Top of the places to visit in Peneda-Gerês National Park

Parque Nacional Peneda Gerês

Peneda-Gerês National Park was created in 1971. It covers a total area of 72 000 hectares (177 915 acres).

Mapa_do_Parque_Peneda-Gerês
Map of Peneda-Gerês Park

This park is located in Minho region, in Viana do Castelo, Vila Real and Braga districts, northwest of Portugal, about 100 kms from Porto. The park is home to more than a hundred granite villages that have not changed since the creation of Portugal in the 12th century.

Casa_em_granito_na_aldeia_de_Brufe
Granite house in Brufe village

The oldest villages are mainly gathered in Serra da Peneda and remain distant from modern life. The oxen are still steered along the streets by women dressed in black and shepherds still let their flocks graze all by themselves for five months.

Uma_vaca_simpática_a_posar_para_a_fotografia
A friendly cow posing for the camera

Some wolves, wild boars, badgers, deers and wild ponies still live in the remotest areas of the park. You can also find serpents and sometimes even black venomous vipers. Aside from the wild animals, domestic species also inhabit the park and are easily seen such as cattle with long horns, goats and autochthonous sheep and the rustic shepherd dog Castro Laboreiro.

Rebanho_de_cabras_no_Parque_Nacional_da_Peneda-Gerês
Flock of goats in Peneda-Gerês National Park

 Here are the places to visit in Peneda-Gerês National Park:

 

1. Castro Laboreiro

 

Castelo_de_Castro_Laboreiro
Castro Laboreiro Castle
Source: castrolaboreiro.com
Ponte_em_Castro_Laboreiro
Bridge in Castro Laboreiro
Source: castrolaboreiro.com

Castro Laboreiro is a village well known for its 16th century castle ruins (a castle built in 1505 over the foundations of a 12th century Moorish castle), bridges, medieval churches, community ovens, windmills and its inhabitants lifestyle.

2. Peneda

Santuário_da_Nossa_Senhora_da_Peneda
Nossa Senhora da Peneda Shrine
Source: Rui Videira

Peneda is one of the most beautiful mountain villages and is located half way between Lamas de Mouro and Soajo. Near a deep ravine, with view to a round mountain and a waterfall, Peneda offers a fascinating spectacle.

Santuário_da_Nossa_Senhora_da_Peneda
Nossa Senhora da Peneda Shrine
Source: wikipedia.org

The only hotel in the village (old pilgrim shelters) is next to Nossa Senhora da Peneda Shrine. This shrine was built between the end of the 18th century and mid 19th century; with its 300-metre stairway and 20 chapels depicting the life of Christ (Nativity and Passion), it is the centre of pilgrimage of Senhora da Peneda that takes place on the first week of September and where people gather at the square to witness the candle procession.

3. Soajo

Espigueiros_na_aldeia_de_Soajo
Old granaries in Soajo village
Source: serra-do-geres.com
Rua_típica_de_Soajo
Typical Soajo street
Source: serra-do-geres.com

Soajo is a secluded village overlooking Lima river. The main attraction are the old stone granaries where corn is stored. We can enjoy a magnificent view over the surrounding landscape and walking is a good way to discover the beauty of the protected area.

4. Lindoso

Castelo_de_Lindoso
Lindoso Castle
Source: lejardinduportugal.fr

Lindoso is a farmer and shepherd village (1300 inhabitants). This village is well known for its 1278 castle and its old granaries that, strangely, resemble mausuleums but with a very different purpose. These granite granaries were built over stilts and vented on the sides enabling the storage and curing of corn.

Espigueiros_ao_lado_do_Castelo_de_Lindoso
Old granaries next to Lindoso Castle
Source: lejardinduportugal.fr

5. Vilarinho das Furnas

Vilarinho_das_Furnas_submersa_pelas_águas
Vilarinho das Furnas submerged by water
Source: wikipedia.org

Vilarinho das Furnas is a village that was submerged in 1972 by the construction and filling of the dam with the same name. In a legal twist, the submerged land is still in the hands of the former villagers, but the use of the dam belongs to the Portuguese state.

Antiga_casa_em_Vilarinho_das_Furnas
Old house in Vilarinho das Furnas

Visit Vilarinho das Furnas at the end of summer and/or autumn – at this time the water level is low and the walls of the old village emerge through the water.

When you get to Vilarinho das Furnas dam, you’ll see a barrier – walk beside it and you’ll find the old village 2kms away.

6. Geira Roman Road

Marcos_miliários_no_Parque_Nacional_da_Peneda-Gerês
Milestones at Peneda-Gerês National Park
Source: flickr.com : cncporto

This Roman road connected two important iberian cities: “Bracara Augusta”, present city of Braga, and “Asturica Augusta”, present city of Astorga, in a distance of CCXV miles (~318kms).

I invite you to visit the Roman road between Campo do Gerês and Portela do Homem, located in Mata da Albergaria, one of the most beautiful places in the park.

Mata_da_Albergaria
Mata da Albergaria
Source: flickr.com : albano moreira
Information
  •     Total distance: 8 Kms
  •     Mountain bikes location: equidesafios

 7. São Bento da Porta Aberta

Cripta_do_Santuário_de_São_Bento_da_Porta_Aberta
Cript of São Bento da Porta Aberta Shrine
Source: flickr.com : goncalo proenca
Loja_de_lembranças_em_São_Bento_da_Porta_Aberta
Souvenir shop in São Bento da Porta Aberta
Source: flickr.com : antonioluisousa

São Bento da Porta Aberta Shrine is located in Rio Caldo village, in Peneda-Gerês National Park. The monks of Santa Maria de Bouro influenced the beginning of the cult to São Bento. In 1640 they started building the chapel. According to tradition, this chapel had a porch and, as in many other chapels up in the hills, the doors were always open so people passing by could use it as a shelter. São Bento da Porta Aberta (“open door”) was named after this fact and is still known today for this name.

8. Miradouro (Viewpoint) da Pedra Bela

Miradouro_da_Pedra_Bela
Pedra Bela Viewpoint
Source: flickr.com : joaoleitao

One of the most beautiful places to gaze at Peneda-Gerês National Park. This viewpoint is located 6kms from Gerês village.

9. Arado Waterfall

Cascata_do_Arado
Arado Waterfall
Source: flickr.com : mariofch

Arado Waterfall is one of the most famous waterfalls in the park and is located at 900 metres of altitude.

Ponte_do_ Rio_Arado
Bridge over Arado river
Source: wikipedia.org
Information

10. Pitões das Júnias

Mosteiro_de_Santa_Maria_das_Júnias
Santa Maria das Júnias Monastery
Source: wikipedia.org

 Pitões das Júnias is a small village well known for its Benedictine monastery built in the mid 9th century. Located in a spectacular valley, the monastery was meant to shelter Benedictine monks. In the 12th century, the monastery was donated to the Cistercian Order.

  •     How many days are needed to visit the Peneda-Gerês National Park: 4 Days
TransportationWhere to eatWhere to sleepPark festivals Useful Information

From/To Peneda-Gerês National Park

 Bus

The Empresa Hoteleira do Gerês connects Braga to Gerês village (3.50€, 1h e 30min, once per hour from Monday to Friday and six times per day on Saturdays and Sundays)

Salvador buses cross Ponte da Barca in the week, twice a day, connecting Arcos de Valdevez to Soajo (2.10€, 45 min) and Lindoso (2.20€, 1 h) in Peneda-Gerês National Park.

Car/Motorcycle

Usually, the roads in the park are good but they can be tricky. Pay attention to small roads as they can be dangerous to your car, even though they don’t show up in the maps.

When I visited the park I used the car as means of transportation so I could easily move around and waste less time.

Where to eat

Saber ao Borralho

Saber ao Borralho has a great atmosphere, with excellent local dishes such as “posta à barrosã” (a meat dish), three codfish dishes and a tempting selection of desserts.

Information

Lurdes Capela

Located in Gerês village, this family restaurant is usually booked up because of its excellent cuisine. In the menu you’ll find fresh fish, potatoes and vegetables in butter, meat, codfish, etc.

Information

Where to sleep

Chalé de Soutelinho (affiliate link)

Located in Peneda-Gerês National Park, the peaceful Chalé de Soutelinho has a garden and an outside pool. The house was recently renewed and is on the outskirts of Gerês village.

Information

Peneda Hotel*** (affiliate link) 

Peneda Hotel is located next to Nossa Senhora da Peneda Shrine. Peinador and Francisco Sá Carneiro airports are at 70 and 140 kms respectively. Bedrooms are comfortable, with modern amenities and private bathroom. The hotel restaurant serves Portuguese food.

Information

Nossa Senhora da Peneda

The pilgrimage to Nossa Senhora da Peneda happens from 1 to 8 September of each year. The 5th and 6th September are the most important days with the eucharistic procession and Portuguese folk music.

São Bento da Porta Aberta

  • 20 and 21 March: The death of S. Bento is celebrated on this date in Monte Cassino, Italy. The most important day of the pilgrimage is the 21st that used to be its celebration day;
  • 10 and 11 July: People celebrate the Festival of S. Bento, Europe’s patron saint;
  • 10, 11,12, 13,14 and 15 August: This is, by tradition, the biggest pilgrimage to S. Bento da Porta Aberta. On these days thousands of pilgrims go to the shrine to keep their promises.

Entrances to the park: Lamas de Mouro, Mezio, Lindoso, Campo do Gerês, Paradela and Montalegre. You can use your PDA or GPS to help you on orientation trails that you can find at one of the entrances to the park.

Peneda-Gerês National Park head office: portal.icn.pt

Booking central of the regions of Peneda-Gerês National Park: adere-pg.pt

For additional information go to: visitportugal.com or visitportoandnorth.travel

Useful tips for your trip to Peneda-Gerês National Park:

1- Pay attention to the weather forecast and avoid doing any activities if it’s going to rain or if a stormy or foggy day is expected.

2- Sudden climatic changes may happen above 800 metres. Be alert.

3- Choose plain and comfortable clothing and footwear. Avoid to use the yellow colour and perfume because it will attract bugs.

4- In the summer, pay special attention to sun protection and take water if you’re going on a hike. Even in the winter, never forget to take water, food and a cell phone.

5- Take binoculars and a camera if you can.

Are you going to visit the Peneda-Gerês National Park ? Then don’t hesitate to book your hotel room and your car by clicking the links below. This way you are helping me in the development of my blog and I’ll be able to offer you free tips and travel guides so that you can better prepare your visit to Portugal. Thank you!

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About Tiago

Tiago, 27 years old, Parisian since 12, I decided to go on an adventure and make my dream come true: get to know our country from one end to the other. I believe that if we don’t know our origins we don’t truly know ourselves. Read more here