Looking to explore Sintra by foot? To us, there’s no better way to check out the usual tourist spots in an alternative way. Hiking in Sintra National Park is just one of many ways you can do that in Sintra. 

It’s such a fun way to experience a new place because you get to walk and see all the things you usually wouldn’t see while still experiencing the popular spots. We’ve taken the touristy approach before and taken the bus to all the castles in Sintra. This time we wanted to do it differently, and it was fun to switch it up and go by foot to the Castle of Moors instead.

In this post, we’re going to share our off-the-beaten-path approach to exploring this beautiful castle!

Pin for Pinterest of hiking to Castle of Moors.

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links which means that if you decide to use them we get a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you <3

Everything you need to know about hiking in Sintra to the Castle of Moors

The hike from Sintra to the Castle of Moors starts as soon as you get off the train from Lisbon. There might be a lot going on when you first get to Sintra with all the taxis, busses, and all that but the trail is quite easy once you get on it.

Once you’re away from the crowds you’ll be on your way to the Castle of Moors. A lot of people visit Sintra, so hiking up to the Castle of Moors is a good way to get away from the business of the city and into nature. You will likely see other people as you hike but it is not going to be nearly as crowded as it is by any of the castles or in the city center.

The path up to the castle is very well marked but we still recommend that you come prepared as it can be a little hard to ask for advice in Portuguese (unless you speak it of course). We often get a little lost when we hike in new countries so we’re here to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes as we did!

Keep reading to prepare for your hike!

View of Castle of Moors in Sintra.

Practical information about the hike up to Castle of Moors

Distance: 4.8 km return / 3 miles return
Elevation: 281 m / 921 ft. elevation gain
Type: In and out trail
Length: 2-3 hours return (longer if you continue to Pena Palace)
Difficulty: Moderate
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Click here to see a map of the hike from Sintra to Castle of Moors.

Here’s a picture of the beginning of the trail up to Castle of Moors

A guys standing next to a hiking sign for Castelo dos Mouros.

One thing we love about hiking in Sintra is that as soon as you get off the train you literally have endless possibilities for places to explore. Even though Pena Palace is the iconic thing to see in Sintra, the hike up to the Castle of Moors is just so beautiful that we have to give it some credit. 

You start by walking through the touristy part of Sintra to actually get to the trailhead where the hike starts. It’s a nice way to get a feel for the city and see some of the local shops.

If you’re lucky you can even grab a Pastel de Nata on the way. And if you don’t know what that is then you have to see a photo of a Pastel de Nata because you can’t miss it while travelling in Portugal!

Anyways, less dessert and more hiking. Any chance you get to follow the “yellow and red” trail signs, do it. They will lead you in the right direction and hopefully, make sure you get to the Castle of Moors. If you don’t see the signs, you can always go back to this map ​​that leads you from Sintra to the Moorish Castle up in the Sintra hills.

How to get from Sintra to Castle of Moors

From the train station Igreja de Santa Maria

A girl standing in Parque de Liberdade.
A girl walking up stairs in a park.

This first bit of the trail follows the main road up to the Sintra National Forest. We decided to get away from the main road and hike through Parque de Liberdade. It’s a nice way to get a bit more off the beaten path. 

There are also some great opportunities for pictures in the park. It is so green and beautiful. Through the park, we went straight and up the stairs. Then we took a left towards a little booth from where a lady told us to turn right through the gate. That is your exit. Go straight through it and continue in the same direction on the road. If this sounds confusing to you, just follow this map instead.

Once you’re out of the park, follow the “yellow and red” signs that direct you towards the church of Santa Maria where the trailhead begins. Once you get to Santa Maria Church you will see a proper trail that leads into the Sintra forest.

There were a few times we almost got lost but the signage markers saved us. Just keep your eyes out for yellow and red markers and you’ll find your way no problem. Then out of nowhere, this cute little church will pop up and from there the real hike begins!

Igreja de Santa Maria to Castle of Moors entrance

A man hiking up towards Castle of Moors.

From Igreja de Santa Maria, the hike up to the Castle of Moors becomes easy to follow. Maps, signs, and even info maps will start to pop up all over the place. It’s not the most common way to get to the Castle of Moors since most travellers and tourists usually take the bus up to the castle walls and Pena Palace but it is still pretty common – hence all the info maps.

Outdoor lovers like you and us love to find more off-the-beaten-path ways to get to the touristy spots and this hike is perfect for it.

After a short walk up the forest, you start to come across the first “outer wall”. This wall was used to protect the Castle of Moors back in the day. Once you go through the walls, you will go zig-zagging through the forest trails. These trails will lead you to the entrance of this famous UNESCO site in Sintra. 

There are multiple trails that go up, and the majority of them will take you to the entrance. It is hard to get lost and there will be signs along the way to help guide you.

Exploring the Castle of Moors 

Famous Castle of Moors wall.
Dom hiking in Sintra up to a castle.
Castle of Moors near Sintra.

This is the highlight of this hike in Sintra! If you get the chance, try to start this hike early in the morning so you can have Castle of Moors more to yourself. After 10 am and for the rest of the day all the castles in Sintra get super busy. 

One thing we really recommend, no matter if you come early or not, is buying your entrance ticket beforehand on your phone. You can purchase a ticket for the Castle of Moors here so you can skip the line at the entrance (which can be quite long). A ticket costs €8 no matter if you buy it on your phone or at the entrance, so you might as well save yourself the wait.

The Castle of Moors and the castle walls are awesome to explore. The whole area really feels like you’re in a Game of Thrones movie. There are so many viewpoints including a few really good ones of Pena Palace.

A girl standing in a castle in Sintra.
A girl walking the walls of Castle of Moors.

A smart move is to walk clockwise around the wall so that you don’t have to walk on oncoming traffic the whole way. The wall is quite narrow so it gets a little hectic when you’re walking in the opposite direction of other people. 

This Moorish Castle really blew us away. It’s crazy thinking this castle dates back to the 8th and 9th centuries. And the location up in the Sintra hills overlooking Sintra is just amazing. 

So if you’re considering whether visiting the Castle of Moors is worth it, our answer is yes! It is totally worth it because you get some really good views of Sintra and the whole national park. It’s so beautiful!

Heading back to Sintra

Dom enjoying the views of hiking in Sintra.

There’s actually a few days back down to Sintra from the Castle of Moors. The easiest way is the same way you came up. It’s nice but obviously not as exciting as going another way down. But if you want the quickest and easiest way down then just go with that. 

If you’re up for a bit of an adventure then follow the signs that say “Pena Palace” when you exit the Castle of Moors. You can find the directions here.

It’s a little similar because you’re still in the Sintra Forest but you end up taking a different trail that offers some different views. This trial will also lead you to Sao Martinho which is the touristy area right beside Sintra.

Here you’ll find the famous church of Sao Martinho. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants around the church too so it’s a nice spot to have a little pit stop before the short walk back to Sintra. We got ourselves a coffee to go each and then we sat on the stairs in front of the church and enjoyed the views.

Before you hike up to the Castle of Moors

Beauitgul castle in Sintra.

The first thing to consider is how to get to Sintra! If you’re staying in Lisbon like us (and most other tourists), then we recommend going by public transport. It’s super easy to get from Lisbon to Sintra by public transport and then you have the rest of the day to explore the beautiful national park.

The next thing to consider before hiking up to the Castle of Moors is checking the weather in Sintra. One thing to know is that it gets windy (like really windy) at the top. Both times we’ve been to Sintra it has been extremely windy. So bring a light jacket or something for the top!

It’s also a good idea to download the Mapy app to have the trail instructions on your phone (Mapy.CZ for android or Mapy.CZ for iPhone). Google Maps works for this trail as well but Mapy is just so much more detailed when it comes to hiking, and it’s free so why not?

Mapy.CZ is honestly our favourite hiking app and it has definitely saved our bums a few times when we got slightly lost. Especially on hikes in foreign countries where markings and signage weren’t as great.

What to bring on the trail

A girl standing under pink flowers.
A girl standing next to a house with pink flowers.

Since you’ll be hiking and exploring the castle, you’ll likely be out and about for a while. So we recommend you bring a backpack with a bunch of stuff! Our Osprey bags are always full of sunscreen, snacks, tripod, camera, and other small nik naks that we bring hiking.

It’s not that long of a hike but there isn’t really anywhere to stop for food and snacks besides right in Sintra. There might be a shop open at the top of the Castle of Moors but when we went, it was closed. So it’s best to bring a bag with all the goodies and essentials you may need.

Things to consider bringing:

  • A water bottle! Our Lifestraw has become a lifesaver over the years. We fill it up with fresh mountain water on almost every hike. You can’t do that here but you can fill it up in the bathroom in the castle.
  • Don’t forget to buy your entrance ticket to the Castle of Moors on your phone beforehand.
  • An extra layer for the wind at the top!
  • Sunscreen is a must! Portugal gets hoooot.
  • Your camera to capture those amazing views.

Also, this is a great list of hiking gear that has some more inspiration for you!

View of a beautiful fortress.
A beautiful fortress in Portugal.

You may also like…

We hope you enjoy hiking up to this Moorish Castle in the Sintra National Park. Whether you’re coming for a day trip from Lisbon or living the van life and swinging by Sintra it’s an epic place to visit. We hope you love it.

There’s so much more to do in this part of Portugal so spend some time in this area and make the best of your travels through this beautiful country. If you’re looking for more inspiration, you can check out some of our other Portugal posts here.

Have fun!

Dom & Jo
Red White Adventures

Red White Adventures logo for instagram.

Love it? Share it!

Pin for Pinterest Castle of Moors Sintra Castles!
Castle of Moors pin for Pinterest.
Posted in

You may also like...

Leave a Comment