Exploring Pena Palace: A Dream Castle Born from an Epic Love - My Journey and Travel Guide to Sintra’s Fairytale

Pena Palace, a colorful fairytale castle, as seen from a distance in Sintra, Portugal

Table of Contents

My Trip To Pena Palace

Palacio Nacional da Pena – The National Palace of Pena, my most beloved destination in Portugal from my 14-day journey. As I started to explore the wonders of Sintra, I found myself irresistibly drawn to the vibrant colors and whimsical architecture of Pena Palace, the crown jewel of this enchanting Portuguese town.

(Picture of Pena Palace in Sintra at the dawn time)

While I was planning my business trip to Lisbon, Portugal, I searched things to do in the area. Suddenly, I was immediately struck by the vibrant red and yellow hues of a picture of Pena Palace in Sintra. It almost looked like a cartoon castle come to life! I knew it right away – it will be my must-visit place in Portugal.

(Picture of Pena Palace in Sintra at the dawn time)

Interestingly, The Pena Palace’s nickname is surprisingly called the castle of “Tomato Scrambled Eggs,” which makes me laugh out loud. How did such a beautiful and historical palace in Sintra get such a unique name?! As you can imagine, I had to know, so I did a little research prior to my arrival in Portugal. And ultimately, I found that this name is due to the color similarity of the famous dish in China – such a unique and humorous cultural reference, absolute genius in my opinion!

(The stunning and vibrant color palette of Pena Palace)

At first, I just assumed the Pena Palace in Sintra was just another over-hyped “Instagrammable” location. But curiosity got the best of me, and after delving deeper into the history behind its construction, I was deeply moved by story of this colorful fairytale castle. Although I tried my best to search for additional information, most records were written in Portuguese, but I had to know more! I was determined to go and discover more stories behind this enchanting palace for myself.

The Enchanting History of Pena Palace

From Monastery to Majestic Palace

The Pena Palace has such a fascinating history. It began as a humble monastery, ravaged by the 1755 earthquake, before undergoing several transformations to reach its current magnificence. But its soul lies in the passionate romance traversing life and death.

King Ferdinand II and Queen Maria II: A Royal Romance

The palace’s owners were Queen Maria II and King Ferdinand II – a love story defying all odds.

At 15, Maria was forced to marry her uncle in a loveless arrangement. That was until her 18th year when she met her cousin, Ferdinand, and it was love at first sight.

Despite defying societal norms and overcoming family disapproval, they chose to spend their lives together. For the first time, Maria experienced the profound sincerity that a marriage could encompass. As Queen and King, they chose to build their Eden together, pouring their hearts and souls into building the National Palace of Pena.

Portrait of King Ferdinand II of Portugal - Pena Palace in Sintra
(King Ferdinand II of Portugal)

Throughout their 17-year union saw the reestablishment of Portugal’s constitutional monarchy and the birth of their 11 children. However, fate had other plans. Tragedy struck as Maria passed away in 1853 from complications from childbirth, leaving the palace unfinished. Even though Ferdinand later remarried to a singer, the Countess of Edla, the walls of the palace forever held Maria’s memory.

The Romantic Soul of Pena Palace

The palace finally finished construction in 1885, the same year of the King’s death. They never had the chance to enjoy this beautiful palace together. After overcoming everything to achieve their dream, there was no one to share that long-awaited joy.


Standing amidst the meticulously crafted romantic gardens of Pena Palace during my trip to Sintra, one wonders if Ferdinand saw glimpses of his beloved Maria amidst the swaying pines. After enduring endless trials and tribulations, does this palatial crystallization of their dreams bring him an ounce of solace?

(The central courtyard of the palace, once the cloister of the monastery, now stands as a testament to the building's rich history and transformation.)

Legend has it that on his deathbed, Ferdinand ordered that he and Maria be buried side by side beneath the palace, feet touching, so their first sight in the afterlife would be of each other.


Witnessing the Pena Palace’s dazzling rainbow of colors, it’s hard not to think of this epic love conquering adversity and time. As a visitor hundreds of years later, such true love transcending life and death moves me profoundly.

Number of visitors annually or the date it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site:

Pena Palace
Key Facts and Info

UNESCO World Heritage Site Since:


Annual Visitor Numbers (2019):

1.5 million

Construction Began:


Architectural Styles:

Romantic, Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic

My Destined Encounter with Pena Palace

Little did I know that my journey to this enchanting Pena Palace in Sintra would be filled with unexpected twists and turns. But then again, don’t all the best stories begin with a few obstacles to overcome?

Overcoming Obstacles: The Journey to Pena Palace

As soon as I was fresh off the plane, I grabbed a rental car 🚗 and made a beeline for Pena National Palace. Despite 30+ hours of jetlag 😭 and lost sleep, I was fixated on glimpsing the vaunted “Tomato Scrambled Eggs” palace with my own eyes 😂. After a 40-minute drive down countryside roads, I was utterly dumbfounded 🙈 upon reaching the village entrance. Predictably, huge crowds from all over had descended en masse, pouring into the tiny town from all directions!

So, I immediately gave up and retreated to my hotel, resigned, disappointed, and extremely tired. And then fate intervened. I met a silver-haired charmer, whom I’ll call Mr. Portuguese 😄.

(Large Crowds at the entrance of Pena Palace during peak tourist seasons)

A Helping Hand: The Generosity of a Local

In chatting with him about Pena National Palace, I was very passionate about the moving history behind the vibrant, fairytale castle. But there was nothing I was telling him that he didn’t already know. Just picture a tourist enthusing about the Qing Dynasty of China to a Forbidden City expert – likely awkward and oblivious to social cues 😅. My husband tried prompting me several times saying, “Are you sure that is right?”, which I, of course, naturally ignored 😜

When he asked about our experience of visiting the palace, I dejectedly responded that I had abandoned all plans to go🤷🏻‍♀️. The crushing crowds were too intense to endure, and it was a mission impossible!

(Excellent wines in Portugal with dated menu)

😯 But Mr. Portuguese took out his phone, took down my name, and generously bestowed rare private tickets! ❣️ He insisted that if you could only visit just one place in Portugal – Pena National Palace was it!


Thanks to his and a local driver’s perfect planning, we successfully completed a pilgrimage to that storied palace 🥳 – The enchanting fairytale Pena Palace. As we approached the vibrant red and yellow walls, I couldn’t contain my excitement. The palace was even more breathtaking in person than I had imagined!

Experiencing the Magic of Pena Palace

My longing to understand Pena Palace was finally fulfilled with an experience beyond my wildest dreams. It was as if a huge burden had been lifted, leaving me profoundly moved by this crystalline embodiment of romantic colors.

Through the Gothic Arches: Entering Pena Palace

Heeding Mr. Portuguese’s advice, we picked the least crowded day on Wednesday. Far from Lisbon’s urban clamor, we journeyed again along the winding mountain road. Passing Sintra’s hillside roads and clusters of Portuguese villas, romantic allure washed over us.

(Image taken inside the Pena Palace during my visit)

The Palace's Vibrant Interior

At last, nestled within emerald hills, the Pena Palace’s bright yellow exterior leapt into sight after a bend in the road during drive through Sintra’s old town. Rose-colored pavilions blended seamlessly with stone grey castles, while in the distance, the towering twin peaks of Sintra National Palace punctuated the mountainous backdrop.

A Fairytale Come to Life

You could easily convince me this was the real-life inspiration for Snow White’s castle! And I’d completely agree with you!


Venturing under the palace’s Gothic-arched entrance, we arrived at the main gates. Crimson and ochre walls perfectly offset the verdant trees and bushes – a beauty beyond words, fantastical beyond belief. Inside, golden luxury abounded with surprises at every turn, the heart-shaped colonnade, vibrantly-colored tiles, and ornately delicate ceiling. Utterly romantic.

(Stunning interior photos and breathtaking views from the windows of Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal)

A Window to the Past: Views from the Pena Palace

I was particularly enraptured by the full-length bay windows on the palace’s upper level. Gazing through them, you could glimpse the entirety of Pena Palace, with Castelo dos Mouros’ turrets visible in the distance. Even faraway Lisbon’s cityscape was remotely in sight. It was magical.


Standing at these windows, I couldn’t help but imagine King Ferdinand II and Queen Maria II admiring the same breathtaking views, their love for each other and their kingdom forever etched in the palace’s history.

The opulent Dining Room on the lower level of Pena Palace, showcasing the royal grandeur of Sintra, Portugal
The Stag Room in Pena Palace, designed as a banquet hall with a circular table, highlighting the architectural wonders of Sintra, Portugal

The Gardens of Pena Palace: A Lush Escape

After exploring the palace’s interior, we ventured into the lush gardens surrounding the estate. The meticulously landscaped grounds feature a diverse array of exotic plants and flowers, their fragrances mingling in the warm afternoon air.

The iconic red tower of Pena Palace, a striking feature of the fairytale castle in Sintra, Portugal

Strolling Through Queen Amelia's Garden

As we strolled along the winding paths, the hustle and bustle of the palace faded away, replaced by the gentle rustling of leaves and the chirping of birds. It was easy to imagine the Queen herself finding solace in this peaceful haven.

(photos of the red tower of Pena Palace while walking through the castle)
The exterior of Pena Palace castle, showcasing its unique blend of architectural styles, as seen after entering the grounds in Sintra, Portugal
The statue of Triton, a mythological figure, guarding the entrance to Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

The Valley of the Lakes: A Tranquil Retreat

Our exploration of the gardens at Pena Palace Sintra led us to the Valley of the Lakes, a series of interconnected ponds and streams nestled in a secluded corner of the estate. The serene beauty of this spot was simply breathtaking.

A panoramic overview of Lisbon city as seen from the vantage point of Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

Afterwards, we sat on a bench overlooking the tranquil pond at Duck Castle. Sunlight danced on the water’s surface, casting shimmering diamonds across the stillness. A gentle breeze whispered through the trees, carrying with it the soothing sound of a trickling stream. In that idyllic setting, watching where the King and Queen once strolled and fed their cherished ducks, all the stresses and worries of the world seemed to melt away. A profound sense of peace and contentment settled over me, a memory I will forever treasure.

(The Duck Castle inside the Pena Palace)
(Photo taken at The Duck Castle inside the Pena Palace)
The lush and meticulously landscaped gardens within the grounds of Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

Some sights and stories can only be properly appreciated through a destined encounter and personal experience. They become irreplaceable memories. I’m thankful to Mr. Portuguese for arranging this unique opportunity, and to Pena Palace itself for gifting me such a singularly magical moment!

The Architectural Wonders of Sintra

While Pena Palace is undoubtedly the crown jewel of Sintra, this enchanting region is home to an array of other architectural marvels that are equally worthy of exploration. During my visit, I had the opportunity to discover some of these hidden gems, each with its own unique charm and fascinating history.

National Palace of Sintra: A Blend of Gothic and Moorish Styles

Nestled in the heart of Sintra’s historic center, the National Palace of Sintra is a testament to the town’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. This stunning palace seamlessly blends Gothic and Moorish architectural styles, creating a visually striking and utterly unique façade.

National Palace of Sintra
The National Palace of Sintra as seen from the Moorish Castle in Sintra, Portugal
(Photo of National Palace of Sintra from inside view)

As I wandered through the palace’s ornate halls and courtyards, I couldn’t help but marvel at the intricate tilework, elaborate ceilings, and grand fireplaces. The palace’s most iconic feature, the two towering conical chimneys, dominates the skyline and serves as a symbol of Sintra’s regal past.

National Palace Sintra
(Photo of National Palace of Sintra from inside view)

Moorish Castle: The Sentinel Above the Clouds

Perched atop a rugged hill overlooking the town of Sintra, the Moorish Castle (Castelo dos Mouros) is a testament to the region’s rich and diverse history. Built in the 8th and 9th centuries by the Moors, this ancient fortress served as a strategic defense point during the Reconquista. The castle’s weathered walls and towering ramparts seem to grow organically from the rocky landscape, creating a striking visual harmony between architecture and nature. As I approached the entrance, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe and reverence for the countless stories these stones could tell.

Moorish Castle
The ancient Moorish Castle, a historic fortress dating back to the 8th century, as seen from Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

As I wandered through the palace’s ornate halls and courtyards, I couldn’t help but marvel at the intricate tilework, elaborate ceilings, and grand fireplaces. The palace’s most iconic feature, the two towering conical chimneys, dominates the skyline and serves as a symbol of Sintra’s regal past.

Moorish Castle
(A view of the Moorish Castle while climbing its steep paths, offering breathtaking panoramic views of Sintra)

Quinta da Regaleira: The Palace of Mysteries

My final stop on this architectural odyssey was Quinta da Regaleira, a 19th-century estate that is as enchanting as it is enigmatic. The palace itself is a masterpiece of Neo-Manueline architecture, with its ornate façade, spiraling turrets, and lush gardens.

Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira, a 19th-century estate known for its Neo-Manueline architecture and enchanting gardens, located in Sintra, Portugal

Moreover, what truly sets Quinta da Regaleira apart is its network of underground tunnels, grottoes, and secret passages. As I descended into the Initiation Well, a spiraling staircase leading deep into the earth, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had stepped into a fairy tale world where anything was possible.

Quinta da Regaleira
The famous Initiation Well, a mysterious spiral staircase leading deep into the earth - Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal

But what truly sets Quinta da Regaleira apart is its network of underground tunnels, grottoes, and secret passages. As I descended into the Initiation Well, a spiraling staircase leading deep into the earth, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had stepped into a fairy tale world where anything was possible.

Quinta da Regaleira
Exploring the enigmatic tunnels and secret passages within Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra

Now that I’ve shared my magical experience at Pena Palace in Sintra, I’m sure you’re eager to plan your own visit to this enchanting destination. As someone who has been there and learned a few tricks along the way, allow me to offer some insider tips to make your journey as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Planning Your Visit to the Pena Palace through Nowy

If you find yourself in Sintra, I highly recommend setting aside some time to discover these hidden gems. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed! 


And if you’re looking for a hassle-free way to plan your itinerary and ensure you don’t miss any of the hidden gems, don’t forget to check out Nowy – your trusted travel companion for all your Sintra adventures.

Nowy travel app to Pena Palace
(Nowy Travel app can plan your trip to Sintra all-in-one place)

As a traveler, planning a trip to Pena Palace can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to navigating through crowds and figuring out the best times to visit. That’s where Nowy comes in – the perfect travel planning app that helps you plan your Pena Palace adventure with ease, providing AI-personalized itineraries, routes & navigation, and the ability to book hotels, flights, tours, and experiences all within your fingertips, ensuring you make the most of your visit.

Tips for Buying Tickets and Skipping Lines

First and foremost, let’s talk about tickets. To avoid the disappointment of arriving at the palace only to face long queues and possibly sold-out tickets, I highly recommend purchasing your entrance passes in advance. You can easily do this online through the official Pena Palace website or through trusted third-party vendors.

Tips for Buying Tickets in Pena Palace
(Nowy Travel app can plan your trip to Sintra all-in-one place)

When buying your tickets, pay close attention to the time slot you select. This is your designated entrance time, NOT the time you should arrive at the palace grounds. Trust me, I learned this the hard way! 😅


It’s crucial to remember that the palace sits atop a mountain, and it takes at least 20 minutes to walk from where you park your car to the entrance. If you miss your appointed time, you won’t be allowed inside the palace. So, make sure to plan accordingly and arrive well in advance of your scheduled slot.

Best Time to Visit Pena Palace: Avoiding the Crowds

Now, let’s talk about timing. As you might have gathered from my own experience, Pena Palace can get pretty crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons. To ensure a more peaceful and enjoyable visit, I suggest planning your trip during the shoulder months of spring (April to May) or autumn (September to October). The weather is still pleasant, but the tourist numbers are significantly lower.


If you’re limited to visiting during the summer months, fear not! Just aim to arrive at the palace early in the morning, right when it opens. You’ll have a better chance of beating the crowds and savoring the beauty of the palace in a more tranquil atmosphere.

Distance from Lisbon and average travel time to Pena Palace:

Distance from Lisbon and average travel time to Pena Palace:

🚗 Lisbon to Pena Palace Travel Info 🏰
Time Spent approximately


Approximately 30 km (18.6 miles)

Average Travel Time by Car

40-50 minutes 🕰️

Average Travel Time by Public Transport

1 hour 30 minutes 🚌

Getting to the Pena Palace: Walking, Tuk-Tuk, or Taxi?

Once you’ve arrived at the Pena Palace grounds, you have a few options for getting to the entrance in Sintra. You can either walk (which takes about 20 minutes), take a bus, or hop on a tuk-tuk

A colorful and popular tuk-tuk, a common mode of transportation for tourists exploring the charming streets of Sintra, Portugal
(Image of popular Tuk Tuk in Sintra)

On the other hand, if you’re feeling adventurous and don’t mind a bit of exercise, walking is a great way to soak in the stunning surroundings. However, if you prefer a quicker and more relaxed journey, the bus or tuk-tuk might be more suitable.

Keep in mind that tuk-tuk prices can vary depending on the season, ranging from €5 per person and upwards. If you’re traveling with a group of four or more, a taxi might be a more cost-effective option.

Plan Your Experiences in Sintra Seamlessly with Nowy

Planning a seamless trip to Sintra, including visits to Pena Palace and other attractions, using the Nowy travel app and its personalized itinerary feature
Planning a seamless trip with Nowy app to Sintra, including visits to Pena Palace and other attractions)

And since you are not guaranteed finding a Mr. Portuguese to rescue your travel plans like I did on this trip, I highly recommend using Nowy, the travel app that I created to help fellow adventurers like you. With Nowy, you can seamlessly plan your trip with a detailed itinerary in your hand. It’s like having your very own pocket-sized travel guru!

Journal Your Personal Travel Albums on Nowy

Nowy's travel journaling feature
(Plan your whole trip to Sintra through Nowy app with your travel albums on itinerary)

Reserve your cherished Sintra memories with Nowy’s intuitive travel journaling feature. Nowy empowers you to create a personalized digital album filled with your photos, thoughts, and experiences as you explore the enchanting sights of Pena Palace and beyond. 


Seamlessly upload images, jot down your reflections, and tag your favorite moments, all within the app. Your travel stories come to life in a beautiful, easy-to-share format that you can treasure for years to come.

🏰 Pena Palace Visit Planning Tips 📅

Best Time to Visit

  • Spring (April-May)
  • Autumn (September-October)

Peak Hours

11 AM - 3 PM

Recommended Arrival Time

At least 30 minutes before your scheduled entrance time

Average Ticket Price

  • €14 for adults
  • €12.50 for children (aged 6-17)

Walking Time from Car Park to Entrance

Approximately 20 minutes

Tuk-Tuk Price (per person)

From €5 (varies depending on season)

Sintra's Culinary Delights

No visit to Sintra, home of the stunning Pena Palace, is complete without indulging in the town’s mouth-watering culinary delights. Meanwhile, as I explored the charming streets and hidden gems of this fairytale town, I discovered a world of flavors that left my taste buds dancing with joy.

Savoring Local Flavors: Travesseiros and Queijadas 😋

One of the first things I learned about Sintra’s culinary scene is that it’s famous for two iconic pastries: travesseiros and queijadas. Travesseiros, which literally translates to “pillows,” are heavenly puff pastries filled with a sweet almond cream. One bite into these crispy, flaky treats, and you’ll understand why they’re a local favorite.


Queijadas, on the other hand, are small, round tarts made with a velvety mixture of fresh cheese, sugar, eggs, and cinnamon. The combination of the creamy filling and the crisp, golden-brown crust is simply irresistible. Trust me, you won’t be able to stop at just one!

Mouth-watering photos of Sintra's famous local pastries, travesseiros and queijadas, showcasing the culinary delights of the region near Pena Palace
(Photos of Sintra's local dishes, the delectable travesseiros and queijadas)

If you find yourself in Sintra, I highly recommend setting aside some time to discover these hidden gems. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed! And if you’re looking for a hassle-free way to plan your itinerary and ensure you don’t miss any of the hidden gems, don’t forget to check out Nowy – your trusted travel companion for all your Sintra adventures.

Recommended Dining: A Gourmet Guide 🍴

While Sintra is renowned for its sweet treats, the town also boasts an impressive array of restaurants and cafes that cater to every palate. During my visit, I had the pleasure of dining at some truly exceptional establishments that left me craving more.

Charming restaurants nestled within the historic town of Sintra, offering a variety of local and international cuisines for visitors to Pena Palace and other nearby attractions
(Charming restaurants nestled within the historic town of Sintra)

For a truly authentic Portuguese dining experience, head to Tasco do Strauss – one of the best local cuisines recommended by the local community!! (Google Ratings 4.9 by 853)


Hidden and nestled in the heart of Sintra, this cozy, family-run eatery serves up traditional dishes like succulent Octopus Salad, Chicken Gizzards, House Board, and the ever-popular Portuguese sausage!

A selection of traditional Portuguese dishes, including house board, clams (meijoas), and grilled sausage, showcasing the authentic flavors of Sintra and the Pena Palace region
(A selection of traditional Portuguese dishes, including house board, clams (meijoas), and grilled sausage)

The local artfully presented dishes are not only a feast for the eyes but also a revelation for the taste buds.

The cozy and inviting interior of Tasco do Strauss, a family-run eatery in Sintra recommended by locals for its delicious traditional Portuguese cuisine
(Tasco do Strauss, a family-run eatery in Sintra recommended by locals)

As I savored each bite of these delectable dishes, I couldn’t help but think that Sintra’s culinary scene is a testament to the town’s rich cultural heritage and the warmth and hospitality of its people.


So, when you find yourself in this enchanting corner of Portugal, be sure to take a break from exploring the fairytale palaces and indulge in the gastronomic wonders that await you. Your taste buds will thank you, and the memories of these flavors will linger long after you’ve left this magical place behind.

Streamline Your Sintra Journey with Nowy

As an avid traveler, I know firsthand how overwhelming it can be to plan the perfect trip. From researching destinations and accommodations to creating a detailed itinerary, the process can be time-consuming and stressful. That’s why I created Nowy – to simplify your travel planning experience and help you make the most of your adventures. 🌍✨

Customize Your Perfect Trip

Nowy's trip customization feature
(Plan your dream trip using Nowy's user-friendly interface with personalized customization)

With Nowy, you have the power to tailor your trip to your exact preferences and interests. Our intuitive platform allows you to easily search for and save your favorite attractions, restaurants, and hidden gems. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or an outdoor enthusiast, Nowy helps you create a personalized itinerary that perfectly aligns with your travel style. 🗺️💡

Find Your Best Stay To Your Itinerary

Accommodation options suggested by Nowy
(A collage of various accommodations recommended by Nowy based on your itinerary)

Choosing the right accommodation is crucial to ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable trip.


Nowy takes the guesswork out of this process by recommending the best places to stay based on distances from your itinerary. You can choose the best options by factors like location, price, and user reviews to suggest hotels, apartments, and vacation rentals that perfectly complement your travel plans. Say goodbye to endless scrolling and hello to your dream stay! 🏨😊

Add Your Flight to Your Itinerary

Nowy's flight integration feature
(Add your flight and Nowy can display your flight information within your itinerary)

Nowy makes it easy to keep all your Pena Palace and Sintra travel information in one place. With our flight integration feature, you can seamlessly add your flight details to your itinerary. This way, you’ll have a comprehensive overview of your entire trip, from take-off to touchdown. No more juggling multiple apps or printouts – Nowy keeps you organized and stress-free. ✈️📅

Journal Your Memories with Easy Sharing

One of the best parts of traveling is creating unforgettable memories. Preserve your memories and inspire others with just a few taps! 📸✏️


You can easily document your adventures and share them with friends and family with Nowy’s journaling feature. Upload photos, write notes, and tag your favorite moments – all within the app. Plus, our easy sharing options allow you to instantly send your travel stories to your loved ones or post them on social media. 

Planning a seamless trip to Sintra, including visits to Pena Palace and other attractions, using the Nowy travel app and its personalized itinerary feature
(Nowy helps travelers journal within the app showcasing photos from their trips)

Why I Founded Nowy

The Spark of Inspiration: Giving Life to Nowy

Standing in the heart of Pena Palace, surrounded by the vibrant colors and intricate details that brought this fairytale castle to life, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own journey in Sintra as a traveler and the moments that have shaped me. Growing up in the remote deserts of Xinjiang, China, I was born into a world of adventure, where childhood trips were decided on the fly and memories were made without the constraints of meticulous planning. 🏜️💭

The author, Branda, posing in front of the enchanting Pena Palace during her visit to Sintra, Portugal
(Photo of myself taken in front of Pena Palace)

As I watched my own children grow up in the bustling city of Washington D.C., I realized that I wanted to give them the same richness of experience that I had enjoyed in my youth. I wanted them to have more than just blurry snapshots and fading memories – I wanted them to have a way to capture and preserve the precious moments that would shape their lives. 👨‍👩‍👦💕


It was this realization that sparked the idea for Nowy. I envisioned a platform that would not only simplify the travel planning process but also serve as a digital journal, allowing users to safeguard their cherished memories and relive them whenever they wanted. 💡🔒

A Serendipitous Moment: The Birth of the Nowy Logo


The journey to bring Nowy to life was filled with serendipitous moments and unexpected inspirations. One such moment occurred during a family trip to New York City, where I stumbled upon a Japanese bookstore filled with markers of every imaginable color. As I held those markers in my hand, I found myself doodling what would later become the original Nowy logo. 🖍️✨


That simple sketch, born from a moment of creativity and inspiration, became the embodiment of my dream. It represented the sun ☀️, the mountains 🌄, the lakes 🏞️, the beaches 🏖️, and the rivers – all the elements that make up our beautiful Earth  and the adventures we experience upon it. 

Nowy travel app Logo
(Nowy was born from a trip in New York while I doodled it with markers)

Empowering Travelers: The Mission of Nowy

With that vision in my heart, I made the leap to leave the corporate world behind and dedicate myself fully to the creation of Nowy. I poured my soul into developing a platform that would empower travelers to create unforgettable journeys, capture their precious memories, and share their stories with the world. 🌍📸


Nowy is more than just a travel planning app – it is a testament to the power of dreams, the importance of cherishing life’s precious moments, and the incredible adventures that await us all. As you embark on your own journeys, I hope that Nowy will be there to guide you, inspire you, and help you create the travel stories of your dreams. 🗺️💫


Q: What is the best time to visit the Pena Palace and Sintra to avoid crowds?

A: Based on crowd data analytics featured in Nowy, visit the Pena Palace in Sintra during shoulder months (Apr-May, Sep-Oct) or early morning by 10 am for fewer crowds.

Q: How can Nowy help plan my visit to the Pena Palace in Sintra?

A: Nowy’s features like itinerary planning using the power of AI is the perfect starting point for creating any itinerary. The ability to see options pinned on a map gives users a visual of their potential getaways to create the perfect itinerary for them.

Q: Are there any hidden gems in Sintra near the Pena Palace that aren’t as crowded?

A: Discover lesser-known Sintra attractions new Pena Palace with Nowy, like MU.SA – Museu das Artes de Sintra,Park and Palace of Monserrate, Sintra-Cascais Natural Park etc.

Q: What are some must-try local dishes in Sintra, and where can I find them?

A: Savor Sintra’s famous travesseiros and queijadas pastries at local bakeries like Piriquita. Nowy can guide you to the best eateries.

Q: Can Nowy help with finding accommodations near the Pena Palace inside Sintra?

A: Absolutely! Nowy offers an endless selection of accommodation options near your destinations. Personalize your preferences and let Nowy find the perfect fit for you.

Q:How does Nowy enhance the travel experience compared to traditional travel apps?

A: Nowy AI tailors recommendations to your unique preferences, seamlessly integrates flights, hotels, and activities, and even helps you capture lasting memories.

Q: Is there a recommended itinerary for a day trip to Sintra, including the Pena Palace?

A: A sample outline for a day trip that Nowy can generate: Start at Pena Palace in Sintra, explore the Moorish Castle, lunch in town, visit Quinta da Regaleira, and end with Monserrate Palace.

Q: How does Nowy capture and preserve my travel memories?

A: Nowy’s in-app journaling lets you journal your trips on the go. Upload photos as you explore, and they will automatically link to their profile and itinerary.

About the Author


Branda Fan is a seasoned technology entrepreneur, Founder, panelist- above all, a wife, and mom with a deep passion for travel. As the founder and CEO of Nowy, an AI-powered travel companion, she combines her expertise in innovation with her love for exploration to empower others to create unforgettable adventures. Branda’s journey began with bedtime stories of faraway lands from her father, igniting a curiosity that transformed into cherished memories of discovering hidden corners together. After his passing, she rediscovered his atlas, a symbol of travel’s transformative power. Today, Branda is dedicated to helping travelers foster connections, broaden perspectives, and create moments that become treasured memories through Nowy – a modern-day atlas for the extraordinary journeys you create.