The park is situated in the largest mountain range in Portugal, the Serra da Estrela (SEH-rruh duh sh-TRIHL-uh, /ˈsɛ.ʁɐ dɐ ʃ.ˈtɾe.ɫɐ/, "Star Mountain"), and is the source of the rivers Mondego, Zêzere (tributary of the Tagus), and Alva. The park is the largest natural conservation area in Portugal and occupies about 1,000 km2 (390 sq mi). More than half of its area is located above an altitude of 700 m (2,300 ft). At 1,993 m (6,539 ft), it contains the highest peak in Continental Portugal (named Torre) and a ski resort.
Throughout the park, a traditional mountain economy is practised, centred on agriculture, raising sheep and goats, and the manufacture of Queijo Serra da Estrela cheese. The craftsmanship of the region is expressed in basket work using chestnut and wicker, weaving, embroidered cotton and smoked produce.
Flora and fauna
The region is known for the cão da Serra da Estrela dog, one of the oldest breeds on the Iberian Peninsula. They are bred to guard flocks of ovelha da Serra da Estrela sheep that produce the queijo da serra da Estrela cheese.
- The A 23 motorway (Autoestrada da Beira Interior) serves nearby Covilhã with access from Torres Novas, Entroncamento, Abrantes, Castelo Branco, Fundão, and Guarda.
- The A 25 motorway (Autoestrada das Beiras Litoral e Alta, IP 5) serves nearby Celorico da Beira and Guarda with access from Ílhavo, Viseu, and Vilar Formoso (at the Spanish border).
- N 16 skirts the park to the northeast and provides access from Aveiro, Viseu, and the border town of Vilar Formoso.
- N 17 skirts the northwestern edge of the park, serving Seia, Gouveia, and Celorico da Beira with access from Coimbra.
Fees and permits
There are no fees or permits required to visit the park.
Several minor national roads cross the park, skirt its edges, or connect with surrounding towns, including N 230, N 231, N 232, N 338, and N 339.
- 1 Torre (N 338-1). At 1,993 m (6,539 ft), Torre is continental Portugal's tallest mountain peak. A 7 m (23 ft) man-made tower on the site ostensibly brings the pinnacle's total height to 2,000 m (6,600 ft). The mountaintop is accessible by car via a paved road.
- 2 Capela de Nossa Senhora do Ar (Capela da Torre, Chapel of Our Lady of the Air) (N 338-1). This chapel is located at the former base of the Portuguese Air Force's Squadron 13 of the Alert, Detection, and Interception Conduct Group. It was built in 1962 and was reopened in 2007 after decades of abandonment.
- 1 Estância de Esqui da Serra da Estrela (Vodafone Ski Resort) (on N 399 road in Loriga, Seia), ☏ , email@example.com. At an elevation of 2,000 m (6,600 ft), this is Portugal's only ski resort. They have a skiing and snowboarding school. Although located in Seia municipality, the resort's main gateway is the village of Penhas da Saúde in Covilhã.
- 1 Centro Comercial da Torre. A small, slightly run-down shopping centre with multiple vendors at the tip top of Portugal. Look for regional products, including queijo Serra da Estrela cheese, presunto ham, and woollen goods.
- 1 Lenda Viriato, Rua de Santo Aleixo 16, Unhais da Serra, Covilhã (behind the church), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu–F 19:30–22:00, Sa Su 12:30–15:00 & 19:30–22:00, closed M. The building was constructed in 1905 as the village's wood fire oven. It was converted into a restaurant in 2009 and given a medieval theme based on the legend of Viriato, the leader of the Lusitano people, ancestors of the Portuguese. Their recommended dishes include kid goat, veal, and cod with corn bread.
- 2 O Mirante Da Estrela, Rua do Comércio 60, Sabugueiro, Seia, ☏ . Th–Tu 12:00–16:00, closed W. Cosy place with traditional cooking and great mountain views.
- 3 Restaurante O Olival, N 232, Nº 2, Manteigas, ☏ , email@example.com. M Tu Th–Sa 12:00–14:30 & 19:00–21:00, Su 12:00–14:30, closed W. The building and decor may be modern, but the food is authentic and traditional. €8-15.
- 1 Casa Lagar da Alagoa, N 232, km 73, Vale de Amoreira, Manteigas, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00–21:00, check-out: 07:00–12:00. This quaint, rustic three-star, 9-room hotel in a country home is run by a friendly older couple. Amenities include a bar, a garden, free Wi-Fi in the main lounge, free breakfast, and free parking. €54-107.
- 2 Luna Hotel Serra da Estrela, N 339, Penhas da Saúde, Covilhã, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 12:00. This four-star, 80-room hotel boasts a heated indoor pool, an outdoor pool, a games room with billiards table, a tennis court, children's activities, and a "medieval" restaurant. Amenities include room service, free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, and free parking. €44-112.
- 3 Pousada da Juventude Serra da Estrela (Serra da Estrela Youth Hostel), Estrada Nacional 339, Penhas da Saúde, Serra da Estrela, Covilhã, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 18:00, check-out: 12:00. €32-48.
- 4 Parque de Campismo Curral do Negro, Sítio do Curral do Negro, Gouveia, ☏ , email@example.com.
- 5 Parque de Campismo do Pião (Camping Pião), N 339, Covilhã, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. This campground has a snack bar, a cookout area, bicycle rentals, a swimming pool, toilets, and showers. The property has bungalows and mobile homes.
- 6 Parque de Campismo Rossio de Valhelhas (Valhelhas Camping), N 232, Valhelhas, Guarda, ☏ , email@example.com. Campground on the River Zêzere.