We recently spent the most wonderful day in Sintra, Portugal. It’s beautiful here, and such a sweet place to explore. I don’t have a lot of time to write about it since we are on to the next place (we’re taking a week-long road trip all over Portugal) but I wanted to at least share some photos with you!
Let me just drop some basic info here from Wikipedia abotut Sintra:
“Sintra is known for its many 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, which has resulted in its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although its heritage in buildings and nature is the most visible face of the historic individuality of Sintra, a whole literary heritage has made the area a legendary reference in Portuguese culture. It has become a major tourist centre, visited by many day-trippers who travel from the capital Lisbon. In addition to the Sintra Mountains and Sintra-Cascais Nature Park, the parishes of the town of Sintra are dotted with royal retreats, estates, castles and other buildings, including the mediaeval Castelo dos Mouros, the Pena National Palace and the Sintra National Palace.”
First, let’s take a look at the Palacio Nacional. This is well worth a visit. I am not the sort of person who reads plaques and such, but I do enjoy the design features of historic sites. In this place, I found the hand painted ceilings and all of the rooms really amazing, and the kitchen blew my mind. Also, the moorish design features were so gorgeous, as was all of the beautiful tile work. So, here is a photo summary, with minimal commentary.
This room was made for a princess who had a thing for swans. So, look at this amazing ceiling! She also had an affinity for farm animal soup tureens, as you sill see below. How fun! Look at these sweet birds all over this ceiling. And here’s the ceiling of the in-house chapel. Gorgeous. I don’t have words for the incredible tile, and all of the beautiful shapes and angles all over the palace.OK, I have to talk about the kitchen at the Palacio Nacional. It was AMAZING. The lines were completely elegant and sublime. And the tile!!! I wish you could see it in person, but the roof was the elongated dome you saw in the first pictures, funneling all the heat from cooking out of there. After the Palacio Nacional, we enjoyed walking around and enjoying the gorgeous scenery and beautiful architecture of the town, and then we took a rather wild ride in a hired convertible, up the hill to the Castillo Dos Mouros. All of it was pretty amazing, and I highly recommend it.
OK, a fewOK, a few tips about visiting Sintra…
- First of all, DO IT! You don’t want to miss this incredibly beautiful town. There is so much to see, and I wish we had more day to explore. We didn’t even make it to the beach or a few of the other palaces!
- Expect to pay for a Tuk-tuk, which is a motorized cab, to take you around and especially up to the castle and some other palaces. It’s a little pricey (€5 per person per trip), but if you don’t feel like hiking, it’s worth it.
- There is a lot of good food there, and I have two restaurants to recommend. The first is in the historic center, and it’s Incomum. The food we had there was elegant and delicious. The second is a little further from the town center, but we loved it so much. It’s called Tábuas, and when we went there, it had only been open for several months. The concept is modern Portuguese food, served tapas-style. The owners are very kind and helpful.
- We enjoyed staying outside of the historic district. It was much cheaper, and quiet. I loved the feeling, too– so many people have a little bit of land that they use for growing wine grapes and planting vegetable gardens. It was all very sweet and idyllic. We stayed at this airbnb. (And if you haven’t signed up with airbnb already, you can use this link to get a nice discount on your first stay.)
- Wear good shoes. There is so much walking and hiking to do when you visit Sintra, and don’t let the wrong shoes keep you from enjoying it all!
Sintra is a super sweet and romantic and interesting little town. I hope you can check it out– we will certainly be heading back some day, since there is more than we could see in just a day in Sintra!