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21 October 2019

day tripping to sintra


on my recent trip to lisbon, there was one day trip i was desperate to ensure we built into our itinerary - and that was to get out to sintra. it's only 25km from the capital city, and is supposed to be one of the prettiest areas to explore while in lisbon, so it was a given. typically, though, we did no planning other than making the decision to go, so wasn't until the day before we planned to head out that i read this post from my pal charlie, telling me all the things i should have done in advance; namely, pre-book train tickets, and get out there nice and early.







we did not pre-book, and also had no plans to go very early. and, when we woke that day it was pouring with rain, though all weather apps reassured us it would clear by lunch, so we planned to arrive for lunch. not wanting to get the train station and find ourselves among a throng of people with the same idea as us, we headed out for a lazy breakfast and then got ourselves a lovely and dry uber to get us to sintra town late morning. it's only about 20 mins away by car, so was a super affordable (i mean, please bear in mind that the train is less than 3euros each, so nothing will be cheaper than that, but in terms of a car service, it was about £15) way to get there if you are with a small group.





we wandered around the old town for a bit, went to see the cones at sintra palace, stopped for a vinho verde at the lord byron (upon investigation, turns out byron was a big old fan of sintra, and at this point i was beginning to see why) until the most recent rain cloud disappeared, and then decided we would have some lunch before heading up the big hill to pena palace.
"upon investigation, turns out byron was a big old fan of sintra, and at this point i was beginning to see why."

we ended up in a great spot that was also one of charlie's recommendations - tascantiga sintra. there were tons of cute spots to choose from, but it was description of the homemade beer that really sold it for us (just read her post), and it was a hell of a lot quieter than most of the other places. it was miles bigger, too, which helped.





we opted for the cod dumplings (my least fave dish), the garlic prawns (my most fave dish), the grilled chorizo (a close second), baked cheese with figs, and what essentially were crisps, but were billed as "potato skins" - alongside a big old pint of the homemade beer, and it was the perfect way to fuel up for the rest of the day ahead.

from there, we walked to the bottom of the hill to get to pena palace, took one look at the angle of the ascent, and decided to get another uber up to the top; there are shuttles that go up there that you can get for free if you have a valid train ticket (we didn't), there are tuk-tuks you can get that cost small change, and there are local buses that cost more then three euros each. an uber up there was less than £5, so we did that - we got a fab little history lesson from our driver too, which was a bonus!





after reading charlie's post, we took some advice (other than lunch). firstly, we pre-booked our entry to the palace and gardens online; this meant we got to jump the first queue, and headed straight into the grounds. if you take anything away from this post, let it be this: you do not need to get a palace and gardens ticket, if you just want to see the facade. it's £7 for the gardens only, but this ticket allows you into the restaurant, into the cafe, and into the gift shop, and this takes you to terrace level, meaning you can walk around the actual palace without going inside the palace. so, that was our bad, as we bought the full palace and gardens ticket for £14, when we had no intention of going inside the palace.
"if you take anything from this post, let it be this: you do not need to get a palace and gardens ticket, if you just want to see the facade. you can walk around the actual palace without going inside the palace."






we spent a good couple of hours taking in the incredible architecture and colourful exterior of the palace, and considered taking in the vast gardens too but had dinner plans back in lisbon that we had to get back for, and we still had to get down, and figure out the train system to get back. yes - you read that right: we actually used the public transport options to get us back to lisbon (less to £3 to get us back outside our hotel was a pretty good deal to be fair). all in all, it was an amazing way to spend an afternoon (literally, we were there from about eleven until about four thirty, and that was plenty for a whistle stop tour of sintra and its sights), and i'm so glad we did manage to get out there - and get some great weather for the occasion!


 



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