the only national park in Portugal
The Peneda-Gerês National Park in Portugal is located in Norte, the northernmost region of Portugal, right on the Spanish border. From Porto, the nature reserve can be reached in two hours by car. It is the only national park in the country, covers more than 700 square kilometers and has been a UNESCO biosphere reserve since 2009.
Location & geography
The territory of the national park extends in an elongated form from east to west, which is why it is part of several Portuguese administrative districts. A total of 14 villages with 9,000 inhabitants are located in the park area. There are a few small towns on the outskirts, the largest of which is Arcos de Valdevez with just under 23,000 inhabitants. More than half of the area is part of the common land and is accessible to everyone. The only exception is the 5,000 hectare core zone of the park, which is to remain untouched.
The park is located in the highlands of the Serra do Gerês massif, the summit of the same name being the second highest in Portugal within the mountain range. Due to its location, the national park is characterized by steep slopes and a multitude of rivers and streams that form cascades, basins and dams. In addition, there are historical terrace structures that are still used for agriculture today.
Lush greenery and lots of water characterize the landscape of the Peneda-Gerês. Due to its enormous variety of both cultural and natural structures, the Peneda-Gerês National Park is an excellent destination for study trips. Here you will find both dense oak forests and sparse stands of birch, holly and eucalyptus. Herbs and bushes rich in flowers dominate in the higher altitudes. Thanks to the winding mountain world, which is not accessible everywhere, the national park is a paradise for many reptiles and amphibians such as the gold-striped salamander. Large birds of prey, such as red kites, eagle owls and golden eagles, also have their home here. But mammals such as wolves, foxes, deer, wild boars, martens and otters are also part of the fauna. A specialty are the Garranos, a small breed of horses, which is only at home here. They are wild, but are also domesticated. Agriculture blends in almost seamlessly with nature, with the thatched granite houses having a special charm. Life in the small villages is leisurely and traditional.
The scenic beauty and the many waterways make the Peneda-Gerês National Park an excellent hiking area. There is a well-developed network of trails for hiking. It is not uncommon to see wild horses and many other animals. The more adventurous can book rafting or canyoning tours, while canoeing is an option for those who prefer a quieter pace. On the Rio Homem River, you can relax in natural swimming pools to relax. There are some exciting historical sites in the area such as the Espigueiros de Soajo or the granaries of Lindoso, which are also worth visiting when traveling and are easily accessible from the park.
Sintra-Cascais Natural Park
Heavenly beaches – thundering waves – impressive cliffs
The Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is one of the most beautiful sights in Portugal. It stretches from the green hills of the Sintra Mountains to the picturesque beaches of Cascais.
Where is the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park located?
The wild beauty of the landscape from the Serra de Sintra to Cascais awaits you right at the gates of Lisbon. If you want to experience both wonderful beaches and mountain landscapes with rare animals and plants on a trip to Portugal, the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais is the right address. A detour to the nature park is also recommended on a study trip, as numerous cultural and historical sights such as castles, monasteries and palaces can be admired there.
The Sintra-Cascais Nature Park can be found between the districts of Sintra and Cascais. The park extends from Sintra at the mouth of the Falcao River in the north to the Citadel of Cascais in the south. In the western part, the reserve borders the Atlantic Ocean.
What does the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park have to offer its visitors?
Visitors to Portugal will find various charming landscapes in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. The mountain areas alternate with flat plains and the Atlantic coast with its steep walls and idyllic beaches. This results in an extensive geological and climatic diversity. There is also an abundance of animals and plants. In addition, the nature park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The cultural sights
Also worth a visit are the city palace Palacio da Vila, which dates back to the 10th century, the Quinta da Regaleira in the historic center of Sintra, and the Castelo dos Mouros.
One of the greatest natural attractions is Cabo de Roca, the westernmost point of Europe with cliffs that reach a height of 140 meters.