Peneda-Gerês National Park is a true nature sanctuary in Portugal. Even though Gerês receives many tourists, it is still one of the best-preserved regions in Portugal. We love the park and, since we are lucky enough to live relatively close to it, we visit Gerês almost every year. In this post, we talk 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 is huge 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 precisely on the river beach. Since the day was a little cool, spending the day on the beach wasn’t an option. However, when the days are warmer, we totally recommend you to enjoy the sun and go for a swim in the river. The temperature of the river water is usually very pleasant and there are also lots of water sports companies that guarantee a fun experience.
Vila do Gerês
Since the weather changed our plans for spending some time at the beach, we decided to go to Vila do Gerês. The village is small but very charming and full of traditional shops with typical products from the region.
Lunch: Restaurante Cávado
Lunchtime arrived and we decided to eat in our favourite 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! This time, we were also happy with the service. 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!
Arado’s Waterfall, one of the most famous waterfalls in the park, is located near the Pedra Bela viewpoint. 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 at 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 arriving 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, that wasn’t a 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 fewer people, enjoy an incredible day in Gerês and end up helping the local economy throughout the year.
Liked this post? Pin it!