Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors) is a scenic 8th century Moorish castle overlooking Sintra, just outside Lisbon, Portugal. It was my second favorite part of my visit to Sintra after the Quinta de Regeleira, mostly because of the great hike up and down.
There are two routes to the castle: the "front way" via the Caminho De Santa Maria, and the "back way" via Rampa Da Pena/ Caminho Do Vale Dos Anjos. I hiked up the back way and down the front way. The back way's a tiny bit tricky to find but well worth it as it is less trafficked. To get to the starting point, go to the Quinta de Regaleira, then continue uphill past the main entrance, around to the last (locked) side entrance to the grounds of the Quinta. Right next to it is a small unkempt gravel trail marked most prominently as "Rampa da Pena", and with a smaller sign on the side for "Azhinga Do Vale Dos Anjos":
The exact start point is right here on Google Maps:
From there, you're looking at about a 3.5km hike before you hit the grounds of the castle proper.
Around the 1.3km mark (10-20 minutes in), the trail pops out on the road. At that point, you can either walk along the road for a couple of switchbacks before picking up the trail again, or keep your eyes peeled for a small unmarked set of stone steps about 40m up the road on the opposite side. Scrabble up those onto a rough path, marked by the dotted line below, that patches you back onto the main trail:
When you're done at Castelo dos Mouros, you can come back down the same way, or use the Caminho De Santa Maria whichs pops you out, if you can believe it, by the Igreja de Santa Maria. That trail is maintained cobblestone and more heavily trafficked:
One tip I have for visiting the castle is to go there later in the day. During the day, there are tour buses that drive tourists up there, let them explore for a couple hours, then bring them back down. Those bus packages seem to wind down around 5pm, but the castle is open until 8pm in the summer, so if you get up there after 5, it is a lot less busy. When I went, I got there around 5:30, and there were only about 5 other people on the castle grounds with me.
Another thing I would love to do if I had my time back is try riding up the Rampa Da Pena/ Caminho Do Vale Dos Anjos trail on a gravel or cyclocross bike. If anyone has tried this, please let me know.