Secrets Itinerary: Planning a Weekend Gateway to Portugal? Sintra Is The Place for You ♦ Sintra isn’t just a beautiful Portuguese destination, it’s one of the most alluring cities in the world. Enchanting palaces, historic fortifications and enigmatic pathways occupy each hilltop and slope. In Sintra, moonlight walks are organised each month and beach-lovers find waves and sun at the nearby coast. There’s something for everyone and the city is close to the capital! Don’t believe it? Secrets From Portugal has it all: Keep reading to understand why Sintra is the best option if you’re planning on travelling to Portugal.
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Where To Go
Quinta da Regaleira
The Quinta da Regaleira is one of the most surprising of all Sintra’s monuments. Located on the outskirts of the town, it was built 1904 e 1910, in the last days of the Portuguese monarchy. This romantic property formerly belonging to the Viscondessa da Regaleira was acquired and enlarged by António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro (1848-1920) as his favourite country estate. His vast fortune earned him the nickname of Monteiro dos Milhões, (Moneybags Monteiro). He commissioned this unique project of house and landscape from the Italian set-designer and architect Luigi Manini (1848-1936) whose genius, along with the mastery of sculptors, stonemasons, craftsmen who had formerly Palace Hotel do Buçaco, created this magical place.
One of the most popular photos regularly taken in Sintra is from the bottom of the Initiation Well looking up towards the trees. The 20th century Quinta da Regaleira is a Gothic architectural masterpiece that served as the private residence to many owners, including the Viscountess of Regaleira (a merchant family from northern Portugal). Another owner of the estate was responsible for adding the mysterious symbolism that can be seen throughout the grounds, pertaining to masonry, The Knights Templar and alchemy. A tour takes approximately two hours and takes in the main building, a chapel, the park, tunnels and more.
The Palacio Nacional da Pena is one of the finest tourist attractions in Portugal and exemplifies the 19th century Romanticism style of architecture. The palace is a hedonistic mix of vividly painted terraces, decorative battlements and mythological statues, all of which stand at stark contrast to the lush greens of the Parque de Pena forest. The interior of the Pena Palace is equally as fascinating, being restored to reflect the decor in 1910 when the Portuguese nobility fled to Brazil to escape the revolution. Surrounding the Palacio da Pena are forested grounds, which continue the design ideals of Romanticism, with hidden pathways, mystical ornaments and stunning vistas.
The Pena Palace could be straight out of a children’s fairy tale book, with its setting atop a mountain peak and multicoloured towers. It is the most iconic landmark in Sintra and one of the first places many tourists make a beeline for. It was designed by Portugal’s King Fernando II and reflects 19th-century Romanesque Revival architecture.
Once a summer home for Portuguese royalty, the Monserrate Palace is a 19th-century mansion with Anglo-Saxon, Indian and Arab architectural influences. The delightful hallways inside are elaborately decorated and highlight gothic arches in unusual light colours and – like the Quinta da Regaleira and Pena Palace – the Monserrate Palace was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 1990s. The estate contains a botanical garden, which is a perfect location to sit and rest after a day of walking from the palace to palace.
The Palacio de Monserrate (Monserrate Palace), is one of the most beautiful and visually striking mansions of Sintra, but as it 3.5km from the historic centre many visitors simply overlook this stunning palace. Monserrate Palace seamlessly blends Arabic, gothic and Indian architectural styles to create a wonderful summer house that is surrounded by beautiful gardens; when you visit Sintra do not miss out on this hidden gem.
Castle Of the Moors
Like the other major attractions, the Castle of the Moors (or Castelo dos Mouros) is located high up on the Sintra Mountains and can be reached easily on the local bus. Anyone feeling like some exercise can also hike up, but be aware it’s no leisurely stroll! Constructed in the 9th century, the stone castle was a fortification that was built and used by the Moors who once occupied much of Portugal. Afterwards, the castle was ruined due to natural disasters but restoration projects have sought to maintain the main structure since the 1800s. A hike down the mountain from the castle is much easier than heading up, providing many opportunities for capturing breathtaking photos of the pine forests and city.
Where To Sleep
Built in the last quarter of the 18th Century by Daniel Gildemeester, at the time Dutch Consul in Portugal, this palace was given its present form after the enlargement works carried out in first years of the 19th Century, when it belonged to Dom Diogo José Vito de Meneses Noronha Coutinho, 5th Marquis of Marialva and Royal Chamberlain. This aristocrat was responsible for building the east wing and the majestic triumphal arch surmounted by the royal coat-of-arms and a medallion with the effigies of King John VI (1767-1826), at the time still Prince Regent, and his wife Carlota Joaquina of Spain to commemorate their visit to the Palace in 1802. Seteais Palace is a Neo-Classical building, attributed to the architect José da Costa e Silva, following the Renaissance values of Neo-Palladianism.
More than a five-star hotel in Sintra, the Tivoli Palácio de Seteais Sintra Hotel is a luxurious and romantic palace that, through its architecture, transports us into the refinement and atmosphere of the 18th century. Rooms decorated with rich furnishings and stunning halls with beautiful tapestries and frescoes are some of the elements that make this hotel a unique space to make every event or stay a memorable experience. On the hillside of the Serra de Sintra, with a privileged view of the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace, in a palace that invites you to romance, live the experience of an emblematic dinner for two, either in a palace lounge or by the pool. In addition, enjoy Dining Delight, the experience that brings together exquisite tastes and an idyllic setting to give you an unforgettable evening.
Penha Longa Resort
Set among rolling hills, lush gardens and serene mountain lakes, Penha Longa Resort, one of the most stunning luxury resorts in Portugal, offers a rare opportunity to visitors to explore the breathtaking beauty of Sintra mountains and enjoy elegant accommodations, world-class restaurants, Golf Championship, luxurious spa and wellness centre. Let us help you plan your getaway in a stunning retreat enjoyed by royalty since the 14th century.
A haven of comfort and tranquillity consisting of 194 luxury rooms and suites of Penha Longa Resort. Luxurious bedding and generously sized bathrooms are topped by the spectacular views of the mountain and golf course. Explore a world of regal luxury, a splendid natural playground where Portuguese kings and queens entertained foreign dignitaries. Explore the beauty of our Mediterranean-style villages and the romanticism of Sintra. With its hills, cliffs, sun and sand, the Estoril coast is among the most popular and diverse destinations in Portugal.
A few meters from the centre of Sintra, Lawrence’s Hotel is the oldest hotel in the Iberian Peninsula, having been frequented by many distinguished as Lord Byron and Eça de Queirós. Each of the 16 rooms and suites is unique. There are no numbers on the doors, but names with history. A stay or meal at Lawrence’s is a romantic age getaway with all the luxury and comfort of the present.
Once known as a “restaurant with rooms,” Lawrence’s brings eternal flavours to exceptional cuisine coupled with exquisite and professional service, ideal for a business or leisure lunch or dinner. Every day, distinguished personalities from the most diverse areas come to Lawrence’s to delight in the exquisite dishes. Actors, politicians, executives, writers, poets who are fascinated by the exuberance of delicacies.
Hotel Fortaleza do Guincho Relais & Châteaux
Hotel Fortaleza do Guincho has 8 Courtyard Rooms, located in the cloister, with a beachside view through a small fortress window. Upstairs, the 16 Superior Rooms offer splendid views of the Atlantic Ocean, all with enclosed balconies. Also located on the top floor, the 3 Junior Suites offer the best views of the sea, directly opposite, and of Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe.
With a philosophy that is firmly based on the best practices of haute cuisine, the restaurant’s proposals have always revealed a huge inspiration from the Atlantic, the background of the restaurant.
Where To Eat
Lab by Sergio Arola
Awarded with a Michelin Star, LAB strives to take diners on a highly-innovative and emotional gastronomic journey. The restaurant offers an extremely intimate and exclusive atmosphere, inventive cuisine with three different tasting menus, à la carte options and the coordination of an extensive wine selection with more than 550 references from around the world. The restaurant combines a privileged view over the Golf Course and at the same time an extremely intimate and exclusive atmosphere. This space takes you into a tasteful journey, from the fragrance you feel upon arrival to the several fascinating design highlights, including stimulating art pieces and an impressive glass box wine cellar.
The restaurant offers a unique cooking approach that will delight even the most sophisticated tastes, combining innovation with simplicity. Inventive cuisine with different tasting menus, à la carte options and an extensive wine selection.
The reinvention and redesign of this Japanese restaurant may have changed the décor, but its core remains the same: offering diners a unique culinary adventure showcasing exquisite Japanese fine dining and the highest quality ingredients. Midori’s cuisine is not fusion, but distinct: Japanese with Portuguese touches. The restaurant proudly carries the mark of a Michelin star and features sophisticated, light-filled interior and intimate surroundings, complemented by breathtaking views of the Sintra Mountains.
Restaurant Fortaleza do Guincho
Fortaleza do Guincho Restaurant opened in 1998 with the Hotel. From the outset, with the advice of French chef Antoine Westermann, awarded three stars by the famous Red Guide, the goal was to create an haute cuisine restaurant, which quickly became a reference in Portugal. 2015 is a milestone year for the history of the restaurant and for the history of Portuguese haute cuisine. Miguel Rocha Vieira has been the new Executive Chef of Fortaleza do Guincho since August – for the first time, a Portuguese man takes the reins of one of Portugal’s most iconic cuisines.
Fresh fish and seafood from the Portuguese coast, as well as the best national products, are a constant at Guincho’s table, honoured and recreated in each dish, every season of the year, given the recognition of national and international critics.
Once known as a “restaurant with rooms,” Lawrence’s brings eternal flavours to exceptional cuisine coupled with exquisite and professional service, ideal for a business or leisure lunch or dinner.
Every day, distinguished personalities from the most diverse areas come to Lawrence’s to delight in the exquisite dishes. Actors, politicians, executives, writers, poets who are fascinated by the exuberance of delicacies.