Some things are just too good to have in small doses. Here’s why Sintra is most definitely NOT a day trip!
‘The most popular day trip from Lisbon’
Depending on what type of traveller you are this could mean two very different things
- Wow, this place is going to be incredible
- Wow, this place is going to be incredibly touristy
Whatever your reaction, there are some places in the world you arrive and immediately understand why they’re so popular. Places where you barely even notice the crowds as you become absorbed by the beauty around you. Sintra is definitely one of those places. By no means is this a hidden ‘off the beaten track’ location. There is no way such an incredible site could be kept secret especially as it’s 30 minutes from Lisbon.
Whether you’re visiting Southern Portugal, Northern Portugal, Western Europe… basically, if you want to do any form of travelling Sintra should be on your list. This picturesque Portuguese town has more than enough to dazzle any type of traveller. It’s crammed full of breathtaking places all a beautiful walk away from each other.
During our travels we were blown away when we discovered that most people visit Sintra on a day trip. A day trip! There is no way that 24 hours can do Sintra justice. We don’t want any future travellers to make that mistake. It’s like going to a buffet and only having a starter! Craziness! We can understand the lure, an easy 30 minute connection from Lisbon and Portugal having so many other great places to visit – this is no excuse though, Sintra should be prioritised!
Here’s why Sintra is definitely NOT a day trip
For popular sites it’s no new information that getting there early is the way forward. Although the sites in Sintra will be quieter in the morning if your travelling from Lisbon before 9 am then expect craziness at the station. The train station will be heaving, the ticket machines will be heaving and yes, you guessed it, the trains will be heaving. A 30 minute journey will suddenly seem a lot longer when your standing, crammed in with thousands of other map checking, camera snapping tourists. Depending on your speed you’ll be able to make it to one or two of the Sintra’s main sites during peak times. Rush there, rush around, take a photo, eat some lunch and then get back on a busy train. I don’t know about you but that definitely isn’t my idea of travelling!
Too Much To See In One Day
You’ll be amazed how many magnificent locations are perfectly fitted into the small town (you can find out more about them in our guide to Sintra). All beautifully individual and unique with architecture you won’t find anywhere else in the world. If you’re only going to visit Sintra once in your lifetime, why would you want to miss out?
From small museums and galleries which can be comfortably absorbed in a few hours, to grand palaces and majestic gardens that require the whole day to properly appreciate. These sites are spread across town and there’s also many great places to discover outside of Sintra. To be blunt, there is no way to see Sintra’s full potential within 24 hours.
You’d Be Crazy To Not Explore The Town
“Oh, I heard it’s like a fairy tale?”
You’re bloody right it is! Even without stepping foot in any of the famous parks and gardens, Sintra itself does feel like a fairy tale. Sitting in the foothills of the Sintra mountains the UNESCO area has become famous for it’s 19th century romantic architecture and unbelievably quaint atmosphere. You can wonder around the cobbled streets for hours and the neolithic castles and royal palaces will have every history buff excited. Local artists and craftspeople exhibit their work outdoors and are incredibly hospitable so it’s easy to make friends. Don’t be that person declining a dinner invitation from a local because you’re in a rush to catch a train!
Don’t Make Compromises Because You’re in a Rush
If you’re in a rush it’s always more difficult to travel sustainably. Trying to cram too much into one day means you’re probably going to be taking many of the overpriced transport options. Save the fumes by sticking to walking! You’ll take in much more of the town and enjoy your time more than being carted around in tourist wagons (it’s also good for you).
Portuguese food is also notoriously meaty so take the opportunity to scope out some ethical eateries! Don’t be rushed into eating in a meaty eatery with limited options out of convenience.
Did Somebody Mention Vegan Food?
Yes, you heard it right, considering the size of the tiny town there’s a great choice of vegan eateries if you know where to find them. It would be such a shame to miss out, right? Why visit one when you can eat in them ALL!
Save Some Money!
Now we’ve got your attention.
Who doesn’t want to save money? It’s a proven fact that travelling slower will save you a ton of cash. When you rush you end up overspending as you don’t know the right prices and don’t have time to seek alternatives. General costs in Sintra can be a lot cheaper than Lisbon, particularly for accommodation, so it’s definitely worth staying the night… or five. Find a hostel, get down to the supermarket and make a feast in the kitchen to save the costs of eating out.
Take in the Nature and Atmosphere
For the outdoors traveller you’re going to want to take your time in Sintra. Sintra has a baffling amount of parks, gardens and peaks which would take days to properly explore. There’s also hiking and camping opportunities along with mountain climbing and cycling! This is all set within a haven of dense woodland and rich botanical diversity, encouraged by Sintra’s micro climate. Put a few days aside, take a book and a picnic and spend the day outdoors! Whether you prefer cities or the countryside spending time outdoors is physically and mentally great for you. Why rush back to the big city when you can unwind in the woods?
So, now you’ve decided that a day trip would be crazy, take a look at our Visitor’s Guide to Sintra and start planning your adventure!
Have you been to Sintra and agree it’s definitely not a day trip? Tell us in the comments box below!