- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit Sintra, Portugal
Sintra is a picturesque Portuguese town that is set amidst the pine covered hills of the Serra de Sintra. This slightly cooler climate enticed the nobility and elite of Portugal, who constructed exquisite palaces, extravagant residences and decorative gardens. The variety of fascinating historic buildings and beautiful scenery has established Sintra as a top rate tourist destination and the most popular day trip from Lisbon.
Things to see in Sintra
The Pena Palace (Palacio da Pena)
The exquisite Palacio da Pena is regarded as one of the finest tourist attractions of Portugal and will be a highlight of any visit to Sintra. The vividly painted palace was commissioned in 1842, by King Ferdinand II who championed the arts, literature and music. The king wished the palace to reflect that of a scene from an opera and the extravagant Pena Palace was constructed.
The Pena Palace is a delightful amalgamation of different design styles and influences, which range from North African to medieval gothic. The interior is as equally interesting as it has been restored to how it would have looked in 1910 when Queen Amélia spent her last night in Portugal before fleeing to Brazil due to the revolution. The forests that surround the palace continue the Romanticism ideals with hidden pathways, ornate features and great view points.
The Quinta da Regaleira
The Quinta da Regaleira is an extravagant 19th century gothic mansion that is surrounded with some of the most elaborate gardens of Sintra. The gardens are a joy to explore as they are filled with decorative fortifications, mystic religious symbols and a series of secrete passages and caves. The central feature of the gardens is the initiation well, a well that was drained, expanded and possibly used for cult ceremonies.
The Quinta da Regaleira takes about 2 hours to visit and the majority of the time will be spent exploring the amazing gardens. An adult ticket costs €6 and the mansion is a 5-minute walk from the centre of historic Sintra. The Quinta da Regaleira is a popular tourist attraction but not as popular as the Pena Palace or Palácio Nacional and never feels over crowded as most visitors are spread throughout the gardens.
Pena Park (Parque Nacional da Pena)
The Pena Park covers over 200 hectares of forested hills that surround the Pena Palace and contained in the park are numerous pleasant short walks. The maze of forested paths leads to an assortment of Romanticism inspired features including a statue of King Ferdinand, decorative battlements and bridges or hidden lakes. The Cruz Alta is the highest summit in the the Serra de Sintra is an enjoyable 20-minute walk from the Palace and this location provides a wonderful view of the Pena Palace.
The Santuario da Peninha
The main attraction of the remote Santuario da Peninha is the stunning view. This small mansion and chapel stand atop a massive rocky outcrop which provides panoramic views across the entire Sintra coastline. There is no entrance fee to Peninha.