Baira Baixa
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|  Baira Baixa Map © Delahay&Co.

The A23 Autoestrada (motorway/freeway) southeast of Covilhã forms the northern boundary of the Beira Baixa. It's a beautiful terrain of undulating moorland, spattered with cork, carob, olive trees and the periodic orchard extending to the Spanish border. Fifty kilometres south of Covilhã is the provincial capital of the Beira Baixa – Castelo Branco. This bustling city is a great base for travelling out from to explore the surrounding ancient hilltop villages, notably Sortelha and Monsanto. The old town of Belmonte is well worth a visit. It is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful small towns in Portugal. The Romans have left their mark here as seen in the ruins found in Idana-a-Velha. The region's natural beauty is preserved in the Reserva Natural da Serra da Malcata, popular with walkers, mountain bikers and nature lovers alike.


Penamacor, like so many other towns in the area, has a medieval castle on its highest elevation. From its vantage point there are commanding views over the Serra da Malcata and beyond into Spain. The views are well worth the climb from the new town. Outside the walls of the castle are the remains of a medieval village. Over recent years this area has enjoyed extensive restoration. The fortifications date back to the late 12th century from the reign of Dom Sancho I. The castle was first garrisoned by the Knights Templar and headed by Dom Gualdim Pais, the Master of the Order. Little remains of the original castle, but its 16th-century keep (Torre de Vigia) still stands sentinel in the centre of the site. Also, during the 16th-century extra walls were erected along with the addition of six towers. The original town hall (Casa de Càmara) was also built into the access gate of the ramparts. There is an interesting museum and an archaeological exhibition within the keep outlining the history of the area, including an iron age castro that once stood there.

The Jardim da República (Garden of the Republic), downhill from the castle, is a pleasant shaded area with a viewing terrace boasting incredible views over the plains below. The Serra da Malcata Nature Reserve Visitor Centre is located in Penamacor. Here you can gather all the information required to hike and visit the nature reserve.
Monday – Friday: 09h00 - 12h30/14h00 – 17h30
60 Rua António Ribeiro Sanches, Penamacor, Portugal. | 40° 10' 03.9" N | 07° 10' 12.0" W
+351 277 394 467


The convent of St. Anthony was founded in 1571 by the order of the St. Francis. When the religious orders were dissolved in 1834 and their assets nationalised, the building became the Penamacor Hospital until 1905. The convent has an austere façade hides a decorative interior of guilted woodcarvings and Baroque painted ceilings. The choir chairs boast interesting oriental paintings, probably inspired by the evangelising role of the Franciscans in the Far East.


|  Penamacor

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Serra da Malcata Natural Reserve

|  Serra da Malcata Natural Reserve


Between Sabugal and Penamacor on the Spanish border is the Reserva Natural da Serra da Malcata. Created in 1981, it is Portugal's least known and visited Natural Park. The reserve covers 16,000 hectares of heather-clad moor and oak forests, with humans living only on the perimeter. Roads are scarce and no more than narrow dirt tracks in most cases. Therefore access is gained by small 4x4 vehicles, mountain bikes and on foot. The park is ideal territory for those seeking closeness to nature. The nature park is home to extensive areas of diverse fauna, wild boars, foxes, otters, weasels and rare birds of prey. There is a repeated campaign to reintroduce the Iberian lynx into the area and save it from extinction.

There are several sign-posted trails in the park and a map can be purchased from the visitor centre in Penamacor.
• Capela do Espirito Santo trail: In the northern part of the reserve, by the Coa River, in Quadrazais. Circular route, easy, only 4.1km long.
• Salgueirinho trail: In the southern edge of the park, it goes through Bazaguedinha. Circular route, easy, 7.1km long
• Sobreiral trail: A trail along the Meimoa reservoir and then into the interior of the reserve. Circular, moderate (with a steep climb and descent), 8.9km long.


The capital of the Beira Baixa region has an atmosphere of affluence and activity in contrast with many of the nearby villages. For the most Castelo Branco is a working town but still has much to offer visitors. The 16th-century formerctown hall and several attractive mansions have survived a turbulent history. Quaint narrow cobbled streets and stepped side alleys lead up to the castle, where amazing views await. The beautiful Jardim do Paço Episcopal gardens are a draw for tourists. The old bishop’s palace itself now houses the Museu Tavares Proença Júnior.

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Castelo Branco

|  Castelo Branco


Private Tour to Portugal's Shale Historic Villages with Lunch

Private Tour to Portugal's Shale Historic Villages with Lunch

The mountain province of Beira Baixa is known for its spectacular scenery, forested valley, rivers, and quaint villages. Renting a car and driving on unfamiliar mountain roads can be a daunting experience for a first-time visitor, so avoid the stress by opting for a private tour instead. Discover ancient villages you likely wouldn’t find alone, find out about the region’s history, and enjoy having a picnic-style lunch included.
• Enjoy the luxury of having a private driver for the day
• A tasty picnic lunch is included
• Incredible views of Beira Baixa mountains and villages
• Great for history and architecture fans
• See Castelo Novo Historical Site

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Full-Day Portuguese Historical Villages Tour

Full-Day Portuguese Historical Villages Tour

Steep yourself into the rich history of Aldeias on this full-day historical tour. Immerse in Northern Portugal’s storied villages with the help of a knowledgeable bi-lingual guide. Visit Celorico da Beira and Linhares da Beira, where your guide will illuminate their culture for you. Learn about Rome’s influence on the stone architecture and paved roads and also see the Castle of Linhares and the equally stunning Church of Santa Maria. This is a great opportunity for any history buff or intrepid traveller.
• A full-day historical tour of Aldeias
• Learn about the origins of Portugal
• Discover quaint stone houses and winding country roads
• Get to know the culture of this charming place
• See the Castle of Linhares and Church of Santa Maria.

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Portugal Historical Villages - Private Tour

Portugal Historical Villages - Private Tour

Take the opportunity to discover the most impressive historic villages within Portugal. Visit this treasure inside Portugal, so well preserved. Untouched natural and historical beauty that will leave you breathless. Get into contact with the local people and find out how Portuguese people really are. Enjoy this tour on luxury private transportation at your own pace.
• Choose from various Lisbon pick-up points
• Belmonte
• Sortelha

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The region of Proença-a-Nova consists mainly of large forested areas and agriculture, chiefly olive groves and cherry trees that blossom in the spring, covering huge areas with a white shroud in a stunning spectacle. The town itself offers little interest for tourists other than accommodation, somewhere to enjoy the great local rustic cuisine and a base to travel out from.

The land hereabouts has been cultivated for millennia. Neolithic monuments dot the landscape, notably the Alvito Valley Dolmen. This burial chamber measures thirty-five metres in diameter. The burial chamber of Anta do Cão do Ribeiro is thought to be five thousand years old. The Romans also occupied the area and left their mark. The ancient bridge spanning the River Pracana in São Pedro do Esteval has been standing since the first century BC. Its six arches are of varying widths with the largest in the centre.

Within the district, there are villages that maintain their original traditional features such as Figueira. The buildings are made from shist and on a walk through the narrow cobbled streets, you'll encounter a communal oven that fills the village with the aroma of freshly baked bread.

Another characteristic Beira village is Oliveiras, located only nine kilometres from Proença-a-Nova. The houses are typically built from shist separated by narrow alleys. The friendliness and hospitality of the locals are legendary.

The area is enjoyed by walkers and many hiking routes of differing lengths and difficulty dot the land. Escapes from the afternoon sun can be found at the riverside beaches of Aldeia Ruiva, Fróia and Malhadal.

Praia Fluvial da Fróia

|  Praia Fluvial da Fróia

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Parque Natural do Tejo Internacional


The nature reserve of Parque Natural do Tejo Internacional is only 10 kilometre (7 mi) south of Castelo Branco. This rugged protected landscape forms a natural boundary to Spain. The landscape is shaped by the young and vibrant river Tejo (Tagus) and its three tributaries: Erges, Ribeira do Aravil, and Ponsul into unpassable gorges, rocky outcrops and narrow valleys. The park spans 230 square kilometres and remains one of the most rural areas of Portugal. It is a sanctuary for holm oaks and cork oaks, heather and wild herbs and is home to 154 species of birds, 44 mammal species, 15 amphibian species, 20 reptile species, 12 fish species and 153 insect species. Humans have left their mark here, from Neolithic monuments, Roman ruins and abandoned homesteads.


Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport

Linha do Minho
Rede Expressos

After Lisbon airport Porto International is the second busiest airport in Portugal and has knocked Faro into third place. This is a reflection of Porto's rise to prominence both as a centre for commerce and as a tourist destination. Originally constructed in the 1940's the building has recently been modernised and boasts first class ammenities and transport links. Website


Since joining the EU Portugal has seen a vast improvement in it's road network with the addition of fine motorway network which speedily take you from the major cities to the area you want to visit. In 2015, the country's road network was named as being the best in Europe and the second best in the world. For the more adventurous drivers there's plenty of more rural windy yet very scenic roads available such as the N222 which runs from Peso de Regua to Pinhao and has been voted as  the top drive in the world.


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Regular trains to Peso da Régua from Porto São Bento, use the Regional train service (comboios regionais) Linha do Douro: Train Timetable | Comboios de Portugal Website

• Rede Expressos run nationwide coach services within Portugal. Website

• Transdev: Services in Northern Portugal. Website