Sintra Free Tour
The World's Most Romantic Village
Our Sintra Free Walking Tour is much more than a guided tour inside a village, its ruins of an ancient past or its whimsical gardens. It is to travel into a fairy-tale. When we were young kids and fell asleep to stories of knights and fairies, dark subterranean caves and lurking creatures, all of these could be set in the misty forests and giant timeworn stones of Sintra.
Sintra is for many one of the world’s magical cornerstones, a place where the devotion to the Moon took place hundreds of years ago and where many argue that on special occasions at night secret ceremonies still take place today.
For anyone visiting Lisbon, this visit to an almost parallel universe is not to be missed. The architecture particularly from the Romantic period and the extravagant lush gardens were recognized by Unesco in 1995, classifying Sintra has as a World Heritage Site.
“Sintra was a gift taken from the Earthly Paradise by King Solomon to have it offered to the King of Portugal.” wrote the Portuguese XVI century play writer Gil Vicente.
Sintra’s urban structure is quite similar to the most ancient ones in Mediterranean Europe, places where Jewish, Arab and Christian culture peacefully coexisted for many centuries. A clear example of these ancient heritages, for instance, is the abundance of Arab influence names of the villages around Sintra and Cascais, like Almoçageme, Azóia or Mucifal.
Sintra is also unique for its geographical features. A secluded sanctuary placed at the foot of the Serra de Sintra, the village looks across the plateau to the sea several kilometres away. And it’s the maritime air masse that comes up from the Atlantic that lends the place its magical morning mist. Sintra’s micro-climate was made the most by King Fernando II, the Austrian born lord that married Queen Maria II and took Sintra as his own personal romantic project. While building the Pena Palace, King Fernando II planted botanical species from all over the world around the estate and today some of the oldest trees in Portugal are at the gardens of Monserrate, like the Australia One and the Japanese Sugi, a couple of 3 century-old astonishing trees.
Another of Sintra’s singularity is the number of Quintas that we will have the privilege to observe along our walking tour. During the XIX century, Sintra became the place of choice for the Portuguese and European elites. Many aristocrats and businessman elected Sintra and built palaces, manor houses, luxurious gardens and villas along the Serra de Sintra’s steep hills.
Each of Sintra’s buildings holds its very own singleness and all make of Sintra an architectural mosaic of different styles and expressions: The National Palace and the two chimneys visible almost from everywhere, the Seteais Palace and its hand-painted murals, the austere walls and the watchtowers of the Castelo dos Mouros, the fortress-like Lombard style Vila Sassetti, the black roofed Chalet Biester where Johnny Depp filmed the Ninth Gate.
Sintra’s exquisite mysticism
Of all these uncommon buildings, there is one that deserves a very special mention, the Quinta da Regaleira. If there is one place that honours Sintra’s many legends and ghost stories, this is it. The collection of symbols is vast and eclectic, both in the Palace and its gardens: Alchemy, Templars and other secret Christian Orders, Masonry, the Rosicrucianism, hidden Numerology and initiation wells. António Carvalho Monteiro, an eccentric businessman that made his fortune in Brazil, nicknamed the Million Monteiro, bought the estate in 1892 and with the help of Luigi Manini translated his personal mystical ideologies to stone and plants.
Many argue that Sintra is deeply connected with the birth of Portugal. After conquering Lisbon, Afonso I set his eyes on Sintra for its strategic location. After all, centuries earlier the Vikings had been here ignoring Lisbon altogether. With the help of his friend and Master Templar Gualdim Pais, they took the Moorish Castle only to find thousands of subterranean tunnels that crossed the Serra de Sintra. And it is not by chance that the king granted the Templar knight many lands in the area. The Templar Order, later to be called the Order of Christ. It is not a coincidence that Fernando Pessoa named Lady Filipa of Lancaster, the mother of Henry the Navigator, the Princess of the Holy Grail.
All these words, trust us, are meaningless when you finally arrive in Sintra. Our Sintra Free Tour the guide will take to beautiful scenic places while revealing the stories and legends of this one in a lifetime place. Hopefully by the end of the tour both your mind and body will be renewed.
The privileged location of Sintra means weather conditions are always a surprise. We recommend that you come prepared for the cold weather even during the Summer.
What will you see in Sintra?
Groups of 8 or more are always welcomed. In this case we require a prepayment of 10€ per adult and 5€ per youngster under 18.
Children under 14 are free of charge. This principle results from the need to protect and value the level of quality and dedication we demand of our Take Lisboa local guides.
To attend the Sintra Free Tour booking is required. Please note that the tour will only take place with a minimum of 5 adults.
We will go to Sintra by train from the Rossio Train Station. We meet at 9.40am and the train departs at 10am.
We will meet the group in Sintra at City Hall at 10.40am.
The waiting lines for tickets at the station are extremely long but there is another option for tickets: You can buy a Viva Viagem card and charge it at any metro station (zapping option, money charge and not trips or day cards).
This card is usable to go to Sintra and it just takes 5 minutes to do it, it is important to do it before arriving at the train station.