Sitting atop Portugal’s Serra da Arrábida with views over the Tagus and Sado estuaries, Palmela Castle (Castelo de Palmela) has been a strategic vantage point and military stronghold since the Moors occupied the land. The structure was converted into a monastery in 1423, which was crucial in preserving the structure that we see today.
Palmela Castle, recognized as a national monument, features four towers, the Igreja de Santiago, a museum, and the castle itself. Enjoy panoramic views of the Arrábida hills from the castle or from the old convent wing, which has been transformed into a 4-star hotel. Tours to Palmela Castle generally explore the Setubal area including Arrábida National Park and Azeitão. Many wine tours also venture here, as it is in the heart of one of Portugal’s richest wine regions.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Palmela Castle is a must-visit for fans of Portuguese history.
- There is no admission fee to explore the castle, as it is now part of the hotel complex, though a small entrance fee is required to visit the Igreja de Santiago.
- While the parking area and surrounding grounds are flat, the castle is not accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Palmela Castle is located 26 miles (42 kilometers) south of Lisbon’s city center and 5.5 miles (9 kilometers) north of Setubal. As there is no public transport, the best way to reach the castle is with a prebooked tour or by car. If driving, follow the narrow roads leading up from the town of Palmela.
When to Get There
Palmela Castle is most enjoyable on a clear day with little to no wind, due to its higher altitude and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors generally spend about 1.5 to 2 hours exploring the castle and generally combine it with a trip to the quaint town of Palmela below.
The Setubal Wine Region
Palmela Castle is located in the heart of the abundant Setubal wine region, famous for its periquita grape variety. Sweet Moscatel de Setubal wines come from this region and are grown on the slopes of the Serra da Arrabida. There are two DOCs from this region: Setubal, which is sweet and fortified; and Palmela, which is mainly red and complex.