Living in the real life fairy tale town of Sintra started with a royal healthy breakfast in the grand ballroom of Seteais Palace Hotel. Not to mention that there were only 4 guests having breakfast in such a big room, a couple in the table next to us and us. Not surprised since we were the first ones in when breakfast starts at 8 am. The first bus from the train station to Pena Palace is at 9:15 am (align with the opening time of the palaces and castles either 9:30 or 10:00 am) so plenty of time for us to enjoy our breakfast and have a morning walk to town to catch the bus. I am quite surprised that such a 5 stars hotel does not serve hot breakfast items but the varieties of fresh cut fruits were awesome:
The mangoes were so sweet that I couldn’t resist to go back for more! But how to fill my tummy with fruits? Thankfully, a basket of breads get us through till lunch.
We were starting to get used to breakfast with milk tea 🙂 After the not-so-filling breakfast, we walked to town and I timed…going downhill took us 17 minutes to get to the historic center bus stop. Few people already lined up there for the first bus coming from the train station. It was day and night….the bus was empty…we sat on the first row of seats! I purchased the “round trip” ticket for €5.00 per person and used that ticket for the full day 😉
The bus stopped at Moorish Castle first and as expected no one get off and then to Pena Palace right at the ticket gate. I pre-purchased the tickets and printed from home so I just hand to the gate agent to scan and we entered. Do not discard the ticket as you’ll go through multiple scans to get into the palace…reason is there are two types of tickets one for the ground/park only and one for both the ground and the palace interior. Be sure to grab a map as well, the palace ground covers the whole hill. It’s a long way uphill to get to the palace so for those who has difficulty walking, you can also take a bus to get up there at a cost…I didn’t check how much I think it was like €3.
Getting into Pena in the early morning not only with less crowds but it looked much more magical covered with mists and clouds! The long walk uphill wasn’t too bad with few stops to take photos like this, how mysterious!
Because of the clouds, we couldn’t see the palace from far so we had no idea how much further of a walk, we just keep going and following the signs…
OMG finally, we are there, look at the colors of the palace! it looked like it came out of a fairy tale book than real life!
Once we got up there, there were like less than 10 people there and made picture taking much more easier! We were pretty fast to move from corner to corner to get as much photographed before more people arrived. It was just magically! The little watch towers that you can climbed into, the bright colors of the palace, the details on the gates, entrance, and walls, unbelievable! Plus half covered by clouds, it was like in a fairy tale dream!
Within a few minutes, I declared Pena Palace officially become my favorite palace/castle overthrowing Neuschwanstein Castle!!! I think this is really hard to beat, if you know any palace/castle better than Pena, please do let me know!
The entrance gate incorporated Medieval and Moorish architectural style with a statue of this creature looking down at you.
Through that gate only get you to the back view of the caste, that’s not the entrance to the inside of the castle LOL! We walked back out and enter through the yellow building. Once again, our ticket was scanned. The interior wasn’t as fairy-tale as the outside is…..more like a Medieval castle:
The palace was a summer home for the royal family so the dining table size is just enough to fit the immediate family?
The bright red clock tower can be seen from the courtyard:
The bedrooms aren’t as lavish as I thought they would be.
Running shower…that I didn’t expect!
The details inside the palace weren’t as spectacular as Monserrate Palace that we visited the previous day, it was more simplistic. I do like this handrail:
More bathtubs with running water!
And more bedrooms, now more like royalty’s bedrooms!
In Portugal, those multi-drawers desk drawed my attention, later on we learned that some drawers have secret coding to open to access different spacing inside so secret documents can be hidden, interesting!
More cabinets carved out of wood:
A very old telephone!
Rooms after rooms, one of the queen’s bedroom lead out to this balcony with fantasy views of the palace!
At this point, day trippers have arrived!
Hum..one piece looked like a sun dial, what’s the other piece?
We walked back in and continued with more rooms…
And finally a room that I adored….it’s pink and the style reminded me of a wedding cake, don’t you think? I like those two unique lamps!
I wish I have a room like this 🙂
Next, we walked down to the ground floor where it must be the king’s hunting storage room!
Then to the HUGE kitchen!!! Wondering how many cooks it took to prepared a meal for the royal family? The kitchen is very open, clean, and bright, very different than other castles’ kitchens that I have seen.
That was the last room and we walked out for more photos:
It was much harder to have a photo without people by this time!
We did half a loop out the outer castle walls, it was still very cloudy so couldn’t see the town beneath.
The palace was built on a rock on top of the Sintra hill so in some area where you looked down between the palace walls, you’ll see this:
More and more day trippers arrived but the clouds have not cleared out yet….we were waiting for it to clear out but I guess it was just a cloudy day! Regardless cloudy or sunny, the palace is very beautiful to photograph!
There were moments of blue sky as the clouds were moving rapidly:
Isn’t this amazing?
Then you can see Sintra town beneath it:
The clouds quickly came back though!
Time to move on…we were thinking where were those postcard photos of the palace taken from that showed Pena Palace sitting on the top of the hill with clouds covering the bottom? It must be from a higher point! We pulled out the map and saw the highest place on this hill is the cross!
We decided to walk up there hoping for the postcard perfect photo! Let me tell you in advanced, do not waste your time! We barely see the palace on the hike up because the view was covered with trees so save your time and energy! Here are the photos for proofs LOL!
We were so starving by then and luckily saved by a can of Hawaiian Macadamia nuts from Jason’s last trip! Disappointingly, we walked all the way down to the exit gate and look at the ticket line now:
The bus only goes one direction train station – town center – Moorish Castle – Pena Palace – town center – train station so there was no bus that goes from Pena Palace to Moorish Castle. It wasn’t a bad walk to the Moorish Castle so no worries! Also to save time from getting back down to the town for lunch and come all the way back up again, you can either pack something to eat or eat at the Pena Palace cafeteria. We did not eat at the cafeteria so didn’t check out the price nor can comment the quality of the food there.
We arrived Moorish Castle, it was another long walk to the entrance of the castle wall:
There are restroom facilities at Moorish Castle:
The National Palace of Sintra can be seen from up here:
It was very cold and windy up here!
The Moorish Castle has a good view of Pena Palace when it’s clear but it’s still not the angle as in postcard hum….where those pictures taken from…probably from a helicopter?
We sat there and waited for the clouds to clear up but it didn’t happen so we heading down…
There was a long queue at the bus stop and when the bus arrived, there was not enough spaces to fit all so we had to wait for the next bus…which another 15 minutes or so… 😦 Meanwhile, I was searching on Jason’s phone for a “good” restaurant that served the Arroz de Marisco – Restaurante Regional de Sintra right next to the town hall. We took the bus to the train station and then walked to the restaurant. It was easy to find and no wait.
The waiter handed us a tablet…that’s the menu wow high tech!
Jason ordered the seafood rice of course! They offered one person portion and it was like €12 so not too bad! Jason was very happy that he missed this dish since we left Lisbon!
It wasn’t as flavorful as the ones we had in Lisbon but still good, better than the last meals we had in Sintra!
I wanted to try something new so I ordered the seafood omelette which was covered by a layer of cheese and wrap….it was light and not too heavy so I was able to finished the dish.
The full-filling late lunch was €26.50 quite reasonable and tasty!
After lunch, we walked all the way back to the National Palace of Sintra to tour it. Passed the town hall again:
The Sintra National Palace which I called the one with two cones!
A look back of the cute little town of Sintra:
This palace is the least extravagant among the palaces in Sintra.
The designer must have a love for swans and birds! The Swan Room:
See the two cones?
The birds painted on the ceiling known as the Magpie Room:
Nevertheless, decorated with tiles which is a characteristic of Portuguese architectures.
The secret drawers desk again!
The most impressive room in the palace: Blazons Hall! The contrast of the blue tiled wall arts and the golden dome were quite a unique combination!
The Chinese pagoda room:
More bird tiles:
The Arab Room:
I realized that the palaces we have toured, walking through rooms to rooms, the bedrooms are connected to other rooms so does that mean that in order to get to your room, you need to walk through others’ room? LOL!
And then the kitchen..now I see those two cones are real chimneys wow, what kind of food at they cooking here that required two huge chimneys?
And last not the least, this room has a beautiful chandelier!!!
This is the only time I agreed cell phone captures a better picture than DSLR since the huge contrast of light and dark!
We proceed to the garden, not a “green” garden like the other palaces since it’s in the town center…not sure the purpose of this hum…..
The little terrace has a good view of the town and the Moorish Castle right on top:
Right on the back of the palace, this house is vacant and falling apart:
You can see the town hall in the distance:
This is the smallest car we’ve ever seen!
What should we do that it’s not quite yet dinner time? I read that there’s a very famous bakery in SIntra – Piriquita so let’s check it out!
The place was super crowded and saw a screen calling out number…hum…where to get the number ticket? Found it!
It was so crowded that I couldn’t even see what to order…..and no English translation nor any name tag…I guess when it’s my turn I’ll just see what looks good and point to it LOL!
Although I read that one of Sintra’s signature dessert is called Travesseiros – a sweet puff, hopefully I can identify that! Finally my turn and Jason was taking a photo of me and saw this guy also pointing his camera at me, stalker :O
I pointed to 4 that looked good LOL, their Portuguese tart looked burned so I didn’t order it! There our dessert for tonight 🙂
We wondered around the town to browse the shops for souvenirs. We ended up buying two tile paintings as souvenir hehe.
Since we had a late lunch, we were no where near have appetizer for a full meal so we decided to have a light tapa dinner. I searched TripAdvisor again and found Tascantiga, it was hidden behind a backyard, down those flight of stairs! There’s a pink house, how cute!
This tapa restaurant, you can get a menu in this small window and then check out what you want to order, simple right?
It was too cold otherwise we would sit outside those cute chairs. What should we order?
Our light dinner: grilled shrimps, tuna salad dish, and marinated spare ribs.
They were okay of course not as good as the tapas we had in Seville nor as creative!
The light dinner cost €21.40 not too bad! Then, we walked a long way back to our hotel where we had some fun to take photos! Look, you can see Pena Palace from the entrance arch of the hotel:
With this beautiful unique green painted piano!
My day was not over yet, I had some work to do, work hard play hard!
Our 2nd day in Sintra, we visited the absolutely amazing Pena Palace, now my favorite palace/castle in the world, Moorish Castle, and the Sintra National Palace. Sintra has so much to see so it’s impossible to see it all in one day. Please consider staying a night or two in this lovely town! If you only can make it for a day trip, I would say go Pena Palace first then Quinta da Regaleria and during summer time with long day light hours, you may able to squeeze in Monserrate Palace; those are my top choices 🙂