When Is the Best Time
Monserrate Palace and garden are a unique and overwhelming place still not overrun. It is a great escape from Lisbon. An excellent planned garden with plants from all over the world. It doesn't come as a surprise Monserrate Palace is also a popular wedding location.
The palace is located close to the historic centre of Sintra. Sintra is popular and busy from late morning on. 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. In the low season, I recommend the afternoon with the best sunlight for awesome shots outside and inside the castle.
You easily spend half a day here. Soak in the masterpieces of art with Gothic Arabian and Indian influences. We visited Monserrate already several times and never get bored of this palace and unique garden. The garden received the European Garden Award in 2013.
Parking Monserrate 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
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.
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. during the day. It was sunny with pleasant temps for weeks. None of the places gets crowded from November to February except the Christmas Season.
Opening Hours Palace and Park and Entrance Fee
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)
Tip: You get a 5 % discount when buying tickets online and avoid queuing in the peak season: Buy tickets
We visited Lisbon area already 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 very hot with up to 30°C. There is mostly a pleasant breeze in summer.
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 in the mist is spectacular, and it appears even more mystic.
Mid to end of December, the weather is frequently fine from my own experience and my friends of PortugalWalkHike agree.
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
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. It was destroyed by the terrible earthquake in 1755, got rebuilt by three investors from England.
The last 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 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 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 how the room looked like a long time ago.
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.
Also, the old chapel ruin covered with fig trees is a stunning place for awesome shots. It replaced the former chapel of “Our Lady of Monserrate”.
Sintra a unique Unesco World Heritage Site since 1995 and famous for being the first centre of European Romantic architecture in the 19th century. The Palace of Monserrate was restored and reopened in 2010.
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 admire the old trees and the corridor is just beautiful to watch.
How to Get To Sintra and the Different Palaces
There is a Hop on Hop off bus called CitySightseeing Sintra operating every twenty-minute during the opening hours of Monserrate Palace.