Lo! Sintra’s glorious Eden intervenes, in variegated maze of mount and glen. – Lord Byron, 1809
Sintra, Portugal, an exquisitely charming town nestled amongst the fragrant forests of pine and fern that cover the Serra de Sintra hills, is a must-visit for any serious lover-of-beauty. From the rumble of its cobbled streets to the lush gardens overtaking multiple historic monuments to the fascinating union of Arabic and Mogul architecture at Monserrate, Sintra is guaranteed to enchant and delight anyone lucky enough to find themselves there.
We are lucky enough to find ourselves there, often, thanks to our friends Alex and Aline. Together, they operate the charming Bella Vista Boutique Farm in Sintra. This particular visit centered a birthday celebration for both Aline and myself, including a picnic at Monserrate and a sunset seafood dinner. As always, Aline’s party-planning skills and magical attention to detail made it an unforgettable trip.
Perhaps the most memorable celebration was the Secret Dinner Party, a 1950’s-themed evening spent at Bella Vista. Guests from all over the world came together for wonderful food, drink, and music. They even had a magician circulating through the party.
One especially beautiful day was graced with a large picnic on the grounds of the Monserrate–complete with singers, musicians, and delicious food all around. We spent a good amount of time exploring the palace and taking in the views of the rolling hills of Sintra.
Monserrate was created as a summer retreat for a wealthy Englishman in the 19th century, and is well worth a visit if you’re in the area. From intricately latticed marble-work to wide palace lawns shaded by Norfolk pine, palm, and cork oak, it practically seduces the visitor into leisure and relaxation.
Delinda and I spent another day exploring Pena Palace and hiking the Tolkien-esque Park of Pena that fans out around the palace in every direction. King Ferdinand II was the visionary behind this breath-taking tribute to Moorish and Manueline architecture, and built it high on a rocky hill to be visible from any point in the park. The park itself is a masterpiece, populated with over 500 different species of trees from all over the globe and multiple ruins and monuments tucked amongst the dense ferns and fuschias of the undergrowth.
We dined at a little seaside town called Cascais, enjoying a sunset meal at a restaurant overlooking the Atlantic. The beauty of Sintra is difficult to put into words–the old-world dedication to aesthetic detail, the fragrant air and cooler climate, the abundant variety of plant life and flowers, the hills, and the rugged coastline come together in a vibrant, eclectic celebration of so many different cultures. If you haven’t already been, add it to your list–I promise it will be one of your favorite memories for years to come.
Book a stay at Alex and Aline’s magical Bella Vista Boutique Farm in Sintra:
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