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Day Trip

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If you’re planning a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra, here are a few tips. First, try to arrive at least a few hours before closing time. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to see everything in town. And if you want to avoid the crowds, get the first morning train to Sintra. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with a packed city. Second, try to spend at least a night in Sintra.

Quinta da Regaleira

If you’re planning a day trip to Sintra, you’ll probably spend a majority of your time exploring the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace, but there are other attractions as well. If you’re only spending a day in Sintra, you should make your Sintra sightseeing the first stop on your itinerary. Then, you can move onto other places in the area as time permits.

The main attraction in Quinta da Regaleira is its initiation wells, which were once used for ritual rites. They are thought to have links to Templar and Tarot mythology. Visitors can climb the spiral staircases to the first well and follow a tunnel to a smaller one. The bigger one has mosaic floors and is accessible only by walking. Once you’re done exploring the initiation wells, you can head to the nearby castle for a delicious meal or an afternoon of shopping.

If you’re planning a day trip from Lisbon, you may also want to visit the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, which was built with a cornerstone donated by Pope John Paul II. While you’re in Lisbon, you’ll probably want to pair your visit to Fatima with another stop, so you can enjoy both the town and the city at the same time. You’ll be spoilt for choice!

Sintra’s Castle of the Moors

The first thing you need to do before heading to Sintra is plan your itinerary. There are a number of attractions in Sintra that will keep you busy for hours, and you might want to avoid the busses if you can. However, it is worth considering taking the bus to Sintra to see the Moorish Castle. The Moorish castle is a magnificent structure located on a steep hill, but it isn’t worth the long walk down.

When planning your visit, keep in mind that the train station in Sintra is quite far from the old town. If you have time, consider taking a bus or a tuk-tuk to the town center. These two methods will take you to Sintra’s Castle of the Moors and Pena Palace without the hassle of dealing with the tourist crowds.

If you want to see the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace, be sure to book a guided tour of the town center. You can also visit the Quinta da Regaleira, which is known for its lovely gardens. Keep in mind that the town is very hilly and difficult to walk around. You can use tuk-tuks, taxis, or local buses to get around. Parking in Sintra is not easy, so make sure to plan your trip accordingly.

Lisbon to Sintra day trip

If you are planning a day trip to Lisbon, make sure to include a visit to Sintra. The town is full of fairy-tale palaces and mystical gardens, and more than 3 million visitors visit every year. Although it is impossible to see everything in a single day, your Lisbon to Sintra day trip guide will help you see the highlights. A little extra time in Sintra will give you the opportunity to visit additional palaces and gardens.

Depending on the time of year, you can make a Lisbon to Sintra day trip a car-free experience. Parking in Sintra is limited, so try to plan your trip around bus or car-free. If you are visiting on a busy day, be sure to leave your car at the train station or park in the street, as parking is not always easy to find. In fact, parking in Sintra can be miles away from most of the sights.

If you have time to spare, visit the historic district of Sintra, where you can walk through the town’s narrow streets and discover quaint houses that date back to the 10th century. Throughout the centuries, it has been the home of Portugal’s monarchy and many nobles. The castle was also the meeting place of foreign ambassadors, and several kings have passed through its decorated rooms. Your Lisbon to Sintra day trip should include a stop at this palace.

Avoiding crowds in Sintra

To avoid the crowds in Sintra the perfect day trip, make sure to go at early morning. The palace, as well as the parks, usually get crowded within an hour of opening. You can also visit the gardens near closing time. While this is not the best time to visit Sintra, it is still worth a visit if you have time to spare. It’s possible to experience many of the sights on a single day, but if you don’t have much time, make sure you start your trip early.

If you’re planning a day trip from Lisbon, you’ll want to go to Sintra as early as possible. Although it’s only 20 miles from Lisbon, the town still feels like a true retreat. Its UNESCO World Heritage site has many historical and artistic treasures and you can wander the cobblestone streets and take in the medieval architecture. In fact, you can even get a Lisbon Card and enjoy free train travel to Sintra!

To avoid crowds in Sintra, make sure to book tickets in advance and visit during the weekday. You can also avoid crowds by booking tickets online and avoiding the day of your trip. Remember that the place can get very crowded during the summer. So, it is best to go during weekdays or early in the morning. You’ll also avoid the long ticket lines and crowds that often plague this beautiful village.

Getting to Sintra by train

Getting to Sintra by train is a convenient way to travel to this city. Parking in Sintra can be a challenge, especially during the summer, but a train ride takes the hassle out of getting around town. In addition to convenient train service, many tours also include other attractions. Packaged tours can help take the hassle out of traveling to Sintra by offering ticket entry to major sites as well as expert guides.

The last stop of the journey is the station in Sintra, which is a short walk from the town center. The train station is also in close proximity to the airport. While not as central as the Rossio station, the Sintra station is still convenient. You can purchase tickets for both train trips online to save yourself time at the box office and get a 5% discount. To avoid any inconveniences, consider purchasing tickets for both train routes at once online, and remember to buy your ticket in advance to guarantee that you get the best price.

Getting to Sintra by train from Lisbon takes approximately 8 hours. The journey can accommodate a group of one to eight people, and there are tours available seven days a week. These drivers are well-trained and have all of the materials you need to enjoy your trip to Sintra. You can also use a private taxi in the town, but it’s important to know how to get to the train station in advance.

Getting to Sintra by car

If you’d like to visit Sintra on your own, there are several ways to get there. Taxis are usually readily available outside the Sintra train station and opposite the post office. Taxis in Sintra are usually metered and a one-way trip to the National Palace will cost at least EUR10; a little more in heavy traffic. A waiting time in a taxi can run as high as EUR15. For a more affordable ride, consider sharing the cost with one or more other tourists.

If you don’t have a car, you can take the train to Lisbon and catch the Sintra line. You can then follow signs to the palace and gardens. If you don’t have a car, you can also take the train to Cabo da Roca, which stops in Lisbon’s downtown area. Taxis are also available at both the railway station and the Sintra railway station. If you’re planning on arriving by train in Sintra, be sure to leave plenty of time to explore all the sights.

Getting to Sintra by car is possible but it’s not a good idea during rush hours. The town has limited parking, so it’s best to plan on arriving early in the week and parking in the modern town, which is about 1.5 km to the east. In addition to the train, you can also rent a car in Lisbon. The city’s numerous car rental agencies can help you with your trip.

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Dubrovnik, Croatia has become an increasingly popular place among tourists all over the world, and with good reason. Millions of people visit the this beautiful coastal town from the months of May to August, but not all venture outside of Dubrovnik. Montenegro, Croatia’s neighboring country, does not get nearly enough credit and popularity as Croatia does. If you are looking for an easy Montenegro day trip from Dubrovnik than continue reading below.

Montenegro is easily accessed from Dubrovnik by car, bus, or tour. It also is a stunning change of scenery from Dubrovnik offering majestic mountains peaks and the second largest fjords (Norway has the largest) in Europe. Montenegro was also formally part of Yugoslavia in the 1990s so the language is the same as in Croatia (with a slightly different dialect). Since it was all one country roughly 25 years ago, the food and culture is also similar to its neighbor Croatia. The only thing that the two countries do not have in common is how underrated Montenegro is compared to popular tourists hubs like Dubrovnik and Split. Also if you want a break from the ridiculous prices in Dubrovnik old town, Kotor and Budva will be a nice break for you!

How to get to Montenegro from Dubrovnik:

Getting to Montenegro from Dubrovnik is pretty simple actually. There are three options for transportation as mentioned above. Personally, we rented a car and drove ourselves. Renting a car definitely gives you the greatest amount of freedom and an amplitude of time. If you are not comfortable driving yourself, there are buses that run almost daily from Dubrovnik to Kotor. I am not too sure about the prices, but I can imagine that it is not very expensive. The third option is to take a guided tour with a bus full of people. There are a ton of tour companies outside of the old town Dubrovnik that go to Kotor and Budva daily. I believe the tours are about $50 USD per person.

If you are looking to rent a car in Dubrovnik, the rental car companies are located at the airport. We usually rent from Enterprise or Alamo at the airport once we arrive. It is easy, not too pricey given the freedom that you have to explore. There is a green card that the rental car company will sell you for $50 euros so that you can cross the border, make sure and get this to avoid any issues.

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If you are driving, the border of Montenegro is about a 20-30 minute drive from Dubrovnik. I am sure you have heard horror stories of the long times at the border in peak season. We were in Dubrovnik at the end of July, peak season, and waited at the border to get into Montenegro for maybe 10-15 minutes. We did leave our apartment at 7:30 AM to avoid the long times and it was well worth it.

Getting to Kotor, Montenegro and Exploring:

The first town in Montenegro you will visit is Kotor. I am actually surprised how many people have not heard of Kotor, and it is a real shame. Kotor is most famous for the amazing Bay of Kotor and the Fjord. Kotor is about another hour of travel once you cross the border into Montenegro. There are two ways to get to Kotor by car. You can either drive all the way around to Kotor, or you can take the ferry that will shave off about 30-40 minutes of travel. The ferry ride is about 5 minutes long and will cost you $5 USD for you and your vehicle! We ended up taking the ferry on our way back to Dubrovnik and it was a nice scenic ride, a very memorable 5 minutes!

Once you make it to Kotor, you will want to find some good and reliable parking. There is actually a big parking lot right next to the walls of the old town of Kotor. It is paid parking (honestly cannot remember how much we paid, but it was not a lot) and can get full pretty quickly if you get there too late in the day. Once you park your car, make your way to the old town. If you park in the parking lot next to the walls it is an easy 5 minute walk to the old town. Kotor, just like Dubrovnik, can get very crowded during the day. Even more crowded when the cruise ships begin to dock. So I cannot stress enough how important it is to get there earlier in the day.

St. Johns Fortress (AKA Castle of San Giovanni):

Our first activity in Kotor was to find the bathrooms, ok not really an activity but a must before walking up to the St. John Fortress. There are public bathrooms in the old town, about one euro to use. After our bathroom break, we set out to find the entrance to the climb up to the fortress.The entrance was not that easy for us to find so we had to ask a local to direct us in the right direction. There is an $8 Euro fee per person to climb up to the fortress. Even though I totally think $8 Euros to climb in the heat is absolutely ridiculous, I just knew that the view would be worth it.

The two best times of day to climb to the top are morning or evening during sunset. The afternoon is very very hot in the summer and the climb up is not as easy as you may think. It takes about 1.5-2 hours round trip to climb to the top, or longer depending on stops on the way up. Unfortunately, we did not make it all the way up to the top because hunger set in. Food ultimately wins, especially when you have been climbing up tiny and old stairs in the heat. We did make it up a pretty far distance, and were just below the fortress.

Walking around Kotor Old Town:

Once we got back down from climbing to the Fortress, we decided it was time for some lunch and a cold drink. You could literally spend 2 hours or longer roaming the many alleys and streets of Kotor. It is such a cute little town with white washed buildings, fountains, and cobble stone streets. It actually reminds me a lot of Dubrovnik old town, except smaller. By the time we got down from our climb, it was already 12 pm so the old town was completely packed. Getting crowdless shots at that point was virtually impossible, unless you found a quite little

We got some lunch at one of the many little restaurants, and had of course the traditional cevapi. If you are ever anywhere in the Balkans, cevapi are an absolute must. I have actually been eating cevapi since I was a child, and it is a dish that I am always in the mood for when back home. Cevapi are minced meat sausages usually served with a pita bread and pepper sauce plus onions.

Now that you have explored Kotor, there is the option to see the Our Lady of the Rocks island by the small town of Perast. We actually did not get to go to this little man made island due to time constraints, but I have heard from so many that it is such a beautiful place with some amazing views of the Bay of Kotor.

Another great option before you leave Kotor is to go to Lovcen National Park. I cannot tell you how upset I am that we did not get to drive up to this national park. It is about a two hour drive from Kotor through winding roads on the side of the mountain, which actually sounds super fun. Unfortunately we had already made plans to head to Budva and Sveti Stefan so an extra two hour detour was not in the itinerary. I have seen photos from the Lovcen National Park and it is unreal! If you think that the view from the Kotor Fortress is amazing, than Lovcen will be ten times that.

Getting to Budva and Sveti Stefan from Kotor:

Budva is about a 30-45 minute drive from Kotor. It is literally a straight shot from Kotor and also such a scenic drive. Budva reminds me a lot of Dubrovnik, in that it is a fortified town. The walls and town is much smaller than Dubrovnik, but also just as charming.

Even though Budva is very beautiful, I do not recommend spending a lot of time there as it is pretty small. My main aim was to find a good view point of Sveti Stefan since non hotel guests are not allowed on the actual little island. Sveti Stefan island housed a monastery many many years ago. In the recent years, The Aman hotel chain bought out the entire island, monastery included, and built a five star resort. The Aman Sveti Stefan resort has housed celebrities including David Beckham and his family recently. The hotel is stunning, I immediately went to google to see what this prestigious hotel looked like and I will say that my jaw dropped. No wonder it is a whopping $800-1000 or more USD a night.

Sveti Stefan View Point:

There are two good view points of Sveti Stefan from above it. The first is actually a hotel/restaurant called Hotel Adrovic. We actually decided we were going to have a drink or coffee at their cafe and take in the beautiful view below.

While sitting on the balcony enjoying a cappuccino, a small church at the top of the mountain above us caught my eye. I immediately told my husband that we were going up there, the only issue was how do we get all the way up to the top! Thankfully for google and the help of a local, we found the name of the small church. It is called the Sveti Sava church. The local that we asked about it said that you are not able to drive all the way up to the top, but we decided to give it a try anyway. The good news is that you actually can drive all the way up to the top, yes the road is very narrow but a surprisingly easy drive. There are a lot of homes on the mountain so you are literally driving through a neighborhood.

The best way to get to the Sv. Sava church is from Hotel Adrovic. If you are facing the road from Hotel Adrovic, your back is to the hotel, you will see a road on the left side of the road going uphill. Take that road and literally go straight the entire way up. It will lead you up to the little church and the view point. We also did use google maps on our cell phone that helped guide us up to the top. It takes about 10 minutes or so to get all the way up to the top where the little church is located.

This was totally one of my all time favorite view points in Montenegro (aside from the Bay of Kotor View) that did not require climbing or an intense amount of sweating. It is totally worth it if you are in Budva or Sveti Stefan.

After soaking up all of the beautiful views, we made our way back down and were on our way back to Dubrovnik. On our way back we decided to take the ferry through the Bay of Kotor as I mentioned earlier. It was a nice way to shave off 30 minutes from our driving time and a great way to soak in the views.

I cannot stress enough how beautiful Montenegro is, and I am almost sad that we only had time for a day trip. If I could do that all over again, I would have planned for a two-three night stay in this beautiful little country. I feel like there really is so much to see and so many hidden gems that we just did not have the time for. I hope that when you make your way to the Balkans that you reserve some time for this very underrated country. If you are on a time constraint, like I was, than at least venture out of Croatia to Montenegro and experience the beauty that this little country has to offer.

So you have made it to Dubrovnik, honestly one of the most beautiful towns in the world (check out my guide HERE on what to see and do in Dubrovnik), and you have noticed that big green island directly across from the old town. It is hard to miss and naturally your curiosity starts to spark. I remember shortly after I arrived in Dubrovnik, how I could get to that big green island? Well good news is that it is super easy to take a day trip there! This lush green island is actually called the Island of Lokrum and is a beautiful natural paradise to explore. This is a guide on the ultimate dubrovnik to lokrum day trip.

If you have had enough of the tourist crowds swarming in Dubrovnik especially in the summer, than a quick trip to Lokrum will leave you super relaxed and give you a nice sense of peace. This island was actually once inhabited by Benedictine monks. Can you believe how lucky these monks were to call Lokrum home? Talk about living the life! Not only is Lokrum exceptionally beautiful because of its stunning nature and rugged coastline, it also holds a curse placed by these monks. I will get into the curse later on in the post, but for now let’s talk about how to get to Lokrum from Dubrovnik.

How to get to Lokrum Island:

Getting to Lokrum is fairly easy, so easy that I literally did not do any research on it before we went! There is a ferry right in the port of Dubrovnik (you literally cannot miss it) that departs about every 30 minutes. I believe the first ferry departs around 10 AM and you can actually buy tickets on the day of departure right in front of the boat. It is about a 15 minute ferry ride to Lokrum and it docks in the small bay of Portoc. Not only is it easy to get there but it is also very affordable. About 12 USD will get you a round trip ticket to Lokrum with ease of going and leaving whenever you please. In high season, the last ferry departs around 6 pm, so you have literally the whole day to spend there if you would like. Now be aware that once the last ferry leaves, there is no other way off of the island. You are not allowed to spend the night on the island so make sure you keep track of time.

Once you arrive to the little bay of Portoc on Lokrum, there is a map of the entire island. It is pretty easy to navigate if you are looking to go to a particular spot, but if you want to just wander around than the odds of getting lost are pretty slim! Before I start talking about what all to see on the island, let me give you a little history on the Island of Lokrum and its curse.

The Legend of the Island of Lokrum:

In the year 1023, a Benedictine Monastery was founded on the Island of Lokrum. The Monastery was built on the side of Lokrum that is facing Dubrovnik directly to warn the walled city from any threats that were heading their way. The Monks would signal the guards on the walls with smoke when they suspected an invader.

Lokrum has a beautiful botanical garden and also has rabbits and peacocks freely frolicking around on the island. This is because the Monks and Archduke Maximillian Ferdinand of Habsburg brought exotic plants and animals from all over the world to Lokrum, which is also how Lokrum got its name.

Now to the good part, the curse of Lokrum Island and why you are not allowed to stay overnight. In the late 1700s a French army general ordered the shut down of the monastery on Lokrum island including the evacuation of the monks. The monks attempted to do everything they could to stay on the island and keep the monastery open, without any success. On their final night on the island, they held one last religious gathering in which they walked around the island in their hooded robes leaving a trail of candle wax. As they walked around the island, they chanted that whoever claims Lokrum island for their own personal pleasure will be damned. The monks were ordered to leave the next morning and never returned again.

The curse is truly believed by some of the locals with many stories that are spread, some that you may even hear while on the island. There has been misfortune directly related to taking possession of Lokrum for pleasure. There were several aristocratic families that claimed Lokrum for their pleasure and were either assassinated, went bankrupt, or suffered an unfortunate death. And not only did the curse affect these families, but it is said that many fisherman and ships have gone missing that were docked on the coast of Lokrum overnight. Today, as mentioned before, no one lives on the Island of Lokrum and no one is allowed to stay overnight.

So who wants to stay overnight on Lokrum Island? Ok I am kidding, but pretty eerie right? It almost made me not want to use Lokrum for my pleasure while I was there! But that should not stop you, Lokrum is just a gem to explore and I can totally see why the monks did not want to leave. Ok so now let’s talk about what there is to see and do on this special island!

Float in the Dead Sea:

There is a small salt lake located almost in the center of the island. You totally cannot miss it as there is a sign pointing you to it. This salt lake has such refreshing and you guessed it, salty water! We enjoyed a cool off in this little lake after a full morning of walking around Lokrum and exploring hidden coves and beaches. You can float, swim, swing on the rope swing, or just lay out in the sun for a perfect and peaceful afternoon. The Dead Sea lake does get crowded in the afternoon especially in the summer and can sometimes result in a hard time finding a little spot to sit down.

Find the Hidden Natural Window on the Adriatic Sea:

Now we get to the not famous yet natural window on Lokrum Island that overlooks the Adriatic sea. I am actually shocked that more people do not know about this natural window. It is actually very easy to miss, so I can totally see why more people have not disclosed its exact location! I kind of like the fact that it is secret, it is not over run by Instagrammers and tourists. It is actually a very peaceful and we spent at least two hours there without being bothered by a single person.

How did I find out about this natural window you wonder? Well I actually saw a photo of it on none other than Instagram. As soon as I saw it and realized it was located on Lokrum Island, I knew that I just had to find it. I spent hours searching online for its exact location and came up with absolutely nothing. I became determined to find it myself (with the help of my husband of course, we all know I am terrible with directions) as soon as I got to Lokrum Island. To our luck, a couple on the ferry ride from Dubrovnik to Lokrum was actually on the island the day before and found the natural window. They gave us some direction of its location, which really was a huge help!

As soon as we stepped off the ferry, we began our mission to find this natural wonder. Honestly we missed it the first time, we literally walked right on top of it! The second time we re traced our steps and finally realized that we needed to climb down to get to it. It was absolutely worth finding because in my opinion this is the most beautiful spot on the island!

So to keep it secret and not over run by millions of other people I have decided to disclose its exact location with a map if you subscribe to my blog (screenshot of the subscription) and send me an email through my contact information! This way the location is kept hidden and still enjoyable to the few that find it.