How I Spent a Weekend Camping in Serra da Freita

Serra da Freita is one of those places that you barely ever hear of. Although it is conveniently located between Aveiro and Porto, it is often overlooked and overshadowed by places such as Serra da Estrela, or the Paiva's walkways, right beside the mountain.

Hidden Portugal Writers Team

While Aveiro and Porto are very beautiful as well, Serra da Freita offers the same portion of beauty, aligned with much less tourists. Personally, I went there for a specific hike to the famous Frecha da Mizarela waterfall (the PR7 – you can learn more about it here), that I ended up not even doing! But I am getting ahead of myself.

 

The campsite

 

I went to Serra da Freita in July, which is a good time to swim in natural pools and waterfalls, but not so much to hike under the sun, especially because most hikes don’t offer much shadow. Nonetheless it is still doable if you bring a hat and sunscreen (and A LOT of water).

If you are looking to do some hiking trails, which I advise you to do, the best place to stay would definitely be the camping site Refúgio da Freita, since many trails – such as the PR7 and the PR16 – start and finish here. This is where I based myself and I had a wonderful experience.

By car there is easy access to both remote places on the mountain and the village of Arouca, where you can find food and gas. The conditions are pretty reasonable: it offers good showers with hot water, plenty of shadow and common areas where you can hang out and eat your meals. The people who work there are super nice and helpful – they even looked for me when they didn’t see me for a day (they were afraid I got lost on the mountain) – which is super comforting, especially if you are travelling alone. It almost feels like a big family! Oh, and there is a fountain there with drinkable water, so free water!

 

Hiking trail number 16 (PR16)

 

On my first day, I arrived at 2pm at the camp. I didn’t book anything in advance and it was ok (the space is big). After setting up my tent, I decided to do the 16th trail (PR16). I was told it would only take 3 hours to do it and that it was pretty easy, so I only brought one bottle of water with me. BIG mistake! There was no drinkable water throughout the trail, nor stores. So, you can either bring a filter, to fetch water from the little rivers, or at least 2 liters of water. The hike is not hard and is well signaled, but it took me more than three hours (I hike slow though).

The highlights of the hike are the viewpoint of the Geospot and the Detrelo da Malha viewpoint. However, for me the best part was passing through a field full of butterflies (I’ve never seen so many), more less in the middle of the trail.

 

 

Hiking trail number 14 (PR14)

 

The next day I had planned to do the 7th trail (PR7) to the waterfall, but it was way too hot for such an extensive and difficult (at least for me) hike. So, I decided to do the 14th trail (PR14) to the magic village.

The trail starts at a little village called Regoufe, full of really nice people and LOTS of animals (don’t be scared if you see some turkeys, chickens or even cows on the streets). Again, the path is well signaled, so you won’t get lost.

What I struggled with most through this trail was the sun. It is only 4kms long, but it has no shadow and no water (again, hat and sunscreen!). You need to bring your own food and lots of water for the day: the magic village is a lost village, there is no one and nothing there – that includes trash cans, so bring a bag to put your trash please.

When arriving to the Drave village, there is a lot of things to do. You can explore the typical streets with cute schist houses, mainly maintained by Scouts, and then explore the surrounding nature, which offers little lagoons and waterfalls for you to swim in! The way back is the same as the one leading there.

 

The surroundings

 

In my last day in Serra da Freita the heat didn’t ease. When taking a good look at the PR7 trail, and looking for information online, I realised maybe it would be better for me to leave it for a fresher time – I’m not so experienced with hikes and the heat makes me dizzy. So, I went to the surrounding area to explore its natural pools and waterfalls!

If you want to do the same, make sure you go to Cabreia waterfall, super easy to access and a stunning place, and to the blue lagoon – Poço Azul. It’s less than an hour away by car. Oh, and I still visited the Frecha da Mizarela viewpoint to the waterfall. You can go there both by car or walking and, trust me, the view is amazing! Make sure you don’t miss it.

 

If you want to know more information about the trails I’ve spoke of, make sure you read this article. It will give you more practical information about all the trails.

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