I’ve always wanted to visit the castles you see on TV.

 

It turns out that you can!… and they are kid friendly too!

Well, except for one castle, but we will get to that later!

Since we’ve been here, we’ve been exploring the Portugal coastline. (Spoiler alert: It’s absolutely gorgeous)

You can’t help but stare spellbound at all of the beautifully crafted old buildings and architecture combined with the rolling hills and cliffs next to the ocean. 

Out of all the buildings we loved the Castles and churches the very most. We will cover some of the churches in a later post but here’s a rundown of our favorite Castles, Chateaus, and Palais. 

 

Pena Palace: One of the 7 Wonders of Portugal

This colorful palace sits on the hilltop above Sintra and nearby the castle of the Moors. You can visit the gardens, the Palace, or purchase admission for both! 

We (of course) opted for both! 

As you walk up the cobblestone hill you’re treated with greenery and vegetation everywhere. As you turn the first bend you get your first view of the yellows and reds of the castle high on the hilltop. 

Approaching the entrance you walk across a (now permanent) bridge where a drawbridge used to be. 

When you visit the exterior of the palace, make sure to make your way up to the top of one of the many lookout towers. Careful here with your kids, the turrets are very low. The view and picture opportunities are totally worth it. 

The Castle of the Moors

 

We opted to buy the family pass (to Pena Palace) with tickets to visit the Moorish Ruins. (a savings when purchased together)

 

The day that we visited the Moorish ruins was incredibly windy. This made it a bit scary for our daughter because there are no railings or walls on the rising walkways and stair steps. It’s simply a wall with turrets on one side of you and a 20-30 foot drop on the other side (and incredible lookouts!)

 

We were feeling especially adventurous that day so we ventured up to the top and took it slowly.

 

We were rewarded with an incredible view of Sintra Grand Palace and Pena Palace. 
Family Passport Tip: If your kids are extremely young or not very sure footed you might consider skipping this one. (especially if it is particularly windy) There aren’t hand railings and the walkways are all completely open on one side with nice drops. That said; our kids are 6,7, and 9 when we did this and we braved it anyway on a particularly windy day!

Alyssa's Journal

We opted to buy the family pass with tickets to see the Moorish Ruins.

That is a must see!! You can walk all the way around the outside edge of the Moor Castle!!!

We went to one view point and almost lost 2 kids to the wind on the way. We decided to stop there.

Since it was so windy and we’d already visited Pena Palace too, the kids were about done before we entered the ruins.

We had a skinned knee and some I almost blew away sympathy tears but we were able to convince Mackenzie she was tough enough to finish and we wouldn’t let them blow away with the wind!!

That was enough adventure for one day for all of us!!

Quinta Da Regaliera

This was an incredible hit with the kids!

We walked along the towers, explored the caves, climbed trees and went into the Chateau da Regaliera. Everything is surrounded by greenery and (unlike the Moorish ruins) most of the turrets and towers have some kind of wall on both sides so a slip and fall doesn’t result in fatal disaster. (Yea! all the kids will make it home!)

Everything in this estate feels like it was carefully planned and created for a purpose. Now with it’s secrets, shortcuts, and seemingly infinite passageways it feels much more like a gigantic playground.

My personal favorite was the Initiatic Well which you can follow all the way to the bottom and enter an underground passageway that leads deep beneath the hillside to a waterfall and grotto.

Here you’ll find a pond where the water is a vivid teal green and they have carefully placed footstones so you can walk right out of the cave and step onto the water without getting wet.

Family Passport Travel Tips for Portugal Castles

  • If you are in the tourist season, it will be difficult to get a parking spot near the entrances. Instead consider taking a taxi over to the top of the hill, get out and go buy your tickets (so you don’t have to walk all the way up the huge hill from down in Sintra) just make sure that you’ve arranged for them to come back and pick you up!

  • If you can’t take a taxi, park at the bottom and take a “tuk tuk” (tiny 3 wheeled cabs that hang out nearby the tourist areas) to the top for a few Euros 

  • We went during off peak times (October – February), this is a great way to avoid the crowds and be able to park close but it means that’s when they are often doing their renovations and you may not be able to access certain sections (in this case the upstairs was 

  • Some of these places take Credit Cards (cartão do crédito) and others only accept Euros. Come prepared in advance –
    • Cash only: Quinta da Regaliera Credit Card: Pena Palace, Moorish Ruins.