Take advantage of spring’s arrival by visiting Trás-os-Montes and the Alto Douro. At the beginning of March, the weather begins to improve after the region’s hard winter. Around the same time, the almond trees begin to blossom, doting the vast countryside with hints of white and pink. In April, spring has no equal while reaching its peak in May, with abundant flowers and greenery that last into June.
Start at Minho and go until Alto Douro…
The region of Northern Portugal surprises with its beautiful landscape, sierras, highlands, valleys and rich fauna and flora. This region offers every visitor the healthy experience of interacting with nature and enjoying idyllic places marked by their diversity of natural resources and protected natural spaces, such as Portugal’s only national park, the Peneda Geres National Park. Located in Minho, in upper northwestern Portugal on the Spanish border, Peneda Geres National Park is a place with traditions and customs where agriculture, herding and cattle are the principal industries.
Heading south, you can make your way through the Douro Valley, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and enjoy the river and its historical and architectural treasures, savor the local Port Wine and restore your energy in its hotels, inns or rural lodges. The Douro International National Park is also an area rich in ethnological traditions, its landscape marked by vineyards and olive groves.
Discover the wonders of nature in these places and give yourself over to the pleasure of rural tourism, photographic tourism, birdwatching and glider sports.
In the Douro Valley and its tributaries, the harmonious interaction between Man and Nature coexists with other, even more natural and inhospitable areas: those of the Douro International, Alvao and, even further away, the Arouca Geopark.
Visit the Douro Museum in Peso da Regua, the Casa de Mateus Foundation in Vila Real and the innumerable vineyards that produce Port and Douro wine. Get to know the Douro International Natural Park and the Alvao Natural Park. Located in the Alto Douro region, Vila Nova de Foz Coa’s name became known internationally after the discovery of Paleolithic, open air rock carvings. Today it is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is one of Europe’s largest archeological centers of rock carvings.
... and end in Trás-os-Montes
In the Transmountain Northeast, there are various Natural Parks that will become an unforgettable part of your springtime escape. The Montesinho Natural Park is one of Portugal’s largest protected areas and is the perfect place to enjoy nature and the ruralness that mixes in harmoniously with the landscapes of spring.
The park is inhabited by species such as the otter and wildcat and there are more than 150 species of birds flying through the Montesinho sky. You can see beautiful examples of Golden Eagles and other birds of prey. If you love sports, you can enjoy them in this park, from hikes to mountain biking.
The villages of Montesinho, Rio de Onor and Guadramil are villages that live in harmony with nature and preserve the memory of rural life. You will become aware of this as you travel through the Montesinho and Lombada ranges, which can be done easily on foot, bicycle or comfortably by car.
The Douro International Natural Park touches parts of the municipalities of Mirando do Douro, Mogadouro, Freixo de Espada à Cinta and Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, on the edge of the Douro River, with a length of nearly 122 km. Green plateaus, deep valleys and steep banks form large canyons, which are a favorite of many birds, including some endangered species. Be on the lookout for the Egyptian Vulture, or Britango, the park’s symbol.
Spring is also the ideal time to visit the Alvao Natural Park. Don’t miss the traditional villages of Ermelo and Lamos de Olo, points of departure for the most interesting of hikes. The large diversity of animals and the impressive Fisgas de Ermelo waterfalls are the perfect medicine for curing the stress of daily life.
Part of Nature Network 2000, the Albufeira do Azibo Protected Landscape (), in Macedo de Cavaleiros e Braganca, offer foot and bike paths and is also an excellent spot for watching birds and other animals. Weather allowing, take a dip at the riverside beaches of Fraga da Pegada and Ribeira and enjoy a unique panoramic view from Santa Combinha.