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Exploring the Vicinity of Lisbon: Sintra and Belém — Sintra Pena Palace

Exploring outside Lisbon: Sintra and Belém

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The warm Portuguese capital is an enthralling place to explore.

Lisbon has alluring historical districts, breathtaking panoramic views, unique cuisine, fado music and a lot more!

But, it would be a naïve mistake if the traveller wouldn’t dig a bit into the surrounding area – more exactly: visiting the nearby towns.

Specifically, Sintra and Belém are the two most exciting destinations from a plethora of choices that you have at your disposal.

Sintra is Set in a Fresh, Green Environment

The town of Sintra is found in a scenic forest-covered environment west of Lisbon. Its main attractions are its castles and palaces, but also the views from the mountain tops found nearby.

You can reach the town in 30-40 minutes by car or by train. It’s a popular day trip destination, and you can indeed see everything important in a single day.

Sintra’s attractions can keep you busy for an entire day and even two-three days – if you’d want to experience everything.

So, if your time frame is narrow, don’t leave before checking the recommendations and reviews – just head straight to the primary attractions.

Exploring the Vicinity of Lisbon: Sintra and Belém – Sintra Moorish Castle
Sintra Moorish Castle

The alluring, beautiful Sintra’s most prominent attractions are an ancient Moorish Castle (8th-9th century) and the colourful Romanticist Pena Palace (one of Portugal’s icons) – both built on mountain tops with breathtaking views and surrounded by a green forest.

You can see Lisbon in the distance – if the weather allows it!

The town’s architecture is also great checking out – it’s filled with cute little houses and a large number of Art Deco buildings. Today, it’s a retreat area of the wealthy Portuguese, some of whom own properties in the town.

Sintra is an ideal place for families and adequate for light mountain trail walks.

Belém Overflows with Historic Attractions

The other town, Belém shouldn’t be omitted from any visitor’s list. And, it’s even closer to Lisbon than Sintra is. A light urban rail or tram will get you there in 15-30 minutes, depending on your choice.

Similarly to Sintra, the small town of Belém has a profusion of attractions as well.

In case you’re planning a day trip, you should keep the “not to miss” places ahead of all others.

Exploring the Vicinity of Lisbon: Sintra and Belém – Belém Tower
Belém Tower

Shortly: the Belém Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries (dedicated to the Portuguese “Age of Discoveries”) are some of Portugal’s most important historically-relevant attractions. Under no condition should you miss out on them, if you have the time to reach Belém.

In fact, among Portugal’s top attractions are the three mentioned above.

Also, there is the National Coach Museum (with an impressive collection of old coaches), and the Museu do Combatente (a mostly outdoor military museum established inside an old fortress). Worth checking them out especially when you have more than just a full day at your disposal.

By visiting the town of Belém, you can get a taste of colonial Portugal, which was once the first global power and even controlled the Indian Ocean for a century.

Exploring the Vicinity of Lisbon: Sintra and Belém
Belém Jeronimos Monastery

The delicacy of the Jerónimos Monastery’s architecture will take you off your feet. Built in the Late Gothic Manueline Style, it’s a real gem of Portuguese architecture. It took a century to complete.

Inside, you will find the coffin of Vasco da Gama (the Portuguese explorer who discovered the sea route to India).

Last, but not least: don’t leave Belém before tasting the pastéis de nata (World-famous Portuguese egg tarts). Belém is their place of birth, although you’ll find them throughout Portugal, even in former Portuguese colonies like Macau and Brazil.

Guest Post by Escape Hunter – the mysterious incognito/anonymous traveller solo traveler in his early 30’s who explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for culture, love for freedom and diversity.

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