Sintra, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Portugal
We left Coimbra with its Joanina library by train (the ticket costs 15 euros each) and after about 2 hours, we arrived at the oriente station of Lisbon. From there, we bought a roundtrip ticket (5,70 euros each) for Sintra and in about 1 hour, we were in the town.
Our hotel Tivoli Sintra (praça república 41, 65 euros per night without breakfast) is located in the downtown. We got a big room with a terrace, just in front of the national palace of Sintra. The other good point is that in the reception floor, there is a terrace where we got a panorama view to the Dos Mouros castle (also known as Moorish castle), its surrounding and the sea, very great for a sunset.
We stayed 2 days to visit the Quinta da Regaleira, the Moorish Castle and the Park and Palace of Pena:
- The Quinta da Regaleira (open at 10h) took us 4 hours for the whole visit. Unfortunately, the upper floors of the palace were in renovation so we were only possible to discover the first floor. It is a great place to visit and to take your time to see most important details. The tunnel walk brings a very fresh air in comparison to the heat of outside, it was good to walk inside and to go through all alleys, there are very few lights and most of the sections are dark so we used the light of our mobile to light up our path. We started from the top by the initiatic well (also known as the inverted towers), walking down into all the dark tunnels, we decided to go out by the waterfall lake. Also don't miss the tunnels of the labyrinthic grotto. The leda cave doesn't have tunnels but it is a good place to seat for the while due to the cool air. Other things to not miss are the guardian gate, the regaleira tower and fontain and the pisões loggia. The place closes at 20h (in winter at 17h30).
- The Dos Mouros Castle (open at 9h30) and the Park and Palace of Pena (open at 9h30 for the park and 9h45 for the palace). We took the bus 434 for 5,50 euros the roundtrip ticket, first we tried to take the first one at 9h15 at the bus stop in front of the entrance of the national palace of Sintra (before 2017, it was near to the tourism office) but it was so full that the driver didn't want to pick more people so we decided to walk toward the train station because it is from there that the bus starts, hopefully we did that way because when we arrived, there was already a huge queue.
We started by the castle since there is no shade to hide from the heat and because the bus stops first here. The visit of the castle was very quick, in less than 1 hour it was done. It is just to walk on its wall to reach its different towers and to get great panoramic views everywhere. The place closes at 20h (in winter at 18h).
Once done, we went back to the bus stop which leaded us to the next stop, which is the Palace and Park of Pena (if you are not lazy like us, you can walk from the castle). One of the good things we did was to buy the ticket to the tourism office in the downtown (open at 9h30) the day before because there were many people making line to buy the entrance. This place is very huge, if you want to see everything, you will need at least 5-6 hours, now if you want to visit only the palace, it will take you something like 1h-1h30 (during our visit, some areas were in renovation).
The palace has many terraces where we had access for great panorama views; at the end, most of them are similar to the ones of the castle. There is also a restaurant where we lunched (the dish of the day costs 8,50 euros and a chocolate cake, 3,50 euros for instance). The park also offers great views like at the high cross, the warrior statue, the chalet rocks, etc. It closes at 20h (at 18h in winter) and the palace 30 minutes before.
To go back to the downtown, we took again the bus. If you feel more courageous than us, you can walk from the downtown to the palace of Pena, I don't know how long it will take but it is a long way up to the mountain. Our next town is Evora with its roman aqueduct houses.