Located approximately 30 minutes west of Lisbon, Sintra is a small, picturesque village surrounded by a mountainous national park called Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side, the park is best known for its scattered castles and estates which are the main reasons tourists flock to this small town.
A Day Tour from Lisbon
We hired Sintra Private Tours and met a knowledgeable, local guide who took us not only to Sintra and its castles, but along the area’s stunning coast - including the beach towns of Cascais and Estoril.
Tip: If like us, your stay in Lisbon falls on a Monday, I would recommend heading to Sintra since most museums in Lisbon are closed that day. All castles and major sights in Sintra are open on Mondays.
What to Expect - Castles and Quintas and How to Visit Them
Sintra can be quite an exciting and busy place for a day trip. Many tourists arrive by rail from Lisbon and use buses and/or taxis to reach the several castles nearby the historical town.
By hiring a private guide, we were able to prolong our stay in Sintra since he knew his away around the at-times confusing mountainous area. His knowledge was also an addition to our whole experience - we left town knowing significantly more about its history and its impact on the country as a whole.
The village of Sintra is stunning, especially the Palácio Nacional, which stands in the heart of town.
We visited a few of the town's local shops and walked along its narrow streets before heading to additional palaces and quintas that dot the area.
If you are short on time, Palácio Nacional da Pena with its colorful design and Quinta da Regaleira with its winding stone well should not be missed.
As afternoon was approaching, we cut through the National Park and headed to the coast towards Estorial and Cascais. We drove along the shoreline and visited one of my all-time favorite spots: Cabo da Roca.
Geographically known as the westernmost point of mainland Europe, Cabo da Roca left me breathless due to its extensive cliffs and picturesque red lighthouse.
KEEP IN MIND
The Warp Up: We left Lisbon in the morning and came back late afternoon. It was a full day’s drive, but one of the best experiences we had during our two weeks in Portugal. I am originally from Brazil and this day gave me a much better understanding of the country that colonized my second home.
The Bakery & Coffee Shop: Periquita is a small bakery in Sintra known for its sweet called Travesseiro – it can be best described as an utterly delicious puff pastry.
- Want to see the full trip and plan your next? Check out our Portugal Two Week Itinerary!