Best things to see Sao Jorge Castle in Lisbon

Why Visit Castelo São Jorge in Lisbon?

Castelo São Jorge (St. George’s Castle) stands as a prominent landmark overlooking Lisbon.

This historic fortress offers not only a glimpse into the rich Portuguese history but also provides some of the most stunning views of the city. In fact, Saint George’s Castle is one of the best things to see in Lisbon.

In this post, we tell you all you need to know to prepare for your visit to the São Jorge Castle!

The Castle is located in the traditional Alfama district. We also invite you to read the 10 BEST THINGS TO SEE IN ALFAMA.

Key Takeaways from a visit to the St. George Castle in Lisbon

Historical Significance: The castle’s origins date back to the 6th century when it was first built by the Romans.
Architectural Marvel: As you explore the castle, you’ll encounter its impressive battlements, ten towers, and the remnants of the royal palace.
Panoramic Views: Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to visit Castelo São Jorge is for its unparalleled views of Lisbon.
Accessibility: The castle is accessible by foot, tram, or bus, but it’s located atop a steep hill, so be prepared for a bit of a climb.
Plan Your Visit: To make the most of your visit, it’s recommended to go early in the day to avoid the crowds and to wear comfortable walking shoes.

View from a small view at Sao Jorge Castle

Castelo de São Jorge (St. George’s Castle) boasts a rich and complex history that mirrors the historical and cultural evolution of Lisbon and Portugal itself. Its strategic position on a hill overlooking the Tagus River has made it a coveted defensive site since ancient times.

Pre-Roman Origins

Evidence suggests that the site was occupied by various indigenous peoples dating back to at least the 6th century BC, benefiting from its elevated position for defensive purposes.

Roman Era

The Romans were the first to establish a significant military presence on the site during their occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, recognizing its strategic importance.

Visigothic and Moorish Rule

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Visigoths took control of the area. However, by the 8th century, the Moors had conquered the region, significantly fortifying the castle and using it as a military outpost and royal residence.

Christian Reconquest

The castle gained its current name in the 12th century after it was recaptured from the Moors by Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, in 1147. The king dedicated the castle to St. George, the patron saint of knights and crusaders, in honor of the Anglo-Portuguese pact against the Moors.

Royal Palace

Throughout the Middle Ages, the castle served as the residence of the Portuguese royalty, witnessing significant historical events and the evolution of the Portuguese state. It was during this period that the castle underwent numerous expansions and renovations, reflecting its importance as a center of power.

Decline and Restoration

The castle’s role as a royal residence declined after the 16th century, following the decision to move the royal palace to the Praça do Comércio. Over the centuries, it fell into disrepair and was damaged by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. It wasn’t until the 20th century that significant restoration efforts were undertaken to preserve its historical and cultural legacy.

Tram 28 in Lisbon

On foot

If you do no mind walking uphill for a little while, then reaching the Castle is relatively easy. Wandering through the streets of Lisbon is actually the best thing to do in the city. To reach the castle you will walk through the most historical district of Lisbon: Alfama (more about Alfama in this post).

On Tram

Taking the tramway in Lisbon is actually a very fun experience. Take the legendary tram 28 to visit Alfama and reach São Jorge Castle. Stop at Miradouro Santa Luzia stop, From there you will have to walk the last bit.

We recommend buying the Lisbon Pass when visiting Lisbon, as all transportation will be free and you have access to many museums for free or at discounted prices. Check it out here.

Location: here

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Best things to see in São Jorge Castle

When entering the Castle, you enter a place which is almost a thousand years old! How impressive is that! As the Castle dominates the city being located on top of one of the 7 hills, the view is what draws most tourists here. Once you see it, you will understand why!

Visit the garden and admire the view of Lisbon

Gardens of Sao Jorge Castle

What we like the most about São Jorge Castle is the stunning 360-degree view of Lisbon. When went there on a beautiful sunny day towards the end of the afternoon, and it was just perfect! The temperature was nice, the light was incredible, and the atmosphere overall couldn’t be any better.

Therefore, we highly recommend picking a day with good weather to visit the castle. Right before sunset is actually the best time.

When you enter the castle there are a few food trucks in the garden serving drinks and snacks. It’s the best time to take a break and enjoy the view of Lisbon!

The archaeological site

Inside Sao Jorge Castle

If you want to know more about the origins of the castle, then the archaeological site is for you. This set of remains bears witness to three crucial periods that made up the history of Lisbon:

The first known occupations date back to the 7th century BC. The remains of the construction of the castle, around the middle of the 11th century, and the damage caused by the earthquake of 1755.

The giant ramparts and their stairs

Castle in Lisbon, one of the best things to see in the city

The other highlight of the visit is undoubtedly the splendid ramparts that served as a defense during the many conflicts. You can walk pretty much around the entire castle on the ramparts. Again the view of the city from up there is even more incredible!

Important information about the visit to São Jorge Castle

View of Lisbon with Sao Jorge Castle in the background
  • Entrance: €10 / person (full price); reduced rates: €5/pers for students (13-25 years old) and €8.5/pers for over 65s and disabled people.
  • Opening hours: Open every day except May 1, December 24/25/31, and January 1. Visiting hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from November 1 to February 28; and from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. between March 1 and October 31.
  • Website: here
  • Location: here

Duration of the visit

count at least 1h30 to visit the entire castle and walk around the top of the hill to admire the view of the city! The best time to visit the castle is actually during Sunset!

Guide tour: to understand better about the history of the castle, we recommend booking a guided tour. You can also skip the line and access the castle right away with this ticket. Check it out here.

What else to see around the Castle?

As São Jorge Castle is located on top of the Alfama, the most historical district in Lisbon, there are a lot to see around the Castle.

The Alfama district represents the heart and soul of Lisbon! It is our favorite area to visit when traveling to the Portuguese capital. The best way to discover Alfama district is by getting lost on foot. You will discover its cobbled streets full of charm! Alfama is actually the oldest district in Lisbon, the one that survived the terrible earthquake of 1755.

Amongst the best things to do in Alfama, we recommend:

  • Santa Maria Cathedral
  • Fado Museum
  • Santa Luzia Viewpoint

There is a lot more to discover in Alfama, we listed the 10 best things to see here.

Alfama is one of the best places to stay during your visit of Lisbon, as it is centrally located and one of the best areas to visit in the city.

Best places to stay in Lisbon

This hotel offers comfortable and well-equipped apartments right in the heart of the city’s oldest district. The apartment is fully equipped in is perfectly located.

Best hotels in Lisbon

Hotel Convento do Salvador is a 3-star establishment in the heart of the Alfama district, less than a 10-minute walk from Lisbon train station and the city’s main tourist attractions. This hotel, which takes place in a converted former convent, offers beautiful rooms for two from around €110 per night.

Photo in front of the Tagus

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is blessed with a pleasant climate almost all year round. Thus, there is not really a period to avoid when planning your trip.

However, the best time to go to Lisbon is from May to October. This is where the climate is most favorable with sunny weather. There is almost no rain during that time.

Due to the summer holidays, the period from mid-June to September is the busiest period for tourists and prices tend to be much higher. To save money during the summer months, make sure you book your hotel and flight in advance.

Sao Jorge Castle Ramparts

Known for its breathtaking beaches and landscapes, Portugal is certainly a destination of choice for many travelers.s And a stop in front of some of its historical monuments is a must if you want to see what Portugal is all about!

In particular in Lisbon, which has one of the most beautiful castles in the world: São Jorge Castle

It goes without saying that this architectural feat is a must in Portugal. We absolutely loved our visit of the Castle and the stunning view from up there!

If you want to know more about the best things to do in Lisbon, check out the list of 25 best things to see in the city

Enjoy your visit!

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