015 - Sintra I - the city - Portugal

 We finally arrive to one of the most romantic places in whole Portugal (and Iberian Peninsula). Filled with one of a kind castles, gorgeous gardens and endless hours of beauty, this is our pick for 5 stars in Portugal - Sintra.

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015.1 This is the train station of Sintra and on top of the mountain [466m] we can see a bit the Moorish Castle (the wall actually).

015.2 The wall of the Moorish Castle as seen from Sintra. We cannot see Pena Castle from here.

We came to Sintra twice actually, both times we left from Vigo (Spain) and we arrived once by car and the second time by train (fast train from Braga to Lisbon and then regional connection to Sintra, but also that part was something less than 25-20 minutes).

Both times we stood at Sintra for the night (if you book in time, the price difference between Lisbon and Sintra is negligible) and both times it was magical. 

015.3 In both occasions we stood at a villa and while it did not look much on the outside (meaning no azulejos, no architecture details to make it stand out, just a regular looking house) it was really beautiful inside and in tone with Sintra - comfortable bed made out of forged steel, furniture in massive wood, wooden windows and rustic paint). 

015.4 We came here during spring time, so all flowers were in bloom, and it was magical! 

015.5 Camera Municipal (close to the train station). In this area we also drank our first coffee while trying to make photos of the flowers and the bike shop.

015.6 More houses from Sintra (city) and on top of the mountain, the Moorish Castle. We do not really recommend renting a room too far from the train station, because depending of the outside temperature (and here is very humid) you can get really tired carrying the luggage up and down the hill or it can be challenging to run to catch the train if you are late😉.

015.7 When I saw this street I thought two things: how clean and well polished and also what if one night, temperature would drop bellow 0? (it never happened so far, but with global warming you never know right?)

015.8 Curious protection of that azulejos (Iberian ceramic tiles that are painted, most times white and blue)

015.9 Speaking of Azulejos, here in Sintra there is no shortage of them.

015.10 Here is a Azulejos painting, on the wall of Regaleira domain, showing the iconic chimneys of Sintra Palace.

015.11 Another beautiful view over Sintra and Sao Martino Church.

015.12 The iconic two chimneys of Sintra National Palace (they are not really functional chimneys but they are easily recognizable).

015.13 We were quite lucky to arrive here and not be greeted by scaffolds and cranes. Sadly this is the only Palace that we did not visit inside, as even with a total of 3 whole days and nights, we still did not have time for it. Days are longer in this region, but working hours are just like in any other European city. 

015.14 Each day we would visit another domain and then return late afternoon to Sintra to eat and drink coffee. Here we have the Watch Tower and the Sintra National Palace, bathing in the sunsets warm light.

015.15 Not all houses in Sintra are glamorous, some are actually forgotten and weird 😲 

015.16 Remember when we said to pay attention where you book a room because Sintra it is really in three dimensions (rarely a street is flat for more than 100m (and I think that is only next to the train station, for obvious reasons).

015.17 Tivoli Palacio de Seteais - this is one of those places where I don't know if it is open for tourists or not. There were no boards indicating such thing (or if is private property) so we just admired it from far. This palace is better known for weddings.

We will stop here for now, with a lot more to be discovered in the next three articles.

The trip from Lisbon to Sintra it is cheap and fairly fast, and you can sit up the whole journey (if there are no more seats in the train). 

There are many places to eat, but in 2017 the only fast-food that was opened at night was a Pizza-Hut restaurant at the train station. Personally I don't like the Iberian Pizza Hut (the meat looks like dog food) and the cheese is not that great either, but when you are hungry and too late for other restaurants, this will do).

You can rent a horse carriage and visit Sintra that way also and I think it can leave you at Pena Palace (there is a entry in the garden that will be features in it's article)

Buses are small (or at least in 2017 were) and most times it is really full inside. There are many bus lines, so ask at your hotel/villa, they will help! We walked all the time, except once, to get back from Monseratte Palace, and it was something like a microbus. We bought ticket from inside.

Be careful with kids, there are many on ATV (those quad bikes) and they don't drive safe ☺.

Carry water and some sandwiches because in the parks, on many streets, there are no stores (or toilets).

We hope you found this article interesting, and in closing, here is a photo of a cat, watching me taking photos:

015.18 I forgot to say that each palace in Sintra can take a whole working day to visit (plus eating time and some resting) so to better enjoy, you need 3 days minimum, on the ground, without speaking of time to get to Sintra or to leave.

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