The Palacio da Pena Sintra is definitively the most unforgettable piece of architecture in Portugal.
Standing on top of a hill, the Pena Palace mixes styles and colors. It is mesmerizing!
Below is my guide to help you plan your visit to the Sintra Pena Palace with map, photos and tips.
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Why visit the Sintra Pena Palace?
Is the Pena Palace worth visiting?
Yes, the Pena Palace in Sintra is worth visiting. It is one of the most iconic buildings in Portugal and in the World.
There is nothing else like it. You must not miss it when visiting Sintra.
The colors, the shapes, the locations, the park...
See what I mean:
Let's start with a short video showing you the highlights of a visit to the Sintra Pena Palace: the views from the Castle of the Moors, many angles of those colorful towers as well as a visit of the inside... No wonder it is part of the Sintra Unesco World Heritage Site.
Can you understand why it is one of the top of things to do in Portugal?
More photos and details after the planning tips.
Planning tips & Map - Palacio da Pena, Sintra, Portugal
Where is the colorful Pena Palace in Portugal? Map
- In the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park (see guide)
- West of Lisbon
- 30min drive from Lisbon
The Pena Palace is included in both my travel guides eBooks to help you easily plan your Portugal road trip itinerary:
How to get to the Pena Palace in Sintra
- by car - easy 30min drive West
- by metro-train from Lisbon (Rossio station)
- or via a small group tour from Lisbon (including the coast) - many companies offer day trips from Lisbon including some palaces and coastal locations. Just sit back and learn from the guide - see options and availability
- The Pena palace is on top of a hill - you can walk from the city center, but it is quite steep!
- By car: there are a couple of car parks near the Palacio da Pena Sintra but access is via a small road where you will have to wait in the traffic jams, and the carparks get full very quickly
- By taxi: you will still have to be patient but no parking issues...
- By tuk tuk
- By bus: there is a cheap bus that leaves from the city center, however the queues in October were huge so I can't imagine in Summer
- Bus from the train station: 434 (Scotturb)
- By hop on hop off - several companies do stop there - pre-purchase your ticket in your currency
Need to rent a car in Portugal?
- Compare car rental prices on my favorite platform: Discovercars.com - one of the best rated sites!
- Choose the car and company you prefer (remember the villages narrow streets)
- Consider their full coverage option - I always take it for peace of mind!
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
See all my 36 tips in my Portugal car rental article.
Pena Palace Parking
As you can see in the map above, there are 3 carparks in the area of the Pena Palace.
They are practical to explore both the Castle of the Moors and the Pena Palace.
However, they are not huge and they fill up quickly in the morning.
Visit early at opening hours or choose a cab or buses.
Note that you may also have to be patient on the road as it is sinuous and crowded.
How long to visit the Pena Palace?
You can visit the inside of the palace in a couple of hours.
However, it is worth at least half a day to explore in depth the palace and the park.
Visiting the Palacio da Pena
- You need to be quite fit to visit Pena Palace
- Always keep your ticket, they keep checking it
- Pena Palace entrance fee - 14€
- Pena Palace opening hours - 9.30am to 6:30pm - the park may stay open later
- Check out the latest prices and opening hours here
- Pena Palace tickets - better to take a combined ticket with the Castle of the Moors - both are worth seeing
- Access to Pena Palace Sintra: from the gate you still have to go up through the park to reach the Pena Palace itself
- Or you can Transfer by bus from the park gate to the palace gate: every 15min, 3€, tickets sold at the ticket office and at the souvenir shop - and even from where the bus stops at the top, you still have to walk up a little...
Cafés and Restaurants
At the Palace of Pena you can find:
- The Palace restaurant on the upper floor of the neo-Indian building (old stables)
- The Terrace Bar - on one of the palace's terraces
- The Garden cafeteria - overlooking the Garden of Queen Amelia (next to the entrance)
Where to stay in Sintra
I recommend staying at least one night in Sintra, to have more time to explore this unique area.
Check out the best rated accommodations in Sintra.
Where to stay in Portugal?
- In Lisbon, to explore the vibrant city - see best rated accommodations
- In Sintra, to visit as many palaces as possible - see best rated accommodations
- In Porto, to feel the history - see best rated accommodations
- In Obidos, to walk on the medieval walls at sunset - see best rated accommodations
- In the Douro valley, if you love wine - see best rated accommodations
- In the Algarve, my favorite town is Lagos - see best rated accommodations
- In the Algarve, Portimao is practical to visit all the best beaches - see best rated accommodations
Find more inspiration in my article about where to stay in Portugal
Views from the distance
I first discovered the Palace during my visit of the Castle of the Moors nearby (see my tips and pictures about that visit). As you walk on the wall, you discover perched high on top of the hill the red tower and yellow walls of the surprising structure. What a contrast with the old fortifications of the castle!
Pena Palace history in short
Originally there was just a chapel on top of the hill, then a monastery which was destroyed. What you see today of the romantic structure, was built by King consort Ferdinand I as a summer residence in the mid 19th century. After the revolution of 1910, it became a national monument and a museum.
The unique architecture of the Pena Palace
The most interesting part of a visit to the Sintra Pena Palace is to see it from various angles:
- The main colors are red, yellow, blue and purple.
- You get round, square and conic features
- The mix of architectures: neo-gothic, neo-Manueline, neo-renaissance...
The best part is really to explore all the paths that you can find to discover all its façades. Have a look:
Don't miss the details!
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the overall impression of the Palacio da Pena Sintra with the colors and all. But take the time to look closer at the details, especially the tiles. They are quite unique!
Visiting the National Palace of Pena - Interiors
Once inside the wall of the Palacio da Pena Sintra, you can pay extra to visit the inside of the building: the tour includes the Cloister, the Dining Room, the Apartments of King Carlos I and Queen Amelia, the Gallery of Passage, the Stag room, the Kitchen and much more...
Furniture has been placed in all rooms showing how all the rooms were used. And some rooms are covered in tiles from ground to wall to ceiling. Completely tile-crazy!
Our Lady of Pena Chapel
Originally only the Chapel of Our Lady of Pena was built at the top of the Sintra hill. Later a monastery was added but was destroyed by lightning and the 1755 Great Lisbon Earthquake. But the chapel remains standing with its impressive work of marble.
Inside again, the more recent pieces are colorful. The stained-glass window was particularly bright!
Exploring the Pena Palace park and gardens
The park surrounding the Sintra Palace is big. You don't have to take the bus up and down, you can also choose to explore on foot to admire the forest, ponds, flowers and small waterfalls.
Views from the Palace
Another advantage of visiting the Palacio da Pena Sintra is the views you get from up there in the hills.
In every direction, you get unobstructed views as the Sintra mountains are the only ones around.
Below for example you can see the wall of the castle of the Moors. (you can see many photos of my visit there in the Sintra Castle article)
Don't forget to bring binoculars to make the most of those views!!!!
Check out my guide to find the best travel binoculars for your needs.
More tips and FAQs about the Sintra Pena Palace
Why is the Pena Palace famous ?
The location and the colors make this building unique and iconic.
There is no other experience like this one in the World.
It is part of the Sintra Unesco Heritage site.
Who lived in the Pena Palace ?
It was built for Queen Maria II by her German consort, Ferdinand II.
It was used by the royal family to escape the heat during Summers and to quarantine during plagues.
Is the Pena Palace free?
No. You have to pay to enter the Pena Palace.
You can purchase a ticket for just the park or for the park and the inside of the palace.
Want to see more of the best Portugal has to offer?
- 30 Most beautiful landscapes in Portugal - read article
- Best things to do in Portugal - read article
- The best beaches in Portugal - read article
- The best villages in Portugal - read article
- Lisbon vs Porto - where to go? - read article
- Driving in Portugal - read article
- The best of the Algarve region - read article
- The highlights of Sintra and the Sintra-Cascais Nature park - read article
Planning a trip to Portugal?
Check out my travel guide to help you plan:
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