When I started doing research for my trip to Lisbon I, like many other intrepid travellers, was taken aback by the stunning beauty of Sintra; a town that is advertised as a must-see day trip for anyone planning a trip to Lisbon. Sintra is only 30km from Lisbon and is easily accessible by train from the capital. There is a regular service from the Rossio-Lisbon train station which will get you there in approximately 45 minutes. N.B. you can use a Viva Viagem travelcard, which is the public transport travelcard that is used throughout Lisbon, to pay for your journey to Sintra.
After arriving in town I made my way through the streets of Sintra and stopped to buy a snack at a pastry shop called Piriquita. I found out about this place from the Lisbon episode of “Somebody Feed Phil” and was immediately infatuated with the pastries which were featured in the show. I had heard a lot of good things about the travesseiros; these are soft, doughy “pillow” pastries which are filled with an almond paste. Once I purchased my pastry I then set off in pursuit of Peña Palace.
There are a few parks, palaces and places of interest in the Sintra area, however, the most famous place in Sintra by far is Peña Palace. Its beautiful, bright and multi-coloured façade is captivating and immediately makes you think that you are walking through a Disney film.
Unfortunately, one thing I didn’t research before leaving for Lisbon, or even just before I went to Sintra, was how to get to Peña Palace from Sintra station. This proved to be a very costly mistake, which I soon realised when the 50-minute walking route that Google Maps suggested I should take turned into a 1 hr 40-minute uphill slog into the high heavens. What made matters worse was that because I was walking along the side of a road for most of the journey I had to walk to the top of Peña Palace whilst watching countless tuk-tuks and coaches full of excited tourists make their way to the top of Peña Palace much quicker than I could ever hope to get there on foot.
Once I finally made it to the top I was so happy that I sat down for a good 15 minutes just to take in my accomplishment. I also ate my travesserio which was much needed after my long walk to the summit of Peña Palace #startedfromthebottomnowimhere
Once I got to the entrance I was taken aback by the sheer beauty of Peña Palace; it was even more beautiful in person than it was in all the pictures I had seen and the videos I had watched. I took my time whilst walking around the exterior of the palace to ensure that I gave the entire building a good look.
One thing that I would say, however, is that the interior of the palace was comparatively underwhelming. After queuing up to enter I joined an extremely slow-moving procession of people through several dark and dreary rooms before entering a few slightly more ornate and bejewelled spaces. The exterior of the palace was definitely the highlight of my trip here.
After I looked through the gift shop I left the palace grounds and then proceeded to ask an attendant what bus I could take to get to Sintra train station. She advised me to take the 434 which I did without question. The bus journey only cost me 3.90 euros and took approximately 15 minutes to get to the station which I was incredibly pleased about. We live and learn.