Beyond Lisbon: Discover Fairytale Sintra and Beach-Chic Cascais with Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon
There’s no denying Lisbon’s charm, but for an even richer experience,
A 30-minute drive inland, Sintra sits atop pine-covered hills that protrude into the ocean. Its unique microclimate has resulted in dense exotic foliage and cooler temperatures that have attracted royalty and nobility for centuries, so much so that Sintra exists today as a "magical kingdom" of pastel-turretted castles that leave one feeling like a child wandering through the pages of a fairytale.
Sintra’s winding cobbled streets are towered over by multi-coloured Palácio Nacional da Pena that boast Neo-Gothic, Manueline, Moorish and Bavarian architecture. The fantasy setting extends into gardens that burst with hidden grottoes and caves, shimmering fountains and ornate sculptures. Don’t forget to try Piriquita’s famous travesseiros (flaky pastries) and Fábrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa’s goat’s cheese and almond cakes and absorb the bygone beauty and romantic enchantment.
Departing Sintra, the coast road winds west to the windswept Cape Roca – the most westerly point of continental Europe. The rugged ocean views from the lighthouse are as picturesque as it gets, though be warned, it can get a little breezy at the very edge of the continent.
Continue past stunning dunes and the surfing mecca of Guincho to Cascais: a Hamptons-style fishing port turned uber-luxe seaside resort that melds classic beach charm with an unmistakable joie de vivre. Marvel at summer residences splashed with vibrant bougainvilleas along the cliffs and sandy coves. Dine on traditional cataplana (dishes) and local favourite peixe ao sal (salted sea bass), in restaurants facing the ocean waters – all served with a side order of Atlantic Ocean views. Or rub shoulders with a year-round flow of glitterati, drawn to a world-class schedule of sporting and music events from sailing regattas and the Millennium Estoril Open tennis to July’s EDP Cool Jazz festival.
In case an extra incentive is needed,
Sintra and Cascais Day Trip at A Glance
- Palácio National de Sintra (National Palace of Sintra) – Portugal’s oldest royal palace, featuring azulejo-smothered interiors
- Palácio National de Pena (Pena National Palace) – storybook, ice-cream-coloured turrets and magical hilltop location
- Quinta da Regaleira (Regaleira Palace) – lavish Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance architecture and extraordinary garden wonderland with underground tunnels and caves, towers, fountains and wells
- Palácio de Monserrate (Monserrate Palace & Park) – eclectic, extravagant villa with beautiful grounds featuring lake, springs, grottoes and rare plant species
- Praia da Rainha and Praia da Conceição – perfect for swimming and sunbathing
- Praia da Ribeira – for watching traditional fishermen and the chance to eat the fresh catch from traditional cataplana (dishes) at the water’s edge
- Casas das Histórias – contemporary museum devoted to the London-based Portuguese artist Paula Rego
- Santini Gelati Fini – unmissable ice-cream, the favourite of King Juan Carlos I of Spain