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Adventures in Sintra, Portugal's Most Exotic City

Adventures in Sintra, Portugal's Most Exotic City

Sintra is a city to behold with its outstanding mountains, lush forests, exotic gardens, and glittering palaces. It's no surprise why it's become so popular among tourists--it's literally a fairy tale dream come true. The World Heritage Site, Sintra-Vila, is among its most notable attractions. Download the Sintra Travel Guide and Offline Map, but make sure to plan your travels early in the day or midweek to avoid the crowds.

1.     Palácio Nacional de Sintra

The palace's most iconic twin conical chimneys and the lavish interior is just part of Sintra-Vila's appeal. Its interior is a mix of Moorish and Manueline styles, with arabesque courtyards, barley-twist columns and 15th- and 16th-century geometric azulejos that figure among Portugal’s oldest. Highlights include the octagonal Swan Room, adorned with frescoes of 27 gold-collared swans; and the Magpie Room.

2.      Convento dos Capuchos

The hobbit-hole-like convent that was originally built in 1560 is hidden in the woods, which makes it even more appealing for adventurers. The convent was a house for Friars. Its cramped condition and tiny cells lined with cork having low narrow doors have gained it its nickname, the Cork Convent. Visting here will make you feel like you've been transported into Alice in Wonderland as you squeeze through the narrow cells, chapels, kitchen, and cavern.

3.     Parque da Pena

The romantic garden that is the Parque de Pena is filled with tropical plants, huge redwoods and fern trees, rhododendrons, and lakes that are lined with castle-shaped duck house. The gardens are filled with hidden gems and as crowds litter the palace, you might want to escape into the Chalet da Condessa d'Edla. It is an Alpine-inspired summer getaway cottage commissioned by King Ferdinand II and his future second wife, Elise Hensler.

Learn more about other destinations that offer unique experiences by checking out eTips.

A city armed with Gothic grit and glamour- Visit Lisbon!

A city armed with Gothic grit and glamour- Visit Lisbon!

WOW! Lisbon skyline at sunset
WOW! Lisbon skyline at sunset

Lisbon which came out of a dire recession galvanized and game for anything, has found itself in the unexpected position being of Europe's new cool capital. There are more exciting things to do in Lisbon so make sure you have your Lisbon Travel Guide and Offline City Map & Metro.

Enjoy the view

Strap on some comfy shoes and get moving, Lisbon, after all, is a city of seven hills, which means there are breathtaking views around (nearly) every corner. One of the best views of Lisbon can be found from the São Jorge Castle. Get your tickets online to avoid lining up, and enjoy the view of the city from the castle grounds. If you’d rather not pay for a view, Miradouro da Graca offers some of the best sights free of charge. Bring a sandwich, grab a bench, and enjoy a leisurely lunch with a stunning view of Lisbon. If you’re after a luxurious setting, Silk nightclub is supposed to be one of the best vantage points to see Lisbon at night. Just make sure to dress the part, as this club has a fairly strict dress code (we found out the hard way).

Shop

Shopping in Lisbon is plentiful and very affordable. Skip the useless souvenirs, and instead stock up on delicious Portuguese specialties like gourmet tinned fish, sweet Ginja, and the delicious Portuguese-made preserves and honeys. Portuguese ceramics and fragrant soaps are also amazing keepsakes to bring back with you. Make sure you’re not buying the Made in China products by shopping at stores that sell the locally-crafted ceramics (and other goodies) – Lisbon Shop, A Vida Portuguesa, and Embaixada are a few of my faves. Embaixada deserves a special mention for its beautiful setting.

Explore

Lisbon is a lively, beautiful city with a ton of things to do and plenty of landmarks to visit. Admiring the many tiled buildings was probably my favorite thing, which is why I’m so sad that we missed out on a visit to the Museu Nacional do Azulejo (aka the Tile Museum). I hear it’s a gem, so check it out if you get a chance.

It was too hot for us to ride the infamous Tram 28, but hanging out along its route to take photos of the passing trams was just as fun.

So beautiful, typical Lisbon architecture
So beautiful, typical Lisbon architecture

Eat

Lisbon’s foodie scene was definitely a pleasant surprise. Nearly every single meal we had during our trip was a smash hit. There’s a plethora of delicious options at the admittedly touristy Time Out Market; the Piri Piri chicken from the Miguel Laffan stall was my personal favorite, but other restaurants were great too according to my friends and fellow travelers (just watch out for aggressive table stealers).

For a fresh take on ceviche, A Cevicheria is a must-visit. You won’t be impressed with the quantity of food at this tiny resto, but you will certainly love every bite.

Get to know more about Lisbon or some other city you plan to visit, just go to eTips to get all the info you need!