The best guide to Sintra
The 434-bus route connects Sintra train station to the Palácio Nacional da Pena and Castelo dos Mouros, and passes through the historic town centre. This bus service is essential when visiting Sintra as a day trip, as it is a demanding uphill hike to Palácio Nacional da Pena from the town centre or the train station.
This guide will provide an overview of the Sintra 434 bus, including tourist information, fares and details of the timetable. At the end of the article, there is advice for visiting Sintra during the summer months and tips on how to avoid the major queues.
Related articles: Sintra introduction - Lisbon to Sintra
Yes, the footpath from the historic centre up to the Pena Palace and Moors castle is very steep, and incredibly challenging, especially in the summer heat. Also, the uphill hike is a complete waste of time if you have a single day in Sintra, which could be better spent exploring the Parque de Pena.
If you choose not to take the bus, other options to reach the top of the hill include; joining a tour, hiring an expensive taxi, or renting some expensive gimmicky mode of transport. The bus is the best option…..and never drive in Sintra.
Warning: Never drive to Sintra, as there is very limited car parking in the historic centre, and almost none near the Palácio Nacional da Pena. The narrow hill roads of the Serra de Sintra are not designed for modern traffic, and in the summer, there is an almost constant traffic jam, with frustrated drivers searching for parking spaces. Below are some of the highest rated tours of Sintra:
At the top of the hill are the Palácio Nacional da Pena and the Castelo dos Mouros. The colourful Pena Palace is the highlight of any day trip to Sintra and should not be missed. The Castelo dos Mouros is an ancient castle ruin, but it should only be considered as a side attraction to the Palácio Nacional da Pena.
Our favourite attractions in Sintra are:
1) Palácio Nacional da Pena 2) Quinta da Regaleira 3) Palácio Nacional de Sintra 4) Palácio de Monserrate 5) Castelo dos Mouros 6) Palácio de Seteais 7) Vila Sassetti
The 434-bus service follows this route:
• Sintra train station
• The historic centre of Sintra (and the Palácio Nacional de Sintra)
• Castelo dos Mouros
• Palácio Nacional da Pena
• Sintra train station
Note: It is only a 350m walk from the Castelo dos Mouros to the Palácio Nacional da Pena, and it is easier to walk than to catch the bus.
Due to the narrow roads of Sintra, the bus service only operates in one direction, as listed above. This one-directional loop of the bus does mean that most visitors begin the day in the historic centre, and leave the Pena Palace to later in the day. The downside to this order, is that the highlight of Sintra (the Pena Palace) is seen at the end of the day, and visitors tend to be concentrated in certain areas of Sintra throughout the day.
The 434-bus departs from in front of the train station and the bus stop is well signed. Sintra train station is the final stop for bus services from Cascais and Estoril.
Related articles: Lisbon to Sintra – Cascais to Sintra
The 434 bus service is operated by Scotturb, and the route is primarily designed for tourists. A single bus ticket in 2019 costs €3.90, while the entire loop as a Hop-on Hop-off ticket costs €6.90. The Hop-on Hop-off ticket only allows you to go around the loop once, but it is cheaper than two single tickets. Tickets are purchased from the bus driver.
This is a seasonal bus service, with many more departures in the summer than the winter. In the summer the bus service starts at 9:15 and continue until 19:50, and there is a maximum of four departures per hour. During the winter season the number of departures and operating hours decrease. The latest timetable can be seen on the Scotturb website:
Summer timetable - https://scotturb.com/carreira-434-verao/
Winter timetable - https://scotturb.com/carreira-434-inverno/
(The link opens a new tab)
There are combined travel tickets, which provide slight reductions on the overall costs of using public transport for travelling to and around Sintra.
Scotturb sells a 1-day bus pass, called the Turístico diário, which allows for unlimited travel on all Scotturb buses. This ticket is beneficial for tourists who will be travelling to Sintra from Estoril (via route 418) or Cascais (bus route 403) and will be using the 434 bus in Sintra. This ticket costs €15.00 and also includes the 435 bus route, which connects Sintra to the Palácio de Monserrate.
Comboios de Portugal (CP), the national train company of Portugal, sells a ticket that covers the trains between Sintra and Lisbon, Cascais and Lisbon, and the buses of the Scotturb network. This 1-day ticket allows Sintra and Cascais to be visited in one day, using public transport. The ticket costs €15.80 and is purchased from any Lisbon train station.
All of the fares can be seen on the Scotturb website:
Sintra has become a very popular tourist destination and the town can get very crowded during the summer, or when a cruise ship arrives in Lisbon. For the 434 bus, there can be very long queues around lunchtime, as visitors head up to the Pena Palace from the historic centre of Sintra.
Our advice for a day trip to Sintra, is to start the trip as soon as possible to avoid the coach loads of tourist which arrive mid-morning. In the summer the first 434 Circuito da Pena bus is at 9:15.
Another option if arriving in Sintra around mid-morning, is to catch the 434 bus from the train station and to go straight to the Pena Palace and then visit the historic town centre in the afternoon. As the 434 bus performs a one-directional loop, it tends to focus tourists in the town in the morning and moves them to the hills of the Pena Palace for the afternoon. By visiting Sintra in the opposite way can avoid some of the long queues.