Traveling in Lisbon

Traveling in Lisbon


SINTRA. With fairy-tale castles, enchanting gardens, and spectacular mountain vistas, Sintra (pop. 20,000) is a favorite among backpackers. Perched on the mountain overlooking the Old Town, the Castelo dos Mouros provides stunning views of the mountains and coast. Follow the blue signs 3km up the mountain or take bus #434 (15min. every 30min. day pass ‚4), which runs to the top from the tourist office. The awestruck are also usually sun-struck; a bottle of water is recommended. (Open June-Sept. 9am-8pm; Oct.-May 9am-7pm. ‚3, seniors ‚1.) A mix of Moorish, Gothic, and Manueline styles, the Palacio Nacional de Sintra, in Pr. da Republica, was once the summer residence of Moorish sultans and their harems. (b’219 10 68 40. Open Su-Tu and Th-Sa 10am-5:30pm. Buy tickets by 5pm. ‚3, seniors ‚1.50.) Farther uphill is the Palacio da Pena, a Bavarian castle decorated with Arabic minarets, Gothic turrets, Manueline windows, and a Renaissance dome. (Open July-Sept. Su and Tu-Sa 10am-6:30pm; Oct.-June Su and Tu-Sa 10am-5pm. ‚5, seniors and students ‚3.50.)

Trains ( 219 23 26 05) arrive at Av. Dr. Miguel Bombarda from Lisbon’s Estagao Rossio (45min. every 15min. 6am-2am, ‚1.30). Stagecoach buses leave from outside the train station for Cascais (#417; 40min. every hr. 7:20am-8:30pm, ‚2.80) and Estoril (#418; 40min. every hr. 6:50am-midnight, ‚2.50). Down the street, Maf-rense buses go to Ericeira (50min. every hr. 7:30am-8:30pm, ‚2.30). The tourist office, Sintra-Vila Pr. da Republica 23, is in the historic center. From the bus station, turn left on Av. Bombarda, which becomes the winding Volta do Duche. Continue straight into the Pr. da Republica; the tourist office is to the left. (219 23 11 57. Open June-Sept. daily 9am-8pm; Oct.-May 9am-7pm.) To reach the Pousada da Juventude de Sintra (HI) O, on Sta. Eufemia, take bus #434 from the train station to Sao Pedro (15min. ‚1.20), and then hike 2km, or hail a taxi (weekdays ‚9; weekends ‚10) in front of the train station. (219 24 12 10. Reservations recommended. June 16-Sept. 15 dorms ‚11 per person; doubles ‚24, with bath ‚25. Sept. 16-June 15 ‚8.502024. Members only. MCV.)

ESTORIL AND CASCAIS. Glorious beaches draw sun-loving tourists and locals alike to Estoril (pop. 24,000) and neighboring Cascais (pop. 33,000). For the beach-weary, the marvelous (and air-conditioned) Casino Estoril, Europe’s largest casino, is a welcome relief. (214 66 77 00; No swimwear, tennis shoes, jeans, or shorts. Slots and game room 18+. Passport required. Open daily 3pm-3am.)

Trains from Lisbon’s Estagao do Sodre stop in Cascais via Estoril (30min. every 20min. 5:30am-2:30am, ‚1.10). Estoril and Cascais are only a 20min. stroll along the coast or Av. Marginal from each other. Bus #418 to Sintra departs from Av. Marginal, in front of Estoril’s train station (35min. every hr. 6:10am-l 1:40pm, ‚2.30). From the station, cross Av. Marginal and head to the Estoril tourist office, which is to the left of the Casino on Arcadas do Parque, for a free map of both towns. ( 214 66 3813. Open M-Sa 9am-7pm, Su 10am-6pm.) Ask for help finding a room at the Cascais tourist office, Av. Dos Combatantes da Grande Guerra 25. From the Cascais train station, cross the square and take a right onto Av. Valbom. Look for a small sign at Av. Dos Combatantes. ( 214 86 82 04. Open M-Sa 9am-7pm, Su 10am-6pm.)

MAFRA. Sleepy Mafra (pop. 11,300) is home to one of Portugal’s most impressive sights and one of Europe’s largest historical buildings, the Palacio Nacional de Mafra. The massive 2000-room palace, including a cathedral-sized church, a monastery, and a library, took 50,000 workers 30 years to complete. (Open Su-M and W-Sa 10am-5pm; last entrance 4pm. ‚3, students and seniors ‚1.50.

Under-14 free. Su 10am-l:30pm free. Daily lhr. tours in English 11am and 2:30pm.) The entrance to the recently renovated tourist office is inside the palace compound. (261 81 71 70. Open M-F 9am-7pm, Sa-Su 9:30am-lpm and 2:30-6pm.) Frequent Mafrense buses run from Lisbon’s Campo Grande (M: Campo Grande) to Mafra (l-l’Sir. every hr. ‚2.80) and stop in front of the palace.

Primarily a fishing village, Ericeira is known for its spectacular beaches and surfable waves. The main beaches, Praia do Sul and Praia do Norte, crowd quickly; for something more secluded, stroll down the Largo da Feira toward Ribamar until you reach the stunning sand dunes of Praia da Ribeira d’llhas. Frequent Mafrense buses run from Lisbon’s Campo Grande (M: Campo Grande) to Ericeira (l’ihr. every hr. ‚4.) and from Mafra to Ericeira (25min. every hr. ‚ 1.50). If you stay, ask about rooms at the tourist office, R. Eduardo Bumay 46. (261 86 31 22. Open July-Sept. daily 9:30am-midnight; Oct-June Sa 9:30am-10pm, Su-M 9:30am-7pm.)

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