In less than a month’s time, P and I will be traveling back to Europe, but on the opposite side of the cost to explore Spain. Our upcoming trip has brought back a lot of memories from our Portugal adventure and I realized that I hadn’t yet shared my top 10 favourite things to do in Sintra! Sintra had to easily be one of our absolute favourite places to visit while in Portugal. If you haven’t already had a chance to check out our top 10 favourites for both Lisbon and Porto, I would also highly recommend that you give them a read. Both are astounding places to visit while in Portugal, but Sintra would definitely have to be my absolute favourite. Fair warning that there is lots of walking involved, so we would highly suggest that you wear a solid pair of running shoes and to bring lots of water with you. Granted, there are some forms of transportation (busses and tuktuks) that can take you from one destination to the other. But if your plan isn’t to shell out tons of money just to explore the island, then walking is your best friend. You’ll seriously get all of your steps in and more!
Sintra Town Centre
We made our trek to Sintra from Lisbon via train, and were surprised that it only took roughly 2 hours at most. Upon arrival, we felt quite famished and knew that a visit into the city centre was necessary to fill up our tummies. I can’t for the life of me remember where we went for lunch – but it was this ridiculously kitschy but amazing sandwich shop that was decorated with wooden chickens everywhere.
Before you head up onto your hike, make sure to grab some snacks and bottles of water, because there aren’t as many options along the walk as you would think.
Our first stop on the hike was this beautiful fountain. It may not be one of Sintra’s most popular attractions, but it is definitely not one to be missed. Easily accessible from Sintra Town Centre, and before you encounter any of the properties, this fountain is definitely a stunner.
While there isn’t much to do besides taking a look at the fountain, I would highly recommend a quick photo-opp because it is just so beautiful.
We had such a fun time hiking up to this castle, but I seriously regretted not bringing any runners! With many stairs and a long hike up the top to many different towers, runners are a must have for this exploration. Alongside a proper pair of shoes, I would also recommend that you bring along a water bottle because continuously hiking up stairs for an hour can be quite tiring after awhile.
This castle looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale. With its primary colours, blockish design and beautiful turrets, the structure definitely does not appear to be realistic. I promise you that the colours are just as bright up close as you see them online. I didn’t retouch any of the yellow in my photos, except to tone down the saturation a little bit because it was overly aggressive and bright.
You can’t do too much exploring inside of the building without paying a fee, but the view that it offers is worth the trek up to the castle alone. Sneak a photo in between the arches if you aren’t too afraid of heights!
Vila Sassetti is a beautiful little home on the side of the mountain that is worth a visit. You can’t get inside, but you can definitely walk around it. Any lovers of pink will thoroughly enjoy a visit to this adorable property. You can also easily access Palácio da Pena and Castelo dos Mouros from the villa by foot as there is a trail that connects all three sites together.
Quinta Regaleira was actually my absolute favourite stop of the day trip – and I fully regret that we left it till the end. This property is just a single building that you walk around like all of the other ones, but rather a giant piece of property with a variety of different buildings that you can explore. There’s a really creepy well, a two-storey chapel, various smaller buildings, and a beautiful castle. I would solely leave 1-2 hours to explore the property because there’s just so much to take in! Leaving it till the very end when it was closing was a huge let down for me and if I do ever get the chance to go back to Sintra, spending some time in the castle is a pretty high up on my priority list.
There were also a handful of other places that we would have loved to visit, but didn’t quite get the chance to. I’ve heard nothing but good things about these beautiful landmarks and although I can’t personally speak to them, I would also highly recommend them as a visit. All of them are absolutely in my plans for any future trips back to Portugal!
If you can manage to get inside this beautiful palace (which I wish that I did), make sure to stop and admire the beautiful columns. It’s like walking into a dream. I’ve seen so many beautiful photos of the space and I can only imagine what it would look like to be there myself. If you end up going while in Sintra, please send me a picture!
The National Palace looks stunning from afar (this is the extent of what I got to experience), and in photo looks just as beautiful up close. It baffles me how they manage to keep it that clean and stark white! You can find the palace in the centre town area, so it might be a good idea to pop into it while you’re stocking up on snacks.
I received a lot of recommendations to visit Cabo da Roca – which is essentially an escarpment where you can view the ocean and the vast land around it. Quite different from the other sites that you would see around Sintra, I can only imagine how peaceful and calming the experience would be there.