Located in the Northwest of the country, Peneda-Gerês National Park, or Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês in Portuguese, is a hidden gem and one not visited too often by tourists, with only a few exceptions during the summer months. Most of the National Park is off the beaten path and with plenty to discover. It was declared a National Park in 1971.
The mountainous landscape of the Park is spread across 4 different mountain ranges: Peneda, Soajo, Amarela, and Gerês, with the highest elevation being around 1500 m. From rivers and waterfalls to granite cliffs and boulders, or forests and valleys, the scenery is quite stunning throughout the Park.
Peneda-Gerês National Park is a personal favorite of ours.
Embrace the views
Amazing viewpoints await you. The scenery throughout Peneda-Gerês National park is very diverse and you’ll never have a dull moment as long as you search for the perfect vantage points over the many valleys, mountains, and rivers.
The best way to explore Peneda-Gerês National Park is on foot. There are plenty of hiking trails in the different mountains of the Park, including some short ones for those visiting just for the day and multi-day treks.
The Park is home to a few important wildlife species, including the rare gray wolf. Other animals such as roe deer, garrano (wild pony), foxes, wild boars and otters can also be found in the Park.
One curious thing is that a very special kind of dog breed can be found in the Park. It’s called Castro Laboreiro.
Three of the biggest Portuguese dams are located in the Park. Alto Lindoso, Caniçada, and Vilarinho das Furnas. The latter is known for the small village that was submerged due to its construction.
Espigueiros are stone granaries typical from this region of Portugal. Soajo and Lindoso have important collections of espigueiros and are the best place to see them.
Peneda-Gerês National Park is home to important and protected forests. Very peaceful and tranquil, these are ideal for a stroll.
You’ll discover important historical monuments within the Park limits, such as sanctuaries, castles, and an old roman road.
Nossa Senhora da Peneda sanctuary was built in the 18th and 19th centuries and is a very well-known pilgrimage destination during its September festivities.
There are two castles worth visiting, both located in the Northern part of the Park. The 11th century Lindoso castle and the 10th century Castro Laboreiro castle. Due to their strategic locations, these castles boast amazing views.
There are plenty of waterfalls in the Park and some are very inviting for bathing during the Summer. Some rivers are also good spots to cool down.
If you’re into more exciting activities, adventure sports such as mountain biking, canyoning or kayaking are also available.
Practical information about Peneda-Gerês National Park
The closest airport is in Porto, which is 100 km away from the nearest Park entrance, while the closest city is Braga and this is where the headquarters of the Park are located.
Virtually no public transport is available so driving is recommended and pretty much the only option, although some tours exist.
There are 5 official gates to the Park (portas in Portuguese) which are located in the different areas that make up the Park. All of these gates have a visitors center with useful information, including maps.
Due to its dimensions, it is not recommended or feasible to visit the entire Park in just a few days. If you’re limited in time, the area close to Braga is the most popular and easily accessible one.