One of the best places to explore in Europe is Serra da Estrela National Park in western Portugal. However, visiting here can be daunting as a first-time visitor. Don’t worry; this post covers all of the best things to do in Serra da Estrela!
Luckily, I’ve been to Serra da Estrela Natural Park before and now know exactly what’s worth doing there and what’s not. I even discovered that if you don’t have your own method of transportation, you can take a Serra da Estrela day trip from Lisbon for an affordable price.
Taking the time to plan your itinerary when visiting this national park in Portugal is the key to a successful visit! By the end of this post, you’ll know all of the activities that you can’t miss during your visit to Serra da Estrela National Park.
1. Go to the top of the Serra da Estrela mountain range
Arguably, one of the best things to do in Serra da Estrela Natural Park is going to the top of the mountain range. As the highest mountain range in Portugal, the view from the top is one you won’t want to miss.
The best way to get to the top of Serra da Estrela without hiking is to go to Torre, which you can get to by driving. This part of the mountain peak offers incredible and breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
At Torre, there are also some shops and even a ski resort. When visiting, be sure to take the time and walk around this area so that you get to fully experience what it’s like here so that you don’t regret it. This mountain peak is luckily beautiful year-round, so no matter what time you visit, you’ll surely enjoy the view.
2. Hike one of the trails in Serra da Estrela National Park in Portugal
If you’re wondering what to do in Serra da Estrela Natural Park and you love outdoor adventure activities, consider going on a hike! This mountain range has quite a few excellent hiking trails that range in difficulty. Below, learn about some that I most recommend!
Fraga das Penhas and Albufeira de Vale do Rossim
First is a 7.3-mile trail with just over 1,000 feet of elevation gain on the way up. This loop trail is moderate, so if you’ve been hiking before, you will most likely be able to do this hike easily.
Bear in mind that the majority of this trail is right in the sunlight, and there’s not a shady spot along it, so you’ll want to make sure you pack your sunscreen. It’s best to do this hike when it’s not incredibly hot so that you don’t overheat along the way.
PR 2 MTG Rota do Javali
Another great moderate trail with over 2,000 feet in elevation gain in this Portuguese National Park is PR 2 MTG Rota do Javali. It’s also 7 miles, and its main feature is a waterfall that has truly unparalleled views.
This trail essentially circles all the way around a mountain instead of going to a summit, but it makes for exciting and beautiful scenery. A lot of the trail is quite rocky, so it might be a bit trickier to hike than other trails rated as moderate.
Poco do Inferno
Last but not least is Poco do Inferno, an easy hike of just under two miles. It’s a loop trail with around 480 feet in elevation gain. Because this trail is easy, you’ll be able to enjoy the incredible views that come from hiking Serra da Estrela National Park in Portugal, no matter your hiking experience.
Ensure you wear sturdy shoes because the beginning is very rocky, and it soon turns into a forest.
3. Mountain bike some of Serra da Estrela’s best trails
One of the top things to do in Portugal’s Serra da Estrela National Park is to go mountain biking! If you didn’t travel with a bike (as most people wouldn’t), don’t worry. You can rent one nearby so you can participate in fun activities like this. Here are a few of the best trails in Serra da Estrela for mountain biking.
Unhais da Serra a Torre
This 12.5-mile trail is a point-to-point and has just shy of 5,000 feet of elevation gain. It’s a challenging trail that is best used by those who have adequate mountain biking experience, but the views are unmatched!
Part of the trail is paved, but some of it is also rocky. Doing a path like this could take quite a few hours, so make sure you pack a backpack for yourself and plan wisely.
GR22 7 Valezim a Piodao
For a more accessible trail, consider going on this one in Serra da Estrela Natural Park. It’s just under 20 miles, but the elevation gain is closer to 4,000 feet, and it’s a moderate point-to-point trail. This mountain biking trail will bring you near tons of beautiful quaint villages in the area!
4. Participate in winter sports
Are you wondering what to do in this National Park in Portugal during the winter? You’re in luck because this mountain range is home to tons of popular winter sports. Instead of heading to Switzerland or Austria this winter, go to Serra da Estrela!
Snowboarding and skiing in Portugal
One of the classic winter activities here is snowboarding or skiing in Serra da Estrela. There’s a popular ski resort here called Vodafone Ski Resort that’s located directly in the mountain range. While the slopes here aren’t great for really advanced snowboards and skiers, this is the perfect place to go if you’re a beginner or intermediate.
Another great thing to do in this Portuguese National Park is sledging! This is great fun for all ages, and you should be able to rent or purchase a sledge in one of the villages or at the ski resort. The best place to go sledging is at the ski resort, but if you can find another area that looks safe for sledging, by all means, go for it!
If you’re wondering what to do here, but you’d rather do it on a tour, consider participating in snow activities. This tour, in particular, will give you access to a must-visit cheese factory and to the slopes.
5. Explore Serra da Estrela National Park’s Covão dos Conchos
Exploring Covão dos Conchos is one of the top things to do in Serra da Estrela National Park! This is a big park in the mountains that is most popular for its glorious lakes, but it also has some fantastic hiking trails.
We’ve been here before, but it was dry at the time that we visited. Keep in mind that what you see there won’t always be like what you see in pictures!
The best trail that we can recommend here is Lagoa Camprida e Cavao dos Conchos. Hiking this trail is the perfect way to get some of the best views of the area, and you’ll also get some great exercise along the way.
It’s a 5.5-mile trail round trip with an elevation gain of just under 800 feet. If you drift off the trail slightly, you may also be able to do a route all the way around the lake instead of this out and back trail.
When visiting Serra da Estrela Natural Park, you absolutely must take the time to check out a few of the villages. Here are some that we most recommend.
First up is Piódão, a 14th-century historical village that is situated right on the mountain. It looks like a town straight out of a fairytale, and all the houses in this village are almost identical. The cobblestone walkways here feel genuinely magical. Because this town is so tiny, you should also visit local restaurants and mingle with residents!
Guarda is another must-visit village in Serra da Estrela. It’s a lot bigger and is in the northern part of the mountain range. The highlight here is Sabugal Castle, a historic castle that the town was built around. You’ll also want to be sure to visit the Gothic Se da Guarda Church, which is truly beautiful.
7. Find the Serra da Estrela dogs
Believe it or not, but one of the oldest dog breeds in this area of the world is the Serra da Estrela dogs! These mountain dogs are historically used guarding and herding, and they grow to be quite large. While they’re pretty rare outside of Portugal, they’re popular within the country.
You’ll find that many people in the area own these dogs, but you can also find them at local dog kennels. Consider meeting up with a local or visiting a kennel to meet these dogs and give them some love.
8. Learn about Portugal’s food
Take the time to visit the Bread and Cheese Museum (Museu do Pão) to learn all about its religious importance to this area of Portugal near the Serra da Estrela National Park. The museum is filled with exhibits that will introduce you to the milling process from start to finish.
This museum is very kid-friendly, but of course, adults will enjoy it too. That’s what makes this such a must-do attraction when visiting here!
Be sure to book your museum tour ahead of time if you know this is an activity you want to partake in!
9. Go on a 4×4 Jeep adventure in Serra da Estrela National Park
Last but not least, one of the most fun things to do in Serra da Estrela National Park in Portugal is hopping on a 4×4 Jeep adventure! This adventure lasts approximately 6 hours, so the price is well worth it.
The tour guide is available in either Portuguese or English. Along the adventure, you’ll learn more about the Serra da Estrela mountain range, taste some of the best delicacies (smoked ham and cheese!), and more, all while exploring the area in a 4×4 Jeep.
Thanks for checking out these things to do in Portugal’s Serra da Estrela National Park. Don’t forget to discover more of Portugal! Check out our Portugal page to read all our guides on Portugal.