Table of Contents
- Why Plan a Sintra Day Trip
- Things To Do in Sintra
- Where to Eat in Sintra
- Sintra Restaurants
- Sintra Desserts
- Sintra Bars
- Beyond Sintra
- Lisbon to Sintra Train
- Traveling Within Sintra
- Plan Your Sintra Stay
- Hungry for More in Lisbon?
- Pin It for Later
- About the Authors
- Learn European Portuguese
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Located just 25 kilometers from Lisbon and easily accessible by train, Sintra Portugal is a sloping, fairytale town filled with whimsical palaces, two historic hill-top castles, epic views and marvelous food. The quality of Sintra’s architectural gems is so rich that the Portuguese town received UNESCO’s first European Cultural Landscape designation in 1995.
Most visitors flock to Sintra to see the sites but miss out on the food. We were no exception during our first visit.
During our honeymoon back in 2007, in a quest to see as many Portuguese sites as possible, we climbed Sintra’s scenic hills to both the Pena Palace and the millennial old Moorish Castle. Little did we know we would eventually move to Lisbon but that’s another story.
Though we packed in plenty of sights during that first visit, the only food we ate was a picnic lunch that we had bought at the newly opened El Corte Inglés in Lisbon. A number of aggressive birds tried to steal our lunch break but they picked the wrong targets that day.
Back then, finding information about Lisbon restaurants was next to impossible. Exploring Sintra restaurants? We didn’t even try.
Good news!! Times have since changed. We now live in Portugal as locals and have found great restaurants in Lisbon as well as in nearby Sintra.
Why Plan a Sintra Day Trip
Planning a Sintra day trip is a no brainer for most travelers visiting Lisbon for the first time. Getting to Sintra’s quaint and obvious beauty only requires a €5 (roundtrip) 45 minute train ride. The challenge is fitting in all the sites in just one day.
The Palácio da Pena, also known as Pena Palace, is Sintra’s crowning jewel and a mandatory stop when touring Sintra. Originally built as a monastery during the middle ages, Pena Palace reached its full glory 99 years after suffering near destruction from Lisbon’s massive earthquake in 1755.
Portugal’s King Ferdinand II commissioned German architect Wilhelm Ludwig in 1838 to design Pena Palace as a summer residence for the royal family. Since then, the magnificence of the hilltop palace has inspired a number of artists including Hans Christian Andersen and Richard Strauss.
A vibrant red, yellow and blue mish-mash of Romantic, Moorish and Manueline styles, Pena Palace’s structure is part romantic palace and part epic funhouse. You truly have to experience Pena Palace in person to believe it.
Things To Do in Sintra
While Pena Palace is worth a visit on its own merit, Sintra has multiple amazing sites. If you start your day early and/or book a Sintra day tour, you can also see one or more of the following sites:
- Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle)
- Palacio de Monserrate (Monserrate Palace)
- Quinta da Regaleira
- Palacio Nacional de Sintra (Sintra National Palace)
Where to Eat in Sintra
Millions of people visit Sintra in a typical year but most miss out on one of the town’s underrated highlights – eating in Sintra. Seriously, if you think that Sintra only has tourist trap eateries, you need to think again.
Sure, many tourists pause to lick an ice cream cone at Pena Palace’s terrace snack bar or wander into a random cafe near the train station for a quick bite. However, with some advance planning, intrepid travelers can eat well in Sintra without breaking the bank.
Now that we live in Lisbon, we can visit Sintra whenever we want without the pressure of seeing all or any of the sites.
Yes, Sintra’s sites are amazing and are the primary reason to visit the city. But Sintra’s food is a good reason too.
As Lisbon locals, we have our ears to the ground in an ongoing search for Sintra dining gems. Read on to discover our favorites.
Our Sintra mission has not ended! We’ll update this food guide as we discover new places to eat in Sintra.
With two of Portugal’s 27 Michelin-starred restaurants located in its Penha Longa Resort, Sintra is no stranger to fine dining. However, most day-trippers don’t have the budget for a meal at LAB or Midori nor do they have the time to walk over two hours to reach the resort. If you have the time and money or you’re into golfing – we say go for it.
Don’t despair if you can’t justify a Michelin meal. Despite its relatively small size, Sintra has great restaurants at all price points, with many offering excellent value.
After visiting Sintra multiple times including three days trips so far this year, these are our picks for the best restaurants in Sintra Portugal:
Chef Luis Santos honed his culinary skills in Geneva and Lisbon before opening Incomum in Sintra in 2014. He now proudly displays his name on the Incomum menu and logo.
Literally a two-minute walk from Sintra’s tile-adorned train station, Incomum is a delightful spot to enjoy elevated Portuguese food favorites. Though one of the best restaurants in Sintra, Incomum’s lunch prices are a genuine bargain.
First impressions mean a lot and we were pleasantly surprised by Incomum’s elegant yet simple, brightly lit dining room and outdoor seating. We were also intrigued by the restaurant’s ‘business executive’ lunch menu priced at €12.50 at the time of our visit. This value-priced menu includes a starter, main course, dessert and drink.
Never one to miss a bargain, Mindi ordered the lunch menu which included a glass of house wine from Alentejano and a slice of almond pie for dessert She enjoyed every dish but especially the slow-cooked Iberian pork ribs served over cabbage and cornbread.
We have an unwritten Portugal restaurant rule: If octopus is on the menu, order it. Incomum proved the soundness of this principle by serving us meltingly tender octopus garnished with briny sea beans served atop a melange of sweet potatoes and kale.
Incomum’s dinner menu offers a five-course tasting menu for those looking to cap a day of sightseeing. Though more expensive than the lunch special, it’s a worthy way to celebrate the occasion of being in Sintra and a convenient place to dine before jumping on the return train to Lisbon.
Incomum is located at Rua Dr. Alfredo da Costa 22, 2710-631 Sintra , Portugal.
Specializing in petiscos (snacks), Tascantiga is more than a typical Sintra snack bar. With its airy, comfortable, high ceilinged dining room and additional outdoor seating, Tascantiga has been serving its quirky, seasonal tapas menu since 2016.
Don’t get us wrong – we like typical snack bars in Portugal. But Tascantiga takes the Portuguese snack concept a step farther with ingredients like smoked ham dust and oregano mayonnaise.
During our laid-back lunch in Sintra, we shared three plates including Lagareiro-style octopus and candied pork cheeks with mushrooms. However, our favorite dish had to be roasted chouriço frivolously served on sticks in a flower pot filled with blue sand.
Although Tascantiga’s menu includes a full array of beverages, both with and without alcohol, we chose to share a large bottle of sparkling water to beat the heat. Our reward was a total bill under €20 – a true cheap eats Sintra experience.
Tascantiga is located at Escadinhas da Fonte da Pipa 2, 2710-557 Sintra, Portugal.
Apeadeiro is a classic Sintra restaurant for eating large servings of authentic Portuguese dishes. Though the unassuming tasca (tavern) is a popular spot for hungry locals, we felt welcomed and comfortable during our filling mid-day meal.
Located on the same block at Incomum, Apeadeiro’s dining room is a cavernous space with long tables and Azulejo-covered walls. Its menu features typical fare like Bacalhau a Bras and Alheira.
For this Sintra lunch, we enjoyed a Picanha na Grelha platter that was big enough to share. The meal included thin slices of grilled Brazilian steak served with fried potatoes, black beans and rice,
As is typical at tascas in Portugal, our server offered us complimentary glasses of port to end our meaty meal. However, the accompanying miniature cream-filled travesseiro pastries were a fun surprise that we couldn’t and didn’t resist.
Apeadeiro is located at Avenida Dr. Miguel Bombarda 3, 2710-631 Sintra, Portugal.
Located in a renovated garage, Garagem Cafe lives up to a name that literally translates to Garage Cafe. Yes, this hipster hangout had a previous life that involved cars instead of food.
The current iteration of the former garage is a chill spot across from a scenic overlook where visitors can ‘fill their tanks’ with cafe fare like hamburgers, hummus, bagels, salad and sandwiches. The cafe also serves cappuccinos and smoothies for thirsty visitors.
Previously disappointed by lackluster bagels in Lisbon, we took a chance and ordered a bagel topped with cream cheese, smoked salmon and leafy spinach at Garagem. Though the soft round bread tasted more like brioche than a New York bagel, it was still a solid sandwich that we enjoyed.
Garagem Cafe is located at Alameda Combatentes da Grande Guerra 12 A b, 2710-426 Sintra, Portugal.
Additional Sintra Restaurants
Eating dessert in Sintra is a must and not just because climbing its many hills burns a lot of calories. Though rewarding exercise is a valid reason for dessert, the real reason is that Sintra is the home place of two iconic Portuguese pastries – Travesseiros and Queijadas.
If you fall in love with Pasteis de Natas in Lisbon, you’re going to want to read on to discover where to eat Sintra’s tasty Travesseiro and Queijada pastries. We share an ideal spot for a gelato break too.
Though famous for baking Sintra’s pillow-like pastries called Travesseiros, Casa Piriquita originally claimed its fame by baking Queijadas for Portugal’s royal family in the 19th century. The bakery has been a local favorite since 1862.
Legend has it that the original owner’s granddaughter, Constança Luísa, discovered the now-famous Travesseiro recipe in an old cookbook in the 1940s. The rest, as they say, is history.
Casa Piriquita still bakes Queijadas as well as a full array of Portuguese pastries, but locals and tourists queue daily to buy Travesseiros by the bagful. Don’t worry – the line moves quickly. Plus, it’s worth the wait to eat a hot Travesseiro fresh out of the oven.
Shaped like its namesake pillow, a Travesseiro is a puff pastry filled with almond cream and covered in sugar. Fans after our initial bites into the flaky, sugary pastry, we didn’t stop biting until our Travesseiros were gone.
Sweet but not cloyingly so, each Travesseiro currently costs €1.50, making it an affordable dessert for all who visit Sintra. Everybody else can dream on their proverbial pillows between visits.
Casa Piriquita is located at Rua das Padarias 1/18, 2710-603 Sintra, Portugal. Piriquita 2 is located at Rua das Padarias 18, 2710-623 Sintra, Portugal.
Queijadas da Sapa
The Travesseiro may be Sintra’s most popular pastry, but the Queijada is by far its oldest. Although Queijadas da Sapa been baking the sweet treat since 1756, historians trace the Queijada‘s origin to the middle ages.
We stopped by Queijadas da Sapa wanting to try a real deal Sintra Queijada. What we got was a small pastry with a crispy shell and a firm, gooey topping made with fresh cow’s milk cheese, egg yolk, cinnamon, flour and sugar.
Queijadas da Sapa has a quaint dining room overlooking a garden, making it a lovely spot for an afternoon break. Since the dining room wasn’t open during our visit, we ate our Queijadas on a nearby park bench.
While gobbling down the tiny yet tasty treats, we wondered about the bakery’s name and if there was any connection to the Vietnamese city north of Hanoi. Sapa, as it turns out, is the name of the prolific baker who created the recipe back in the 18th century. She probably never visited Vietnam but we don’t know that for sure.
Queijadas de Sapa is located at Volta do Duche 12, 2710-631 Sintra, Portugal.
Located on a leafy street just a short walk from Sintra’s train station, Alba Gelato provides an ideal respite for ice cream lovers. Let’s face it, touring the sites during a Sintra day trip can be tiring.
Maria Borga opened Sintra’s best ice cream shop in 2018 after studying the art of gelato at Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna. She makes all of the shop’s gelato onsite using natural products and ingredients.
When you visit Alba Gelato, expect to choose from a dozen flavors like white coffee, dark chocolate and cinnamon. We licked a cone topped with scoops of salted caramel and pistachio until all of our gelato was gone.
Alba Gelato’s menu has additional items including crepes, scones and quiche. However, you’ll want to savor a scoop or two Borga’s artisanal gelato even if you’re order other items.
Alba Gelato is located at Alameda Combatentes da Grande Guerra 4, 2710-246 Sintra, Portugal.
Traipsing around Sintra’s hills, especially during the warm summer months, takes its toll. After chalking up 10,000 steps on our fitbit, we like to reward ourselves with an adult beverage or two.
These are our favorite Sintra bars for liquid libations:
Villa Craft Beer & Bread
Sometimes we like to eat our carbs and sometimes we like to drink them. We accomplished both at Village Craft Beer and Bread, a local Sintra craft beer taproom with a wood oven.
The casual taproom taps craft beer from nearby Cerveja Rafeira and offers other bottles as well. During our visit, we drank crisp blond ales flavored with basil – a much needed refresher on an unseasonably warm late spring (or was it early summer?) afternoon.
Since craft beer is no longer a unicorn beverage in Portgual, it’s not surprising to find balanced brews in a town like Sintra. The bigger surprise is finding a taproom with a wood stove making stuffed breads to order.
Tempted to try every flavor, we settled on sharing a bread filled with chouriço. Other notable options include bacalhau (cod), spicy sardinha (sardines) and slow-cooked cachaço porco (pork neck). There’s even a roasted legumes (veggies) option fit for vegans.
Villa Craft Beer & Bread is located at Rua Paço 12, 2710-616 Sintra, Portugal.
Botica Saloia is a must for oenophiles spending the day in Sintra. Conveniently located next door to Villa Craft Beer & Bread, the cozy Sintra bar serves a range of Portuguese wines featuring locally produced varietals.
Portugal’s most famous wines hail from regions like the Douro Valley, Dāo and Alentejo, but don’t rule out Sintra wines when you visit Botica Saloia. During our visit, we opted to drink a bottle of Patrão Diogo white wine produced in nearby Colares. Ironically, this is the same white wine we enjoyed during our Incomum lunch.
Sure, we could have opted for glasses of the wine for €3.50 each. But, as value shoppers (and drinkers), we couldn’t pass on the entire bottle for €10.
Beyond wine, Botica Saloia’s menu includes snacks like batatas fritas (fried potatoes) and bruschetta. However, you’re probably better off ordering a plate of Portuguese queijo (cheese) or Iberico presunto (dried ham).
Botica Saloia is located at Rua Paço 16, 2710-616 Lisboa, Portugal.
Additional Sintra Bars
You won’t go hungry if you’re spending one day in Sintra. The bigger issue is narrowing down the options among the many Sintra restaurants, cafes and bars.
Intrepid food travelers, however, will want to explore culinary gems outside of Sintra’s official boundaries. If you fit into this category, we recommend the following destinations :
Bar do Fundo at Praia Grande
Bar do Fundo is a super romantic place to eat seafood with an ocean view. Located at the bottom of Praia Grande, a large beach 12 kilometers from Sintra, Bar do Fundo is worth a visit for its cliffside views alone. Don’t get us wrong – the food is worthwhile too.
Originally opened by a local family as a beach bar, Bar do Fundo expanded to full restaurant status in 2015. The Cotta family remains involved in the operation and serves a varied menu filled with local seafood and potent potables.
Armed with a 6 pm reservation, we took a leisurely Uber ride to Bar do Fundo and somehow arrived a few minutes early. We thought about walking along the beach to kill time but promptly changed our minds when we saw our table with a view.
Is there anything more relaxing than chilling on a restaurant deck with sangria and a view of an ocean at dusk? That answer is a resounding no.
Our summer dinner was a multi-course feast that commenced with garlic shrimp and Spanish style mussels. Though technically starters, both were generously sized. Not wanting to miss a bite, we didn’t stop until there was nothing left to sop up with pāo (bread).
Main dishes were equally large. Following our polvo rule, we ordered grilled octopus as well as seared tuna served with a side of herbed rice and green beans.
Bar do Fundo is located at Avenida Alfredo Coelho, 2705-329 Colares, Portugal.
Souldough Pizza at Aldeia de Praia
A side trip to Aldeia de Praia poses a problem. With a laid back surfer vibe, the sprawling complex has several eateries serving the likes of pizza, hamburgers, pancakes and ice cream.
Many people would be confused about what to eat. As for us, we had journeyed to Aldeia de Praia specifically to eat pizza at Souldough. Our only decision was which pies to order from the half dozen vegetarian options on offer.
Expectations heightened once we saw Souldough’s impressive yellow pizza oven and a crowd queued up to order pizza both to take away and eat in the open-air dining room. However, and we don’t say this lightly, the pizza blew these two pizza fanatics away.
Souldough’s Margherita pie reminded us of the best Neopolitan pies we’ve eaten in Naples with its crispy yet pillowy crust, fresh mozzarella cheese and tangy sauce. As a contrast, the Mushroom Kingdom pie was utterly unique topped with king oyster mushrooms, pesto oil and smoked mozzarella.
Not only do the owners of Souldough ferment their pizza dough for 36 hours, but they also source quality ingredients both locally and from their home country of Italy. After tasting their well executed Neapolitan pies, we can attest that these extra efforts are justified and approved.
Souldough Pizza is located at Avenida Do Atlântico sn, 2705-288 Colares, Portugal.
HopSin Brewpub in Colares
Located on the way to the Aldeia de Praia compound, HopSin is a friendly spot to relax and drink craft beer. Its Colares location feels far less touristic though it’s just seven kilometers from Sintra’s city center.
Not patient to wait for the bus (hey, we were thirsty!) from Sintra, we spent a few extra euros for an uber to whisk us straight to HopSin. Our reward was a choice of nine Mag8 beers on tap.
HopSin brews its beer on-site and follows the craft beer playbook with options like IPA, Porter, Belgian Blond and Roast Abbey. ABV percentages ranged from 4.5% to 9% during our visit.
HopSin’s rooftop terrace features a pleasant hillside view. Chased away by pesky mosquitos and blaring sunshine, we spent most of our time in the taproom. Not that we’re complaining – we liked being closer to the bar where we could order more beer.
Not able to narrow our choices for round two, we shared a flight of five beers – Colares Pale Ale, Black Sparrow Porter, Belgian Blond, Roast Abbey and Wheat Ale. Don’t ask us to pick a favorite – they were all good.
HopSin Brewpub is located at Avenida Do Atlântico 1, 2705-231 Colares, Portugal.
Lisbon to Sintra Train
Don’t even think about renting a car and driving the short distance from Lisbon to Sintra. With a roundtrip costing under €5, taking the train from Lisbon’s Rossio train station to downtown Sintra is a no-brainer.
You won’t need a car once you arrive. Uber trips from Sintra to nearby towns, villages and beaches are less costly than paying for car rental and gasoline. See other options below
Expect trains from Lisbon to Sintra to take 45 minutes and make several stops along the way. You don’t need to worry about missing the Sintra stop since it’s the end of the line.
Traveling Within Sintra
Getting around Sintra is a breeze. You’ll want to do a combination of the following during your visit:
Walking: Sintra’s attractions are within walking distance of each other. However, hills make walking a challenge for those with bad knees or limited time.
Buses: The 434 and 435 tourist buses hit all of the main tourist stops. You can buy tickets at the Sintra train station and do a self-guided loop.
Tram: The Sintra tram is a reasonable way to leisurely travel from central Sintra to Colares and the Praia das Macãs beach. Be sure to check the official timetable to make sure when and if the tram is running during your Sintra day trip.
Uber: The global car-sharing service is a cost-effective option, especially if you’re traveling with a friend or two. It’s also a time-saver if you choose to explore outside of central Sintra.
Plan Your Sintra Stay
Pin It for Later
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.