The Magical, Tropical Retreat of The Portuguese Nobility – Sintra!
“This is a magical place” I’ve never heard this phrase so many times! My fiancee repeatedly said this as we explored this fairy tale UNESCO listed location. When I was researching for our time in Portugal I kept seeing photographs of this incredible shining, multi coloured palace perched on top of a hill with incredible panoramic views, The Pena Palace, I knew we had to visit that place! It’s no wonder that in the 18th century this was the place the royals chose to escape the heat of the nearby city of Lisbon. This was somewhere we really wished we could spend longer in, we kept putting off leaving just to let it all sink in as long as we possibly could!
Located in the foothills of the Sintra mountains which sweep all the way down to the Atlantic coast, with it’s cooler climate, the location is perfect to escape the balmy city heat of Lisbon. It can be reached from the capital in just 30 minutes by car or 50 minutes by public transport, Sintra, if you have the time (if you don’t…then really you should make time!) is a must do day trip from Lisbon.
Full of colour and stunning architecture, I think I was probably walking around with my mouth wide open in disbelief. The town centre is dominated by the bright white Moorish style Sintra National Palace, we explored the walkways through and around the palace and loved every second of it.
For me it’s hard to imagine a building being more Portuguese! Sintra itself has a history of over 1000 years and there are references of there being a palace here since the 11th century! The national palace can be seen today pretty much as it would of been in the 16th century.
You can pay to explore inside the palace between 9:30 am and 7pm (last ticket at 6:30), tickets cost 10 euros for adults 8.50 euros for kids, those under 6 go free. We wandered up the stairway and trough an archway totally wrapped up in our surroundings…until we realised we had strayed into the police station car park!
When we visited it was not high season and there were no crowds at all…all the better for exploring and taking everything in. However, everything I have read about Sintra suggests that in the high season the tourist crowds flock here for a day trip, and to get those Instagram pictures of the palaces!
Perched on top of a hill is the Moorish Castle overlooking the town. Sintra is within a national park, and the trees and plants seem eager to swallow up this castle, bu it makes for some amazing sights, and given the elevation there are some great views over the town and the surrounding area.
Again for 8 euros or 6.50 for kids you can go in and around the ancient castle and take in the incredible views.
The town itself is lovely to explore, the square in front of the national palace has great cafes and restaurants dotted around it. Cobbled streets wind their way up the hillside hiding more little restaurant gems and interesting shops. It’s just such a pleasant and lovely place to spend time.
Having spent time in the Algarve taking in the stunning natural beauty of the coastline there, and then moving onto vibrant, buzzing Lisbon Sintra gave us something totally different and unique, not just in Portugal, but anywhere in the world, there is definitely magic in the air here!
You can book day tours to Sintra from Lisbon via the TripAdvisor website, they also offer combined tickets to the attractions of Sintra.
The Pena Palace (Pictured at the top) is a big big highlight of a trip to Sintra…or so they say! We planned our time here poorly and missed out…I was absolutely gutted! A road winds it way up through the twisted trees of the forest towards the 19th century palace…but…after finding parking…and making our way to the entrance gate…we were turned away…AAAAAARGH! Don’t make the same mistake….a quick search on Instagram will whet your appetite enough to make you realise that this is not to be missed…oh well…another place added to the ever growing list of places we need to return to!
If you’re thinking of heading to Portugal, somewhere which has recently be named as the most affordable place to visit from the UK, definitely make time for Sintra and add some magic to your stay!
Thanks for reading…look out for my upcoming posts about our amazing adventure in Bavaria! Counting down the days till we head out to Thailand, Singapore and Bali…Bring it on!