Peneda-Geres National Park, Portugal – Day Trip Ideas

In spring 2022 for 6 weeks we lived in Ponte da Barca, a lovely small Portuguese town located at the foot of Peneda-Geres National Park. Every day, from the balcony of our cottage, we could admire stunning views of the park’s mountains looming in the distance. Of course, with living so close we couldn’t miss going there and seeing at least part of it! In this post, we’ll show you great places perfect for a day trip in Peneda-Geres National Park, Portugal. Pack your trekking boots and let’s go! 

Note. If you take a look at the map you’ll notice that Peneda-Geres National Park’s shape resembles a butterfly. Due to its vastness, we managed to visit places only in the “upper/left-wing” part, and in this post, we only cover this area.

Day Trip Ideas In Peneda-Geres National Park, Portugal
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About Peneda-Geres National Park, Portugal 

Peneda-Gerês National Park (pt. Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês), or just Gerês, was established in May 1971, which makes it the first and only National Park in Portugal. It’s located at the northern end of the country, right on the border with Spain, and covers an area of 695.9 km2. Peneda-Geres stretches between three districts: Viana do Castelo, Braga, and Vila Real. It consists of four mountain ranges: Peneda, Geres, Soajo, and Amarela. Currently, the area is home to about 9000 people mainly working in farming, livestock breeding, and tourism. 

Together with Parque Natural Baixa Limia on the Spanish side, they form UNESCO Geres-Xures Transboundary Biosphere Reserve (pt. Reserva de la Biosfera Transfronteriza Gerês-Xurés) – protected territory divided by borders, but united by the characteristics of nature and culture. 

Day Trip Ideas In Peneda-Geres National Park in Portugal
View over Peneda-Geres from Lindoso Village

Peneda-Geres National Park, Portugal FAQ

Is Peneda-Gerês National Park worth visiting?

Yes, definitely. Gerês is a truly unique place on Portugal’s map. Its area is filled with unspoiled nature, and spectacular landscapes that can be admired from countless viewpoints. There are also traditional remote villages, and many ancient remains like castles, granaries, or megalithic tombs. It can all be visited thanks to the many mountain trails. 

Is Peneda-Gerês National Park a popular destination?

Currently, Peneda-Geres National Park is a popular destination among Portuguese and Spaniards. For some reason, it’s not yet well known to others despite being easily accessible from bigger cities nearby. Porto, Braga, Viana do Castelo, or Vigo makes it the perfect destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway. Peneda-Geres is a great place for outdoor activities lovers, who just enjoy spending time in nature.

What’s the best time to visit Peneda-Geres National Park?

Peneda-Geres National Park can be a great choice all year round. The best time depends just on your personal preferences and the activities you want to do. In winter you’ll have an opportunity to see it covered in snow. Spring fills the park with blossom flowers and trees. In summer it’s perfect for swimming in lagoons, relaxing on the river banks, or practicing some watersports like canoeing, kayaking, or paddleboarding. In autumn you’ll be able to admire the colors show. Also, summer probably means more crowds.

Where are the best views in Peneda-Gerês National Park?

In every corner of Peneda-Gerês National Park, you might come across breathtaking views. We enjoyed the places near Mezio Swing, Soajo village, and Tibo Lookout the most.

Views in Peneda-Geres National Park, Portugal
Is Peneda-Gerês National Park worth visiting?

Lindoso village

In a very scenic spot in Peneda-Geres National Park lies a small, remote, and slightly forgotten Lindoso village. It’s located only 4km from the Spanish border and close to towns like Ponte de Lima, Ponte da Barca, or Braga. For many centuries Lindoso played an important military role in defending Portuguese borders, and the remains of the castle are the remainder of that fact. In the village, you won’t find many places to see, but those that the village can offer will take you on an amazing journey back in time hundreds of years. Besides a well-preserved medieval castle, you’ll find there picturesque granite granaries, a stone old town with quaint houses, and great views over the surroundings. 

Learn more iconLearn more: Lindoso, Portugal – Stone Village In Peneda-Geres National Park

Trip ideas to Peneda-Geres National Park - Lindoso Village
Trip ideas to Peneda-Geres National Park - Lindoso Village

Soajo village

Soajo just like nearby Lindoso will take you on a trip back in time. In the village located at an altitude of 1416m a.s.l you’ll find picturesque granaries, a traditional stone old town with winding streets and quaint houses, and wonderful views of the surroundings. All of that creates a very charming picture that cannot fail to impress. Near the village, you can also relax in nature and even take a relaxing dip into the water in Poço Negro. Soajo can’t be missed while in Peneda-Geres National Park. 

Learn more iconLearn more: Soajo, Portugal – Remote Village In Peneda-Geres National Park

Granary in Soajo Village in North Portugal
Soajo , Portugal - village main square

Mezio Swing & Porta del Sol viewpoint

The next stop in Peneda-Gerês National Park is a spectacular area located at about 900m a.s.l. There besides countless possibilities of spending relaxing time in nature you’ll find two great spots: Mezio Swing (pt. Baloiço do Mezio) and Porta del Sol viewpoint. Mezio Swing, about 7.5m high, is the largest rope swing in Portugal and can be seen from a distance. Don’t hesitate to take a swing during which you will be able to enjoy breathtaking, panoramic views. Porta do Sol viewpoint, featuring lovely blue doors, is located about 300m from the swing. It’s one more place to admire Peneda-Geres views. 

Chances are high that below the swing and along the road leading to Porta del Sol, you’ll come across Cachena Cows, little scary-looking cows, which are allowed to wander freely around villages. You might also spot some Garrano Horses. Both animals are typical breeds for Northern Portugal. There are tons of lizards, big and small, roaming around on stones and grass, just look around and you’ll find some for sure!

Also, next to the road leading to Mezio Swing you’ll find one of seven Astro Spots located in Gerês. We can only imagine how amazing it must be to watch the night sky from there!

Learn more iconBook now: Waterfall, Lagoon and Old Village in Peneda-Gerês National Park

Views over Peneda-Geres National Park from road to Mezio Swing
Mezio Swing in Peneda-Geres in Portugal
Porta del Sol in Peneda-Geres National Park
Swing and Porta del Sol viewpoint in Peneda-Geres National Park

Tibo Lookout 

Tibo Lookout (pt. Miradouro de Tibo) is one more great spot in Peneda-Gerês National Park, located at an altitude of about 800m a.s.l. Some winding, but in good condition, roads leading to it. Viewpoint offers beautiful views over the mountains, valley, river, some villages, and also the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peneda. From Tibo Lookout, you can also spot one more Astro Spot, located near Tibo village. 

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peneda

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peneda (pt. Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Peneda) is located 10km from Tibo Lookout, at the foot of a big cliff. Sanctuary was built between the 18th and 19th centuries and looks like a smaller version of the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga. Here you’ll find a long staircase with statues representing faith, hope, charity, and glory. Every year, in the first week of September, there are Nossa Senhora da Peneda festivities held in the village. 

There is also a legend regarding this sanctuary. According to it, in 1220 at the site where the sanctuary is now located, the Holy Virgin appeared to a shepherd girl in the form of a dove and asked for a chapel to be built there. A little girl told her parents what happened, but they didn’t believe her. So the next day, in the same place, the Holy Virgin appeared again, only now in the form that is now well known. She asked a girl to go to the nearby village, Roussas, and bring a lady that was paralyzed for 18 years. As you can expect – when a woman arrived she miraculously regained her health. So the chapel was built, and the place became a popular pilgrimage site. 

Learn more iconBook now: Small Group Peneda Geres National Park Full Day Tour

One day trip idea in Peneda-Geres National Park
Views from Tibo Lookout in Peneda-Geres National Park

Castro Laboreiro village

Castro Laboreiro is the last place in Peneda-Gerês National Park that we would like to recommend to you (even though we couldn’t make it due to the quickly changing weather and strong winds). The village is located only 17km north of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peneda and is considered one of the most interesting ones in the park. It’s located at an altitude of about 1000m a.s.l and is inhabited only by about 500 people. 

Castro Laboreiro is most famous for the ruins of Castro Laboreiro Castle, which sits on the top of the hill overlooking the village. To access the castle you’ll need to take a short walk, not a very difficult walk from the village center. From the top, beautiful panoramic views stretch over the village and its surroundings. Besides the castle ruins in the village you’ll also find typical granite houses (similar to ones in Soajo), a church, a pillory, a medieval bridge, and even a museum – Núcleo Museológico de Castro Laboreiro.

Stunning views in Peneda-Geres National Park
Garrano Horses in Peneda-Geres National Park
Places to see in Peneda-Geres National Park, Portugal

Hiking in Peneda-Gerês National Park 

If you don’t want to only drive around the area and are up to hit some trails – Geres is a perfect place for that as well! There are lots of hiking trails to choose from and for sure you’ll find something suitable for your condition. There are a few hours loops as well as trails for a few days. Whatever you choose you’ll be walking among many spectacular places, and probably will discover some hidden gems like waterfalls or river beaches. Check out alltrails.com or wikiloc.com for some inspiration. 

Learn more iconBook now: Hiking and Swimming in Gerês National Park

Cachena Cows in Places to see in Peneda-Geres National Park, Portugal

How to get to and around Peneda-Gerês National Park?

Peneda-Gerês National Park is located in Northern Portugal, close to towns like Braga, Ponte de Lima, Viana do Castelo or Vigo in Spain. From Porto, it’s about a 2h drive. 

The best and easiest way to get to and move around Peneda-Geres National Park is definitely by car, either yours or rented. If you don’t travel by one, you can easily rent the best one for your needs through the Rental Cars website. Most important places, viewpoints, and villages are connected by well-maintained roads. But keep in mind that there aren’t any gas stations inside the Geres so remember to fill your tank earlier.

Public transport is challenging and you won’t be able to reach all the places.

If you don’t want to put too much effort into planning you can take advantage of the guided tours – for a wide selection visit GetYourGuide or Viator website.


Where to park in Peneda-Geres National Park?

All parking lots for places mentioned in this post were free when we were visiting (May 2022). Click the name of the place and you’ll be taken to Google Maps:

Learn more iconFor great car rental deals visit Rentalcars website.

How to get to and around Peneda-Geres National Park?
How to get around Peneda-Geres National Park?
Breathtaking views in Peneda-Gerês National Park

Where to stay and eat in Peneda-Gerês National Park?

Inside Peneda-Geres, for both eating and sleeping, your best options are located in the most popular villages like Soajo, Lindoso, or Castro Laboreiro. For a wider selection, you need to check bigger towns nearby like Ponte da Barca, Ponte de Lima, or Arcos de Valdevez. 

We lived in a lovely cottage, Recanto Tia São Magalhães in Ponte da Barca, just a few minutes drive to the park. It’s a great starting point for discovering Northern Portugal. 

Book your accomodation in Peneda-Gerês National Park

Day trip ideas to Peneda-Geres National Park, Portugal – Summing Up

We hope you enjoyed our day trip through Peneda-Gerês National Park and that we inspired you to visit it soon. This place is a truly unique and beautiful place on Portugal’s map, filled with breathtaking landscapes and great places to visit. All of the above-mentioned places can be seen in one day without too much rushing, but starting early in the morning.

One more thing – Geres is a huge area with many places to see, and you could probably spend a few days and still have plenty left to see. We encourage you to take a look by yourself for more, especially in its other, “right butterfly wing” part. 

Learn more iconBook now: Private Geres National Park Tour

Peneda-Geres National Park, Portugal - Map of places


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Peneda-Geres National Park, Portugal - Day Trip Ideas

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1 thought on “Peneda-Geres National Park, Portugal – Day Trip Ideas”

  1. You always stay and select these very remote yet highly interesting places. Thanks for introducing me to Peneda Geres National Park. I’ve not been to it, but I’ve walked past during my Camino Hike and can imagine the inland route goes straight through. Your pictures have captured well the character of the region and I can feel the vibe again that I had when I stayed close by. I agree with you, the area is beautiful and a hikers paradise. There’s so much to see in Northern Portugal and I’m glad you’ve put this on my mental map.

    Carolin | Solo Travel Story

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