Things to Do in Agualva-Cacem, Portugal

things to do in AgualvaCacem Portugal

Despite its diminutive size Cacem is a fascinating town that offers visitors plenty to discover. It is also an ideal base to explore Lisbon.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pena Palace is one of the most famous attractions in Sintra. You will need at least an hour to explore this colossal palace. So make sure to book your Skip-the-Line Ticket to Pena Palace in advance.

1. Explore the Historic Center

A residential suburb to the west of Lisbon, Agualva-Cacem is a good base for exploring both Sintra and Lisbon’s western hills. The latter is dotted with historic palaces, including the former summer retreat for the Portuguese court. This is the area to explore if you want to find peace away from the crowds, and it’s well worth the effort for the views alone.

Close by, the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery are a UNESCO-listed emblem of Portugal. The monastery is a hive of Manueline and Renaissance ornamentation, while the church has ethereal vaulting and tombs for Vasco da Gama and Luis de Camoes, who chronicled the Age of Discovery.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is the home of an incredible collection of art, assembled by its namesake entrepreneur, who made his fortune exploiting oil in the Middle East. The gallery includes ancient art from Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece, along with a dazzling array of European paintings and sculpture.

2. Visit the Palacio Nacional de Sintra

Visit the National Palace of Sintra for a peek at Portugal’s rich history and its many eras of influence. The compact historical quarter offers a mini labyrinth of streets and stairways and features secluded beaches, churches, beautiful mansions and townhouses. To make the most of your experience, treat yourself to a walking tour early in the day while the city is waking up and before the crowds arrive.

The UNESCO-listed Pena Palace is one of the most famous monuments in Sintra and exhibits influences ranging from Gothic to Mudejar and Manueline styles. Other highlights include the Castelo dos Mouros, a castle with privileged views overlooking the city of Sintra and the clifftop Moorish Castle.

A full-day tour of the highlights of the Serra de Sintra—the mountain range that beckoned Lord Byron to its shores—can also be booked. Choose from an array of tours that feature skip-the-line tickets for the Palace of Sintra, Monserrate Palace and the National Palace of Queluz and its Gardens or go all out and upgrade to a multilingual audio guide.

3. Visit the Castelo dos Mouros

A visit to the castle is not only an excellent opportunity to learn more about Portugal’s rich naval history, but also a chance to sample some of the delicious local cuisine. Be sure to try a pastel de nata, the country’s national pastry, as well as bacalhau and frango no churrasco, two of the region’s top dishes.

The ruins of the Castelo dos Mouros are an experience unlike anything else in Sintra. During the Moorish era, this imposing fortress was built to protect the coastline and control land routes between Lisbon, Cascais, Mafra, and other cities. The castle was eventually taken over by the Christian Crusaders in 1147, only four years after Portugal was established as a nation.

To get the most out of your time at the Castelo dos Mouros, take a guided tour. Not only will you avoid the hassle of parking, but you’ll also learn more about the castle from an expert guide.

4. Explore the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park

Located just outside of the city, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to forest-spiked mountains that slope down to the Atlantic coast. The landscape is dotted with wild beaches and reams of stunning walking trails. This is one of the most popular daytrips from Lisbon.

The highlights include the Quinta da Regaleira, a 19th century palace and garden complex with a rich array of architectural elements, as well as the Pena Palace. It’s also worth visiting the Convento dos Capuchos, a modest 16th century convent.

The western coast of the park is especially spectacular, forming a line of vertiginous cliffs. At Cabo de Roca, considered the westernmost point of Europe, you can walk in dinosaur footprints that were left behind when vast lagoons covered the region millions of years ago.

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