From a classy wine bar serving cheese and charcuterie to a cavernous student haunt with budget beers on tap, Sintra in Greater Lisbon, Portugal, has a bar to suit your mood. Here’s our guide to places to chill after seeing the Palacio da Pena, Castelo dos Mouros and other big-ticket attractions in Sintra.
Whether you visit on a day trip from nearby Lisbon or stay the night in one of the atmospheric old villas here, historic hilltop Sintra is one of the must-sees in Portugal. But, after a long day of sightseeing, touring the Moorish castle ruins and hiking the pine-lined hills, you need a way to unwind. Good thing this town has some decent bars to retreat to. Whether you’re after cosy student-beloved drinking holes or elegant wine emporiums, here’s our pick of the best bars in Sintra.
Taking its name from the historic azulejo-tile-lined fountain right next door, Bar Fonte da Pipa is a popular drinking hole. With its cave-like space – under vaulted ceilings and coddled by butter-yellow walls – cosy tables and affordable prices, it’s a favourite with students and younger travellers who want to sip beers on a budget. If your tummy begins to rumble, settle up the bargain bill, and head to Tascantiga next door for tapas-style nibbles.
The attached restaurant of the same name is one of the finest in Sintra, but, if all you’re looking for is a knock-out drink, then this sophisticated wine bar is your place. The rambling list – which has dozens of vinos to choose from – has options at all price points, available by the glass, so you can hop from, say, a cheapo Alentejo white up to a fine port. Charcuteries and cheese are on hand if you need something to mop it all up with.
It’s nothing fancy, but Vila Velha encapsulates the feeling of a traditional Portuguese cafe bar. Locals come for simple lunches of salad or quiche, chased down with generous glasses of local wine, or pastries such as lemon tarts or classic pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) paired with a coffee (or something stronger). After you’ve fuelled up, you’ll have the energy to tackle the climb to the Moorish castle ruins, less than a 10-minute walk away.
The old-school brown wood and terracotta tiling behind the bar give Saloon Cintra a throwback vibe that makes you feel cosy from the get-go. Tackle the Belgian-focused beer list – Mc Chouffe is available on tap – then, move on to cocktails or even shots. The interior, filled with bric-a-brac, aged photos and beer signs, is a tempting place to catch a sports game, spend a rainy afternoon or wait for a train – after all, the station is just a few minutes away.
The shelves behind the bar, heaving with spirits bottles, tell you one thing – you’ve come here for a cocktail. Budget-conscious travellers come to sip them between 5pm and 8pm, Caravelas’s Happy Hour, when you can bag any drink on the menu for just €5 (£4). But you’ll receive a warm welcome any other time you show up, too, whether you come early or late. Cheese, meat and bread nibbles are on hand as well.
It doesn’t get much cosier than this pub, all stone walls, imposing fireplaces and intricate carvings à la Medieval times. It stops short of being cliché, though. You can order up simple bar food (think toasted sandwiches with crisps) and sip an array of ciders or wines, as well as beers. On warm summer days, the outdoor seating is prime, letting you enjoy your chilled pint on benches overlooking the rolling green landscapes.
Set southeast of Sintra’s centre, this brilliantly named bar specialises in – you guessed it – karaoke. Screens lining the walls, a glitter ball and a small stage with proper microphones are all here to let you have a big night out singing tunes by Britney or Elton to your heart’s content (in front of a crowd, of course). All the classics are on tap, ready to drink, and, if you order a tropical pour, you might even get it served with a paper umbrella. If this place isn’t fun, what bar is?
There’s a bohemian atmosphere to Salla de Estar – a drinking hole right next to the main train station – that makes it popular with all kinds of visitors to Sintra. Green-painted walls are hung with foliage prints and surfboards, the ceiling is lined with giant paper umbrellas, and the bar is decorated with old license plates. It might be the antithesis to the elegant historical sights in Sintra, but that’s exactly what makes this place a refreshing spot to sink a beer or play a game of pool after an OTT day of sightseeing.