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9 Parks and Natural Sites in Portugal

 Portugal attracts quite a few tourists, but they all flock to specific destinations such as Lisbon, Porto or Sintra. Although these are picturesque cities worth seeing, if you want to experience Portugal in all its glory, you definitely shouldn’t skip out on the nature that it offers. Whether you want to discover the most beautiful hidden beaches in the country or you want to climb mountains, swim in lakes or even see ruins you didn’t know existed, these are the 9 places to visit on your next trip to Portugal.

1. International Douro Natural Park

portugalThis park is located on the border between Portugal and Spain, and in fact, is the natural border of both countries, with the river passing through it marking just that, and therefore it is considered an international park. The river passes through cliffs that have eroded for thousands of years, no matter what side you look at, they are beautiful and impressive. On both banks of the river, there is green vegetation that protrudes against the gray rocks and gives life to the area.

2. Montesinho Natural Park

portugalMontesinho Natural Park is one of the largest parks in Portugal and one of the most diverse in terms of animals, vegetation and landscapes. During a walk in the park, you will see hills, valleys, streams, lakes and even tangled forests that seem to have no end. Most of the trails reach the top of the mountain after which the park is named, and from above you can see an impressive view all around. It is very possible that you will encounter carnivores such as a lynx or even a wolf, even though they tend not to approach people.

3. Northern Littoral Natural Park

portugalThis park is located in northwestern Portugal and has an amazing view facing the Atlantic Ocean. Throughout the year strong winds blow through it, and they are the cause of the vertebral dunes that characterize it. It also has tall green vegetation, from which you can suddenly see the birds flying to the sky without warning, a very common sight since many types of birds come to the park to breed and nest. This is a wild but peaceful place that has barely been touched by a human hand except for a few areas where there are water activities, vacation homes, and beach recreation, perfect for those looking to relax and free themselves of modern life for a few days.

4. Nature Park of Alvão

portugalThis park sits at an altitude of 1,300 meters above sea level and divides into two parts where one can observe different and impressive landscapes. At the top of the mountain there are a lot of granite hills and cliffs, and below it, there is a vegetal and rocky area that is considered to be a feast for the eyes. These two areas are separated by the Fisgas waterfall, at the bottom of which there is almost constant fog. Along the park is the Olo river, which provides the vegetation with water on its banks, helping it grow in beautiful green colors that provide a wonderful environment for a calm and peaceful walk.

5. Ria Formosa Natural Park

portugalThis park is popular with those looking to relax as well as bird watching enthusiasts. The park is located in the southern part of Portugal in the Algarve region, and the warm climate allows visitors to visit it all year long. The birds come to the park several times a year, when sometimes you can’t even see the sky with how many birds flood in, and even if you don’t like lying idle on the beach or watching the birds, there are quite a few lagoons worth seeing and photographing.

6. Serra da Estrela Natural Park

portugalThis park is made up of the largest mountain ridge in Portugal and is also the home of the highest mountain in the country called the "Tower", and indeed it towers over the park to a height of 2,000 meters. There are wonderful valleys, lots of plants that vary according to your height, as well as forests and lakes with crystal clear water, so if you come here you will definitely have a particularly magical experience.

7. Nature Park of Arrábida

portugalThe warm Mediterranean climate in the area caused the park to grow a large variety of vegetation to boast about, decorating it like a painting on the ground. From yellow to dark green, the colors change slowly as you approach the white sandy beach, and this is a perfect place to travel if you are visiting Lisbon. You can take a peaceful walk on the beach and enjoy the pleasant breeze coming from the sea, or embark on a boat tour from which you can admire the beauty of the beach from a distance - either way, pleasure here is guaranteed.

8. Peneda-Geres National Park

portugalPeneda-Geres is located in the far north of Portugal, and it is actually a national park whose purpose is to preserve the beautiful landscape of the Geres Mountains. While there are very few mountain peaks in the park, the top two offer stunning panoramic views that shouldn’t be missed. Each trail passes through beautiful vegetation and interesting sites, including ancient buildings from the time of the first settlers in the area, as well as a number of waterfalls you can be impressed by despite the ruins of an entire village drowned in water.

9. Sintra-Cascais Natural Park

This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Portugal, and it has quite a few attractions for its lucky visitors. While you can explore the impressive mountain range in the park, it is best known for its historical sites, including the 8th century AD Moor’s Castle and the famous Pena Palace towering above its green surroundings. If you want to see an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean, it is recommended to go up to the top of the Cabo da Roca Tower which stands right by the sea.
image source: RosaneturRicardo OliveiraMarco VariscoGuillaume Galdrat, Elisha.wolfSenyrah, José Antonio Gil Martínez

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