The best way to explore it? By foot, of course. You will get to interact with nature, with the local people and even some animals across the way. So, don’t miss out on this list of the 3 best hiking trails in Central Portugal.
1. Trail number 16 (PR16) – S. Pedro Velho
This easy level hike is not the most famous one, but it is certainly the best one to get to know the mountain in general. With 12km, it climbs up to the S. Pedro Velho geosite, where you get views so extended that you will get to see all the way to the coast (in clear days, at least).
Through this trail, you will also get to the highest point of the mountain, cross a whole wind farm, go down to the valley and finally get back to the campsite – Refúgio da Freita – where the trail starts (and many other trails start, so it is a good place to ground yourself). If you are interested in this trail you can check this post for more detailed information.
Tip: Bring confortable clothes (fresh clothes for the day and warm clothes for the night – it gets really cold!), a hat and lots of water.
2. Trail number 14 (PR14) – The magic village
This one seems to be taken out of a kid’s book (or maybe a horror movie, not sure): a lost village in the middle of the mountains, forgotten by time but with spectacular beauty. The only way to get there is through THIS trail.
Prepare yourself for a hike of 4 kms under the sun (don’t forget to bring a hat and enough water – you can check for more tips for this hike here) that will lead you to a magic village with no inhabitants but preserved by Scouts. You can explore the village as well as the surrounding little lagoons and waterfalls (and swim in them, of course). I guess we can call this a fair reward for the hike, right?
3. Trail number 7 (PR7) – On the cliffs of the Mizarela
Oh yes, finally we get to the waterfall! This trail is a moderate level one, but it can be a bit dangerous on rainy days. It starts at the camping site Refúgio da Freita and goes for 12kms, finishing at the start.
You will go down and up around the waterfall, so you do get great views of it. If you make a little detour at the bottom (of approximately one hour), all the way down to the Frecha de Mizarela, you will get to the natural pools of the waterfall, where you can swim and enjoy yourself. There will probably be nobody else there, and it gets you a bottom perspective from the waterfall that you will not forget (prepare the cameras!).
Serra da Freita has a lot more trails that you can do. You can access the Arouca Geopark website to know more options and details about the trails, as well as maps to illustrate the way.
The Refúgio da Serra offers everything from just a camping spot to bungalows for a very low price, and the people are genuinely nice and helpful there. Don´t be afraid to ask them any questions about the trails and the weather conditions at that time (if there is ice on the trails, for example).
Best time to visit: it depends on the hike. Based on the three mentioned above, a warm weather would be advisable – and desirable – so May or September could be a good option!