Around Christmas last year, I made a little trip to Portugal to see Lisbon, Sintra and Porto. If you haven’t been to Portugal yet, Sintra might not immediately ring a bell for you. Sintra is a region full of nature about an hour west of Lisbon, famed for its colourful palace, centuries-old castle and magnificent views. Naturally, it was a no-brainer for me to go there while staying in Lisbon, as it’s only € 5 for a round-trip train ticket to get there. Sintra did not dissapoint me, but definitely surprised me with extremely dense mist, making it impossible to get any view at all. Still, you will see why I did not mind it.
Getting to sintra
Sintra is extremely easy to reach from Lisbon. You can take a 1-hour train from the main station in Lisbon that’s direct and will drop you off right at the bus stop in Sintra. Here you can take a bus that drives you around the main sights of the region. The bus costs more than the train (it’s a bit touristy there during high season), but still only € 5 for a full round trip including one hop off-hop on.
”We could only spot the castle when we basically walked into its walls,,
A mistake I made was the fact that I went there the day before Christmas. In Portugal, the day before Christmas seems to be bigger than Christmas itself. The castle and palace closed down around 2 PM, making it impossible for me to see both. In the end I don’t think it mattered that much, as one of the main reasons to visit the castle is to get all the magnificent views. During a bright day, you can see over the dense forest for many miles and see one of the best sunsets of Europe (so I got told).
mist, mist and even more mist
As we arrived in Sintra, it was already clear that in terms of a nice view it was not going to be our lucky day. At some point we could literally only see 10 meters ahead. The palace of Sintra has lots of (north) African/Arabic influences and is therefore very colourful, almost making it look like a fairtytale castle that escaped from Disney World. However, we could only spot the castle when we basically walked into its walls. The mist was insane!
I have seen the pictures of the palace during sunny weather and I can tell it is very pretty and the views from the palace are even better. For me, it was not that special. We did a little tour inside the palace which was alright, but basically your typical castle. If you ever go there with mist as dense as it was for me, I would suggest not paying for a ticket to see the palace.
”The misty forest was mesmerizing. Wherever you looked, you only saw high trees wrapped into thick mist,,
a mysterious (scary?) forest
What was more interesting that day, was our walk through the dense forest surrounding both the castle, palace and town. The forest is high and even has some North-American Sequoia trees. The mist gave a mysterious vibe to the forest. It felt like one of those horror movies where a young couple gets lost and then eaten by scary cannibals. Luckily for me, my sister and a friend, we did not see any cannibals this time around.
The misty forest was mesmerizing. Wherever you looked, you only saw high trees wrapped into thick mist. Birds were quiet, leafs slowly swaying in the wind. I would not want to walk there on my own when it’s dark, but during the day it was absolutely magnificent. We climbed a hill to an old cross where you would usually have a 360 degrees panoramic view. In stead, we saw nothing but white/grey mist. Although I’m a tad jealous of other people I met in Lisbon that saw the region in full bright, sunny weather, I still feel like I am lucky that I saw it this way.
word of advice: train station old and shitty
The train from Sintra back to Lisbon gave us a big headache. The station of Sintra is old, very old. It turned out that the signs on the platforms did not work. We thought our train was not there yet, as the sign told us the train in front of us was going elsewhere. Even locals seemed confused. The moment we found out it was in fact our train, the doors closed and we had to wait for another hour. When you’re in Sintra, check whether you’re in the right train and don’t trust the signs on the platforms too much!