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An unforgetable experience

Content © Copyright 2018 Eurovision Guide


Just nearly 30 kms northwest of the Portuguese capital, Sintra, with its fairytale landscape of mist-soaked forests, turreted palaces and castle ruins, seems a world away from the heat and noise of Lisbon. Lying in the wooded hills of the Serra Mountains, cooler temperatures have lured Portugal’s overheating royalty to sit out the summer in Sintra’s fabulous palaces and shady exotic gardens for centuries.

Getting to Sintra from Lisbon couldn’t be easier; there are direct trains that run every 15 minutes from Lisbon’s central Rossio station. The journey takes roughly 40 minutes and a round-trip ticket costs €4.30. The train station in Sintra is located roughly 1 km away from the main town, but it’s pretty easy to walk. If you don’t feel like trekking it, you can also take the #434 bus, which will cycle through town and to all of the main castles and attractions. The Sintra bus route costs €5 for a single loop trip. Tickets are purchased from the driver, so be sure to have exact change!


Castle of the Moors

Standing at over 1,300 feet above sea level is the Moorish Castle, created during the 8th and 9th centuries to help protect against the Arab occupation of the Iberian Peninsula.with brightly coloured flags flying from ivy-clad restored battlements and keeps, the castle is like the fantasy fortresses found in little boy’s picture books. Far below I see the Atlantic, deep blue and restless, while to my left and higher up still is Pena Palace, rising from a densely wooded peak like an apparition.

Pena Palace

By far one of the most unique palaces in all of Portugal (if not the world) this incredibly eclectic castle is the highlight of your trip to Sintra, so be sure to set aside the most amount of time for exploring. Built by an artistic king with an eye for the extravagant, each section of the palace is different from the rest. The interior state rooms are lavishly designed, and the views you’ll get from each vantage point are stunning. If you have some time, stroll around the lush gardens for more great photo opportunities.

Quinta da Regaleira

The Quinta da Regaleira is a decorative 20th century residence that is situated in the town of Sintra. The grand house is split over five floors and has an ornate gothic façade, but the real attraction is to the rear with the enchanting gardens. The gardens of the Quinta da Regaleira were styled to represent ancient secret orders, with hidden tunnels and concealed symbolism.

Palácio Nacional de Sintra

The gothic styled Palácio Nacional de Sintra is situated in the heart of Sintra and was the most lived in royal residence, being continual used from the 15th century up until the fall of the monarchy in 1910. This is the palace that king Afonso VI (1650s) was imprisoned during his later life, as he was deemed, by his brother, too unstable to rule the country.

The minimalistic gothic exterior is dominated by the two huge chimneys that rise out from the kitchens while the interior includes decoratively painted rooms that reflect the extensive history of the palace. The most famous of these rooms is the magpie room, which has paintings of magpies representing the gossiping and scheming of the queen’s ladies in-waiting.



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The summer resort town of Cascais is an easy day trip from Lisbon, taking only 40-minutes on a  train ride from Cais do Sodré station. Once you step off the train, you are in the centre of Cascais old town, filled with patterned pavements, boutiques, cafés and a mixture of architectural styles dating back centuries.  The former fishing village gained fame as a resort for Portugal's royal family in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Nowadays, it is a popular vacation spot for both Portuguese and foreign tourists.

The train route follows the coastline and provides some great views over the sea, for the best views sit on the left side when departing from Lisbon or right side from Cascais.

A single ticket from Lisbon to Cascais passes through four fare zones and costs €2.20/€1.10 (adult/child). There are no return tickets, so the price of a return is €4.40/€2.20 (adult/child), the price of two single tickets. The train fares are charged to the Viva Viagem card, which is the reusable public transport ticket for all of Lisbon. The initial purchase of the Viva Viagem card is €0.50. Annoyingly the Viva Viagem can only store one type of ticket at a time; so if a card has an unused metro or bus ticket another one must be purchased.



Cais do Sodre to Cascais

Journey time - 30 to 40 minutes

Rossia to Sintra

Journey time - 30 to 40 minutes