Top 10 Things to do in Serra da Estrela
A hidden gem in Portugal’s highest mountain range, Serra da Estrela (or Mountain of the Stars) and its surrounding villages are fast becoming the place to visit in Portugal! Getting to Serra da Estrela from the main airports of Lisbon or Porto will set you back a few hours, but it is well worth the journey! You can catch a train or bus from either city, which will take you between 2 to 3 hours. Your best bet however, is to rent a car. This way you can go exploring the surrounding areas at your leisure!
Accommodation is also wonderful in this region as the low prices and variety of options means you can stay in traditional houses, mountain chalets or even opt for lovely hotels with all of the modern comforts! Food is also a highlight in Serra da Estrela! The delicious Serra da Estrela Cheese is a must-try, but also the sausages and local bread are to die for! The gastronomy is mainly mountain based, so you’ll find plenty of meat, and also river trout, and plenty of fresh produce! The region also boasts 2 Michelin star restaurants, where chefs have created modern spins on traditional dishes!
Have a look at our top 10 things to do while in Serra da Estrela!
1. Start at the Interpretation Center!
A great starting point to your stay in Serra da Estrela is a visit to its Interpretation Center! A modern building inaugurated in 2007, with the main highlight of viewing a 3D movie about Serra da Estrela! This is also an interactive center, so you can go through the various expositions, and explore the region including its rivers and geology! If you’re exploring on your own, you’ll get valuable information on hiking trails and how to get around!
2. Visit the Castles!
This region is known for the beautiful Folgosinho Castle. This imposing structure is high above the village, at over 900 meters, offering you spectacular views all around! The castle itself is made of a lovely rose quartz and has a perfect rounded shape! If you’ve rented a car, you can also travel to the nearby villages to explore the castles at Linhares and Celorico da Beira!
3. Hike in the Park!
If you’re a nature enthusiast and enjoy a good hike, Serra da Estrela will not disappoint! Clean air, lovely mountain surroundings and an abundance of spectacular photo opportunities make this natural park a wonderful place to visit. Hiking trails can be tricky, so we recommend booking a tour with a local guide, or visiting the Interpretation Center, as you will be able to find advice on hiking trails to take.
4. Try the Serra da Estrela Cheese!
One of the most beloved delicacies of Portugal, you cannot miss tasting this creamy cheese! Only 14 km away from the heart of Serra da Estrela, in Perbola, you will find the Cheese Museum. Your guide Pedro, will teach you all about this local delicacy, from how it is made, to the history behind the cheese! It is also the best place for sampling!
5. Visit Covao do Conchos!
Any visit to Serra da Estrela is not complete without making your way to Covao dos Conchos! Nestled in the mountains, in the middle of the lake, you will find a breathtaking sinkhole with a waterfall, that feels like a portal to another universe! Though this is in fact a man made lake and sinkhole, built to connect the Serra da Estrela and Comprida lakes, and also to provide the local communities with fresh water, it is an incredible sight to behold!
6. Explore the Historical Villages!
Serra da Estrela offers you the chance to explore 12 historical villages, each with its own unique beauty! If you are a history fanatic, you can travel over 3 to 4 days and see villages from Monsanto to Piodao. Along the way, you can get to know Monsanto, Sortelha, Castelo Rodrigo, Trancoso, Almeida, Belmonte, Idanha-a-Velha, Marialva, Castelo Mendo, Castelo Novo, Linhares da Beira and Piodao. A wonderful route filled with history, fantastic architecture and amazing views!
7. Visit the Poco do Inferno Waterfall!
Translated to English, the Waterfall at Hell’s Well is anything but demonic! Nestled in a lush forest, this amazing 10 meter waterfall is one of the most beautiful locations to visit in Serra da Estrela! Just 10km from Manteigas, and near the Manteigas Springs, you’ll find walking trails and signs leading you to this spectacular natural beauty!
8. Learn how to make bread at the Bread Museum!
A wonderful place to visit and learn about traditional bread making! This crusty on the outside, soft on the inside bread is loved by all, and you will get to taste some during your visit! Located in Seia, you will get to see the tools used over time to make this delicious bread, learn about the local ingredients and even participate in workshops! There is also a restaurant on site and educational activities on certain dates like International Childrens’ Day
9. Go Kayaking on the Mondego River!
Explore the spectacular Mondego River by kayak! The Mondego River is the longest river in Portugal and a spectacular place to go kayaking! Even in summer, it is calm and peaceful, without the standard rush of tourists that you would find in other better known rivers. You can make a day of kayaking, or even book kayaking with wild camping! Definitely worth a go, whether you are traveling as a couple, a family with children, or even a group of friends! Check out this option that includes wild camping!
10. Try Winter Sports in the Snow!
With approximately 6 km of slopes and 3 transportation lifts, Serra da Estrela is a wonderful snowy wonderland for those who enjoy winter sports! You can choose between the Vodafone Ski Resort in Seia or Ski Parque in Manteigas, each offering wonderful conditions for both beginners and experienced participants!