I had the opportunity to visit the dreamy town of Sintra during my visit to Lisbon in September 2019. Despite only spending one day there, Sintra was a huge highlight of the trip for me.
Here is how you can have the perfect day in Sintra, Portugal:
Visit The Historic Centre
The historic centre in Sintra is a beautiful maze of small streets and gift shops.
Sintra is fond of cork, and every souvenir shop carries something, be it a postcard, handbag or jacket, made of it.
As well as this, there are a myriad of tapas restaurants and cafes to explore. I did not eat in Sintra due to my “strict backpacker budget” however the prices looked fairly reasonable and the food looked delicious.
Go On A Hike
I stumbled across a hiking trail that begins in the historic centre, along Estrada de Pena.
I was completely unprepared to hike and so did not have a bottle of water or closed-toe shoes however the hike was still enjoyable. Just don’t be me and make sure you stay hydrated!
The hike was stunning and takes you through gardens as well as to most of the main sights.
Explore Castelo dos Mouros
Castelo dos Mouros is a magnificent medieval Moorish castle, or what is left of it, that sits on a hill overlooking the centre of Sintra.
The castle costs €8 to enter and provides you with stunning views of the town below. The castle walls are stunning and it is delightful to just wander around them. There are lizards scurrying around and beautiful greenery.
The castle is a great viewpoint!
Even if you don’t feel like splashing out on a ticket it is still worth a visit! The exterior of the castle is stunning with great views of it from the Car Park of the Pena Palace lake entrance.
Wander Around Parque e Palácio Nacional da Pena
The park and palace of Pena are both stunning, the palace being like one out of a fairytale, and are well worth a visit.
Park entrance costs €7.50, a bargain as it also enables you to explore the palace walls.
The park surrounding the palace is gorgeous and home to some spectacular walks. I spent about an hour exploring the grounds as I slowly made my way towards the Palace itself.
Palácio Nacional da Pena is honestly one of the most gorgeous palaces I have ever seen. It is brightly coloured and stands out beautifully against the green backdrop around it.
Whilst you have to pay extra to actually venture into the palace, walking around the castle walls is included in the price for the gardens. These walls reveal stunning viewpoints and are definitely worth having a wander around.
Try Some Local Alcohol
Having explored the palaces and done some hiking, I headed back to the historic centre to gaze upon the beautiful architecture and wander more cobbled streets.
One of the things I noticed around the city were signs advertising Ginjinha em copo de chocolate or Ginjinha in a chocolate cup for 1€.
Ginjinha is a Portuguese liqueur make by infusing Ginja berries with alcohol and is a typical drink in Lisbon.
Naturally, being faced with both a new alcohol and chocolate I had to try it and it was, unsurprisingly, yummy.
If you are heading to Lisbon and have time to spare then Sintra is definitely worth a visit!
It is a popular spot and so is not a hidden gem by any means, prepare to be approached by many tour guides at the train station, but compared to the hustle and bustle of Portugal’s capital it is a lovely escape.