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Lisbon to Sintra by Train

Sintra is a delightful Portuguese town and is the best day trip from Lisbon. Sintra lies within the cooling hills of the Serra de Sintra, and found within this region are opulent palaces, ruinous castles and extravagant mansions. Lisbon is connected to Sintra by reliable and inexpensive public transport, and this makes Sintra an easy a day trip, suitable for all. This article will detail how to travel from Lisbon to Sintra and explain in-depth the two train services, including timetables, fares and station information.

Sintra train station

The train to Sintra, in Rossio train station Lisbon

Lisbon to Sintra Overview

Sintra is 25km to the west of Lisbon and the recommended means of travel is by train. We strongly discourage driving to Sintra, as the narrow hill roads are not designed for the heavy tourist traffic and there is virtually no car parking once there. During the summer season there is a permanent traffic jam in the historic centre, as frustrated drivers hunt out the few parking spaces available. There are bus services to Sintra, but the journey times are longer than by train and the locations of the bus stations are not as convenient as the train stations.

The Train Services to Sintra

The trains to Sintra are part of the Lisbon urban train network, and are operated by CP (Comboios de Portugal), the national train company of Portugal. There are two rail routes between Lisbon to Sintra, both equally useful for tourists. These services are:

1) Rossio Station to Sintra

2) Oriente station to Sintra, via Areeiro, Entrecampos, and Sete Rios stations

(Note: There are multiple other unimportant stations along both routes which have been omitted)

The Rossio service is the one typically used by most visitors, as it departs from the historic centre of Lisbon and is closer to the main tourist districts. The train departing from Oriente station is generally used by those visitors travelling onward to Sintra, as this route is closer to the airport, the main bus stations and train station. Details of these connecting services are explained later on in this article.

Oriente station sintra

The Sintra train in Oriente station

The Sintra railway is an important commuter route, so there are multiple hourly departures, and trains continue late into the night. The Oriente route has a journey time of 47 minutes, while the Rossio train takes 40 minutes to reach Sintra, both services have an equal number of departures. For the latest timetable please see the CP website:

https://www.cp.pt/StaticFiles/Passageiros/1_horarios/horarios/PDF/lx/azambuja_sintra_completo.pdf

(link opens new tab, which is a PDF, so it may download on certain phones or browsers)

 

As the Lisbon to Sintra railway is an urban route, tickets and seats cannot be pre-booked, but there is no real need as there is usually plenty of free seats. Due to the popularity of Sintra there can be long queues at Rossio station for tickets (not to mention the queues at the monuments of Sintra), our advice is always start a trip to Sintra as early in the day as possible.

Sintra-Lisbon Fares and Tickets

All of Lisbon’s train stations are considered as being in the same fare zone, so no matter the departing station the fare to Sintra will always be the same. A single from Lisbon to Sintra passes through four fare zones and costs €2.15/€1.10 (adult/child). There are no reductions for a return ticket, and the return fare will be the price of two singles, €4.30. The entire pricing policy can be found on the CP website:

https://www.cp.pt/StaticFiles/Passageiros/1_horarios/precos/lx/precario_azambuja.pdf

(Note: the link opens a new window and a PDF file)

 

The train fare is charged to the reusable “Viva Viagem” public transport ticket, which is used for Lisbon’s buses, metro and trams. The initial purchase price for this card is €0.50. The train fare must be charged to an empty “Viva Viagem” card, if there are any unused metro or tram fares still remaining on the card, a new card must be purchased. The Viva Viagem ticket holds the fare for one person, meaning each traveller in a group will need their own card.

Sintra train station

There are other combination tickets, but they only provide slight savings:

• 24-hour unlimited use of CP Lisbon urban trains (€6.00) – No point unless you are going to use the train for more than three journeys. This could be useful if travelling to Sintra from Cascais or Estoril, but there are direct bus services.

• 24-hour unlimited use of CP urban trains, metro, tram and Carris buses (€10.15) – Only useful if you are based in Sintra and planning a day trip to Lisbon. The 24-hour unlimited Lisbon public transport ticket (which excludes the urban trains) can be purchased from any metro station for €6.00, and is an essential while exploring Lisbon.

The train journey to Sintra passes through the non-descript residential housing estates that surround Lisbon and there is not much to see. These estates are some of Lisbon’s most deprived and tough areas, so you should use the same common sense you would back at home. The train is safe, but if you are travelling late at night, sit with other passengers, stay away from dodgy looking people and never show off expensive items.

Sintra Train Station

The train station for the historic centre of Sintra is the final stop of the railway. The historic centre is located 1.5km to the west of the train station, while the modern and residential town centre is to the east and most visitors do not want to visit this for their day trip. The GPS coordinates for the Sintra train station are exact 38.79870, -9.38646.

Sintra train station

Sintra train station

Often tourists exit Sintra station a little confused (as it's not that obvious where to go) and are pounced upon by tour guides, tuk-tuk drivers and other random means of transport to explore the hills. The two sensible options from the train station are to walk or to catch the 434-tourist bus.

The Pena Palace and Moors castle are high in the hills of Sintra, and it is a very challenging up-hill hike to them. The 434-tourist bus service provides a one-directional loop from the train station, to the historic centre and then into the hills for €5. The 434 bus is seasonal dependant, and there are up to four departures every hour, but there can be very long queues in Sintra. For a full guide to this bus, please click here.

The walk from Sintra train station to the historic centre has no steep climbs and is very scenic, with great views over the National Palace and surrounding countryside. If you are only planning to visit the National Palace and the Quinta da Regaleira just walk as it’s easier than catching the bus.

Rossio Train Station

Rossio train station is in the centre of the Baixa district, and the exact GPS coordinates are 38.71438, -9.14081. The train station is connected to the Green metro line by the Rossio metro station, but you have to exit the metro station and across Rossio square to get to the station. In the station there are ticket offices and ticket machines, but it can get very busy at peak tourist times, as everyone is buying tickets or asking the same questions….

From Rossio station there are two train services; one to “Sintra” and one to “Mira Sintra – Meleças”, all tourists want the service to Sintra; please check the timetable linked earlier in the article.

rossio train station lisbon

Rossio train station in Lisbon

Gare do Oriente Train Station

The Gare do Oriente train station is a modern station that is located in the Parque das Nações, to the northeast of Lisbon. The station is part of a larger transport hub and contains a major bus station and busy metro station (red line). The platforms are on the top level, and the ticket offices are on the level below the platforms. The entire complex is always busy but is well organised and spacious. Across from the station is the Vasco da Gama shopping centre, which has an excellent food court on the top level.

Gare do Oriente

Traveling to Sintra as part of an onward journey……

By plane

If you are travelling to Sintra directly from the airport, catch the metro and take the red line to Oriente (only three stops). This metro station is part of the Oriente train station. A single metro ticket costs €1.45 and is charged to the Viva Viagem ticket. The journey between the airport and the Oriente train station is so short there is no need for a taxi, which will cost much more. The entrance to the metro is just outside of the arrivals lounge and is well signed. For a full guide to using the metro, please click here.

By train

All intercity trains to Lisbon stop at Oriente train station, and this is the location to board the train to Sintra. It is possible to purchase intercity train tickets (eg from Porto, Algarve) that include the Sintra urban route; these can be purchased from any train ticket offices or on the CP website:

https://www.cp.pt/passageiros

By Bus

There are two main intercity bus terminals in Lisbon; Oriente and Sete Rios. All foreign bus companies and many private coach companies terminate at Oriente bus station, which is part of the Oriente train station complex. Onward travel to Sintra from here is very easy; go up two flights of stairs and purchase your ticket.

 

Sete Rios bus station is the terminus for Rede Expressos, the main national bus company of Portugal, and this will be the bus company which is routinely used for all longer bus journeys. The exact GPS of Sete Rios bus station is 38.74111, -9.16666. The Oriente to Sintra train service passes through Sete Rios train station and it is a very short walk from the bus station to the train station.

 

Other regional bus companies (TST, Mafrense, etc) stop all over Lisbon (Praca Espaniha, Campo Grande), for these head to the nearest metro and take the metro to Rossio or Oriente for the train to Sintra.

Sintra By Car and Sintra Car Parking

The route from Lisbon to Sintra follows the IC19 highway, west out of Lisbon. The road can get very busy in rush hours as people commute in and out of Lisbon. The roads of Sintra are very narrow, especially the roads which climb the hill to the Pena Palace. Car parking in the historic area of Sintra is very limited and the entire area is very busy during the week.

Do not even attempt to drive in the historic section of Sintra at the weekend during the summer months. There are only two car parks in the historic centre, one outside the national palace (20 spaces) and one near the Museu Anjos Teixeira (30 spaces) with only 20 spaces near the Pena-Moorish castles. In the residential side of Sintra (1.5km to the east), close to the terminus of the N249 is a major car park and this is the best option during the summer.

Note for visitors from the USA: Lisbon is notoriously challenging for driving; with crowded roads, erratic drivers and virtually no parking and this lack of parking extends to the hills of Sintra. For a holiday to Lisbon, we strongly recommend not hiring a car. Also, public transport in Portugal does contain the same social stigma as in the US and is used by all.

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