7 reasons why Sintra is a place you need to visit in Portugal as soon as you get the chance to.
Sintra is a gem! Located within the beautiful natural scenery of the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais, this national park incorporates the forests hills of Sintra and leads down to the rugged and dramatic coastline, 12km to the west. Its hills are home for many activities of the region, include scenic hiking trails, challenging cycle routes and some of the best rock climbing in Portugal.
Here are our tips for your visit:
1) CABO DA ROCA
Lets start by the coast. If you are staying with us in Carcavelos and have a car, drive by the sea until you reach Cascais. From there drive to Guincho beach up to Cabo da Roca - Cape Roca the westernmost point of the European continent.
If you don't have a car, it's also easy to reach, you just need to take the train to Cascais and from there find the bus terminal and take the 403 bus.
"Cabo da Roca - Where the land ends and the sea begins…"
The views to the Atlantic from here are stunning. The cliff rises 144 meters in height above the cape. You can walk and hike in the trails. Expect strong winds when looking down from the cliff-top.
2) URSA BEACH
Since you're at Cabo da Roca, right next to it, Ursa Beach is one of the most beautiful natural treasures. Its fine sand, the Atlantic Ocean, and the rocky surroundings welcome you to celebrate its unusual natural beauty.
The beach gets its name from the Rocha da Ursa (Bear Rock), a huge rock formation which, when seen from the north and against the blue of the ocean, looks like a bear with a cub on its lap.
Attention: Difficult access (it is also the reason why it is so well preserved) The walk down from the parking area along the cliffs to the beach takes about 1 hour but it is definitely worth it once you get there. This beach is unsupervised and has no facilities.
3) SINTRA NATIONAL PALACE
Continuing from Cabo da Roca, go straight to Sintra town center. There you will find Sintra National Palace, where from approximately the early 1400s until the 1600s the Portuguese Royal Family decided to make Sintra their holiday retreat.
Since it doesn’t take long to get from Lisbon to Sintra, the cool hills were the perfect summer escape from the heat of the capital.
4) LOCAL PASTRY
You're in the magical village of Sintra and you can't leave without wandering around and try the local pastry at Piriquita Cafe. You will freak out with the taste of these Travesseiros de Sintra, made with eggs and sugar and with the Queijadas de Sintra, the most famous cheese tarts of the country.
5) QUINTA DA REGALEIRA
You must visit Quinta da Regaleira!
A decorative 20th century residence split over five floors and has an ornate gothic façade, but the real attraction is to the rear with the enchanting gardens. The gardens of the Quinta da Regaleira were styled to represent ancient secret orders, with hidden tunnels and concealed symbolism.
It is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within the "Cultural Landscape of Sintra". A romantic palace and chapel, and a luxurious park that features lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions.
6) CASTELO DOS MOUROS
Castelo dos Mouros - also known as The Moors Castle or Moorish Castle. Surrounded by the verdant forest and park, it was easy to be amazed by these fantastic views.
North African Muslim Moors built the original castle during the 10th century as a military fort.
Its mountain top location looking over the Tagus River made it an ideal strategic place to defend the town of Sintra and an outpost for Lisbon. This became one of the region’s most important castles. Declared a National Monument and part of the Sintra Cultural Landscape, it became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995.
7) PALÁCIO NACIONAL DA PENA
How magical can this be?? From the 19th century Romanticism style of architecture, the palace is a mix of vividly painted terraces, decorative battlements and mythological statues, all of which stand at stark contrast to the lush greens of the forests that encircle Pena.
It is designed in the exotic style of the Romanticism and it has major Islamic influences. It is divided into 4 different areas, all beautiful and unique. It is one of the 7 wonders of Portugal and the forested park lands that surround the palace continue the Romanticism design ideals of the palace, with hidden pathways, ornate features and stunning view points.
The interior of the palace is equally as fascinating,
You will be lucky in a sunny day since it is usually unveiled in a mystical fog.