Though small in size, Alvao Natural Park is a top choice for travelers who enjoy both physical pursuits and time to relax. There are two distinctive and different ecosystems that make Alvao so special.
The Upper Zone is more mountainous, perfect if you like hiking, biking, and exploring the rocky cliffs and difficult paths. It leads down to the Bazal Zone, which opens up to a stunning waterfall and more of a ground area for you to enjoy the silence and take in the beauty of your surroundings.
2. Douro International Natural Park
Douro is usually a part of any extensive trip to Portugal and stands high among other national parks. Located on the border with Spain, it marks the path and waterway between the two neighboring countries, allowing you sights of the most stunning landscapes - rocky cliffs and ravines cutting through the Douro River and the greenery above it all.
The international was added to its name since it is so close to another country, and while it belongs to northeast Portugal, you can easily access it from Spain, as well!
3. Ria Formosa National Park
Located in the South of Portugal, the region of Algarve, Ria Formosa National Park is perfect for beach-lovers and those who feel for the beautiful, unique birds. The stunning coastal lagoon was recently chosen as one of the 7 Natural Wonders in Portugal, so even by that, you should know that this is a must-see location!
Explore the five barrier islands and two peninsulas, and stop by for some bird-watching!
4. Montesinho Natural Park
Another one in northeastern Portugal, Montesinho Natural Park, is perfect for hiking and extended on-foot explorations. The mountainous surroundings fit in perfectly with soft nature, and you should be aware of the wildlife you will inevitably encounter!
There are over 120 species of rare birds roaming around Montesinho, not to mention the Iberian Wolfs, Cantabrian Brown Bears, and colorful fish living in the multiple waterbodies. Here, you can live out your Cinderella dreams and chat with the animals!
5. Serra da Estrela Natural Park
Where to start? Serra da Estrela Natural Park is the largest protected area in Portugal, situated on the Serra da Estrela mountain range, the mother of the rivers Mondego, Zezere, and Alva. It is also home to the highest peak in Continental Portugal - Torre. So, you can probably imagine what kind of sights you are in for!
Valleys and ravines, with the countryside backdrop, create a stunning landscape, and forests with freshwater lakes make it a picturesque dream. Do not miss out on seeing one of the most wondrous gems in Portugal!
6. Peneda-Geres National Park
Also known as simply Geres, the park was created in the late 20th century and is the oldest protected area in Portugal. It covers an area of almost square 700 kilometers and occupies the districts of Viana do Castelo, Braga, and Vila Real, so naturally, there is a lot to explore here!
There are two central granite massifs to see - Serra da Peneda and Serra da Geres, hence the name. You will also be able to enjoy picturesque valleys, mixed forests, and streams, and, of course, we have to talk about flora and fauna. Peneda-Geres is a stronghold for Atlantic European flora in Portugal, coexisting perfectly with the Mediterranean biome. So keep your eyes open and camera ready!
7. Southwest Alentejo and Vicenti Coast Natural Park
Quite a mouthful, huh? You can just ask for someone to point you to Alentejo and Vicenti, and you shall receive help! The park is a coastal area and a stronghold of European wilderness. It also has one of the highest biodiversity regarding plants and birds.
Similar to Ria Formosa, the best way you can spend your time here is to enjoy the sunny beach and clean landscapes, also go exploring for plants and various species of birds! This is all you can do here anyways - the park was created to promote the protection of natural resources in Portugal.
8. Sintra Cascais Natural Park
Lastly, let’s take a trip to the Portuguese Riviera, and explore one of the most impressive parks there is - the Sintra Cascais Natural Park. While it was created only in 1994, the area was protected for thirteen years prior, and for a good reason!
Climb and hike the Serra de Sintra Mountain Range, travel all the way to Cabo da Roca coast, and, of course, do not miss the park’s highlight. Sintra Cascais is home to the famous Castle of the Moors, a historical heritage site and a significant monument to the Portuguese.
Discover Portugal’s natural side, and explore the best of what it can offer! Remember to bring a water bottle and brace yourself for long inspection hours - you cannot know its beauty in one day. Nor should you want to - there is too much to see! So enjoy, and best of luck on your travels!