When we went to Portugal last month, we didn’t spend much time planning our itinerary. This is contrary to my normal way of vacationing, where I have everything figured out ahead of time (e.g. on our California trip, which had every day planned out to the hour). But while I love to make agendas, I know they can be stressful, and it makes it more difficult to deal with unforeseen circumstances that throw those plans off. So in order to really enjoy our trip and take it easy, we had an idea of what we wanted to see, but really only planned each day the day before.
One of the places I knew I wanted to go to was Sintra, a gorgeous town that’s a short train ride outside of Lisbon. The buildings go back centuries, and the area was commonly used as a retreat of the royal family. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why when you’re there.
When we arrived, we bought a five-site pass, which basically gave us access to 5 of the 10 sites in the Cultural Landscape of Sintra for a flat fee–this makes it so that if you visit two or three sites, you already get your money’s worth. Furthermore, it’s valid for up to 30 days, so you don’t have to do it all in one go (though we did).
Our first stop was the Sintra National Palace, located in the center of town (about a 15-minute walk from the train station). The palace itself was first built in the 10th century, though the oldest remaining part is from the 14th century. The whole place is, however, a mix of styles and time periods, and while the outside is relatively plain, the inside is varied and elaborate. And although there is no single cohesive style or theme, the tiles, ceilings, decorations, and furniture throughout are detailed and beautiful.