For those who love Disney Castle, this place is really highly recommended! For those who is not or just so-so like me, this place also will leave you speechless. The Palace of Pena was really one of my highlight trip in Sintra,Portugal, a UNESCO World Heritage since 1995.
Sintra is 45 minutes away from Lisbon, Portugal, by train. You can hop the train either from the station : Gare do Oriente, Roma-Areeiro, Zoo – Sete Rios, Rossio, Campolide or Benfica, in Lisbon. I went from Rossio train station that day to reach Sintra. The cost for train ride from Lisbon to Sintra is very cheap. It costed me 4,5 euro for return, 2.25 Euro for one way, with the train arrival in every 30 minutes.
My suggestion, you need to arrive at least 20 minutes before the train arrival. So many people want to go to Sintra, once the train arrived into the station, it will be easily to be full in minutes.
I was taking a slow movement that day, even I already arrived around 40 minutes before the train arrival schedule. I took a simple breakfast in small cafe just before the train platform gate and I thought, I only need about 5-10 minutes to be in the platform area.
When I arrived, the train already full and I need to stand for the whole ride. Well, it was not so bad I know, for standing about 45 minutes. But if you plan to use your legs for the whole day to walk, a chance for being able to sit for a while can be a nice start for your day, right?
Once the train arrived in Sintra, there was a long queue when we wanted to get out from the train station. People needed to go one by one through the exit gate with their ticket, so it made the line was very slow moving, maybe it was taking around 15 minutes before I finally able to get out from the train station. Whoaa, I felt a bit too much already with the busy Summer season in Sintra, before I entered the town. Later on, a lot of tour guide, car drivers tried to offer their package and service – a bit too overwhelming, so I decided to just walk away and avoid this busy area.
You can have so many options to explore Sintra. Either by bus, which you can hop one from a bus shelter located just next to the train station (on the left and right side, depends on which bus number do you want to take) or take the daily tour, tuk-tuk tour or jeep tour, so many unique different transportation you can try to take to explore Sintra, which I have no idea how much it will cost you.
I decided to go to Quinta da Regaleira first before heading to The Palace of Pena, but you can just take bus #434 and pay 6.9 Euro for one bus ride circuit, if you want to start your trip from The Palace of Pena first. That is mean, you can use the ticket to go to The Palace of Pena and Moorish Castle and back to the Train Station. Some people preferred to walk to the Palace of Pena, but for me, I was grateful to go by bus since the road to go to the Palace was really far and up to the hills! I will be extremely slim if I walked up and back – haaahhh.
Before I started my journey, I try to do some research to figuring out about the condition and situation in Sintra. I always tried as much as I can to gain some knowledge about the place I was heading, because most of the time, I traveled alone and I don’t have internet connection.
Many people wrote on their blog, that in one day, they can do 3-4 castles/sightseeing places in Sintra. Well, after I went there myself, if I can re-doing it, I will stay 1 night in Sintra, so at least I will have 2 full days to explore Sintra, because the area is sooo beautiful and so huge! I was only able to visited 2 castles in one full day! I honestly don’t know how people can do a short visit for each castle, because each castle was just so huge and took me few hours to really enjoy the place.
When I arrived in the Palace of Pena after explored Quinta Regaleira, it was already 4 pm. I was spending around 3-4 hours in the Palace of Pena and then I felt so so tired, all my legs felt so numb!
It was funny, because I met a couple from Poland for third time. We were screaming happily when we see each other again coincidentally in Sintra! We met for the first time in Porto Catedral, then accidentally in Sao Bento Train Station, then again accidentally, in Sintra – out of nowhere – remind me of the Serendipity movie!
It was great for us because then we became each other’s help for taking picture, hahaa. The problem always when I traveled solo, it was hard to taking a proper picture of myself. I don’t like so much the selfie pictures – it looks so boring and silly.
We were amazed with the Pena palace when we arrived there. It just really such a magical place. The view from the top is very beautiful, you can see how green Sintra town from here, but it was also very cold and windy. I was kind of regret that I didn’t bring any jacket, only a transparent and thin cardigan. You can go explore the palace but need to be careful, because some area was very high and they don’t really have a safety fence. If you bring kids, please make sure they don’t go too close to the walls, because it was pretty scary and the possibility of falling down exists.
The palace was so colorful and have strange decoration in each walls. Some walls can be filled by colorful tiles, then another ones have an Arabic and Asian style. There was also a really strange statue which called The Gargoyles, a mystical creature beast, that peer down over the main entrance which seem lifting a very heavy burden, with the shell shape ornaments below him. The shell shape you will find a lot in Portugal, I think it’s relating with the symbol of pilgrimage, taken from the story of St. Joseph.
The palace which is completed on 1854 ever been used for state occasions by the President of the Portuguese Republic and other government officials. It’s one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, together with Belem Tower, Jeronimos Monastery, Alcobaca Monastery, Batalha Monastery, Castle of Obidos and Castle of Guimaraes. Apart from Pena Palace, I only ever visited Jeronimos Monastery, since Belem Tower had a very long queue when I was in Belem.
Pena palace itself for me looked so surreal. The palace survived from a great earthquake on 1755, it was already went down from one owner to another, until the last, it was purchased by Portuguese government on 1889 and now as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Quickly, the palace drawn a lot of visitors to come and enjoy it after it opened for public. Overtime, the colors of red and yellow of the walls became faded, they re-painted the palace again by end of 20th century as now we can enjoy it in it’s best colorful state.
I thought in the beginning, I will be able to also go to Moorish Castle after Pena, because the bus ride can brought me to the Castle. But I was wrong. Just to explore the palace already taken so much time for me. We almost can’t come inside of the palace because we were too overwhelmed with the exterior of the palace and the view. But so glad we made it for a quick look inside of the palace.
Some of interior of inside of the palace.
The entrance fee into the Pena Palace is €14.00/€12.50/€12.50/€49.00 (adult/child/senior/family), a cheaper ticket which provides access to the park and palace terraces (but not the state rooms) costs €7.50/€6.50/€6.50/€26.00 (adult/child/senior/family).
For you who isn’t really interest to explore inside of the Palace – which to be honest, a castle inside always look so glamourous and eccentric just like all the other palace, my suggestion is just taking the cheaper ticket for park and the palace terraces – because from my experience, I was caught up so much time in the palace terraces, rather than inside of the palace.
But again, it’s up to you. The most important thing that you should enjoy your visit here, just as I did.