If there’s one town in the Serra da Estrela with a true mountain air it’s MANTEIGAS, 700m up, whose whitewashed houses run along the contour above the Rio Zêzere. The approach from any direction is dramatic: from Sabugueiro and the west the road winds down in convoluted switchbacks; from Belmonte and the east the river scenery is at its most bucolic; while from the south there is the breathtaking descent down the glacial valley of the Rio Zêzere. The latter route brings you into town past the therapeutic spa of Caldas de Manteigas and to the fertile valley bottom of the Zêzere, with Manteigas itself spreading across the steep slope opposite.

There’s no public transport further into the park from town, but with a car you can use Manteigas as a base to visit Torre, the glacial valley and ski fields, and the nearby villages. The town is on two of the official walking trails, but local routes are on the tough side since – south and west at least – you have to climb steep and far to get anywhere. There’s one easy circular walk to the Poço do Inferno, though most other routes are point-to-point, requiring a taxi ride out or back, which can be easily arranged.

 

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