Day Trip to Sintra, Portugal

An easy train ride from Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon, the town of Sintra feels like something out of a Portugeuese fairy tale.

Sintra is definitely worth a trip from Lisbon if you have a day to spare, although you really can’t see all its magic in a single day. Still, we spent the better part of a day exploring the town and its surrounding castles, starting with the colorful Pena palace and its expansive park grounds.

The outside of the Pena Palace Sintra, Portugal Looking up at the colorful towers of the Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal Pink hydrangea flower against a bright yellow wall at the Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal Looking up at the colorful towers of the Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

Sintra, with its higher elevations and cooler temperatures, served as a popular summer retreat for the Portuguese nobility and elite, which explains the prevalence of the lavish castles and palaces there.

The most popular of the town’s castles is the Pena Palace, whose colorful walls draw tourists like moths to a lightbulb. The 19th-century palace was built on the foundation of an old monastery, designed as a lavish summer residence for the Portuguese royal family. The bold colors, intricate stonework and stunning tile facades were built in an eclectic mix of styles and influences, giving it a unique architectural style all its own.

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