Hi! I’ve been delaying to write this for a while because I’m pretty much busy with moving and work. I visited Sintra in Portugal few months ago and I fell in love with it right away. This picturesque resort town is located around 1-hours train ride from Lisbon and you can find a lot of historic buildings and monuments as well as beautiful scenery. This town is definitely one of the most popular day trip destination from Lisbon. I’m going to give you few tips and introduce you the places I visited
You can reach Sintra from 2 major stations, Rossio and Estacao Oriente. I departed from Oriente and the trains leave every 30 mins. One ride to Sintra cost around €2.20 (So it’s €4.40 round trip). The earlier you leave, the train and the station will be less crowded.
Once you arrived in Sintra, you’ll see a lot of colorful building and next to the station you can find a lot of places selling food and souvenirs. I’d recommend you to take a loop bus which will cost you around €5.50 one loop. This loop bus stops at major tourist destination like Pena Palace and Castelo dos Mouros and you can find the route near the bus stop.
Quinta Da Regaleira
This is my first stop in Sintra. Not so many tourist stop by this place. I went here because my friend recommended this place. This estate is located near the Palacio Nacional de Sintra (National Palace of Sintra). I don’t remember if you can find Quinta da Regaleira in the bus route. If you can’t find it, just stop at National Palace of Sintra, Quinta da Regaleira is around 10 mins walk from there.
This palace/villa is registered as UNESCO World Heritage site and it has a lot of owner before. The entire estate consist of the main building, a chapel, fountain, grottoes, and wells. You can also find a lot of constructions around the park surrounding the main building.
The entrance fee costs around €6 and you can also get a guided tour for extra fee. I opted to wander around myself.
The park is really huge and you can find some fountains, the right picture above is the fountain of abundance and the photo next to it is the construction you can find around the park. The most interesting part of Quinta da Regaleira is the Initiation Well.
This well is not a water source. It’s used for ceremony such as mysterious initiation of the Tarot’s practitioner. I met one Portuguese girl when I was in Scotland, and she told me this well is also related to freemason because it’s symbolize the birth from light, to dark, and to light again. But, noone know the truth.
The well is around 27-m deep. If you go to the bottom of the well, you’ll find a lot of maze. Don’t worry, it’s not a long, confusing maze. If you follow the maze, you’ll find an exit to one of the waterfall (I have no picture here, it was too dark down there). The estate has 2 wells, the other well is called the unfinished well and it’s much smaller than the other one.
The chapel (left picture) is located near the main building. It’s a pretty small chapel, but the interior and exterior is really pretty.
Side few of the castle
I was lucky that a met a couple from Canada in Quinta da Regaleira. The park was so big, and the moss-covered well gave the eerie feeling. I was early in Quinta da Regaleira (around 10AM) and there was barely no people around the park. So I asked if I can tag along with this couple and then I made friend 🙂
I told them I want to go to Pena Palace, and they told me the hike to Pena from Quinta da Regaleira is quite steep and so… they offer me if I want to go there with their car (omggg good people do exists!)
Alternatively, you can go back to National Palace of Sintra and take a bus from there to Pena.
The view is so stunning once I arrived in Pena. The weather was a bit foggy, so it’s hard to capture the whole scenery, however you can still see how colorful the palace is. The palace stands on top of the Sintra mountain. On clear weather you can see the whole town of Sintra from this palace. From a long time ago, this place serves as the resident for Portugal’s Royal Family.
This palace is also listed as UNESCO world heritage site and also one of seven wonders of Portugal. The entrance fee is around €11.50 per person.
I don’t know much about architecture, but both of the interior and the exterior of the palace is really colorful. You can feel a little bit of gothic style in the decorations. This palace gets really crowded on weekends and summer. Even to go inside the palace you might need to queue
Similar to Quinta da Regaleira, the palace is surrounded by a huge park and lots of ponds (I think there are around 5 ponds inside).
The park and ponds are so fairy-tale-ish (is the word even exist lol)
If you walk around the park, you’ll find a park exit. This exit is the closest one to Castelo dos Mouros (around 400m walk).
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the moors) was constructed by the North African Moors when they conquered the region. This Castle serves as military purposes, you can see the whole Sintra and the sea from this Castle. On clear day, you can even see the Pena Palace.
(Sintra as seen from Castelo dos Mouros)
Unfortunatelly, because of the earth quake and war, now the castle only remains in wall and ruins, but you can walk along the castle walls.
Just be careful when it’s foggy, the wind can be really strong and you cannot see clearly. It’s so high on top of the hill that looking down from the battlement can be really scary.
The entrance fee cost around €8.00. And the place is open until 8PM during summer (it does not gets dark until 9PM in Portugal during summer)
At every watch tower, you can see Portugal’s flag, from the oldest one to the present one.
People typically spend around 1 hour in Pena and 1 hour in Mouros. There’s also a combined ticket if you intend to visit Pena, Castelo dos Mouros, and National Palace of Sintra for €25.00.
And that marks my travel to Sintra. I wish I have more time because there’re are a lot of places I haven’t visited in Sintra such as Palácio de Monserrate, Convento dos Capuchos, and the chalet. If you consider a place with less tourist, those 3 places I mentioned might be good for you.
Some additional tips:
- Check the weather, you don’t want to go climb on foggy weather because you won’t be able to see everything.
- Summer is the most crowded session. Avoid weekends by all means and please go as ealy as you can (train from Lisbon to Portugal starts as early as 7AM)
- Do spend a night there. There’re a lot of things to see in Sintra.
- Visit Pena in the morning as most tourist arrived in the afternoon.
That’s all my post today! See you in another post