Are you looking for pet friendly things to do in Sintra, Portugal? This beautiful town is home to stunning palaces, magical sprawling gardens and grand mansions – but exactly how much of it can you see when travelling Portugal with a dog? We recently visited with Lilly and surprisingly, not all of the historic sites in Sintra are off limits. So this week we’re going to show you all the best things to do in Sintra with a dog (and without!)
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Where is Sintra?
Sintra is located on the Portuguese Riviera just 30 minutes East of Lisbon city. Due to being rich in cultural history, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 and is a must visit when travelling Portugal with pets! Because of its location, it’s a great day trip from Libson or an ideal stop on a road trip from Lisbon to Porto.
Best Time To Visit Sintra
Like most places in Portugal, the best time to visit is Spring & Autumn. During this time the weather is nice but not unbearably hot and the crowds are smaller although Sintra does seem to be one of those places where there’s always plenty of tourists, probably due to how accessible it is from Lisbon. It’s manageable any time of year but through summer you can expect massive crowds with scorching temperatures..
The climate in Sintra is warm (average 27’c) through summer, then winters are quite mild and rainy (lows of 15’c) so catching it in those mid-seasons really is the best time to visit Sintra.
Are Dogs Allowed At Sintra?
Sintra, while being like something from a fairytale, is just like every other Portuguese town when it comes to taking your pets – so yes, dogs are allowed in and around Sintra as long as they’re on a lead.
Don’t get me wrong, some (a lot) of things to do in Sintra do have limits. You won’t be able to take your dog with you to Pena Palace, but there’s still plenty to do to make your visit worthwhile so keep reading to learn more about the best pet friendly things to do in Sintra.
Dog Friendly Things To Do In Sintra, Portugal;
Moorish Castle, Sintra
Not only is The Moorish Castle one of the best preserved Castles in Portugal but due to being built on the highest peak in the Sintra mountains, it also has the best views of the area and yet, it’s one of the quieter places to visit in Sintra despite it being quite easy to access
So can you take dogs to Moorish Castle, Sintra?
The answer is YES!
I wish we’d known this sooner so we could factor in a full visit while we were in Sintra but, unfortunately, the signs and maps in town still say dogs aren’t allowed. This meant we only planned a walk around the outskirts later in the day, arriving just as it was starting to close and it was then we saw the big *dogs welcome* sign. Nevermind.
So if you’re travelling with your dog you absolutely can take dogs to the Moorish Castle as long as they’re; on a fixed lead,1 per person, microchipped and well behaved. They also have a 5 dog max limit to the whole park, so you might get asked to wait your turn if there’s already 5 dogs inside. Make sure you consult their website for the latest dog accessibility rules because it looks like this is a fairly new rule.
How To Get To The Moorish Castle, Sintra:
You have a few options for how to get to the Moorish Castle in Sintra. On foot, tuktuk (also dog friendly!) Or by bus. You can no longer drive to, or park near, The Moorish Castle.
If you’re looking for parking close to Pena Palace or parking in Sintra National Park you’re quite limited on options and if you’re driving a large motorhome or truck you’ll want to be aware that the roads are narrow and windy.
We did manage to find two parking lots (here, and here) that are a decent size for motorhomes, in the national park and close to the walking tracks as well as the TukTuk/bus stops, or you can park in Sintra and take a longer trip up.
Pena Palace, Sintra
If you’ve seen photos of Pena Palace, you already know it’s like something from a fairytale. With its yellow and red walls, it’s perhaps the most iconic place to visit while in Lisbon.
Pena palace was designed in 1854 by the king who wanted a summer house in the region. The beautiful architecture and exotic gardens makes it the perfect full day activity on a day trip from Lisbon.
Once you have your tickets you’re free to wander the gardens all day but your entrance into the inner palace is restricted to 300 every half an hour so you’ll be given a set time slot when you book your ticket. Make sure you’re in the queue for this in plenty of time to ensure you don’t miss out.
Are dogs allowed in Pena Palace?
Unfortunately, it isn’t one of the dog friendly things to do in Sintra and when you consider it receives 2 million visitors a year, it’s really not surprising, but if you’re staying in an AirBnB who is happy for pup to be left alone (and the pup is happy being left alone!) Pena Palace should be up there on your list of things to do in Sintra.
If you do decide to leave pup at home, or are travelling without a dog, you can either make your own way there and park in the car parks previously mentioned or join a guided tour
Tivoli Palácio de Seteais
Want to treat your puppy to a royal view? A visit to Hotel Tivoli Palácio de Seteais is a must while in Sintra.
Built in 1787, Hotel Tivoli Palácio de Seteais is a luxury hotel in Sintra that allows the public to walk around its grounds and experience the view from the picturesque arch. Even though we were only there for about 30 minutes, it was one of our favourite dog friendly things to do in Sintra and it was really quiet.
Quinta da Regaleira
If you’ve been touring other Knights Templar sites in Portugal, Quinta da Regaleira is probably already at the top of your list of the best places to see in Sintra.
Yes it’s a popular tourist spot, but it’s certainly not as popular as Pena Palace and the vast gardens allow for you to walk around without feeling crowded.
These gardens are shrouded in mystery thanks to the Knights Templar’s history here and the inverted towers (also known as initiation wells). From the gardens you’d be forgiven for mistaking them as innocent wells but on closer inspection you’ll realise they’re a set of narrow spiral staircases leading to a network of underground tunnels. Nobody really understands why they’re here or what they were used for but since they’re the most popular attraction at Quinta Da Regaleira you can join the queue and head down into them to experience it for yourself – it’s worth it!
There are several extravagant buildings and hidden corners at Quinta da Regaleira so you could easily spend a full day here – especially if you’re a fan of plants too!
Entrance tickets are 11 per person, or you can buy your tickets with an audio tour guide here
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Can dogs go into Quinta da Regaleira?
This was one of the day trips to Sintra that we did without Lilly because unfortunately Quinta da Regaleira isn’t one of the pet friendly things to do in Sintra.
Once again, if you want to visit Quinta da Regaleira you can park here or in Sintra. TukTuks stop right outside the gardens, as do the public buses and Sintra hop on hop off tours.
Lagoa dos Mosqueiros
So many people visit Sintra for the day to whizz around the amazing palaces then leave without a second thought of what’s hiding in the wood! If you take a moment to explore further from the roads, you’ll actually find lakes, ruins, waterfalls and beautiful woodland tracks – perfect if you’re visiting Sintra with a dog!
If you park at this car park and walk to the back of it you’ll find a small waterfall with a track running alongside. Follow this track and you’ll eventually find Lagoa dos Mosqueiros.
This small lake was the perfect stop for us before we headed on up the hill, following random woodland tracks, until we reached the castle. Unfortunately, we took so many twists and turns once we left the lake that I can’t say exactly which route we did, but all through the woods you’ll find old ruins of water mines and it’s a great opportunity for wildlife spotting.
Walk Around São Martinho, Sintra
São Martinho is the neighbourhood of Sintra that houses all of the things to do in Sintra that I’ve mentioned so far. As you can imagine, it can be pretty busy especially through summer but wandering the tiny narrow streets provides some great people watching, good eats/drinks and unique shopping opportunities.
Top tip when visiting Sintra with a dog – try to keep pup close by. The streets are busy and not everyone will move out of the way for a dog. More than once, even with her right by our side, Lilly has almost been stood on in busy areas. In these situations we now walk with one of us either side to give her a little more buffer from foot traffic.
Dog Friendly Places To Eat In Sintra
Admittedly we’ve only taken Lilly to Sintra once so our recommendations for the best dog friendly places to eat in Sintra are very limited BUT the place we chose to eat was so good we thought it deserved a mention.
This great dog friendly place to eat in Sintra is Bristol! This fantastic bistro cafe is located just around the corner from Palácio Nacional de Sintra (one of the most popular places to visit in Sintra that we haven’t visited yet) and is very dog friendly if you choose to sit outside. The waiter brought water out for her without us having to ask (although we always travel with a bowl for her) and also asked if we wanted to order anything for her, I thought it was adorable but I’m sure this depends on the waiter rather than being customary at Bristol.
Aside from being a pet friendly cafe in Sintra, the food was really good and pretty cheap considering it’s in the centre of São Martinho.
I will add to this that I’m confident any cafe in Sintra will welcome dogs providing you sit outside and they don’t cause any problems.
Dog Packing List For Sintra
Much like when we visited Evora with Lilly, you won’t need to take too much extra with you but depending on your breed some of the pet friendly things to do in Sintra do have some unusual requirements:
Passport/Health Certificate/Vaccination booklet.
Legally you need to have these on you when travelling with a dog in Portugal, even if you only plan to walk around town. The sign outside of the Moorish Castle said they’ll want to see proof of microchip which should be listed on one of these documents.
A water bottle with a collapsible bowl is non-negotiable when travelling with a dog, especially in hotter climates. Yes, dog friendly cafes in Sintra will likely provide water in a tupperware but you want to be able to give your pup a drink whenever they need it.
Lilly is a high energy dog whose weight literally drops off her if we don’t keep her calorie intake up when we’re on the move all day so snacks have become a staple when she comes along for the day. We also like to consistently reward good behaviour in new environments to help her learn and become an even better travel pup.f
Did you know chewing helps a dog destress? This is why we also try to take a longer lasting chew with us for a midday snack and if you’re working on socialising with a puppy or rescue it might be a good idea for you too! Not only will it help them decompress, it keeps them busy while you’re trying to enjoy a coffee (or cocktail) or two
We get our long lasting chews from Natural Treat, get 10% off with code LillyPod10
Again, this is a requirement for The Moorish Castle, more so if you have a large or restricted breed. This means 1m or shorter, so our Standard lead would be too long and your probably is too so make sure to take a backup in case you get questioned about it.
There’s a lot of stigma around muzzles but there really shouldn’t be, I won’t go into this in this post but if you want to learn more you can read about it here.
So why do you need a muzzle for visiting Sintra with your dog? Well, firstly if you have a restricted breed you need to muzzle your dog whenever you’re in public but outside of that, dogs may also be asked to wear one when using public transport.
Since Lilly isn’t a restricted breed, and we don’t use public transport, we don’t carry a muzzle when travelling but we are working on muzzle training just in case.
Fun tip – dogs cannot be refused on buses or trains in Portugal but you must remain standing and keep them under control.
Is Sintra Worth Visiting?
Whether you’re thinking of visiting Sintra with a dog, or going alone, we think Sintra is 100% worth visiting. The narrow laneways and beautiful architecture mean you can easily spend a full day or two exploring everything Sintra has to offer, even if you don’t want to visit every palace or popular tourist spot.
Did any of these dog friendly things to do in Sintra surprise you? Did we miss anything that needs adding to the list? Let us know in the comments!