Sintra, Lisbon is not to be confused with the famous American singer and actor, Frank Sinatra. Sintra is a town and municipality in Greater Lisbon and is famous for its collection of truly artistic Romanticist architecture, palaces, and other architecture. It is home to around five palaces and a dizzying number of other noted buildings and structures.

Sintra is regarded as the finest day trip in the greater Lisbon area. There are many things one can do in Lisbon during a long layover, but to really see Sintra, one should spend a few days in Lisbon. While in Lisbon, learn about Portugal's pioneering role in the Age of European Discovery by visiting the iconic Tower of Belem.

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What Makes Sintra So Architecturally Unique and Appealing

"In the 19th century Sintra became the first centre of European Romantic architecture. Ferdinand II turned a ruined monastery into a castle where this new sensitivity was displayed in the use of Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish and Renaissance elements and in the creation of a park blending local and exotic species of trees."UNESCO

Sintra has many historic attractions and is one of the top tourist destinations in Portugal. Here one will find palaces, castles, parks, gardens, and scenic Atlantic Coast Beaches. The historic center of the Vila de Sintra is famous a collection of landmarks including the medieval Castle of the Moors, the Pena National Palace, the Portuguese Renaissance Sintra National Palace, and many others. Not to mention a palace with underground "towers."

The area is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also home to one of the largest foreign ex-pat communities in the region. For those thinking of moving to Portugal, it is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the country.

  • History: See Neolithic, Roman, Moorish, and Portuguese Architecture and Heritage

One can find a good deal of history in Sintra. While it is famous for its Moorish and Romance history, one can find Neolithic history (like the Barreira Megalithic Complex) and Roman history - including bridges and dams (like the Roman Bridge of Catribana and the Roman Dam of Belas).

Related: Alfama Is One Of Lisbon's Oldest Neighborhoods, And This Is Why It's Worth Exploring

A Town Of Five Artistic Palaces

There are no less than five palaces in Sintra and all of them are very different from each other. These are all sights that really can't be missed.

National Palace of Pena:

Considered one of Europe's finest palaces, the National Palace of Pena is iconic for its vividly painted exterior and stunningly restored interior. It is one of the greatest expressions of 19th-century Romanticism anywhere in Europe. It is still used on state occasions by the President of the Portuguese Republic and by other government officials.

  • Built: By King Ferdinand II
  • Opening Hours Palace: Every day From 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM (Last entry 6:00 PM)
  • Opening Hours Gardens: 9.00 AM to 7.00 PM
  • Adult: 14 € - Aged 18 – 64 years

Quinta da Regaleira:

Quinta da Regaleira must be one of the most unique palaces in the world. It is an artistic palace like none other with caves, underground passageways, and wells that resemble subterranean towers. The gardens are one of the palace's main attractions (and under them are the secret passages). There is mysticism in its design with the "underground tower" being a Knights of Templar initiation well.

  • Designed: by The Italian Architect, Luigi Manini
  • Inverted Towers: Serve To Connect The Tunnels & Caves
  • Self Guided Tour: 10.00€ ($11.00)
  • Guided Tour: Extra 9.00€ ($10.00)
  • Duration of Tour: 90 Minutes

Related: A Travel Guide To Portugal: Tourists Should Plan Their Trip Around These 11 Things

The National Palace of Sintra

The National Palace of Sintra is the medieval original palace of the town and was a favorite with the early Portuguese rulers. Today it is a historic house museum and is the best-preserved medieval royal residence in the country.

  • Status: Museum Open To The Public

Palace of Queluz

The Palace of Queluz was built in the 18th century and is the last great Rococo building designed in Europe. It was built as a summer retreat and was even used as a discreet place to incarcerate Queen Maria as she descended into madness.

Monserrate Palace

The Monserrate Palace is more of a palatial villa near Sintra and was a summer resort for the Portuguese court. It is an Arab-inspired villa famous for its intricate latticework stone carvings as well as its tranquil gardens. It is even a place to escape some of the worst of the tourist crowds that flock to Sintra.

These are only a few of the many more incredible attractions in Sintra. Take time to also discover the Castle of the Moors, the Sanctuary of Peninha, the Convent of the Capuchos, and so many more.