Sintra, Portugal

The next morning I planned to head up the Monchique mountain range to climb to the highest point of Foia. The only problem being, when I woke it was raining. But being from England I’m used to the rain so I went up anyway. After nearly an hours drive into the mountains, the last 15 minutes in thick fog, I arrived. I did accidentally turn into the military training zone as I couldn’t see the signs but they let me off. Once it the top, I got out of the car and realised just how bad the weather actually was. Not matter how much rain I was used to, I couldn’t see 5 metres in front of me so decided to give the walk a miss. However, I have heard that on a clear day the views are amazing! 

I headed off to the next stop of Sintra. 

Sat just outside of Lisbon, Sintra is a national park area with mountains and beautiful coastline and home to the Pena Palace.
I parked down at the bottom of the mountain as I was sure that by the time I had arrived at midday all the spaces close to the Palace would have been taken, and with a long one way system for access it would have been a very time consuming process. As I walked up to the Pena Palace I was very mistaken. I can only assume most visitors are coach trippers from Lisbon as there was plenty of space available. At least I got that walk in I wanted to do!

The Pena Palace was once an old monestry which had been renovated and extended by an old King back in the 1800’s. It is famous nowadays for it’s colourful appearance and beautiful gardens. 

Unfortunately it appears the whole of Portugal was under a cloud of thick fog on the day I visited so photos had to be timed with the wind for visibility. 

Afterwards,I walked over to Castelo dos Mouros, a Moorish Castle. I didn’t go in as the fog was starting to thicken so the views wouldn’t have been good. I would love to visit again with better weather! 

The next day I set out on a walk from Praia Grande to Cabo da Roca, a 5 mile walk along the cliffs. 

When arriving at Praia Grande however, the stairs up from the beach to the cliffs had been shut due to falling debris. So I drove to the next beach along, Praia da Adraga. From here the cliffs were easily accessible, I however was following my phone and not the signposts on the trail so I inevitably came off track and ended up having to climb down a very steep rock face onto Ursa Beach. Probably not one of my smartest moments, however it did make for good photos! The route up from the beach was a lot easier and eventually I made it to Cabo da Roca, the most Westerly point of Europe.

There is plenty of parking here (like the majority of places in Portugal) too if you didn’t fancy the trek cross country. 
The coastline here is a lot different than the one I experienced in the Algarve. The more rugged terrain is a lot greener and rougher.
I walked back following the signposted route this time and surprisingly it was a lot easier!

In the afternoon I went to Quinta da Regaleira an old Palace and gardens with waterfalls, wells and underground grottos. Possibly the most famous part of the gardens is Poco Inicatico, a well connected to underground caves. This place is truly magical and probably deserves to be part of a fairytale. From areas of the gardens you can also see amazing views of Castelo dos Mouros. I had a lovely relaxing afternoon walking the pathways and discovering all the hidden areas the gardens had to offer. 

Portugal has been a fabulous trip with a lot of hidden gems I had never heard about until arriving. Their local delicacies have been super yummy too. I would definitely recommend a trip here to anyone! 

Sintra, Portugal

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About The Author
- Karen Dawes is 26 years old from Manchester, England. She is an accountant by profession with a passion for travel. She has visited most countries in Europe and is working her way around the rest of the world.