Palácio da Pena and Castelo dos Mouros
Palácio da Pena and Castelo dos Mouros
Why you should visit Sintra for more than just one day


Sintra is one of those places that deserves time to be appreciated, a slow travel way to discover it. 
I live and work here as a photographer, thus I know how frustrating it is to get somewhere my customers want to go for their pictures and have a crowd behind them! I always ask them to start early in the morning and the best way to be here early is by staying overnight. Therefore, I would say that you should have, at least, a couple of nights to stay at Sintra. Because, believe me, Sintra is much more than Pena Palace or Quinta da Regaleira. One of the good reasons to stay in Sintra is that you can be in town before all the other travellers coming by train, car or organised tours, this way you can avoid the herd of tourists in the town centre or at the Palaces entrance and, in the end of the day, the place will also be quiet too, having the majority of travellers returned to Lisbon or any other place. 

“Everything in Sintra is divine… there’s no little corner that isn’t a poem”
This excerpt is from a dialogue between Alencar and Cruzes while walking from Lawrence’s Hotel to Seteais Palace, on the Portuguese book “Os Maias” from Eça de Queiroz, published in 1888, which I honestly think is completely true about this enchanted place I call home. Of course there are buses and other vehicles, also a lot of people in the streets nowadays and it was not usual to be seen in the end of the 19th century, but you can try to imagine that you are revisiting Sintra, not Brideshead, although you might find someone handsome looking like Charles or Sebastian or his sister Julia :) in the late of the 19th century or in the beginning of the 20th century. I sure can put myself in Sintra during those glorious Romanticism times... like in a historical film!

Some facts about Sintra: 
- did you know that Sintra became the first center of European Romantic architecture? 
- Sintra is an Unesco World Heritage site, since 1995.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

This is not a travel guide, just some informations I want to share with you about what to see in Sintra, eat, do and where to stay. I prefer to show you the places with images rather than by words. Hope you like my Sintra approach and come to visit in the near future. A lot of people ask me about the best time to visit, well, if you can skip July and August, all the other months are fine to visit, even if you want to be at the beach, you'll probably get some warm weather in June, September, even in May or October, although expect to find the water very cold! I work outdoors throughout the year, sometimes need to reschedule works during winter because of the rain, but if you are lucky there will be not much rain... 

Sintra random pictures:

The fairy tale ambiance

Palaces, country houses, chalets, villas, monasteries, a castle, half hidden by vegetation and mist. Some of the places you can visit, others are private and are obviously closed to the public. Anyway, you can see them from the streets!
Sintra lush hills, with all the exotic plants brought from everywhere in the world in a way to reconstitute the forest in the late 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.

Here are the monuments you can visit (entrance tickets can be bought online):

Parque e Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace and Park) click here for all information
Please note that you are not allowed to get your own car to Pena Palace, here’s the information, circulation limited to authorized vehicles and public transports only. 
You can go there by bus (434, bus stop at Sintra train station you can see all the information here), taxi, organized tour or hiking, there are several ways to walk the hills, information about it here.
Although most of visitors go only to the Palace and its terraces, I strongly encourage you to visit the Park, it's huge, 200 hectares, and beautiful, of course you can visit only a part of it and I'm sure you'll love it, just don't be scared about its size. What I suggest is to go up to the Palace first and then just go down the Park and exit at the Lakes entrance. In high season there's also a hop on - hop off bus if you do not want to walk around.
For this visit I should say you have at least two hours, but it can last four hours or more to visit the palace, the park... or more, it depends on you!

Pictures of the Palácio and Parque:
Palácio da Pena
Palácio da Pena
Palácio da Pena
Palácio da Pena
Palácio da Pena
Palácio da Pena
Palácio da Pena
Palácio da Pena
Palácio da Pena
Palácio da Pena
Palácio da Pena
Palácio da Pena
Palácio da Pena
Palácio da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Parque da Pena
Chalet e jardim da Condessa d’Edla (Chalet and garden of the Countess of Edla), click here for all information. Included in the entrance ticket for the Park and National Palace of Pena. 
The Chalet is a small one so, after you visit it, go for a walk around it, the garden has some great and beautiful spots.

Pictures of the Chalet and garden:

Chalet Condessa d'Edla
Chalet Condessa d'Edla
Chalet Condessa d'Edla
Chalet Condessa d'Edla
Chalet Condessa d'Edla
Chalet Condessa d'Edla
Chalet Condessa d'Edla
Chalet Condessa d'Edla
Chalet Condessa d'Edla garden
Chalet Condessa d'Edla garden
Chalet Condessa d'Edla garden
Chalet Condessa d'Edla garden
Chalet Condessa d'Edla garden
Chalet Condessa d'Edla garden
Chalet Condessa d'Edla garden
Chalet Condessa d'Edla garden
Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle), click here for all information
The main part of the castle is its walls so just walk up and down around and see the beautiful views (I took the first picture on this post, the one with the Palácio da Pena on the left side and the wall on the right side, from inside the castle walls).
To go there, please refer to the Parque and Palácio da Pena information above.

Pictures of the Castelo:​​​​​​​

Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros and view to the Palácio Nacional
Castelo dos Mouros and view to the Palácio Nacional
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros
Palácio Nacional (National Palace) click here for all information
This Palácio is so beautiful, it has tiles and beautiful roofs, a great kitchen with those big chimneys, one can have an idea of how the royal families lived there on ancient centuries.

Pictures of the Palácio:

Palácio Nacional
Palácio Nacional
Palácio Nacional
Palácio Nacional
Palácio Nacional
Palácio Nacional
Palácio Nacional
Palácio Nacional
Parque e Palácio de Monserrate (Park and Palace of Monserrate) click here for all information
My favourite Palácio in Sintra, it's a small one and there is no furniture in it, except the kitchen, but there's a film on one of the first floor's rooms telling its history. Please sit and give it a try. And the garden? Perfect, with all the different ambiences, spare some time to walk around, just follow the signs! You should expect to spend there at least one and a half to two hours, to visit the palace and the gardens 
To go there you can take your own car, go by taxi, or the bus (435) or even walking, it's far from the centre but easy to walk.

Pictures of the Parque and Palácio:
Palácio de Monserrate
Palácio de Monserrate
Palácio de Monserrate
Palácio de Monserrate
Parque e Palácio de Monserrate
Parque e Palácio de Monserrate
Parque de Monserrate
Parque de Monserrate
Quinta da Regaleira
Regaleira is one of the most visited in Sintra, probably because it's easy to go there walking from the centre, click here for all information.
Aside from the Palace, in the gardens you can find some interesting features, like initiation wells, tunnels, lakes, fountains, a chapel. Spare at least two hours to the visit. 

Pictures of Quinta da Regaleira:

Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira
Convento dos Capuchos (Capuchos convent) click here for all information. Closed until June 2020 for conservation and restoration
Pictures of the Convento:
Convento dos Capuchos
Convento dos Capuchos
Convento dos Capuchos
Convento dos Capuchos
Convento dos Capuchos
Convento dos Capuchos
Hiking Sintra hills

There are several way-marked hiking trails, you can check them here, note that the three first indicated are from the town center to Pena palace and to the moorish castle, and suitable for most people in good shape.

Just a small note: you can have a snack or even lunch at the palaces, except in Chalet Condessa d'Edla and Convento dos Capuchos. 
Pastries, the best cafés to have them

"queijadas de Sintra" e "travesseiros" are the specialties, which can be tasted in cozy cafés, almost all of them serving light meals too!

Dona Estefânia Fábrica de Queijadas e Travesseiros de Sintra

Travesseiros and queijada
Travesseiros and queijada
Travesseiros and queijada
Travesseiros and queijada
Pastel de nata
Pastel de nata
Café Saudade
Café Saudade
Café Saudade
Café Saudade
Café Saudade
Café Saudade
Café Saudade
Café Saudade
Sintra neighbourhoods
Beaches
You can have one day to visit some of the beaches nearby, such as Praia Grande (bus 439), Azenhas do Mar (bus 440), Praia das Maçãs (bus 441), Ursa and Adraga, just to name a few.
There’s a tram that goes from Sintra to Praia das Maçãs, you can see the information here: click in the end of the page for timetable and ticket prices.
If you have no car you can take the bus to some of them, check it here 
Also, if you are a hiking fan you can walk from Praia das Maçãs to Azenhas do Mar and further away to Praia da Aguda or even Praia do Magoito, see the Long Route Trail GR 11 - E9 - Caminho do Atlântico (it’s only part of this trail), in the end of the page.

Azenhas do Mar
Azenhas do Mar
Azenhas do Mar
Azenhas do Mar
Azenhas do Mar
Azenhas do Mar
Azenhas do Mar
Azenhas do Mar
Azenhas do Mar
Azenhas do Mar
Aguda
Aguda
Praia Grande
Praia Grande
Praia das Maçãs
Praia das Maçãs
Praia das Maçãs
Praia das Maçãs
Praia das Maçãs
Praia das Maçãs
Where to stay
Great places to stay from Palaces and luxury hotels to chalets, suitable for everybody demands 
In Sintra:


In the outskirts:

Casal de Santa Virginia, Azenhas do Mar
Outpost Casa das Arribas, Azenhas do Mar
Chalet O Amorzinho, Azenhas do Mar
Villa Maçã Guest House, Praia das Maçãs

Of course there are many more options to choose from, but I know all the above and thus I can say that they are good places to stay in. 

Palácio de Seteais
Palácio de Seteais
Palácio de Seteais
Palácio de Seteais
Palácio de Seteais
Palácio de Seteais
Penha Longa Resort
Penha Longa Resort
Penha Longa Resort
Penha Longa Resort
Penha Longa Resort
Penha Longa Resort
Penha Longa Resort
Penha Longa Resort
Penha Longa Resort
Penha Longa Resort
Chalet Saudade
Chalet Saudade
Chalet Saudade
Chalet Saudade
Chalet Saudade
Chalet Saudade
Chalet Saudade
Chalet Saudade
Biester Charm House
Biester Charm House
Biester Charm House
Biester Charm House
Biester Charm House
Biester Charm House
Biester Charm House
Biester Charm House
Biester Charm House
Biester Charm House
Biester Charm House
Biester Charm House
Villa Valbom Ocean Garden Suites
Villa Valbom Ocean Garden Suites
Villa Valbom Ocean Garden Suites
Villa Valbom Ocean Garden Suites
Villa Valbom Ocean Garden Suites
Villa Valbom Ocean Garden Suites
Villa Valbom Ocean Garden Suites
Villa Valbom Ocean Garden Suites
Villa Valbom Ocean Garden Suites
Villa Valbom Ocean Garden Suites
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Casa do Valle
Where to eat 
(from author cuisine to traditional Portuguese cuisine and from fish and shellfish specialties to pizzeria, you have a bit of everything) 

In Sintra:


In the outskirts:

Restaurante Azenhas do Mar, Praia das Azenhas do Mar
Curral dos Caprinos, Várzea de Sintra
Neptuno, Praia das Maçãs
Roulote da Gigi, Almoçageme
Adega Vadia, Almoçageme

Again, there are plenty of other restaurants you can go, but I only indicate here my favourites from all I know.​​​​​​​

Espaço Edla, Sintra
Espaço Edla, Sintra
Espaço Edla, Sintra
Espaço Edla, Sintra
Espaço Edla, Sintra
Espaço Edla, Sintra
Espaço Edla, Sintra
Espaço Edla, Sintra
As a non native English speaker, please excuse me any grammar and spelling mistakes as well as phrase construction...

Last but not the least, obviously this is not a visit guide, if you need some help you can send me an email. 
I hope you will visit this beautiful, charming and enchanting town in the near future, but, if you can, avoid the summer months. 
 

And, just some final words, as a photographer I find Sintra one of my favourite places to do a photo shoot, in fact a third of my work is photographing travellers here. There's no shortage of cool spots for vacation memories. 
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