Peneda-Gerês National Park
Despite the fact that I’m portuguese and that I totally love my country, I never had the chance of heading north and exploring the area between the Douro Valley and the spanish border, which has already on my travel bucket list for a long time. On the last week, I finally did it: I spent ten days exploring Northern Portugal, including charming Oporto, picturesque Guimarães, religious Braga and, of course, Peneda-Gerês National Park, the biggest, most beautiful and most important protected area of the country. The park welcomes daily many portuguese tourists that come from all around the country to see by themselves the breathtaking landscapes showed by TV and the diverse wildlife they studied for years and years at the science class, however, most international visitors ignore this unique place when visiting Portugal. So that, here’s a little bit of inspiration to spend one weekend in the park during your next stay in the country:
Whatever you are looking for, Peneda-Gerês National Park has it covered: endless nature, radical sports, historic heritage, cute little villages, delicious food and whatelse you can think of. With so much on offer and so little time to experience it all (just 3 days, to be precise), I though that I had to be selective and to choose previously which places I would visit, to make the most of my stay in Peneda-Gerês. However, when I got there, I soon realised that there was nothing better to do there than driving calmly through the park and let the nature surprises you with a waterfall, a viewpoint or a wild animal right on the next curve.
But make also sure you stop on some of the cute little villages of the park, like Soajo and Lindoso, my favorite ones, where you can breath the fresh air of the mountains while wandering through the cute rustic houses and the little stone granaries, one of the icons of the region. Oh, and don’t forget to take a lot of photos because in Peneda-Gerês National Park there are almost no tourists to ruin your shots, not to mention the beauty of the park, that is always worth a pic!
Oporto Airport is the closest international airport to Peneda-Gerês, what makes it the most used by the international visitors that want to visit the park. In my opinion, the best way to get to the park and to explore it is to use a car, which you can easily rent in Oporto. If you don’t want to do it, take a train to Braga and then, a bus to one of the villages of the park on offer by the bus companies. Base yourself there and then explore the surrounding area hiking.
If you are looking for other off the beaten track places in Portgal, here is an article I wrote about one of my favorite remaining hidden gems of the country, Marvão.
Did you enjoyed this article? Have you every been in Peneda-Gerês National Park? Do you want to do it one day? Your comments will be very welcomed.