Sintra, a quaint town about a half hour northwest of Lisbon, emanates storybook romance. Surprisingly, this diminutive township boasts two royal palaces and Moorish castle ruins.

Shops and restaurants bear an authentic warmth, with nicely tended flowers flanking open doorways and friendly shopkeepers.

With three fantastic sights and historic architecture, Sintra is a popular tourist destination. The streets are crowded, parking is sparse, and the town is ready for business.

After a walking through shops and touring of the National Palace of Sintra, we ascended narrow lanes and endless steps to the Moorish castle ruins that hover over the town.

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The Palace of Pena isn’t far from the castle ruins, a five minute walk, but we were so exhausted from the vertical climb to the castle peak, we thumbed a ride and had a good laugh about it with our rescuers, a friendly German family. Learn more about the National Palace of Sintra, the Moorish castle ruins and the Palace of Pena in subsequent entries.

Caio!