An icon of the region, the striking orange-and-yellow Pena Palace stands out amid the lush forest-covered Sintra Mountains. Inspect the eclectic architecture and ostentatious interior of this former royal summer retreat and stroll through the pretty surrounding park, where you’ll find temples and other follies hidden among the trees and flowers.
Learn about the history of the palace during a tour of the site. Commissioned by the art-loving Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and constructed in the second half of the 19th century, the palace was probably inspired by the more fantastical constructions of Germany, the homeland of the architect, Baron Eschwege. The result was a truly eclectic creation that borrows from different architectural styles, ranging from Arabian to Victorian.
Admire the unusual appearance of the exterior, which features bulbous onion domes and Moorish-style horseshoe arches and openings. Other highlights are the carved stone snakes around the entrance to the palace.
Take a tour of the lavish interior, which is decorated with an array of furnishings and artworks. Look for pieces of Meissen porcelain and other precious ornaments. Placards inside the house provide more information about the palace.
As you tour the palace, try to imagine what life would have been like for Portugal’s last royals. They used the palace as a summer vacation spot before fleeing the country after Portugal was declared a republic in 1910.
Follow the paths winding around Pena Park. Because of the park’s elevated position, the views around the surrounding hills are fantastic. Of particular note is the lookout point at Cruz Alta, a 16th-century stone cross located 1,782 feet (543 meters) above sea level.
Pena Palace is set at one of the most elevated spots in the Sintra Mountains at an elevation of about 1,560 feet (480 meters). Walk from the historic center of Sintra only if you are prepared for a strenuous uphill hike. For an easier route up, take a bus from Sintra’s train station. The palace is open daily. Purchase a ticket to gain entry.