Peneda-Gerês National Park (Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês) is Portugal’s only national park, stretching through the northern districts of Viana do Castelo, Braga, and Vila Real. Largely uninhabited, the vast highlands are ideal for hiking, with rugged mountain ridges, dense pine forests, and sweeping plateaus.
Peneda-Gerês National Park is an ideal day trip destination from Porto or Braga. Hiking is a popular park activity, but there are also opportunities for mountain biking, canyoning, and horseback riding. Gerês National Park tours typically include a trek to one of the waterfalls (Arado Waterfall and Tahiti Waterfall are popular choices) followed by a soak in the Gerês thermal springs, a visit to one of the traditional stone villages, and sometimes a picnic lunch atop a mountain vista point.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Peneda-Gerês National Park is a must-see for nature and wildlife lovers.
- Be sure to wear comfortable hiking shoes and dress in layers—the terrain is variable and weather can change quickly in the mountains.
- The park’s visitor facilities are limited, so be sure to bring everything you need including snacks and plenty of water.
How to Get There
Peneda-Gerês National Park is located in northern Portugal, roughly 1.5 hours from Porto and 40 from Braga by road. Public transportation to the park is limited, but it’s possible to arrive by guided tour, taxi, or private vehicle.
When to Get There
You can visit Peneda-Gerês National Park year-round, but summer (June through September) is the most popular time for hiking and outdoor activities, when the weather is typically warm and sunny.
Historic Sites in Peneda-Gerês National Park
Park highlights include the 16th-century ruins of Castro Laboreiro castle; the traditional mountain village of Peneda, known for its beautiful Nossa Senhora da Peneda Sanctuary; and Soajo village, with its old stone houses and granaries. There’s also the Vilarinho das Furnas dam, the ruins of an ancient Roman trade road in Mata da Albergaria, and Pitões das Júnias—a 12th-century Benedictine monastery set in a stunning mountain valley.