Jason and I returned last week from a 10 day adventure through the beautiful country of Portugal. This trip was an easy sell to Jason, as Portugal hosts the World Rally Championship during the month of May. But of course, we needed to include some other “non-rally” related activities on the itinerary!
After a brief stay in Lisbon, we ventured off in our rental car and started our road trip towards the WRC rally in the north of the country. The first stop on our journey was the magical city of Sintra. Sintra is really only about 45 minutes away from Lisbon but you feel like you’ve been transported right into a Disney fairy tale.
Sintra has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known as the first centre of European Romantic architecture. For centuries it was the summer getaway for Portugal’s royalty with stunning palaces, exotic gardens and misty forests.
Strolling through Sintra’s historic downtown
Hiking up to the Castelo dos Mouros. We didn’t know you could drive to the top, so we parked our car down below in town and hiked all the way up. Work out for the day! 🙂
View from the top. The castle dates back to the 8th century and looks over all of Sintra.
After two very hot days in Lisbon, the gloomy Sintra weather was a welcome change, but it was very windy!
View of National Palace of Sintra
View of the National Palace of Pena
We woke up the next day to the sun shining! But the wind stayed. Here we are approaching Monserrate Palace which was once the private summer estate of an English textile baron. This was actually my favorite stop in Sintra. The palace and gardens were exquisite!
Inside Monseratte Palace
Chapel ruins hidden in the Monseratte gardens
This is probably the most famous sight in all of Sintra, the National Palace of Pena. The structure was built in the 1400’s as a monestary, but was damaged by lightning and the Great Lisbon Earthquake. King Ferdinand acquired the property in 1838 and transformed the ruined monastery into a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family. He modeled the design after an opera and it was completed in 1854. I really expected to love this palace, but it was crowded and a bit over the top. The views were best from afar.
We took a short hike up to the highest point in Sintra, Alta Cruz. The viewpoint looks over Pena Palace and Pena Park, which spans over 20,000 acres.
More pictures from the rest of the road trip to follow!