Inland, in northern Portugal, explore the hills and the deep valleys that are home to the community villages of the Natural park of Montesinho, take the walking trails, catch a glimpse of the rare fauna and flora and sleep in an old water mill.
Montesinho is a fantastic blend of natural richness and old cultures. Created in 1979, it is one of the largest natural parks of the 12 existing ones in Portugal. Located in Trás-os-Montes, it covers the northern part of the councils of Bragança and Vinhais.
The village that gives its name to the Park, Rio de Onor and Guadramil are all villages that live in communion with nature and preserve the memory of rural life. In these community villages, the locals keep the secret of community life, sharing the common resources and welcoming visitors with open arms.
The wood-fired oven, threshing floor, mil, pastures and the breeding bull are used by the community in an age-old tradition, even before the Romans came to this region.
This social heritage is still alive and well in the village of Rio de Onor, which is well preserved and forms a territory shared with Spain – one half is called Rihonor de Castilla and the other half Rio de Onor, in Portugal.
In terms of the geography in Montesinho, we find two major mountains, Serra da Coroa (to the west) and the mountain that gives its name to the Park (to the east). Explore the mountains on foot or on a bicycle, or in the comfort of your car, and discover a magical place with 74,230 hectares and nine thousand inhabitants.
Sleeping in the Park
There are at least two dozen tourism units and village and country houses in the Natural park of Montesinho where you can stay overnight in perfect communion with nature.
Sleep in an old water mil on the banks of the Baceiro River in a quiet country setting with luxurious vegetation and tranquillity. The old mill is 10 Km from Bragança, near the Castrelo bridge.
Or you can choose to stay in a wood and schist house, restored according to the traditional Trás-os-Montes architecture and adapted to tourism. Set in the village of Gondesende, 7 Km from Bragança, the granite house with a schist roof is typical in these rural villages, quiet places where farmers practice transhumance.
The Cepo Verde camping site, near the village with the same name, is another alternative for those who enjoy camping. The location is quiet, has the natural shade provided by the chestnut trees and a fantastic view.
Or you can choose to stay at a hotel or youth hostel in Bragança.
Go climbing, paragliding, canyoning, rafting and canoeing on the towering mountains of Trás-os-Montes. Test your sense of direction in the beautiful and rugged landscapes of Trás-os-Montes.
Spend a fun day filled with physical exercise and peace of mind by contacting the surrounding natural settings. In the main villages, some companies plan orienteering programmes tailored to those who seek them.
If you’re into less radical adventures, save a morning to relax in a bicycle ride across the region, challenge a friend to a tennis game or participate in boar hunting.
Take a glimpse of the species in the Park, such as the otter and the wild cat. More than 150 species of birds – a universe of 240 vertebrates – cross the skies of Montesinho and will keep you company in your exploration tour. Look at the sky to watch the fine examples of the Golden Eagle and other birds of prey.
On a final note, don’t miss out on the local products and cuisine. The Montesinho Vivo store, managed by the association for the defence and promotion of the Park, sells – on site or online – honey from Montesinho, olive oil and honey soaps handmade by the local producers, and a map and guide of this protected area.
Enjoy the tasty honey of Montesinho and the Mirandesa beef. These products are famous for their quality. Don’t forget to toast to the good times with a glass of red wine, as this is the region in which the Douro River flows.
How to get there
There are flights from Bremen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Munich, Dortmund, Zurich, Liverpool, London, Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Dole, La Rochelle, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Paris, Rodez, St. Etienne Toulouse, Tours, Barcelona, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Bologna, Milan, Pisa, Rome, Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and New York.
The best way to go from the International Airport Francisco Sá Carneiro to the city centre is to take the underground. The trip takes about 30 minutes.
Take the A4 from Porto to Amarante and then the IP4 to Bragança, in the heart of Trás-os-Montes.