Unboxing Sintra


Early in the morning, she headed to the Rossio train station, with a return ticket to Sintra only costing her 5 EUR.


On the train she saw tourists alike her, from different countries, heading to Sintra too. Getting from Lisbon train station to the train station in Sintra is easy, it can stay easy if you stay around the station and explore the local cafes and shops.

In a pretty cafe, opposite the train station, I had a quick espresso before continuing the trip.

 

The situation changes from "easy" and "espressy" to hiking and up the hill walking if you want to visit sights, especially if you are heading to the Palacio de Pena (The Feather Palace). Buses and tuk-tuks were either crowded or not directly visible, so enthusiastic as she was, she started a 40 minutes walk up the hill, through the greenery, and she still remembers how clean and infusing the air up there was. The road started innocently. It was flat, with a nice path and street artists selling their goods. Especially the leather recycled notebooks attracted her attention. They were pricy but it was worth to buy one (and convert it to the book of life later).


As the walking journey continued, the road which was safe to walk, got interrupted: if you are familiar with the serpentines e.g. in Mallorca (talking Sa Calobra now), then you get how she walked up the narrow curly road. It was a good but time-costly experience especially if you are trying to beat all the other tourists and arrive first in the queue for tickets then to enter the Pena castle. The entrance cost around 12 EUR in 2018.

 

They say, Sintra is a must see when travelling to Lisbon. It is indeed. It is an explosion of historical and architectural sights, a heaven if you will! I could browse for days there. Plan your day(s) in Sintra or do focus on 1-2 little sights if your time is short, but take at least 0.5 days to see the highlights (having done your research in advance). Make sure those "height"-lights do not tap you in a surprise trap: if you are walking to Pena castle and spend a day (or days) in Sintra, put those sneakers or nikes on!

The Pena castle was full of eye-catching views including the Moorish castle and ... pupils and other tourists, browsing and guided tours ongoing etc. The place is crowded even on work days in cold spring!


Never mind, she thought as a tourist thinking negatively about other tourists for the fact that she could not indulge in peopleless architectural photography… sigh … All pictures would have been taken million times before and for definite, edited to erase tourists. Her next never mind: food stalls have a limited choice at the sights, - great job she had a break at the bottom of the hill.


Practical and with an eye for architectural highlights, she was done pretty soon and left Pena for other attractions. This time it was a tuk-tuk ride down the hill: speedy and joyous!

 

She was hoping for the spiral well, but it is actually not in the Pena castle but in the gardens close to the train station - the famous Quinta de Rigareira, so do your research, best in advance - do not follow my last minute example lol. Luckily, there were shop stalls with postcards everywhere, so some local drivers pointed her to the right venue.

The famous well, which is 27 m deep by the way, was crowded too, but it was worth seeing it. Most sights have maps that you get with the ticket, select carefully and head instantly to bits you desire to see, bring your patience with you for peopleless snaps.


 

Summary:

You can go to Sintra by train from Rossio train station or there would be an option to go with by car with a guide, if booked via the agency e.g. Rideways

Wear hiking or comfy walking shoes in Sintra.

Plan your trip and sights you want to see in advance. Plan 0.5 days minimum.

Plan for small snacks and water, due to limited food choice at the sights.

Buy a small souvenir to support local artists. I personally liked the recycled Hipatia notebooks very much.

Sintra is crowded all the time, choose a work day if possible. Be sure to be at your favourite sights ahead of others if you like those peopleless snaps.

Sintra is worth seing, my favouritve views and pictures accompany the above post.