Discover Portugal is fully reader-supported. For that reason, this article contains some affiliate links. I may earn a small commission when you purchase through links on this page at no additional cost to you. All revenue is used to keep this website free and updated. I only recommend products or services that I would use myself. You’ll be able to read the full disclaimer here. Thanks for your support!
Table of Contents
How to get to São Jorge Castle in Lisbon
Castelo de São Jorge is visible everywhere, wherever you stand in Lisbon! It is one of the most famous sights in Lisbon, and it’s a recommendation to visit the castle. It sits high on one of the seven hills, and bus 737 can bring you all the way to the top. That saves a lot of walking!
Castelo de São Jorge is located in the heart of Alfama, and it’s a pretty steep walk up. Thankfully Lisbon has many elevators and escalators, and you can walk up to the castle without too much effort. With the help of Elevador do Castelo and Elevador da Baixa, you’ll be up the hill in no time! Click here for more info on how to navigate Lisbon’s hills for free.
Opening times Castelo de São Jorge
The best time to visit Castelo de São Jorge is later in the day. It’s less warm, less busy, and you can enjoy an unbelievable sunset from one of the viewpoints. The castle is open 7 days a week (apart from January 1st, May 1st and December 25th) from 9 am until 9 pm in the summer. Between November and March, it closes at 16:30.
The history of Castelo de São Jorge
Castelo de São Jorge was built in the mid-11th century and major renovations took place in the 1940s. Today we see most of the newly constructed castle walls and watchtowers, and there are archaeological sites to be visited. The castle overlooks the whole city of Lisbon and the views are magical!
Originally, Castelo de São Jorge was built to house military troops in case of a siege. It was built during the Moorish period and was not built to be used as a residence. There are 11 watchtowers in total from which you have stunning views over the city. The most impressive towers are Torre de Menagem, Torre do Haver ou do Tombo and Torre da Cisterna. You can climb on many of the towers and follow the castle walls around for the best views.
The Garden and former palace
In the 1940s a garden was added to the castle. It’s a gorgeous green area with native trees from the Portuguese forests. You’ll spot oak trees, olive trees and a variety of fruit trees around the castle walls. Behind the Permanent Exhibition Museum, you’ll also discover the ruins of the citadel of the former Royal Palace. The Royal Palace was heavily damaged during the 1755 earthquake, but there is still a collection of buildings left. It now houses the cafe and Casa do Leão Restaurant. From the gardens, you have a fantastic view of the city.
The trees also house a special animal! The gardens are packed with peacocks that show their beautiful colours from time to time. Are you at Castelo de São Jorge during the sunset? They’ll make a ton of noise before going to bed in the high trees and it’s spectacular to watch and listen to.
Buy me a Coffee
Camera Obscura and the Archeological Site
At set times you can have a look in the Black Chamber. Here you’ll find a camera obscura, an optical system which shows you a detailed 360º view of Lisbon. The system uses mirrors and lenses to create a view of Lisbon in real-time. The camera obscure is open between 10 am and 5:20 pm.
The archaeological ruins at Castelo de São Jorge are also restricted and can only be visited with a tour guide. The oldest settlements date from the Iron Age between the 7th century B.C. and the 3rd century B.C. The other remnants are of the Moorish era from the mid-11th century. The houses that once stood here were 160m2 and 190m2 in size and had spectacular geometric designs.
In the small museum, you have the opportunity to visit a permanent exhibition. Inside you’ll discover a collection of objects found in the archaeological site of the castle. The collection contains vases and attributes from the Moorish period.
Tickets for São Jorge Castle
At the entrance, you can buy your ticket for €10 per adult. Children between 13 and 25 years old pay only €5 to enter the castle grounds. People over 65 and people with disabilities recieve a reduced rate of €8.50. Children under the age of 12 and Lisbon residents can enter for free! Do you want to skip the queue? Tip: You can buy your tickets online to save time.
The surroundings of the castle
Not only inside the castle walls, you’ll enjoy its beauty, also in the surrounding streets is plenty to see! This area is freely accessible and there are lovely places to eat and stay. You can enter the main gate to the castle free of charge and look around the quiet streets around the church Igreja Paroquial de Santa Cruz do Castelo.
The neighbourhood of Alfama is also not to be missed. Here you’ll discover sights like the Sé de Lisboa, Miradouro da Santa Luzia, the Pantheon and São Vincente de Fora. On a rainy day in Lisbon, you can visit the Fado Museum and enjoy a Fado show afterwards. Or have a look in the Azulejo Museum, just a short walk away and discover the stunning tiles.
Sleep like a fairytale princess
Around the castle are some mesmerising hotels and apartments where you can stay. Now that’s an accommodation in style! Here are some recommendations: