16 Enchanting Castles in Portugal Straight Out of a Fairy Tale
When you think of things to do in Portugal, you don’t always think of castles. That being said, there’s a heap of the best castles in Portugal that are dotted all over the country.
Now, typically you might think of Portugal for its beautiful beaches, dramatic quaint villages and incredible cities like Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra or Viana do Castelo too.
That would be a mistake though.
There are literally hundreds of the best castles in Portgual that are just to easy to include on a road trip around the country. In fact, if you decide to go castle-hopping, you could be at it for several weeks whilst in Portugal!!!
To that end, I wanted to share some of the very favourites that I’m hoping you will love.
Now, you may have heard of a few but I’m really hoping there’s a good amount you’ve yet to hear about, too. Take a look, below, at my choice of the best castles in Portugal to visit.
1. Pena Palace
Let’s start off with the most popular one of them all; Pena Palace.
This colorful castle is set atop a hill in Sintra is as fairytale looking as they get.
From the name, Pena Palace sounds like it is a palace but is, in fact, a Romanticist castle.
The main difference between palaces and castles being that palaces tend to be predominantly places of residence while castles tend to have a defensive function (Palaces are also signs of wealth and so tend to typically be “newer” than castles).
When you visit Pena Palace, be sure to check out all the other amazing sights in Sintra, too.
2. Castle of Santa Maria da Feira
This castle is one of those places that just leaves an indelible impression on your once you see it! It’s arguably one of the best-preserved castles in Portugal.
Plus, with the relatively close proximity to the beautiful cities of Porto and Aveiro it is worth coinciding a visit with a trip to one of those cities. It really is one of the best castles in Portugal to visit.
3. The Castle of the Moors
Also based in Sintra, this hilltop castle is actually one of the best views of Pena Palace and of Sintra as a whole.
The Castle so impressive, it’s one of the top UNESCO World Heritage sites to see in Portugal. The Castle is just a short walk from Sintra’s Pena Palace and so a visit to one should ideally be tied into a visit with the other.
4. Castle of Montemor-o-Velho
The Castle of Montemor-o-Velho is a castle so old, it’s older than Portugal as a nation. This easily makes it one of the best castles in Portugal to explore if you want to visit medieval history.
It’s also one of the most impressive places to visit in Portugal due it’s long, interesting and sometimes violent history as a battleground between the Christians and Muslims looking to rule Portugal.
The sheer size of the castle makes it worth setting aside a fair amount of time to explore and enjoy.
5. Guimarães Castle
This iconic castle is spot almost 1,000 years ago where the Battle of São Mamede was won by Alfonso, resulting in the independence of Portugal.
Alfonso, post-victory, went on to become the first King of the Nation ergo why this Castle is now known as the birthplace of Portugal.
Actually, after that Battle, he became Prince of Portugal. And, it was only after the Battle of Ourique down South, where he defeated the Moors that he became the unanimous King of Portugal.
Anyway, long story short, there’s a long and rich history behind this castle making it a fascinating place to visit in Portugal.
6. Castle of Tomar
The Castle of Tomas was actually built by the Knights Templar and is an important place to visit in Portugal.
Plus, it’s worth visiting not just for the Castle itself, but for all the other stunning architectural beauties around it. The most popular of which is the Templar-built Covent of Christ. It’s amazing.
7. Castle of Óbidos
This is one of the most impressive castles to visit in Portugal. Plus, it’s set with a beautiful village of Obidos which is perfect for exploring while simultaneously taking in the castle views.
This is easily a place you can spend a fair bit of time in so when you do decide to visit, set aside some time to not only enjoy the castle but the settlement of Obidos as well. It really is one of the best castles in Portgual to see and it’s totally unique.
8. Castle of Abrantes
This castle was one of the key places in the reconquest of Portugal from the Moors and as such is an important historical site and one of the best castles in Portugal for sure.
This spot in Abrantes has always been of importance to the region and is the reason why there’s been an important structure here (including the castle) in some form for thousands of year.
Totally worth visiting, even if for the fascinating insight into Portuguese history.
9. Castle of Almourol
Set on the banks of the Tagus River, the picturesque castle is best seen from the opposite side of the river and even better so at sunset.
The Castle is part of the reconquest castles of Portugal and is heavily influenced by the Knights Templar who rebuilt it after its destruction almost a thousand years ago.
10. São Jorge Castle
This castle is hard to miss when you visit the capital city of Lisbon. You will love Lisbon as well.
Sitting atop a hill, with fortifications dating back over 2,000 years, the castle served as the ancient seat of power in Portugal for over 400 years and is now one of the top spots to visit when you’re in the city.
11. Castle of Evoramonte
This Gothic Castle has been home to everyone from the Romans to the Moors.
Though, over the course of time and is particularly iconic as the spot where a peace treaty was signed, ending the civil war in Portugal (in 1834). It’s totally incredible and there are literally thousands of years of historical evidence here.
12. Castle of Aljezur
This medieval castle is more ruins than it is a full castle with a multitude of grand rooms worth exploring.
The beautiful green countryside and the surrounding villages make this absolutely worth a visit.
13. Castle of Bragança
This medieval castle, located in the middle of an equally medieval town is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. Or, perhaps even a whole day!
The medieval town is a reason in itself to visit this beautiful part of Portugal and the Castle just adds to the appeal of Bragança.
14. Castle of Esporão
Okay, so this is one of the smaller ones! That being said, it’s still one of the best castles in Portugal you have to see.
In fact, it’s more of a tower than a castle but it’s absolutely worth popping into, even if briefly.
It is a unique symbol or Portugal’s progression from the Middle Ages to the Modern age and looks nothing like any of the other beautiful castles.
15. Castle of Marvão
The village of Marvao is one of the gorgeous little places to visit in Portugal with a history spanning several millennia and a castle that is just the perfect icing on the cake.
The Castle is a brilliantly preserved Medieval castle with a beautiful garden to match and that obligatory stunning view of the village of Marvão from the castle.
16. Sabugal Castle
On the border with Spain lies Sabugal, which has one of the best castles in Portugal to explore.
Now, it might be one of the lesser-visited of them, but one that is definitely worth visiting if you’re in the area.
This castle was the negotiations grounds for the borders years ago (although the layout of Europe looked very different back then).