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Exquisite Sintra

We took one look at Sintra and F turned to me, “Are you sure we won’t add another night here and reduce one in Tomar?”. In hindsight, yes, we should have done that. Don’t get me wrong – Tomar is a lovely historical town (more on this when I get round to writing about it) but there are just so much more to do and to visit in Sintra – in addition to being drop dead gorgeous – by comparison that we could benefit from a longer visit here. The 48-hours we allocated flew by far too quickly so we were also rather baffled to see so many day-trippers from Lisbon shuttling in and out quickly in a few hours.

Sintra

Sintra

Travellers from Lisbon, us included, can easily get to Sintra in about 45 minutes from Lisboa-Rossio train station, if one managed to find the train station in the first place… It is not the best sign-posted train station we’ve ever came across and from the exterior, it could easily passed for a city hall or something to that effect. Gorgeous building, terrible signage. In any case, armed with our topped-up Viva Viagem card, we beeped our way across the barrier and hopped on the next train out. There are trains every 10-30 minutes, depending on the time of the day, and one-way travel costs €2.15 per person.

The town of Sintra itself is by no mean big, with snaking small streets filled with – what felt like far too many – travel souvenirs and other gimmicks (are you sure those tiles are really hand-made in Portugal and not somewhere in Asia?); hardly unique nor interesting. The showstoppers are the many palaces and parks that make architectural and historical wonders, often located atop the mountains, and had many tourists queuing for hop-on, hop-off buses to shuttle them around. Main plus point for the bus: you can do a loop of all the sights, some of which are a bit farther out from the town, but many walkable if you have some time in your hand.

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

For anyone who felt like hiking Mount Pico wasn’t punishing enough, feel free to work those barely-recovering sore muscles and walk the way up to the palaces. I question my wisdom sometimes but walking came with several perks: I got to do what I normally like – exploring places by foot and leisurely, I kept F who is happiest outdoor happy, I worked off the calories from eating out all the time and stayed relatively fit, and I got to not only save on transportation tickets but also skipped queuing with dozen others impatient tourists. Sore schmore muscles… ;)

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

In the short time that we were in town, we visited the Palácio Nacional de Sintra (right smacked in the town centre), Palácio de Pena and its park (colourful and on the mountain), Castelo dos Mouros (mere minutes walk from Pena), and Palácio e Quinta da Regaleria. Each is unique and magnificent, and I love the incorporation of Moorish architecture and Manueline features, side by side, just like that. If we had had more time, we would have walked to Palácio e parque de Monserrate as well. Photos of these marvellous places in the next post!

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra also marked the half-way point of our vacation and we had also decided to splurge a little (by my budget-conscious standard) and stayed at Casa do Valle, a B&B located not only mere minutes walk to the historic centre but also built on a hillside with views of the Sintra valley as well as the mountain palaces. Our room was impeccable, with a balcony from which we breakfasted each morning and enjoyed sunset each evening. When we felt the heat after a full day of activities, we could return and chill out by the pool, until it was cool enough to get back into town for dinner.

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

Sintra

All in all, we struck a pretty good balance between sightseeing and relaxation. We got a lot done, but we were also well-rested. One major benefit of actually staying in Sintra was to be able to get to some of these palaces well before the day-trippers arrived. We even managed to sleep in a little, had lingering breakfast, and still be among the first visitors. It helps too that we’ve bought our entry tickets for Palácio de Sintra, Pena and Mouros at the same time, scoring a discounted rate and avoided queuing for each sight separately.

Leaving Sintra was not easy. Had there not been a once-every-four-years Festa dos Tabuleiros taking place, we may have even abandoned our plan to go to Tomar altogether. I got myself some pastries as consolation, and the local specialty, queijadas (cheese tartlet), was deceptively plain but delicious, gnom!

Sintra: photoset on Flickr



Category: Europe, Portugal, Travel

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2 scribbles & notes

  1. med says:

    Niceeeeeeee…..and somehow i kept on reading Sinatra hehehe

Scribble a note to med × Cancel reply


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