Sintra is Portugal's own little fairytale: a magical collection of an ancient Moorish castle, deep forests and a colorful 19th century palace surrounded by elaborate, lush gardens. It's the perfect day trip from Lisbon, but even a day's not quite enough to explore all it has to offer. Especially for dreamer's like me, who will easily wander castles for hours if you don't keep your eye on them.
The Castle of the Moors was built in the 8th and 9th centuries and, set at the top of a hill above the town of Sintra, this medieval castle exudes a quiet majesty. Stand at the top of one of its many towers and look out over the rambling stone steps and walls that seem to stretch on and on and its power is unmistakable. If you're very still you can almost hear the stories of over a thousand years playing on the wind.
Pena Palace is the colorful, slightly gaudy eye-catcher of Sintra, with eclectic architectural styles and brightly painted façades. King Ferdinand II had this palace built around the remains of a 16th century monastery and the result is a vibrant jewel on a hill that can be seen even from Lisbon on the clearest of days.