Half an hour’s drive from Lisbon, Sintra is the perfect getaway for anyone looking for somewhere affordable and fairly easy to get to. A UNESCO heritage site, and the centre of European Romantic Architecture, Sintra and its parks are culturally rich and aesthetically stunning. Here ingenious architecture blends into exuberant nature, the climate is always cool, and the wi-fi is pretty slow. In other words, the perfect place to get away from it all. If you live in Europe, it’s a short flight away and practically in your backyard.
The landscape in Sintra is unique unto its own. While each location is distinctly of its own time and place, with buildings and structures having been constructed over the Serra (the hills upon which Sintra is built) over hundreds of years, the entire settlement has an essential integrity. One where man-made structures have been harmonised with the surrounding nature.
Sintra offers quite a diverse pick of lodgings, all charming and tastefully decorated. We stayed in a large AirBnB apartment with its own orange orchard, but saw many other bed and breakfast places dotted around the hill that we would also have liked to stay in. All of these places are part of the diverse yet unified landscape of Sintra, and many of the buildings themselves were built during the romantic period.
All of which makes simple lodging in Sintra feel deeply authentic. Danijel and I did contemplate returning for a week, just to read books and make photographs of the amazing flora in the park. It really is that sort of place.
The town of Sintra itself is charming to a T, and filled with amazing restaurants and cafés. Like the rest of Portugal, it’s practically impossible to get crap food and service. This is wonderfully odd considering how most places that cater exclusively to tourists tend to have their fair share of tourist traps. We didn’t encounter any in Sintra.
After a day of sight-seeing palaces, castles and parks, the downtown heart of Sintra is a great place to unwind and relax with a good meal and lovely wine. We had a very memorable dinner at Apeadeiro, which was recommended to us by the concierge at the Sintra park tourist information centre. It was wonderfully authentic and mainly patronised by Portuguese tourists and locals living in Sintra. Also, do not forget to try the local dessert, the Travesseiro de Sintra, which is a fluffy pastry pillow, stuffed with almond cream, as well as ginjinha poured into a chocolate cup.