Portugal Part 2: Sintra + Algarve Coast


Day 89: Sintra, Portugal

After a wild weekend in Porto, we landed back in Lisbon to rest up for the night before stepping back in time to a magical land…

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Whether you like pretending you are a princess or a knight, castles bring out the child in all of us. Europe is known for having some spectacular castles, and Sintra Portugal is home to a few exceptional ones. 

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Our day of castle exploring began by taking the commuter train from Lisbon to Sintra. It’s an easy 40 minute ride that takes you towards the west coast of Portugal. 

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Upon arriving, we immediately dropped our bags off at our hostel and began our walk to the first stop: Quinta da Regaleira.

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We spent two hours wandering around the park and its various paths, caves, wells, and palaces. 

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Apart from the stunning architecture and gardens, most fascinating part of the property was the wells, which were more like inverted towers. Walking down the spiral staircases felt like we were part of a movie set. 

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After leaving Quinta da Regaleira we hired a tuk tuk to take us on the 10 minute ride to our next destination—the castle that was said to have inspired Walt Disney:

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Pena Palace sits on top of a small mountain that overlooks the beautiful countryside and town of Sintra. It is safe to say this palace took our breath away. 

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The palace consists of two colors which represent the portion built to be a monastery and the additions to be a royal residence. The monastery was originally constructed in 16th century, with the palace addition being completed in the 19th century.

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Every turn while exploring the courtyards and palace grounds brought amazing new views.

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After reluctantly leaving the Pena Palace which was easily our favorite place in Sintra, our last stop of the day took us to The Castle of the Moors. 
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Situated on a close by neighboring hilltop to Pena Palace, this castle had a classic medieval feel. 

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Built in the 8th and 9th centuries, it was a critical location to protect the central Iberian peninsula. It changed hands several times over the centuries, and was severely damaged in the earthquake of 1755. The parts still standing allow you to walk along the top of the wall and experience the breathtaking views. 

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It was a whirlwind of a day trying to squeeze all three places in before sunset, but Sintra is one of our favorite places with its beauty, landscape, and castles. If anyone is visiting Portugal, visiting Sintra is a must. 

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Day 91-92: Portimão, Portugal

The day after Sintra we were back in Lisbon to catch another bus down to Portugal’s famed Algarve coast.

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Located along the southern tip of Portugal where the Atlantic waters mix with the Mediterranean, the Algarve coast is a region comprised of clifftop cities and villages atop stunning rocky beaches.

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With only a few days before we had to head to Spain, we identified our top beaches and made a plan to hit as many as possible along the way.

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On our first day we walked down to Portimão’s main beach—Praia da Rocha. There were plenty of touristy areas, but if you walked far enough in any direction you could easily find caves and grottoes like this:

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Feeling a bit adventurous, we decided to rent a moped the second day to visit some of the farther beaches.

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On this day we stopped in Praia da Marinha, Praia de Benagil and Praia do Carvoeiro. Cruising through the countryside, hiking for hours along the beach, stopping by fruit stands and sangria cafes—it was possibly our top day in Portugal.

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Day 93: Lagos, Portugal

On Friday we caught another bus to Lagos for a quick stop at just a few more beaches. We found trails along the cliffs with views that left us speechless, and hiked for hours to the southern peninsula to watch the sunset.

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And took advantage of the scenery for impromptu photoshoots, of course.

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Photo of the day:

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It was our last sunset in Portugal—a country that exceeded our expectations and blew us away at every turn. We will miss you dearly and hold onto your memories forever.

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Stay tuned for the video 🙂

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12 thoughts on “Portugal Part 2: Sintra + Algarve Coast

  1. How fun! Is it crowded this time of the year? How’s the weather? How about the food … are there many vegetarian options?

    1. Not many crowds when we went on a Tuesday (staying until closing also helped). Weather wasn’t bad, a bit cool and rainy at times but we stayed dry during the day. Plenty of options for food as well — lots of healthy (& affordable) fruits and veggies in Portugal and Spain so far!

  2. These images made me check the date of expiration on my passport…I want to wander there, you have rendered it so GORGEOUS!
    btw, could you give me details on the “inspired Disney” comment, were you told this about the the castle, or just the architecture in general of this area? 🙂

  3. Such pretty photos. I really have to say that I appreciate your blog links to the Wikipedia pages about fun and amazing sights and things we should know more about. Like a history lesson on the go! Of course, this is coming from one who minored in history in college ( guess I just can’t help myself, I love history! ). I am spending way too much time on little sidelines like looking up places you are going to, reading about them, and finding them on a map! 🙂

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