Europe · Portugal

Sintra: The home to Lovely Fairytale Castle

With its elegant and colorful monuments, it’s no wonder that Sintra is a popular destination for tourists whilst in Portugal. From the Castelo dos Mouros (“Moorish Castle”) to the Pena Palace and the beautiful garden Quinta da Regaleira, this small town is the stuff of magical, fairy-tale architecture. Mostly Sintra is famous for weekend trip from Lisbon but as we decide to spend our time in Sintra rather than Lisbon. Trains depart for Sintra from Lisbon’s Rossio Station every 15 minutes or so, and it costs around €4.30 for a round-trip.

We reached Sintra around 8:30 PM and checked-in in our Hostel Nice Way Sintra which was around 1 km from the Sintra metro station. This was probably the best hostel we had stayed in our trip and its a good place to consider if you are looking for a hostel. Even though we were travelling from last 12 days that did not effect our enthusiasm in any way and by 10:00 PM we were out to explore Sintra. Though most of the places were already closed we had a good leisurely walk in the streets of Sintra. It was one of the guys birthday who was staying with us at hostel and as we reached our hostel the party was already on. We also decided to join the club had a couple of drinks and danced till 3:00 AM.

We had initially decided to spend around one and half day at Sintra but as we reached Sintra late night we just had 1 day to explore 2 castle and 1 garden of Sintra. As our Hostel guy suggested we decide to climb all the way up to see Pena Palace first, then Castle of the Moors and Quinta da Regaleira after lunch. It takes around 40-50 mins climb all the way upto Peena Palace but the trail is beautiful in itself, with lush greenery all around you will not feel tired and rather enjoy the walk. As we wanted to visit both Pena Palace and Castle of the Moors we got a combined pass for €20.9 for entry in both. As we entered the Pena Palace the excessive use of color makes you feel as if you are in fairyland. Pena palace is divided into 2 parts one is the exterior of castle and the gardens around and another is the interior. Pena Palace is a postcard perfect place to visit. Also dont forget to bring a camera and try to go in the morning to enjoy a spectacular view of the countryside. There is also an amazing view of Castle of the Moors from Pena Palace. Don’t pay to get into the palace unless you’re really interested in history and architecture but visiting the grounds and garden is a must.

After spending a good amount of time in Pena Palace we headed to Castle of the Moors. The castle is more of a ruin now and sits on top of a high hill and has a stunning view over Sintra. You could spend hours wandering around the castle and visit every tower in it. There are some good spots around the Castle from where you can beautiful views of countryside and Pena Palace. There is also a restaurant inside the Castle but I felt that is quite overpriced so its better to carry a water bottle and some food with you.

After visiting Castle of the Moors we went back to our hostel to eat out ready to eat Indian meal and then headed towards Quinta da Regaleira which is also the highest rated in to do things on TripAdvisor. Quinta da Regaleira is not as well-publicized as the Castle of the Moors and the Pena Palace, which i find quite unlucky because it’s such an enchanting place but thats true for whole of Sintra. At the Quinta, you can find ample caves, wells, cascades, labyrinths, towers, a palace and exotic gardens and a lot more. Exploring the Quinta da Regaleira took us around three hours, so it’s probably better to go there when you have ample free time on your hands. It costs 6€ and its all totally worth it. If I had to choose one place in Sintra it would be Quinta da Regaleira without any second thoughts.

By around 9 we were back in the town center we wandered through the narrow lanes filled with potteries, cafes, bars and souvenir shops. We decided to sit neat Sintra National Palace for some time. There is a large open area just outside National Palace from you can get the view of the town, plus the Castle of Moors lightens up at night which can be seen from this place. Its a good spot to spend some time after dinner.

View of Sintra from National Palace of Sintra

Sintra turned out to be worth the day trip over; in fact anyone who is visiting Lisbon should spend at-least a day or even the whole weekend in Sintra.

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