Just me and my backpack, gazing over Sintra, Portugal.
Portugal was a breath of fresh (WARM) air!!! We have been freezing our arses off in England, Scotland, and Amsterdam and the only thing keeping us California girls going was the thought of Portugal’s warm beaches.
You better believe I ran straight towards the water after getting off the plane✈. I was ready to cannonball into the warm……. oh wait…. Portugal’s water is BONE-CHILLING COLD!!! 🌊😨😭
No matter, I still forced myself in and battled the playful waves.
Our first day consisted of finding our hostal, going to the super-market, getting our transportation passes, figuring out the beaches, and exploring before taking a chill night in. (We have been traveling for 16 days straight and manage 5 hrs of sleep a night.)
We made eggs, rice, and soy sauce for dinner because we wanted to eat like backpackers for a night. Cheap and quick! We ate and sang to old 90s r&b and pop to cap off the night.
Day 2: Train to Carcavelos Beach!
We hopped on the train with a million other young kids and got to the beach that someone in our hostel suggested. I give this beach a B +! It’s great for views, shops, and people watching, but the water, like I mentioned, is ICE COLD!
I bought myself a silver seashell anklet on the beach from a vendor. What a sweet man! He told Monica that she couldn’t be from the US because she looked Chinese. I laughed so hard. He gave us free, matching rainbow bracelets too.
We got drinks at a cafe overlooking the water. The piña colada I got was so strong, I got so tipsy! I must have been dehydrated.
What a beautiful, much needed beach day.
Day 2: Sintra!
I was going to take the train and explore Sintra by myself, but I showed Monica photos and she thought she would miss out if she didn’t see it too. AGREED!
Sintra was my favorite part of Portugal. From charming, little houses to tall, beautiful mountains with castles perched on top, this city has it all!!
Stop 1: Castelo Dos Mouros
Thank god we came to this castle first because if we had come at the end, we would’ve had no energy to climb to the top! It basically looks like a mini Great Wall of China hidden atop the forested mountains of Portugal.
This is the walkway that you climb to the very top on the other side. Impressive, right?!
Imagine that you are climbing thousands of rocky steps, high above the clouds. There is no railing on one side, and a jagged wall you can lean on on the other side. It was an adventure for sure! I hike all the time, and I was out of breath at the very top. DAMN did it feel good to get there though! In the background, you can see Palacio Pena, which was my next stop.
The views are stunning and the Indiana Jones-ish adventure to get to the top was a highlight for my life. Amazing. Once in a lifetime!
Next stop: Palacio Pena
The Castle is all kinds of quirky and cool! I overheard a tour guide say that this Castle is unlike every castle in Europe because the designer was a painter. He wanted to inject personality and whimsy into the building. I am all about the colors!!
We took a little safari-looking truck for 3 euros to the top. After all that climbing, our feet were killing us. 10/10 would recommend that bus.
We explored it for a solid 45 minutes to an hour. It’s honestly not that big and not much to see except for the outside. We couldn’t find how to get in so we just took fun photos on the parts you could climb.
You knew I was a princess, didn’t you?! 👸 Can you spot me?
This Palace was the whole reason I came to Sintra, and while it was beautiful and the views were stunning, I liked our next stop, La Quinta del Regaleira, the best!
Next Stop: La Quinta!
This by far was the coolest, eeriest, most mystical place in Sintra. We stopped for a Pastel De Nata, a MUST TRY when coming to Portugal, and grabbed a Tuk Tuk to the top of the mountain.
Pastel de Nata is a creamy, egg custard in a flaky pastry. I could eat about ten. I only had 2. They’re very tiny actually, this is a close up!
The Tuk Tuk felt very Indiana Jonesy too! We whipped through the jungle so fast! There’s a crazy video on my twitter, @spottheredhead , if you want to see more of the wild ride!
This beautiful place is covered in trees, gardens, fountains, mystical ponds, and jungle growth. I would spend at least 1-2 hours here, all day if time allowed!
It’s a very romantic place!❤
So, the whole reason for coming here was THE TOWER! I have been dreaming of seeing this in person for so long!
I climbed the narrow, dark stairwell to get to the top of the tower. I could feel the dripping water splashing on my face and the place smelled like that pirates of the carribean, misty water kind of smell. All of a sudden, boom, I got to the windows and saw the moss covered tower. WOW!
At the bottom, there was an acapella group singing All you need is Love by the Beatles, which echoed through the tower so beautifully.
Best. Part. Of. The. Day.
We grabbed the train back to Lisbon and met the nicest couple from California, Susan and Glen. Hi!!! We absolutely underestimated the amount of walking we were going to do that day. Way over 30,000 steps. 💙🌞
My last day in Portugal is one I explored on my own. I’ll just give you a photo diary:
I absolutely loved Portugal. The food was delicious, the people were so friendly, and the views are amazing. That said, I’m ready for Spain! Next up: Pamplona, Barcelona, and Ibiza.
We took a midnight train to Georgia, okay, actually Pamplona, and that was an experience! Read about it on my next blog!
Spot you soon,
Follow me on twitter @spottheredhead and instagram @spot_the_redhead and say hi!
4 thoughts on “Portugal: Which castles to see, which beaches to check out, and what to eat!”
The castle is so c ute, with all the colours! Can’t wait for your take on Spain since it’s on my bucket list 🙂
Thanks! It was a great castle, I really enjoyed the quirky colors. Blog of Spain coming out soon, I really loved Barcelona!