At the centre of a lush, 30-hectare park, a manicured lawn sweeps up to this whimsical, Moorish-Gothic-Indian palácio, the 19th-century romantic folly of English millionaire Sir Francis Cook. The wild and rambling gardens were created in the 18th century by wealthy English merchant Gerard de Visme, then enlarged by landscape painter William Stockdale (with help from London’s Kew Gardens).
Its wooded hillsides bristle with exotic foliage, from Chinese weeping cypress to dragon trees and Himalayan rhododendrons. Seek out the Mexican garden nurturing palms, yuccas and agaves, and the bamboo-fringed Japanese garden abloom with camellias.
The park is 3.5km west of Sintra-Vila.