Lisbon sits in a particularly special place along the Portuguese coast, close to some pretty special beaches, and also the UNESCO heritage town of Sintra.
Only about 45 minutes from the city, Sintra is your ultimate fairy tale town, with its rippling mountains, dewy forests thick with ferns and lichen, exotic gardens and glittering palaces.
Highly recommended from all who had traversed Portugal before, Laura, Shanti and I took a late morning train up to the town.
Tip 1: Go as early has you can, this place is a hideous tourist mecca. By the time we got there, the streets were swarming and the lines as long as when Krispy Kreme first opened up in Dandenong (read: reeeeal long). I hate crowds, so unfortunately this was somewhat off putting for me from the get go.
Also, there are three castles (Castle of the Moors, the romanticist Pena National Palace and Quinta da Regaleira) to visit, should you so desire, but they’re not close, so make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get between them all (we took our time and thus missed the third castle).
Also, also, it pays, literally to pre-buy your entry passes to the castles. You can do so online and it will save you time and effort once you get there.
First stop was Quinta da Regaleira, or the Queen’s Castle. Reminicent of your ultimate Disney princess castle, it oozes romanticism and wonder. The beautiful grounds are worth the walk alone, and be prepared for some A+ insta lols from your fellow tourists.
In between castles we went on the hunt for food. And if you think it takes one girl forever to pick a lunch venue, imagine three! We finally settled on Tasca do Xico, which specialised in small tapas style dishes. I, much to the envy of my lunch-mates, picked a whole grilled fish, which was amazing. If in doubt, always pick the seafood.
Desert was a sway of treats from Casa Piriquita, which came on high recommendation.
Our second stop was Pena Castle, which we originally had decided to walk to. Thank god we didn’t as it was a million miles away, up some heckers hills! This palace reminded me of something out of a lego box, a mish mash of yellow, red and patterned blue tiles, and some funky-ass sculptures to boot.
As beautiful as Sintra was, I think if it hadn’t been so touristy I would have enjoyed it more (yes I do understand that I’m also part of that tourist throng!). But absolutely worthy of a visit, especially if you ever one day imagined yourself as Disney royalty.