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Best places to visit in Sintra

Updated: Feb 9

With its exotic landscape and climate, Sintra became the place where the nobles and aristocrats from the XIX century started building their summer palaces. Classified as World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1995, Sintra attracts many tourists all year around and is considered by many the most beautiful city in Portugal. We’ve decided to make a list with the best places to visit in Sintra on your next trip.

The downtown are of Sintra

Sintra or Cintra?

It is believed the Celtic gave the name Cynthia to this hill because of their worship to the moon. Later, the Romans named it “Mons Lunae”, or The Moon Hill. When the Moors ruled the area, they called it Xentra or Sentra. In the end of the XVI century, Cintra was written with a C, mostly because of the poetry influence that celebrated the Goddess Cynthia and just more recently, in the XX century, the name with S was officially used.

Palácio de Sintra

Although the palace was originally built by the Moors in the IX century, nothing from this period has survived. The oldest part of the palace is the Royal Chapel, built during the reign of D. Dinis I in the early XIV century. The mix of Gothic, Manueline, Moorish and Mudéjar styles are the result of building campaigns in the XV and early XVI century.

In the following centuries the palace continued to be inhabited by kings from time to time. It suffered some damage after the great earthquake in 1755 but was restored in the old fashion way. In the XIX century, it became again a favorite spot for the royal family but with the foundation of the Republic, in 1910, it became a national monument. It was restored for the last time in 1940.

Price: 10,00 euros

Opening hours: Every day from 9:30 to 18:30

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Quinta da Regaleira

Certainly one of the most interesting places in Portugal, Quinta da Regaleira was bought in 1893 by the eccentric millionaire António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, who hired the Italian architect Luigi Manini to be in charge of its construction.

The architecture has some typical influence of the Romanticism moviment, with a mix of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Manueline styles, it's possible to find hidden symbols of the Templar Knights, the Masonry, the Rose-Cross among others all over the state.

Some of the highlights of the Quinta are the chapel, built in Gothic and Manueline Style with freemason elements, the Portal of the Guardians, the system of tunnels and grottoes around the state but nothing compares to the Initiation well, a subterranean tower sinking 27 meters into the earth accessible by a monumental stairway, full of masonic, esoteric, alchemical symbols.

Price: 10,00 euros

Opening hours: Every day from 9:30 to 20:00 (summer time)

Every day from 9:30 to 18:00 (winter time)

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Palácio da Pena

Richard Strauss, the German compositor and maestro, visited the palace in the XX century and wrote in his diary “Today is the happiest day of my life. I’ve been to Italy, Greece, Egypt and haven’t seen anything compared to the beauty of Pena”.

It’s considered one of the seven wonders of Portugal and is characterized as being the first palace in Europe built in the Romantic Style.

In 1838, Kind Ferdinand II (who was married to the Portuguese Queen D. Maria II) acquired an old monastery and all of the surrounding lands and started the transformation of its remains into his personal Palace.

The construction took place between 1842-1854 and the king intervened on matters of decoration, suggesting vault arches, medieval and Islamic elements to be included and the main façade. It has some similarities with some other famous constructions in Lisbon with the mix of Arabic, Indian, Gothic and Manueline styles.

The park area has over 200 hectares of uneven terrain. It has trees from all over the world and it has a labyrinth system of paths and narrow roads connecting the palace to the many points of interest.

Price: Park only - 7,50 euros

Park and Palace - 14,00 euros

Opening hours: Every day from 9:00 to 19:00 (summer time)

Every day from 9:30 to 18:30 (winter time)

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Moorish Castle

The castle was established around the VIII century during the occupation of Portugal by the Moors to protect the city of Sintra.

In 1108, the Norwegian King Sigurd the Crusader, conquered the Castle while on his way to Jerusalem but it was only in 1147, after various attempts that the castle was definitely taken by the first King of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques.

Later the castle lost its strategic importance, as there was no more need to protect the population inside the walls and was therefore abandoned.

King Ferdinand acquired it in 1838, restoring the medieval ruin and afforested the surrounding areas. The last restoration happened in 1940 for the ceremonies celebrating the foundation of Portugal.

Price: 8,00 euros

Opening hours: Every day from 9:00 to 18:30

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Monserrate Palace

A Neo-gothic Palace was built in 1789 over the ruins of a church dedicated to Our Lady of Monserrate, by an English merchant named Gerard de Visme.

Later, it was rented to the writer William Beckford, who also did some changes in the palace and on the surrounding gardens. During this time, its magnificent appearance inspired the poet Lord Byron, who mentioned the beauty of Monserrate in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, attracting foreign travelers attention.

But, it was only in 1846 that another Englishman named Francis Cook, bought the property and started to totally recover not just the Palace but also the garden.

This very unique construction was inspired by Islamic architecture and the ideal of symmetry, giving you the sense of being in some Middle Eastern palace with its fine carvings and geometric patterns.

Price: 8,00 euros

Opening hours: Everyday from 9:00 to 19:00 (summer time)

Everyday from 9:30 to 18:30 (winter time)

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There are two reasons why you should have a break at this place: queijadas and travesseiros, the most traditional pastries in Sintra.

In the XIX century, King D. Carlos I used to buy his breads and pastries here. The owner, a lady called Constança Gomes, was baptized “Piriquita” by the king himself because she was a very short lady. One day, the king asked if she could make “queijadas”, a delicious pastry made of cheese and cinnamon and that was the beginning of the tradition.

The travesseiros de Sintra, a cream and almond based pastry, was introduced a lot later, in the 1940`s. Constança Luisa Cunha, the daughter of Piriquita, wanted something new and found the travesseiro’s recipe in an old family book.

Opening hours: Everyday from 9:00 to 19:00

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Cabo da Roca

Not located exactly in the downtown area of Sintra, Cabo da Roca is another fantastic place that shouldn't be missed.

It’s the most western point in continental Europe and it was considered the end of the World until Christopher Columbus discovered America. It was also mentioned by Luís de Camões in his famous poem "Os Lusíadas" for that fact.

How to get to Sintra: you can take a train from Rossio Station and get off at the last stop, Sintra. The journey takes around 40 minutes.

Another good option is doing our fantastic tour around Sintra and learn how to enjoy the best of both places.


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