Happy Monday everyone! Hope you had a really nice weekend full of exciting adventures; we had a good Chinese lunch, visited Dani's brother new rent home on Saturday and helped our friends Lucila & Eduard on Sunday in their flea market booth.
Today we are sharing the last part of our Sintra trip; well, I'm still waiting for my (little fiasco) film roll to be developed, so maybe we will insist on over-sharing our trip a little more afterwards, ha! really... thanks for following us along!
This post contains the pictures from our second and third day in Sintra when we visited a royal palace (The National Palace) and two palaces of very wealthy families whom established their summer headquarters in the village. Although maybe from the three the must visit site is Quinta da Regaleira (UNESCO site), I also fell in love with Monserrate's calmness and aesthetics. Don't forget to tell us on the comments which would be your favorite!
At the very end of the post we are also sharing our tips with eating recommendations for Sintra as a wrap up, so if you're planning on visiting the cute village don't forget to check them.
Sintra's National Palace
The National Palace is visible almost from everywhere in Sintra; and the first thing we noticed about it were those two big cone-shaped towers. What surprised us a lot was to learn that they were in fact two chimneys in the kitchen's palace that gave a proper ventilation to the fumes for the large stove. Now I feel like I made such a big spoiler sharing this information, just like someone told you the end of a movie, hope you'll forgive me, it was too tempting not to explain.
The palace although not as impressive looking from the outside as the rest in the village is totally worthy of a visit; very interesting for its tiles and painted ceilings (specially in the swans room!) and much bigger than it seems. Also it has excellent views of the Palacio da Pena and is located in the main square of the village, which makes it an unavoidable stop.
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira is the exuberant summer home of the Carvalho Monteiro family which dates from the mid-late 19th century, with the most amazing gargoyles and nature-inspired pinnacles: winged rabbits, I need one at my apartment building, just thinking if I would be able to convince our neighbors.
Although the house is on its own nice to visit (quite a short visit since the upper floors are only displaying exhibitions) the most surprising and definitely intriguing part are its gardens; a humongous complex built as a paradise cohabiting with an underneath symbolic world constructed as a mythological tale. Starting at the Guardians portal you will be able to travel thanks to a network of caves, don't forget to bring a torch (or a charged mobile phone) as it does have several paths with not any illumination at all which gives a lot to the sensation of feeling like an adventurer.
The last day we visited Monserrate Palace, the summer home of Francis Cook an English millionaire. The palace has an eclectic style, like almost all the sites in Sintra, is one of the less crowded and maybe the most well-explained, thanks to the digital panels. One fun fact about the place is that Lord Byron stayed on 1809 writing about its beauty in a poem, which attracted lots of English tourists to the area.
The park around the palace is also not be missed, in a perfect romantic style it includes the (false) ruins of a chapel that looked as they come out of the roots of a tree, lakes and a rose garden. However, a part from the chapel, which caught more our eye was the Mexican garden.
Staying and eating in Sintra tips
- Staying in a place near to the station may be a good idea as the best restaurants are nearby and you have a bus stop to get to every site.
- We recommend taking the bus to Palacio da Pena, visit it, then go to Castelo dos Mouros and get back to the town using the mountain trail to the city center (it is not in the same entrance, so keep an eye for the signs).
- Quinta da Regaleira is the MUST, take enough time to visit the gardens properly.
- Eat as many "pastéis de nata" you can, no regrets when you come back, you'll see :)
- All restaurants are very traditional and almost all offer the same options, however they are of good quality and the prices are good. Our favorite restaurants were: Restaurante Dom Pipas, Café Saudade and Restaurante Regional de Sintra.
- Try at least one cod fish plate (all varieties are good) and the "Arroz tamboril", the speciality in Sintra which is a wet rice with shrimps and monkfish (yummy!).
- Get the bus to Monserrate, is only 2€ the round-trip, and one (much needed) crowded free experience.
- Do not try to find a tasty restaurant in the city center, it will be very hard as all there is very touristy!
- Take the combo ticket which is only 30€ you'll avoid queues (nevertheless they were not very long) and save money.
- Maps (don't forget to take them on every ticket office) are a must, the gardens at Palacio da Pena and Quinta da Regaleira are quite tricky!
I hope I'm not missing anything in this (so very) long wrap up post. We went back home from Sintra thinking that we definitely need to dicover a lot more of Portugal; see you soon then, neighbors! Also just a little note to let you all know that we will start sharing our South Wales adventures in the following posts, we are (way) too excited for them :)
** This post is part of our Sintra series **