Portugal Part 14 – One Day in Sintra Plus a Beach

Moorish Castle

We arrived at the Penha Longa Resort after driving down from Porto and ended up having sushi for dinner at a local restaurant called Kyonagi. It was a bit of an adventure as I decided to drive there as it was close to the resort, however, I couldn’t see where to park on the busy street. We ended up going back to the resort and taking an Uber instead.

We woke up pretty early for our day in Sintra, so we took our Binax Now Covid tests around 7am. It was easy to set up the monitored testing through the app. You can leave your phone sitting there with the test in view for the monitoring for 15 minutes. We both tested negative and received an email with the results. From June 12, 2022, you won’t need to do this anymore!

As we were staying at a Ritz Carlton, there was no breakfast included, even as a Marriott Titanium. We just made some coffee in the room and ate the rest of our welcome amenity pastries. We got an Uber around 8am as we did not want to drive and try to park in Sintra. At that hour, it might have been OK, but we were close enough to the Pena Palace at the resort that it just made more sense to leave the car parked where it was.

Every Uber we took in Portugal was great except for this one. It was a van and he raced way too fast around the mountain roads and slammed on his brakes a few times. We did eventually make it to the entrance of Pena Palace and we were the second people in line at 8:45am. By 9am, there was a crowd forming as the gate opened.

First ones inside the gate!

I had pre-purchased 9:30am palace tickets along with bus tickets to get us up and down the steep road from the entrance to the palace itself. We grabbed seats on the first bus and waited in line until someone opened the entrance.

Palace entry

It was nice to tour the palace before it got too crowded. Unfortunately, it was foggy and misty up on the mountain so good exterior pictures of the views weren’t possible. We spent about 45 minutes walking around the palace.

Then we hiked over to the Moorish Castle. It’s a very easy 20 minute walk that is mostly flat. I had also pre-purchased tickets for the Moorish Castle, although I don’t think that’s actually necessary as it was not too busy. I really enjoyed walking the walls of the castle and the views down to the town were a bit better as the weather improved.

We then hiked down to the historic center of Sintra which was all downhill. It’s possible to continue straight on to the Quinta da Regeleira without going into town, but we wanted to walk around and get some lunch first.

Hiking down

Once we were in town, it started raining. At first it was just drizzle, but it started pouring so we found a mostly covered place for lunch called Villa 6. The food and drinks were fine, but they annoyed me by not taking credit cards if you spend under 50 Euros. Luckily, I had just enough Euros left to cover it.

Cod in the rain

By this time, the rain had subsided so we walked over to Quinta da Regeleira. It was a neat place to explore with wells, caves, fountains and gardens. The house itself was under renovation so there is not much to see inside.

At this point, the weather had improved enough that we decided to hit one more beach. According to the map, Praia do Guincho looked pretty close and seemed to be a good spot for my wife to go shelling. Unfortunately, the route there via Uber was much longer than the direct route that included dirt roads through the mountains 😊

It took about 45 minutes, but we were dropped off and walked the beach. After a while, I just sat and watched the surfers and boogie boarders.

It was thankfully easy to get another Uber back to the Penha Longa Resort and the ride back only took about 20 minutes. As we were tired and had to pack for the long trip home, we decided to just order Uber Eats (sushi again). The food came quickly and was pretty reasonably priced.

While most people will visit Sintra as a day trip from Lisbon, I definitely recommend arriving to Pena Palace early as you will enjoy it much more without the tour groups that all start arriving around 10:30am. Then walk to the castle and down to some of the sights in Sintra. You’ll enjoy the day more if you don’t spend it fighting crowds.

Up next: Penha Longa Resort Review

If you enjoyed this post (or have questions), let me know in the comments or send me an email at emptynestermiles@gmail.com. If you are thinking about opening a new credit card, please use one of my links.

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