Portugal but indeed of Europe, Sintra is truly a gem. Once the royal town of the country, it now deservedly holds UNESCO world heritage status and attracts hordes of visitors throughout the year. Its unusual geography, nestled in a stretch of hills surrounded on all sides by plain, estuary or ocean, and its subsequent climate, which is perhaps more typical of Northern Europe, create a verdant paradise where ornate palaces lie hidden behind tall trees and walled gardens, history abounds and romantics feel that they have at last found their nirvana.
Hans Christian Anderson found inspiration here, describing Sintra as the "most beautiful place in Portugal" and Lord Byron during his time here christened it his "glorious Eden". However, perhaps the most distinguished homage is paid by Portugal's national poet, Luís de Camões, in his epic poem Os Lusíadas.
From the train station, the vila is a 15 minute walk away or a small taxi fare, passing the blue and white tiled housing of a natural spring where locals queue to collect cool water from the hills. Alternatively, horse drawn carriages transport up to 5 people around Sintra for a fairly reasonable price. Once in the vila, each of the windy and narrow medieval streets leads to a treasure; be it one of the many dilapidated town houses exuding airs of past glories or the Toy Museum with its enormous collection from over many decades. Craft shops sell a host of local artisan specialities and a range of cafes and restaurants cater well for all even in peak months. For the sweet toothed, two local pastries stand out; the Queijadinha is a small soft-cheese based tart and the Travesseiro a sweet fruit filled pillow eaten warm.
photo: Jose Manuel
Certain rooms stand out because of their uniqueness and splendour. The Room of Swans is one example, its octagonal panelled ceiling decorated with paintings of the white bird of its name. Similar is the Room of Magpies, however the intricate décor here is connected to a tale of gossiping courtiers. Legend has it that King João I ordered the painting of magpies, the chattering bird, as a message to the ladies of the court whose whisperings of intrigue were distressing both him and his English Queen, Philippa of Lancaster. The Armoury (Sala dos Brasões) is richly decorated with the coats of arms of the Portuguese aristocracy and still shows evidence of the pacing of the imprisoned Dom Alfonso VI in its worn floor.
photo: Jose Manuel
Sintra bed and breakfasts
photo: Jose Manuel
photo: Rui Morais de Sousa
Also along this stretch of coast lies the windswept headland of Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point in mainland Europe, where a stroll taking in sea views can be rounded off with a coffee in the café cum gift shop, which offers a certificate to mark your visit to ‘where the land ends and the sea begins’.
- Hotel Arribas (from €45.76)
Boasting spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean this hotel impresses with its large saltwater pool and location deep within Sintra- Cascais Natural Park. Directly situated on Praia Grande one of the
- Quinta da Vigia Apartamentos (from €66.00)
Situated in one of the most prestigious areas of Portugal 6 km from the historic town of Sintra and 7 km from the cosmopolitan area of Estoril and Cascais enjoying easy access to Lisbon this first lin
- Pestana Sintra Golf Resort Spa Hotel (from €73.04)
Inaugurated in April 2006 Pestana Sintra Hotel is highly charming personalized and modern. Located in Quinta da Beloura's residential complex right next to the 18-hole Golf course (excellent for those
- Penha Longa Hotel Spa Golf Resort (from €154.00)
Situated on a national nature reserve just minutes from trendy Cascais romantic Sintra and historic Lisbon Penha Longa is at once a rare blend of authentic European charm and modern accessibility. Pen
- Hotel Tivoli Sintra (from €72.16)
Tivoli Sintra is located in the centre of the town of Sintra which is a world heritage site that is not only famous for its beautiful green landscape but also for the palaces and farms which are aboun
- Hotel Tivoli Palacio de Seteais (from €176.00)
A magnificent example of 18 th century architecture the luxurious Palácio de Seteais is located in the heart of the Serra de Sintra. The Hotel overlooks the 19 th century fantasy of the Pena Palace i
- Hotel Vip Miramonte (from €37.84)
The pleasant and comfortably decorated 91 rooms are particularly planned for leisure stays. The Hotel is specially designed for children beautifully surrounded by extensive gardens. The VIP Inn Miramo
- Villa Sete- Cottage Sete Mares (from €350.00)
Beautiful cottage for summer holiday rental situated in Praia das MaÃ§as, 10 inutes by foot to the beach.
This romantic cottage has a terrace and a nice garden with a private swimming po
- People Hostel Sintra (from €16.00)
In the 19th century Sintra became the first center of European Romantic architecture. Ferdinand II turned a ruined monastery into a castle where this new sensitivity was displayed in the use of Gothic
- OH CASA. Sintra Rooms & Suites (from €0.00)
This Sintra townhouse is set back from the main tourist street amidst the leafy mansions of S?o Miguel.. A house founded with charm and history but filled with the modern day necessities of global t