The national park Peneda-Gerês in the north of Portugal, close to the Spanish border is still a hidden gem in the popular travel destination Portugal. While the Algarve and Lisbon’s Coast are packed with tourists, Gerês still remains quieter. Mindful and slow tourism is what you will find here, done by the locals that have been living here for decades.
The area is known for its luscious green hills full of oak trees, wine agriculture, sheep and cows grazing the deep green grass, wild horses - the so-called Gárranos, and the many waterfalls and lookouts over the breathtaking scenery.
Gerês is calm and invites to slow down from the hectic noisy city life and relax in peace while listening to the birds, flowing water, or the leaves moving in the wind. Breathe in the fresh air and look over a landscape that is only sparingly pulled through by streets and occasional houses. Leaving work and stress behind you can find time to explore the inviting nature and be adventurous on cascade hikes, swim in the natural pools created by the fast-flowing water, and hike through the untouched nature. While some waterfalls are easy to access by car with only a few meters to walk, you can also find hidden gems and remote spots if you are willing to put on some good (non-slippery) shoes and make your way through the forest trails.
- Cascata da Rajada: a little hidden and remote, about a 10-15 minute walk from the carpark at the viewpoint Rocas and our favorite because we had it all to ourselves and the natural pool was pretty big and amazing to swim in
- Cascata do Tahiti / Cascata de Fecha de Barjas: worth a visit as it’s very beautiful, but there are a lot of people. From the car park you can walk down and the further you walk down the fewer people are there as there is many waterfalls one after another to enjoy and swim in.
- Cascata do Arado: huge waterfall with a big pool and an amazing view, there is several spots to swim in that you can hike to.
- Cascata de Pincaes
- Cascata da portela do Homem
- Cascata de Leonte
- Cascata de Cala Cavalos
OTHER THINGS TO DO
- Miradouro da Pedra Bela: a very popular place as you can drive very close to it by car, but the view is simply stunning over the national park and there are several little lookouts around so it is not too crowded. You can also explore the area around quite well and start hikes from here.
- Viewpoint Rocas: about a 10-minute drive or 40 min walk from the Miradouro away you find a great viewpoint on big rocks that you can enjoy after a steep but short 5 min walk up. From here you can overlook the whole area in a 360° panorama view. Cascata do Arado & Rajada are very close.
- Swim in Cávado reservoir: the water in the big water reservoir close to Gerês city is not as crystal clear as it is in the waterfalls, but it's warmer and great to swim, stand-up paddle, kayak…
WHERE TO STAY
Close to that national park lies this cute rural hotel & self-catering accommodation. The Quinta de São Vincente is an excellent choice for lovers of wine and rural retreats. This pretty rustic estate produces the bubbly “vinho verde” or green wine (which refers to its young age, not color). Guests can visit the cellars and buy the house wine, or simply talk about things vinicultural with the charming hostess, Teresa Ferreira.