Walking Tour of Sintra, Portugal
The lovely town of Sintra, only about 20 miles northwest of Lisbon, has captured the imagination of writers over the centuries. Its idyllic location and impressive palaces make it the top excursion from Portugal’s capital city. Note that, because Sintra is a hillside town, walking can be difficult, especially if you decide to trek to the National Palace.
My walk begins at the Praca da Republica, on which the elegant Post Office sits. Nearby look for the Quinta de Regaleria, an old manor house which is worth a visit. To the north of the square is the Palacio Nacional de Sintra, whose conical, white chimneys are particularly noticeable. Be sure to tour the palace to appreciate the rich interior.
Leave the area from the Largo Rainha Dona Amelia, in front of the palace, and walk along the winding Volta do Duche to the Town Hall (Camara Municipal).
Now walk east on Avenida Dr Miguel Bombarda and then bear right onto Rua Joao de Deus, and then right again on Rua das Murtas, which leads to St Mary’s Church, a 12th century structure.
From the church, take the steep footpath up the hill to the Castle of the Moors. Enjoy the breath-taking views as you explore the ruins. Next, for the hardy, the footpath continues to the most exuberant and amazing palace in all of Portugal, the Palacio da Pena. (Note, if you cannot handle the walk, return to town and take a taxi or drive yourself up to the castle — it is a must-see!)
The palace is a kaleidoscope of colors and fanciful elements, including tower, turrets, and unusual designs. Explore the palace and its extensive grounds slowly, to savor the experience. This is one of the most incredible palaces you will ever see.
If you walked to the palace, return on the same footpath, and then turn left at St Mary’s Church, on Rua Bernardim, which changes names but leads back to the square where you started.