Embroidered between enchanted valleys, viewpoints and strange rock formations, Serra da Estrela in Portugal offers nature in its purest state.
From waterfalls and idyllic river beaches, to enchanted forests that look like they were taken from movies, the mountain has everything. Its historic lakes and villages contain fascinating legends. A place that is a work of natural art, therefore, it yearns to be in perfect union with nature.
Get lost in the intense silence of mountains and their peculiar villages in one of the largest green areas in the country…
Here you can practice skiing, sledding, snowboarding or ride a motorbike. In addition to the usual slopes, there are some with synthetic snow, where you can ski at any time of the year. In addition, it has about 375 kilometers of nature park trails, excellent for hiking, horseback or cycling.
But that’s not all, if you want to see a breathtaking landscape from above, go paragliding in Linhares da Beira, where you can see this magnificent historic village from the sky, a unique experience that you will always remember. And after all the adrenaline that the sport promises, relax in the local thermal baths while observing a landscape with unimaginable mountain slopes, full of a rich variety of vegetation and birds, absolutely superb.
1. A Route through landscapes and flavors
You will be amazed by the flavors of this land; in the mountains the gastronomy is fantastic, with the most famous product being cheese. With a buttery texture, the Serra cheese marries perfectly with the traditional bread, and even better with the fabulous Beira Interior wine. So, take a trip to Solar do Queijo in Celorico da Beira, where you can have a guide explaining how everything is done.
As for bread, there is a museum in Seia, which is interesting to visit. Start, therefore, in Seia, and proceed to the village of Loriga, know as the “Portuguese Switzerland”, thanks to its wonderful geographical location.
Loriga is at the top, about 770 meters above sea level. Here you can admire the Penha of the Cat, Penha of the Vulture and Tower, and also white houses and the terraces that will completely enchant you.
In addition, its river beach is one of the most beautiful in Portugal. Composed of a series of small natural pools, located in a glacial valley, the scenery is absolutely incredible. The waters that feed the pools come from the Loriga stream and are crystal clear.
Then, visit the river beach of Unhais da Serra and don’t forget Paul, which is one of the best kept secrets of Serra da Estrela, due to its waterfalls, natural pools, and unique environment.
Finally, head towards Covilhã, where I recommend visiting the majestic Praça do Município, the Museum of Lanifícios, the Portas do Sol Viewpoint, Jardim do Lago and the churches of Santa Maria Maior and Nossa Senhora da Conceição.
Just a little bit further out…there are nine municipalities around Serra da Estrela, that offer a very diverse landscape, they are: Belmonte, Celorico da Beira, Covilhã, Fornos de Algodres, Gouveia, Guarda, Manteigas, Oliveira do Hospital and Seia, since 2020, they have constituted the Geopark Estrela, recognized by UNESCO for its geological value, making it really worth visiting.
2. Unique places to make you dream…
If you want to find places that really stand out for their originality and difference, then visit Lagoa Comprida and especially the impressive Covão dos Conchos, that will really surprise you. This place looks like a portal to another dimension, with a tunnel about 1.5 km long which serves to lead the waters from Ribeira das Naves to Lagoa Comprida.
Another essential stop is the Poço do Inferno. The most scenic waterfall in Serra da Estrela is about ten meters high and is magnificent, as if it were taken from a movie. The Poço do Inferno is therefore one of the most magical places in the mountain.
But, as perfection does not exist, although you may feel like bathing in the waterfall in this paradisiacal place, remember that you are at 1080 meters high, and the water is extremely cold.
Poço do Inferno has a fantastic trail, which, even if only 2 and a half kilometers, takes two hours to travel slowly. The route, although small, is winding, with sections that require a lot of expertise. But, the stunning landscapes you will pass through will be worth your effort.
Also visit Belmonte, Pedro Álvares Cabral’s birthplace, where the streets of this medieval village exude the Jewish heritage of the last Sephardic people in Portugal.
Culturally, don’t miss the Woolfest Modern Art Festival in Covilhã, where you will find the best of national and international urban art in its buildings and countless abandoned factories.
3. 25 Lagoons Route
In the warmer months, I suggest crossing the 25 Lagoons Route in the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, they are unique because they are the highest altitude water mirrors, existing throughout the national territory.
The 25 lagoons are of glacier origin and it is possible to travel them through three different paths, which span between 7 and 12 km. Two of the routes are circular and cover the Lagoons of Torre and the Great Lagoons. As for the third possible route, it corresponds to the Penhas da Saúde – Torre route, the so-called Viriato Trail, where it can be very useful to take a guide with you.
4. Fabulous medicinal water spas
In the midst of a diverse tourist offer and impeccable quality, I highlight some that seem to me to be unavoidable.
The mountain is home to the first Mountain Spa in the country and one of the largest in Europe. The resort combines well-being with leisure, in a unique combination of luxury and comfort. It is called Aquadome and is located at Termas de Unhais da Serra, in the heart of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park. Here you can have fun or just get away from the world.
On the other hand, at Termas do Cró, you can also fight stress by bathing in medicinal waters and dive into a unique wellness environment.
If you want to do tourism to improve your health and if you have any type of rheumatic problem, go to the Longroiva Termas resort, especially indicated for the treatment of this type of disease. But that’s not all, if you have pathologies at a respiratory level, the Caldas de Manteigas Spa is ideal, being located in the heart of the mountain hydrothermal region.
And since we are talking about water, I advise you to follow the great rivers to understand their origins. Go to the springs that are fabulous places – Mondego in Mondeguinho, Zêzere in Covão d’Ametade and Alva in Vale do Rossim and enjoy the glacial valleys of Loriga, Manteigas, or Covão do Urso.
Serra da Estrela is a paradise on earth, if you really want to have the feeling to touch the sky, go there!