Castelo de São Jorge

Top choice in Alfama, Castelo & Graça

Castle Castelo de Sao Jorge Belevedere Miradoura de Sao Pedro de Alcantara Outlook Lisbon Portugal; Shutterstock ID 548082178; Your name (First / Last): Tom Stainer; GL account no.: 65050 ; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: Best in Travel 2018

Shutterstock / Bill Perry

Towering dramatically above Lisbon, these mid-11th-century hilltop fortifications sneak into almost every snapshot. Roam its snaking ramparts and pine-shaded courtyards for superlative views over the city’s red rooftops to the river. Three guided tours daily (in Portuguese, English and Spanish), at 10.30am, 1pm and 4pm, are included in the admission price (additional tours available).

These smooth cobbles have seen it all – Visigoths in the 5th century, Moors in the 9th century, Christians in the 12th century, royals from the 14th to 16th centuries, and convicts in every century.

Inside the Tower of Ulysses, a camera obscura offers a unique 360-degree view of Lisbon, with demos every 20 minutes. There are also a few galleries displaying relics from past centuries, including traces of the Moorish neighbourhood dating from the 11th century at the Archaeological Site. But the standout is the view – as is the feeling of travelling back in time amid fortified courtyards and towering walls. There are a few cafes and restaurants to while away time in as well.

Bus 737 from Sé or Praça da Figueira goes right to the gate. Tram 28E also passes nearby. A set of escalators traversing the hill from Praça Martim Moniz opened in 2018.