Pick of palaces
Make a beeline for the pair of dove-white cone-like chimneys peeping out from the town centre – welcome to Palácio Nacional de Sintra! This 14th-century romantic spot rolls Moorish, Gothic and Manueline design into one gorgeous slab of azulejo-filled architecture. Don’t miss eye-popping Palácio Nacional da Pena either. This 19th-century pin-up is pure magic, with pink onion domes, butter-yellow turrets, tropical foliage and Moorish flourishes.
Rural estates teeming with charm are known as quintas in Portugal and Sintra’s brimming with them. Quinta da Regaleira is one of the best, which takes extravagant to the next level. Tour the grounds of this 20th-century neo-Manueline mansion and you’ll spy mythical creatures carved into façades and brilliant glass mosaics. But the most incredible feature is Poço Iniciático, a spiralling well that swirls six storeys deep into the ground.
Take a bite out of Sintra
All that exploring left you hungry? Well you’re in luck, as Sintra’s specialities queijadas (pastries stuffed with a sweet cheese mix) and travesseiros (puff pastry pillows filled with almond cream and sprinkled with sugar) are delicious. Café Saudade is said to be the birthplace of the former, so grab a table on its sun-kissed terrace for a sweet afternoon treat.