Secrets Tips: Tour Around Gerês ♦ Peneda-Gerês National Park, in the far northwest of Portugal, between the Alto Minho and Trás-os-Montes, is the only Portuguese protected area classified as a National Park. It is a world apart where human activity harmoniously integrates with nature, preserving very old values and traditions, well-known in the community villages of Pitões das Júnias and Tourém. In all shades of green, the lush vegetation includes a nationally unique holly forest and endemic species such as the Gerês lily, which brightens the fields with their blue-violet hues. In the Peneda, Soajo, Amarela and Gerês Mountains, which are part of the Park, there are rivers and streams that precipitate into waterfalls and then spread into reservoirs. The landscapes are stunning, keep reading Secrets From Portugal tips to see why Gerês is so amazing.
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On an itinerary through the park, Soajo, with its old set of stone granaries to store grain, can be the starting point to the west. We can also see granaries in Lindoso, where it is worth climbing the castle overlooking the Lima River valley. A little further north, we can hop to the village of Castro Laboreiro, where the shepherd dogs of the region are raised. The most southerly mountain is Gerês, whose park gate, in Campo do Gerês, is the one closest to Braga. In this mountain are the reservoirs of the Caniçada Dam and Vilarinho das Furnas, places of great beauty, the latter submerged the village that gave it its name, and whose estate is now on display in the Terras de Bouro Ethnographic Museum. In the vicinity of this town, the Shrines of St. Benedict of the Open Door and the Lady of the Abbey are centres of great pilgrimages and pilgrimages.
From Campo do Gerês on foot, you can leave the car at the entrance of Mata da Albergaria and follow the river to Portela do Homem. On the way back, we can rest in the hot springs of Caldas do Gerês. Another sure bet is to follow the well-kept Roman route, with milestones that are almost two thousand years old. The Cávado River, which delimits the Park to the east, points the way to the Paradela Dam. A horse ride or a bath in the river invites you to relax. For those who really like walking tours, it is not to be missed visiting Pitões das Júnias, a village where ancient community customs are kept. It is at the end of the road and from here onwards just by foot. But the trip is worth it, for the waterfalls and small streams that cross the path or the surprise of the ruins of an ancient monastery appearing in the middle of the landscape.
In short, there are plenty of opportunities to spend energy in the Park, as there are also conditions for activities such as canyoning or canoeing. But not only. The diversity and abundance of local flora and fauna provide a unique contact with nature and whatever the option, medieval castles, monasteries and traditional villages are likely to be part of the landscape, always of unmatched natural beauty. As we cross one of the five gates that mark the entrance to Portugal’s only national park, we enter a magical world made up of towering mountains, amazing trails, bucolic valleys, idyllic waterfalls, dream ponds, enchanted woods, medieval bridges, sanctuaries. unrealistic, millennial sidewalks, villages lost in time and secular traditions.
For us, the word Gerês rhymes with magic and serenity, as such, back not back we are beaten there. We do not deny that we are fervent adherents of this nature sanctuary to which we never tire of returning. Also because each new visit reveals to us one of its many secrets… And so, subtly, conquer a little more of our heart. In this article, we will reveal some of our favourite places in Gerês and present a proposal for a 2 and 3-day itinerary, ideal for a long weekend or a break in Gerês.
Pitões das Júnias
The towering village of Pitões das Júnias (located at an altitude of 1100 meters) is one of the most enchanting of Gerês transmontano. As we walk through its narrow alleys it is virtually impossible not to fall in love with its typical granite houses, the tasty cuisine and friendliness of its people. n addition to the small village it is imperative to visit the ruins of the Monastery of Santa Maria das Júnias and the imposing waterfall of Pitões das Júnias. Both are just two kilometres from the centre of town.
Ponte da Misarela
The medieval bridge of Misarela (aka Devil’s Bridge), over the Rabagão River, is one of the most emblematic places of Gerês, and says the legend that is the work of the Devil. The truth is that its secluded location, deep in a rugged canyon bordered by boulders and dense vegetation, is simply idyllic. And as a bonus, we still have a waterfall adorning the scenery!
Cascata de Pincães
Pincães Waterfall is one of the most beautiful in Gerês and its natural pool is a real delight. On hot days it is almost irresistible to take a dip. To get there you will have to walk about 20 minutes, as it is impossible to reach by car the waterfall. You will have to leave the same in the village of Pincães and follow the walk for about 2km to the waterfall.
Cascatas do Tahiti
Tahiti Waterfalls, formed by the waters of the Arado River, need no introduction. Although they are situated in a secluded spot, they have in recent years become a true Instagram star. And live and in colour, it’s even easier to see why. Barjas Waterfalls are a true masterpiece of nature. Getting down there takes some science (and most of all very carefully) but the effort pays off. It is, without any doubt, one of the most amazing places in Gerês.
Cascata do Arado
As you may have noticed this first day of the Gerês script is very rich in waterfalls. And another one worth visiting is the Arado Waterfall. To get there, it is best to leave the car at the foot of the mirador das Rocas and then walk on the road. The ride is very pleasant and avoids winding up the car.
Miradouro da Pedra Bela
Pedra Bela viewpoint offers visitors one of the most brutal landscapes in Gerês. The view from the viewpoint is simply breathtaking and we guarantee that you will feel very small even in the immensity of the landscape that stretches at your feet. To calmly enjoy while studying the angle for the perfect selfie.
Vila do Gerês
Vila do Gerês marks the end of the first day of our Gerês itinerary. The offer of accommodation and catering services is vast so you will not have any difficulties finding the perfect place to replenish your energy. If you still have the energy we recommend a visit to the village’s historic hot springs.
Cascata da Portela do Homem
In Gerês you are never far from a waterfall. And the Portela do Homem Waterfall is one of the most beautiful. Access is very easy as the waterfall is right next to the road leading to the Spanish border. If it’s hot, take a dip in the waters of the Homem River. But don’t be fooled by its Caribbean blue tint. The water is cold!
Hot Water Pool Torneros (Termas de Lobios)
If you have time, enjoy that Spain is right next door and venture into the Baixa Limia-Serra do Xurés Natural Park. From Portela do Homem to Torneros (Lobios) natural open-air hot water pool it is only 8km away and the diversion is well worth it. Also because you can access the pool for free.
Small houses built of granite blocks line the stone streets, leading the visitor to the square where the unusual pillory stands, a National Monument since 1910. A friendly anthropomorphic face, carved on the pillory and crowned with a triangle resembling a three-peaked hat, welcomes visitors to the village, where they will find a relaxed and very hospitable atmosphere. On the outskirts, at a high point dominated by a large granite outcrop, visit the communal threshing terrace, an impressive group of twenty-four stone espigueiros (granaries), with architectural features dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, where the community used to store its corn, mainly maize, which is abundant in the region. There are two excellent restaurants in the village where you can try out the local specialities: the tasty meat of the Barrosã cattle, bred in the mountain pastures, chicken risotto and the indispensable green wine of the region, is the fortification demanded by the appetite stimulated by the cool mountain air.
Santuário da Nossa Senhora da Peneda
The Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Peneda is another mandatory stopping place in any Gerês itinerary. Set in a deep valley and of immense beauty, this sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady is nothing short of extraordinary. We highly recommend walking the long staircase leading to the Sanctuary and enjoying the nearly 20 chapels with the scenes of the life of Christ.