Miradouro de Sintra is locates not far from the train station. It would be a nice place to spend some hours resting and looking at the Nacional Palace and the surrounding area if they would clean it now and then. In fact that place is a pidgeons' sanctuary and so you find their product there.
Given the huge numbers of visitors Sintra receives, it's not surprising that there are plenty of tourist traps. Almost every resturant and cafe is aimed at tourists and prices are far higher than in Lisbon. If you stay away from the centre of town you might find better value places.
We arrived about 09:05 on a Sunday morning (we set out early from Lisbon to avoid the masses) but found out on arrival that many other tourists had the same idea.
The first thing that got me was that the parking cash machines operate EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK, so this meant cash every two hours on a Sunday. Somehow things didn’t work out, this system means that you have to return to your car every TWO HOURS to change the ticket!!! Luckily we located a public FREE car park following the main road that boarders the Sintra Palace on it’s left side, descending behind the palace into a lower level until you see the parking signs. This place wasn’t so full as the upper levels.
After a quick walk around and having a light snack, we went to the Tourist Information Center where they told me that there’s 5 kms to the Pena Palace (the colourful castle).
Just after exiting the place we saw a bus that announced SINTRA PALACE SIGHTSEEING TOUR on it’s front sign so we hopped on.
Surprise: It’s nearly 4 (four) euros for a return ticket! A real rip-off!
Once reaching the ticket booth at the Pena Palace (where the queue wasn’t too long) I had to pay 7 (seven) euros to visit the palace and the gardens.
After passing the security point there’s a little green rip-off tram that charges you ANOTHER 2(TWO) EUROS for a 3 minute ride (It takes 5 minutes walking up a 1 km slope!)
Cash, cash, cash!!! Once you enter the palace they remind you that photography is not allowed inside the dependencies and also let you know that the 14 Euro guides are available at the shop outside the main entrance.
So, we are talking about 27 euros just getting up there, visiting the place and buying a guide (quiet good by the way!) How much if there’s 6 of you? Just multiply and find out!
Then there’s the Moorish castle down below (about 500 meters from where the bus drops you off) which is another 4 (four) euros each.
After all this cash you’ve got a 30/40 minute wait in the bus queue until it’s your turn to return down into Sintra again.
Unique Suggestions: Take plenty of money, get there early to park in the free area, have a snack in the bread shop (great cakes & coffee)…
In Sintra you can find numerous handicraft shops, but you would be better off doing all your shopping outside the old town: the prices there are very high.
Just see the sights, eat a cake in Sapa or Piriquita and enjoy Sintra.
You can find these minibuses when you pass the palace gate. From the entrance to the palace itself is a 1 km. walk. Fortunately, for the nominal price of € 1,50 this minibus is available to you. Unfortunately this ticket is not included in the entrance fee: The palace tour and the access to the park cost € 6,00
On a cold day in February, Sintra is not likely to be full of tourists, but I imagine that visiting in the summer would be a different experience and places like the Pena Palace would be fairly crowded.
We like to walk around the town and watch the tourist fight for parking and try to get the best deal at the market.