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Sesimbra castle

Visit the stunning Sesimbra Castle, the place to overlook the Setúbal peninsula

Castelo de Sesimbra, or Sesimbra Castle in English, is a gorgeous castle on a hilltop just outside the Portuguese town of Sesimbra. The castle overlooks the Setúbal peninsula and Parque Natural da Arrábida. It’s also known as Castelo dos Mouros or Castle of the Moors.

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In this guide:

A quick overview

What? A castle overlooking the town of Sesimbra
To do? Walk along the castle walls, and enjoy magnificent views
Cost? Totally free!
Open daily
Where? 45 minutes by car from Lisbon

The history of Sesimbra Castle

The site where you can visit Sesimbra Castle has been occupied since prehistoric times. It was once a Muslim settlement, and in Moorish times the castle was known as Alcáçova. The first King of Portugal, D. Alfonso Henriques, conquered the territory in 1165. He then lost it again to the Almohads in 1191, and the final conquest took place in 1199 under King Sancho I. In the Middle Ages, the castle received several enlargements. The strategic spot of the castle was an important location as a lookout. It was during this time that the West Tower was built.

From the 15th century onwards, the population that lived here began to move towards the coast and settle downhill. Slowly but surely, the castle was abandoned. During the 1755 earthquake, the castle suffered a tremendous blow and was largely destroyed. It wasn’t until 1933 that reconstruction started taking place, and more restoration happened in 1998. Nowadays we can enjoy a stunning castle in excellent condition. The castle has been a National Monument since 1910.

A walk around Sesimbra Castle

There are two free parking lots at Sesimbra Castle; from there, it’s easy to explore the grounds on foot. You can follow and walk along the castle walls and discover the settings. Several signs will tell you more about the history of the castle and the different parts you can visit. On the southern shores, you can see a cemetery that overlooks the town of Sesimbra. You enjoy an even better view over Sesimbra and the Serra da Arrábida mountain range from the highest tower.

There is also a shop, a cafeteria and a church you can visit. The Igreja de Santa Maria (nowadays Church of Our Lady of Solace) is usually open for visits, and the interior is richly decorated with azulejo tiles. A small museum is located at the western wall of the complex. You’ll need around an hour to visit the monument and visit all areas.

How much does it cost to visit Sesimbra Castle?

The best thing about Sesimbra Castle, it’s completely free to visit! The car park is also totally free.

Location of Sesimbra Castle, Portugal

Sesimbra is a small town located on the Península de Setúbal. On the north side, you overlook the estuary of the Tagus River, and towards the east, you can see as far as the Sado River. Sesimbra Castle is just outside the town, and it’s built on a high cliff overlooking the city. It’s a 230-meter uphill walk, but there is a car park for those who travel by car. The distance from the village of Sesimbra to the castle is about 2,5 kilometres.

The full address is :
Rua Nossa Sra. do Castelo 11
2970 Sesimbra

By car from Lisbon, it takes around 45 minutes to reach Castelo de Sesimbra. By public transport, it’s not so easy to reach. There is, however, a train from Sete Rios station in Lisbon to Setúbal, which is located 20 kilometres further west. There are sometimes buses, and you can check the timetable on the TST website.

Opening hours of Sesimbra Castle

Castelo de Sesimbra is open daily from 7 AM to 7 PM during winter. The castle grounds are open between 10 AM and 8 PM in the summer.

Hot tip: visit Sesimbra Castle close to sunrise or sunset for the most stunning views!

Visit southern Lisbon with a tour

If you don’t have a driver’s license or feel uncomfortable driving, you can book a tour to discover the southern area of Lisbon. Most tours combine a visit to the castle with a winery, Cabo Espichel, Sesimbra town, Arrábida Natural Park, the Arrábida Monastery, and some beaches. Take a look at the selection below to book your unforgettable tour!

Other things to do in Sesimbra

Fortaleza de Santiago was built in the 16th century as part of the coastal defence. It’s located directly on the beach of Sesimbra, and with nice weather, this is the place to be! There are several places to eat along the coast, and you can take a little stroll into town. Tip: walk to the lighthouse Farol de Sesimbra Pontão for the best view over Sesimbra, the coastline and the castle on the hill. Stay the night in Sesimbra to discover the beautiful surroundings in the upcoming days!

Things to do around Sesimbra

As you can see from the tour itineraries, there is a lot to do in and around Sesimbra! Here are some favourites:

Visit beaches like Praia dos Penedos and Praia de Galapinhos.

✓ Discover the Sado River, and go on a dolphin-watching tour in the Sado estuary

Arrábida nature park with beautiful viewpoints and hiking trails 

✓ Visit Convento da Arrábida

Portinho da Arrábida with Forte de Santa Maria da Arrábida

Cabo Espichel Lighthouse and the surrounding cliffs 

✓ Visit the city of Setúbal with highlights such as Igreja de Jesus, the town’s main square Praça do Bocage, and Castelo São Felipe.

✓ The wine-producing town Azeitão to visit the winery Quinta da Bacalhôa or José Maria da Fonseca

Costa da Caprica is closer to Lisbon, and it’s a gorgeous place to visit the beach

Palmela Castle, which overlooks the Sado Estuary and Arrábida nature park

Is it worth visiting Sesimbra Castle?

Although it’s a little hard to reach without an organised tour or car, it’s worth visiting Sesimbra Castle. There is no entrance fee, and you can see stunning views over Sesimbra and the surrounding nature. It makes an excellent location for a day trip from Lisbon, and the town is lovely to stay a night or two. Are you having problems getting there? Contact me to see I there is a private tour available for you. It’s a place not to miss!

Written by Marga

Written by Marga

Content creator, travel writer and photographer

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I’m Marga, the blogger and photographer behind this site! I live in Lisbon, and I’m a cat-mum to 13-year-old Savage. I love coffee, cheese, a good book and exploring this beautiful country. I write about Lisbon and the rest of Portugal, and I hope this website will help as an inspiration for your holiday.

29 Responses

  1. This place looks absolutely amazing! I’ve always wanted to visit a real castle! Now I can! Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. We were sent to Setubal for the seafood. But we only stopped enroute south. I can see we need to plan a return visit and explore the Sesimbra Castle. I love the views we get from these fortresses up high. And love all the azulejo tiles used for decoration.

  3. This looks like such an amazing castle in Portugal and I can’t wait to go visit next time I’m in the area. Thanks for all the helpful tips!

  4. A castle with a view of the Ocean. It must be an enchanting place. Thanks for sharing this article. The little heard of Sesimbra castle is now on my list.

  5. I used to live fairly close to Sesimbra Castle but never made it there. The problem when you live in a country, you tend to explore that place less. Funny enough, I did make it to the wine-producing town lol

  6. I have been to Castle of Moors of Sintra but I missed this one during my trip to Lisbon. Will make sure to visit it during next time. This looks stunning as well.

  7. Wow, the views of the ocean from this castle are gorgeous! I would love to explore Sesimbra Castle. I have heard there are tons of castles in Portugal – I would love to visit to check them out!

  8. I love that this was renovated recently – a great way to explore Portugal’s history. The view is absolutely amazing as well. I would love to hike out to the nearby lighthouse too, looks like a nice sport for nature.

  9. I love to visit old buildings as I am a bit of an architecture nerd. Portugal is on my travel bucket list and can’t wait to explore what it has to offer. Thank you for the travel inspiration!

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