Sintra: Enchanting Castles
One of our regrets last time we were in Lisbon was not visiting Sintra. We were short on time, but left Portugal disappointed we didn't prioritize the infamous castles and gardens.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is set in a charming Portuguese town about an hour outside of Lisbon, situated among pine-covered mountains.
Slightly overwhelmed by all there is to see, we booked a full day tour through Portuguese for a Day. And we're so grateful we did.
We were at the gate of the Pena Park and Palace, a Romanticist castle and national monument, before 9 a.m., beating the lines.
It completely made out experience, making it feel that we were doing something wrong, exploring the epic castle without hoards of fellow tourists.
The Pena Palace is is a prime example of Romanticism style 19th-century architecture. In fact, one of the best examples in the world.
The unique, embellished design was inspired by an adoration of mysticism and ancient cultures.
The Pena Palace is detailed with Moorish keyhole gates, stone snakes and vibrantly painted towers.
The parks and gardens in the sourrounding complex are spectacular as well.
The gardens are filled with tropical plants, massive redwoods and fern trees, and lakes. We scrambled up some rocks to get a better view.
Which was truly stellar.
After, we explored Quinta de Regaleira, which was a labyrinth of enchanting gardens.
We didn't have much time to wander through the grotts and underground paths.
But we did manage to stumble up up a tower and through caves.
And for better or worse, we crossed the waterfall several times since we became disoriented in the complex (to us) tunnel system.
An unexpected highlight was stopping at Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Continental Europe.
Interestingly, the dramatic cliffs along the Atlantic Ocean were believed to be the edge of the world until the late 14th century
The notorious wind along the cliffs of Cabo de Roca were indeed extreme.
Sintra lived up to the hype. It was truly spectacular. Although we try to stray from guided tours when we can, this was an undoubted exception. Sintra isn't a hidden gem, and it's beauty has been lauded for centuries. To be able to beat the lines and get a peak into the castles before they flooded with tourists was incredible. Highly recommend, ten times over.