Tucked away in the mountains of Sintra is Monserrate Palace (Palacio de Monserrate), once the summer resort of the Portuguese court. The villa, designed with Indian, Moorish, and Gothic influences, is also home to a garden filled with exotic plants from all over the world—one of the most extensive botanic gardens in Portugal and Europe.The Basics
The 19th-century Monserrate Palace is often considered a hidden gem because of its eclectic design and beautiful garden, and it is generally overshadowed by Sintra’s over-the-top National Palace of Pena and mysterious Quinta da Regaleira. Tours from Lisbon to Sintra generally include visits to Monserrate Palace, other palaces in the area, Cabo da Roca (the westernmost point of mainland Europe), and the seaside village of Cascais. For a more intimate experience, book a private tour to explore Sintra’s villas, palaces, and castles.Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Monserrate Palace is a must for architecture lovers and Portuguese history buffs.
- Most visitors spend about two hours exploring the palace before heading to Cabo da Roca and Cascais.
- Sintra is chillier and windier than coastal Lisbon, so it is advised to bring a jacket.
- Those with limited mobility may find Monserrate Palace difficult to navigate, as there are inclined paths from the front of the parking lot to the palace entrance.
The easiest way to explore Monserrate Palace is through an organized day trip from Lisbon, about 19 miles (30 kilometers) away. Alternatively, take the Sintra train line from Lisbon’s Rossio, Oriente, or Entrecampos station; from the Sintra train station, take the Scotturb 435 bus to Monserrate Palace. If driving, there is limited on-site parking including two spaces for disabled visitors.When to Get There
The palace is open from 9:30am to 7pm in the warmer months and 10am to 6pm in cooler months. It is advised to visit Sintra during May, June, September, or October, when the weather is cooler and there are fewer tourists. Monserrate Palace is quietest in the morning, as the majority of visitors come in the afternoon after exploring the other Sintra palaces. The Home of Englishmen
The hilltop of Monserrate Palace has been inhabited since the mid-1500s, but a palace was built only after the 1755 earthquake. The structure we see today is a culmination of many iterations of the palace made by its various inhabitants, most notably English novelist William Beckford and English art collector Sir Francis Cook, who laid out the lush gardens and contributed to the palace’s eclectic design.