Another wonderful day out on our travels! We had been looking forward to Sintra having been advised to go there by a couple that we met in Alicante. We didn’t manage to see everything that they told us about, and were gutted to have missed the gardens – Quinta da Regaleira which looked absolutely amazing.
First things first – how to get there. We were staying in Guincho, near to Cascais. To get to Sintra we needed to get a bus to Cascais, 2 miles away, at a cost of 3.60 Euros each, one way, then a bus to Sintra, at least 10 miles from Cascais – I don’t know the cost but would guess it must be at least 10 Euros each, each way, and then the tourist bus (5.50 Euros each) or a tuk tuk (5 Euros each) up to the Pena Palace (a must see).
So quite expensive to go by bus then (remember that’s one way for one person shown above…) We took a taxi with another couple, Jenny and Graeme, on the site at a cost of 26 Euros all the way up to the Pena Palace and 18 Euros back from the centre of Sintra at the bottom of the hill (between 4 people). We also took a tuk tuk down the hill, but this was on our -to-do- list anyway so was a cost we were actively seeking!
So my point is even if there’s just 2 of you going it’s cheaper to take a taxi! We were talking to a taxi driver before we went back to the campsite who told us that taxis are much cheaper but they’re not allowed to advertise the fact – I can’t for the life of me think why that would be the case….
Anyway, back to Sintra itself. The absolute must do is The Pena Palace at the top of the hill – you can walk up but it’s quite a trek and it’s just eating into the time you have available to walk around the palace and park itself.
As you can see the palace is highly coloured – the pink part was originally a monastery hewn out of the rock and eventually abandoned when the King Consort, Ferdinand II (the artist king) decided to build his dreams. It is an amazing place – we spent a lot of time walking around the outside before venturing in to see how they lived.
Once we’d had our fill of the palace itself we went into the restaurant onsite (there was also a café) for a spot of lunch. Calv had a tuna salad and I opted to try the Carrot, Coconut and Ginger soup – it was fine but might have been better without the ginger! I also tried a Portugese tart, which was like a custardy base with sugar and almonds on top. It was interesting! There was nothing wrong with it but I probably wouldn’t try it again.
We then headed out into the park, specifically up to the High Cross. There weren’t too many people headed this way as it was a steep uphill slog!! It was worth it though as we captured the shot featured from this vantage point. And we also got to wander through the gardens and see various features, such as the Monks Grotto, the Shell Lake, The Queen’s fernery whilst we were headed for the Countess’ Chalet.
Unfortunately entrance to the chalet wasn’t included in the price so we didn’t get to see inside. From here we left the park and started heading down the hill – after a mile or so we came across a tuk tuk heading up the hill empty so we flagged it down (there are dozens of them available). Calv was desperate to have a go in a tuk tuk and he got more than he bargained for when he told the driver that he wanted one, as he insisted that he have a go at driving! Calv said it was very unstable and he doesn’t want one anymore!!!
Back in the town centre we wandered through the narrow lanes filled with potteries, cafes, bars and souvenir shops and finally sat in a café for a drink. Be careful if you ever go here as it cost us over 15 Euros for 2 drinks and a Travesseiros de Sintra pastry – bit expensive… The pastry was well worth a try and the waiter was very surprised to find out that we’d never heard of it.
So a long and tiring day was over, but we hadn’t seen all that Sintra had to offer by any stretch of the imagination. However here are a few photos of the buildings etc. that we saw on our travels.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Sintra make sure you take it – you won’t regret it 🙂
NB: I will be doing a separate gallery post as we have too many photos to include on here!
For additional detail about Portugal see my other posts:-