The Sintra Castle (a.k.a. Moorish Castle) is quite impressive with its walls on top of the hill.
It offers a different perspective of the area than all the extravagant palaces.
Below is my guide to help you plan your visit to the Castle of the Moors in Sintra with tips, photos and maps.
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Why visit the Sintra Castle of the Moors?
Is it worth visiting the Castle of the Moors?
Yes, the Castle of the Moors is definitively worth a visit.
It is quite a contrast to the palaces in the area. Plus, it offers brilliant views over the town and towards the Pena Palace.
Built in the 10th century, the Castle of the Moors used to be a military fort, serving as an outpost for the city of Lisbon.
The Castle of the Moors is definitively one of the top things to do in Sintra.
And below is a short video of my visit to help you decide if you want to add it to your itinerary.
More photos and details after the planning tips.
This is one of my favorite places in Portugal.
About the name
Its official name is Castelo dos Mouros Sintra (in Portuguese) or Castle of the Moors or Moorish Castle.
It should not be mixed up with the Moorish Castle in Gibraltar.
Planning tips and Maps - Sintra Castle Portugal
Where is the Portuguese Castle of the Moors located? Map
- In the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park (see guide)
- West of Lisbon
- 30min drive from Lisbon
This location is included (with GPS coordinates, map of location and planning info) in my travel guides eBooks that help you easily plan your Portugal road trip:
How to get to the Castle of the Moors in SintraFrom Lisbon to Sintra:
- by car - easy 30min drive West
- by metro-train from Lisbon (Rossio station)
- or via a small group tour from Lisbon (including the coast) - many companies offer day trips from Lisbon including some palaces and coastal locations. Just sit back and learn from the guide - see options and availability
- The Pena palace is on top of a hill - you can walk from the city center, but it is quite steep!
- By car: there are a couple of car parks near the Palacio da Pena Sintra but access is via a small road where you will have to wait in the traffic jams, and the carparks get full very quickly
- By taxi: you will still have to be patient but no parking issues...
- By tuk tuk
- By bus: there is a cheap bus that leaves from the city center, however the queues in October were huge so I can't imagine in Summer
- Bus from the train station: 434 (Scotturb)
- By hop on hop off - several companies do stop there - pre-purchase your ticket in your currency
Need to rent a car in Portugal?
- Compare car rental prices on my favorite platform: Discovercars.com - one of the best rated sites!
- Choose the car and company you prefer (remember the villages narrow streets)
- Consider their full coverage option - I always take it for peace of mind!
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
See all my 36 tips in my Portugal car rental article.
Castle of the Moors Parking
As you can see in the map above, there are 3 carparks in the area of the Castle of the Moors
They are practical to explore both the Castle of the Moors and the Pena Palace.
However, they are not huge and they fill up quickly in the morning.
Visit early at opening hours or choose a cab or buses.
Note that you may also have to be patient on the road as it is sinuous and crowded.
How long to visit the Sintra Castle?
Plan at least 2 hours to explore the castle
The access to the central area is quite easy and fast but the explore the remaining walls, you need to climb many stairs.
- Sintra Castle tickets - 8€ per adult during High season (march to October) - or combined ticket with Pena Palace and National Palace
- Sintra Castle opening hours - 8:30am to 6:30pm - last admission 6pm
- Check out the official website for latest prices and hours
- Better to take a combined ticket with the Pena Palace - both are worth seeing
- Easy access to the central area but then a lot of stairs to explore the wall
- If you have difficulties, either visit only the right side which has less steps or climb 60 steps to the first tower on the left for great views of Pena.
Cafés and Restaurants
At the Moorish Castle you can find:
- The Castle Cafeteria - inside the castle walls with a terrace
- The Guard House with a roof terrace - can be temporarily closed
Where to stay in Sintra
I recommend staying at least one night in Sintra, to have more time to explore this unique area.
Check out the best rated accommodations in Sintra.
Where to stay in Portugal?
- In Lisbon, to explore the vibrant city - see best rated accommodations
- In Sintra, to visit as many palaces as possible - see best rated accommodations
- In Porto, to feel the history - see best rated accommodations
- In Obidos, to walk on the medieval walls at sunset - see best rated accommodations
- In the Douro valley, if you love wine - see best rated accommodations
- In the Algarve, my favorite town is Lagos - see best rated accommodations
- In the Algarve, Portimao is practical to visit all the best beaches - see best rated accommodations
Find more inspiration in my article about where to stay in Portugal
Views from the distance
The Castelo dos Mouros Sintra is located on top of a hill in a lush forest.
You can see it quite well from everywhere in the surroundings.
This first picture was taken from the Pena Palace, with a zoom:
And here is a view from the walk between the Sintra city Center and the National Palace:
Access to the Castle of the Moors in Sintra
After paying your entry ticket, you first have a flat 500m path in the forest all the way to the gate in the curtain wall. It is quite enjoyable and a reprieve from the heat.
On your way, you can stop at the Archeological investigation site where the medieval Islamic quarter and Christian necropolis were located. In the church (Sao Pedro de Canaferrim) is the Historical Interpretation center of the Moorish Castle with a model of the Sintra Castle and a display of the most important pieces found during the digs
And then you finally arrive at the Entrance. This is where your ticket is checked.
History of the Castelo dos Mouros
Before we climb the wall up to the towers, let's discover a few facts about the castle:
- In 5000BC the slopes of the hill were occupied by Neolithic communities
- Built around the 10th century by the Moors people (according to the documents at the castle, but other sources say 9th century...)
- You can see at the Arms square the Green Flag with the word Sintra in Arabic characters to remind visitors of the origin of the castle
- After the Conquest of Lisbon, King Alfonso Henriques ended the Muslim Rule
- The castle was fortified during the 14th century by King Ferdinand I but then abandoned
- In 1839, King Ferdinand II initiated the restoration in the romantic style of the period
- It was included in the Unesco list as part of the Sintra Hills in 1995
Climb to the Royal Tower of the Moorish Castle of Sintra
From the central Arms Square you can either climb to the right (East) or to the left (West then South).
I started to the left because the Sintra Palace was there.
There are a lot of steps to climb and some are quite high. Difficult if you have knee problems. For those with limited mobility, there are 60 steps to the first tower where you can sit with a great view of the Pena Palace.
But if you can, you can continue climbing to the Royal Tower for some impressive views. It is called the Royal Tower because King Ferdinand II used to paint there. It has an amazing view of the Palace of Pena (as you can see on the last picture in the sections Views from the Castle of the Moors)
Before going up, remember that you have to get back down and it can be hard on your knees!
Climb to the Castle Keep
You can also climb to the right towards the Castle Keep. On this side you reach more than just a wall, more of a castle. This is where the civil or church authorities resided.
In the event of an attack, it was the last Stronghold.
It is lower so you have a lot less steps to reach it.
Views over Sintra and the other palaces
What is really amazing with the Sintra Castle are the views over everything around.
For example, you have a fantastic bird eye view of the Sintra National Palace:
But the best views are those of the Pena Palace (discover its crazy colors in the Pena Palace article):
Answers to FAQs
Is the Moorish Castle Free?
No, there is an entrance fee to visit the remaining walls of the Castle of the Moors.
And you can combine with an entrance to the Pena Palace.
Who built the Moorish Castle in Sintra? How old is it?
The Sintra Moorish Castle is a fortification from the 10th century, when the Moors occupied the Iberian Peninsula.
Be careful there are also Moorish castles in Spain and Gibraltar.
Don't mix up the information found online.
Want to see more of the best Portugal has to offer?
- 30 Most beautiful landscapes in Portugal - read article
- Best things to do in Portugal - read article
- The best beaches in Portugal - read article
- The best villages in Portugal - read article
- Lisbon vs Porto - where to go? - read article
- Driving in Portugal - read article
- The best of the Algarve region - read article
- The highlights of Sintra and the Sintra-Cascais Nature park - read article
Planning a trip to Portugal?
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