We took a few days in the mountains, to enjoy Xmas in the amazing Serra da Estrela mountain range. With our house not ready to move into… we don’t even have electricty to the property yet! Christmas was going to be a complete wash out. And with a 5 year old who lives for Christmas we wanted to do what we could to make it special for him.
Serra da Estrela is the highest point in Portugal. Just over 40 minutes drive on quiet roads, from Vista de Penamacor and 2000 meters above sea level at its peak, the views are unlike anything we had experienced before.
This year there wasn’t that much snow, but normally (and 3 days after we left) this is the number one ski resort in Portugal. With 6 runs, a ski lift, plenty of tabogans to buy and a local market it’s a pretty cool place to see.
What strikes you most is the sheer size of the mountains, and the lack of people. It’s quiet!
At its peak, (Torre) there are two government GNR buildings used to monitor communications, which have long since been abandonded but they are very iconic and you can’t miss them when looking across the landscape.
Elvis (the 5 year old) loved it, even with only the small amount of snow, that was actually more like beds of ice when we were there, we purchaced a sledge from the little shop and off we went down the small slopes. It was a lot of fun and even Carla went twos up with Elvis down the slope… Carla trying her best to avoid the freshly thawed, freezing cold stream at the bottom of the hill while Elvis was laughing his head off desperately trying to stear them towards it.
I asked him what his advice to other children visiting would be, and he said “dont forget your sledge”. You can buy them up at the peak for 12 Euro if you havent got one. There is also food, drink and local produce there.
It is very exposed so very cold so definitely wrap up, you can buy all the gear you need in the local shops but to save yourself some money it’s best to bring what you can.
Obviously in the summer, and in 38 degree heat, the landscape and the flora and fauna totally changes. It is amazing, and we will bring you another video on that later this year.
Although we rented a log cabin (it was very expensive due to the time of the year) we are only actually a 50 minute drive from the mountains, which means if we have a random day or morning that we fancy dong something it’s not far to venture up to have a play in the snow.
On boxing day we went to visit a waterfal Poço do Inferno, the roads to get there were through forest and around the sides of the mountains. The roads were great with incredible views with water running off the hills frozen into icicles, when we got there we found a designated parking spot, again although there were people around it was still quiet and a pleasure to explore.
The waterfall was beautiful cascading down the rocks into the pool below, a man-made bridge set above the flow of water that gushed underneath and followed a stream under the road. There are handrails places all the way up the side of the rock and some semi-natural steps to navigate, over the man-made bridge which then allows you step onto rocks right at the waters edge.
Although it was cold the weather was sunny and bright which of course adds extra beauty factor.
After this we went to a place called Manteigas which is a town set down in a valley. This is a really beautiful town and has a great vibe, we found a cafe and sat with coffee in the sinshine in disbelief that this is where we actually live, in Portugal.
Manteigas actaully has an artificial ski slope which we since found out. Obvioulsy due to covid restrictions all leisure activies are closed so we couldn’t explore that side of things at the time.
But again being so close to us we will definitely head back there and see what else is around, we didn’t get the chance to get much footage of the town this time so it’s a great excuse to go back and get some time.
Serra da Estrela is also a must for rock climbers, orienteering, kayaking and much more. This place is a cycling and indeed a motorcycle paradise, with amazing views, twisty roads and the Marques da Silva Barragem (wild swimming) all within 20 minutes drive of its peak.
Make sure you take your camera – it is breathtaking
You can check our video of Christmas in mountains over on our youtuba channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QV4IsEW1I8E
Thanks for checking in.
Mike and Carla