I love Sintra because it is one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal, it is only about 28 km away from Lisbon. Many choose to have one day trip in Sintra and still staying in Lisbon. The town of Sintra itself boasts the medieval Sintra National Palace and several 19th-century estates, photo opportunities everywhere. Check out the top 16 things you need to know before visiting Sintra Portugal.
1. The city with Castle & Royal Estates
Sintra is a picturesque mountain range with stunning views of the coastline. It has a number of priceless archeological remains from the Roman period. Castles and royal estates are the ruins that you could find here. The rich and the elite of Portugal built their extravagant residences and gardens here because of the cooler climate.
2. Sintra Transport
There are a number of ways to explore Sintra, by local town buses- (the hop-on & hop off buses), the local green trains or hire a Tuk-Tuk for a day. Tuk-Tuk can cost a little more but you get to personalize your day tour.
3. Sintra National Palace
The National Museum of Sintra is located in the town of Sintra, the architecture is well preserved medieval royal residence in Portugal. The windows have intricate details and design which incorporating maritime elements – the Manueline Architecture.
4. Spot the Twin White Chimneys
Please pay extra attention to the twin chimneys at the top of the National Palace Museum building, it also the icon of the city. This is how it looks like from far. Can you see the twin white chimneys?
The buildings in the central square of Sao Martinho, across from the Sintra National Palace.
5. “Portuguese fairly tale” City
Some people regarded Sintra as the “Portuguese fairly tale” because the city has a number of the historical sites full of ancient tales, architecture, and beautiful monument.
6. UNESCO World Heritage site
Sintra as a whole is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so there is no shortage of ruins and sites in this city. These are the 4 main castles in Sintra that you may want to visit – Monserrate Palace, Pena Palace, Moorish Castle, Quinta da Regaleira.
7. Lawrence Hotel Sintra
Lawrence Hotel is located in the town area, considered the oldest in Iberian Penisula. Several famous people have stayed here before such as Bill Clinton.
7. Traditional Mosaic tiles at Sintra city
Street cafe restaurant with mosaic tile facade Sintra Portugal is located next to the National Museum Palace. Do check out the beautiful mosaic facade of this building.
8. Carlos Franca Statue
If you stroll around the village of Sintra (uphill), you will come across the statue of Carlos Franca, he is the greatest names in Portuguese medicine. At the bottom of the statue, there is a print of a microscope.
9. Pisoes Fountain on the road to Quinta da Regaleira
There are a number of fountain in Sintra city, Pisoes Fountain is on the uphill of Quinta da Regaleira. You will get attracted by the bright yellow color.
10. Port Wine
Port wine is famous in Sintra, it is a Portuguese fortified wine, taste sweet and often served as a dessert wine. We went into Binhotecca Wine Bar to taste some port wine.
Fortified wine means it is a wine that is blended with a small amount of distilled spirit, usually brandy. How is the taste? Like I mentioned earlier, tasted like the dessert wine, rather sweet. Well loved by Asian.
The name “Port” is derived from the coastal city of Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city. The price range of these Port wine cost around Euro 50 and above. There are mini bottles in a set of 5, cost lesser, around Euro 25.00
11. Where to have lunch?
We have our lunch at Adega das Caves, the blue outstanding building at the corner of Sintra City.
We ordered a Pepperoni Pizza (Euro 12.00), Gambas or Prawn pasta (Euro 14.95) and a BBQ octopus (Euro 16.95) for 4 people. The portion of each dish is huge for Asian standard.
Whole Octopus in BBQ & Fresh salad.
Piri-piri Hot Sauce
We used piri-piri hot sauce to dip with the BBQ octopus. Piri-piri is the local hot chili sauce also known as bird eyes chili. Was it hot enough? Yes.
We ordered a beer and a soft drink which gave quite a surprise when we have our bill. The beer cost Euro 5.00 and a can of local Fanta soft drink cost Euro 3.00. The prices of the drinks were not listed on the menu. It is considered very expensive for Portugal standard I feel. A glass of wine or a beer usually cost about Euro 2.00 in the restaurant.
12. Ginja or Ginjaha
As you walk in the ancient cobblestones of Sintra, you will notice a small bottle of gina appeared on tables and window ledges of the shops. Ginja is a local liqueur specialty made by infusing Ginja berries (sour cherry) in alcohol with other secret ingredients. Ginja is tasted sweet and well-liked by the Portuguese. It is also known as “grandparent” wonder cure of all manner of illnesses.
13. Queijadas Finas
There are a number of famous pastries you should try while in Sintra and one of them is Queijadas Finas wrapped in a white paper, just like our “tau sa pia”. The size of the pastry is like the Portuguese egg tart or pastel de nata. The ingredients consist of cheese, eggs, milk and sugar.
14. Casa Piriquita
Casa Piriquita has a long history of 160 years, it is a famous bakery in Sintra which is more famous than the castles here. There is various type of pastries but the top-selling items are travesseiros and Queijadas (Above). Travesseiros look like a pillow shape and inside there is kind of chocolate Nutella filling.
This is how you should order, do not order directly from the counter staff as he will not look at you. Instead, do get the ticket and wait for your number. Most shops and market has this ticketing system
A visit to this Sintra isn’t complete without tasting a travesseiro (pillow) & queijada (cheesecakes). It is very sweet for me but who knows you may like it.
Shopping in Sintra
The narrow hilly cobblestone in Sintra old shopping street is fun as if stepping back in time. There are a number of things that you may want to bring home.
Siesta in Sintra
At around 1 pm, most of the shops will be closed for their Siesta. In Portugal and Spain, people usually have their siesta at noon. Hence it is common to see shops or restaurants closed for their lunch and nap time (about 2 hours). They will eat and rest. The nap time usually takes about 15-20 min, not over an hour.
15. Portuguese Pottery & Ceramic
The decorative tiles are simply adorable, usually done in blue and white but sometimes in multiple colors too. When you explore Spain and Portugal, you see these ceramic tiles embedded on the corner of the building, a section of tiles over a doorway or over a window.
These typical colors of the ceramic are blue and white and the designs tend towards the seafaring scene.
16. Cork Products
Cork is one of Portugal’s biggest and most import-export. Also, Portugal is the biggest cork producer in the world. You can find bags, purse, accessories, shoes are made from cork sold in here. In case you don’t know what cork, it is usually made into wine bottle stoppers. Cork is made from the bark of a tree, these trees are big (I spotted some cork trees farm on our road trip in Portugal & Spain). They look similar to the olive tree (From far) but the cork tree is very big and tall.
Bag made from cork cost Euro 25.00 (below). The pairs of fish earrings are made from cork too. (above)
Do I like Sintra? Yes, very much indeed. I just wish I have a longer time to explore the few famous castles in Sintra. The city is full of tourists so please be careful of tourist traps, only visit the restaurant that has the price listed on the menu.