You can start your romantic castle excursion up north, in the district of Viana do Castelo, more precisely in Melgaço – a village that is known for its 12th century castle, an impressive structure that protected and defended the entire Alto Minho region at the time. Its construction was ordered by D. Afonso Henriques and its circular plant – something very uncommon in Portugal – is divided into three different spaces. The entire castle has been amazingly preserved until today. Recently, its towers were revamped and turned into a small museum that is now open to the public. After your visit, head towards the heart of the village and discover the Cinema Museum, as well as other attractions such as the Thermal Park, for some romantic R&R. Check into the modern Monte Prado Hotel & Spa and prolong your honeymoon stay…
Guimarães is the city where Portugal was born and, therefore, its castle is closely linked to the country’s history and independence. The impressive castle walls are reinforced by four towers, various doors, a garret and arms square. Remodeled numerous times and recently distinguished as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, the Guimarães Castle majestically awaits your visit. After witnessing, first hand, a very important piece of Portuguese history, get to know the rest of the city – where young and vibrant easily coexists with tradition. Get lost in local streets, where museums, culture, music and art abound… than rest in the heart of the city at the contemporary Hotel de Guimarães; if you prefer to stay outside the city, make a reservation at the luxurious Open Village Sports Hotel & Spa Club; or go all out and stay at the magnificent and historical Pousada de Guimarães with stunning views of the city.
In Leiria – Portugal’s central region – the castle with the same name was once in ruins but has been rebuilt and constantly renovated and improved over the 20th century. As one of the city’s main attractions – every year it is visited by more than 70,000 tourists – the castle’s garret was also remodeled and now boasts a small museum. Besides that, the bell tower, the guard house and the royal residence are other features that constitute this superb castle. After a romantic trip in time, dedicate some time to your own love story, strolling through this quaint little city hand in hand.
Head towards Portugal’s capital and be welcomed by Lisbon with open arms! The city’s famous castle, São Jorge, owes its name to the patron saint of knights and crusades – can’t you just imagine what went on here a long, long time ago?! Its location is, of course, very strategic and thanks to that, from atop this castle you’ll be blown away by the glorious view of the city and the Tejo River. Just like many other Portuguese castles, this medieval castle was also remodeled so as to be able to conveniently accommodate the thousands of tourists who visit it each year. Historical treasures such as this one must be open for the public to see and be transported back in time! Enjoy a romantic stroll, take in the view and, arm in arm, watch the sun set from this historical landmark. Besides that, you’re in Lisbon… the perfect city for a perfect honeymoon!
Not too far from Lisbon, in the district of Setúbal, you’ll come across the Palmela Castle – in the heart of the Serra da Arrábida Natural Park and at an altitude of 240 meters, you won’t miss it… and you definitely shouldn’t! Characterized by an irregular plant that was adapted to the terrain and walls that are reinforced with turrets, a large part of the castle was intelligently transformed into a historical museum and the best part? The castle has its own lovely hotel, so all you have to do is check in and transform your honeymoon into something truly royal, fit for a king and a queen…
The next stop is Sesimbra and a few kilometers from the breathtaking Espichel cape, you’ll find the equally breathtaking Mouros Castle. Perched atop a steep cliff, this romantic and secluded castle overlooks a sweet cove where the Tejo and Sado Rivers meet. The castle suffered severe damage during the 1755 earthquake that rocked Portugal, which ended up compromising its position and importance. Later on, it was restored and today it is a much sought out tourist attraction. After your visit, why not trade the historical vibes for beach vibes and stay for a day or two at one of these beachfront paradises: SANA Sesimbra Hotel, Hotel do Mar or Sesimbra Hotel & SPA.
When you’re ready to hit the road again, head towards Alentejo – a region filled with old, enchanting castles – more specifically the district of Évora, where the first castle you’ll come across is in Estremoz. With a very dominant and powerful position – it was built on the northern part of the Ossa Mountains – its initial role was to defend this region but, later on, it became one of the most important forts in the area and the set of many of the most decisive moments in Portugal’s history. Prolong your king and queen for a day spirit, with a night at the Pousada de Estremoz, a magnificent hotel located in its own 13th century castle that was originally built for Queen Santa Isabel.
In the picturesque village of Reguengos de Monsaraz you’ll find, standing tall on a mountain with the same name, a beautiful castle that has the Guadiana River and the stunning Alqueva Dam as neighbors. With a quadrangular plant and walls made of schist and lime, the castle has various towers which form the arms square, and where the alcazaba and garret also stand. Access the castle through any one of the four granite doors and be immediately taken back to another time and place. If you enjoyed the look and feel of this special place, stay on at one of the many typical rural tourism houses and visit the rest of the local and very interesting patrimony.
Another castle that must be visited by newlyweds honeymooning in Portugal and who enjoy history, is definitely the Beja Castle. Its pentagonal plant combines romanesque, manueline, gothic and mannerism characteristics… and does not disappoint. Its gothic style garret is considered one of the most important representations of military architecture from the Middle Ages in Portugal. Visitors may access the castle by stepping through an ogival arch that leads you directly to the arms square. A visit to the Beja Castle is not complete without a visit to the city of Beja – rich in historical and cultural patrimony, local traditions and cuisine. Stay at the modern Beja Parque Hotel or at the classic Pousada Beja (located in a 13th century convent) and make some more honeymoon memories!
The romantic Portuguese castle journey ultimately leads us to Santiago de Cacém, an area that, although very close to Algarve, maintains its traditional ties to the Alentejo region. It’s simple rectangular plant and walls still denounce a Muslim inspired fortification that, together with its ten towers, has been continually restored so its many visitors are never disappointed. Curiously, inside you’ll also find a church that is worth visiting. Worth visiting is also the rest of Santiago de Cacém with combines the best of the Portuguese countryside with the best of Portuguese beaches. And with so many inviting hotels to choose from – Hotel Rural Monte Xisto, Hotel Dom Vasco, Hotel Caminhos de Santiago – the hard part will be leaving!