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Just north of Lisbon, this village—with its romantic architecture, authentic restaurants, and a newly restored grande dame hotel—is an easy escape from the capital.

Where to Stay

Sintra’s allure is about dipping into its decorated past. Originally the 18th-century residence of the Dutch consul, the Hotel Tivoli Palácio de Seteais (doubles from $860, including breakfast) opened as a hotel in the 1950’s. A Neoclassical building with frescoed rooms, gilded antiques, and famous guests (Catherine Deneuve; John Malkovich), the place had nevertheless seen better days. One year and 40 specialists later, none of the splendor suffered in favor of a meticulous restoration (complete with updated in-room technology and marble baths). Alternatively, the 17-room Lawrence’s (doubles from $346, including breakfast) dates back to 1764.

Where to Eat

About a 4 1/2-mile drive south of Sintra is the one-year-old Arola (dinner for two $120), part of the palazzo-style, Ritz-Carlton–run Penha Longa Hotel & Golf Resort. It’s the brainchild of Spanish chef Sergi Arola, and the menu highlights posh tapas (sea bass with Kaffir lime sabayon; black pork with São Jorge cheese). For traditional Portuguese cuisine, Tulhas Bar (dinner for two $43), on a wee street off the main drag, serves fresh grilled Portuguese river trout stuffed with bacon.

What to Do

In the 18th and 19th centuries, foreign and domestic royalty built over-the-top estates, such as the Quinta da Regaleira—now a museum and concert venue. Other manor houses, including Pena Palace and Monserrate Palace, are landmarks overseen by Parques de Sintra (351-21/923-7300; parquesdesintra.pt); they’re worth touring if only to compare the styles of the attached gardens (neo-Moorish, neo-Gothic, Orientalist). Don’t head back to Lisbon without stocking up on the local queijada pastry (made with goat cheese) at Pastelaria Piriquita (pastries for two $13).

Tivoli Palácio de Seteais

 Originally the 18th-century residence of the Dutch consul, the property opened as a hotel in the 1950’s. A Neoclassical building with frescoed rooms, gilded antiques, and famous guests (Catherine Deneuve; John Malkovich), the place had nevertheless seen better days. One year and 40 specialists later, none of the splendor suffered in favor of a meticulous restoration (complete with updated in-room technology and marble baths).

Lawrence’s

Lawrence's Hotel, the oldest on the Iberian peninsula, is in the center of the small town of Sintra, about thirty minutes northwest of Lisbon via car. Built in 1764, the hotel was carefully restored in 1999 and each of the 16 rooms is individually decorated with dark wood antique furniture, plush floral fabrics, wood floors, and marble and tile bathrooms. The well-known restaurant and bar are done in the country manor style: French windows, golden-yellow walls, and terra-cotta floors. The menu changes frequently but may include main dishes such as roasted duck with Rosti potatoes and berry sauce.

Arola

This 2009-opened restaurant is the brainchild of Spanish chef Sergi Arola, and the menu highlights posh tapas (sea bass with Kaffir lime sabayon; black pork with São Jorge cheese).

Tulhas Bar

For traditional Portuguese cuisine, this favorite on a wee street off the main drag, serves fresh grilled Portuguese river trout stuffed with bacon.

Pastelaria Piriquita

Don’t head back to Lisbon without stocking up on the local queijada pastry (made with goat cheese).

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