Portugal: Sintra

I don’t have a lot of photos from Sintra. It poured the ENTIRE time we were there and after a while, I gave up trying to keep my camera dry. But trust me, you want to go! The entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage site–well deserved.

If you’re visiting Sintra as a day trip from Lisbon, be sure to leave early so you have enough time to see what you want to see. There is a lot of walking involved (and some hill walking, don’t be surprised!), so you’re going to want to plan on more time than you think. We only had enough time to see the Palácio Nacional da Pena (Pena Palace) and Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors), but after being absolutely soaked to the bone, that was pretty much all we wanted to see–haha!

The Pena Palace looks like a fairytale castle. When we arrived, we got Mad King Ludwig vibes and no wonder! This castle was built buy his cousin King Ferdinand II of Portugal in the 19th century. The best part about this palace–especially if you have kids or are a kid at heart–is it is basically a big  play fort. The wall walk is rather exciting and offers nice views–especially when the clouds cleared. The inside is nice as well–lots of interesting furniture and decor. However for us, the exterior was the best part.

View of the Castle of the Moors from the Pena Palace.

The town of Sintra. Oh how I wished we had had more time to explore!

The Castle of the Moors originally was built more than a thousand years ago. If I understand correctly, the walls and towers were rebuilt by King Ferdinand II. It is all very well done and SO much fun to trek around. We were the only ones crazy enough to go up there during the downpour, but it was so worth it. Mr. DJ and Roxi were sure that the rain and whipping wind only added to the atmosphere.

The wall walk is pretty exciting–no guardrails. If you love that wild, rugged middle ages sort of thing, this is for you! It definitely fuels the imagination :-)

Looking back at the Pena Palace (what we could see of it) ;)

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About the Author: JaPRA is an expat Texan living in Boston (by way of London by way of Houston) with her husband (Mr. DJ), their 19-year old daughter (Roxi), and their dog Trudy.

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  1. Sandra says:

    Great photos, Japra :-) You were very brave to climb the hills until the Castle with that weather.
    As your husband and daughter said the fog is part of the dramatic scene, so proper of the Romantic sfeer of the 19th century that King Fernando wanted to create :-)
    Many people prefer to photograph with the fog, so far so good, but it’s very difficult when it’s raining, and in Sintra, when it’s raining, it is raining a lot!!!
    You will have other opportunities to come back. In June it’s best, in my opinion.
    Sintra has a lot to see, you are right, we need time, at least a week, only to see the main palaces and enjoy the forest and one of the beaches.
    Kusjes!!!

    • japra says:

      Sweet Sandra, I would go back to Sintra in a heartbeat!!!! And I think you are probably right about your romantic King. I am sure he would have approved of our dramatic (and adventurous) day :) xx

  2. Aledys Ver says:

    Ohh I want to book a trip to Sintra straight away! It is the kind of place for me. Beautiful castle, I love the view of the walls of the castle – stunning even in the rain.
    It is a risk always to take pictures in the rain – the camera might get ruined!

  3. Christine says:

    this place looks fascinating and what a castle, Japra. thanks for sharing. and it looks like they have their own great wall (of China) maybe in better condition too. I’d love to visit here one day. nice that it’s off the beaten track, maybe less crowds?

    • japra says:

      Christine, I think we were very lucky that there weren’t hoards of tourists. I am pretty sure Sintra is one of the top destinations in Portugal. I would heartily recommend off peak travel if you can swing it!

      And oooo, how I would love to visit the Great Wall of China. One day…

  4. Kathy says:

    Great photos! I agree with the idea that clouds and bad weather makes for better shots in some locales.

    • japra says:

      Thanks, Kathy! The only trouble with the rain is it was just so WET. I could have used a weatherproof camera… or a large plastic bag ;)

  5. Maureen says:

    imho, Portugal gets some major dramatic weather. We spent less time in Sintra as it was part of a whole day drive about from Lisbon but both of us agreed, it was a place to come back to for a few days. We left when ominous clouds came in! but I’m glad you saw what we didn’t. Brave British (!) souls!

    • japra says:

      LOL! And yes, there is still much to see in Sintra and areas around. We were tempted to do one of those driving tours that hit a few of the key areas around there. Is that what you did?

  6. Kathy says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!

  7. Emm says:

    Oh my. I think I would have been in Mandy-heaven there! A big old palace and a castle to explore in one day? Stunning! Your photos are really good despite the nasty weather.

  8. Invader_Stu says:

    I love the architectural. The first photo is especially amazing.

  9. LucyLucia says:

    JAPRA – these are marvelous photos! What lens are you using?! I watched Roxi’s performance on YouTube a couple of days ago – she IS a rockstar! :)

    • japra says:

      LucyLucia, I used a beautiful 10-20 for most of the shots but I must admit I missed my regular walkabout lens–the 28-105. Mr. DJ had his 18-55, so there are some shots in there too.

      Thanks for the kind words about Roxi! She LOVES what she does and doesn’t mind working hard :-)

  10. Debi Kirksey says:

    Looks like we are on parallel paths. I’m an expat from Houston, living in Chelsea and we were in Sintra just a few months ago, thankfully in beautiful weather. I blogged about it on my blog also. The Pena Palace was pretty amazing, wasn’t it?

    Hope our paths cross someday soon!
    Debi

    • japra says:

      Debi, small world! It is lovely to meet another Expat Texan so close to “home” :) Thanks so much for leaving me a comment. I’m going to swing by and check out your blog too.

  11. Sami says:

    I popped over from Presepio no Canal. Even though you visited Sintra in the rain your photos are beautiful. I was sorry not to have the time to visit Sintra when I went to Portugal last month. I will certainly go if we manage to fly back this coming summer, it´s worthwhile.

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