Halfway between Lisbon and Sintra is Queluz, a refined royal pleasure garden with sculpted hedges, lakes, and fountains. From Rossio take the train toward Sintra and exit at the Queluz-Belas station; it’s about a 15-minute walk to the palace.
Upgrade your ticket to include an audio guide and learn more about the palace’s history at your own pace. You can also book private or group tours to visit the gardens and palace.
Visit the Palacio Nacional de Queluz
The National Palace of Queluz is one of the most important monuments of Portuguese Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical architecture. It was the home of three generations of Portuguese royals, until it was abandoned in 1807 after the French invasion of Portugal.
The palace’s interior offers dozens of rooms that are worthy of being explored. But some stand out more than others. For example, the Throne Room, created for the wedding of King Pedro III and Queen Mary I, has a unique design. A whole team of carvers worked on decorating its walls and ceiling.
The palace’s gardens are another highlight. They are a national heritage site and considered one of the most important gardens in Portugal. They are adorned with hedges, statues, lakes and waterfalls. There is also a labyrinth and a botanical garden. Also, don’t miss the Shells Waterfall (Cascata das Conchas), a fountain designed by Robillon. A true masterpiece.
Visit the Gardens of the Palacio Nacional de Queluz
A short train ride from Lisbon, the National Palace of Queluz and its historic gardens offer a respite from city life. Explore the palace, once a summer residence of the Royal Family, to see how its architecture reflects the evolution of Court tastes throughout the 18th and 19th centuries – from Baroque to Rococo to Neoclassicism.
Enter the state apartments to marvel at the rooms once reserved for operas and musical performances. Don’t miss the Throne Room with its carved wooden ceilings and the Music Room, which is rich in Baroque decorative features. Alternatively, head outside to the Queen of Hearts Garden, once used as recreational space for the family. The highlight is the sculptural group of Cain and Abel by John Cheere, a master of lead sculptures.
The palace opens at 9am every day. The gardens are open until 6pm. A ticket for the palace and the gardens costs 8.5 euros. It is best to visit early in the morning so that you can avoid crowds and enjoy your tour of the palace at your own pace.
Visit the Museum of Gunpowder
The museum delves into the history of the mustard-colored baroque buildings that once housed the world’s only working gunpowder factory. In the more than a dozen well-restored buildings, you can see how gunpowder was made and learn why it was such a dangerous job.
Inside the palace you’ll find tile-clad galleries, a grand hall with gilded plaster and a rich chapel. You’ll also be able to explore the intimate private apartments – including the throne room and the queen’s boudoir, which is famous for its mirrored columns.
Getting to the National Palace of Queluz is easy thanks to the train line that runs from Lisbon. If you take the train from Lisbon Rossio station, it will get you to Queluz-Belas in 17 minutes. The palace is a short walk from the station. Tours and tickets to the palace can be purchased online ahead of time, which helps you skip the onsite ticket office and save money.
Visit the Aquarium of Cascais
As one of the wealthiest municipalities in Portugal, Cascais is marvelously well maintained. Streets are immaculate and red, yellow, and purple flowers adorn lamppost baskets and roundabouts.
The aquarium has an impressive collection of sharks, rays, and other sea creatures from around the world in its state-of-the-art tanks. It also has a touch tank with rare fish and other animals that you can pet.
For a more nature-oriented experience, head to the cliff-lined Boca do Inferno and hike along its rugged shore. It’s a popular spot for surfers and windsurfers, and is best visited during low-tide.
If you’re looking for something more cultural, visit the Museum of Gunpowder, in mustard-colored baroque buildings that once served as a powder mill. Here you can learn about the invention of gunpowder and its history in Portugal. The palace also hosts events throughout the year. During August and September, the palace and gardens become an elaborate stage for Noites de Queluz, enchanting musical re-creations of 18th-century court life.