VISITING THE MAGICAL TOWN OF SINTRA

After a two-week stay in The Netherlands where we spent Christmas with our family and also welcomed our newborn grandson, we flew back to Lisbon in Portugal to continue our camper adventure. It was Dec. 30, 2015 when we flew back and after a pleasant 3 hour-flight, we landed in rainy Lisbon, fetched our camper D’Traveller in the parking area and drove immediately to our target destination….SINTRA.

 We were able to find a parking for D’Traveller in a mix-parking area located just about 250 meters from the old center.  However, we had to wait about 15 minutes before  we could park. The place was full; it was advisable to come here early in the morning or a bit later in the afternoon. There are no other facilities available; public toilet is about 200 meters away, near the Palacio da Sintra. There is however a good internet access in the area. We stayed here for five days (December 30, 2015 – January 3, 2016), and at one point, we were the only camper owner here. It was busy during the day, but at night was quite quiet. Even the New Year’s Eve here was too quiet! We haven’t heard a single sound or firework!  And even if the weather was always changing from sunny to cloudy to rainy, we were able to enjoy Sintra and have seen much of what it had to offer!

Campsite:   Azinhaga da Sardinha 4

                   2710 Sintra

Coordinates :   N:  38.7971     W:  9.3879

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 Sintra, which lies high in the hills surrounded by thick green forests, was declared a World heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995. It is understandable because the city is full of  more than a handful of historic buildings and palaces. In addition, the landscape around the city of Sintra gives extra charm and personality to the city.  We have seen a  lot during our five-day stay in the city. And from what we have seen and experienced, we could say that SINTRA is really a magical and amazing. It is definitely a place to be visited in Portugal.

 7 THINGS TO DO IN SINTRA

 Below are the things we recommend you to do when you do come and visit the beautiful city of Sintra.

 1. Palace-Hopping

Yes, palace-hopping! Sintra is full of it that you can easily hop from one palace to another! Each palace has its own charms, magic and personality. Let your sense of sight be indulged with the beauty of these palaces. Just allot a budget for this, because the entrance fees could be pricey! You could however purchase combination tickets for your visits.

     a. The Functional Palacio Nacional De Sintra

Located in the heart of the old town, the Palacio Nacional da Sintra or Royal Palace, has been the residence of Portuguese royal families through the years. Its construction began in the 14th century. Most remarkable features of the palace are the Swan room,  weapon room, Arab and Chinese rooms and a collection of Modejar glazed-tiles. Entry is 8.50 euro pp (65+, 7.00).

      b. The Romantic Palacio de Monserrate

Located about 5 kilometers from the historic center, the Park and Palace of Monserrate, which was rehabilitated in 1865 under the supervision of English architect James Knowles, was once the summer residence of Francis Cook, an English textile millionaire, and his Family. The palace is built in a romantic setting, with a nicely landscaped park with various plants and trees. Special features of the palace are its gallery, the music room, the main hall and the dome and tower. It was just a pity that the rooms are empty. We learned from the employee there that the furnitures were all sold in an auction, following the bankruptcy of the family. Entrance fee is 6.50 euro pp (65+, 5 euro.)

      c. The Mysterious Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira is the summer residence of the Carvalho Monteiro family which is built in the neo-manueline style. The façade of the quinta gives an air of mystery, so is the whole park.  The building is built with eye fro precision and special details, combining the designs and styles found in other major buildings in Portugal such as Batalha and Alcobaca. The surrounding garden is full of special figures and elements which all refer to the world of mythology. Special features are the chapel, the promenade of the Gods, underground walkways, lake of the waterfall and the initiation well.  Entrance fee is 6 euro pp (65+, 4 euro.)

      d.  The Magical Palacio dela Pena

My favourite among the palaces is The Palacio dela Pena. The palace which lies in an idyllic setting, high up the Sintra Hills, is considered one of Sintra’s jewels. Its two contrasting colors of bright yellow and dark rose made the palace even more fascinating and enchanting . The pathway is wonderfully paved; there is even a makeshift bridge and a kind of tunnel on the entrabnce of the palace. There are lots of small towers where one has a magnificent views of the surroundings, including the Moorish castle nearby. Special features are the chapel, watch towers, walkway, cloister and the queen’s terrace. The park is equally impressive as well.  Entrance fee is 11.50 euro pp (65+, 9 euro.)

      e.  Moorish Castle

The Moorish castle is a military fort built around the 8th century. There are nice views of the Palace and the whole town from this castle. Entrance fee is 6.50 euro pp. you can hike up to it or take the bus 434. We did not however go inside this castle, as we were a little short of cash already from all the other visits we have made in Sintra.

 2.  Hiking

Another activity to do in Sintra is hiking. It is a good way to enjoy the nature and beautiful scenery of Sintra. There is a reasonably good hiking path from the historic center up to the Moorish Castle and Palacio dela Pena. It is about 2 kilometers long and is suitable for children and adults. Once in Palacio dela Pena, hike to the Alta Cruz (High Cross),  the highest point in Sintra Hills (528 m ). You can also hike from the historic center up to Regaleira and up to the Palacio dela Pena, depending on your physical condition. Ask for hiking brochures from the tourist office; however, don’t expect too much information, because I didn’t think the employees know a lot about it. We had to discover the routes by ourselves.

 3.  Wandering Around the Old Town

Like any other old historic towns, the old town of Sintra is also full of narrow paved streets and small alleys. You just have to let yourself get lost in the labyrinth-like streets and enjoy and take a look at the various small shops and restaurants that you see along the way. See also the town at night, when the shops are closed and day tourists are gone. Then is totally quiet and you get to experience a different kind of Sintra.

 4.  Walking the Volte do Duche

Volte do Duche is about 1.5 kilometer long road which begins from the roundabout at Vila Municipal (near the train station) and ends at Praca de Republica in the old town (just before the National palace). What makes this road interesting are the various bronze and marble sculptures lined up along the way. Also the beautiful Fonte Mourisca is located along this way.

 5.  Taking the Hop on- Hop Off Bus

A very easy and popular way to travel around Sintra is taking the hop on – hop off bus. Certain bus lines bring you to the different palaces in no time. It is an alternative for people who are not so fond of hiking.

 6.  Visiting Cabo da Roca

Situated outside the town of Sintra, Cabo da Roca is considered the most western point of the European continent. There is a bus from Sintra that brings tourists here. The lighthouse of Cabo da Roca which is built in 1772 is found in the area and a memorial cross to marking the location of the Cabo. It was stormy when we were here, and yet that didn’t stop the tourists from visiting the place.

7.  Going to the Beach

One of the beaches of Sintra is Praia das Macas, located just about 12 kilometers from Cabo da Roca. It is beach with brown sandy beach and wild waters. There are  quite a number of restaurants and shops in the area.

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Our customary picture together 🙂

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