Sightseeing at Walking Distance
Places that tell tales, some related to Quinta da Bella Vista
Palácio Monserrate & Gardens
1.5 km, 18 minutes walking, gate to gate
Palácio da Monserrate is an enchanting 19th-century palace located in the Sintra hills of Portugal, near the town of Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace is renowned for its eclectic architectural style, combining neo-Gothic, neo-Moorish, and neo-Renaissance elements. It is surrounded by stunning gardens, which are a perfect example of the Romanticism style, popular during the 19th century.
The palace was originally built in 1540 as a chapel, but in the 19th century, it underwent extensive renovations by Sir Francis Cook, an Englishman who purchased the property in 1856. The renovations transformed it into the picturesque palace we see today, influenced by various architectural styles from around the world.
The palace is nestled amidst lush and extensive gardens, featuring a diverse collection of plants from different continents. These botanical gardens were also created by Sir Francis Cook, who was a botany enthusiast. As you explore the grounds, you'll find rare and exotic plants, waterfalls, fountains, and decorative structures, creating a truly enchanting atmosphere.
The entire complex, including the palace and gardens, embodies the Romanticism movement, which was characterized by a fascination with nature, picturesque landscapes, and exotic architecture. Palácio da Monserrate perfectly captures the essence of this artistic and cultural period.
The palace's historical importance lies in its association with the Cook family, who played a significant role in the cultural and artistic development of Sintra during the 19th and 20th centuries. The Cook family restored and maintained the palace and gardens, ensuring their preservation for future generations.
Visiting Palácio da Monserrate offers an unforgettable experience, allowing you to explore a unique blend of architectural styles set amidst a lush and vibrant natural landscape. The palace and its gardens are a testament to the creativity and appreciation for nature that marked the Romantic era.
2.0 km, 28 minutes walking, at the center of the old town of Sintra
The Palácio Nacional (National Palace) of Sintra is a historic and iconic palace located in the heart of Sintra, Portugal. It is one of the most visited landmarks in the town and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with other cultural sites in Sintra.
The palace's architecture is a unique blend of different styles, reflecting the various periods of its construction and renovations. The original Moorish castle dates back to the early 9th century. Over the centuries, it underwent significant transformations, including Gothic and Manueline elements, resulting in a distinctive appearance. Its strategic location provided the monarchs with both a fortress and a royal residence.
One of the most recognizable features of the palace is the pair of enormous conical chimneys rising from the kitchen. These chimneys are iconic symbols of the Palácio Nacional and can be seen from various vantage points in Sintra. The palace has a rich history, having served as a royal residence for Portuguese monarchs from the early 15th century to the late 19th century. It was a favored summer residence due to its location in the cooler and scenic Sintra hills.
The interior of the palace features beautifully decorated rooms that reflect different historical periods. Notable rooms include the Swan Room (Sala dos Cisnes), featuring intricate ceiling paintings with swan motifs, and the Magpie Room (Sala das Pegas), adorned with colorful tiles depicting magpies. The most impressive room in the palace is the Sala dos Brasões (Coat of Arms Room) or the Manueline Hall. It boasts a magnificent domed ceiling adorned with intricate stucco work, and its walls are covered with the coats of arms of various noble families.
Quinta da Regaleira
1.1 km, 14 minutes walking, near the center of the old town of Sintra
Quinta da Regaleira is an enchanting 20th-century estate nestled within lush gardens and woodlands, a captivating and mystical estate located in the town of Sintra, Portugal, and a must-visit attraction. The main highlight of the estate is the beautifully designed and ornate Palácio da Regaleira, a neo-Manueline-style mansion that evokes a fairytale atmosphere.
As you explore the estate, you'll discover a network of underground tunnels, wells, and grottoes that add to its mysterious allure. The most famous feature is the "Initiation Well" (also known as the "Inverted Tower"), an impressive spiral staircase leading deep into the earth. It is believed to have been used for secret initiation rites and symbolizes a journey into the underworld.
Throughout the gardens, you'll find various symbolic structures, statues, and fountains, each with its own esoteric meaning. These include the "Fountain of Abundance," the "Portal of the Guardians," and the "Chapel of the Holy Trinity," all contributing to the spiritual and enigmatic ambiance.
The Quinta da Regaleira offers a magical and unique experience, blending architecture, nature, and mysticism. It's a great place to immerse yourself in Portuguese history, culture, and the intriguing world of secret societies. Make sure to set aside ample time to explore the gardens and unravel the mysteries hidden within this captivating estate.
Palácio Seteais, a relaxing stopover in your walk
850 m, 11 minutes walking, towards the center of the old town of Sintra
Palácio Seteais, also known as the Tivoli Palácio de Seteais, is a luxurious 18th-century palace located in Sintra, Portugal.
The palace was built in 1787 for the Dutch consul Daniel Gildemeester, who fell in love with the picturesque surroundings of Sintra. He commissioned the construction of the palace in the neoclassical style, with an elegant and grand design befitting his status.
In the early 19th century, the palace changed hands and was acquired by the Marquis of Marialva, a Portuguese nobleman. He expanded and renovated the palace, adding some of the decorative elements that can still be seen today.
Later on, the palace passed through various owners until it was acquired by the Brazilian millionaire António de Sommer in the early 20th century. Sommer made significant contributions to the palace's architecture and gardens, incorporating elements inspired by the Romanticism movement that was prevalent during that time.
In the mid-20th century, the palace was transformed into a luxury hotel, welcoming distinguished guests from all over the world. Today, Palácio Seteais is one of the most prestigious and opulent hotels in Sintra, offering visitors a chance to experience the lavishness and history of the past.
Sightseeing for Hikers
So many places to see, so little time
Palácio da Pena
4.1 km, 1 hour, 5 minutes uphill hike (quicker on the way downhill, back to our Quinta!)
Pena Palace, also known as Palácio da Pena, is a fairy-tale-like castle located in the hills of Sintra, Portugal.
Pena Palace was originally a monastery built in the Middle Ages and dedicated to Our Lady of Pena. However, after a massive earthquake in 1755, the monastery fell into ruin.
In the 19th century, King Ferdinand II of Portugal, a romantic and visionary monarch, fell in love with the site's stunning natural beauty and decided to acquire the ruins. He commissioned the German architect Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege to transform the remains into a romantic palace that would reflect the spirit of the Romanticism movement.
Construction of the new palace began in 1842, and the result was a magnificent and eclectic structure, blending various architectural styles, including Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic, and Neo-Renaissance. The exterior of the palace is adorned with vibrant colors, intricate stonework, and ornate decorative elements, making it a true architectural marvel.
The surrounding park and gardens were also designed with a Romantic aesthetic, featuring winding paths, grottoes, lakes, and a vast collection of exotic plants from around the world.
Pena Palace became the summer residence of the Portuguese royal family, offering them a retreat with breathtaking views of the Sintra Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1910, the Portuguese monarchy was overthrown, and Pena Palace was transformed into a museum, making it accessible to the public. Today, it is one of Portugal's most iconic and visited landmarks, attracting tourists from all over the world.
Visiting Pena Palace allows you to step into a world of fantasy and history, where stunning architecture and picturesque landscapes combine to create an unforgettable experience.
Castelo dos Mouros
4.5 km, 1 hour, 5 minutes hike, close to the Pena Palace
Castelo dos Mouros, also known as the Castle of the Moors, is a historic fortress located in Sintra, Portugal.
Castelo dos Mouros is a captivating medieval castle perched on the Sintra Mountains, providing stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Its history dates back to the 8th and 9th centuries when it was originally constructed by the Moors, a Muslim civilization, to defend the region.
The castle's strategic position atop a rocky hill made it a formidable defensive structure, allowing the Moors to monitor the landscape and maintain control over the area. It played a significant role during the period of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula.
In the 12th century, after the Christian Reconquista, the castle was conquered by the forces of King Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, as part of the effort to reclaim Portuguese territories from the Moors. Over the years, it underwent various modifications and expansions under different rulers.
Today, Castelo dos Mouros stands as a partially restored and well-preserved historical site, inviting tourists to explore its ancient walls, towers, and battlements. The castle's ruins offer a glimpse into the past, and as you walk along the sturdy stone walls, you can imagine the soldiers and inhabitants who once defended this impressive stronghold.
The castle grounds are surrounded by lush vegetation and offer breathtaking views of the Sintra landscape, including the nearby Pena Palace and the town below. It's an ideal place for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Explore more with the AllTrails app
Hikes for every taste, and every fitness level that can be found by clicking here.
Looking for the best hiking trails in Sintra? Whether you're getting ready to hike, bike, trail run, or explore other outdoor activities, AllTrails has 57 scenic trails in the Sintra area, including to Ursa Beach, pictured above. Enjoy hand-curated trail maps, along with reviews and photos from nature lovers like you. Explore one of 6 easy hiking trails in Sintra or discover kid-friendly routes for your next family trip. Check out some trails with historic sights or adventure through the nature areas surrounding Sintra that are perfect for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts at any skill level.