Things To Do In Sintra
Sintra has gotten to be truly prominent as of late, and ‘difficult to escape the rising tourist influx (particularly in the mid year). To savor what this historical city in Portugal has to offer, start your tour in the early hours of the day to avoid the long lines with the multitude of Sintra's explorers. With its undulating mountains, damp backwoods with lush greeneries and lichen, outlandish gardens and sparkling royal residences, Sintra is similar to a page torn straight from a fairy tale book.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Quinta Da Regaleira is a house that is decorated with wonderful ornaments, a garden landscaped with great all surprising paths and stairs, underpasses etc. Well worth a visit if you are in Sintra.
When To Go:
The ideal time of the year to visit Sintra is amid spring and early pre-winter. At this point of year the days are splendid and hot however, it stays away from the amazing high temperature of summer and the extensive number of summer guests. Sintra can get extremely caught up with amid the peak season(July-August) with bus loads of travelers landing between 10am-4pm to explore the mandatory "Three Palace" tour of the Monserrate, National Palace and the Moors castles. Weekends have a tendency to be busier than weekdays and the greater part of the main sights of Sintra are open consistently amid the high season.
Spring (February – March) and the early pre-winter season are the ticket time to visit Sintra and the Lisbon coastline, the climate is warm to hot with a lot of sun. From mid fall until spring the climate is capricious with an expanded number of wet days (rains occur mostly during months of May and October) closer to mid winter (November – March). The climate in Sintra amid the winter is never cool and there can be spells of average splendid climate.
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Here are the excellent attractions and terrific things to do in the city of Sintra…
Quinta Da Regaleira
Properties of an eccentric gentleman and designed by an intelligent Italian architect, this building with its garden will allow you to enter a magical world. Passionate about esotericism and member of Freemasonry the owner commissioned the construction of the Quinta Da Regaleira complex full of symbolism. In the main house you can choose to seek numerous animals scattered in all the architectural structures and to hypothesize the allegorical meaning. From the tower, you can also admire the greenhouse / alchemical laboratory that contain the stills and stoves. The park is large and it takes about an hour to visit. The highlight is definitely the scale of the initiates with its helical (spiral) path that plunges into the depths of the earth from where the galleries that sometimes flow into caves and other times in cascades of water (better if you have a small flashlight with you) can be found.
Also noteworthy are the fountains, statues, chapels, caves, towers and palaces of which the complex is famous with.
This great park just a short walk away from the historic center of Sintra. It is worth a visit in peace (if you can come very early) to fully appreciate all the wonderful architecture and landscape. It is a true delirium of trails, galleries, hidden corners, towers, wells and other wonders. A must see attraction in the enchanting city of Sintra.
National Palace of Pena
The current building of the National Palace of Pena was constructed in 1840-1850 and designed by German Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege for King Ferdinand II of Coburg-Gotha amassing an eclectic framework in various styles such as the Manueline, Gothic, Arabic, Renaissance and Baroque. In fact, the complex structure could only be designed by Baron Eschwege an acclaimed master in building fairytale castles. The result is an extravagant expression of a fairytale castle reminiscent of the one from the Arabian Nights . Although currently a part of the building is undergoing renovations the view from the outside is always excellent. It has a stunning cloister of Manueline (art decorative style) covered with tiles and some very beautiful dining rooms full of furniture and ceramics from various eras.
The National Palacio da Pena is the best example of early architectural styles in Sintra. It is also classified as one of the seven wonders of Portugal. The palace has a mixture of art, styles, and colors. It is surrounded by a huge park and looks striking as the national landmark of the city whose presence can be seen from any part of Sintra. It can be easily reached from Lisbon by the railway line operated by the CP or the Linha Sintra (major train of the city). The price of the train ride is very low. If you have a day off from visits to the other parts of the city, this palace is strongly recommended and a thorough visit is absolutely worth the effort.
Cabo da Roca
If you find yourself walking along the Lisbon District, it is mandatory to visit the Cabo da Roca which is the westernmost point of Europe. It is a charming place with the cliff overlooking the Atlantic. To get here from Lisbon, you must board the train to Sintra and once you arrive at the city you can take Bus # 403 which stops just a few meters to your right from the station of Sintra. Cabo da Roca is then 45 minutes away by bus. Once you get to Cabo da Roca, you can visit the place and start over again with bus # 403 towards Cascais which stops right in front of the station of Cascais in front of the mall.
The bus from Cabo da Roca (towards Cascais) runs every 45 min or so. As for tickets, it is advisable to purchase the 'train and bus' tickets which costs € 15 per person + 0:50 cent. of the card and allows you to take all the trains and buses in Lisbon - Sintra – Cascais territory. Once there, the view is wonderful and you will see sheer cliffs facing the immensity of the ocean. The lighthouse on the top of the cliff is really impressive and also worth a visit.
Castle of the Moors (Castelo dos Mouros)
The Castle of the Moors (Castelo dos Mouros) is a military fortification that you must visit when in Sintra. Sintra is a picturesque town perched on the sides of a mountain. The distance is just over forty minutes by train from Lisbon if departing from the station of Rossio. Tickets cost € 4.30 round trip with the ride that is heading to the Parque de Monserrate. Just outside the train station you can find the bus stop with a hop on hop off coach that plies along the routes 434 and 435 that divides the main attraction of this town. To visit the castle you have to take the route 434 that also leads to the Palacio da Pena. Tickets cost 5 euro.
You can also opt for a combination ticket of € 12 for the castle and the Palacio Nacional, which is all located within the historic center. The Moors Castle is a stunning fortification that is perched on top of the mountain and offers a fantastic view of Sintra and the valley below.
The first part of the fort is equally impressive and it is made of walkways and stone buildings that are all contained within the park and completely free. The park itself is already very satisfying, but the walls of the castle are really well preserved and you will need to pay the price of its admission fee to access and explore it. Be sure to bring a good camera and take lots of pictures while inside the old military fort.
Parque de Monserrate
The Parque de Monserrate is an immense park with rare and exotic plants designed in the romantic period and in the manner of Violet-le-Duc; the type where the magical roots wrap between the stones of the uncovered chapel with cyclopean stones stacked up to form arches and caves and surrounded by meandering streams waterfalls in allegorical form. The park is well-kept and protected and serves as the backdrop to the residence of the bourgeois and arabesque Sir Francis Cook and his family. It is an interesting landscape park with a magnificent palace and a colorful garden (with plants from all around the world) with a hilly terrain. Try to go at the entrance to the left where the road is less complex and has magnificent views of the city.
The park is striking in its beauty and equipped with several lovely gardens - Japanese, rose garden, Mexican cactus, and waterfalls. In the depths of the park you will find the ruins of an abandoned chapel that is encompassed by overgrown grass and trees but still very beautiful. The palace itself is also very nice, cozy, and built in an unusual style, and a bit Moorish. Be sure to visit while you are on tour of Sintra City.
Parques de Sintra
The Parques de Sintra is a pleasant place with an atmosphere that is all its own. If you happen to visit in summer (late June), you will be pampered by a wonderful microclimate, with a cool crisp air as you walk under the trees protected by a lush and well maintained landscape and a cool breeze as you get to the top of the High Cross where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the entire city. The trails are well marked and it shows the length by warning signs so you can calibrate at will the course of your tour.
Do not forget to wear long sleeve if the sun is up and at its peak. If you have an hour or two, devote it to a healthy and satisfying walk along the paved paths of this park.
It's so cute though very touristy. Please use a pair of comfortable shoes and bring some drinking water if you plan to visit and climb the castle. It is an ideal place for the whole family, but not for people with disability, mobility, and knee problems. The park is extraordinary for children who love to play and they can run freely from the hundreds of plant species and ancient trees.
The Pena Park, as well as the Palace, looks like a place of fairy tales. The path is a bit 'twisty” but still enjoyable for the magnificent plants and flowers that are on the way. It is a huge park where you can reach the various attractions and immaculately maintained with great hiking trails for the adventurous traveler. The park complements the incredible architecture and decorations. Every detail is intricately designed and unique.
From the palace to the park it seems to stretch from a comic side to the real world. It is absolutely impregnable even if getting there requires a hike or ride in the claustrophobic coach. A tip: see if you can get here early (it opens at 10 am)to avoid the long lines because the park is a favorite destination for school field trips. From here, there is a great landscape to admire. To the west you can see the Atlantic Ocean and to the north you can see the Quinta Da Regaleira and the Moorish Castle (Castelo dos Mouros).
Praia da Ursa
The Praia da Ursa is a cool place, the view is worth it and convenient plus, and it is located right on the way to Cabo da Roca. To get there, take the road to Cabo da Roca and in a few minutes you will be in the small beach of "Ursa" and a nearby parking space. From there, go down the path for about 15 minutes until you reach the praia. You can go down up to the beach area, but the road is heavy and complicated.
The beach is deserted and beautiful. Sturdy footwear is very important because it goes steeply down. You can also see that the beach walk is connected to the nearby Praia da Adraga. The whole route alone is very difficult, but you can always have or meet helpful Portuguese locals who are well-versed on the trail to reach the praia.
The Adraga Beach is relatively small, but it is very characteristic for the context (both green and rocky hills all around) and a small bow with natural caves attached directly on the beach. There are public and private parking a bar and a traditional restaurant facing the beachfront area. It is a stunning beach near Sintra and known by surfers for the strong and constant wind blowing throughout the year. At different times of the year and each time the beach is always an exciting spectacle. You can reach the beach by bus that comes from downtown Sintra times in about an hour.
You will see a panoramic deck which is visible to the bay and the two swimming pools (freshwater and marine). In the morning it has a big enough sand bar where you can lie down and sunbathe and in the afternoon due to the tide, the sunbathing activities are reduced. On the beach there is a cozy restaurant that serves excellent lunch and dinner with freshly squeezed fruit juice. If you seek for calm and tranquility, the beach of Adraga will give you a feeling of being one with nature and isolation from the rest of the world.
The small and humble Capuchos Convent is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site and reflects the purest Franciscan spirit. The interiors are skinny and covered in cork (which is why it is also called Convento dos Cortiços / Convent of corks), and is within the already wonderful Parque de Sintra. It can be reached by taking a taxi from the station to Sintra, which, with nearly an hour to stop costs about € 25. The road traveled boasts of natural rock formations that look really fantastic, as well as the environment with its fantastic woodland surrounding the Convent. For those who own the Lisboa Card you can have a discount of 2 euro on the entrance fee.
Chalet da Condessa D’Edla
The Chalet da Condessa D’Edla is a pleasant place filled with calm and natural beauty. Between 1864 and 1869, King Ferdinand II of Portugal and his second wife, Elise Hensler, Countess d'Edla, developed in Tapada da Vigia - Sintra, a strong intervention plans and a landscape expansion of Pena Park creating almost 8 hectares of a lovely Garden (involving the Chalet) and creation of the Quinta da Pena. The huge trees, lakes, gardens, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas and other botanical species adorn the scenic landscape and the numerous walking paths which are flanked by tanks and small waterfalls. This incorporated designs and the rich flora and fauna makes the visual delight of this place worth a visit when in Sintra City.
Sintra is a gorgeous city that is full of wonderful surprises. When in Portugal, do not limit yourself only to Lisbon although it is really beautiful, but in Sintra there's also so much more to see. It is full of surprises both in nature, architecture, points of interest, culinary, and its people. There are places that give a unique emotion for both the geographic factor and for your own conquest to go for extreme adventures. Sintra has everything that is fit for families and adventurous group of friends or couples. Sintra is a sort of Disneyland in Portugal and you must better equip yourself with enough information before visiting the city because there are lots of amazing places to see. It is truly one of a kind and a visit is an absolute must!
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