This self-guided tour of Peneda-Gerês National Park provides a balanced, well-paced itinerary of activities and sights.
Explore the natural charms, rich history, farming traditions and rural customs of Portugal’s only national park.
Take walks in the wilderness and stroll around traditional mountain villages and attractive riverside towns.
Since the tour is self-guided you are free to make additional stops and create a truly unique experience. It is completely customisable so you can change the number of days, the activities or bases – just tell me what you need.
Day 1 – Lindoso, Romans and views
Collect your hire car in Porto drive to Peneda Gerês National Park.
See Lindoso’s unusual stone grain stores, explore the castle and admire the views of the Serra Amarela (Yellow Mountains).
Take a dip in the thermal pools at Lóbios or the waterfall at Portela do Homem.
Discover Roman heritage on a stroll through the oak forest of Mata de Albergaria and the village of São Jão do Campo, aka Campo do Gerês.
Stay in charming accommodation with panoramic views over the River Cávado and the Caniçada reservoir.
Day 2 – wolf traps and Pitões das Júnias
Drive across Salamonde dam to reach the village of Fafião. One of Portugal’s best preserved traditional wolf traps, a fojo dos lobos, lies a short walk from the centre.
Enjoy the stunning mountain scenery as you drive to Paradela park gate. Head uphill to the village of Pitões das Júnias nestled amid the mountains. Explore the village and what remains of the 12th century Santa Maria das Júnias Cistercian monastery and church, especially its Gothic window and the exposed ruins of the Romanesque cloisters.
Tuck into a hearty lunch of Barrosã steak, smoked meats and fresh, home grown veggies.
Spend the night in the comfort of a country house hotel in the village of Tourem.
Day 3 – walk the smugglers’ route
Ditch the car and don your walking boots to explore Peneda-Gerês on a circular walking tour along the old smugglers’ route between Portugal and Spain.
Stay another night in Tourem.
Day 4 – Roman baths and Castro Laboreiro
Visit the reconstructed Roman encampment of Aquis Querquennis. Pretend you’re a Roman and take a dip in the warm thermal waters while you appreciate the views.
In Castro Laboreiro, climb to the ruined castle to see Laboreiro waterfall. Visit the 9th century church and stroll around the village.
Overnight at a hotel in the village.
Day 5 – walking and local farming
Get to grips with the landscape on a 12 km version of the circular Casterejo walking trail. See the summer and winter homes (brandas and inverneiras) where the local people relocate to get the best grazing and farming. You’ll see rural agricultural practices, the long-horned Barrosã cattle and perhaps some of the local Castro Laboreiro breed of dog.
Reward yourself with a cocktail before tucking into tasty regional dishes at your hotel.
Day 6 – traditions and villages
Drive from Castro Laboreiro to the Lamas de Mouro park gates. Follow the short walking trail (4.5 km) to find the community water mill and bread ovens.
Drive to Peneda sanctuary, which continues to draw pilgrims from all around the area.
The ancient village of Soajo has an impressive collection of granite espigueiros (grain stores) a former prison and the town pillory.
Spend the night at a modern hotel designed to make the most of the natural surroundings.
Day 7 – country walks
Follow walking trails to megalithic dolmens, shepherds’ shelters, forests, streams and rural settlements.
Find out more about Mezio’s flora, fauna and culture at the park gate interpretation centre.
Relax in the sauna at your hotel.
Day 8 – historical Minho towns
After leaving Mezio, call in at the pretty riverside town of Arcos de Valdevez. Go for a stroll by the river and across the bridge before exploring the historical centre. Try a local cake, charuto dos Arcos, from Doçaria central.
Drive to Ponte de Lima, a beautiful town with a Roman/medieval bridge that was once a major thoroughfare between Braga and Astorga.
Return your hire car in Porto and stay overnight or continue your onward journey.
8 days’ car rental from Porto (manual compact car with insurance and all taxes are included as standard – you can upgrade on request)
7 nights’ handpicked accommodation
Information pack including notes and maps
What’s not included
Visitor attractions mentioned in this self-guided tour of Peneda-Gerês National Park are simply suggestions so entrance fees are not included in the price.
Meals, other than breakfasts provided at your accommodation
Drinks, snacks, car park fees and other personal expenses
If you would rather have a driver and guide, just let me know.
Once I understand what you’re looking for, I will connect you with a local tour operator who can make all the arrangements for you. I may receive a small referral fee from them but it won’t affect the price you pay.
BEFORE YOU GO...
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