I planned my trip to the town called Sintra for the last day of my stay in Lisbon. Before I even left for this trip I had heard from so many people that Sintra and Pena Palace are places not to be missed.
Maybe it was not the best idea to leave it for my last day. I have been wandering through the streets of Lisbon in the previous three days and when I travel, I always try to see as much as possible. That means that I get up early because I want to enjoy interesting spots and sights without crowds of tourists. Then I wander all day and come back to the hotel in the evening. If you have done this before you know how tiring it can get. In only four days I walked over 70 kilometers although I was using public transport as well. But Lisbon is that kind of place you just have to experience on your feet. Plus I was enjoying being out as the weather was amazing and the temperatures reached over 30 degrees Celsius in the afternoon!
Anyway, what was I trying to say? I was so tired on my last day, that I totally forgot to visit one place that was on my list since I booked my flights. Well, at least I will mention it at the end of this post, so you can go and see it instead of me and maybe also send me a photo 🙂
Town of Sintra
Sintra is one of the most significant tourist destinations in the entire Portugal and is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In the past, the city had been the summer residence for the royal family and nowadays it’s a place which will be enjoyed both by the history and nature lovers. Right in the centre of the town you can visit Palácio Nacional de Sintra (known also as the Royal Palace) and the whole area is surrounded by museums, restaurants, bars and parks. Sintra is also known mainly for the following historical buildings: Palácio da Pena, Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle) or residence Quinta da Regaleira.
How to get to Sintra from Lisbon?
Best is to take the train that leaves twice an hour from the train station Rossio in the centre of Lisbon. The journey takes only 40 minutes. I went on Monday as I heard that weekends are super busy but once I reached the station I was unpleasantly surprised by the queue for the train tickets. All the counters were closed and there were available only three ticket machines for about sixty people! Later I found out that the train station employees were on a strike but luckily there was a tobacco shop where they were selling tickets as well. One way costs around 3€.
How to get to the palaces?
After your arrival to Sintra, you have few options. You can either queue for bus nr. 434 that will take you straight to the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace. One way costs 3,90€ which is quite expensive for Portugal, or you can walk. I was trying to figure out how to get there on foot but found so many articles saying that it’s not a good idea, that the path is too long and steep. So to go there, I took the bus but on my way back I found the hiking trail that as it turned out was not that bad as I read. Actually, it was a very pleasant walk though a beautiful forest with lovely views along the Vila Sassetti. So if you like hiking take this trail. If you wear comfortable shoes, you can easily walk up as well.
This eccentric palace was built in 1840 by King Ferdinand as a gift for his wife Queen Maria II. It’s a mixture of gothic, renaissance and Moorish elements. Pena Palace is surrounded by large Parque da Pena where you can easily spend the entire day walking around the lakes, admiring small towers and fountains.
There are two kind of entrance fees to choose from. The first one for 7,50€ will allow you to enter the part and the palace terraces. The second one for 14€ will enable you to explore also the interior of the palace. I decided for the first option and was really happy with that because already at 11 am there was a ridiculous queue to enter the inside. So if you want to see it all, be the first to arrive. The Pena Palace opens its premises at 9:30 am.
Castelo dos Mouros
If you want to visit the Moorish Castle follow the hiking trail, there is no need to take the bus again. Once you walk through the Pena Park and you reach the lake area, exit, walk across the road to the parking area and there you will see big signs saying Hiking Trail. This will actually lead you also to Sintra town.
Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle) was built in the 8th century and is the oldest architectural building in the area. Once you reach the castle, you can enjoy amazing views over the national park Sintra – Cascais.
Quinta da Regaleira
This unusual gothic house from the 19th century is surrounded by gardens that are full of mysterious religious symbols, secret alleys and caves. You should definitely not miss the initiation well here, which I did. This well was pumped out, extended and apparently was used for ritual ceremonies. Looks a bit scary, what do you think?
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