Sintra—Palaces, Castles, & Cobblestone Streets
Our trip to Portugal was something dreams are made of. My first European adventure will always hold a special place in my heart & I’d love to share with you some of our adventures. I’ve already talked about the LX Factory & Time Out Market as well as my favorite places to eat—read them if you haven’t! In this Post, I’m going to cover a day trip we took to Sintra.
Pena Palace and Castle of the Moors
While these two historical sites are only about a half hour drive outside of the city into a beautiful area known as Sintra.
Pena (pain-ya) Palace was simply a chapel built on a hill in the middle ages. Then it was converted to a humble monastery, which is how it remained for centuries. In 1842, King Ferdinand acquired the monastery, and over the next few years, it was transformed into what is now a Romantic-style monument used as a summer home for royalty. Now it is considered one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal. It’s exterior is adorned with bright yellows, reds, & beautiful tiles. Its architecture was influenced by the Renaissance period, but also includes medieval arches and Islamic influence. I’ve not seen many castles in my life and I found this one truly breath-taking in its grandeur. Be warned—the walk up to the Palace is cobblestones and quite steep. Wear good walking shoes & be prepared to get a leg workout in.
Castle of the Moors
The Moors Castle is probably better described as ancient ruins. Originally built in the 8th/9th centuries, it served as a vantage point & protection for the surrounding area. Its high walls and battlements stand solid and strong surrounded by forest and vegetation. When we visited it was a cold & foggy day which gave it an air of mystery—like we had truly stepped into the past. The view of Sintra below is beautiful & you can see the Pena Palace towering above from the castle walls. On any other day, the vantage point would make for gorgeous photos. I took a few, but the views were enveloped in a haze, either from the fog or the amateur behind the camera.
Notes on Travel to Sintra
We took a taxi (5 people) to Sintra & it was pretty affordable. We were dropped off at Moors Castle, and from there we walked up to Pena Palace on their cobblestone roads. Not a long distance, but terribly steep, and if you aren’t wearing the proper shoes you will be sore and exhausted! After we had toured the Pena Palace, we were ready to head back to Lisbon. However, all of the Uber drivers available could only seat 4—and the taxis leaving had outrageously jacked up their prices. We ended up riding back with someone who wasn’t a taxi/Uber but a self-made “tour-guide”. While the situation turned out fine & our driver was wonderful, I recommend being prepared ahead of time.
More to see in Sintra
There’s a lot more to see in Sintra, but we only had time for a couple things. Here are a couple more suggestions if you have time:
1. The National Palace.
2. Quinta da Regaleira
3. Initiation Wells at Quinta da Regaleira
4. Cabo da Roca Lighthouse
5. Simply walk the streets and enjoy the town of Sintra!
Someday, hopefully, there will be a “next time” in Portugal where we can see everything we missed in Sintra. Where have you been in Portugal that I need to add to my list?