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Walking in Serra da Estrela: Mountains of the Stars

Walking in Serra da Estrela: Mountains of the Stars

Overview

Take a picturesque walking trip in Serra da Estrela (Mountains of the Stars), mainland Portugal’s highest mountain range, where you will enjoy amazing granite landscapes, bizarre rock formations and open plateaus combined with lush valleys, waterfalls and authentic alpine villages. Most of mainland Portugal’s highest summits are found here, inside the Natural Park limits, including the very top, La Torre at 1993 m. An excellent network of way-marked walking paths allows you to explore this fascinating terrain. Your accommodations are situated in or near charming medieval villages.

  • Serra da Estrela – Portugal’s highest mountain range
  • Surprising rock formations, lush valleys, waterfalls and authentic alpine villages 
  • The highest summits in Portugal 
  • Accommodation situated in or near Medieval villages

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Celorico da Beira

From Porto Airport, you take the metro to the city centre. Then you get a bus from Porto to the historic village of Celorico da Beira. The journey takes about 4 hours. If you arrive early enough, take your time to explore this historical town, its castle and medieval walls. 

Day 2: Celorico da Beira to Linhares | 16 km

Today’s route begins in Celorico da Beira, traversing open areas with magnificent views to reach the top of the Serra do Ralo. With the hum of windmills from above, you will enjoy sweeping panoramic views before starting the descent to Linhares. On the way down, you will walk through pine forests, holm oak woods and wide pastures. Once in the medieval village of Linhares, we recommend visiting its castle, the Roman Forum and royal houses built by the aristocracy, scattered throughout the town. 

  • Walking for the day: 16 km, 5-6 hours, ↑­­­­620 m ↓350 m
  • Overnight in a country hotel in Linhares (Hotel Inatel Linhares or similar)

Day 3: Folgosinho to Manteigas | 21 km

After breakfast, you have a taxi transfer to the beginning of today’s route, in Folgosinho or the chapel at Nossa Senhora de Assedasse (luggage continues to your next accommodation in Manteigas). This walk is more demanding than the previous one, but you are rewarded with spectacular views. You traverse a remote area with no villages along the way and will need to carry enough water and provisions for the whole day. The first section is a steep ascent from Folgosinho, along an old Roman Road that ascends through a valley. When you reach the highest point, Portella do Folgosinho, you’ll have views of Pico de La Torre. Continuing through nearly deserted valleys and richly diverse forests, the route ends with a steep descent to Manteigas, a lovely village situated in a lush glacier valley beneath high peaks and full of small shops and cafes.

  • Walking for the day: 21 km, 6-7 hours, ↑­­­­700 m ↓550 m
  • Overnight in a country hotel in Manteigas (Hotel Berne or similar)

Day 4: Manteigas Circular Walk 1 | 14 km

For the next two days, you will explore the heart of the Serra de Estrella from your base in Manteigas. Today you can choose between a well-deserved rest day, with a visit to the local trout farm, or a trip to the impressive waterfall at “Poço do Inferno” (the Devil’s Well), walking through Buraco Valley with its bizarre rock formations. A varied and changing landscape with beautiful wooded sections and magnificent views.

  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 6 hours, ↑­­­­650 m ↓650 m
  • Overnight in a country hotel in Manteigas (Hotel Berne or similar)

Day 5: Manteigas Circular Walk 2 | 14 km

A lovely walk awaits today to the north of Manteigas. Starting with an ascent, you follow a historic route protected by a pine forest shade to reach Pousada de São Lorenço (elevation 1290 m) with stunning views of Manteigas Valley. Next, you follow a dirt track through open terrain and vast, colourful farmland. Finally, another descent – with more shade – leads back to Manteigas. 

  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 6 hours, ↑630 m ↓630 m
  • Overnight in a country hotel in Manteigas (Hotel Berne or similar)

Day 6: La Torre to Loriga | 12-18 km

Today you can choose between two options:

  • Longer option: The first traverses the beautiful glacial valley of Zézere, which leads to La Torre, and you walk through valleys, mountain meadows and forest tracks. At the end of your route, you have an included taxi transfer to your next accommodation, situated in the beautiful mountain village of Loriga.
  • Walking for the day: 18 km, 6 hours, ↑835 m ↓110 m
  • Shorter option: The second option begins with a short transfer to La Torre recreation area. This strategic location (at 1993 m, the highest summit in mainland Portugal) provides magnificent views. You will enter the granite massif of Serra da Estrella, a whole different world with wide glacial valleys which recall the last Ice Age. Your route begins with a gradual descent from La Torre toward the western sector of the Natural Park. Traversing high pastures, narrow lanes, abrupt peaks and crystal-clear lakes, you make your way back to the lovely village of Loriga.
  • Walking for the day: 12 km, 4-5 hours, ↑50 m ↓1230 m
  • Overnight in a rural house in Loriga (Casa Cristovao or similar)

Day 7: From Loriga to São Romão | 19 km

The last walking route on this programme leads inland through wooded areas, passing typical villages clinging to the slopes. On your way, you will pass two interesting sites: Más Tumba and Cabeça da Velha, before you reach the charming village of São Romão, with several chapels. Your accommodation for tonight is a renovated traditional “Quinta” (country estate), now a beautiful hotel with a swimming pool, situated just outside the village.

  • Walking for the day: 19 km, 6-7 hours, ↑775 m ↓550 m
  • Overnight in a country estate in São Romão (Quinta do Crestelo or similar)

Day 8: Departure

The tour ends after breakfast. You can extend your stay or return to Porto by bus.

What to Expect

Accommodation

All hotels of this trip are carefully selected because of their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. Accommodations are located in or near medieval villages. All rooms are en-suite. Some accommodations have a swimming pool. The rural house offers more basic facilities, but its authenticity provides for a truly local experience. The last overnight is in a Quinta – a former farm that was restored as a hotel maintaining its original character. 

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

All breakfasts are included as well as 1 dinner on Day 6. Dinners are available at all overnight accommodations or in the villages. Lunches or provisions can be bought along the way or before you start your walking. On Day 3 you should buy provisions in advance.

Difficulty & terrain

Moderate day walks are interspersed with some slightly strenuous sections, 4-6 hours on average on hilly to mountainous areas using well kept sometimes stony paths; there are only a few steep ascents and descents (read more about difficulty grades). The routes are well waymarked, we will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from the beginning of May until the end of October. The best months to visit are in the summertime.

The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Porto (OPO). Lisbon (LIS) is a good alternative.

By train or bus
  • Arrival from Porto Airport: Take the Metro or Bus to O Porto city centre. There is a direct bus run by Rede Expressos. You can also take the Metro (line E to “Trinidade” stop) where you change to line D direction “D.João I”. Get off at the second stop and follow signs to the bus terminal “Rede Expressos” in Rua Alexandre Herculano. From the bus station in Porto, take a bus to the historic village of Celorico da Beira (2.5-3 hours).
  • From Lisbon Airport: Get a shuttle bus or a taxi to Sete Rios Bus Station in Lisbon city (line 96). From the bus station take a bus to Celorico da Beira with the company Rede Expressos (4.5 to 5 hours trip).
  • Departure to Porto airport from Seia: Take the bus from Seia to Coimbra (direction “Lisboa”), where you change buses to connect to O Porto. From Porto bus station, take a bus or taxi to the airport.
  • To Lisbon airport from Seia: Take a bus from Seia to Lisbon – most combinations require you to change buses in Coimbra. Around 4.5 to 5 hours trip. From Lisbon bus station there’s a shuttle service to the airport. 
  • For more information visit www.rede-expressos.pt or use the Omio planner above.

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in private ensuite rooms at the mentioned accommodations
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 1 dinner on Day 6
  • Detailed digital holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, road notes and maps. Please note that the info pack is emailed to you prior to departure and no printed documents are mailed or provided on-site
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (up to 20 kg per person)
  • Private transfers according to the itinerary on Days 3 & 6
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners (except on Day 6), drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is NOT available for solo travellers
  • Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request

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