Are you thinking about traveling to Serra da Estrela but don’t know exactly what to visit? In this post, we propose you an itinerary of two or three days through the highest mountain in Portugal.
Until we planned our travel to Serra da Estrela, we knew little about the region and the first thing that came to our minds was the Tower. However, after some research, we realized that this region is rich and, in this trip, we were going to discover amazing places. Historical villages, endless valeys, woods, imposing mountains, breathtaking views, lakes and lagoons, waterfalls, river beaches, trails and good food… all this Serra da Estrela has to offer.
When to visit
Serra da Estrela can and should be visited in any season of the year. We decided to visit it during the winter and felt in love with the mountain covered in white. Associated with the snow is the practice of winter sports that, in Portugal, you can only practice in Serra da Estrela.
Spring and autumn are seasons with milder temperatures that invite you to take long walks through the colourful mountains.
During summer, the temperatures are very high in Serra da Estrela, but along the mountain there are many waterfalls, lakes, lagoons and river beaches where you can refresh yourself. Maybe even make a picnic in a refreshing shade!
Where to stay
The choice of the accomodation depends a little on what you want to visit. If you choose the 3-day itinerary, we advise you to stay in different places and you will save time when travelling. In our itinerary, we stayed at the Solneve Hotel in Covilhã and at Casa Lagar da Alagoa,in the surroundings of Manteigas.
But there are other places along the mountain where you can stay, such as Gouveia, Sabugueiro, Penhas da Saúde and Seia.
Our 3-day itinerary starts in Linhares da Beira (Celorico da Beira) and ends in Vale do Rossim (Gouveia). Since we travelled during the winter, we considered the fact that it gets dark early and the days are short. On the first day, we ended up traveling through the mountains at night. We had a bad experience because it was very foggy and the visibility was very low, so we don’t advise you to drive through the mountains at night.
If you choose to do this itinerary in the summer you can add some places (which we suggest in this post) or make spontaneous stops along the way. It’s important to note that the itinerary can only be done by car and that we consider about 250km on the first and last day from and to our hometown.
1st day: Linhares da Beira – Seia – Loriga – Covilhã
Linhares da Beira is a medieval village dating back to the 12th century, which is part of the list of Historical Villages of Portugal. The castle is the main visiting card, but do not miss the opportunity to walk through the streets and alleys of this museum village.
A few kilometers from Linhares da Beira, you will find the village of Folgosinho. In case you have extra time we advise you to visit it. Folgosinho has a castle and truly charming streets full of tiles with popular sayings. The village is full of legends, being the most heard that it was in Folgosinho that Viriato was born.
After the visit to Linhares da Beira, the next stop is the city of Seia. In Seia, you can stroll through the historical centre and visit several shops with local products, namely, the so famous cheeses and hams from Serra da Estrela. Once you are in Seia, the Bread Museum is a must visit and a good option for lunch.
The entrance to the museum costs 5,00 euros for adults and 3,00 euros for children. The visit to the museum is a real trip to the world of bread and includes a visit to several rooms, including a room dedicated to children. Besides the exhibition rooms, the museum includes a restaurant, a bar and a grocery store.
On the way to Covilhã, it is mandatory to stop in Loriga. The whole village is beautiful and welcoming, being even called “Portuguese Switzerland” for being located between mountains. The ex-libris of Loriga is the fluvial beach which is a real charm.
We went through the mountain to Covilhã to warm up and enjoy a warm meal. As the temperatures were quite low, we decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant.
On the way from Loriga to Covilhã, there are two more villages with river beaches that deserve your visit, Paul and Unhais da Serra. So, you already know, if you have extra time or even if you do this tour in the summer, make a stop in these villages. On arrival in Covilhã you can also visit the city and particularly, go up to the Miradouro das Portas do Sol.
2nd day: Covilhã – Penhas da Saúde – Lago do Viriato – Vale Glaciar do Zêzere – Manteigas – Poço do Inferno – Manteigas
The village of Penhas da Saúde is the first stop on the 2nd day. This village is located a few kilometres from Covilhã, at an altitude of 1500m. On snowy days, it is all white and has several spaces to have fun in the snow, as well as to take some photos.
A few meters away you will find the Viriato Lake which also deserves a stop to enjoy its beauty.
After the visit to the Viriato Lake, you continue towards Manteigas. The entire route is worthy of contemplation. It is almost unthinkable to make the trip without stopping to see the landscape better and, along the way, you have small places where you can stop. This journey will be made side by side with the Zêzere Glacier Valley. The valley is beautiful with ups and downs, small streams and a breathtaking landscape!
When you arrive at Manteigas, you can enjoy having lunch. However, we advise you to make a table reservation because, depending on the time of year, the restaurants may be full. We ended up having lunch in the surroundings of Manteigas, in the town of Vale de Amoreira, at Café Ideal. The restaurant resembles a tasco and has more common and more traditional dishes such as chanfana or little fishies from the river.
After lunch, we headed to one of the most beautiful waterfalls of Serra da Estrela, the waterfall of Poço do Inferno with a 10m water fall. We advise you to stop the car in the park before the waterfall, the road continues but there is no exit and you will have to go back. When you get to the waterfall walk along the road, because a few meters away you will have another incredible view over the mountain.
It’s time to return to Manteigas and take a walk around the historical centre of the city and maybe take advantage of the shops to buy some more local products. For dinner we recommend the Berne Restaurant. We chose the prawn rice and it was delicious.
If you have extra time this day, you can go to Penhas Douradas, a resort located just a few kilometres from Manteigas.
3rd day: Manteigas – Covão d’ Ametade – Torre – Sabugueiro – Vale do Rossim
The 3rd day starts in a beautiful forest, Covão d’Ametade. The ideal is to go early because the place has little parking and is very sought after. You don’t need to be early, we arrive around 10h30/11h00 and we were able to park calmly. The place is very beautiful, the photos we share below speak for themselves. It has a river, it has several ovens, snowy clearings… it was one of the places we liked the most!
We continued climbing the mountain and went to visit the Tower. We must confess that we didn’t love the Tower, it was too foggy, too windy and too cold. We couldn’t enjoy anything! However, we advise you to climb the Tower, after all it is the highest point in continental Portugal and, if you are lucky enough to be one day with blue sky the views are incredible.
On the way down from the Tower to Sabugueiro, you will find a lake on the left side. This lake enchanted us, it was surrounded by snow and it was another place with a very beautiful landscape.
Sabugueiro was the place chosen for lunch, at O Martins restaurant. Once again we advise you to make a reservation because the restaurants were crowded. At the end of lunch, we took a walk around the village and then left towards the highest river beach in Portugal, Vale do Rossim.
On the way to the Vale do Rossim, we find a magical place with huge trees covered with snow.
When we arrived at Vale do Rossim, we were once again amazed by the landscape of the place. Here you can also practice some snow sports in an improvised way.
And so our itinerary has come to an end. However, on the way down the mountain we were still offered countless landscapes that are true postcards.
In case you choose to make a 2-day trip, we suggest you the itinerary below. You can find the description of these places above.
1st day: Penhas da Saúde – Lago do Viriato – Vale Glaciar do Zêzere – Poço do Inferno – Manteigas
2nd day: Manteigas – Covão d’ Ametade – Torre – Sabugueiro – Vale do Rossim
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