Finally, after many destinations, while “descending” from the north of Portugal, we finally arrive at my favorite place in Portugal -> Sintra!
There is a lot to see here, so I suggest that you should stay at least 2-3 days with one extra day of travel, either if you come from Lisbon (airport) or from Lourinha. In fact, you need to get here early, as many parks don’t stay open for too long.
Here are my personal picks to better depict Sintra. Please note that each will have its own article.
016.1 National Palace of Sintra – this article.
016.2 The secrets of Regaleira – next article 017.
016.3 The old walls of the Moors Castle – 018.
016.4 The colourful Palace of Pena-019.
016.5 And the beautiful Monserrate-020.
All of them deserve at least one article, and all of them deserve a few hours if not days to rest assured that all has been seen.
But we start with -> Sintra the city.
16.6 Vegetation, ornaments and long stories
While in most articles, getting around by car is fairly convenient, Sintra is so romantic and so full of details, that driving even at slow speed could be synonymous with missing out on many things. Also, the streets are packed with tourists, so you are better of walking.
16.7 Squares everywhere
So how to get here?
Well, you could leave your rented car in Lisbon, so that you don’t pay extra days. Or simply find a parking place near where you are going to stay for the night.
There are trains coming and going from Sintra so no need to panic. Of course, there are also buses from many cities that are going to Sintra, and beyond.
016.8 The train station with the Moors Castle on top of the mountain.
Is it hard to visit Sintra on foot?
Walking in Sintra, and around, will imply a lot of climbing, descending and walking inline (as some pedestrial streets are very, very narrow). So when too much, is just too much, take the bus, or the mini-bus or even the horse chariot (there are many).
16.9 Sintra, the city and the Municipal Chamber
When to visit Sintra?
Well, when is cheaper for you, some might say.
I personally would advise late-spring/early summer or late autumn/early winter. Why not July, August? Because of fires in the forest. The risk is very high and you might not really enjoy your stay that much. In some of my articles, you can see the fire in the forest, and I will actually have one article dedicated to that, as I was in the middle of one.
016.10 Sintra is full of colours.
So why not the Christmas period? This is the season with lots of rain (winter-early spring) and while the majority of the area is filled with vegetation, on the peaks on Pena Castle or the Moors, it can get really windy and cold (even on spring).
016.11 Houses on Rua Alfredo da Costa
So, yeah I went 2 times (as the time of this article) both times in the Spring when tons of flowers were colouring the landscape.
Where to go first?
The town is so beautiful and if you are lucky you might see the many carriages that give some extra charm.
I would not advise to go up on the mountains to the famous Pena Castle or the Moors Castle (actually is just the wall) on your first day.
016.12 The Moors Castle visible from all around Sintra.
Instead, I would warm up, by walking the many streets that house artisans, fountains, coffee shops with special pastries made with cheese or even visit museums.
016.13 Curious resident watching
016.14 Hidden entry
I did not take photos of the restaurants or the coffee shops, because each person has his own taste. Most kids stay in the area of the train station, the fast-food area. Others prefer the luxurious restaurants near the National Palace. I prefer the more “clean and clear” approach with some flowers and some Bio in the name tag. They have all kinds of shops, for everyone.
016.15 View over National Palace (the huge double conical chimneys), Sao Martinho Church.
Getting lost on the streets is one of the pleasures of being at Sintra. In fact, if you plan to visit some museums of famous houses or the palace/castle you should add more than 2-3 days to your stay. You are closing into 5 days more or less if you ask me, the National Palace is no small place to visit and it will take some hours to do.
16.16 Painting on the ceramic walls – Azulejos.
The history on Sintra Palace goes way back to the VII-th century during the occupation of the Moors. But then Afonso Henriques takes it in 1147 and since then it housed the royal families, up until 1910 when it becomes a museum.
16.17 The most symbolic feature of the National Palace of Sintra: huge, white conical, chimneys.
Also, some might ask, whats with the chimneys?
Well is not due to the Moors. Actually, the former palace was destroyed, and this one exists since the XVth century. It is huge, so huge that the kitchen needed those conical chimneys. But all was made to impress also and to start discussions. This place was heavily visited especially during the summer heat or just for hunting purposes.
16.18 White and a colour
But, since we are in Portugal, is already a custom that not all the beautiful areas have to be big and symbolic.
Every road, every house, every fountain, has something to show, a story to tell, and Azulejos, blue paintings on white ceramic tiles.
16.19 Municipal Chamber
I will end this article on the following note:
Please come to Sintra, even if is the only place you will visit in entire Portugal. It might not have a beach, nor dinosaurs but… it has everything else.
See you in the next article for more,