Summer in Sintra – Castle of the Moors & Pena Palace

The days are short and cold; the nights are long and cold…… and I’m reminiscing about the few days I spent in Sintra, Portugal over the August Bank Holiday Weekend.

Sintra is part of the region known as the Portuguese Riviera, about 35 minutes away from Lisbon City. Sintra is known for its historical romantic palaces and its picturesque town centre. 

While I went to Sintra for a friend’s wedding, it was essentially a solo trip. I was slightly nervous; all of my recent trips have been with friends or family. However I had visited Lisbon and Cascais within the last 12 months (you can read about it here), so I was familiar with moving around Lisbon.

I hit the ground running as a solo tourist – my hotel room wasn’t quite ready so I thought I would explore the town centre which was a ten minute walk from my hotel. The intention would be that after an hour in the town centre, I would check-in and relax… I actually ended up exploring the Castelo dos Mouros (the Moorish Castle/Castle of the Moors) and Pena Palace, which was quite a feat considering I had been up since 3am…..

While I stayed in Sintra, many people were visiting Sintra for the day from Lisbon; I mean a lot of people. The station was constantly busy as was the bus stop, especially as the buses could get tourists to the town centre, the palaces and the coastal towns (Estoril & Cascais). I waited almost 25 minutes in a queue for a bus; it was in the queue that I decided that it would be better to visit a castle or two and leave the town centre for another day……

I first visited the Castle of the Moors which is a hilltop medieval castle. It was built in the 8th/9th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Castle is vast, with many viewing points.

The views from the top were amazing; it was high Summer with blue skies so I could see for miles, which included the sea and Lisbon city on the horizon. There was also a pretty strong breeze blowing, which served a “gentle” reminder that the Castle while made of stone was exposed and anything stronger than the breeze could easily send me over…..

Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace) is within walking distance from the Castle and can be clearly seen from a few of the Castle’s viewing points. It is also situated on a hilltop and is known for its bright colours of orange and red, evermore vibrant against the clear blue sky. I also explored inside the Palace which is a museum in itself; there were many small rooms and it was the Summer residence of the Royal Family.

By the time I got to my hotel to check-in it had just gone past 7pm! I stayed at the Sintra Bliss House which was a 5 minute walk from Sintra train station and bus stop, as well as about 10 – 12 minutes’ walk to Sintra Town Centre. I loved my time at this hotel; despite Sintra being overrun by tourists, it was intimate and high quality; the staff were so friendly and helpful. 

I was so grateful that I wore my trainers to travel to Lisbon and that I did not decide to change them when I got to Sintra. It was hot and I ran the risk of incurring minor tan lines ahead of the wedding, but my running trainers with my running socks were saviours for my feet, especially to the amount of walking (and minor hiking) that I had to do!

Any concerns that I had with regards to solo travelling vanished as soon as I touched down in Lisbon. I had so much fun exploring the sites by myself; I was aware of my surroundings and felt safe. My only concern was that there might be a chance of rain on my friend’s wedding day….


  1. I love the idea of travelling and exploring solo, I would love to do that someday. Portugal in general sounds like such a fun country to visit. I love the history and the buildings, you took gorgeous pictures! xx
    Coco Bella Blog

  2. Looks like it was quite an adventure. Beautiful pictures.


Thanks for taking the time to read my post and leave a comment; I will endeavour to check out your blog as well x

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