Sintra Travel Guide
Shopping Shopping in Sintra becomes a tour of traditional Portuguese folk art and crafts. Do not expect a frenetic spending spree in glitzy modern malls. Sintra's shops are tucked away in narrow cobblestone streets, waiting to be ferreted out by those who appreciate fine holiday souvenirs, like hand-painted ceramics, lace, beaten copper and bronze, embroidered linen and jewellery. Goods come from all over the country, including the Azores. Prices can be steep, but most merchants are open to a little bargaining. Best place to shop is the Praca da Republica and Sao Pedro Square. Those who are seeking modern designer clothing and houseware will have to travel out of town to the huge Cascais Shopping Centre, the area's largest shopping mall.
Restaurants The best Sintra restaurants tend to keep their offerings local, often with international overtones. Some delicious specialities of the region to look out for are Negrais suckling pig, Merces pork, roast kid, bass and shellfish of all sorts. Then there are the pastries, particularly Sintra queijadas, which are like mini-cheesecakes, made to an age-old recipe. Cream cakes and local jams complete the temptations, all of which should be accompanied by some excellent Portuguese wines.
Nightlife Sintra is certainly not a party town, but as one appreciative visitor remarked: 'When there are so many marvels to enjoy during the day, who needs nightlife?' Evenings tend to be spent sedately, wining and dining. There are, of course, several bars in the town, some of which occasionally offer live music and can work up quite a buzz. The liveliest bars and cafes are on the Rua das Padarias, Rua Fonte da Pipa and Rua da Ferraria. Late night owls should enjoy the Adega das Caves bodega, which is open until the wee hours on the Praca da Republica, drawing an international crowd.
Activities Most tourists are drawn to Sintra for sightseeing, and there are plenty of historic buildings and museums to fill a busy holiday itinerary including the Sintra Modern Art Museum, Toy Museum and Archaeological Museum. Sintra also offers all that is necessary for a seaside holiday, its golden sands, clear Atlantic waters and magnificent coastline ensuring it is a real fun-in-the-sun pleasure spot. Best beaches are Sao Juliao, Magoito, Macas, Grande and Adraga. There are opportunities for a host of water sports, with surfing and fishing being the most popular. The clifftops provide perfect platforms for paragliders. Golfers are also drawn to Sintra to the Estoril-Sol Golf Club, which lies at the foot of the Sintra mountain range. Although only a 9-hole course it is sought after for its beautiful forested setting.
Negatives Sintra has little to offer the young clubbing and party set, being more of a sightseeing or beach holiday destination. Its close proximity to Lisbon means that it is often crowded at weekends in summer.