During our time in Lisbon, Portugal, several Semester at Sea students ventured to Sintra, a spectacular town just 45 minutes away by train.¬†The little mountain town is one of the most visited in all of Portugal, and for good reason‚Äîthe castles and ruins found here are amongst the most fascinating in all of Europe.
Here are the top 3 sights in Sintra that several Semester at Sea students visited‚Äîand why you should too!
1.¬†¬†¬†¬† Pena Palace
Set high in the mountains above the town of Sintra, Pal√°cio Nacional da Pena is one of Sintra‚Äôs most-visited attractions due to its unique architecture. A blend of Moorish keyhole gates, cathedral towers and stone figurines, the palace is as colorful and creative as it is architecturally scrambled. It‚Äôs definitely something you want to see while in Sintra. You can catch the #434 bus from the center of town for 5 Euros, return, to reach Pena Palace. For the uber-adventurous, the steep, uphill walk to the palace takes about two hours.
2.¬†¬†¬†¬† Moorish Castle
The Moorish Castle, or Castelo dos Mouros, is located just 10 minutes away from Pena Palace and the views found there are incredible. The actual castle is no longer here‚Äîall that‚Äôs left are the ruins of the castle‚Äôs walls, and its four towers. The view from the top of the towers is worth the intense hike up the stairs. If you‚Äôre going to both Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle, buy a ticket for both at the same time and you‚Äôll save yourself 6 Euros.
3.¬†¬†¬†¬† Quinta da Regaleira
Part botanical gardens, part palace, Quinta de Regaleira is a unique place you definitely shouldn‚Äôt miss. Although the entrance fee is 10 Euros, it‚Äôs well worth it, if you‚Äôre looking for waterfalls, lakes, grottos, caves, tunnels and some intricate features you can‚Äôt see anywhere else. One of the most popular sights at this park is a winding, spiral tower that‚Äôs said to represent the connection between heaven and earth.
Whether on a Semester at Sea trip, or traveling independentally, many participants in the Fall 2012 voyage took time to visit Sintra– and it didn’t disappoint! Be sure to visit these sights on your next visit to Lisbon, Portugal.