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Sintra is definitely one of the most popular and magnificent places to visit in all of Portugal, and in addition to the idyllic village itself, its attractions consist of as many as seven different castles and palaces with their own parks and gardens. The most beautiful and at the same time the most famous gem of Sintra is, of course, the magnificent Palacio da Pena, or Pena Palace, which stands high on the top of the mountain and offers the most magical views down to the greenery of the park and the beautiful village of Sintra with all its cafés and shops.
I have already visited Sintra several times to see the different palaces and to enjoy the pleasant atmosphere of the village with good food and a hot cup of coffee, or even a sweet mojito. Sintra is just over an hour’s train ride from central Lisbon and is easy and hassle-free to travel to. You can hop on a train to Sintra from the train stations of Rossio, Entrecampos or Sete Rios in the city center, and the LISBOA CARD * is definitely the best option for tourists. With the Lisboa Card you get great offers and free entries to different sights in Lisbon and you can use the public transportation including the metro, bus, tram and train to Sintra, Cascais and other surrounding areas as much as you want and need, all included in the card.
Pre-tailored tours of Sintra are also available, with great guides that also provide wider range of tours to the rest of Sintra’s surrounding area, starting from the wonderful fishing village of Cascais to the magnificent cliffs of Cabo da Roca.
SINTRA, THE MAGICAL UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
Sintra is a well-known UNESCO World Heritage Site and its magical atmosphere attracts visitors from all over the world. Sintra is perfect for everyone from backpackers, tourist groups, friends, solo travellers, the culture-hungry, nature lovers and couples on a romantic trip. Only one day is enough to visit Sintra, if one day is the only thing in your schedule to give space to this beautiful place. In this case, the Pena Palace is a must with its beautiful garden area. The village of Sintra is full of lovely cafes and places to have lunch, so you don’t have to spend a day feeling hungry.
While one day is definitely enough for Sintra if you want it to be, it is worth remembering that in addition to Pena Palace, there are still six other castles and palaces in Sintra that are also well worth a visit and unfortunately you won’t have time to go through everything in one day no matter how hard you try (trust me, I speak from experience).
Here’s a list of Sintra’s best attractions and tips for you to easily pick up your favorites for your own amazing Sintra trip:
PALACIO DA PENA – PENA PALACE
Pena Palace is located high on the top of the mountain in Sintra and offers the most beautiful views down over the valley, its lush nature and the village of Sintra with all its surroundings. This is also Sintra’s most popular attraction and at the same time an absolute must-see destination if time in Sintra is limited. Both inside and out, the charming Pena Palace was built in the 19th century in a romantic Roman architectural style and its color and splendor can be seen from afar. The palace is surrounded by an interesting park of about 200 hectares, where you can take a relaxing walk in the heart of nature or get a good workout in the form of a longer uphill run if you wish (or sometimes accidentally, as I have).
Now during the corona, it has been a pleasure to enjoy this attraction quite peacefully and without crowds, but at least before the restrictions, the destination has been really crowded and it is best to take this in consideration while planning your own visit. To avoid long queues at the ticket office, you can conveniently get your admission in advance online:
QUINTA DA REGALEIRA
Quinta da Regaleira is certainly the most popular place to visit in Sintra after Pena Palace, and I don’t wonder why. This place is like stepping into a kind of fairytale world full of caves, ponds, nature and massive old trees, large wells that reach deep underground and, of course, the romantic palace of Quinta da Regaleira and the chapel. It’s easy to spend time here twice as much as Pena palace, so I don’t recommend these two for the same day, or if you absolutely want to do so, nothing else will surely fit in the day.
In addition to Pena, Quinta da Regaleira is my own favorite of Sintra’s sights and I surely have to go back there again, because on the first time, unfortunately, we didn’t even get inside the palace after walking all around the garden area and it was already quite late, so we didn’t have time to see the most popular underground well either. However, we got to enjoy the enchantment of the park in the warmth of the sunshine and we just happened to be there right during the rehearsals of an Italian opera, so I can’t really complain about that, can I?
To make your day in Sintra easier, you can also choose a guided tour to my favourite destinations, Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira!
CASTELO DOS MOUROS – CASTLE OF THE MOORS
In addition to the above, Castelo dos Mouros is also one of the most popular destinations in Sintra. Built in the 700s and 800s, this high-walled fort once again offers magnificent views of the village of Sintra and the surrounding nature, as well as, of course, great views towards the Pena Palace.
SINTRA NATIONAL PALACE
Sintra National Palace is the oldest palace in Portugal. It is located right in the old town of the village of Sintra and the white chimneys of the palace can be seen all the way to the train station. As a destination, this is easy and fairly quick due to its central location and the inside is very beautiful and worth the experience.
Palácio de Monserrate is a palace/villa that beautifully combines both Arabic and Gothic architecture and is surrounded by a very magnificent garden with its large aloe plants. The palace of Monserrate is not as big an attraction as the other sites maybe, but I myself really liked this and especially the garden, so I can warmly recommend visiting here too if there is enough time.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN SINTRA?
Of course, walking in and around Sintra is possible and also nice, but the distances are quite long and the differences in altitude can surprise a first-timer. If you arrive in Sintra by train, you can conveniently grab a taxi or a tuktuk in front of the train station, but I would recommend the cheapest option myself: a bus. The bus, which passes through all the palaces and sights, runs right next to the train station and takes you around Sintra in a hop-on-hop-off style. It is very easy and simple to go around with the bus and you will not have to pay too much for one way taxi rides at least. However, if a taxi is more your style, I recommend downloading the locally-favored Bolt app, which provides by far the cheapest taxi rides.
Take advantage of my discount code “TIINALKQ” and get 5€ discount from your first Bolt ride!
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HAVE YOU ALREADY BEEN TO SINTRA? WHAT PLACES DID YOU VISIT? SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES BELOW IN THE COMMENTS! 🙂
<3: Tiina Johanna
*All photos on article (unless mentioned otherwise): Tiina Johanna, the blogger
*Photo edits: Loov.fi “Tropical blues” presets, check them out here!
The year 2021 is finally over and it’s time to look towards the new year 2022 and new amazing adventures. Last year included a lot of changes and fantastic moments, as well as great emotions and wonderful experiences. It was not a very big year of travelling maybe, but quality replaces quantity in this case, and instead of several separate trips, the year was filled with change and adventure when I moved here to Portugal and did a lot of exploring inside this new country that I can now call home.
It feels downright weird and funny to look back in time to the beginning of last year and remember the times when the frosty snow was still cracking under my shoes and my face was freezing in the cold winter air. However, I have to start somewhere with this compilation of last year, so we go back to February, when the 2021 travel year officially started for me.
RELAXING ON THE WAVES OF THE BALTIC SEA
Cruises may not be the most revolutionary travel experiences, but they do create a comfortable break from your everyday life and refresh yourself in the middle of work and everyday life. We carried out this February cruise on the cozy Viking Grace in cooperation with Viking Line Finland, and although not all of the ship’s services were available at all times due to the corona, the voyage was still a relaxing experience with sunny winter sceneries.
THE CHARM OF KUUSAMO AND THE MAGIC OF THE MOUNTAINS
I may have always been a bit of a “bad” Finn, because I have never liked the cold or the winter, I don’t like winter sports, and I hate skiing holidays. I can enjoy the snow and fresh winter weather for an average of a month, but after that I could already return to the summer time and sunshine. I have only visited Lapland once before and even then it was July and we only drove through it to the Norwegian side, so that made me feel obligated to jump on the car when my mother announced that she was going to Kuusamo to look at some white winter sceneries a little further North. So we girls from Tampere city drove to the great Rukatunturi mountain, and to the lovely Ajakka Bed & Breakfast to admire the reindeers and huge amounts of thick white snow all around us. In addition to these, Kuusamo also offers for example cute huskies for a husky safari ride and of course the famous Riisitunturi mountain.
MOVING TO PORTUGAL WAS LIFE CHANGING
May was an emotional month in many ways, as at the end of May it was finally time to pack my suitcase and head for the new great adventure, moving to Portugal. I had received an good job offer from Lisbon, the capital city, just a few months earlier, and I finally decided to grab the bull by the horns and accept the job, because after thinking about it, I couldn’t think of enough reasons not to seize the opportunity and to take the job.
Beloved relatives and friends remained in Finland, as well as my boyfriend and our rental home. I packed my life in one suitcase, in which I only packed a bunch of shorts and a bikini, as well as salmiakki, the famous finnish liquorice.
I fell in love with Portugal right away and Lisbon surprised me with its versatility, comfort and easiness, although I had never before thought of moving to Portugal to live more or less permanently. Lisbon has everything from lovely cafes and restaurants to history and the old town, a beautiful city center and easy access to everywhere. Nightlife is booming and there is entertainment for every taste and style. Lisbon has great exercise facilities for both outdoor and indoor exercise, with options ranging from cheap gyms to affordable all-inclusive wellness centers and everything in between. Personally, I just signed up for a new dance school here and soon after a break of just over six months I will start dancing lessons with some new dance genres too, so excited!
It is also extremely easy to travel from Lisbon to the surrounding areas and the rest of Portugal, or why not cross the border into Spain. In the summer I travelled a lot to the nearby cities and villages and for example my own new favorite beaches can be found on the other side of the river Tejo, in Setúbal, in the area of the Arrábida Natural Park. We also went to spend a long weekend in the Algarve, the cozy city of Lagos. The Algarve was a truly wonderful experience and this year I will head back to explore more of the southern coast. The Algarve blog post is also coming up soon, so stay tuned. This year, the directions will of course also be put towards the much praised Porto, as well as many other lovely small towns, from which I will write more here on the blog too.
In November I traveled to Finland for a mini-holiday to take care of some work and visit some family, and to finally end my relationship, which had lasted about eight years. The decision was common between me and my boyfriend and we parted as friends, in all good harmony. The new life in Lisbon opened my eyes in many ways and I know I will not return to Finland for a long time. We want different things in life right now and the future cannot be predicted, so this decision feels right. Life has taken great steps forward and I can’t wait to see what the upcoming summer, for example, will bring here in Portugal with sun, warmth and new wonderful experiences!
Read more about Lisbon:
- Alfama – The charming old town of Lisbon
- Bairro Alto – The bohemian neighbourhood and nightlife mecca of Lisbon
- Cascais – The sunny gem of the Portuguese Riviera
- Cabo Espichel & Pedra da Mua – Fantastic daytrip from Lisbon
- Arrábida Natural Park – Beautiful beaches & amazing nature in Portugal
- Sesimbra & Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo – Portugal’s long-hidden gem
- Setúbal & Tróia – The perfect weekend getaway from Lisbon
Remember to check out how we celebrated Christmas here in Portugal:
HOW WAS YOUR TRAVEL YEAR 2021? DID YOU FOCUS ON TRAVELLING INSIDE YOUR OWN COUNTRY OR DID YOU TRAVEL A LOT ABROAD? DID YOU HAVE ANY OTHER REVOLUTIONARY EVENTS IN YOUR LIFE THAT IS NOT RELATED TO TRAVELLING BUT IS STILL MAJOR? SHARE YOUR OWN HIGHLIGHTS AND SUMMARY FOR 2021 IN THE COMMENT FIELD! 🙂
<3: Tiina Johanna