Why don’t you go to Mafra for a chance?

Everybody goes to Sintra. But why don’t you visit Mafra? From Lisbon Airport it’s only a bit more than a half an hour drive. And by the way, Mafra is close to Sintra. So go to this little town! Mafra welcomes you with a breathtaking view of a huge palace.

Mafra Palace

Bride in Mafra

Besides that, in Sintra it’s overloaded with tourist, in Mafra you walk through the palace like you are the king and queen yourselves, without having to share the rooms with tenths of others. I particularly enjoyed the many photo-opportunities in the Royal Palace and Convent of Mafra.

Mafra Palace

Mafra Palace

Mafra Palace

Mafra Palace

The baroque building accomodated not only kings and queens, but monks, as well.

Royal Concent of Mafra, infirmary

Many Franciscan monks lived and died in this Royal Convent. Luckily the areas, such as the infirmary, kithchen and pharmacy are open to the public.

Royal Convent of Mafra; kitchen

The royal convent : pharmacy

But the most impressive part of the Royal Convent is still to come: the magnificent library. The monks possessed over 36.000 books.

The Royal Convent of Mafra

Wandering through the palace and convent you understand why I recommend Mafra vividly. Sintra is just a smaller sister. The massive building of Mafra with 1200 rooms, 4700 doors and windows, 156 stairways and 29 inner yards and courtyards left me astonished. And I am not the only one. Nobel Prize -winner José Saramago wrote “Memorial do Convento”, explaining the origin  of this eighteenth century building. “Memorial do Convento” became “Baltasar and Blimunda” in the English version. The love story of Baltasar and Blimunda is set in a period Portugal suffered severely from the Inquisition.


But nowadays nothing reminds us of the pain the Inquisition inflicted. Mafra is a lovely town with rows of pastel coloured and tiled houses.



In front of the main entrance of the palace you can have lunch at the square. The bakery on the corner, Polo Norte, has excellent pastry, bread and a simple lunch menu (sandwiches, quiche, soup). Try also the ‘macarons’. They are delicious!

Polo Norte, Mafra

Close to Mafra you will find a 800 acres wildpark: Tapada de Mafra. In ancient time Portuguese kings used to spend days hunting in the forest. Nowadays visitors run, walk, bicycle in the park. And if you want to become a falconer, you follow a workshop learning how to train a bird of prey.

Meet the boss: eagle owl Safira.

But perhaps you are not interested in falcons, but in bees. In that case,  you choose the apiculture-workshop and learn all about bee-culture. Or you rather want to learn to shoot like a medieval warrior? Then go to archery. Horselovers perhaps want to explore the park on the back of a horse. Possible, as well. And in case you are thinking of getting married: the surroundings are magnificent for a wedding. Wanting to leave the urban stress and sleep in a forest? Rent one of the rooms and wake up in the park.

Still not convinced? Stay in Sintra and don’t go to Mafra…


Important information:

Palácio de Mafra 

Opening hours:
9.00h -18.00h (latest entry 17.00H)
closed on Tuesdays!

Terreiro D. João V, 2640 Mafra, Portugal
Telephone: +351 261 817 550

Free parking in the neighbourhood of palace

Do go to the site of Palácio de Mafra for up-to-date information about festivals, opening hours etc.

Website:  Palácio de Mafra

Wild park Tapada de Mafra

Opening hours:
9.00h – 17.00h
as far as I know, open all week

Tapada Nacional de Mafra
Portão do Codeçal
2640-602 Mafra

38.964797, -9.302733
N 38º 57.884, W 009º 18.162

Offices – +351 261 817 050
Reception – +351 261 814 240
E-mail: geral@tapadademafra.pt

Website: Tapada nacional de Mafra

In case you want one of the workshops: make a reservation in advance! Other activities (like exploring the park on the back of a horse) are scheduled as well. At the site Tapada Nacional de Mafra you can find this information.

View from a window at Hotel Borges
View from a window at Hotel Borges, Lisbon

‘Do you like Portugal’is the English version of ‘Zin in Portugal’ (Dutch). Do you have a particular interest in Portugal? Wanting to visit Portugal?  Follow writer’s Esa Caldas blogs by subscribing (right, in the corner you see a ‘follow/volg’-button). And no, you won’t get any spam.
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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Bipasha says:

    Great tip! I’ve been to Sintra, but maybe Mafra next time 👍


    1. Esa Caldas says:

      Thank you! Mafra is indeed very interesting! So please go there! And have you heard of Óbidos? A medieval town in the Silver Coast area? Óbidos was known as the pearl in the crown. A beautiful small village, surrounded by castle walls.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bipasha says:

        Oh dear, and here I thought I mightn’t need to go back to Portugal! I gotta get planning for another trip, thanks for the pointers )

        Liked by 1 person

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