Edit Blog Post
Published: June 12th 2014
We spent our first day in Lisbon exploring the city center of Bairro Alto and Baixa (see http://www.travelblog.org/Europe/Portugal/Lisboa/blog-845101.html for our blog on Day 1). For Day 2, we decided to travel to the outskirts of town to historic Belem, the scenic beachtown of Cascais, and the tranquil hillside city of Sintra. In Lisbon, you can catch a train from Cais do Sodre station by buying a Viva Viagem card for unlimited daily usage. Take the "Todas" train west to the town of Belem, which leaves every 20 minutes and takes about 10 minutes to reach the destination. Be sure to sit on the left side, which offers coastal views of the Tagus River for the entire ride.
In Belem, visit a pastry shop on Rua de Belem called Pasteis de Belem, where you have to try the creamy and sweet egg tarts full of flaky deliciousness referred to as Pasteis de nata. Continue on the same road westward, passing Jardim de Belem (a gorgeous park full of vibrant colors) to Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, a Jeronimos Monastery over 500 years old with architecture to match its history, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then walk south to Centro Cultural de
Belem, a venue that hosts many events, one of which is a weekly "flea market" where local merchants come to showcase their work. Along the coast are two attractions that are good to visit, but not a must if time is limited. The first attraction is Padrao dos Descobrimentos, a monument commemorating the Portuguese Age of Discover during the 15th and 16th century, spearheaded by Henry the Navigator at the helm of the statue. The second is the Torre de Belem (Tower of Belem), which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This tower served as a fort for defending the mouth of the Tagus River during the 16th century when Portugal was a global power. These two sites are free on Sundays so plan to visit them at this time, but arrive early morning to avoid thick crowds. After visiting these landmarks, catch the same train to Cascais, a beach town at the last stop on the line about 30 minutes west of Belem.
From the train station in Cascais, head southwest towards the beach, passing through the town center filled with mosaic stones adorning the roads, conveying a sense of ocean waves as you stroll through the
A stroll through the town down an alley with wavy cobblestone
marketplace. Weave your way through the various streets and alleys, stopping occasionally to look at the menus to see what piques your palate. We elected to stop at a seaside restaurant to grab a bite of sardines, a local specialty, before continuing our journey to the beach.
Praia de Ribeira is the nearby beach surrounded by a marina and a park called Parque Marechal Carmona, a perfect spot to take a breather, people watch, or unpack a picnic. This park also contains a zoo and lake, if that's what floats your boat. The next part of the trek requires a hefty walk, but it's worth it if you're a nature-lover or like a good photo-opt. It's called Boca do Inferno, which earned its name from the waves crashing so thunderously against the cliffs that people dubbed it the "Mouth of Hell." To get here, take a secluded 20-30 minute walk along the shoreline westward until you see civilization and the cliffs are on your left. Spend a good few minutes enjoying the soothing sea breeze before heading back into town to catch the Scotturb 417 bus to the next destination, a castle-ridden village called Sintra who Lord Byron (regarded
Palacio Nacional da Sintra
The courtyard looking up to the hilltop where Castelo dos Mouros resides.
as one of the best British poets to ever live) proclaimed as "the most beautiful in the world," attesting to the true seductiveness of this community.
The bus ride will take over 30 minutes, but once you arrive, you'll realize why you came. Sintra is an intimate little town that earned its classification as a World Heritage Site because of the castles that tower above the hills. Palacio Nacional da Sintra lies at the bottom of the hill, while Palacio Nacional de Pena and Castelo dos Mouros (Moors Castle) reside at the top. Palacio Nacional de Pena was the retreat for Portuguese royals during the 19th century and is worth a look, but Castelo dos Mouros is simply a pile of ruins that history-buffs may wish to see, but otherwise unremarkable. After a few short hours in Sintra, use the Viva Viagem card again to take a train back into Lisbon. Cap off a busy day with some good food in the Baixa district and get plenty of rest for in the morning, we're off to the port wine capital of the world, Porto!
Tot: 0.299s; Tpl: 0.01s; cc: 10; qc: 59; dbt: 0.0425s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb