With nature as your travelling companion, pay a high-energy visit to our parks and hills. Leave the beach behind and spend a completely different kind of day at some of the most stress-free places. Take a break from your holiday routine and enjoy a stroll along the footpaths and trails Walk around the park and discover a haven of genuine peace and quiet, far removed from the hustle and bustle that you typically find along the coast, and let yourself become immersed in the sound of silence.
Our itinerary start on the Tagus Estuary, a nature reserve and is considered to be one of the ten most important wetlands in Europe for sea birds. If you enjoy direct contact with nature, don’t miss a boat trip through this large estuary, where you can observe many of the species that inhabit the area. Another way to catch sight of some of the 100,000 birds that spend the winter here is to take a stroll along the footpaths that surround the estuary. You are quite likely to surprise a flock of elegant pink flamingoes as they take flight. But if you’re passionate about bird-watching there are plenty of other nature reserves within a 50km radius that you should not miss. The Paul de Boquilobo Nature Reserve, also in the Tagus Estuary, hosts the largest colony of herons in the Iberian Peninsula, and has been classified by UNESCO in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Near Aveiro we find the the dunes of São Jacinto, an integral part of the ecosystem in the Beira Litoral region, are populated with ancient woodlands of resinous and broad-leaved trees, growing in small wetland areas and supporting much local wildlife. The Reserve spreads over a large area between the sea and a lagoon and has been conserved to a high standard. The areas of woodland were planted over a century ago to protect inland areas from wind swept sand. You’ll find observation posts strategically placed in areas of great natural beauty, to the delight of bird watchers who can observe all kinds of waterbirds sheltering and nesting in the lagoon.
More in the North we find the the beautiful terraced slopes of the Douro valley, heavily planted with vines, begin close to Barqueiros and continue on beyond Barca d'Alva, offering stunning views over one of the world’s most impressive man-made, rural landscapes. Until the end of the 19th Century, the river was the main access route to the inland regions and the only means of importing foreign products. A difficult and risky river to navigate, there was only one type of boat that could overcome its natural obstacles, the Barco Rabelo. The boat’s robustness and the skill of the early crews made it possible to transport great barrels of wine up river. The boats were never fully laden so they would still float after a collision. Why not relive this history for yourself by taking a short ride in a sturdy modern-day Barco Rabelo?
From Douro we continue until Serra do Gerês. Set off from Campo do Gerês, leave your car at the entrance to the forest known as Mata da Albergaria and follow the river on foot as far as Portela do Homem. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll be able to see wild horses, or perhaps a roebuck, which is the symbol of the Park. You certainly won’t be sorry if you decided to take this invigorating walk. On your way back, rest for a while at the spa of Caldas do Gerês. The River Cávado points the way to the Paradela dam and reservoir. A horse-ride and a swim in the river are amongst the many inviting and relaxing temptations. If you really enjoy walking in the country, then you should make sure to visit Pitões das Júnias, a village where the traditional customs of an ancient community life are still practised. The road comes to an end here, so that you can only continue on from this village on foot. But the walk is well worth the effort, particularly because of the waterfalls and small streams that you’ll find along the path, as well as the delightfully surprising sight of the old Mosteiro de Santa Maria, a monastery that suddenly appears in the midst of the landscape. The Serra do Gerês protected reserve in the north of Portugal represents an ideal destination for family holidays. An area of great natural beauty and agreeable climate, Gerês is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque regions in Portugal. The diversity of local flora and fauna creates a perfect natural environment for a family holiday.
By driving from Viana do Castelo along the valley of the River Lima, you’ll arrive at the Serra do Soajo. Alternatively, you can cross over the river at Ponte da Barca, heading towards Arcos de Valdevez and following the road further to the north. The two roads will lead you to the Serra de Soajo and the village of the same name, which is to be your starting point for discovering the culture, heritage and breathtaking natural scenery of this mountainous area. This region has long been appreciated for its many virtues. In the 13th century, the king Dom Dinis granted special privileges to the local inhabitants, forbidding the nobility to remain here any longer than "the time needed to cool their bread on the tip of their lances," unless, of course, they were in his presence. We suggest you stay as long as you want and appreciate the region’s landscape, culture and tasty cuisine, in which the locally-made vinho verde enjoys a prominent place.
To experience this special moment as intensely as possible, stay in one of the village houses, where you will find every kind of home comfort, coupled with a respect for tradition. Spend your time getting to know the Peneda-Gerês National Park and discovering its great wealth of fauna and flora. In spring or summer, make sure to take your swimsuit with you at all times. The region’s countless watercourses form small natural pools where you can enjoy a most pleasant and refreshing dip.
Located in the centre of the picturesque town of Alcochete, with the river Tejo as landscape, Quinta da Praia das Fontes was the former residence of the Marquês de Soydos, built in the 16th century and later enriched with magnificent Portuguese tiles from the 17th and 18th Century. It is a prominent place where you can enjoy all the commodity in a historical ambience.
At Vila Duparchy, the Duarte Figueiredo family take a special pride in making their spacious guest rooms as comfortable as possible, with splendid antique furniture and the odd personal touch which will make your visit a memorable one. The surrounding garden and nearby forest of Buçaco provide an attractive setting for rambling enthusiasts; with the nearby historic city of Coimbra providing an interesting day out.
Set in the heart of the Port wine region, Casa de Varais overlooks the enchanting Douro valley. Although the present building dates from the early 18th Century, the original construction is believed to be from the 15th Century. Varais has witnessed a somewhat turbulent history, having been invaded by Napoleonic troops in 1808 and almost completely destroyed by fire in 1940. Today however, visitors will encounter a splendid mansion in a tranquil setting.
Casa de Alfena is a manorial house from the XVIII century linked to a group of rural buildings and old goldsmith’s workshops. The house and the rural buildings have been adapted to receive guests and the workshops gave way to a gold museum. Classified for its historical, cultural, and architectonic relevance, the house shares its gardens, granite threshing-floor, patios, and swimming pool with the museum. Travassos is a traditional filigree (Latin: filum-granum) workshop-village, located in the North bank of river Ave, and in the vicinity of Peneda-Gerês National Park.
This pretty manor house is located in the peaceful village of Beiral, halfway between the towns of Ponte de Lima and Ponte da Barca, with easy access and beautiful panoramic views. It maintains an ancient tradition of hospitality, having welcomed such special guests as the Archbishop of Braga during his church visits. The house has been in the same family at least since the 16th century, having been severely modified in the 18th century.
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