Decided to go to Cascais and Cabo da Roca on our way to Sintra all in one day!!!
Tip #1: If possible try to break this trip down as it was very densely packed and stressful for one day.
Cascais is a nice beachy area, but mostly it’s a small boat port. If you don’t mind swimming with boats next to you, it’s a nice interesting place. We didn’t spend much time there since we had a lot more to see.
Next stop : Cabo da Roca
I have a weird feeling every time I come to one of those places. This one wasn’t the exception: being the most western point of Europe, it surely attracted a lot of tourists.
Honestly, I don’t get it. Ok, yes…..it’s technically the most western point of mainland Europe but there is nothing special about this place. It was ridiculously windy and cold. The view was nice but I couldn’t enjoy it fully because of the things mentioned in the previous sentence.
Still a good place to visit if you haven’t been to Australia (where these kinds of places are of plenty), but please please please bring two extra jackets and a beanie!
Driving to Sintra was a total nightmare as there are many one-way roads and not enough signs for proper directions. There are a few castles on Sintra’s territory: Castles of the Moors, Quinta da Regaleira and the Palacio de Pena. We parked next to the Palacio de Pena, not realising we are right next to it….. you can also find random street parking when you are cruising up and down the hills.
Tip #2: Be warned that you might not find the parking right next to your castle of choice. In that case you have to walk or catch a bus (5.50 euros for a private bus and 2.5 euros for a public bus for the whole day). The roads are not well-adapted to pedestrians: you have to constantly watch out for cars, buses and other crazy pedestrians.
Quinta da Regaleira: the entry costs 6 euros and for the next 1-2 hours you’ll be a prince/princess exploring a magical kingdom with mysterious deep wells and numerous labyrinths!
Seriously, it was so much fun!!!! I highly recommend coming here with your friends and playing hide and seek!
Tip #3: Portuguese didn’t bother putting any lights in the tunnels or labyrinths so either have a torch ready or use or phones as you can definitely step into a huge puddle if you can’t see where you are going (like I did, of course!)
The highlight for me was without a doubt the Initiatic Well, which sinks 27 metres into the earth, creating a phenomenal spiral staircase, which could totally be from a Brothers Grimm fairy tale!
The insides of the castle are not as thrilling as the gardens but still worth checking out
Palacio da Pena is the yellow-red-blueish castle, which embodies the elements of Medieval and Islamic architecture. Inside you can see beautifully decorated rooms and old relic furniture. A very impressive interior! The entry is 14 euros and includes a huge walk around the park. It takes about 15-20min to walk uphill to get to the castle but it’s all worth it as the castle is stunning!
Tip #4: Please think about your choice of footwear: you need to be able to walk a lot of uphill / downhill.
Tip #5: Think through your itinerary: which castle do you want to see first? They are not very close to each other and it’s better to drive or catch a bus from one to another.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the Moorish castle as we didn’t have time….until next time!
Please let me know which castle you liked the most and why in your comments!
Overall even though it appeared to be rushed, it was a very pleasant drive out of Lisbon City. Please plan ahead as you can’t skip Sintra’s castles…as they are true gems!