Last Updated on April 11, 2022 by Soumya
Pena Palace in Sintra is a masterpiece. It is one of the most beautiful castles in Sintra.
The palace is colorful, eclectic, flamboyant, artistic, and sometimes a little too much of everything. You may love it or hate it but you cannot miss seeing it when in Portugal.
So, here is my ultimate guide on how you can make your Pena Palace trip absolutely memorable. Look out for secret tips and tricks.
Please note: This post may contain affiliate links which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link on this post. This will be at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links help me keep this website up and running. Thanks for your support!
Pena Palace History
One of the most evocative castles in Sintra, Pena Palace has a long history to boast of. The palace was built in 1854, on the orders of King consort Ferdinand II, by well-traveled but amateur German architect Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege. The king and queen significantly added to the decorative and symbolic elements such as ornate windows and vaulted arches. That’s why you will find so many different architectural styles at Pena Palace with an overpowering flavor of Romanticism.
On the site where the palace stands today, there was a convent dedicated to local Virgin Mary known as Our Lady of Pena. Thereafter, came a monastery that housed nearly 20 monks of the Order of Saint Jerome. It was only after the site was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake that King Ferdinand II decided to build a palace at this spot. This would serve as a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family for many years to come.
But nothing lasts forever, does it? The royal family fled Portugal during the Revolution of 1910 and the palace eventually fell into disrepair. It was restored in the later half of the 20th century and bestowed with the UNESCO World Heritage status. Today, Pena Palace, along with other beautiful palaces of Sintra, is one of the most visited and prettiest heritage sites in Portugal.
Interesting facts about Pena Palace
Here are some interesting facts about Pena Palace that will make your trip even more exciting.
- Pena Palace literally translates to Feather Palace in Portuguese. However, it gets its name from a medieval chapel dedicated to Virgin Mary on the same site. It was called the Lady of Pena. The site, except for the chapel, was almost completely destroyed in the earthquake of 1755.
- The palace can be seen from many parts of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area on a clear day. I had no idea about this when I went. So, I did not even try. But you could give it a shot at one of the many viewpoints in Lisbon.
- The palace is a national monument and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It is also part of the world heritage site called the Cultural Landscape of Sintra.
- The palace was constructed by an amateur German architect, Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege, a miner and engineer. However, he had traveled widely and drew inspiration from castles back home in Germany and elsewhere in the world to build Pena Palace.
What to do at Pena Palace & Park?
As the name suggests, the palace is divided into two different sections – the palace and the park. I have added a third section – the terraces. I suggest you begin at the palace first because that gets really crowded and then saunter down the garden. If you come really early in the morning, explore the terraces first because that is a great time to take pictures without the crowds.
Inside the Pena Palace
Pena Palace is a mix of Romantic, Medieval, Islamic, Renaissance, neo-Gothic, and neo-Manueline architectural styles. And that is what makes the palace so dreamy and fairytale-like. The red and yellow façade, a curving grand stone staircase, a Manueline cloister, some mythological creatures, domes and turrets give the castle an almost magical feel.
Inside the Pena Palace, you will pass through various staterooms that served as the summer residence for the royal family. A royal dining room, the noble room, bedrooms, and a chapel are some of the notable ones. You will also see the bath complete with a bathtub. And the Pena Palace kitchen is huge. There is also a Pena Palace miniature model that you can touch, feel, and explore – a great thing to do in Portugal with kids.
All the rooms are decorated with gorgeous stucco art. The art technique of Trompe-l’œil is displayed in abundance. And it is quite obvious that the artists have played around and experimented with their ideas here. Each room is unique and worth visiting. The biggest drawback, however, is that you are not allowed to click pictures while inside the palace rooms!!!
Pena Palace Terraces
Perhaps, the most attractive part of Pena Palace are its colorful terraces. They are also great photo spots. One of the most beautiful ones is the Queen’s terrace, which is also the highest terrace in the building. From here, you can get a good view of the rest of the palace and the valley. Note that you cannot access the Queen’s terrace without a palace and park ticket.
The back terrace with its beautiful yellow arches is one of the most popular Instagram spots. You can enter it through a huge gate guarded by the mythical Triton and get a gorgeous panoramic view of the Sintra valley below. From here, you can also walk around the red palace walls and get a good view of the Moorish Castle below.
The last but not the least is the terrace that the Pena Palace restaurant opens up to. (Yes, you can have food at Pena Palace. For details, scroll down to the Tips section.) This is a wonderful place to get a nice view of the Queen’s terrace and the clock tower. Plus, pose under some of those yellow onion domes!
Pena Palace Gardens
The gardens of Pena Palace are some of the prettiest in the whole of Europe. Filled with exotic plants from all around the world as well as native Portuguese flora, the gardens are a labyrinth of wooded paths. Walking or hiking through these or even setting up a picnic in a comfortable corner are great ways to spend the rest of your day at Pena Palace Sintra.
Pena Palace Tickets
There are two ticket options for Pena Palace. One is the Palace & Park ticket that gives you access to the grounds, terraces, and the staterooms. The second is the Park ticket which gives you access to the grounds and terraces. You can check out the latest Pena Palace entrance fee on the Official Website of Parques de Sintra.
You can purchase tickets to Pena Palace at the counter situated right at the entrance of the palace. Or purchase your tickets online if you wish to avoid queues and maintain social distance. Note that online tickets may be slightly more expensive because of online transaction charges.
The Palace and Park ticket is substantially more expensive (almost double) than the Only Park ticket. For example, as of October 2020, the Palace and Park ticket for adults was priced at 14 € whereas the Park ticket was only 7.5 €. So, if you are not keen on checking out the Pena Palace interiors, purchase only a park ticket because that will also give you access to the terraces.
Pena Palace Hours
The park is open between 9 am – 7 pm. Pena Palace is open between 9:30 am – 6:30 pm. The last entrance for both is at 6 pm. Palace and Park remain open on all days of the year except 1st of Jan and 25th of December.
How to get to Pena Palace?
Once you arrive at the Sintra train station from Lisbon, take Bus #434 that will take you to Sintra city center, Moorish Castle, Pena Palace, and back to the station. The bus goes in a loop and is also referred to as the Feather Circuit or Pena Circuit. We suggest you go all the way up to the Pena Palace because that is at the highest point and then walk your way down.
For details on tickets, passes, times of Bus #434, refer to my guide on how to visit Sintra castles from Lisbon.
You can also hike up, e-bike, take a cab, or take a guided tour to get to Pena Palace. We would not advise you to drive here because the roads are hilly and narrow. Plus, parking is definitely an issue in Sintra because of lack of space.
Here are some great guided tour options that will save you the hassle of getting to the castle all by yourself.
Best hotels near Pena Palace
If you are planning to spend a night or two in Sintra within close proximity of the Pena Palace (so that you can get here first or wake up to gorgeous views), then here are the best options. For more accommodation options elsewhere in the city, refer to our Castles of Sintra post.
- Tivoli Palacio de Seteais: Feel like the royalty in this 18th-century palace-now-hotel and experience excellent service and amazing facilities. Plus, get access to privileged views of both Pena Palace and Moorish Castle.
Reserve your stay at Tivoli Palacio de Seteis now.
- Sintra Boutique Hotel: Impeccably clean, perfect location, and courteous staff make Sintra Boutique Hotel an absolute bestseller in this heritage city.
Click to book your stay at Sintra Boutique Hotel.
- Charming Home in Sintra Village: Located in the city center, this apartment boasts of stunning mountain views. They are also known for friendly hosts, comfortable big beds, and a spacious terrace.
Book your stay at Charming Home in Sintra Village now.
- Sintra1012 Boutique Guesthouse: Central location, value for money, spacious accommodation, and friendly staff make this guesthouse an absolute winner. Literally, everything you want to see is at a walking distance from here.
Click here to book your stay at Sintra1012 Boutique Guesthouse.
Other helpful tips for your visit
- There aren’t any cheap eating places near the palace and its a long walk to the city center. So, get a sandwich or a small picnic if you do not want to go hungry. Or you can try a meal at the palace cafeteria which has a lot of options. We chose to eat at the café. Our meals included a soup, a salad, a main course, and a dessert. Their desserts were quite unique and delicious.
- You are not allowed to take pictures inside the palace staterooms. But feel free to click as many possible on the terraces.
- The palace is the most crowded between 10 am – 3 pm. That is usually when the tourist groups start coming in. Avoid these times if possible.
- Get a pair of good walking shoes because a lot of walking and climbing is on the cards in Sintra.
- Get a map in your preferred language at the ticket counter so that you don’t lost in the Pena Palace Park.
- Note that the gardens may be closed if the temperatures soar very high in the summer for the fear of forest fires. You can buy a cheaper only Palace ticket in that case and tour the staterooms and terraces.
- 7 Magical castles of Sintra
- How to get from Lisbon to Sintra by train?
- The best things to do in Lisbon Portugal
- An amazing 10-day itinerary for Portugal by train
- The best heritage towns to visit in Portugal