Summer Wardrobe

19 Sep 2015

Sintra: Portugal's Hidden Gem

Before going to Portugal, and whilst doing some fundamental pre-holiday research of where to go and what to see, I came across articles on the town of Sintra and it instantly became somewhere that I was desperate to go. It is about an hours train from Lisbon and probably slightly closer by car; an ideal distance for a day trip away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I had pretty high expectations before we arrived, but it was beyond anything I could have imagined. On the walk into the town you are greeted by fairytale-esque, historic buildings at the bottom of a huge hill. Quaint shops and cafes make the perfect location for a re-fuel before you begin exploring, which will definitely take you the majority of the day, if not two. 








The first thing we did was visit Quinta da Regaleira, a gothic-looking palace where Jonny Depp once filmed. It is a must-see in Sintra, full of secret coves, underground tunnels, waterfalls and bridges, pretty much an adult's Alice in Wonderland. The main focal point of the estate is the Initiation Well that resembles an underground tower where you can climb up the spiral staircase and peer into it. In the Palace itself, you can climb the Chapel's turrets and see amazing views of from above. It is easy to spend hours wandering around here and you truly feel as if you're on a film set.










The Initiation Well



After lunch, we walked back to the town to get our bearings and wait for a bus to take us up the mountain (you can walk but the trek is pretty strenuous). The two main tourist attractions when you get to the top are the Castle of the Moors and Pena National Palace. Due to lack of time, we skipped  the castle, and being slightly castled-out from visiting Lisbon's Sao Jorge Castle the day before I didn't feel too deprived. Instead, we walked straight to the Palace of Pena. It is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal and it really lives up to its title. A short, steep walk to the Palace (most people get the bus, again) takes you to its front door and it is breathtaking - photographs don't do it justice. Despite all the tourists crowding around, posing infront of the gates (guilty) it is like a fairytale Kingdom and you are so high up, it feels as though you can see most of Portugal in the distance. 











If you are planning on going to Lisbon or nearby, I would undoubtedly put Sintra top of your list of places to go while you're there. It has a lot more to offer than I got to see, including an amazing beach and a mystical wood - all the more reason to go back. 

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