Winter is finally here and the cold is starting to get to us with each passing day. It was at this point that my husband and I decided to venture to somewhere warmer for a short holiday. Googling “warmest place in Europe during the winter” led us to Lisbon. It was perfect! We have heard so many wonderful stories about Lisbon from our friends and now is the best chance to head there! When we touched down in Lisbon, we heaved a sigh of relief as we were greeted with a cheery and sunny weather - we could finally take a break from the gloomy winter weathers!
Lisbon, to us, is a city with lots of photographic hot spots! The balanced mix of traditional facade with modernised architecture had without fail made the landscape of Lisbon much more mesmerising! Many of its iconic structures have also been shown to withstand the trial of time and still looked as fascinating as ever.
|Padrão dos Descobrimentos|
The main highlight for this travel is a day trip to Sintra, a beautiful town which is just a 40 minutes train ride from Lisbon. Interestingly, Sintra was never part of this trip’s itinerary as my husband and I had just wanted to spend a quiet and relaxing weekends exploring Lisbon. However, just a day prior to our departure, we came across several websites that strongly recommended a trip to Sintra. We were so glad that we decided to heed their advice despite the tight schedule as Sintra offered a glimpse of another facade of the Portuguese charm!
The trip to Sintra was relatively simple and straightforward. We started off the day by taking the morning train from Rossio station to Sintra station (the final stop). Once we arrived at Sintra, we joined the queue for bus 434 which offers a one-directional loop starting from the train station through to the town (where the National Palace and Quinta da Regaleir are located) and then to the hills (where the Pena Palace and Moors Castle are located) before arriving back at the train station. We got the single loop ticket and were allowed to hop on and hop off the bus three times during the day. This bus route through the hilly Sintra has definitely made it easier for us to visit the sites more efficiently!
|Pena Palace as seen from the ticketing counter down the hill...|
|Entrance to Pena Palace|
Due to time constraints, we had to be selective about which sites to explore. We decided to invest more time at Palacio da Pena (or Pena Palace) and Quinta da Regaleira. After buying our admission tickets at the entrance, we had to climb up a short slope to reach Pena Palace. Even before entering the palace, we could tell that it was quite different from the other palaces that we had visited before. The colourful and striking mix of bright yellow and red, decorative fortification walls and elegant design made it seemed like it belonged in the fairytale world! There were many instagram-worthy spots in all corners of the palace and it was certainly a joy to just forget about everything and immerse in the beauty of the palace!
|The decorated windows in Pena Palace|
After exploring Pena Palace, we took bus 434 to the town followed by a short walk to Quinta da Regaleira. It is an UNESCO site that encompasses the Regaleira Palace, the Regaleira Chapel and a park with an extensive system of tunnels, wells, lakes and fountains within its boundaries. One can certainly spend the entire day here just wandering about the different areas of this site! I was particularly drawn to the initiation well (or inverted towers) and cannot help but marvel at the design of it. The view, be it from the top of the well to the bottom or vice versa, was certainly spectacular and one can only be in awe by the amount of details and thoughts placed into the design of the well as one walks through the spiral stairway of the well!
|The initiation well as seen from the bottom of the well..|
It was a weekend well spent in Lisbon and Sintra and we were glad to be able to be able to experience the warmth (in terms of the weather, the cheery monuments, food as well as hospitality of the locals) in the midst of this gloomy and cold winter period. We will certainly be back to explore more of the Portuguese landscape in the future!