Peneda Gerês National Park
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PENEDA GERÊS NATIONAL PARK

Bording the Galician border of Spain in the far North East of Portugal the Peneda-Gerês National Park spans a vast area of 72,000 hectares of landscapes of immense natural beauty. Portugal has many protected areas however Peneda-Gerês is the country's only designated National Park, first established on the 8th of May 1971. The vast area encompasses the municipalities of Melgaço, Arcos de Valdevez, Ponte da Barca, Terras de Bouro and Montalegre. At it's highest point it rises 1545 metres above sea level at Nevosa with notable other peaks of the Peneda, Soajo, Amarela and Gerês mountain ranges along with the Mourela and plateaus.

Let MADABOUTPORTUGAL.COM be your indispensable guide to the beautiful Peneda-Gerês National Park. We'll advise you about the best things to see and do. Sit back and let others organise everything with our choice of guided tours or use us to plan your adventures.

ABOUT PENEDA GERÊS NATIONAL PARK

Iberian Wolf

|  Iberian Wolf

Biodiversity

Atlantic winds blow moisture onto the Park which settles in valleys creating several microclimates leading to the development of richly diverse vegetation. The variety of trees found here includes the Pyrenean (Quercus Pyrenaica) and English Oaks (Quercus Robur). European Holly (Ilex Aquifolium), Strawberry Tree (Arbutus Undo), Yew (Taxus Baccata), conifers such as the Cluster Pine (Pinus Pinaster), the Iberian Birch (Betula Celtiberica).

The shrub which makes up almost three-quarters of the park consists of gorse and heather, with a mixture of common juniper in the upper altitudes. In the lower altitudes the bush includes cross-leaved heather (Erica Tetralix), dwarf gorse (Ulex Minor), Dorset heath (Erica Ciliaris), common sundew (Drosera Rotundifolia), pale butterwort (Pinguicula Lusitanica), marsh violet (Viola Palustris) and purple moor grass (Molinia Caerulea). Riparian and marshlands along the river courses are also sites of rare species of Chain ferns (Woodwardia Radicans), Willow (Salix Repens), Downy Birch (Betula Pubescens), Deciduous shrubs (Spiraea Hypericifolia), Portuguese Enchanter's nightshade (Circaea Lusitanica) and Angelica herbs (Angelica Laevis).

Peneda-Gerês is one of Europe's last sanctuaries for animals such as Golden Eagles (Aquila Chrysaetos), the protected Iberian Wolf (Canis Lupus), Roe Deer (Capreolus Capreolus), European otter (Lutra Lutra), Pyrenean or Iberian Desman (Galemys Pyrenaicus) and the wild Minho Pony or Garrano. The wild ponies are of Celtic origin and are subjects of many ancient rock carvings. Reptiles and amphibians have also found their homes here such as the Gold-Striped Salamander (Chioglossa Lusitanica), Iberian Emerald Lizard (Lacerta Schreiberi) and the Iberian Frog (Rana Iberica).


Human Settlement

People have lived in Peneda-Gerês since the Neolithic period and have left their mark on the landscape. Megalithic burial sites can be found at Castro Laboreiro and the Mourela plateaux, eighteen stone dolmens with cairns and tumuli are located at Britelo and the burial complex that can be found at Antas do Mezio. Much later Celtiberians' settlements are found here too such as the fortified settlements at Calcedonia (Terras de Bouro) and Outeiro (Montalegre). It's believed to be still more prehistoric settlements as yet undiscovered.

Peneda Gerês National Park

|  Peneda Gerês National Park

Lindoso

|  Lindoso

Some vestiges from the Roman period are found in the Geira or Roman road which ran 300km (185 mi) between the two most important Roman cities of the Iberian peninsula, Braga and Astorga in Spain. This first-century road is well-trodden and deeply rutted by two thousand years of cartwheels. One of its best-preserved sections runs between Campo de Gerês and Portela do Homem, an area where Roman milestones, paving slabs and other archaeological remains can be found. The road is popular with walkers who take advantage of the great vistas and landscapes on offer as well as making full use of the restoration that has taken place over recent years.

The German tribes who accompanied the Suebi during their take-over of the Iberian Peninsula from the Romans settled in the area. The region between the Cávado and Homem Rivers is today still known as Terras de Bouro (Land of the Buri). Yet in subsequent times the population declined as people migrated to the lowlands. There are still plenty of monuments from later times, some accessible from the road or hiking trails. Many are religious in nature such as the monastery at Pitões das Júnias, Senhora da Peneda and São Bento da Porta Aberta, or defensive structures such as the castle at Lindoso.

WHAT TO DO

Centro Hípico do Mezio

Centro Hípico do Mezio

Set within the picturesque heart of the Peneda-Gerês National Park, The Centro Hípico do Mezio is the ideal location for pony trekking and horse riding along a network of bridleways within a beautiful mountain landscape.

Centro Hípico do Mezio, Soajo, 4970-672, Portugal.
41° 52' 28.8" N | 08° 15' 51.3" W
+351 965 853 161
centroequestremezioaventura@gmail.com |  Website

EquiCampo - Active Tourism

EquiCampo - Active Tourism

EquiCampo offers a myriad of activities including pony trekking, horse jumping and lessons, treetop adventure and zip wires. Accommodation is available just off-site.

Campo do Gerês, 4840-030, Terras de Bouro, Portugal.
41° 45' 17" N | 08° 11' 35" W
+351 253 161 405
equicampo.tm@gmail.com
 Website

Ecotura Horse Riding

Ecotura Horse Riding

Ecotura offers a wide range of riding experiences from one to eight-day programmes. Take pleasure riding Lusitano horses whilst enjoying a holiday in the mountains, ideal for those seeking escape and relaxation. Tour packages include country house accommodation with meals.

Lugar do Queimadelo, 4960-084, Melgaço, Portugal.
42° 03' 16.7" N | 08° 09' 02.3" W
+351 967 442 217
ecotura@ecotura.com |  Website

PLACES OF INTEREST

Castro Laboreiro

Lying at an altitude of 1000 metres is the village of Castro Laboreiro. Its surrounding area is blessed with beautiful vistas and incredible monuments, including megalithic monuments, the Castle of Castro Laboreiro (a national monument), medieval bridges, churches, community ovens and mills.

Castro Laboreiro's name is deserved from the Iron Age settlement that stood here before the coming of the Romans. You can learn about the Castro culture and its people in the town's museum Núcleo Museológico de Castro Laboreiro which occupies a former chocolate factory.
Thursday - Tuesday: 10h00 - 12h30, Wednesday: 14h00 - 17h00 | Castro Laboreiro 4960, Melgaço, Portugal. | 42º 01' 46.9" N | 08º 09' 28.6" W | +351 251 465 016

South of the village and a clamber up a rugged path is the Castle of Castro Laboreiro whose ruined granite walls seem to morph into the surrounding boulders. The current construction dates back to the 13th century and is usually attributed to King Denis. It's believed the castle is built on the foundations of another much older fortress. According to drawings by Duarte D’Armas, from around 1505, the castle of Castro Laboreiro had the walls reinforced with five square towers surrounding a castle keep. Freguesia de Castro Laboreiro, Melgaço, Portugal.
42° 01’ 22.3” N | 08° 09’ 29.4” W | +351 251 410 100 | geral@cm-melgaco.pt | Website

A further two miles (3km) south in the village of Assureira is the Cava da Velha Roman bridge which could date back to the 1st century AD but was reconstructed sometime in the Middle Ages.
42° 0′ 11.5″ N | 08° 09′ 50.5″ W.

Castro Laboreiro

|  Castro Laboreiro


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Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Peneda

|  Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Peneda

Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Peneda (Shrine of Our Lady of Peneda)

Located at the foot of the massive 300m high Meadinhas rock, the escarpment dominates the landscape of the Gavieira parish. Completed in 1875, the sanctuary is approached via an impressive staircase adorned with statues that represent Faith, Hope, Charity and Glory. It was designed by Francisco Luis Barreiro. Along the climb up the steps, one encounters several terraces lined on both sides by twenty little chapels comprising episodes in the life of Jesus. The site is dedicated to Nossa Senhora das Neves (Our Lady of the Snows) and a legend dating from the middle ages of her apparition at this site. In the first week every September hundreds of devotees from all over the region and beyond flock here on pilgrimage.
Praceta Domingos Capas Penêda 41, 4970-150 Lugar da Peneda, Portugal.
41º 58' 26.5" N | 08º 13' 23.8" W

Soajo

Soajo is a charming traditional mountain village, with granite houses, narrow streets, a small community church and a crumbling pillory. From its advantage point, you can enjoy amazing vistas. Soajo makes a great base for long hikes. But it is the village's collection of Espigueiros for which Soajo is famous. These granite granaries are unique to Northern Portugal. Meaning “spikes,” these granaries are constructed from locally hewn granite. They were built to store grain off the ground for protection from rodents and were used by the whole community. The 24 Espigueiros here date back to the 18th century, and some are still in use today. A path from the cluster of Espigueiros leads to the Ladeira medieval bridge located in a tranquil location.
Espigueiros e Eira Comunitária do Soajo, Barragem do Lindoso, 4970-655 Soajo, Portugal.
42° 52’ 22.2” N | 08° 15’ 43.5” W

Mezio Megalithic Centre

Eight and a half miles (14km) northeast of Arcos de Valdevez is the Mezio Megalithic Centre, a collection of a dozen burial dolmens known locally as the Antas da Serra do Soajo. Estimated to be 5000 years old, the monuments from prehistory have been extensively studied. A few have been partially restored. The site is well explained with information boards along the 2km long plateaux offering the inquisitive visitor a rare insight into megalithic life. Núcleo Megalítico do Mezio, Serra do Soajo, Mezio 3600, Arco de Valdevez, Portugal.
40° 59′ 01.1″ N | 07° 53′ 21.6″ W

Soajo

|  Soajo

Caldas do Gerês

CALDAS DO GERÊS THERMAL BATHS

Situated in the Peneda Gerês National Park is the Caldas do Gerês Thermal Baths. It is ideal for those people who wish to improve their physical and mental health, beauty and self-esteem, whilst taking in the inspiration of the natural landscape that surrounds the complex. Enjoy the diet of the Mineral Water Gerês along with typical products of the region, inhale the aromas of pine and lilies of the Sierra, the detoxifying effect of the purifying and hydrating Honey Gerês and power anti-inflammatory and anti-stress Hypericum Gerês: a genuine all-round sensory experience.

Termas & Spa do Gerês, Av. Manuel Francisco da Costa, 4845-069, Gerês, Portugal.
41° 43' 43.7" N | 08° 09' 43.3" W | +351 255 431 036 | hotel@aguasdogeres.pt

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Lindoso

|  Lindoso

Lindoso

29 km (18m) east of Arcos de Valdevez in the Penda Gerês national park the hamlet of Lindoso comprises 1300 souls, mainly of farming backgrounds. Lindoso is most famous for its castle and Espigueiros (granite structures to house grain). Perched on a small rocky outcrop overlooking the village Lindoso's castle has played a key role in the defence of the Portuguese frontier since the 13th century. It's done battle and changed hands with its old adversary Castile and later Spain during the restoration wars. Built on an irregular quadrilateral foundation, it has rounded corners to avoid blind angles and offer greater resistance to assailants. The gate facing the village is flanked by quadrangular towers.

The Espigueiros which run alongside the castle are intricately carved from granite and topped with a cross that dates back to the 18th century. Along with Soajo, Lindoso has the best collection of Espigueiros in Portugal, in terms of number and finery. For additional divine protection of the grain, there's a granite cross with a tall shaft mounted on a square plinth standing guard among the stone granaries. The whole site combined is a national monument.
Lindoso, Ponte da Barca 4980-451, Portugal. | 41° 51'' 52.6" N | 08° 11' 46.7" W

Vilarinho da Furna

The story of this village is a tragic one, having been forgotten for millennia, thus preserving traditions that date back to the Visigoth era, if not back further to the Roman occupation, and was submerged under a reservoir in 1972. The village is located in the fertile flood plain between the southern slopes of Serra Amarela and the river Homem. It fell outside the jurisdiction of the state and was run as a communitarian social system, with a village council consisting of a member from each family known as a "Junta". The need to generate electricity outweighed the needs of the villagers and the Lindoso hydroelectric dam was built displacing 300 inhabitants of 57 families from over 80 homesteads. Today during dry periods and water levels are low in the reservoir Vilarinho da Furna emerges and reveals its ghostly bare granite walls. Boats with transparent bottoms will take tourists to the village when water conditions allow.

Efforts to preserve what remains of Vilarinho da Furna and it's culture are made, it's dedicated museum, Museu Etnográfico de Vilarinho da Furna, is at the Campo do Gerês gate. It opened its doors in May 1989 and is made from the actual stones from the village.
Adult: €2.00, Child <12: €1.00, OAP & Concessionary: €1.00
Tuesday - Sunday: 09h00 - 12h00 - 17h30, Monday: CLOSED
Museu Etnográfico de Vilarinho da Furna, 4840 030 Campo do Gerês, Terras de Bouro, Braga, Portugal.
41° 45'' 01" N | 08° 11' 49" W | +351 253 351 888

Vilarinho da Furna

|  Vilarinho da Furna

The Mizarela Bridge

|  The Mizarela Bridge

The Mizarela Bridge

Associated with legends of the devil and ancient fertility rites, this mysterious bridge dates back to medieval times. Set in a magnificent location, its single arched Roman-styled construction spans the river Rabagão close to the confluence with the river Cávado. It was a site of a battle between local fighters and retreating French troops in April 1809. The bridge was restored in the 19th century. Rua do Teixeira 8, 5470, Ferral, Portugal.
41° 41′ 31″ N | 08° 01′ 11″ W


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TOP TOURS

Peneda-Gerês Hiking & Sightseeing

Peneda-Gerês Hiking & Sightseeing

This private sightseeing tour will enable you to explore the nature and culture of the Peneda-Gerês National Park, in a single day. You will be exploring the villages, mountains, rivers and waterfalls of this park, which has a kind of scenery which is hard to find anywhere else. Besides the landscapes, fauna and flora and the numerous wild rivers which form some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Portugal, it has a rich culture, history and heritage. Its monuments go back to the time before the birth of the nation, its villages still retain their peculiar culture and traditions, and villagers still live as their ancestors did.


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From Porto: Peneda-Gerês National Park Full Day Tour

From Porto: Peneda-Gerês National Park Full Day Tour

Journey to the heart of Gerês National Park on this full-day trip, departing from Porto. After meeting your informative guide at your hotel, head to one of Portugal’s most astounding National Parks where you will spend the day walking scenic trails and discovering native flora and fauna.

• Spend the day exploring Gerês National Park
• Enjoy a personalized experience on this small-group tour
• Observe the local flora and fauna of the park
• Round-trip hotel transfers and lunch are included

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Gerês Waterfall Trek from Porto

Gerês Waterfall Trek from Porto

Explore Portugal’s only national park on this full-day trek of Peneda-Gerês National Park, departing from Porto. Venture into the unknown on a thrilling 4x4 ride, as your cruise into the countryside. Admire Portugal’s natural beauty, including mountains and photo-worthy waterfalls and learn about the region from your knowledgeable guide. Savour a picnic lunch while you take in the sites:
• A full-day exploration of Peneda-Gerês National Park
• Enjoy a scenic picnic lunch surrounded by nature
• See the stunning Gerês Waterfall
• Get an insider’s scoop on the local area
• Ride in a 4x4 vehicle for a thril

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HIKING IN THE PENEDA GERÊS NATIONAL PARK

The Peneda-Gerês National Park has five gates designed not only to give access to the park but to provide an appropriate reception and information to visitors. At these visitor centres, you can find information and publications regarding nature tourism, environmental activities for children, nature sports activities and hiking trail maps. The gates are starting points for the trails and each gate has a related theme…


Lindoso Gate – Water and Geology

Lindoso is famous for its castle and Espigueiros overlooking the Lima valley near Ponte da Barca. It's is also the start point for trails of the Moinhos (water mills) of Parada and of the Megalistismo (megaliths) of Britelo.
Núcleo Ecomuseológico do Castelo do Lindoso, Ponte da Barca, Portugal.
08º 11' 57" W | 41º 52' 01" N
geral@bagoeira.com |  Website

Lindoso Gate

|  Lindoso Gate

Campo do Gerês Gate - History of the Land

|  Campo do Gerês Gate - History of the Land

Campo do Gerês Gate - History of the Land

From here it's possible to join the Roman Road (Geira) with its famous ancient milestones into the Albergaria forest, a remnant of the original forest that once covered Northwest Portugal. Also from here, you can walk to the crystalline lakes formed by the River Homen and waterfalls which cascade down a glacial valley.
Low Season Tuesday - Sunday: 10h00 - 12h30/14h00 - 17h00 | High Season Tuesday - Sunday: 10h00 – 19h00
Lugar do Calvário, freguesia de Covide, Portugal. | 08º 11' 48.9" W | 41º 45' 02.7" N
+351 251 465 016 | geral@bagoeira.com | Website

Hiking Trails starting from this gate:
• Águia do Sarilhão trail (PR5)  [ Info & Map ]
• Cidade da Calcedónia trail (PR1)   Info & Map
• Trilho da Preguiça   [ Info & Map ]
• São Bento trail (PR7)   [ Info & Map ]
• Trilho do Sobreiral da Ermida do Gerês (PR14) [ Info & Map ]p
• Currais trail (PR3)   [ Info & Map ]
• Miradouros trail (PR6)   [ Info & Map ]
• Interpretativo das Silhas dos Ursos trail   [ Info & Map ]

Lamas de Mouro Gate - Land Management and Planning

Starting from here, you can visit the oak forests of the Peneda Mountain Range or the dolmens of the Castro Laboreiro plateau and its castle. Here too you can discover old villages, the ones people used to migrate to in the summer (Brandas) and those which were homes during winter months (Inverneiras).
Low Season Tuesday - Sunday: 10h00 - 12h30/14h00 - 17h00 | High Season Tuesday - Sunday: 10h00 – 19h00
Lamas de Mouro, Porto Ribeiro, Melgaço, Portugal.
08º 11' 45" W | 42º 02' 19" N
geral@bagoeira.com |  Website

Hiking Trails starting from this gate:
• Castrejo trail (PR3)   [ Info & Map ]
• Curro da Velha trail   [ Info & Map ]
• Lamas de Mouro trail   [ Info & Map ]
• Megalitismo do Planalto de Castro Laboreiro trail   [ Info & Map ]
• Interpretativo de Castro Laboreiro trail   [ Info & Map ]

Lamas de Mouro Gate

|  Lamas de Mouro Gate

Mezio Gate - Nature Conservation

|  Mezio Gate - Nature Conservation

Mezio Gate - Nature Conservation

At the entrance to the gate, one finds a dolmen along with picnic seating under the tree canopy. From here you can go onto discover the Soajo village or the granite domes of Serra da Peneda. Take the Pertinho do Céu Trail to enjoy the waterfalls in the Pomba River or hike the Brandas Pilgrim's Trail to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peneda.
Low Season Daily: 10h00 - 17h00 | High Season Daily: 10h00 – 19h00
Núcleo Megalítico do Mezio, Serra do Soajo, Mezio 3600, Arco de Valdevez, Portugal.
08º 18' 48" W | 41º 53' 05" N
portadomezio@ardal.pt |  Website

Hiking Trails starting from this gate:
• Caminho do Pão, Caminhos da Fé Trail   [ Info & Map ]
• Peneda trail [ Info & Map ]
• Brandas trail [ Info & Map ]
• Ramil trail   [ Info & Map ]
• Ramiscal trail   [ Info & Map ]
• Interpretativo do Mezio trail   [ Info & Map ]
• Pertinho do Céu trail   [ Info & Map ]

Montalegre Gate - Landscape

Here where the peaks of the Serra do Gerês are mirrored in the waters of lake Paradela, lies the Montalegre Gate under the forest shade. From here, you can visit the ancient stone walls used for wolf trapping, known locally as fojos in Fafião. You can take the Pitões das Júnias trail up to the highest village in Portugal, passing a hidden monastery along the way.
Weekdays 09h00 - 12h30/14h00 - 17h30
Terreiro do Açougue, 5470-250, Montalegre, Portugal.
07º 47' 28.9" W | 41º 49' 31.3" N

Hiking Trails starting from this gate:
• Contrabando trail (PR6)   [ Info & Map ]
• Pitões das Júnias trail   [ Info & Map ]
• Rio trail (PR4) [ Info & Map ]
• Tourém trail   [ Info & Map ]

Montalegre Gate - Landscape

|  Montalegre Gate - Landscape