I’d been obsessed with visiting Sintra for the longest time. The photos just made it seem like some kind of fairy tale destination and so, a couple of months after my obsession with Sintra started, we booked flights and headed over to Portugal.
Cascais (also in Portugal), unlike Sintra was a place I hadn’t heard of as much before but upon hearing about it, decided we had to try to squeeze in a visit on the same trip. Cascais, Sintra and Lisbon are something of a Portuguese trifecta. All within about 30 minutes of each other (with great connections between each other), I have no clue why we didn’t visit all 3 places the first time we were in Lisbon…(actually, I do know why and I think it had something to do with visiting with 10 friends and a whole lotta caipirinhas!)
We flew into Lisbon in the early evening, picked up the rental car and drove through to Sintra. The hotel (and home for the next few days) was the absolutely amazing Penha Longa.
Penha Longa is incredible, by the way! It’s an amazing golf resort that attracts the fancy from all over the world (I had no idea how big a deal this place was at the time of booking – all I knew was that it looked incredible) but once we arrived and found out all about what was on offer at the hotel (including an incredible rooftop infinity pool), I kinda wished I’d set out a bit more time to indulge at the hotel instead of strictly devoting all of my time to gallivanting around the Portuguese countryside but alas, my gallivanting awaited!
Unfortunately, for the same reasons above, I haven’t got that many photos to show you of the hotel as we never had enough time to explore everything in full but when we return, I plan on setting aside a full day to totally indulge and make the most of EVERYTHING here. 😉
Dinner that evening was relatively low-key (decided to eat at the hotel bar) but the food was brilliant. I’m never one to order burgers – I think I went through a phase of eating far too much bread a few years back and since then, I struggle to order anything even remotely bread-y but even on the menu, I kinda knew this wouldn’t be your average burger. And don’t get me started on those delicious cocktails… They’re the perfect accompaniment to a relaxed evening after an evening of travelling.
The next morning, I woke up to more of a sense of how huge and grand Penha Longa is – like this place spans acres and acres without an end in sight. It’s also got that famed Portuguese colourfulness about it too – something that’s part of a huge appeal of Sintra.
Today however would be dedicated to the seaside town of Cascais and so, after breakfast and a rather slow and lazy amble around the ground of the hotel, we hopped in the car and headed over to Cascais.
Cascais (which is pronounced more like “Cash-Ky”), is seaside perfection and almost as soon as we arrived, I decided we had to do one of my favourite things at any seaside town or city – eat as much seafood as possible. For this, we headed over to Maria Pia (a restaurant down by the harbour/pier area) where course after course of amazing deliciousness came out to greet us (and was rather quickly wolfed down between mumbles of how amazing it was).
This place was recommended by locals who actually know the best places to eat and boy were they right! If you’re in Cascais, you have to pop in here for lunch or dinner. (It was fairly quiet when we arrived for lunch as we arrived out of busy times but I’ve been told its worth calling in for a reservation if you’re thinking of having dinner here – especially in summer).
Fuelled and filled with delicious Portuguese wines, we went off to explore more of Cascais.
The balance of life here is absolutely incredible as Cascais is just 30 minutes away from Lisbon (making it perfectly commutable for work) and just a few minutes away from a beach, no matter where you are in the town. And, if you’re looking for some mind-bogglingly beautiful beaches, you’re just a few minutes drive (or bus ride) from some of the most impressive beaches, not just Portugal, but in all of Europe. Let me show you around… 😉
Don’t even get me started on that amazing Portuguese tiling…
A visit to Cascais is more of a relaxed affair, you can throw plans out of the window and just wander around on foot, stopping by every so often for ice cream breaks or just to ‘kick it’ on the beach.
Thanks to our ridiculously slow pace and an inexcusable amount of photo stops, we very quickly ran out of time to check out the beaches that line the surrounding coastline but had just enough time to go check out Boca do Inferno (in English – Hell’s Mouth).
This cliff formation is as dramatic as they come and is quite the sight!
By the time we left the cliff, we were well and truly running late for our appointment back at the hotel (one that was all about food) and so, after a quick pop by Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães and the surrounding park (Parque Marechal Carmona), it was time to hot foot it back to Penha Longa for something of a treat – but more on that in the next post!