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Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês


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Portuguese Paradise

Published by Joana Pereira — one year ago

Have you ever been in one of those places where you feel the nature itself?

Where you see its beauty in its most natural shape? This is one of those places!

If you are going to do Erasmus in Portugal, it doesn't matter the city, it is such a small country, that you have to go there no matter where you are living!

Where?

In the north of Portugal, almost in Spain (but not Spain! ), there is a national park in the mountains called Parque Nacional Peneda Gerês.

How to get there?

The best way to get to Gerês is by car, even to get around you can only enjoy the place to its fullest by car, it is the only way to go everywhere. You can rent a car with some friends (perfect trip to do with a nice group of adventurous friends! ). From Lisbon its a 4 hours trip (more or less 400 km), you can stop in some portuguese important cities along the way like Coimbra, Porto, Guimarães or Braga.

Where to stay?

I recommend HI Geres - Youth House (Pousada da Juventude in portuguese), it is in the middle of the mountain, it has an amazing view and great conditions, if you stay in a dormitory it is around 14€/night with breakfast included. One of the best things of the place is that you can order a special lunch for hiking trips, it's two sandwiches, one bottle of water, juice, chips and fruit, it is really usefull and cheap!

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View from the youth house

When?

The best time of the year to go to Gerês must be around May/June or September, the weather is not too hot nor too cold. I went in the middle of August and the temperature was too high, it was hard to walk that much because of the hot sun and in the winter it is also beautiful but it will take a lot of courage to dive in those freezing waters!

What to visit?

The main atraction in this area is the Nature itself! Specially the huge amount of waterfalls there is to discover.

Get ready to walk a lot, take with you comfortable sneackers and a bathing suit, the best thing to do after a 3/4 hour hiking trip is to dive in one of the crystall clear natural pools you will find!

The first one I advise you to go on the first day is called Cascata do Arado, you have to pass through the Gerês Village to get there, the road there is across the mountain, you can see lots of natural fountains (you can drink the water from there, it's really good), some sighseeing spots like Pedra Bela, where you can enjoy a breathtaking view from over 800 meters of altitude.

You should leave your car near the sighseeing point called Rocas and then start the hiking, if you follow the patch you will reach an old bridge where the river flows, cross the bridge and then you can get to the first waterfalls, the main one and above that one there is another waterfall for the more corageous to reach.

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Cascata do Arado

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On the top of Cascata do Arado

You don't have a lot of space to lay down and sunbath as you do in a beach, but that is not the point of this trip! Go for a swim, rest a little bit, eat something and then get up and let's discover more waterfalls.

If you go up this waterfall you will find more pools like this one, the trail is tiring but it's worthwhile!

On your way back to the car, instead of following the road, go between the trees alongside the river path after the brigde and you will find some other waterfalls as beautiful as the previous ones.

Another one which is really nice is Portela do Homem, leave the car in the frontier to Spain and then go to the waterfall on foot, climb some rocks to get to the top of the waterfall and then get on your swimming suit and jump!

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If you go up the waterfall you will find some other small pools in between rocks, the view is amazing and you can see a lot of people having picniks in the area.

There are other waterfalls where you can go such as Cascata do Tahiti and Sete Lagoas, unfortunatelly I didn't have time to go to all of them, I had to go back!

Besides the waterfalls you can also spend an afternoon visiting the village, it is well known by its miraculous thermal baths, there is a nice garden to visit, with lakes and small rowing boats. Along the river you can also enjoy some fresh water beaches on the banks of Caldo River, you can do a mutiple range of activities offered on these beaches, like jet-ski, fun activities with buoys, canoeing and even inflatables (not only for kids).

To sum up, there is a lot you can do in this little corner of Portugal, perfect for a get-away with your friends or even for a romantic trip.

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