Peneda-Gerês National Park is the only national park in Portugal.
Located in the districts of Viana do Castelo, Braga and Vila Real; set along the mountains of Peneda, Larouco, Geres, it is one of the most spectacular in the Iberian Peninsula.
Flora and fauna
The park has a large variety of fauna - including deer, wild horses, wolves and birds of prey - and flora such as pine, yew, chestnut and oak trees, as well as medicinal plants.
Fees and permits
- Soajo - a town known for its large number of granaries, constructed to protect crops from rodents. The town's chapel also merits a visit or pilgrimage.
- 1 Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Peneda (Shrine of Our Lady of Peneda.). 18th-century shrine, inspired by the Bom Jesus shrine in Braga. It includes a staircase known as the "staircase of virtues", the "Yard of the Evangelists" and a church. In 1220, the Virgin Mary is said to have made an appearance in person.
- 2 Santuário de São Bento da Porta Aberta (Shrine of Saint Benedict of the Open Door) (Rio Caldo), ☏ . Every day 08:00–19:00. Built in the 19th century, this shrine is famous for the blue tiles inside the main chapel.
- 3 Mata da Albergaria (2 km south of Portela do Homem, on the M531 road). A botanical reserve of great importance, which hosts many oak trees which are emblematic of the region's vegetation. It is also notable for the trace remains of an old Roman road, which crosses the reserve and once linked Braga with León in Spain.
There are a couple of nice hiking opportunities in the park. You can get free maps and information at the tourist information centre in Gerês, but they only offer information for nearby tracks. For information on other tracks you have to go to an office of the national park itself.
Hiking tracks from Gerês
- PR 3: starts and ends in Gerês; duration: 5 hr:
- Goes up the mountain close to Gerês through beautiful forest until a viewpoint, where you can see all over the valley and the lake. Then, the trail goes on a plateau with very nice rock formations, where you can see some wild horses and cattle. Then down you go again through forest and the valley back on an asphalt road (no traffic) to Gerês.
- PR10: “the lazy trail”: starts and ends in Gerês; duration: 2 hr:
- A circuit through the forest at the mountain in Gerês.
- 1 Restaurante Castrum Villae (Castro Laboreiro), ☏ , toll-free: . Traditional gastronomy in family-friendly surroundings. Located in the hotel of the same name.
There is lots of accommodation in Gerês.
- Hostel Gerês, 21 Rua de Arnaçó, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Has dorms and double rooms with/without bathroom. Nice terrace, big common area, kitchen. Good spot for meeting other travellers.
- 1 Hotel Castrum Villae (Castro Laboreiro), ☏ , toll-free: . Casual and traditional hotel, with on-site restaurant and bar. Clean rooms and free wifi.
- Lamas de Mouro, Veigas de Lama, Lamas de Mouro, (5 km south of Lamas de Mouro), ☏ .
- Lima Escape, Lugar de Igreja, Entre Ambos-os-Rios, Ponte da Barca, ☏ .
- Parque Cerdeira (On N307 road), ☏ .