Peneda-Gerês National Park is a true nature sanctuary in Portugal. This region, despite receiving many tourists, is still one of the best preserved in Portugal. We love the park, and since we are lucky enough to live relatively close, we contantly visit Gerês. Today, we bring you a post about our last visit and give you an itinerary for an incredible day in Gerês.
Peneda-Gerês National Park encompasses 4 mountains – Serra da Peneda, Serra do Soajo, Serra Amarela and the Serra do Gerês – and covers the districts of Braga, Viana do Castelo and Vila Real. The park has a huge area and, with every step we take, we are amazed by breathtaking landscapes of stunning rivers and waterfalls, trails to discover and villages that maintain the old traditions. Visiting the whole park would take several days, weeks or even months! We are getting to know all the paradises, little by little.
Read also: Sistelo, the Portuguese Tibet, which is located in Serra da Peneda.
Beach of Caldo River
Our day began near the Caldo River, more properly on the river beach. Since the day was a little cool, it wasn’t possible to enjoy the sun on the beach. However, when the days are warmer, this beach is an option to consider. The water of the river has a very pleasant temperature and there are lots of water sports companies that guarantee a fun experience.
Since the weather changed our plans of spending some time at the beach, we decided to go to Gerês Village. The village is small but very charming and full of traditional shops with typical products of Gerês.
Lunch time arrived and we decided to have lunch at our favorite restaurant in that area – Restaurante Cávado. Our first experience at this restaurant (a few years ago) was not the best due to the service. However, the food is delicious and very affordable so we couldn’t resist! It’s a must-stop, no doubt!
Pedra Bela Viewpoint
After lunch, we were back on the road and our destination was one of the most charming places we know in Gerês – the Pedra Bela viewpoint. We can’t explain the beauty of this place. And it’s not only the beauty of the landscape, but also the peace that it brings to us. As soon as we got out of the car, we stopped to contemplate the silence and we couldn’t convey in words what we felt. This viewpoint is totally worth your visit!
Very close to the Pedra Bela viewpoint, there is the Arado’s Waterfall, one of the most famous waterfalls in the park. This time, we chose not to visit once we already saw it before.
On the way to Santuário de São Bento da Porta Aberta, we made a quick stop in the village of Ermida. Ermida is a community village where the population is still called to solve the local problems and where, for example, families come together to clean the roads. It’s common to see the shepherds with the herds of goats by the road outside, in the early morning and in the end of the afternoon.
Santuário de São Bento da Porta Aberta
Near the village of Rio Caldo, we find Santuário de São Bento da Porta Aberta. This sanctuary is much sought by the Catholic church to ask the Saint for miracles. The sanctuary has two churches – an older and smaller one and a more recent one, with higher capacity. Next to the sanctuary, there is a small market with local delicacies for all tastes.
Vilarinho das Furnas
To finish the day, we went to Vilarinho das Furnas. In this village, there are several attractions and the main ones are the dam and the submerged village. The road to the dam has beautiful landscapes and the arrival to the dam is imposing. The mountains around the dam make that place a real sweeping postcard. The natural beauty is indescribable!
Relatively close to the dam, we find the submerged village of Vilarinho das Furnas. We ended up not visiting the village because we had done it on previous visits. However, to visit the village, you have to walk about 20 minutes to each side, parking the car in the southern part of the dam. Although it is in ruins, it is perfectly possible to distinguish the walls, the houses and the roads.
We loved this day and we got to enjoy the park with great tranquility. During the summer, and especially in August, the influx of tourists to the park is higher and there are people everywhere. However, with patience everything is achieved! On this day, we didn’t have that problem. Since the weather was cool, the tourists were not that many. So now you know, if you can choose the time to visit Gerês, don’t choose August. Thus, you will visit the park with much less people, live an incredible day in Gerês and end up helping the local economy throughout the year.
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