for those who’ve never been, the city is an alluring mix of historical and contemporary sites. Depending on the interests of guests, tour stops can be personalized to ensure maximum value.
Of course, the tour’s centerpieces are palaces, castles, and the Old Town area, but there are also natural and cultural attractions.
Tours last four hours, start mid-morning and have a relatively casual pace.
2. 3 ½-Hour Rock Climbing Experience
For those who’ve never tried it, rock climbing is among the most exhilarating full-body workouts you’re ever likely to have.
Eager climbers will meet their guide either in the morning or the afternoon, after which they’ll get an intro to rock climbing, all the gear they’ll need, and a safety briefing before heading into nature to put their newfound mountaineering skills to the test.
Within sight of the Moorish Castle, Palacio da Pena, and the majestic Sintra Mountains, participants will experience a unique blend of exercise, nature, and history that their tour bus bound counterparts can only dream of.
3. Sintra Heritage Hike
Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is just a short drive from the city center. It is crisscrossed with a network of hiking trails that are appropriate for a wide range of ages and levels of physical activity.
On this full-day tour, nature-loving hikers will leave the city’s hustle and bustle in the rearview mirror and delve into an idyllic setting characterized by towering cliffs, rocky coastlines, otherworldly sand dunes, and quiet forests dotted with lakes and streams.
You’ll get up close and personal with the 8th century Moorish Castle and Pena Palace, which looks like it leaped from the pages of a fairytale.
4. Portuguese Beaches and Colares Private Jeep Tour
Sintra’s coastal location gives lovers of sun, sand, and surf easy access to many of the country’s most amazing beaches.
This seven-hour private beach and Jeep tour includes morning pick-up at your accommodation and a brief meet and greet with your guide before the adventure gets underway.
After boarding their trusty 4×4 Jeep, guests will set out to explore not only several beaches and stretches of undisturbed coastline but the region’s mountainous interior as well.
Make sure to charge your camera because the views will be nothing short of breathtaking; you’ll get up close to Monserrate Palace, Pena Palace, and the Moorish Castle.
5. A Taste of Pena Palace Food Tour
Whether you’re staying in Sintra, Lisbon, Ericeira, or Cascais, this tour has you covered. It includes either hotel pick-up or a convenient meeting point at an easy to reach central location.
Once in Sintra, guests will head to Pena Palace.
It’s the perfect place to start, as it’s considered one of the most impressive and historically significant attractions in the entire country.
Guests will learn about its history and take in its impressive architecture before heading off to experience other sites and sample some of the country’s most flavorful cuisine.
Plan on enjoying everything from Portuguese coffee and fresh pastries to port wine and queijadas.
6. Pena Palace, Cascais, and Natural Park Day Tour
Tours that offer multiple options are popular with travelers who prefer to focus their energies on the attractions that interest them the most.
On this six-hour morning tour, guests can opt to explore a number of the city’s most prominent symbols, like the Moorish Castle, the National Palace, or the Convent of the Capuchos before heading into the hinterlands.
The Sintra Natural Park offers a variety of scenic gems that include impressive boulder fields, sweeping ocean views from the continent’s westernmost location, and the rugged landscape of Cabo da Roca.
Tours begin and end in Sintra and include a relaxing lunch in a traditional restaurant.
7. The Inquisition’s Hand Private Walking Tour at Night
The Inquisition was a particularly dark time in the history of Spain, and according to historians, thousands of residents lost their lives in purges designed to uphold the country’s Catholic traditions.
Thankfully, those days are long gone, but there are a number of attractions in Sintra that are tied to events from the 15th century.
This private night walking tour begins in Sintra’s historic center and includes the services of a local guide-historian, who’ll take guests to relatively obscure corners of the city and regale them with fascinating tales of life back then.
Highlights include the Pena, Royal, and Seteais palaces.
8. All Monuments and Cabo da Roca Self-Drive Tour
Regardless of whether you’ve got just a few hours or a whole day to spare, this self-drive tour from Sintra would be a great way to see the Portuguese countryside at your own speed.
Before the tour begins, guests can plan their route and the things that they want to see, so when they get their electric car, they can set out without wasting valuable time.
From historic villages and impressive monuments to castles, palaces, and large tracts of undeveloped coastline along Cabo da Roca, there are options for participants of nearly all stripes.
Tours meet at a central location and include an overview of local driving laws and a tutorial on how to operate their e-car.
9. Sintra Half-Day Trekking Tour
There’s definitely no shortage of activity options in and around Sintra for those who value physical exertion as much as they do sightseeing and cultural immersion.
This half-day trekking tour begins at the National Palace, where guests will rendezvous with their guide and get an overview of the day’s events.
After a casual walk around the park, trekkers will pass several key attractions, like the Palacio da Pena, Sintra Castle, and the National Palace.
Along the way, you’ll benefit from your guide’s interesting insights and have ample time to take photos, ask questions, and relax at a café with a traditional pastry and cup of coffee.
10. Private Half Day-Tour of Key Highlights
The stretch of coastline between Sintra and Cascais is one of the most scenic areas on the coast and features an impressive array of historic attractions and amazing views of rivers, the ocean, and the cliffs just inland.
Guincho Beach is popular with wind, kite, and body surfers. It is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, where the bulk of the tour will take place.
Along with their guide, guests will visit palaces, castles, and a number of vista points, as well as sample traditional Portuguese food in a quaint village.
Tours can begin and end in either Sintra or Lisbon and include round-trip transportation.
11. Sintra Full-Day Road Bike Tour
The hills and winding roads leading out of Sintra along the coast are perfect for bikers intent on seeing things from a street-level perspective.
After meeting their guide at the train station in central Sintra, energetic bikers will head toward Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, where they’ll get up close and personal with Pena Palace, the Moorish Castle, and some of the most stunning scenery in the region.
Tours include a nice mix of hilly and flat terrain, picturesque villages, undeveloped natural areas, and a visit to Cape Roca—the westernmost tip of the European continent.
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12. Guided Sightseeing Tour by Tuk-Tuk
Sintra’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site means that lovers of history and culture can spend days exploring and never run out of new attractions to see.
Though walking, biking, and bus tours are plentiful, many guests agree that seeing the city by tuk-tuk is definitely the way to go.
Tours meet at a convenient central location and include stops at many of Sintra’s most impressive historic sites that include castles and palaces featuring Egyptian, Moorish, and Renaissance architectural influences.
Two-hour tuk-tuk tours include the services of a local guide and are available in multiple start times and four languages.
13. Legends and Medieval Stories Private Walking Tour
Not every tour of Sintra includes the services of a guide who’s also a historian; that’s exactly what makes this legends and medieval stories private walking excursion such great value.
Starting in the city’s historic center, participants will set out to explore Sintra’s history and culture while hearing interesting and obscure tales of intrigue, war, corruption, and long-standing family feuds from their chaperone.
Sintra Castle is one of the tour’s most impressive and historically significant highlights. Those who choose to trek to the top will have impressive panoramic views of the city and countryside far below.
14. 2-Hour Private Surf Lesson at Praia Grande
For those who’ve never climbed onto a board and hit the waves, learning to surf may seem a bit intimidating.
Though it’s not something that can be mastered in just a few hours, this private surf lesson experience offers participants of most ages and levels of physical ability the chance to get up to speed relatively quickly.
Everyone will get a board and wetsuit and be paired with an experienced and patient instructor, who’ll give them an overview of basic safety and surfing techniques before taking to the water.
Tours meet at a convenient location, take place at Praia Grande, and are laid back and stress-free.
15. Sintra Life and Death at the Capuchos Convent Guided Tour
For those who prefer to sleep in and spend the morning relaxing before taking in Sintra’s sites, this early afternoon guided tour of the Capuchos Convent would be a great fit.
Located in the Sintra Mountains, the convent is steeped in history, legend, and lore, and many guests are surprised to learn that it was far from an idyllic setting where dedicated monks prayed, mediated, and worked for the good of the common man.
The convent’s history stretches back centuries, and the tour features both in and outdoor portions.
Tours last about five hours in total, three of which will be spent on-site before guests are returned to the original starting point in town.