Exploring Sintra National Park
Exploring Sintra National Park
Sintra National Park has always been on top of the list of magical places to visit. It’s a little hidden gem really, but is slowly becoming one of the hottest attractions in Portugal.
Whilst most people flock to the coastline of southern Portugal to spend their days soaking up some sun, it’s up north, where traditional Portugal really shines through.
Set in over 78,883 aches of land, Sintra is full of hidden castles, spectacular views, royal retreats and a magical kingdom that fairytales are made of .
It is said that Walt Disney himself set foot inside Pena Palace, and alas Cinderella’s Palace was born!
Nothing short of spectacular, it simply is a must see attraction before you die! Ok a little extreme I must admit, but never the less, a few days exploring Sintra will leave you feeling inspired.
Now that Portugal is our “home” with Sintra National Park a short drive away, we get to explore it at our pleasure. Even a drive through the narrow streets, high on the hill tops overlooking the seriously majestic castles, ruins and historic buildings makes for a great day out.
But to truly get a closer look inside, learn the history and get a glimpse of life in the 19th century, Sintra National Park is best explored on foot.
Our Recommended Must-See’s in Sintra:
Constructed in 1836, Pena Palace is the most spectacular of all. Adorned by King Consort Ferdinand II in the 1800’s, the once modest monastery was transformed into a Summer retreat for the Portuguese Royalty.
It passed hands through the years with various elements added to decor and construction, until 1889 when the Portuguese state took ownership, transforming it into a museum. Receiving a facelift at the end of the 20th century, the Palace is now classified as a World Heritage Site by UNISCO. Including Pena Palace in your Sintra itinerary is a MUST!
Castle of the Moors
Perched upon the mountains overlooking Sintra town, the Castle of the Moors is a medieval castle that now also stands as a World Heritage Site by UNISCO. Seen from our house in Ericeira, on a clear day, the Castle is impressive as it’s walls wind around the mountain.
With a lot of construction and conservation over the years to restore the grounds and walls of the castle, it should definitely be included in your Sintra itinerary.
If it’s a romantic stroll you are after, a picnic by the lake and a quiet walk around the expansive lush gardens, then a visit to the Estate of Monserrate should be included in your Sintra itinerary. Traditionally the summer resort of the Portuguese court, The Estate of Monserrate was handed over to Viscount of Monserrate.
The English baronet looked to an English designed for help with restoration, but you will notice a lot islamic design influence due to the Muslim run state at the time.
Quinta da Regaleira
As with Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira has had many owners over the years, yet it remains within the “cultural landscapes of Sintra”, meaning it is classifies as a World Heritage Site by UNISCO. There is lots to explore within the grounds of Quinta da Regaleira, one of the most impressive being the Initiation Wells.
With underground tunnels running throughout the grounds, grottos and lakes to explore, a few exciting hours spend exploring the grounds of Quinta da Regaleria is a must to includ in your Sintra itinerary.
There are tons of options for exploring Sintra, that cover all the main attractions. You can ride by tuk tuk, rent a vintage car, hop on the tourist train, use the public tourist bus or even hire a motorised bike.
You may want to avail of at least one of these options for getting around, just because the hilly terrain can become a challenge for some. *Make sure to wear your hiking boots if you choose to cover it all on foot.
Sintra town also makes for a great day out. Wandering the back streets close to Sintra Castle offer an array of souvenirs for a reasonable prices.
Sintra is only a quick train ride from Lisbon’s City Centre Rossio Train Station, and in 40 minutes you will step off the train and into a fairytale setting. The return train journey costs less than 5 euro. However Sintra and it’s attractions are fairly spread out and we would recommend staying at least 2 days to be able to visit all the castles and Palaces. Check out hotels in Sintra here.
August 14, 2017
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