Colourful, whimsical Sintra must be one of Portugal's most unusual destinations. While just a short distance from Lisbon and Cascais, it has an atmosphere all of its own. This is largely a result of the city's extraordinary assortment of castles, palaces and green spaces. So special are they, that much of Sintra has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The one that is sure to bring a smile to your face is the Romanticist design of Pena National Palace, which stands proud on a hill overlooking the town. In form it lies somewhere between a child's fantasy and Disney fairy-tale castle. Visible from Lisbon on clear days, it also acts as a perfect introduction to the natural beauty of the 145 square kilometre Sintra-Cascais Nature Park, which includes some simply exquisite beaches whether you're looking for family-friendly sands or tiny hidden coves and the rocks.