Thought I was done posting about my jollies back in March? I’m afraid you thought wrong. Too much to share I’m afraid. I considered slotting in my Sintra daytrip in with the rest of the fun in my Lisbon blog post, but changed my mind. This one’s deserving of a post all of its own.
One of the many perks to a Lisboa card is the included train travel from Lisbon to Sintra and Cascais – two possible daytrip destinations to mix up your city break a little. Had the weather been warmer I may have chosen the seaside town of Cascais, however I’m glad the chilly breeze convinced me to head to Sintra. What a shame it would be to have missed out on this place!
You see, Sintra is recommended in all the articles as an absolute must see on any trip to Lisbon. And for that reason it’s pretty busy and absolutely packed full of tourists. Somehow arriving in Sintra almost feels like you’re arriving at Disney ready for the shuttlebus to take you to the castles. Which you are – except they’re real castles, not Disney ones. 10x better in my opinion, too. Sintra is touristy but it’s one of those places where you just roll with it, because it’s totally unique.
Journeying from Lisbon to Sintra really couldn’t be easier – a Lisboa Card takes care of your travel costs and hassle, and Rossio station (where the Sintra train departs) is right in the city centre. Was even a close enough walk from my hotel that when I realised I’d forgotten my sunglasses I had time to turn around, speedwalk to my hotel and back, and still make it in time for the train I’d planned to catch. Winner.
I’ll say the same as every other blog post that earlier is definitely better than later for this one. I arrived around 9am and the queues for the shuttle bus were already rather lengthy, but I guess that’s to be expected from somewhere so interesting.
Deciding how to spend my day in Sintra was another task requiring thought (read: much Googling the night before). Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira were top of my list and I ummed and ahhed over trying to fit in more stops at the other castles and attractions, but decided not to fill my day too much. My 3 days in Lisbon were straight after 3 full to the brim days in Rome so I wanted to take it a little easier! Leaves room for spontaneity if you don’t make too many plans, right?
Anyhow, on the 434 bus I hopped, along The Windiest Road Ever I went, and into the grounds of Pena Palace I walked. I should probably let the photos do the talking from here.
So just your average castle really. Sarcasm, of course. Pena Palace is a bright yellow Romantic castle on top of a hill, with panoramic views over all the other castles (and endless Instagram opportunities, let’s face it). I chose to just walk around the perimeter of the castle and head off for a mini hike around the Parque de Sintra rather than pay the extra fee to go inside, but I can imagine the interior is equally stunning.
Hiking through the park to the Cruz Alta viewpoint was definitely a good call though! I say ‘hiking’ because the routes were marked as ‘hiking trails’, but I wouldn’t really class this one as a hike. A short and gentle hike, maybe.
Lisbon was another solo trip for me, but when you’re in a busy city surrounded by people it’s easy to forget that you’re alone. However for a few brief minutes, whilst walking through the woods of the Parque de Pena, there was nobody in sight, and it felt strangely invigorating to feel properly alone. Had it been dark or the path not so clear I’m sure I’d have felt a whole lot more nervous than invigorated, but I bloody loved it for those few minutes! Contact with humanity resumed shortly when I ended up chatting to a bunch of lovely people at the summit of the hill (shoutout to Camille for the fab photography skills!).
Next stop: Quinta da Regaleira. I’ll be honest and say that I knew very little about this place other than that it had a cool well you could walk to the bottom of. Little did I know that I’d find myself in the bottom of said well by accident, but more on that in a second! Turns out it’s an extremely beautiful country estate that’s best enjoyed without paying attention to the map and just exploring. That’s the approach I took anyway.
My approach led me to crossing stepping stones at the bottom of a waterfall, which led me to an underground passage of sorts, which came out at the bottom of the well (whilst I thought I was on the other side of the park). Many other people seemed equally surprised!
As you can probably imagine, I wasn’t the only one taking many a photo.
The rest of my afternoon was spent with another guy who was exploring by himself and became my wandering buddy for a couple of hours. Always fun to meet people along the way. Hope you enjoyed this (hopefully slightly informative) photo diary!
Lily Kate x