3 Mountain Destinations in the North and Centre of Portugal
In Portugal, there are destinations for every season, from golden beaches to picturesque villages in the interior, and what better way to enjoy the fall weekends than with a walk in the mountains?
We bring you 3 suggestions of magical landscapes to visit, where you will find excellent places to photograph, breathtaking panoramas, activities to suit all tastes and typical tasty cuisine.
Peneda-Gerês National Park
The protected area, the only one designated as a National Park in Portugal, extends through Serra da Peneda, Serra do Gerês, Serra Amarela and Serra do Soajo. Between Alto Minho and Trás-os-Montes, it's a popular destination in the summer for its rivers, dams and famous waterfalls. In the fall you can enjoy the various pedestrian trails through the mountains and many other mountain activities like horse riding, tree climbing, geocaching, and mountain biking.
The pristine Nature landscapes make up a scenery straight out of a fairytale, where Man, Flora, and Fauna live in harmony. Following the trails of Mata de Albergaria, a well-known forest within the park, we still find Roman vestiges and of other civilizations that once settled there.
It's the dream place to spend a weekend away from routine or to just enjoy a different day with family.
Book here: Peneda-Gerês National Park Walk
Arouca - Geopark
At just a one-hour ride from Porto, we find Arouca Geopark, a group of sites with geologic interest, included in the European Geopark Network. This open-air geological museum, on the North region of Arouca, is surrounded by the mountains of Freita, Arada, and Montemuro. In this region the rural and tradition reign. The mountainous landscapes go hand in hand with villages built in terraces, houses made of granite and schist, roofs with slate or thatched, barns, mills and threshing floors. The paths that cut through the deep valleys and hills, will take you on a journey to discover historic sites and with peculiar geologic characteristics.
Here there is no lack of activities to explore the mountains, from kayaking down the Paiva River, to trekking, climbing cliffs or pedaling across the woods.
Arouca started attracting more people every year after 2015, when the world-famous Passadiços do Paiva (Paiva Walkways) which accompany the valley and river that gave them the name, were inaugurated. When walking this wooden structure, you will see the most magnificent images of the parishes from Canelas to Espiunca by the river. If you decide to visit, take the time to feast on a savory Arouca Steak (posta arouquesa) and the local pastries, like sweet chestnuts, morcela doce and pedras parideiras.
Book here: Paiva Walkways Hike
Estrela Mountain – Natural Park
The Serra da Estrela Natural Park in the Centre of Portugal, with its picturesque sceneries, is the perfect location for a relaxed weekend no matter the season. Each view is more beautiful than the other, from green meadows, to rocks so high they reach the sky, glacial valleys, mirrored lagoons among the mountains and white blankets of snow in the colder months. Combined with peace and harmony, the landscapes are an invitation for long walks through the tranquility of the mountain. To discover every hidden corner of the Estrela, the park offers more than 300 km of pedestrian trails.
If you are feeling adventurous, follow the mountain biking paths, climb the walls of a glacial valley or, in the winter, take a chance in skiing or snowboarding. For those who wish to truly relax and make the most of the therapeutic water in Serra da Estrela, the Sierra has a few spas near, like the Unhais da Serra Spa and the Termas Caldas in Manteigas.
A must visit, are the towns of Seia, Manteigas, and Loriga. Painting the scenery of luxurious pastures, you will notice little white and grey dots of the region's typical rustic houses. Enjoy a visit to the local shops and find regional products from authentic leather jackets and purses, to warm woolen socks and sausages. Don't forget to taste the Queijo da Serra (Serra Cheese), with a strong perfume that does justice to the equally strong flavor which made it famous.
Book here: Serra da Estrela Tour From Porto
Book here: Walk in Serra da Estrela