Planning a trip to Lisbon, Portugal soon? If it’s not among your near future plans, it definitely deserves to be added to your bucket list! It’s a gorgeous city I had the chance to see in the spring of 2016 and, my best time there was the day I spent in Sintra, a wonderful place just outside of the capital. Just before leaving, as I was discussing my plans to see Spain and Portugal with a friend of mine. He told me about Sintra and how I absolutely had to take a day trip there. At first I thought to myself: “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”… I had less than three weeks for this whole trip and spending a day out of Lisbon when my time there already seemed too short didn’t sound like a smart plan. That’s until he showed me the pictures from his time in Sintra, describing it like an “Adult Disney land”. So I decided to go… and guys, it was even better than I thought it would be!
How to get there
Sintra is only 25 Km away from Lisbon and is really easy to access with a 40 minute train trip ! The train leaves from Rossio station, in central Lisbon and it only costs €2,15 for the Lisbon-Sintra ticket and €4.30 for the Sintra-Lisbon ticket. The train will take you to the Sintra station, which is 1.5km to the east of the historic town centre. I recommend leaving on an early train as you will want to spend as much time as possible in Sintra. Check the schedule the day before you go and decide which train you will embark on, than get to the Rossio station early enough to buy the tickets, since long lines to ticket machines are not unusual.
Settling up for the day and getting around
Once you arrive in Sintra, follow the signs to the historic town center. Then, locate the tourist information center. There, you can get a map of Sintra, together with information on all there is to see and how to get to each place. You can buy your entrance ticket. They offer some packages that include many places, which will save you more money than if you buy your tickets at the different entrances. It is possible to walk from place to place, but I would recommend taking one of the 434 buses to go up the mountain, in order to not waste all your energy and time on the climb. The bus that goes up and down the hill costs €5. Believe me, it’s worth it!
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira was, without a doubt, my favourite part of Sintra! This land first belonged to the Viscountess of Regaleira, then it was sold in 1892 to Carvalho Monteiro. Monteiro, with the help of Luigi Manini, an Itialian architect built a series of enigmatic buildings, some people say he was a little mad… I say he was a total genius! Quinta da Regaleira has a main palace and chapel you can visit. Those buildings are gorgeous, although not the most interesting part of this land: the place is filled with towers, wells and caves. Bring a pocket lamp and explore the underground paths that will bring you from a cave to the bottom of a well. You can spend hours in this mysterious land and still have lots to discover!
This palace is a gorgeous multi-colored castle on the top of the hill. It is the most beautiful castle I’ve ever seen (this comes from a girl who has traveled around Europe and has seen lots of those)! To give you an idea, I was there with a friend who, believe me, wasn’t the “dreaming-imaginative-romantic” kind of guy and he actually said: “It feels like being in a Disney princess movie!”. And guys, it did! The palace is blue, yellow and red! You can also visit the interior, which I also highly recommend, which was adapted to be the summer residence of the royal family, so it’s full of history and it’s really pretty! The view from the top of the hill is also breath-taking!
I regret to tell you that I personally didn’t have the time to see the Palacio Monserrate (Like I said, you really need to get to Sintra early to get a chance to see everything!). But if you have the time after visiting Quinta da Regaleira and Palacio Pena, you should totally go see that palatial villa, which was the summer resort of the Portuguese court. Its Islamic architecture influence gives this palace a really exotic look and the park that surrounds is worth walking in, with it’s lake, fountains and grottoes. I truly hope I’ll get the chance to go back to see it!
Spending a whole day outside of Lisbon might not sounds appealing to you if you don’t have much time in this city. However, you have to believe me when I tell you that it is totally worth your time… and your money: if you’re travelling on a budget, the different entrance prices might give you second thoughts (it’s around €10-13 each) but it’s totally worth each dime. And that comes from a girl who always travels for as cheap as possible! If you have a few euros left, spend them on a meal or snack in one of the local restaurants and enjoy one of those delicious Portuguese main courses or pastries! You can see the pictures from my time there following this article!