Monserrate Palace in Sintra

Monserrate Palace in Sintra

Portugal
Portugal

When Is the Best Time

Monserrate Palace and park are a unique and overwhelming place still not overrun. It is an excellent escape from Lisbon and overlooked due to the nearby Pena Palace. It is a wonderful planned garden with plants from all over the world. It doesn't surprise that Monserrate Palace is a popular wedding location.

The Palace and Garden in the winter on a sunny day.
To the left is a Christmas Tree from New Zealand - in summer blooming in red.

The palace is located close to the historic centre of Sintra. Sintra is popular and busy from late morning onwards. Monserrate is part of the “Three Palace Tour” but the quietest of all, even in the busy summer and holiday season. The best time for your visit is in the morning in the peak season. I recommend the afternoon with the best sunlight for awesome shots outside and inside the castle in the low season.

Monserrate Palace and its art work from inside
Corridor; connecting the three towers of the palace. 

You easily spend half a day here. Soak in the masterpieces of art with Gothic Arabian and Indian influences. We have visited Monserrate multiple times and never get bored of this palace and unique garden. The garden received the European Garden Award in 2013.

Parking Monserrate Palace

Monserrate Palace limited parking and full at weekends.
Limited parking left of the palace.

Another advantage for Monserrate is the parking. You can park your car next to the palace, which is an exception in Sintra. Google Maps Parking

Avoiding Tourist Crowds 

An old and big tree in the garden of Monserrate Palace
There are many photo opts in the beautiful garden - me in the winter.

In July and August, Sintra is completely overrun. If you want to visit Monserrate in summer, you should go either early or late in the day. Weekends are even busier, and it might be very difficult to find a parking space—also, the Portuguese love Sintra with the cooler temps in summer. Winter is the best time to avoid masses of tourists coming by bus from Lisbon and swarming around.

Chapel in Monserrate Garden overgrown by nature
This ruin was the replaced chapel of "Our Lady of Monserrate" rebuilt by Francis Cook (1817-1901). Monserrate was his family's summer residence.

My favourite months are May until mid-June and September, less hot and busy, mostly with a blue sky. However, our last two visits were in the winter. We experienced 16°C in Lisbon and 13°C in Sintra, and it was sunny with pleasant temps for weeks. None of the places gets crowded from November to February except during the Christmas Season. 

Opening Hours and Tickets Monseratte Palace & Park

Monserrate exact opening hours information board
Opening Hours
  • High Season (end of March until the end of October.)
    Palace 9.30 am until 7 pm last admission 6.15 pm and the park until 8 pm -  Entrance fee: adult 8 €
     
  • Low Season (end of October until the end of March)
    Palace 10.00 am until 6 pm last admission 5.30 pm and the park until 6 pm - Entrance fee: adult 6,50 € and family 22 € (2 adults and 2 under 18 years)
     
  • Ticket Tip
    You get a 5 % discount when buying tickets online, and to avoid lining up during the peak season: Buy tickets

Weather

Monserrate Palace at sunset
The entrance hall and the south tower were Francis Cook's private chamber.

We have already visited the Lisbon area 20 times in 15 years - just once we experienced a couple of rainy days. Although Sintra has a different climate to Cascais and Lisbon because of the high elevation, the summer can be scorching, topping 30°C, but there is mostly a pleasant breeze in summer.

Huge old trees covered in fog in Sintra.
Fog occurs in higher elevations in Sintra at the end of December.

The winter is colder here and often foggy. The weather is more unpredictable from October to March, and more precipitation occurs. However, it seldom rains an entire week. Sintra looks mystic if it is misty, and it appears even more fascinating.

Palacio de Pena high up on a hill
View to Palacio de Pena from the garden of Monserrate Palace

Mid to end of December, the weather is frequently fine from my own experience and my friends of PortugalWalkHike agree.

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Sintra National Park
Portugal
Portugal

Monserrate Palace is rich in history dating back to 1540. It was a chapel dedicated to “Our Lady of Monserrate” that belonged to Lisbon's All Saints Hospital. The chapel was destroyed by a terrible earthquake in 1755, and got rebuilt by three investors from England.

The Main Hall Dome in Monserrate
The Main Hall Dome - The Octagonal is a wooden structure decorated with plasterwork.

The last of the three Francis Cook (1817-1901), a textile millionaire, took the palace's ruins to create the family summer residence. Monserrate Palace combined Arabic, Gothic and Indian architectural styles and was used as their summer house.

The Indian Arch surrounded by palm and deciduous trees.
The Indian Arch on the opposite of the palace.

The palace is surrounded by a breathtaking garden with plants and trees from around the world. Directly at the palace is a huge New Zealand Christmas Tree (Pohutukawa) covered with red flowers in early summer, in December in New Zealand, the reason for its tree name.

The library in the palace with a huge table and 14 chairs.
The walls are entirely covered in walnut bookshelves.

The palace is almost not furnished except for the library. It was emptied of furniture, carpets, paintings, and collections in the middle of the 20th century. Each room has a description and a picture of what the room looked like a long time ago.

Indian alabaster panels
The Indian Alabaster in Mogul Style

A map is handed at the entrance giving you an idea about the palace and the park. Our highlight was the gallery, the corridor connecting the three parts of the palace.

The long corridor with pillars and a window at the end.
The many arches and columns create an illusion of enormous depth.

Also, the old chapel ruin covered with fig trees is a stunning place for incredible shots. It replaced the former chapel of “Our Lady of Monserrate”.

The ruins of the chapel in the garden overgrown by a fig tree.
The old chapel is covered with an immense fig tree. 

Sintra has been a unique Unesco World Heritage Site since 1995 and is famous for being the first centre of European Romantic architecture in the 19th century. The Palace of Monserrate was restored and reopened in 2010.

One of the many big old trees in Monserrate Park

Plan at least two hours for the self-guided tour through the palace and the huge park. We always stay here half a day sitting on the lawn, enjoying the sun and the beautiful surroundings, walking through the park and admiring the old trees and the corridor is just beautiful to watch.

How to Get To Sintra and the Different Palaces

Map of the bus route through Sintra
This bus stops at all the famous sights of Sintra.

There is a Hop on Hop off bus called CitySightseeing Sintra operating every twenty-minute during the opening hours of Monserrate Palace.

 

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I am always open, curious about new…