Just an hour outside Lisbon lies Sintra, a quaint little town with everything going for it, beauty, history and palaces galore! No wonder it’s a UNESCO world heritage site! We spent one day here and easily could have spent many more…
Sintra is where the Portuguese royals and nobility spent their summers and because of this just about every structure is a castle, palace or grand home. If staying in one appeals to you, you’re in luck because many of them have been converted into luxurious hotels.
When We Accidentally Hired A Fabulous Guide
Getting there was no trouble. The Rossio Rail Station was within walking distance of our hotel and with trains leaving for Sintra every 20 minutes until 11 pm we were in no rush. A roundtrip ticket is €5 and you can purchase your fare from the kiosks just before you board the train. Upon arrival at the Sintra station we followed the signs towards town.
Like Lisbon, Sinatra’s terrain is very steep and many of the main points of interest are located at the top of the hills. While walking from sight to sight is an option, this is not only time consuming but Simon had recently broken his ankle and walking long distances wasn’t going to work for us. We had heard about a bus that does a loop between three of the main palaces, but that meant we were on someone else’s schedule and that didn’t seem like a fit for us.
There is a large tourist center in town and there we were again advised to take the bus up the hill, the stop was just right outside… We purchased tickets to both the Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle ruins and decided, sigh, to check out the bus.
That’s when we saw him! The friendly looking fellow in the miniature bright orange plastic car! Should we ask him for a ride? We wondered what he would charge. The boys had been asking for a ride in one of “those” tiny cars. Okay, we’ll tell him we just want a ride, no tour…
We ended up having the best day and it was in large part to the driver of that charming little plastic car, Carlos Evora! He offered us the ride up the hill to Pena National Palace for €5 each, but “could he show us just one place on the way?” We quickly discovered that we had hit the tour guide jackpot! There was just something about him, not only did he take us to many lovely places we would have missed on our own, but he was incredibly friendly, kind to the children and a wealth of knowledge! He even surprised us midway through the day with tiny cakes from Queijadas da Sapa Cintra!
Tivoli Palácio de Seteais
The 9th Gate Movie House
Pena National Palace
Castelo dos Mouros
Cork products are everywhere in Portugal and with good reason! Have you ever wondered where cork comes from? Did you know that close to 50% of the worlds cork comes from Portugal?! You’ll find everything from shoes to candy wrappers made from what is actually the bark of the Cork Oak Tree.
Quinta da Regaleira
We Ran Out of Time…
We had an amazing time with our new friend Carlos! Beyond what I mentioned above, we stopped at a number of other points of interest, saw eagles and parrots, and in general just throughly enjoyed driving up and down the hills of Sintra with such a lovely person who clearly loves what he does! Before we parted ways for the day he was kind enough to go over my itinerary for our final day in Lisbon and after such a successful day in Sintra we were only happy to take his advice!