20 best things to do in Serra da Estrela – Trails, waterfalls, villages, and more

With a maximum altitude of 1993 meters, Serra da Estrela is the highest mountain in mainland Portugal and the only place where you can practice snow sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. But it’s much more than that.

Serra da Estrela Natural Park is ideal for nature lovers – it has trails to explore, waterfalls, lakes, granite formations, and picturesque villages.

In addition, the Serra da Estrela Natural Park has excellent geological importance, being recognized by UNESCO with the status of Estrela Geopark – since it presents traces of the last glaciation that occurred 30 thousand years ago.

This guide will give you all the information you need to plan a magnificent trip to Serra da Estrela Natural Park. We will talk about the places to visit, including geosites, waterfalls, villages, lakes, trails, where to stay, and what to eat, among many other things.

What to visit in Serra da Estrela Natural Park
Snow in Serra da Estrela Natural Park

Geosites and other main attractions in Serra da Estrela Natural Park

Torre (Tower)

Torre is the top of Serra da Estela mountain and the highest point in mainland Portugal with 1993 meters of altitude. At the top of the mountain is a geodesic landmark that King D. João VI built in the 19th century. The landmark is 7 meter-high to complete the 2000 meters altitude.

Torre is one of the most popular places in Portugal as it is one of Portugal’s best places to find winter snow. It even has a resort with ski slopes and chairlifts where you can practice snow sports. But if you prefer, you can just play in the snow or go sledding.

At the top of Serra da Estrela is a shopping center selling regional products such as the famous Serra da Serra cheese, sausages, and ham. They also sell wool clothing and snow sports materials, such as sledding. It has a cafe selling hot drinks and a bathroom.

If you want to know the weather at the top of Serra da Estrela, click here.

Serra da Estrela guide
Geodesic landmark at the top of Serra da Estrela – Torre

Serra da Estrela ski resort

The ski resort is located in the Serra da Estrela tower. Here is the ideal place to ski or snowboard in Portugal. The resort has several slopes with different levels of difficulty.

For times when there is less snow, the resort has an artificial snow generator that ensures 120 to 150 days of snow.

Also, Ski or Snowboard lessons are available, and you can rent equipment. If you want to know more information about prices and schedules, click here on the official website.

Main activities in Serra da Estrela
Ski slopes at the Ski Resort in Serra da Estrela – best things to do in Serra da Estrela

Bread Museum, Seia

The bread museum in Seia is a museum dedicated to bread. The museum explores the bread production cycle and its social and religious importance. It’s a museum for all bread and food lovers and a great place to learn about this simple cooking ingredient.

In the museum, there is also a shop where you can buy regional products from Serra da Estrela, such as sausages and cheese, as well as bread from Serra da Estrela that is produced in the museum. A restaurant also serves food from Beira and incorporates bread into the main dishes.

We have to mention that Serra da Estrela bread is delicious. When you go there, you have to take the opportunity to buy and try the bread.

Serra da Estrela landmarks and monuments
You cannot miss the Bread Museum in Seia, Serra da Estrela.

Zêzere Glacier Valley

The Zêzere Glacier Valley is known for its “U” shape. It has this format due to the existence of a glacier that shaped the landscape and is composed of steep slopes covered with granite stones.

The valley has an extension of 13 km that goes from the Central Massif of the Serra to the village of Manteigas. The Zêzere Glacier Valley is one of the largest glacier valleys in Europe.

There are two ways to appreciate this geological formation. You can enjoy the Zêzere Glacier Valley on the road that connects Manteigas to the Tower on National road 338. Or from the viewpoint that is located near the tower on the N 339 road.

From this viewpoint, you can appreciate the extension of this valley, especially when there is no snow. When there is snow, perceiving the valley’s famous “U” shape is more difficult.

One way to explore the glacial valley is to walk the 17 km Glaciar Route trail that goes from Torre to Manteigas.

Serra da Estrela attractions
Zêzere Glacier Valley in Serra da Estrela without Snow in Portugal

Our Lady of Boa Estrela

Our Lady of Boa Estrela is a 7-meter statue carved into the rock in Covão do Boi. Our Lady of Boa Estrela is the patron saint of shepherds.

António Duarte sculpted the statue in 1946 to honor the saint of shepherds. Every year, on the second Sunday of August, there is a celebration in honor of the saint.

The statue can be found on Nacional 339 on the way to the Torre if you come from Manteigas or Covilhã. It is possible to reach the statue via a set of stairs from the viewpoint of the road.

Everything about visiting Serra da Estrela
7-meter statue at Senhora da Boa Estrela near the Tower

Cabeça do Velho (Old Man’s Head)

The Old Man’s Head is a granite rock formation with a profile of an old man that was formed with erosion. There are several rock formations in Serra da Estrela, but the Cabeça do Velho is the most famous and is a rite of passage for the Portuguese when they visit Serra da Estrela.

The head of the Old Man is located on National Road 232, between Manteigas and Gouveia. Plus, it’s worth stopping by to take a picture and be part of the ritual.

Where to go in Serra da Estrela National Park
The iconic Old Man’s Head formed naturally from the erosion of the granite stone.

Covão da Ametade

Covão da Ametade is one of the most beautiful places in Serra da Estrela Natural Park. It is located at the beginning of the Zêzere Glacier Valley and also has a glacial origin.

In the valley, you will find the bed of the river Zêzere, which rises in the mountain range and gains volume in Covão da Ametade. The river is surrounded by trees, mainly birch trees, creating a beautiful setting. It has a pick nick area and lots of places to relax. It is also the starting point of several trails and a good place for mountaineering.

It’s a lovely spot, especially in summer and spring. In winter, when it is covered by snow, it may not be accessible.

The covão da Ametade is located on National Road 338 between Manteigas and Torre. And it is a mandatory place to visit in Serra da Estrela.

Most beautiful places in Serra da Estrela
Beautiful Covão da Ametade during winter in Serra da Estrela

Covão dos Conchos

Covão dos Cochos is an artificial lake in Serra da Estrela. This lagoon has a peculiarity, it has a funnel in the middle that looks like a portal out of a science fiction movie.

The funnel is not a portal but a tunnel that connects the covão of the troughs to the long lagoon. The 1.5 km tunnel was built to drain the waters of Ribeira das Nevas, making the lagoon a surprising and fascinating place.

Covão dos Conchos is only accessible on foot. There is a 5 km trail that starts from the long lagoon that goes to Covão dos Cochos. The trail is not difficult, but when there is snow, it is not recommended as it can become dangerous.

What to visit in Serra da Estrela – Villages, Towns, and Typical Cities


Folgosinho is one of the most picturesque mountain villages in Serra da Estrela. Located in the municipality of Gouveia, it is at an altitude of 930 meters. It is known as the birthplace of Viriato, a famous warrior who fought to expel the Romans from the Iberian Peninsula.

The village has a small but lovely castle that sits on a quartz lode, making the place different and fascinating. The village also has a fountain with tiles with funny sayings.

But one of the village’s main attractions is the Albertino Restaurant, where you can eat until you can’t eat any more delicious food.

What to do in Natural Park of Serra da Estrela in Portugal
View of Folgosinho castle – A village that you have to visit in Serra da Estrela


Sabugueiro is known for being the highest village in Portugal. It is generally a place of passage to reach Torre. Located at an altitude of 1120 m, it should be noted that despite its fame, it is not the highest village in Portugal.

It is a typical mountain village with granite houses, a community oven, still working, and the famous blacksmith fountain. Plus, how could it not have a typical church?

The village is said to have emerged from a cluster of shepherds’ huts. In addition to all this, it is the birthplace of the renowned Serra da Estrela dogs.

As if that weren’t reason enough to visit the village, it’s a place where you can find delicious mountain food.

destinations to visit in Serra da Estrela
View of Aldeia do Sabugueiro – The highest village in Serra da Estrela

Linhares da Beira

Linhares da Beira is one of the 12 Historical villages of Portugal. Visiting the village is like going to an open-air museum, going back to medieval times in the 17th century.

The village has several points of interest, including a beautiful castle, the Jewish house, the Solar da Corte Real and Pina Aragão, a Roman road, and several medieval churches. This village will enchant anyone who loves history.

But in addition to its historical testimony, the village is lovely and well preserved with a granite house and small alleys. It’s very captivating.

best attractions in Serra Estrela, Portugal
Medieval Castle of Linhares da Beira in Serra da Estrela


Belmonte is another of the 12 Historical Villages in Portugal. The village’s name is related to the place where it was built, Belo Monte. But it’s not just the mountain that is beautiful, the village is very charming on its own.

The village is known for being the birthplace of Pedro Alves Cabral, who discovered the sea route to Brazil. There is a statue in his honor. It also has a medieval castle and an impressive Jewish quarter. For many years there was a considerable Jewish community in Belmonte.

Belmonte is a great place to discover Serra da Estrela and learn about the history of Portugal.


Guarda is the highest city in Portugal at an altitude of 1056 m. It is one of the most important cities in Serra da Estrela, the capital of the Guarda District.

Sometimes Guarda is overlooked on a trip to Serra da Estrela, but it’s a shame as the city has a lot to see and do. It is also the perfect base to visit the Mondego Walkways and other attractions in the northern part of Serra da Estrela

One of the main things to do in Guarda is to visit the Sé da Guarda. It is one of the most beautiful churches in the country. And it has the advantage of climbing to the Cathedral’s roof and enjoying the surrounding landscape. It also has a castle and walls.

Where to go in Serra da Estrela?
One of the most important cities in Serra da Estrela – A Guarda

What to do in Serra da Estrela – Trails and Hiking

Mondego walkways

The Mondego walkways are one of the most beautiful walkways in Portugal. The walkways connect the village of Videmonte to the Caldeirão dam near Guarda. It is possible to hike the trail in both directions.

The route is beautiful, following the Mondego river and surrounded by mountains. The trail is mainly made on footbridges, but parts are mountain paths. It is 12 km one way and has moderate difficulty due to the distance and having to go up and down many stairs.

However, the effort is rewarded by enjoying the magnificent landscapes of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park.

Serra da Estrela trails
Mondego walkway, one of the most beautiful walkways in Portugal

Poço do Inferno trail (Hell’s Pit trail)

The Poço do Inferno route runs from Manteigas to the Poço do Inferno waterfall. The trail is only 2.5 km long but is a technically challenging route.

It is not recommended for people with mobility difficulties and a fear of heights. On the other hand, it has spectacular views and at the end a beautiful waterfall.

Trail to Covão dos Conchos

As mentioned before, Covão dos Conchos is an artificial lagoon with a tunnel in the middle. To get to Covão dos Conchos, you must take a 5 km trail from Lagoa Comprida.

In addition to the lake being a remarkable site, the route is beautiful. It is in the middle of Serra da Estrela at an altitude of 1500 m. With the rocky landscape and undergrowth characteristic of the mountain range. This trail is not technically challenging, but you must hike 10 km there and back.

We do not recommend doing this trail when there is snow since the ground is very rocky and can become dangerous.

Where to go in Serra da Estrela? Waterfalls and Lagoons

Rossim Valley Lagoon

The Vale do Rossim lagoon is an artificial lagoon created with the creation of a dam. It is located in a glacial valley at an altitude of 1437 m.

In addition to the valley being extremely beautiful, the lagoon has the advantage of having a river beach in the summer with a lifeguard. It has an area with sand where you can put your towel and areas with shadows. The water is not very cold as the lagoon is not deep.

The Vale do Rossim lagoon is close to Aldeia das Penas Douradas, an area with many accommodations, from hotels or Eco Resorts to camping.

The Waterfalls and lagoons are some of the best attractions in Serra da Estrela
Lagoa Vale do Rossim – artificial lagoon that, in summer, becomes a beach

Lagoa Comprida (Long Lagoon)

The Long Lagoon is a natural lagoon on which a dam was built with the aim of hydroelectric production. It is the largest lake and the main water reservoir in Serra da Estrela.

The long lagoon receives water through underground tunnels from Covão dos Conchos and Covão do Meio. It is a beautiful lagoon at an altitude of 1600 m in Serra da Estrela. In winter, it is usually covered with ice.

The lagoon is found on Nacional 339 on the way to Torre for those coming from the village of Sabogueiro or Seia.

Loriga river beach

The river beach of Loriga is one of the best river beaches in Portugal. It is even distinguished with the Blue Flag.

It is located in a glacial valley 1 km from the village of Loriga. It is formed by several terraces and small lakes bathed by the Loriga stream.

It has excellent access conditions with a parking lot for cars and bicycles. A bar with a terrace, a park for children, WC, pick-nick area. It is a river beach guarded by lifeguards.

Best beaches in Serra da Estrela
Loriga river beach, with several lagoons of different sizes, ideal for children

Poço do Inferno Waterfall

The Poço do Inferno waterfall is an impressive waterfall over 10 meters high and located 10 km from Manteigas. It is formed by the waters of the Ribeira de Leandres, creating a lagoon with very fresh and transparent water.

To visit the waterfall, you can go by car, take a 3-minute walk and climb some stairs to a viewpoint where you can enjoy the waterfall, the Zêzere, and the Manteigas valley.

Or, if you prefer, you can take the 2.5 km trail mentioned above – the Poço do Inferno Route.

It is possible to bathe in the Poço do Inferno lagoon, but we only recommend it in summer as the water is extremely cold.

what to visit in Serra da Estrela
Poço do Inferno waterfall in Serra da Estrela

Poço da Broca Waterfall

The Poço da Broca waterfall resulted from human intervention that diverted the course of the river water creating an incredible waterfall and well. The aim was to reuse water for agriculture and make the region fertile.

Indirectly they created one of the most famous river beaches in Serra da Estrela. You can swim in the crystal clear waters at Poço da Broca, but remember that the water is very cold. And if you go up the river, you’ll find more waterfalls and wells.

Near the waterfall is a restaurant serving traditional Portuguese food called Guarda Rio.

best things to do in Serra da Estrela
Poço da Broca waterfall and river beach in Serra da Estrela

Where to Stay in Serra da Estrela

One of the best places to stay in Serra da Estrela is Penhas da Saúde. Located in the heart of Serra da Estrela, close to the tower and the ski resort. Manteigas, Seia, and Covilhã are also areas with various hotels and are well located.

  • Luna Hotel Serra da Estrela

Located in Penhas da Saúde, this is a comfortable and relaxing hotel. With a beautiful traditional restaurant with delicious food. With an indoor and outdoor pool. It’s a great mountain getaway. Book your stay here.

  • Pousada da Serra da Estrela

It is located in Penhas da Saúde and is a historic inn, one of the oldest in Serra da Estrela. It has a spa area with indoor and outdoor pools and a gym. Beautiful decor and is located near the tower. See prices and availability here.

  • H2otel Congress & Medical SPA

The H2otel hotel is an expensive hotel, but staying overnight is a fabulous experience. It is well worth coming to Serra da Estrela just to stay in this hotel. It has a spa area with several pools with hot water, even outdoors, Turkish baths, and saunas. And it serves a hearty breakfast.

It is a place that we strongly recommend, but its quality is reflected in its availability. It is almost impossible to book rooms without being well in advance. See if there are rooms available and book here.

Where to stay in Serra da Estrela
Hotel H2otel Congress & Medical SPA in Serra da Estrela
  • HI Serra da Estrela – Youth Hostel

This is an ideal budget hostel if you want a comfortable but affordable place to stay. It has a good quality/price ratio. You have the option of staying in a shared or private room. And best of all, breakfast is included. We’ve stayed there before and recommend it. See prices and availability here.

What to eat in Serra da Estrela

  • Serra da Estela cheese is mandatory, you cannot come to Serra and not eat the cheese. It is a buttery, cured cheese made with sheep’s cheese. It is usually eaten with bread from Serra da Estrela.
  • Cabrito is another typical dish of this region. Usually baked in the oven accompanied with potatoes, it is delicious.
  • Juniper Rice is malandro rice with juniper (wild berries used to flavor) and sausages.
  • Wild boar is a specialty from Serra da Estrela and is usually stewed.
  • Talassas is a typical sweet from Covilhã.
  • Serra Biscuits, also known as crests.
What to eat in Serra da Estrela
Serra da Estrela cheese

Where to eat in Serra da Estrela

  • O Albertino – An obligatory stop in Serra da Estrela located in Folgosinho. You pay per person, and you can eat whatever you want. And it’s all so good. The house’s specialty is roasted suckling pig and kid, rice with rabbit giblets, wild boar with beans, and finally, custard, rice pudding, and curd cheese with pumpkin jam.
  • Varanda da Estrela – Located in Penhas da Saúde. It is a restaurant with delicious food and a cozy authentic mountain hut with a roaring fireplace. The specialty of the house is juniper rice.
  • As Thermas – Restaurant in Unhais da Serra with typical food from Serra da Estrela
best things to do in Serra da Estrela
Typical food from Serra da Estrela at Varanda da Estrela Restaurant

How to get to Serra da Estrela

Public transport

There is no adequate public transport to visit Serra da Estrela as a tourist. You can take a bus to Seia from Porto and to Covilhã from Lisbon, but then you have to take a taxi to the tower or most of the attractions mentioned in this article.

The best option is to go by car or on an organized tour.

Serra da Estrela Travel Guide
Serra da Estrela in winter, covered with snow


Going to Serra da Estrela from Lisbon or Porto is not easy. You have to go on several highways and mountain paths. Also, the road to the Serra da Estrela tower is sometimes closed due to snow.

But it is the best option to go to Serra da Estrela.

From Lisbon, the best way to reach Serra da Estrela is via the A1 and A23 motorways and then the national road. It is 300 km and takes 3h30. The highways are paid, and you can pay the toll with cash or a card.

From Porto, the best way is to take the A1 and A25 motorways and then the National road. It is 200 km and takes 2h40. The highway is paid, and you can pay the toll with cash or a card.

Visiting Serra da Estrela in Portugal
Serra da Estrela in spring full of flowers

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