The hilltop resort town of Sintra is one of those places that feels straight out of a fairytale.
Just an hour northwest of populated Lisbon, Sintra, located in the densely forested Sintra Mountains, feels a world away. In the days of Moorish lords and Portuguese kings, the nobility headed to this mountain retreat to escape the summer heat and while away the days. It’s easy to understand why. Lush, green foliage. Ethereal statues of goddesse. Bright, colorful turrets. They all created a whimsical sanctuary, that seemed to encourage nothing but relaxation and daydreaming.
Rather than rest on our laurels, we made the 10 mile trek between the various palaces and private estates.
The cool, mountain air and the serenity of the picturesque area was the ideal way to spend an afternoon. Wandering is always the best way for us to get a feel for a place. It forces us to slow down and soak in all the details. As large tour buses whooshed by us, we were grateful to have the time to explore on foot.
Highlights of our day at this UNESCO World Heritage site were many: Visiting the Quinta da Regaleira, a private estate with expansive gardens featuring hidden staircases and a secret network of underground caves. Tasting Sintra’s famous travesserios (almond pastries) at Piriquita patisserie; practicing our bom dias and obrigados with the locals. And finally, after a long, uphill trek, reaching the Palacia de Pena, an elaborate 19th-century palace built into the Sintra Mountains with incredible views of the countryside.
Before we knew it, it was time to take the train back to bustling Lisbon. Our time in Sintra feeling like a dream.