5 Natural Parks to visit in Portugal

    As it is known, Portugal is a country with remarkable environmental wealth, exhibiting places of protected beauty where biodiversity reigns, as is the case of Natural Parks.

    To preserve the natural ecosystems and the cultural heritage of the regions where they are located, the Natural Parks offer visitors and the local population a recreational area, while protecting the environment and its biodiversity.

    We can find about 13 parks and nature reserves throughout the country, from the north to the south, including the islands. Check out our 5 suggestions of Natural Parks that you really must visit!

    1 - Arrábida Natural Park

    Located by the sea, on the Setúbal peninsula, the Arrábida Natural Park is classified as a Site of Special Interest for Nature Conservation. Stretching for 35km, this Park is known for the diversity of its fauna and flora, presenting a true vegetal richness, which gives it an incomparable beauty. It is equally famous for its beaches with transparent waters, such as Praia do Portinho da Arrábida, Praia da Figueirinha, or Praia de Galapinhos, protected by the Arrábida Mountains, this is, therefore, a destination of choice for many people from Lisbon and Setubal.

    Arrábida Natural Park

    Photo by Pedro Vilelas on Unsplash

    2 - Serra da Estrela Natural Park

    With about 89 thousand hectares of a mountainous area, the Serra da Estrela Natural Park is the largest protected area in the country. Located in the Center Interior, in the municipalities of Guarda and Castelo Branco, this is an area of recognized scenic beauty, where the highest point in continental Portugal is located, with 1993 meters of altitude, part of the mountain range that gives its name to the park, the Serra da Estrela. Due to the abundant snowfall during the colder months, this park is visited by many winter sports lovers, and can also be covered on foot, through the hundreds of kilometers of trails present in the terrain.

    Serra da Estrela Natural Park

    Photo by Natanael Vieira on Unsplash

    3 - Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park

    Located in the central region of the country, covering part of the district of Leira and the district of Santarém, the Aire and Candeeiros Mountains Natural Park is composed of two mountain ranges that give it its name - Serra de Aire, to the east, and Serra dos Candeeiros, to the west - and two plateaus - Santo António and São Mamede. With a rocky formation, this area is characterized by its several limestone caves, including the Mira de Aire Cave, in Porto de Mós. One of the largest in the entire country, this has already been classified as one of the 7 natural wonders of Portugal and is open to visitors who want to explore its interior.

    Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park

    "Serras d'Aire e Candeeiros" by Samuel Monteiro Domingues is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

    4 - Guadiana Valley Natural Park

    Located in the Baixo Alentejo region, in the southeast of the national territory and near the Spanish province of Andalusia, the Guadiana Valley Natural Park encompasses the protected area surrounding the Guadiana River, from the area of the Pulo do Lobo Waterfall to the mouth of the Vascão stream. Established to protect a significant part of the river and the area around it, it includes the Guadiana watershed, of major importance for the conservation of inland water fish. The Park is open to visitors, providing several hiking trails that show the landscape, along with the possibility of canoeing down the Guadiana River.

    Guadiana Valley Natural Park

    "Portugal Serpa Guadiana" by Francisco Antunes is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    5 - São Miguel Natural Park, Azores

    The Natural Park of São Miguel, located on the island of São Miguel in the Azores archipelago, includes all the protected area of this island and the surrounding maritime area. This park includes 23 protected areas, including the Protected Landscape Area of Setes Cidades, in Ponta Delgada. This area is characterized, not only by the diversity of its fauna and flora but also by the presence of a volcanic crater, where several lakes have formed, including the famous Lagoa das Sete Cidades.

    Setes Cidades Lagoon, in the São Miguel Natural Park in the Azores

    Photo by Gaetan Denaisse on Unsplash

    Due to its importance in the panorama of protected areas in the country and its unquestionable beauty, we also highlight the only National Park in Portugal, the National Park of Peneda-Gerês, which you must visit.

    Peneda-Gerês National Park

    Created in 1971 and considered a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, the Peneda-Gerês Natural Park extends over some 70,000 hectares, making it one of the largest natural destinations in the entire country. Recognized for the charm of its mountainous landscape, where an expressive diversity of fauna and flora reigns, it is located in the northwest of the national territory, covering the areas of Minho, Trás-os-Montes, and Galiza, including the Serra do Gerês, Serra da Peneda.

    Peneda-Gerês National Park

    Photo by Natanael Vieira on Unsplash