Natural parks and reserves

Wild, as it was in the beginning. Portuguese nature parks and reserves can congratulate themselves for keeping the essence of continental Portugal and the volcanic islands of the Atlantic intact. From the mountains to the coast, passing through volcanoes, peaks and gardens, here are some paradises where green is in the air.

Peneda-Gerês, the only one to be classified as a National Park, stands out among all others. In the northwest of the country, it has stunning scenery between mountains and reservoirs where unique species such as the wild Garrano horse and the Castro Laboreiro dog live. Here, as in Montesinho Park, a rural way of life is preserved with community villages where people share the work and facilities.

Further down, in Alvão Natural Park, rivers flow between crags and cliffs, creating spectacular waterfalls like Fisgas de Ermelo. To the east is another park, Douro Internacional, whose deep valleys form canyons which are nesting sites for birds of prey such as the Egyptian vulture.

The largest is Serra da Estrela, with its imposing uplands where the highest point in mainland Portugal is. Between slopes and lagoons, it offers a multitude of options for varied sports activities. Footpaths and cycle tracks, mountain climbing, and canoeing are just some of the possibilities also available in Tejo Internacional Park. This is also where more than 154 bird species nests, of which the highlight is the black stork.

Near Lisbon, two stunning natural parks await by the sea: Sintra-Cascais boasts beaches and lush vegetation, harmoniously blending farms and palaces, while Arrábida offers a breathtaking contrast of green mountains against the blue ocean. River estuaries such as the Tagus, with pink flamingos, and the Sado, with dolphins and white storks, offer spectacular views of fauna.

In Alentejo, Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina Natural Park stands out, forming one of Europe’s most well-preserved coastal stretches. Vale do Guadiana Natural Park features a river flowing through narrow banks, extending southward into creeks and canals in Algarve’s Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António Marshlands. Ria Formosa Park, in turn, spans 60 km of canals, marshlands, and islands, creating a stunning barrier with the sea in the Eastern Algarve.

There’s even more in the middle of the Atlantic! The island of Madeira is the proud guardian of a 20-million-year-old subtropical rainforest, the Laurissilva Forest, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site of Invaluable Environmental Heritage. In the Azores, each of the nine islands has a natural park with various protected reserves and areas, where the environment is at its most pristine. Some of these areas belong to the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and the Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This is nature in Portugal; come and enjoy it as a sustainable traveler for memorable experiences.

Things to consider before traveling

load more

Some tips to consider while traveling

Want to know more about Europe?

Sign up to our newsletter here: