Fodor's To Europe!

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Days 4-5
Next stop: Madrid Previous stop: Lisbon Return to full itinerary »

Lush, lovely Sintra was once the summer residence of kings and aristocrats, and its late-medieval palace epitomizes the royal wealth and power of its time. Sintra's history is so important that the entire area is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region, along with Queluz, is littered with palaces and monasteries, but do take time to get a nature fix as well.
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  • History
  • Architecture

Experiences

  • Portugal's only surviving palace from the Middle Ages, Palácio Nacional de Sintra is a unique blend of Moorish, Gothic, and Manueline styles.
  • You can hike up to Pena Palace, just 2½ mi/4 km south of Sintra, but it's more fun to take a horse-drawn carriage. The palace is a Disney-esque confection complete with a drawbridge.
  • The original palace at Monserrate (2½ mi/4 km west of Sintra) was built by the Portuguese viceroy of India.
  • Queluz National Palace was partly inspired by Versailles; you can tour the apartments and state rooms.

Festivals

  • Each June and July during the Sintra Festival of Music and Dance, the town celebrates ballet and classical music.
  • The Estoril Open de Portugal is a major golf event held in Penha Longa.

Side Trips

  • Windswept Cabo de Roca (9 mi/15 km west of Sintra) has jagged cliffs and a dramatic coastline.

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