Sintra, Portugal is located to the west of Lisboa, a short train ride out of the busy capital. It is a magical mountaintop on the edge of a national park that is the home to many castles built by many conquerers. Romans, Moors, and Christian crusaders fought many battles and all occupied the space for a time before Portuguese kings began to use the town as a weekend retreat, (Wikipedia Sintra will explain the complicated history better than me.) Now it is one of the most touristy places in Portugal but well worth fighting the crowds to see. From perfect castles to ruins of ancient fortresses to cobblestone hikes through thick forests, Sintra has a lot for everyone. We didn’t actually go inside any of the castles because they are expensive and we would rather just take pictures and walk around the outside.
The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (like everywhere else in Europe, it seems) and has many nice restaurants and cafes. We brought some food for a picnic because everything in Sintra is overpriced.
We continued along the trail to Pena National Palace. They made you pay like 15 Euros before we could even see anything, so here is a picture that I stole from the internets.
If we had a little bit more cash to spare, we definitely would have gone inside the palace. As it was, we felt more like hiking and enjoying some nature anyway. Sintra was a very good escape from the big city!