The picturesque town of Sintra is only forty minutes northwest of Lisbon. Preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is a town rich with castles and palaces, grand estates and stunningly beautiful gardens. It is tucked into the foothills of the Sintra mountains so it enjoys its own micro-climate and the landscape is quite different from the city – here there are green valleys and mossy glens, fairytale woods and winding trails. It is mystical and enchanting and not surprisingly has attracted its fair share of romantics and poets through the ages. The most famous of whom, Lord Byron, famously named Sintra as one of the most beautiful villages, “perhaps in the entire world.” It really is worth a visit and we can’t recommend it highly enough! Here are some tips for getting there from The Lumiares:
Sintra is a 40 minute train ride from Rossio Station – an easy 10 minute walk from The Lumiares. There are several trains an hour and you can check the latest schedule at Comboios de Portugal or get a day pass and timetable direct from the ticket office at Rossio Station.
From the train station, the centre of town is about a 15 minute walk away. It’s a scenic walk though and a great way to get your bearings – just head left from the station and down the hill. Otherwise there are usually plenty of tour guides and tuk tuks outside the station offering tours of the palaces. If you do head straight into town it’s worth checking in with the tourist office to arm yourself with a map and ask any questions. From there you can take a local bus to all of the main palaces; the stop is right in front of the national palace.
Cafe Saudade: Full of colourful charm and history this cafe sits right next to the train station and has a gorgeous array of sandwiches, salads, cakes, coffees, and teas. Local food products and crafts are also for sale here.
Piriquita: In the center of town, Piriquita, is a sweet, pink-tiled cafe stocked with an array of Portuguese sweets! Tips: They are closed on Wednesdays but do have an overflow location up the hill, though it’s not as charming.
Pena Palace: perched on top of a hill this yellow palace can be spotted from miles away. If you are a maximalist, you will love the array of pattern and colour, in every texture, hue, and tile imaginable! It does get quite crowded, especially at the height of summer, but the gardens offer a lovely respite from the lines.
Monserrate: Many tourists miss this incredible, Arab-inspired palace with award-winning gardens, but it’s well worth a visit. If you’re lucky you can catch a movie on the lawn in the summer, and piano concerts in the music room.
Quinta da Regaleira: If you have kids in tow, this place is a must see. Actually, even if you don’t have kids in tow, Quinta da Regaleira is a must see! Discover the wells that were used for secret masonic initiation rites, explore underground tunnels, stumble on waterfalls and grottoes..the palace is lovely, but the grounds are where the attraction lies!