In 1809, Lord Byron declared this lost-in-time Portuguese enclave as "the most beautiful [place] perhaps in the world", so enamoured was he by the fern-frilled forests and fairy-tale palaces dotted across its rolling hills. Located in the foothills of Portugal's Sintra Mountains, the curious town is a designated Unesco World Heritage site on account of its whimsical architecture. The 19th-century Pena Palace is considered the city's jewel. Surrounded by extensive parkland, the yolk-yellow, Moorish-influenced fortress, complete with checkerboard-floored cloisters, entirely azulejos-tiled bedrooms and grotto-filled gardens, provides a crash course in 19th-century decadence. Just a 40-minute train journey from Lisbon, Sintra is a great option for a classically romantic break.
Where to stay: Tivoli Palácio de Seteais