There is so much to do in Lisbon it might not occur to you to take a day trip from there. But if you have an extra day to spare, I would highly recommend taking time out to visit the wonder that is Sintra. Sintra is a resort town at a foothill of the Sintra Mountains and it is just gorgeous.
There a few different ways to get to Sintra. The train is the most cost effective and takes roughly an hour from the centre of Lisbon. I think a return ticket comes to just under €5 (bargain!). We drove which cost us €75 for two days with Avis. It’s a bit of a steeper option but we enjoy the freedom of a car so we opted for that. There are also several buses that go here from the centre, including tours that will take you to various places around Sintra.
The one brilliant part about having a car meant we could drive along the coast. We thought that an opportunity to drive the Portuguese coast would be few and far between so although it added time to the journey we took this route anyway. This brought us to the beautiful Cascais for a stopover both to Sintra and on the way back. We didn’t actually do anything here apart from watch people surf, walk by the port and drink some coffee – but that’s all you really need to do here, as well as take in the views!
SINTRA NATIONAL PARK:
Palace Of Pena:
When you arrive in Sintra you have the option of buying two tickets. General admission which is €8.50 or admission to the grounds and inside the castle for €11.50 each. We opted for the full ticket not really knowing what lay ahead. We started by the Valley of the Lakes, a wonderful part of the gardens covered in different lakes with little buildings in the middle. There are heaps of fish in each pond as well as their token little Black Swan. She is really friendly and obviously very used to being hand fed because she came to us looking for food!
From the lakes we walked up (and up, and up…) towards the castles. Although this really takes it out of you it’s definitely worth it for the different views you get of the castle and once you get there it feels very rewarding!
The castle itself is really a sight to behold. I isn’t something you should rush and it is so big around it that you should really try explore every part and take your time around it. It’s really interesting as well because of the different colours and areas. A few steps will bring you into a new colour and style of castle – it’s honestly just a really cool building!
Inside the castle wasn’t my thing if I’m honest – it was interesting but it was last lived in no longer than 100 years ago so it’s not as steeped in history as you would imagine. In saying this, entry allows you to certain parts of the castle you would not get to if you don’t pay and allows you access to a balcony with amazing views. This is also just my personal opinion – other people might fall in love with the inside!
The High Cross:
When we were finished wandering around The Palace of Pena we decided to take a hike up the high cross. The castle is absolutely stunning, but even better when you can see it as a whole from afar! Don’t be put off by how far away it might seem. While you are at the castle the high cross is a meer statue in the distance, but once you get going it only takes about 15 minutes (uphill though sadly!) to get there. Once you are there you can climb the rocks and get a good view of the castle – as well as the high cross itself! From here you also have a wonder view of the surrounding area.
Castelo Dos Mouros:
Although we didn’t get to go to the Moorish Castle – Castelo dos Mouros you can see it from various parts of the Palace of Pena. Although it doesn’t look like much from afar, I am definitely sorry we didn’t make time for the trip out. Upon further investigation, this castle really is a beautiful site and is such a different style to the other castles around.
All in all I would definitely recommend visiting Sintra. There are even more places to visit than the mentioned above as well as the actual National Palace of Sintra. At only an hour away from Lisbon I would definitely think not going would be a missed opportunity. As somewhere I have rarely heard about it is also something different to do to the usual activities in Lisbon.
Have you ever been to Sintra? Or would you like to go after seeing it? 🙂