Destination: Sintra, Portugal

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.

IMG_4232Located 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.

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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.

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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.

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Trains run regularly between Lisbon and Sintra. You can check the train schedule at Comboios de Portugal.

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