A Wonderful Day in Sintra
A Wonderful Day in Sintra
Sintra is a unique place in Portugal and it’s just a 40-minutes train ride away from Lisbon. The city is filled with colourful buildings and surrounded by green everywhere you look. The whole place is filled with mysticism and there are a lot of legends and myths about this place – you can almost feel the magic as soon as you step into the city.
There are many things to do and see in Sintra and the area around Sintra is dotted with beautiful palaces. You can visit the Romanticist Pena Palace, the exotic Monserrate Palace and the peaceful Quinta da Regaleira and its Palace – With so many palaces you will feel like royalty.
You can also visit the parks, explore the trails that lead up the mountain where the Pena Palace is located or simply enjoy typical sweets and pastries. Sintra is a perfect getaway from Lisbon and if you have one free day, you should definitely spend it in Sintra.
A Bad Start
For months, I’ve been dying for a Travesseiro de Sintra. Those famous pastries that should be eaten warm, with a rectangle shape made of puff pastry and filled with a cream made of almonds and egg yolks.
My heart fell as soon as I woke up and saw that it was pouring outside. The weather had been awful the last couple days and today wasn’t an exception. Sintra’s weather can be unpredictable and usually, it rains a lot there. The city provides barely any shelter from the rain and it wouldn’t be pleasant to get soaked. But those pastries are really good and I was dying to have one, or two, maybe three! So we decided to face the rain and get soaked.
When your adventures start with amazing food they can only get better!— Fabio Rosado (@TravelsAndGazes) June 7, 2016
Driving Towards Sintra
The weather was getting worse by the minute and there were times that we couldn’t even see the road properly. Being stubborn I said to my mum that since we had left home, we might as well just see what the weather was like in Sintra – then make a decision.
Luck was on our side and half way there the weather started to improve. By the time we reached Sintra the rain had stopped. It was a pleasant day even if a bit windy. After parking the car, we headed towards the cafe A Piriquita to have the divine pastries.
We ordered a large breakfast composed of three Travesseiros de Sintra, hot chocolate and ham and cheese toasty. It was a huge breakfast and we enjoyed every bit of it!
With a full belly, we wondered what to do next. It had been years since I had been up to the Pena Palace. So we drove along the small and steep roads, climbing the mountain slowly. There is a mystical feeling when you go up and all you see is ancient trees and green everywhere.
After driving for a while we saw a bunch of people waiting for a bus. Thinking that the place should be near, we parked the car and went up. Turns out this wasn’t the Pena Palace but the Castle of the Moors. A place that I always wanted to visit, but never had the opportunity.
The Castle of the Moors
Unknowingly to us, the park of the castle is free and you just need to pay to go through the castle gates. At first, we were unsure if we should pay the 7,5 euros each, for a visit of the castle. A friend of mine had mentioned that it wasn’t worth it because you don’t have much to see there.
But we were there, we might as well just go and see for ourselves if it’s worth it or not. We bought the ticket and explored the park around the castle. From the park, you need to climb for a few minutes before reaching the castle gates. The climb is a pleasant one with all the nature surrounding you. You can almost feel time slowing down as you walk.
What my friend said was true. There isn’t much to see inside the castle walls. But the Thing to do here is exploring the walls. You have a lot of steps that are steep and also, narrow ways to climb, you can almost feel like an ancient knight on patrol.
The bastions are quite up high and from the top of them, you have one of the best views of Sintra and the surrounding area. In a clear day, you can see for miles and the view is simply breath-taking!
If you decide to visit the Castle of the Moors, be prepared to do a lot of walking, as well climbing a lot of steps. Explore the walls at your own pace and don’t rush, because some parts of the wall have a huge inclination that will take your breath away. Also, when you do stop in one of the bastions take a moment to breath in and enjoy the amazing view, it’s definitely worth it!
In the Castle of the Moors, you can have a perfect view of the Pena Palace from the highest bastion. We were really close to it now and it would be a shame to just go home without visiting it. I used to go to the town of Sintra plenty of times when I lived in Portugal, but I’ve been only twice to the Palace.
The Pena Palace is a beautiful place that served as a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family. With its different colours, it’s impossible not to fall in love with this Palace. The contrast between the yellow, grey and dark red paint covering different parts of the building and the green of the forest of the surrounding area give a unique visual to Pena Palace.
There are different kinds of tickets that you can buy. The cheapest one costs 10,5 euros and allows you to visit the palace garden and the terrace. The garden itself is huge and you can easy spend hours exploring its paths, the terrace entry allows you to visit the outside of the palace and have another great view of the area around Sintra – from the terrace on a good day you can even see the beach!