We picked up a rental car at the airport and headed out of Lisbon for a short drive to Sintra. I had been focused on the Pena National Palace and the village (which I thought was much closer to the Palace) but Annelise suggested a garden – the Gruta do Labirinto which ended up being the most interesting place we visited in Sintra. The other key site in Sintra is a Moorish Castle from the 1000’s.
We stayed in a great AirBNB – but Sintra could have been a day trip on the train from Lisbon and if you are looking to avoid transitions that would be a good way to see the city. We had a nice dinner there – but no compelling reason to stay in Sintra instead of Lisbon.
Because of the narrow streets and lots of traffic – the road system has been converted to a one-way system – it makes sense but takes a long time to go anywhere. If you miss a turn, it is 10 miles around the mountains to get back to the same point. The sites are spread out – we hired a Tuk Tuk again to get us around on our initial visit to get acclimated which include driving up about 1,500 feet in elevation.
The National Palace has a similar vibe as Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany – built in the 1800’s by rulers who were literally trying to show off. One interesting thing he did was to plant trees from all over the world – so 80% of the trees are about 200 years old and non-native.
Although you could find places to retire here – a bit touristy and limited public transportation options.