EuropeLisbon Day Trip: Exploring the Moorish Castle in Sintra
Portugal Moorish Castle or Castelo dos Mouros

Lisbon Day Trip: Exploring the Moorish Castle in Sintra

Maybe because it has more history than all of the Sintra sights combined , maybe because it has the most authentic feel to it , less crowds and the true bird’s eye view for everything including Atlantic Ocean if you are lucky , visiting Moorish Castle in Sintra was one of the highlights of my Portugal trip .

Sintra’s Moorish Castle Visit

There is just something magical about climbing these romantic 1000 years old ruins, running down some pretty epic stairs , the wind catches your hair … and your skirt .

It’s so high up , you just feel like you left the rest of the world behind . Even though Sintra is only 15 km away from Lisbon , the climate there is quite different due to the high elevation and the prevailing winds that blow in moist air from the Atlantic Ocean.

How to visit the Morrish Castle as part of your day trip to Sintra

The Moorish Castle , or the Castle of the Moors or Castelo dos Mouros is only about a 10 minute walk from the Pena Palace – where most of the tourists are . Visiting Pena Palace first thing in the mooring and then heading to the Castle is the ideal layout  . In the clear mountain air, views are amazing.

North African MuslimMoors built the originalcastle during the 10th century as a military fort.

Here are some good tips I brought from my Moorish Castle visit :

  • Start your day trip before the parks open at 9 am (10 am in the wintertime) if you can,because right at 9am the cars and busloads of tourists start pouring in. Large tour groups are normally done by 3PM .
  • Avoid walking from the historic centre to the Castelo dos Mouros because the hill is very steep.
  • The best was to get to the Castle is a 10 min walk from the Pena Palace
  • Wear or bring comfortable shoes , there will be a lot of walking involved at sights and in between the sights .
  • Do not drive to Sintra, the roads are not designed or suitable for tourist traffic.
  • Parking : there are very limited car parking facilities.The road is one way, so if you don’t find a spot close to the entrance, you’ll have to go all the way down, circle around toward the entrance, and try your luck again.
  • Bring a jacket or a sweater . You will be up on a mountain and even in the middle of summer you will feel the piercing wind up there , while it can be hot below. Not mentioning how cold and windy it is in winter !

The Moorish Castle in Sintra is a classic ruined castle with high fortified stone walls, massive battlements, treacherous ramparts. You can discover so many things! There are amazing panoramic views from the high vantage points over the hills of the Serra De Sintra and the plains stretching west to the Atlantic Ocean. The Moors castle does not have the history of the National Palace or the extravagance of the Pena Palace, however, it is still highly recommended and a pleasant attraction of Sintra.

Even thought there is a lot of walking involved , and comfortable shoes are highlighted recommended ( at least to move around between the sights and go uphill), I think it’s simply a must to wear some kind of a flow skirt if you are a girl . Not only it looks gorgeou on photos , with the wind catching it , you just feel very princessy and feminine in these surroundings .

Many breathtaking views are waiting for you! Stunning landscapes and the fairytale town of Sintra beneath the fortress are a part of the memorable panoramic views. You can see the magnificent Pena Palace on one side and on the other, the oldest palace in Portugal, the National Palace of Sintra. If you are so lucky to get suitable weather then you will see the Atlantic Ocean from the highest spot of the tower which is known as the King’s Tower.

Sintra is a small city and you can easily explore it by walking everywhere. The beautiful city is in the mountains with many steep climbs. You can reduce the amount of hiking or walking on the other side if you use the hop on hop off Sintra bus. The happy thing is there is a bus stop right outside the train station which goes to all of Sintra’s main attractions.

The best part of your day trip can be the Moorish Castle and the castle wall walk. Be careful about the steps because the walkway is not smooth. If you decide to do the castle wall walk then you need to wear practical shoes, namely ballet flats. You should avoid heels or flip-flops for safety.

You can take amazing pictures of Pena Palace and other Sinta attractions like the Monserrate Palace, the National Palace, and the Palace of the Seteais from the wall of the castle. If you are a nature lover, it will be an outstanding moment for you

For a day trip, the best way to get from Lisbon to Moorish Castle in Sintra is by train. You can get a wonderful ride through that train which runs every 30 minutes from the Rossio Train Station in Lisbon. It will take less than an hour. You can collect tickets at the train station before you catch the Lisbon train to Sintra. The cost can be €4.30 for a round-trip ticket. The fee can be charged to the reusable “Viva Viagem” public transport ticket that is moreover used for the Lisbon buses, trams, and metro. You have to buy the card for €0.50

Sintra can get very busy during the summer months, so try to start your day trip as early as possible. During the busy season, the Moorish Castle is open from 9:30 am to 8 pm with the last entry being at 7 pm. The low season duration is the hours from 10 am to 6 pm with the last entry being 5 pm. It will be better to go early and beat the crowds and also would suggest allowing two hours to see the castle. If possible it will be the best idea to plan a tour Sintra during the week instead of the weekends to avoid crowed. Crowds are the worst on weekend, Sunday.

There is really no better place for being a professional photographer or having a photoshoot . Every part of Sintra is exotic and authentic . You can take amazing pictures of Pena Palace and other Sinta attractions like the Monserrate Palace, the National Palace, and the Palace of the Seteais from the wall of the castle. If you are a nature lover, it will be an outstanding moment for you .

How to get to Sintra

If you’re planning a trip to Sintra, Portugal, you might be wondering about the best way to get there. While there are a few options, the most obvious way is by local train from Lisbon. This will take you straight to the terminus in Sintra and the journey lasts around 40 minutes. You can easily purchase tickets from a machine or at the ticket office at Rossio Central Station. If you prefer driving, you can follow the A5 road from the center of Lisbon, but be warned that finding a parking space might be tricky. In the center of Sintra, you’ll need to use parking meters and the cost depends on the time and zone. To avoid parking issues, it’s best to arrive in the city before 9am.

Pro tip for visiting Moorish castle:

If your travel plans include a visit to the stunning Pena Palace and the historic Moors’ Fortress in Sintra, Portugal, there are a few options to get there. The easiest and most convenient way is to take a bus from the train station. Bus 434 operated by Scotturb will take you straight to your destination. You can purchase tickets on the carrier’s website for added convenience. However, if you’re up for a challenge and some beautiful sights, consider taking the more difficult but rewarding route by foot.

The climb to the Moorish fortress and Pena Palace is quite steep, so bring plenty of water and snacks to fuel up along the way. One must-visit stop is the recently restored Villa and Sassetti Garden, which offers free entry and a chance to catch your breath before resuming the journey. Whatever option you choose, the incredible views and rich history of Sintra make it a destination worth the effort.

Pro tip for visiting Pena palace:

If you’re planning a trip to Sintra, Portugal and don’t want to miss out on the Pena Palace or the Moors’ Fortress, there’s a handy tip to keep in mind. Take bus 434 from the train station and voila, you’re on your way to these impressive landmarks! You won’t have to worry about navigating the unfamiliar roads or finding parking spaces. Plus, you can simply sit back and admire the scenery along the way. But if you’re up for a bit of a challenge, you could always make the climb to the Moorish fortress and the Pena Palace on foot. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also get some exercise and a chance to see the Villa and Sassetti Garden, which has recently been restored and has free entry.

I believe that you can travel the world without quitting your job. I believe that you can experience all the magic, the foodies and the cultures of the world while having a normal life. And, perhaps, two dogs. This is exactly what I’ve been doing for 15 years. This is exactly what my blog is about. Love, Lilia

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