I have no intention of telling you, in a single post, everything about Sintra, because that would be impossible. Maybe you’ve heard about Sintra and maybe you’ve actually been there, but… do you really know Sintra?
Trust me, you don’t.
Actually, I don’t think anyone can truly say they know everyhing about Sintra – unless they have an ego the size of Jupiter, which sometimes happens. That being said, I don’t know every little detail about Sintra, but I can tell you a few things most guides won’t.
Most tourists who visit Sintra take the train that leaves from the Rossio station in Lisbon. Then they take the 5 or 10 minute walk to the town centre, aka, historical centre. They’ll probably visit one or two monuments, have a meal and then go back to Lisbon. Later they’ll tell their friends that they went to “this cute little village” near Lisbon.
*enter dramatic pause and spotlight*
Sorry my friends, but this has got to stop. I, the masked blogging avenger, am here to see justice done!
*end dramatic pause and spotlight*
Sintra is a municipality with a 317km2 area (that’s about 122.39mi²) and is home to 377 835 people. While a lot of its area is of a residential type, the truth is most tourists only see a fraction of what Sintra has to offer – which is why I recommend renting a car.
Although it is an incredibly old place most of the things you’ll see there date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Why? Because that’s when the nobility and many people linked to the arts “discovered” Sintra. William Beckford, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Hans Christian Andersen and Alfred Tennyson are some of the names you may recognize and that are somehow connected to Sintra – but there are more.
Most people visit the Pena palace, the castle, the town palace and maybe Regaleira, Capuchos, Seteais* and Monserrate. With its own castle and being a relatively mountainous region (lots of ups and downs, but the peak is only 528m high – about 1732ft), Sintra is more than just old monuments.
If you have the time (and I really hope you do) rent a car and explore the beaches (mainly Praia das Maçãs, Praia Grande and Azenhas do Mar), Cabo da Roca (the westernmost point in Continental Europe) or the cuteness of Colares and the Várzea. If you really feel like exploring go uphill and maybe you’ll find some of the pre-historic remains in the mountain. 😉
Please respect the local flora and fauna when you’re visiting!
As it may have become obvious, I love Sintra. Many of the places now flooded with tourists were my weekend playground when I was a kid. The castle and the Pena gardens were particularly magical to me. But that was in a very different time, when at the castle entrance there used to be sunbathing cats and an old man selling entry tickets, postcards and pots of honey; a time when there was no such thing as surveillance cameras; a time when kids like me only needed to show their school card to get a free admission at the Pena palace.
Sintra, as far as I know, has always had the reputation for being a mysterious place and its many legends are just one evidence of that. Maybe it’s because of the mist in the mountain, maybe it’s because of its palaces and villas with their enigmatic art – but it could just be because there’s always something you missed last time you were there.
Like I said, it would be
stupid unrealistic to say “everything” about Sintra in one single post, so this is a topic I’ll be coming back to. Still, I really couldn’t finish this post without mentioning that Sintra also has some great things to offer when it comes to food and drink – again, explore! Or you can just read this blog… 😉
*I’ve mentioned Seteais before and although it is now a hotel you can visit the place.