Hop on a quick train from Lisbon, and in 40ish minutes, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a town called Sintra. Although the train station may be deceiving and it seems like you’re just being dropped off in the middle of a cute town, if you just look up, you can see the castles on mountain tops surrounding you. The next step is trying to get to these castles. Some (more daring souls) may decide to walk to the top of these mountains to visit the castles, although Kyle and I might suggest against this because not only is everything going to take you over an hour to walk uphill, but the roads to get to the top of the mountains are switchback roads where cars, tuk-tuks, and giant coach buses are cruising down them.
We opted for the cheaper and the more affordable route of an Uber ride. We got there pretty early in the day since we only had one day for Sintra on our itinerary. The entire reason that Kyle and I went to Portugal in the first place was because Kyle wanted to see some of the features in Quinta da Regaleira.
It’s the most historic feeling of the three castles. With underground caves, secret passageways, and winding trails, this was by far both Kyle and my favorite of the three castles. Kyle was like a little kid on a playground exploring and running around shouting “Look at this!” You could feel his excitement, and as a nature lover myself, I felt myself wanting to scream of joy as well.
The top picture looks like a giant well in the ground, but really there is pathways and walkways and underground tunnels. Those specs at the bottom of the “well” are people and we were looking at them from above. To climb the “well” -like feature, you must climb the narrow spiral staircases that should be made for 1 person but some people are coming up as you are going down and it gets rather tight in there, but it was one of the most interesting things Kyle and I saw in Portugal. The second coolest feature were the underground tunnels and caves.
We were not expecting these to be here, but then again, who really is ever expecting underground tunnels and caves when just casually strolling around?
After enjoying our splendid cave and forest adventure, we took time inside the castle itself and it was quite stunning with all of its balconies and decorations in the rooms. There was even this cool lion that Gretel tried to imitate.
The next step was onto Pena Palace. This was Gretel’s dream place to visit, although she ended up loving Quinta Da Regaliera more, Pena palace was beautiful but in an entirely different way.
From the bright colors to the numerous balconies, it was no wonder that Kyle declared that he was going to be the next Queen of Portugal (because this is where she lived in the past). When you look down and off of the castle, you realize that you really are above the clouds. The Queen was really able to look over her people in the past.
You could totally tell this was the favorite castle of the other tourists by the crowds, but to be fair, it was the most eye-catching in photographs, which would likely have led them (and Gretel) to visit this beautiful site.
Finally, we decided to venture onward to our last castle of the day. Despite some confused Uber drivers, and our hangry attitudes, we finally made it there and the views were spectacular. This was the Castle of the Moors.
This castle had another spectacular view looking down over the countryside. The altitude was so high, I was struggling to catch my breath, but that didn’t deter me from climbing to the highest point of the castle.
I couldn’t believe that this was a functioning castle and fortress at one point in time. This castle really made me feel like I was going back to the past, which was quite the adventure. This castle also made me realize how lucky I am to have Kyle in my life. This boy puts up with just about everything, but he consistently faces his biggest fear of heights with me whenever we travel, and he doesn’t let this stop me from seeing everything I’ve ever dreamed of seeing.
It’s so important to travel with people that have the same flow as you. From climbing mountains to claiming to be the Queen of Portugal, I know I have the best travel partner for me out there and I’m lucky to have experienced my Sintra experience with my explorer by my side.