Portugal // Beira Alta and Beira Baixa //

Hiking in the Parque Natural

In theory, various hiking trails cut across the Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela, though it’s much harder to walk in the serras than it should be. The park information offices tend not to have English-speaking staff, and it’s rare for the personnel to have any first-hand experience of the trails – often, you’ll simply be pointed to dated or unreliable hiking guides and maps. Moreover, the waymarking (red-and-yellow paint marks) in the park is unreliable: maintenance doesn’t appear to be a priority and signposting at village trailheads is woeful or non-existent. Well-prepared walkers will need to be self-sufficient if you want to complete the longer trails (some of which are detailed on the park website). The best time to walk is from May to October. For the day-hiker, who just wants a taste of the mountains, try the easy circular route from Manteigas to the Poço do Inferno waterfall. Alternatively, you could tackle a short stretch of the lower-level T2 – Linhares to Gouveia, via Folgoshinho, is a good full day’s walk, with facilities in each place – though you’ll need to take a taxi back to your starting point.