I must be honest here I did not do much research into our stay in Lisbon. I had listened to what Mark had to say about the city and he is normally pretty well on the ball when it comes to things that we will both like to visit. For complete opposites, we love the same things when travelling! He had mentioned going on a day trip out to the castles of Sintra and I thought it would be good but my biggest issue would be the girls and how they were travelling at this stage in the trip. (By this time we were 7 weeks into the trip and it was a long time for them to be away from home) It would also depend on how long it is out of the city.
Have you made a day trip from Lisbon to The Castle’s of Sintra
Well, all of that went completely out the window when Rita (the lady who was helping us with our apartment) showed me the brochure. That first look and I was in love…the colour, the position on the hill, the other castles around it and the tiny picturesque town that led you there was all too much! It was now a must do!
In all honesty, there is so much to see and do in Lisbon that our days were filled quickly. (You can read about our 5 top things to do in Lisbon here) It didn’t help that it was extremely warm most days which made the girls tired of site seeing very quickly. There was plenty of ice cream to be had and plenty of rests with a lovely jug of sangria for Mark and myself!
Every day we looked at the weather forecast and decided that the next day would not be the best and we were running out of time. This made me worry as I was desperate to get out there, so that night we decided that the next day would be it and there was no backing out NO MATTER WHAT!!
Public transport to the Castles of Sintra is fast and easy
Well, everything aligned and BAM we had the best days weather we had had since arriving! Not too hot and not too really hot! We got the girls up early and headed out of our amazing apartment and down to Rossio Train Station. Getting the tickets was easy and the people working at the station were really helpful as it is the main train station that people use to get to the castles of Sintra. We were some of the first people on the train so it was really easy for us to find seats for the four of us and all together. I had packed extra snacks and had frozen a couple pf bottles of water in case the day ended up getting hot. As the train started to fill we all started to get excited about our trip visiting Sintra
The train ride makes its way through some of the city and stopping at a few stations on the way before you fit the less populated areas and they are lovely. The train ride went quickly and before we knew it we had arrived at Sintra! We decided to use the town bus to get us to where we needed to go as it would be good for the girls. It had started to get pretty warm and we were both worried we would not be able to stay long if it got much warmer. We got our tickets on the bus and the driver was happy to help us with where we wanted to go. There are different routes to all the castles of Sintra so make sure you get the right bus for you. The buses are all really easy to get and are easy to find!
Castles of Sintra are fun for the whole family
We decided to head straight up to Pena Palace before the crowds got there as well. We purchased our tickets just outside the gate and paid a little extra to get the bus up to the Palace but we decided to walk back down when we were finished. There was still a small incline to get up to get right into the castle but seeing it right there in front of you makes you go that much quicker. The colours are so vibrant! I loved the gardens that were all around and the girls even stopped a couple of times to have a look at all the different plants that were growing along the way. I loved the big arches that we walked through and the tiled walls. It was like no other castle we had been to!
We stopped for our first family photo just at the top of the hill. I didn’t want to stop at all, there was so much to see! Even the girls were mesmerised by the castle! We spent some time walking around the outside of the castle along the tiny paths that weaved their way around the sides, getting some more pictures and taking in the most amazing views of the town below. It felt like if you could leap off the side of the building and fly all the way down back to Sintra itself, the drop on some of the sides was that steep! Although it was warm you could see why the royalty of the day relocated here as it was slightly cooler than in the town and there was always a slight breeze as we wandered. It was definitely cooler than it had been in Lisbon for the past few days. Everywhere you went you thought you had got the best photo only to go around another corner and be wowed all over again! And all this was before we had even gone inside!
The inside of the castle was also so light and airy. There were beautiful big, bright rooms that were so lavishly decorated. Most of the rooms and furnishings were left as the way they were from 1910 when the Portuguese Royalty fled the coming revolution. It was gorgeous and you could not wipe the smile from Willow’s face or mine for that matter! Willow’s favourite was the giant chandelier in the Noble Room. It was so magnificent and really dominated the entire room. I love the apartments of Queen Amelia myself and so did Marley! We both loved the sheer opulence of the room and her gorgeous furniture! It really was fit for a Queen! Every room felt so delicate with its decorations that I was very worried my two girls were going to feel so at home they would refuse to leave.
We toured the rest of the castle, although I did not want to leave such a gorgeous spot and stopped at the cafe for a bite to eat and a cool drink. It is located right up the top in the terrace and the views over the gardens again are magnificent! It is a real treat to sit in such a beautiful spot and enjoy a bite to eat and a drink. There was a good selection of things to eat and drink at pretty good prices. We then made our way back down to the bus stop. The walk through the garden was fantastic. It was an easy walk and the girls loved looking at more of the plants that were there. Even though it was warm the trees provided us with plenty of shade. Looking up at the trees I was simply amazed at their height. They seemed to go on forever and I could see why the royals loved it there so much. Willow loved the ponds with the beautiful water lollies in them once we got back down to the entrance The bus was quick to arrive and we stayed on it and did a full lap of the route that it was taking. The air conditioning was a blessing and the girls were more than happy to stay on for a full ride. We then ended up getting off in the town and we made our way to the National Palace of Sintra…but that is a story for another day! We look forward to heading back toexploring the castle of the moors and other Sintra attractions next time.
Family Travel Tip:
The town is well equipped for tourists so getting drinks and food it easy but I recommend taking some with you while you are going in between places.
Prams would easily be a geat way to get the little ones around in if you are both up for pushing it around. A baby carrier would also be great for the inside of the castle and the steep sections getting to Pena.
Our bus drivers were brilliant and they waited for us if they saw us rushing with the girls. They happily waited for a couple getting a pram onto the bus. I also found that later in the day the buses became busier and there was less room on the bus so be prepared to stand with your kids at some stage when getting to the castles of Sintra. Make sure you get your Sintra tourist map
We stayed at Lisbon Historic Centre Apartments. We loved the location and easy access to central Lisbon
Next up for us Spain, Portugal, Germany, Poland, Iceland, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. November 2016 - January 2017
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