The name Sintra may not ring a bell, but I’ll guarantee you’ve seen it before on galleries of ‘most Instagram-able locations’. It’s so much more than just an Insta-location (I just cringed at myself typing that), so I wanted to explain what I loved about our visit there, and why I think its’ worth your time if you’re travelling to Lisbon anytime soon!
Situated just a 40 minute train ride away from Lisbon, and costing roughly around 2 Euros at that, it’s a brilliant little excursion if you’re wanting to get away from the city. When I researched what to do in Lisbon, a visit to Sintra always sat in the top 5 of most recommended, and I can certainly see why.
It holds a completely different atmosphere to Lisbon, and seems to sit in it’s own little world. There are lots of things to see when you’re there, but the main attraction is it’s multi-coloured castle The Palacio Nacional da Pena (although other castles in Sintra are available).
The multi-coloured beauty is where we chose to go on our day visit, and we really enjoyed our trip. We did choose to walk there – a 50 minute uphill journey – which isn’t the best choice in the heat. You can catch a bus up to the top, or your own private tuk-tuk if you would prefer (and I’d envy you for it).
When you enter you have the choice to pay for just the grounds (which includes climbing around the castle exterior) for 7.50 euros or 15 euros to visit the indoor exhibitions as well. Because of our time limit, and the gorgeous weather outside, we chose the first option, which was a great way to look around and explore the castle without going inside.
The castle itself is a gorgeous array of bright colours and mismatching tiles. It doesn’t take long to take a walk around the edge of the castle, but it’s good fun to take your time to look at all the different elements to it and even take a trip up your own turret if you wish.
The scenic walk back down is really enjoyable (especially because you’re walking back down- and not up again). Google Maps will try and take you a different route FYI, but stick to the walking signs and follow other tourists when in doubt.
Like most pay-to-visit attractions the cafe options are minimal and expensive, so if you can avoid it try to not eat there, and save it for after. We spotted the tapas spot Tascantiga on the way up to the castle, and marked it as our destination for the end of our hike back down.
I would definitely recommend this spot if you’re after somewhere to eat, or some really good sangria. When you’re seated you are given a menu and a pencil – and you tick your options, and there is certainly a lot to choose from. We had eyes bigger than our bellies by the time we’d finished our trip to the castle, so we went a bit wild with our orders.
Of course, this is only a tiny snapshot of what you can do in Sintra, as there are plenty of other castles, gardens, bars and restaurants to try when you’re there. Either way, if you have the chance when in Lisbon or nearby I would definitely recommend paying it a visit. It makes a big change from the city vibe of Lisbon and is worth a visit if you’re after a colourful day out.
If you’re heading to Lisbon anytime soon make sure to add Sintra to your to-do list, and if you think I’ve missed anything out let me know in the comments below! In the meantime you can check out my travel snaps on my Insta @GrundyTravels.
Thanks for reading!