Today we booked a tour to Sintra with our host, Nuno, and it turned out to be so much more. Sintra is a resort town in the foothills of the Sintra mountains to the west of Lisbon. It has been a longtime sanctuary for Portuguese royalty.
Arriving in the town of Sintra 45 minutes later, Nuno dropped us off at the entrance gate to Pena Palace. Built in the mid 1800s by King Ferdinand, it is a whimsical fairytale castle filled with baroque treasures and ornate Manuline architecture. The most fascinating aspect is the location… built on the edge of sheer drop cliffs, one gets a bit nervous on the wall walk… don’t look down… but the views are spectacular.
After Pena Palace, Monica and Maneau decided to go shopping in the town of Sintra while Jake and I opted to tour another area of Sintra Park called Quinta de Regaleira (Royal Gardens). Built at the end of the 18th century, it is a 50 acre ensemble of Manuline structures (lookouts, towers, cistern, stature, chapel and palace) set amid secret forest pathways and underground grottos. It is unbelievably exotic.
Nuno picked us all up at 2pm and we headed for the coast to find lunch. He took us to a seaside village called Praia das Macas, and to the Macas Club restaurant. Nuno even ordered wine and menu choices for us… what service! We enjoyed excellent fish and octopus while watching the giant surf waves rolling onto the pristine beach. Magical!
After lunch, Nuno took us to a coastal lookout site that few tourists get to see, Praia das Azenhas do Mar, a red clay roofed, white Adobe village perched on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic. It was gorgeous and we got some lovely memory shots.
Then we proceeded down the coast to Cabo da Rocha, the most western point of continental Europe, to see the beautiful lighthouse. Monica was elated (you know how she loves lighthouses). A bit more touristy here but not unbearable and certainly a must see.
Continuing on down the coast, we stopped for photo ops at Boca Inferno (The Mouth of Hell) and the town of Cascais, a peaceful but touristy fishing hamlet on the mouth of the Tagus River. And then home arriving at 6pm. It was a nine-hour day, full of many amazing moments and thoroughly exhausting in the best way. Nuno Silves (our apartment host and tour guide) was amazing and we highly recommend his services.
Here are the photo highlights of Day 12- Sintra.