What to see and do in Sintra, Portugal
If Walt Disney got his inspiration from somewhere, it would be from this idyllic town Sintra, which is only a 30 min train ride from Lisbon. Sintra is a fairytale town with beautiful palaces surrounded by luscious gardens. Each Palace has its own garden. However, there are only a couple of places one needs to see.
The Pena Palace, is also called the Disney castle, sits up high on a peak above Sintra. Its been nominated as the most beautiful castle of Europe multiple times.You can either visit its garden, from where you can admire the palace or go inside the palace. You have to pay an entrance fee for the garden and the palace, or you purchase a combined ticket at a small discount. Usually it suffices to just pay an entrance fee for the garden and take pictures of the palace from there.
Our top pick is the Quinta da Regaleira. It’s the most popular for the magnificent well/inverted tower. In fact, Billy made us run to the garden before they even opened so he could get his perfect shots of it without the tourists. It is a big garden where you can get lost for hours, very romatic and idyllic. You have small waterfalls, where someone got actually proposed to while we were there, ponds, underground walkways and caves and towers.
Most people only do a day trip from lisbon to Sintra just because its so small and the gardens and palaces are open from 10 am to 6 pm, but we think its worth to stay the night and take it all in without having to rush through. Be aware though, that there will be a lot of tourists. We thought we went there during off season and and didn’t have to deal with the tourists as much but we were surprised by how many people exited the train. Nevertheless, Don’t let this little gem get away from you just because of the tourists, its totally worth going and paying to see the gardens.
Wine and Dine
Legendary Cafe is located by the main little sqaure and offers super afforable tea, coffee and delicious toast all day. They also have a Menu del dia, which changes daily and we had the best, most mouthwatering chicken we’ve ever had. It was a really simple dish. A whole juicy chicken with spaghetti and a salad, the meat literally fell off the bones – the Portuguese know their chicken.
Cafe Saudade , another favorite where you have to stop by if you’re headed towards the train station. They serve sandwiches, coffee and tea, but their specialty are deserts. The apple pie is a must, Tarte de maca!
Moon Hill Hostel is were we stayed. Its walking distance to our favorite cafes and only a 20 min walk to the Quinta da Regaleira. It is a new building with a large outdoor living space, it has cool decor and it includes breakfast.
Its a 30 min train ride from Lisbon. If you already have a viagem card for lisbon you just need to charge it for sintra and you are all set to go. Once in Sintra, you can choose between carriages, horses, tuk-tuks, taxis, and buses, but we just walked as usual.