Famous for its fairy-tale-like, Moorish, and Manueline-style monuments, Sintra is an easy 40-minute train ride from Lisbon’s main station, Rossio, and a good destination for a day trip.
Located in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains, and surrounded by lush forests, this town is a must-see if you’re a fan of fairytales, like I am. Hans Christian Andersen was so enamoured with Sintra, that he spent a great deal of time in a cottage here.
I visited the 19th century Pena National Palace and Park, which was transformed into a Aladdin-esque estate by King Ferdinand sometime between 1842 and 1854. The colourful palace is like something out of a Disney movie, and unfortunately, if you visit in summer, there are almost as many tourists here as there might be in Disneyland.
I much preferred Quinta Da Regalia, a romantic palace, chapel, and enchanting park (the best part of this attraction) with lakes, grottoes, minarets, fountains, and the famous, mystical Initiation Well.
Besides Pena and Quinta da Regalia, there are a number of UNESCO world heritage sites – The Moorish Castle, Convento du Capuchos, the National Palace, Monserrate Palace – to keep architecture buffs happy. While these are all certainly worth taking the time to explore, even if you aren’t a fan of historical monuments, the town itself, with its beautiful greenery, hilly lanes, sweeping views, and cute little cafes, is worth visiting.
Trains run regularly between Lisbon and Sintra. You can check the train schedule at Comboios de Portugal.