The Palaces of Sintra, Portugal are beyond. There are several of them in one little town and each trumps the one you've last seen. A bizarre mixture of textures, centuries, faded dreams, luxury and ruin. We rented a car for a few days before reaching Lisbon and stopped at the palace complex atop a verdant hill dotted with fortresses, wild estates owned by important mistresses, and of course, a few unreal castles.
Enter Pena National Palace. Feel it's crumble, breathe in the misty clouds that surround this bygone fairytale, try to get a snack at the coffee shop undergoing construction, and enjoy the nouveau riche absurdity and beauty of it all.
If You Go:
Sintra, Portugal (about a 1 hour bus ride from Lisbon)