Spectacular walking trip through the Serra da Estrela, Portugal’s highest mountain range, with impressive granite landscapes. Surprising rock formations and open plateaus combine with lush valleys, waterfalls and authentic alpine villages. Olive trees and stout chestnuts are completely at home in the valleys, as are larch trees and firs higher up. Most of Portugal’s highest summits are found here, inside the Natural Park limits, including the very top, La Torre at 2000m, a veritable tower of granite. Here, an excellent network of way-marked walking paths allows you to explore this fascinating terrain. Your accommodations are situated in or near Medieval villages, adorned with traditional Portuguese decorative tiles. The trip includes 1 night at a luxurious “quinta” or country estate.
♦ Historic village of Celorico da Beira
♦ A Natural Park with the highest summits in Portugal
♦ The waterfall ‘Poço do Inferno’ (the Devil’s Well)
♦ The beautiful glacial valley of Zézere
Day 1: Arrival in Celorico da Beira
From Porto Airport, you take the metro to the city centre. Then you get a bus from Porto to the historic village of Celorico da Beira. The journey takes about 4 hours. Upon arrival, there is still time to explore this historical town, its castle and Medieval walls.
Day 2: From Celorico da Beira to Linhares along the Serra do Ralo
Today's route begins in Celorico da Beira, traversing open areas with magnificent views to reach the top of the Serra do Ralo. With the hum of windmills from above, you will enjoy sweeping panoramic views before starting the descent to Linhares. On the way down, you will walk through pine forests, holm oak woods and wide pastures. Once in the medieval village of Linhares we recommend visiting its castle, the Roman Forum and royal houses built by the aristocracy, scattered throughout the town.
Distance: 16 km, 5.5-6 hrs, 620m ascent, 350m descent.
Day 3: From Folgosinho to Manteigas
After breakfast you have a taxi transfer to the beginning of today's route, in Folgosinho or the chapel at Nossa Senhora de Assedasse (luggage continues to your next accommodation in Manteigas). This walk is more demanding than the previous one, and the sections in ascent and descent are rewarded with spectacular views. You traverse a remote area, with no villages along the way, and will need to enough carry water and provisions for the whole day. The first section is a steep ascent from Folgosinho, along an old Roman Road that ascends through a valley. When you reach the highest point, Portella do Folgosinho, you’ll have views to Pico de La Torre. Continuing through nearly deserted valleys and richly diverse forests, the route ends with a steep descent to Manteigas, a lovely village situated in a lush glacier valley beneath high peaks and full of small shops and cafes.
Distance: 22 km, 6.5-7 h, 700m ascent, 550m descent.
Day 4: Circular Route from Manteigas to Poço do Inferno or rest day
For the next two days you will explore the heart of the Serra de Estrella from your base in Manteigas. Today you can choose between a well-deserved rest day, with a visit to the local trout farm, or a trip to the impressive waterfall at ‘Poço do Inferno’ (the Devil’s Well), walking through Buraco Valley with its strange rock formations. A varied and changing landscape with beautiful wooded sections and magnificent views.
Distance: 14 km, 6-6.5 hrs, 650m ascent/descent.
Day 5: Circular Route from Manteigas or rest day
A lovely walk awaits today, to the north of Manteigas. Starting off in ascent, you follow a historic route protected by the shade of a pine forest, to reach Pousada de São Lorenço, (elevation 1290m) with stunning views of Manteigas Valley. Next you follow a dirt track through open terrain and vast colourful farmland. Finally, another descent - with more shade - leads back to Manteigas.
Distance: 14km , 6 hrs, 630m ascent/descent.
Day 6: From La Torre to Loriga
Today you choose between 2 options:
The first traverses the beautiful glacial valley of Zézere, which leads to La Torre, and you walk through valleys, mountain meadows and forest tracks. At the end of your route, you have an included taxi transfer to your next accommodation, situated in the beautiful mountain village of Loriga.
Distance: 18 km, 6 hrs, 835m ascent, 110m descent.
The second option begins with a short transfer to La Torre recreation area. This strategic location (at 1.993 m, the highest summit in Portugal) provides magnificent views. You will enter the granite massif of Serra da Estrella, a whole different world with wide glacial valleys which recall the last Ice Age. Your route begins with a gradual descent from La Torre toward the western sector of the Natural Park. Traversing high pastures, narrow lanes, abrupt peaks and crystal-clear lakes, you make your way back to the lovely village of Loriga.
Distance: 12 km, 4.5-5 hrs, 50m ascent, 1230m descent.
Day 7: From Loriga to São Romão
The last walking route on this programme leads inland through wooded areas, passing typical villages clinging to the slopes of the “Mountains of the Stars”. On your way you will pass two interesting sites: Más Tumba and Cabeça da Velha, before you reach the pleasant village of São Romão, with several chapels. Your accommodation for tonight is a renovated traditional “Quinta”, now a beautiful hotel with swimming pool, situated just outside the village.
Distance: 19 km, 6,5-7 hrs, 775m ascent, 550m descent.
Day 8: End of the program
The tour comes to an end today after breakfast.
The nearest airports to Serra da Estela are: Porto airport (OPO) and Lisbon airport (LIS)
From Porto Airport (OPO), you take the Metro or Bus to O Porto city centre. There is a direct bus run by Rede Expressos. You can also take the Metro (line E to “Trinidade” stop) where you change to line D direction “D.João I”. Get off at the second stop and follow signs to the bus terminal “Rede Expressos” in Rua Alexandre Herculano.
From the bus station in Porto, take a bus to the historic village of Celorico da Beira (2.5-3 hours). More info at www.rede-expressos.pt
From Lisbon Airport (LIS). Get a shuttle bus to Sete Rios Bus Station in Lisbon city (line 96). You can also take a taxi. From the bus station take a bus to Celorico da Beirawith the company Rede Expressos (4.5 to 5 hours trip)
Departure from Sao Romao:
To Porto airport from Seia; Take the bus from Seia to Coimbra (direction “Lisboa”), where you change buses to connect to O Porto. From Porto bus station take a bus or taxi to the airport
To Lisbon airport from Seia; Take a bus from Seia to Lisbon, most combinations require you to change buses in Coimbra). Around 4.5 to 5 hours trip. From Lisbon bus station there’s a shuttle service to the airport.