Portugal: Lively Lisbon & Sunny Sintra

By Kate Riley July 26, 2019

When my travel mate and I booked our 10 day trip to Portugal we knew we wanted to visit the capital city and also the charming adjacent town of Sintra everyone writes about. We left the Algarve region after a few days of adventure there and hopped on a four hour train ride to Lisbon where we checked into our Airbnb apartment then headed out to explore.

We had no agenda on arrival, all we wanted to do was walk around the cities, see the trams, eat good food, listen to the famous Fado music, and taste some local wine.


We quickly learned there are several ways to get around the historic parts of town. Locals use trains, scooters and buses, tourists ride the tram or hire a tuk-tuk. We walk because we like the city to slowly unfold, to reveal itself street by street. Lisbon is a walkable city, just be prepared for hills and a guaranteed quad workout. :) The famous Alfama district has streets that meander but if you keep wandering uphill you’ll get all the views.





Like other large European cities, Lisbon has amazing architecture, historical sights, colorful streets and fountains.





I wrote about the azulejos tile of Portugal, and in Lisbon you’ll see it everywhere. Frankly it’s one of the reasons I found the city so appealing, I couldn’t get enough of the different patterns, and thankfully my travel mate was patient with me taking photos of ALL the buildings because I’m obsessed with tile. :)




Coming from the California Wine Country, I’m always interested in wines of the world so I tried green wine for the first time in Lisbon and loved it! It tasted young, but it was light and paired well with seafood.


One stop I was absolutely not going to miss was the National Tile Museum where I geeked out on all the tile. Design lovers take note! This place is filled with inspiration, tile from centuries ago and modern installations too.












Sintra is just a 30 minute train ride away. Take the train from Rossio station and you’ll arrive in the heart of this hillside storybook town. It’s major eye candy everywhere you go: meandering cobblestone streets and alleys with shops and cafes.







Up at the top of the hill is the fairytale Pena Palace, it’s not to miss! We hired a driver for a few Euros to take us to the top, strolled around the gardens and the palace, took in the views of surrounding towns, then leisurely strolled the scenic path back to town.



We spent a total of 3 days in Lisbon with a day trip to Sintra included on the last day. Our last night we spent at a street cafe people watching, talking to the fellow travelers at the table next to us, and sharing stories of where we’ve been. That’s the best part of traveling for me, meeting new people, connecting with them, making new friends from around the world.

We left Lisbon and traveled north by train with a stop in Aveiro. We spent our last days in Porto, the most magical spot, and my new favorite city in Europe. I’ll share some snaps from that adventure soon.


  1. Wow!!!! How beautiful! My husband and I will travel throughout Portugal for 19 days in September. We have plans to stay 5 days in Porto upon arrival and travel by car to Lisbon for another 5 days. Any additional info would be appreciated!
    Safe travels!

    • Hi Donna, you’ll LOVE Porto! It’s my new favorite! Definitely see Lisbon & Sintra (of course) and don’t miss the Algarve, especially Lagos and Albufeirra if you can swing it, those are magical little beach towns and Lagos has the most beautiful coastline I’ve ever seen. There are other coastal towns that are a worthy stop, Aveiro was very cute and I read great things about Nazare too (although I missed it on this trip), oh well, next time! A Canadian couple I met on a train visits every year, they stay in an inland village, I forget the name…. but you really can’t go wrong, it’s all enchanting. Enjoy Portugal, it’s SOOOOO wonderful there.

  2. Gorgeous! Portugal is on our list! My husband, our boys, and I truly love walking cities and exploring! It’s the best way to see the details and get a flavor of a place.

  3. Hi! First of all I must tell you that I’m portuguese and I loved to read your kind words, and see those beautiful pics! Secondly, you should return ASAP and visit some other beautiful cities around Portugal. I stongly advice you and visitors yet to come to visit cities such as Santarém ( gothic architetural capital of portugal) and the entire region of Alentejo, in particular the city of Évora(world heritage), and places like Estremoz, Reguengos de Monsaraz, Arraiolos. Car rental would be wise. The food and wine tasting are mandatory! You could also visit places like Porto Côvo, Zambujeira do Mar and beautiful hidden beaches like Almograve and Odeceixe. You’ll be amazed!!!

    • I hope to visit Portugal someday saw this article plus your additional information Pedro is very helpful! I am 50% Portuguese and live in the US and sadly have not been to Portugal yet. I hope to make that happen before I get too old to enjoy it LOL. Thanks for sharing this info!

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