While Lisbon often grabs the attention, the Portuguese capital’s near neighbour, Sintra, is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the country for good reason. With its curved mountains, dewy forests, exotic gardens and Crayola-coloured palaces, it’s a city torn straight from a storybook. Only an hour’s drive from Lisbon transports you to this mystical, Unesco-listed hilltop vision, making it perfect for a day trip. Oh, and did we mention its beach? Here are our top reasons to visit Sintra.
This dramatic sea arch filled with spouting waves marks the westernmost point on the European continent. Indeed, Boca do Inferno is a symbolic spot for all Portuguese; the kind of place every tourist dreams of visiting at least once and offers another fantastic photo opportunity.
Portugal is renowned for its delicious seafood, but Sintra has some of the country’s finest – at much more reasonable rates than more southerly parts of the country. If you’re a fan of percebes (goose barnacles) or have yet to try this local delicacy, then this is your chance. Even if you’re not yet convinced, there are numerous other just-caught fresh fish dishes to try. We recommend the clams in white wine at the cafe on Praia da Adraga (Adraga beach) with its beautiful setting, or the giant spicy shrimps at the more upmarket Mar do Inferno.
Laura Holt contributed additional reporting to this article.