This week I turned 21 (say what!!) and for my birthday my family arranged a trip to Lisbon. It was my first time in Portugal and I have to say, as far as first impressions go, its charm has definitely captured my heart.
We spent the first in Portugal on a day trip to Sintra, a stunning pastel-coloured town tucked away in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains. Everyone I had spoken to prior to visiting, had told me that Sintra was a must-see and I can see exactly why.
This regal sanctuary within its forested terrain, is home to many UNESCO world heritage sites, including the medieval Castelo dos Mouros, Sintra National Palace and the picture perfect Pena National Palace.
Connections from Lisbon to Sintra are very easy and affordable, with trains leaving from Rossio railway station in central Lisbon, everyday between 6am-12am and costing €2,15 one way (€4,30 return). You will need to purchase a reusable ‘Viva Viagem’ public transport ticket, which costs €0.50 and can be used on buses, metro, trams and trains. Make sure you keep hold of these paper cards as you can top them up again and by doing so will save yourself the €0.50 fee for a new card each time.
Day 2 started with tasting the traditional Lisboeta pastry, pastel de nata, before heading into downtown to check out the views and do some exploring. We were fortunate enough to have met a lovely young man from Lisbon on our plane ride, who kindly showed us around his beautiful city.
The final day was an early start, heading to Belém to catch a glimpse of its famous tower in the early morning sun. We hopped back onto the train and headed westwards towards Carcavelos, one of the less ‘toursity’ beach towns, where we soaked in the sun before reluctantly making our way back to Lisbon to catch our flight later that evening.
Although I left this beautiful idyll unwillingly, I don’t plan to stay away for too long. The genuine warmth and openness of the people, the enchanting towns, and fresh air are all you need to be tempted back.