The lower (baixa) Beira region is a surprisingly good place for hiking and outdoor activities; better, in many ways, than the higher Serra da Estrela. It’s the result of a diverse set of interconnecting development projects, the main result of which is a growing series of reliable, waymarked footpaths and readily available information. Castelo Branco sits at the centre of the so-called Naturtejo Geopark, part of a wider pan-European project, while a large section of Tejo River hinterland is contained within the Parque Natural do Tejo Internacional (icnf.pt) – “internacional” because it’s mirrored on the Spanish side of the river too. There are good local walk circuits in many towns and villages, particularly between Monsanto, the Spanish border and Idanha-a-Nova, and also around the so-called Aldeias do Xisto (schist villages), west of Castelo Branco; you can pick up route leaflets and information in any local turismo. There’s even a long-distance hiking trail, the GR12-E7 (total 80km), that connects Termas de Monfortinho on the Spanish border with Idanha-a-Nova (some of the shorter walks connect with this; details on the local council website cm-idanhanova.pt).

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