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Latest update: 10 August 2023

When I look up photos online of Sintra (near Lisbon in Portugal), I see beautiful blue skies, a bright yellow castle, a moss-covered ceremonial well, and much more beauty. I want to see that too! But that goes horribly wrong….

Tight Sintra planning

Sintra is a village with quite a few attractions: the Pena palace, the Moorish castle, and the Quinta da Regaleira palace – to name a few. This small village has a lot to do, so you have to plan your visit smartly. Because not only do you have quite a few activities in your day itinerary, but it is also extremely busy in the summer months. Now, I’m there in December, so I’m hopeful.

Visit Sintra yourself or join a tour?

There are a lot of tours to Sintra on offer. With most of them, you’ll be on the road for a full day to be sure that you will see exactly what you want. But you can also visit Sintra independently. There is a train between Lisbon and Sintra or you take a taxi with a few people. In Sintra itself, you can opt for a hop-on, hop-off bus or take a tuk-tuk. You can also cover the distance between some sights on foot. And make sure you already have your entrance tickets to save queueing time.

Sintra weather forecast

The weather forecast is not very positive when I want to visit Sintra. It is cold, and there is an occasional shower. But hey, this is my only chance during my stay in Lisbon, so I decide I’m not made of sugar. I’m sure I can avoid the showers quite a bit. Right? Right?

Wrong. I have already bought my ticket for the Pena Palace online, so I am assured of entry during the first time slot. I come from Lisbon by Bolt taxi, and the closer I get to Sintra and the further the driver takes me into the mountains, the worse the weather gets. But then I’m still hopeful: the visit starts inside. After that, it’s probably dry.

The colorful Pena Palace in Sintra

At the entrance of Pena Palace, you can take the van up to the entrance for a small fee. It is also very walkable. I just want to save as much time as possible so I can do as much as possible in Sintra.

It is smart to arrive at the Pena Palace a little earlier than your time slot. The time slot is strictly enforced. The security guards will only let you in at the exact time of your time slot. I like being at the front of that queue to enter and admire the different rooms inside as one of the first people. And to have a chance to shoot some more pictures without people. It is magnificent splendor, and there are clear signs with a description everywhere in the palace.

So far so good, but the weather doesn’t get any better once outside. It is literally gray and cloudy everywhere. I can hardly see the – supposedly – beautiful yellow and red walls in the fog. Now I also understand that the photos online are heavily photoshopped, but this is the other extreme. It’s such a shame.

Yet I also walk through the garden through the rain. There are also a few things to see, such as the horse stable and greenhouses. Nice, but meanwhile, my socks are slowly getting wet.

The views from the Moorish Castle in Sintra

You can follow a forest path in between from the Pena palace towards the Castelo dos Mouros. It is an uneven path that goes up and down, so not suitable if you have difficulty walking.

You can buy a ticket online for the Moorish castle in advance, if you want, you can include an audio guide. This Moorish castle dates back to the 11th century. It is mainly a ruin, and you come for the view. The view that is not there on a rainy, cloudy day. I walk over the old castle walls and see exactly nothing.

All my good intentions evaporate. I really wanted to see all of Sintra, but this rainy visit is useless. So I walk back to the train station and book a massage on the train for when I get back in Lisbon. That sounds like a better plan.

So, it’s a good idea to go to Sintra in the rain? No.

If the weather is bad, just come back to this part of Portugal one day. I am certainly going to do that!

More Portugal inspiration?

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