The Palácio Nacional da Pena or the Palace of Suffering or Tears is just west of Lisbon. The name is a bit misleading though because the sight of this castle certainly doesn’t make you cry!

Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, is currently on trend and lots of sun-loving, city trippers are heading there this year. It’s no wonder as the temperatures rarely fall below 20 degrees here, which makes it a popular holiday destination all year round. As well as recommending sightseeing tours through the city, I’d also recommend taking a trip to Lisbon’s surroundings. You’ll be surprised at what you can find only 25 kilometres from the city … the Palácio Nacional da Pena…

The Palácio Nacional da Pena in Sintra

You’ll arrive at the Cultural Landscape of Sintra after a short journey by rental car or on a public bus. The wonderful landscape, which surrounds you here, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The Palácio Nacional da Pena, one of Portugal’s fairy tale castles, is part of this heritage landscape.

Palácio Nacional

You can’t miss the Palácio Nacional da Pena Palace because it’s perched on the Serra de Sintra, a mountain ridge above the town of Sintra. A marvellous park surrounds the castle and you should definitely visit that too. The Palace of Suffering, as it’s also known, was built from the ruins of a monastery in the middle of the 19th century. It combines different architectural styles and colours. It is precisely this mix of architecture which makes the castle so beautiful and romantic and pulls thousands of tourists to Sintra every year.

Prices and Opening Times:

  • It is open all year except for the 25th December and the 1st January.
  • It opens from 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
  • Entry to the castle costs 10€
  • A combi ticket for the castle and park costs 14€

Bright yellow and shining red towers catch your eye straight away as well as fine mosaics, elegant archways and white battlements. I can really recommend visiting the inside of the palace too. The entry fee is only 10€. With this ticket, you can visit the whole of the Palácio da Pena from 9:30 am until 6:30 pm when it closes. If you’d like to go on a guided tour, this costs another 5€. Guided tours in English start at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm every day. They last about one and a half hours. The guides can tell you all about the palace and its history. It’s really worth it! The old inner courtyard, which is entirely decorated with colourful tiles, is particularly worth seeing. It feels as though you’ve fallen into a fairytale from the Arabian Nights rather than standing in a palace in Portugal!

To the Castle Park

Once you’ve visited the Palácio Nacional da Pena, you should definitely take a detour to the 85-hectare park, which surrounds the palace. Exotic as well as local plants grow here. Waterfalls, ponds and pavilions lend the park a romantically exotic note and lead you into a world far from Lisbon’s big city hustle and bustle. If you like to ride, I’d recommend a horseback discovery tour. These cost 15€ – 100€ depending on the length. They are suitable for visitors of all ages.

“Sintra’s castle landscape is uniquely beautiful”

Do you love hiking and walking? Then the Park of Pena is the right place for you. There are three trails of different difficulties, which lead you to the most beautiful corners of the park. A combi ticket for the park and castle costs 14€.

Palácio Nacional

There are so many other places to visit after the Palacio Nacional da Pena. You should also visit the Castelo dos Mouros, a Moorish castle, built in the 9th century as well as the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, the former summer residence of the court in Sintra. There are also other palaces and monasteries to visit. All these buildings are part of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra. You need a separate ticket for each different tourist attraction. If you’d like to see the whole UNESCO site, you’ll need at least two days and entry will cost about 50€ each. An excursion like this definitely isn’t just for the culture lovers among you – the magnificent palaces and parks are a real feast for the eyes!

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