Sintra is an oasis of greenery on the northern face of one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Portugal.
Chosen as the summer residence of the Kings of Portugal and their Moorish predecessors, it experienced a renaissance in popularity
in the 18th and 19th centuries when aristocrats, architects, writers, painters and musicians flocked to its slopes.
Occupied since the Stone ages, its name comes from the Celtic symbol for the moon "cynthia", the Romans calling it "mons lunae" or Moon Mountain.
Sintra can boast of a Moorish castle, palaces, grand estates, mansions, and a monastery, and is landscaped
with exotic vegetation from around the world. It has a Mediterranean microclimate, which in the summer gives
rise to temperatures of 28 degrees, not the sweltering heat of the Algarve or Lisbon, with cooler evenings
because of the sea breeze. Its setting provides panoramic views of the coast, which is only a 15 minute taxi
ride away or 30 minutes by bus.
Here the Atlantic provides some of the best surfing beaches in Europe, although in the summer the
sea is much calmer, especially south of Sintra on the Estoril coast.
In short, Sintra is a magnificent centre of history and culture at Europe's most westerly point,
providing architectural splendours with decorative feasts for the eyes, outstanding scenic walks for nature lovers,
and fine sandy beaches with excellent seafood resturants.
“An earthly Garden of Eden” Gil Vicente
“Today is the happiest day of my life. It's the most beautiful thing I've seen.
This is the true Klingsor Garden – and high above, there's the Holy Grail Castle.” Richard Strauss
“The eighth wonder of the world” Armando Dyot
“The most blessed spot on the whole inhabitable globe” Robert Southey
“beauties of every description natural and artificial. Palaces and gardens rising in the midst of rocks,
cataracts and precipices, convents on stupendous heights.......the Wildness of the Western Highlands with the
verdure of the South of France” Lord Byron (see Child Harold)
The three districts are within 15 minutes walking distance of each other, the pavements being roughly cobbled
and sometimes quite steep. Good walking shoes are recommended, plus a jumper for cooler evenings and a
small torch for unlit streets at night. There are buses, trams and horse drawn carriages for transport,
which are especially helpful to access the sights on the mountain peaks. One needs to be a very skilled driver to
negotiate the narrow winding streets of Sintra.
Lisbon is about 45 minutes away by train. There are buses from the airport to Rossio in the centre
of Lisbon from where there are direct trains to Sintra, the last station on the line.