There are loads of great options for day-trips from Lisbon. Sintra, with its fine architecture, significant monuments and museums and hidden treasures, is maybe the best choice for you if you are looking for some out-of-town hours. So save one day on your schedule, put on your hiking boots and visit Sintra, less than one hour away from Lisbon. You won’t regret it – scout's honor!
Recommended: Sintra and Cascais group tour
Fun things to do near Lisbon: visit Sintra
Where to Eat?
Café Saudade: One of the cosiest places in town, good for brunch, an afternoon snack or a light lunch, with sandwiches, salads and toasties. The place is renowned for its scones, toasted rustic bread and range of teas. Whatever you order here, note that the servings are huge. Avenida Miguel Bombarda, 6.
A Raposa: A pretty restaurant with products on display, where you can choose from traditional Portuguese dishes or others with more global influences. The same man welcomes you, cooks and serves. It’s a one-man show that deserves applause. Rua Conde Ferreira, 29.
Adraga: A restaurant that takes its name from a beach (Praia da Adraga), sited right down by the sand, this place a must if you love fresh fish. Booking ahead is also a must here. Estrada da Praia da Adraga, 143.
What to Do?
If you only have the energy and time to visit one of Sintra’s various palaces, go for the Parque e Palácio da Pena. The building itself is a masterpiece of 19th-century Romantic architecture, with a unique view of the town (and ocean). The palace grounds are also gorgeous: full of lush corners, they harbour dozens of different species and are very well cared for.
If you like walking, here is a fine programme for you. Drive up into the hills towards Peninha, park the car and then walk up to the Santuário da Peninha, a hilltop shrine that is one of area’s most magical spots. Now all but abandoned, it is lovely all the same, and has an incredible view over Cascais and Guincho beach.
If you’ve come with the kids, visit the Chalet e Jardim da Condessa D’Edla, a Swiss-style chalet and garden that could be a film set for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. There are ponies and carriages on hand if you want a ride.
For the full flavour of the town’s mysticism, step into the Quinta da Regaleira, built as a private house at the beginning of the 20th century and set in wonderful gardens that are dotted with quiet glades and secret passages, as well as a Masonic initiation well.
What Else to Taste?
Sintra has two pastries that are almost as much monuments as the town’s palaces and castle. One is the travesseiro, sold at Piriquita (Rua das Padarias 1/7); it is a real calorie bomb made up of sugar, eggs and very fine flaky pastry that falls apart as you eat it. The other is the queijada, the most famous of which is sold at the Fábrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa (Volta do Duche 12). It is a compact tartlet, not quite as sweet as the travesseiro, but just as addictive.
A Secret: Praia da Ursa, a beach near Cabo da Roca, the headland between Cascais and Sintra, requires some effort and a head for heights to get to. But it’s worth it.