Sintra, Portugal Is the Most Romantic Destination of 2019

Sure, you could certainly do Sintra, Portugal as a day trip from Lisbon. But then you'd be speeding through requisite attractions and missing the magic of this fairytale locale, which really deserves a full 48 hours. Throughout history, some of Portugal’s most revered authors and artists have sought inspiration in Sintra, and for good reason. With castles and peaks beyond your imagination, it's the most romantic destination of the year.

There’s no better home base for exploring the UNESCO-listed wonders of Sintra than Tivoli Palácio de Seteais. However, this royal palace turned luxury hotel is so much more than just a jumping-off point for your adventures. Built in 1787, the property exudes the elegance and sophistication of a bygone era. The dignified service is quite a rarity these days, too.

Regal decor feels plucked straight from an 18th-century painting. Spaces are decorated with ornate chandeliers, frescos, and tapestries. The spectacular interiors are matched by the majesty of the grounds—immaculately tended gardens, a hedge-framed swimming pool, and panoramic-view terraces. It’s truly the ideal spot for couples who want to get away from the crowds and relax. Safe to say, you’ll never want to leave. Though, that would be a mistake. Because right outside the gates of Tivoli Palácio de Seteais is a treasure trove of culture and natural beauty. Ivy-covered walls edge narrow roads that snake up the mountainside. Leafy trees dominate the landscape. And every few meters, there’s something else to discover.

Sure it's a tad touristy, but places like the candy-colored Pena Palace and Castelo dos Mouros are worth contending with the masses to see. In the afternoons, tired and thirsty travelers flood the historic center seeking a refreshing glass of wine or beer.

When the day-trippers depart, a sense of calm falls upon the town. Many shops and restaurants close, but enough remain open to make it worth sticking around. And it’s in these moments that Sintra is most itself. Quiet and romantic. Take your pick of tables at Incomum or just going for a leisurely stroll.

Once you’ve soaked in the charms of Sintra, head to Colares. Soak in the vistas from Cap do Roca and spend time sunning on the uncrowded beaches. You'll also find a number of great lunch options. (Adega Vadia is our top pick).

The perfect way to cap off your romantic minimoon? Savor one last evening of royal treatment at Tivoli Palácio de Seteais. Sample local vino in the Colares wine room and relish a couple’s massage at the tranquil Anantara Spa.

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