Day trips: Sintra, Cascais, Estoril..., Lisbon
Someone asked me advice for a nine days visit to Lisbon in winter, and I think that it will be useful to post it here.
Nine days in Lisbon, in winter, may be two much (three or four will do), but you may travel around (a car will be the best way):
Reserve at least one day to Sintra, Ericeira (Seafood lunch), Mafra, Cascais and Estoril.
Do a full day trip to Batalha, Alcobaça, Nazaré (sardines for lunch), and Obidos (if you missed it you may stop in Mafra in your return).
Another full day to Évora and Monsaraz (beautiful and with a "presepio (Nativity scene in full size paper figures)" in the streets).
The mentioned suggestions are "must see" - they are wonderful all year around, and most of them not too compromised by eventual bad weather.
With time, you may also travel one day to Ribatejo - Tomar is great, and Santarém also interesting, and/or another day to Sesimbra and Arrábida (this in a clear dry day)
Thousands of Portuguese head south to Algarve in New year's eve. If you want action that's the place, two hours driving from Lisbon.
The Palace of Pena stands atop a rocky peak, which is the second highest point in the Sintra hills (the only place higher than the palace itself is the Cruz Alta, 528 metres above sea level). The palace is situated in the eastern part of the Park of Pena, which one has to pass through to reach the steep ramp built by the Baron of Eschwege that provides access to the castle-like building. The palace itself is composed of two wings: the former Manueline monastery of the Order of St. Jerome and the wing built in the 19th century by King Ferdinand II. These wings are ringed by a third architectural structure that is a fantasised version of an imaginary castle, whose walls one can walk around and which comprises battlements, watchtowers, an entrance tunnel and even a drawbridge.
In 1838, King Ferdinand II acquired the former Hieronymite monastery of Our Lady of Pena, which had been built by King Manuel I in 1511 on the top of the hill above Sintra and had been left unoccupied since 1834 when the religious orders were suppressed in Portugal. The monastery consisted of the cloister and its outbuildings, the chapel, the sacristy and the bell tower, which today form the northern section of the Palace of Pena, or the Old Palace as it is known.
King Ferdinand began by making repairs to the former monastery, which, according to the historical sources of that time, was in very bad condition. He refurbished the whole of the upper floor, replacing the fourteen cells used by the monks with larger-sized rooms and covering them with the vaulted ceilings that can still be seen today. In roughly 1843, the king decided to enlarge the palace by building a new wing (the New Palace) with even larger rooms (the Great Hall is a good example of this), ending in a circular tower next to the new kitchens. The building work was directed by the Baron of Eschwege.
The 1994 repair works restored the original colours of the Palace’s exterior: pink for the former monastery and ochre for the New Palace.
In transforming a former monastery into a castle-like residence, King Ferdinand showed that he was heavily influenced by German romanticism, and that he probably found his inspiration in the Stolzenfels and Rheinstein castles on the banks of the Rhine, as well as Babelsberg Palace in Potsdam. These building works at the Palace of Pena ended in the mid-1860s, although further work was also undertaken at later dates for the decoration of the interiors.
King Ferdinand also ordered the Park of Pena to be planted in the Palace’s surrounding areas in the style of the romantic gardens of that time, with winding paths, pavilions and stone benches placed at different points along its routes, as well as trees and other plants originating from the four corners of the earth. In this way, the king took advantage of the mild and damp climate of the Sintra hills to create an entirely new and exotic park with over five hundred different species of trees.
The most fascinating construction in the Park of Pena is the Chalet of the Countess of Edla, also known as the House of Indulgence (Casa do Regalo), which is located at the park’s western end. Its building was commissioned by King Ferdinand II and his future second wife, Elise Hensler (the Countess of Edla), as a private summer residence. It is a two-storey building with a very scenic appearance, denoting a distinctive alpine inspiration and maintaining an expressive visual relationship with the Palace.
The Palace of Pena was designated a National Monument in 1910 and forms part of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra, which has been classified by UNESCO as World Heritage since 1995.
In 2013, the Palace was integrated into the Network of European Royal Residences.
Admission with the combined Moorish Castle was 13.50 Euro's and once past the main gate 2 euro for a tram that will take you to the top of the hill where the Palace is located. You can buy the tram tickets at the gift shop on the right hand side as you enter thru the gates.
The Castle of the Moors is a hilltop medieval castle located in the central Portuguese civil parish of Santa Maria e São Miguel, in the municipality of Sintra. Taken by Christian forces from the Moors after the fall of Lisbon, it was an important strategic point during the Reconquista, and classified as a National Monument, part of the Sintra Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
a combined ticket for the Castle of the Moors and the Pena Palace is 13.50 Euro you save 3 euro's if you buy the combined ticket.
Once at the castle of the Moors be ready to hike … to get the best views you must climb tons of steps but the views are breathtaking …..
Spent about 1 1/2 here and it was well worth it.
Sintra is a town within the municipality of Sinatra in the Grande Lisboa subregion (Lisbon Region) of Portugal about 45 minutes in train. Owing to its 19th-century Romantic architecture and landscapes, it has become a major tourist centre, visited by many day-trippers who travel from the urbanized suburbs and capital of Lisbon.
In addition to the Sintra Mountains and Sintra-Cascais Nature Park, the parishes of the town of Sintra are dotted by royal retreats, estates, castles and buildings from the 8th-9th century, in addition to many buildings completed between the 15th and 19th century, including the Castelo dos Mouros, the Pena National Palace and the Sintra National Palace, resulting in its classification by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1995.
The train from Lisbon Rossio train station takes about 45 minutes and cost 4 Euro each way. Machines with English buttons make it easy to but tickets.
Get there by train from Ross station, quite frequent and about 30 minutes. In Sintra you have 2 circuit bus lines taking you to all the major sights, bus 434 (€ 5) to Pena park with Pena Palace (Palácio da Pena) and, Moorish Castle and Convento dos Capuchos, bus 435 (€ 2,50) to Quinta da Regaleira (Regaleira Palace and Gardens) and Monserrate.
Quinta da Regaleira is a amacing place with a wonderful garden...
Ride sunset, wonderful fantastic day that ended with the birth of one of the largest moons in recent years, which made the ride even better. Boat in excellent condition with all that is necessary. Staff very helpful and professional, without neglecting any detail of security, but doing all that at the end we wish to go back soon.
The Marina at Cascais (30 km from Lisbon) can hold about 650 vessels, and has been an important location for the world of sailing. It has hosted several international sailing competitions. And because of this, it has a very cosmopolitan feel.
My sister and I were able to visit this beautiful marina through our bus tour, but we wish we could have spent more time there. All we were able to accomplish was take pictures at the Marina by this huge ANCHOR that was a focal photo-op point for many tourists. I wish we could have spent more time there and walk by the water and sample the restaurants around.
This place was a favorite of King D. Carlos I, the last "King of Portugal" and the last in a long royal lineage who chose Cascais as his summer residence. He was a devoted oceanographer and widely respected for his maritime studies, being the founder of one of the most important oceanographic laboratories in the world. In 1896, he installed in the citadel the first oceanographic laboratory in Portugal and he had a total of 12 scientific expeditions before he was tragically assassinated in 1908.
But his legacy lives on, and by visiting the Cascais Marina we continue his vision of having a cosmopolitan coastal city devoted to the art and science of sailing and oceanography.
In September 2009, we decided to take advantage of the many bus tours available for trips to Fatima for only 59 Euros (with guide).
Fatima is about 76 miles (123km) from Lisbon and can also be reached by bus from the central bus station in Sete-Rios (Praça Marechal Humberto Delgado, Rua das Laranjeiras). The bus rade takes about one hour and a half, and they leave every hour from 8AM onwards until the night (8PM probably).
Founded in 1568, Fatima is best known for the three children (Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta) who witnessed in 1917 the apparition of a lady-in-white who was later on referred to as "Our Lady of the Rosary". The children said she was sent by God "with a message of prayer, repentance and consecrations" and she visited them on the 13th from May 13 - October 13, 1917.
In our tour, we were brought to the village where the three children lived and we also saw the abode where their "famous" picture was taken. This location is less than a mile from Fátima - "Aljustrel", a small hamlet where the three shepherd children were born.
The Fatima Sanctuary is a must not only for the religious because it is at Fatima where you see the strong relationship between the country of Portugal and Faith/Religion. People from all over the world visit Fatima and the sanctuary is a great place to visit. It is a huge expanse of space where spiritual masses are held, and we were lucky to even attend a 20-minute mass (recited in Portuguese). There are also fountains from which "holy water" can be obtained, so my sister filled up her water bottle. Just beware to mark the bottle because I almost drank the bottle souvenir by mistake! Haha...
Our tour did not bring us to the exact location where the apparition appeared to the 3 children, but this location is to the west of Fatima, near Aljustre in a place called Loca do Cabeço.
Fatima Sanctuary's busy months are fropm May to October (months when our Lady appeared), and you can also see small pilgrimages on the 12-13th of every month.
Our bus tour in 2009 to Sintra (60 Euros) also included the Cabo da Roca and I am so glad we took it because I love lighthouses! The "red lighthouse" is very photogenic, not to mention the terribly high-drop cliffs just beside it.
Cabo da Roca is also considered the most westernmost point of continental Europe! It is within the municipality of Sintra, and is a favorite among tourists. And if you are into certificates, you can go to the tourist office and get a huge certificate confirming you're having reached this "most westernmost landmark of Europe".
There’s several nice spots to take pictures (specially jumping ones, haha), but just behind the gift shop building in Cabo da Roca (go to the toilet which is at the dinner area and exit there), you will find amazing views of the cliff. Of course, you have to walk a bit on the wild plants but it wasn’t too bad – just watch out for dog poo. I did not see any snakes -and that's a good thing, haha.
On reading about Cabo da Roca on Wikipedia, I learned that it has been well known even during the Roman times as "Promontorium Magnum" and during the Age of Sail as the Rock of Lisbon. It was also described by the 16th century Portuguese poet Luís de Camões as the place "where the land ends and the sea begins" - and looking at the rocky cliffs, you will understand why. Stunning views and truly worth the visit :)
Sintra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995 and it has been described by Lord Byron as “this glorious Eden”. And so my sister and I who were travelling in 2009 in Portugal did not let this place escape us! We got a bus tour with guide in Lisbon (for only 60 Euros).
This is truly an amazing palace borne during the time of Romanticism in the 19th century - and my favorite in Sintra is the Pena National Palace. Our bus reached this castle after going up a mountain which was dotted with amazing houses which I think were houses made by those who were close to the royals. You can see that those houses are well-maintained as workers can be seen tending to the expensive gardens.
And when you reach the palace itself, you will want to take so many pictures but, alas, you are not permitted to take any pictures within the palace. But there are patios where you will be allowed to takes amazing outside pictures of the palace and the surrounding hills/mountains.
The interior of the palace is surprisingly very cozy and very family-oriented. Apparently, the royal couple had a lot of kids (eleven?) and so you can just imagine them going around the rooms. Though it is not as grandiose a palace as Versailles, but this palace has a certain family character to it.
I also remember seeing an amazing tea room with teak décor from India which was a favorite room of the Queen, The kitchen which they used for special occasions also was filled with copper pots - but there is smaller kitchen used when there is no palace occasion.
Also, as you are driving around the area, try to see if you can spot in the distance the Moorish castle with its chess-like torres – a fortification from the 8th century.
Entrance: 11 Euros
May 1 – Sept 15
Park 0930- 8PM
Palace 0945-7PM (last admission 0630 PM)
Dept 16 – Apr 30
Park 10 AM- 6PM
Palace10 AM to 530 PM (last admission 445 PM)
Sintra is a beautiful place to visit. I totally recomend the patisserie in Búzio Café (Praia das Maçãs) - even in the winter with a tasty capuccino! In the Summer this place have an interesting outdoor siting - near to the beach :)
This Summer we visited Sintra once more, can't get enough and visited the amazing beaches by the Coast - Praia Grande (big beach) and Praia das Maçãs (apples' beach), near Colares (meaning necklaces, love these names). The sand is immaculate, the water is cold but is fun to brave the cold water especially when the sun is really hot and it's never too busy.
We went to Búzio Café (not to confuse with Búzio restaurant the fish restaurant) by the car parking area.
They have an amazing selection of regional cakes and pastries such as Pastéis de nata and Queijadas (the famous mini cheese tarts) and traditional savoury snacks and sandwiches also available. Queques Bibió are the speciality, small muffins that go well with everything - we tried a few different ones and one of my favourite is Pastéis de Londres. Make sure you go inside and check the cakes displayed, there is a lot to choose from.
Apparently the ownership changed and things are looking just great. Everyone knows this local cafe so just ask and you will find it. It has a nice outdoor seating area in the sun and you can enjoy a drink there too.
A great thing about this place is that it is right by the last stop of the old tram line that runs from Sintra all the way to the beach and it's a great way to visit this beautiful area.
Renting a bike while in Lisbon made my whole stay in the city! I have been everywhere that I wanted to go and even found some hidden gems throughout beautiful Lisboa. On a bike you see and experience so much more, having the freedom to stop where and when you want to allowed me to take great shots of the city. I rented the bike from www.bikeiberia.com who provided great advice so I could start discovering the city on my own. Great bike and equipment at very reasonable price! Definitely recommend renting a bike even if it will be for just a couple of hours!
I loved this short day trip to sintra!!it's a magical place with so many interesting sites that I believe an overnight stay wouldn t be a bad idea!!!
quinta de regalais although not that old is a wonderful place not only for the beauty of the park and the villa itself but also for all simbolic meaning behind all this.
we have been there for only 1 day and we regret the fact we couldn't go to the monasteiro as it was a bit far away. All the other sites are easy manageable in one day without the need of any tour.
This ruined castle is located on the hill overlooking the town, dates back to the 9th century. It was either constructed by the Arabs or they built a new one on the top of an Older one. It served as on excellent observation post as whole coastline is visible from the castle (some 450m above sea level)
There are trains leaving every 15 min from Rossio station. The journey takes about 30-40 min. From the station at Sintra, simply take bus 433 to Sintra Vila or it will be about a 10 min walk into town centre.
circular 434 bus tickets are 4,6 eur for hole day. (for Pena and Moorish)