Sintra is synonymous with enchanted palaces and royal castles. This Unesco World Heritage Site is an ideal two-days getaway from Lisbon, Portugal’s capital.
Staying at this charming stone cottage, close to the historical center, is ideal for a magical experience in Sintra.
Here’s are the things to do and where to stay in Sintra.
Day 1 – Things to Do in Sintra: A Day in Wonderland
Start your first day in Sintra early and make your way up the hills to the Palacio Nacional da Pena. From the historical center, plan for one hour leisurely walk through the magical gardens of Villa Sassetti.
Although the castle was fortified in the 14th century, it was slowly abandoned until 1840. That’s when King Don Fernando II set out to rebuild the castle and make it what it is today.
Palacio Nacional da Pena
After your morning visit, head toward the Palacio Nacional da Pena, a short 20 mins walk from the Castle of the Moors.
Before taking time to contemplate this fairytale castle, stop at the panoramic cafeteria for an easy lunch. With a full belly, you’ll now have all your time to admire this magical palace.
Palacio Nacional da Pena came out of the imagination of King Don Fernando II, in the 19th century. This unique castle is a mix of architectural designs including Manueline and Moorish styles.
From the terraces, the view spreads out over the green forests to the Atlantic. If time is limited, skip the interior, and instead visit the 85-hectare park surrounding the palace. The waterfalls, ponds, pavilions and exotic vegetation make this garden a treasure to explore.
Dinner at Incomum
Incomum Restaurant is a hidden gem in Sintra. Located steps away from the train station, take the stairs down to the discrete entrance.
The elegant interior is charming and perfect for an intimate dinner. Chef Luis Santos offers a creative cuisine with local products. Choose amongst traditional Portuguese dishes like Portuguese codfish, Bacalhau a bras, or Iberian Pork, revisited with a modern twist.
Day 2 – Explore The Historical Center
The historical center of Sintra is ideal to explore on foot. The impressive Palacio Nacional de Sintra with its two enormous chimneys will capture your attention.
This medieval palace was once a Moorish Castle. Additions were made over time, though the current architecture has maintained its shape since the 16th century.
The palace is an eclectic blend of Moorish, Gothic, and Manueline styles with a richly decorated interior. It is worth dedicating half a day to tour the lavish rooms.
Treat Yourself at Casa Piriquita
Any visit to Sintra would be incomplete without tasting its most famous desserts. What better place than Casa Piriquita, which has been serving royalty and visitors alike since 1862.
Start with the Queijada de Sintra made famous by this popular pastry shop. These delectable pies will keep you wanting more. Then, go for the Travesseiro, our absolute favorite, also created at Casa Piriquita. This dough based pastry with a shape of a “pillow” and a creamy almond filling is heavenly.
For a complete culinary journey in Sintra, read our article: how to eat your way in Sintra.
Where to Stay in Sintra: A Charming Stone Cottage
In the enchanting city of Sintra, a magical hideaway awaits. A short walk from the historical center, this charming stone cottage could not be more perfect
With a private garden overlooking the city, you get to relax after a day exploring the historical sites. When the temperatures rise, cool off by the pool and enjoy a peaceful evening out on the terrace overlooking magical Sintra.
As you step into the cottage, relax in the bright and modern living room. The kitchen nook is perfectly equipped for all your needs. The attached bathroom is spotless with beautiful marble walls and new fixtures.
From the living room, the staircase leads you to the cozy bedroom underneath the rooftop.
Tastefully decorated, the comfortable bed is waiting for you to join Morpheus in wonderland.
In the morning, help yourself to a wonderful breakfast in the well-stocked fridge. Fresh farm eggs, fruits and more will energize you for your day of sightseeing.
Leaving Sintra after only two days is heartbreaking. A stay at the stone cottage with all the things to do in Sintra, calls for a longer stay. So treat yourself, and enjoy the quietude and wonders of Sintra.
Have you been to Sintra? What was your favorite experience?
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Things To Do In Sintra
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Claire, ex-engineer, is a digital nomad and content creator at Authentic Food Quest. Since 2015, with her partner, Rosemary, they travel the world in search of the best local food experiences. Their mission is to help you enjoy the best local specialties on your travels or via recipes in your home kitchen. Favorite country for food: Vietnam. Favorite local dish: Hainanese Chicken Rice. Favorite way to keep fit: Cycling. Claire is responsible for the website and the fun food & travel videos on Youtube. She is also co-author of Authentic Food Quest Argentina and Authentic Food Quest Peru, available on Amazon.