Day 1 – Castle, thermal pools, waterfalls, forest and Roman roads
Collect your hire car from your hotel in Porto or the airport and set off towards Peneda-Geres National Park.
Enter the park through the Lindoso Gate where you can stop at the information centre to check the status of trails. After you’ve poked around the unusual stone grain stores, take the opportunity to explore Lindoso castle and admire the views it provides of the gorse and heather-covered Serra Amarela (Yellow Mountains).
Next stop is the thermal pools at Lóbios so don’t forget your swimsuit! If you fancy cooler, more refreshing waters, try the waterfall at Portela do Homem. Or keep your clothes on and simply admire the turquoise pool during the cold months.
Stroll through the predominantly oak forest of Mata de Albergaria, looking out for wildlife and Roman milestones along the way. You’ll find more evidence of Roman occupation at São João do Campo, also known as Campo do Gerês.
Spend a while here, at the centre of the national park, although you may want to avoid the crowds and traffic jams if it’s a public holiday or summer weekend.
Check into your delightfully cosy accommodation with its panoramic views over the River Cávado and the Caniçada dam and reservoir.
Day 2 – Reservoirs, wolf traps, Romanesque monastery and mountain villages
Today’s adventure starts by swapping Caniçada dam for Salamonde, further up the River Cávado, which you’ll cross to reach the village of Fafião. Go for a short walk from the centre to discover one of the country’s best preserved traditional wolf traps, called a fojo dos lobos.
Drive through stunning mountain scenery to Paradela, at the base of yet another reservoir and another of the main gateways into the national park.
Now it’s time to head uphill where you’ll find the village of Pitões das Júnias nestled between the peaks. Explore the village and visit the ruins of the 12th century Santa Maria das Júnias Cistercian monastery and church and notice the Gothic window and the exposed ruins of the Romanesque cloisters.
While you’re here, why not have lunch at a local restaurant where you can try Barrosã steak, smoked meats and fresh home grown veggies?
Spend the night in the comfort of a country house hotel in the village of Tourem.
Day 3 – Walk the Smugglers’ Route
Get your walking boots on – it’s time to ditch the car and explore Peneda Gerês National Park the best way possible, on foot. Follow our instructions to complete a circular walking tour that incorporates the old smugglers’ route between Portugal and Spain and passes through beautiful and varied landscapes.
Put your feet up back at your comfy accommodation.
Day 4 – Roman encampment, Castro Laboreiro village and castle
Make your way to Castro Laboreiro today. Take a slight detour to discover the reconstructed Roman encampment of Aquis Querquennis with low walls marking out the former living spaces. The Roman baths are now exposed to the elements but the water is warm, thanks to the sulphur, so you can take a dip whatever the weather and pretend you’re a Roman while you appreciate the views.
Climb up to the ruins of Castro Laboreiro castle to see Laboreiro waterfall. Take a look at the remains of a 9th century church while you’re here and locate the many bridges around the village.
Enjoy the views from a comfortable modern hotel, your accommodation for the next two nights.
Day 5 – Castrejo walking trail past summer and winter villages
This is another walking day with the opportunity to get up close and personal with the landscape. Our 12 km version of the circular Castrejo walking trail takes you to the summer and winter homes (brandas and inverneiras) of the people of Castro Laboreiro where they relocate according to the optimal conditions for farming. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to see rural agricultural practices as well as gorgeous scenery, the long-horned Barrosã cattle and perhaps some of the local Castro Laboreiro breed of dog.
Reward yourself with a cocktail before tucking into tasty regional dishes at the hotel.
Day 6 – Peneda sanctuary and Soajo village
Start the day with the short drive from Castro Laboreiro to another of the national park gates at Lamas de Mouro. Take a moment to study the permanent exhibition about the history and geography of this section of Peneda Gerês National Park before following the short walking trail (4.5 km) to find the community water mill and bread ovens.
It’s time now to drive to the Peneda sanctuary, presided over by magnificent smooth boulders, which continues to draw pilgrims from all around the area.
Next stop is the ancient village of Soajo, where you’ll find another impressive collection of granite espigueiros (grain stores) as well as the former prison and the town pillory, both echoes of its past status as an administrative and judicial centre for outlying villages.
Spend the night at a modern rural accommodation where the modern architecture maximises your enjoyment of the natural beauty around you.
Day 7 – Walk around Mezio
Explore the area on foot with walking trails that take you to megalithic dolmens, shepherds’ shelters, forests, streams and rural settlements.
Find out more about the flora, fauna and culture of Mezio at the park gate interpretation centre.
Relax your weary muscles in the sauna at your accommodation.
Day 8 – End the trip with pretty, historical riverside towns
After breakfast, load the car and set off from Mezio towards the pretty riverside town of Arcos de Valdevez. Take a walk by the river and across the bridge before exploring the historical centre. Track down a sweet treat in the form of a charuto dos Arcos from Doçaria Central, made to a secret recipe.
Next, call in to Ponte de Lima, a place so beautiful that Roman soldiers were afraid to cross the river, believing it to be the mythical River Lethe. They overcame this fear and built a bridge which became a major thoroughfare between Braga and Astorga. The town thrived in the middle ages and you’ll find plenty of splendid architecture as evidence. Take your pick from a variety of restaurants serving delicious local flavours.
End the day by returning your car hire and heading home or let us arrange a hotel in Porto for you.