Visiting the National Pena Palace

5 Tips for Visiting the National Palace of Pena

This Romanticist castle on the top of a hill above the town of Sintra is one of the must-sees in Portugal. This means that it attracts a drove of visitors. Here are our tips for visiting the National Palace of Pena with kids or without so you get the most out of the wonderful experience.

1. Should I visit the National Palace of Pena?

I was lucky to visit the palace as a teen when I came to Portugal with my parents. Due to its yellow and red color and exotic exterior, which was so different from the castles I was used to, it stuck in my mind. It’s one of the few things I remember from that trip years ago.

    Even though the must-see sights are often overrated, this is not the case with the National Palace of Pena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

    That’s why it’s on everyone’s itinerary. And it was on ours as well.  

    2. Can I buy tickets in advance?

    Portugal regularly ranks among the best tourist destinations in Europe. This means you should always be prepared for crowds, especially if you plan to visit its most popular places, such as Sintra and Pena Palace.

    I strongly advise buying tickets well in advance, especially if you plan on visiting the palace in the Summer when it’s the busiest.

    Buying tickets at least three days in advance will give you a 15 % discount.   

    3. When’s the best time to visit the National Palace of Pena?

    I did some research and found that the best time for a visit is as soon as the palace opens, which is 9.30. Or you can catch the last slot at 17.30. That’s when it’s the least crowded.

    But be aware that you have to be at the entrance to the Pena Palace at precisely that time, not the entrance to the Park. There’s a steep walk from the Park’s entrance to the palace entrance. Officially, you will find information that it takes 30 minutes to climb it. But we rushed and needed less than 10.

    If you have trouble walking, a bus can take you to the top for a small fee. But there was such a crowd when we were there that we decided we’d rather walk.

    4. Where to park when visiting the National Palace of Pena?

    We thought, and Google didn’t dissuade us, that we could park at the top of the mountain. It seems that until recently, that was the option. It isn’t any longer. This means you should park your car in Sintra and walk to the top, which, according to our information, takes about an hour, maybe a little more. Or you can choose public transport.

    We were in a hurry, so we opted for public transport.

    If you choose to walk, remember that you will need more time.

    5. How much time do I need to visit the National Palace of Pena?

    The good news is that you can stay inside as much as you like once you enter. We needed about 2 hours of slowly walking, admiring the lovely rooms, and reading the explanations. I am afraid my knowledge of Portugal’s history is almost non-existent, so I appreciated the opportunity to learn more.

    The castle was formerly a convent. The earthquake in the 18th century reduced it to ruins until King Ferdinand acquired it in 1838. He transformed it into a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family.  In 1889, it was purchased by the Portuguese State, and later, it became a museum.

    Today, you can admire the lavish chambers of the former residents, the elegant dining room decorated with tiles, sitting rooms, and a great hall with a 72-candel chandelier.

    I also recommend taking some time to admire the views outside the palace. You can see the nearby medieval Castle of the Moors, the town of Sintra, and the sea.

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