Serra da Estrela: The Mountain
At the top of the mountain, the sights are unbelievably wide and wondrous. At Serra da Estrela, mainland Portugal’s highest mountain, the air, the light and the views take on a different dimension. Scents too. Broom, heather and rosemary pass through the limpid air. A tranquil, bucolic landscape, Serra da Estrela instantly delivers that what many look for while traveling: a fresh perspective. Here, silence is only interrupted by the occasional flock of sheep patiently following the shepherd. Mountains are still and stillness can be magical.
Serra da Estrela: Enjoy the Silence
Torre, Serra da Estrela’s highest point, proudly stands at 1,993 metres. Overlooking the mountain drops and massive stones beneath. Serra da Estrela sometimes feels like the closest one can get to the skies. “Estrela” in fact, means “star”. On intimate terms with nature, you will discover a true sense of communion. Surrounded by this incredibly peaceful landscape, at Serra da Estrela you will enjoy the silence of the heights and delight in unique visual and olfactory experience as dozens of different wild flowers and plants cover the undulating fields. Springtime really is special at the mountain.
Serra da Estrela: For every Season
In winter, Serra da Estrela is the only place in Portugal where you can ski and try other snow sports. A small sky resort is good for the first skiing experiences, but not very exciting for more skilled skiers. Covered in white with dark brown rocks emerging, the mountains are strikingly beautiful.
In Spring, the colors and scents are changing. The yellow of the “Maias” – wild flowers that reach full bloom during the month May – covers the fields with joy and scents.
The natural park of Serra da Estrela – the largest protected area in Portugal – is excellent for trekking. Horse-riding and mountain biking are great here too. In total, there are 375km of marked trails of different levels, so that each visitor finds the perfect way to explore Serra da Estrela on foot.
The True Taste of Serra da Estrela
If there is one taste that represents Serra da Estrela it is the local cheese, known as “Queijo da Serra”. With a buttery texture and a strong flavor, it makes the top list of genuine Portuguese food treasures that no visitor should miss. Although it is sold and widely consumed all over Portugal, here you can visit its birthplace. At one of the typical cheese producing houses, you can taste this exquisite cheese with a nice slice of local bread and find out more about the artisanal manufacturing process.
If food is a great manifestation of culture, villages are the liveliest way to grasp it. Follow the route of Aldeias do Xisto, a network of 27 mountain villages in the center of Portugal and admire the beauty of these schist constructions while dwelling in the authenticity of a traditional way of life. You shouldn’t miss Sabugueiro, Alvoco da Serra and Loriga, or places such as Penhas Douradas and Penhas da Saúde. Discovering Aldeias do Xisto is a great way of getting touch with a unique architectural heritage, discovering the cultural traditions of the region and connecting with Nature in incredible ways. To recharge batteries, don’t forget to sample the region’s gourmet delicacies!
Simplicity and Style at Serra da Estrela
While Serra da Estrela offers an array of amazing outdoors experiences, there are also ways of taking the best out of the place under a cozy roof. One of the best places to stay is Casa das Penhas Douradas.This is a design hotel and SPA located at the heart of the mountain at an altitude of 1500 meters. The architectural project – the hotel was built on the ruins of another hotel- is signed by Pedro Brígida. He also designed some of the furniture. Seamlessly integrated into the rural environment, the hotel won several tourism prizes. It brilliantly expresses the beauty of simple things. With stunning views, the interiors are a tribute to the authenticity of natural materials, such as wood, cork and wool. All tempered with contemporary design.
Serra da Estrela: wool tradition
In Serra da Estrela there is a wool factory that still moves to the sound of old looms. It is the Burel factory, named after the most traditional wool fabric in the region. A visit to the factory- founded in 1947 and discovered in 2010 by 2 mountain explorers who decided to give it a new life – will introduce you to the traditional methods of production, now applied to many different and innovative contexts.
Bringing the past into the present, the Burel factory is a living symbol of the knowhow of traditional handcraft at Serra da Estrela. Today it continues to produce using the same machines and traditional equipment. These traces from the time the industry was still made by hand, ensure the production of unique, different and high quality fabrics.