Gerês National Park is located in the far North of Portugal, and over the years its popularity has been increasing. This doesn’t surprise me at all – it is, indeed, one of the most beautiful regions I’ve ever visited in Portugal!
I’m talking about mountains, impressive viewpoints, waterfalls, hiking trails and almost untouched Nature. If you’re an outdoors lover or enjoy hiking, then you should definitely spend a few days in Gerês.
In this Gerês travel guide, you’ll learn how to travel the region and what were my favorite activities to do while I was there!
How to get to Gerês
If you’re flying from another country, the closest airport is Porto. I would recommend you rent a car, since it’s pretty much impossible to explore Gerês without a car or motorbike. Unless, of course, you are like my dad, who hiked the whole park in 2 weeks on foot in the 80’s.
The drive to Gerês, from Porto, is around 1:30h. Please be careful on the road! Like any other mountain, driving in Gerês can be dangerous, so respect the speed limit and use the car’s horn to let the other drivers know you’re after the curve.
Where to stay in Gerês
There are plenty of hotels and accommodations in Gerês village itself. However, I believe the best is to camp while you’re there. The nature is so beautiful and it is so calm, that you’ll be delighted to sit under the stars in complete silence.
We stayed at Ermida Gerês Camping, a family-run camping site in the middle of the forest. The prices are really cheap and everything is extremely clean! If you don’t have a tent, you can stay in one of their bungalows.
One of my favorite things about camping here was the barbecue. There’re no places to eat nearby, so each night we bought veggies and meat to grill and were cooking in the middle of nature. They also have tables and chairs, so we ate and drank our amazing Portuguese wine under the stars, while listening to some music on our speaker.
Another great thing is that it’s really close to several waterfalls, hiking trails and viewpoints!
What to do in Gerês (my top picks for 2 days)
Go to Tahiti Waterfall
This was the first waterfall we visited and honestly I have no word to describe how incredibly beautiful it is. There are lots of small ponds where you can swim along the waterfall, and also several places to soak the sun and even meditate.
We meditated with the sound of the water falling and an incredible mountain view. It was an amazing moment!
This being said, this is one of the most dangerous waterfalls in Gerês – often people die here because the floor is really slippery. You won’t have to do much climbing, but the floor can be really dangerous, so I would advise you to walk with mountain shoes, or no shoes at all, like we did.
Visit Pedra Bela Viewpoint
Pedra Bela viewpoint is the most famous viewpoints in Gerês, and for a good reason. The view is breathtaking! The photo doesn’t do any justice.
It’s really easy to get there – you can just park your car and walk a bit. You won’t have to hike!
Hike to the secret “Blue Well”
If you enjoy hiking and would like to see a beautiful yet “secret” spot, then you have to visit “Blue Well”, Poço Azul.
It’s impossible to get there by car, and the hike takes around 2 hours. Believe me – it’s not a hike for the faint hearted. Not because it’s dangerous, but because it can be physically strenuous. That’s why not that many people go there.
The best advice that I can give you is to go early in the morning (ideally, leave at 7 am, not at 11 am like we did hah) and take food (don’t be like us who forgot to bring food and ended up having lunch only at 16h) and a bottle of water that you can fill along the way. There is no cell phone service, restaurants, bathrooms or whatsoever. You’ll be in the wilderness!
Also, download the map to your phone before you start hiking. That will be incredibly helpful! Here’s the map created by Vagamundos:
Go for a morning swim at Arado Waterfall
We decided to go to Arado Waterfall at 8am, before the crowds got there, and we had the whole waterfall to ourselves!
Needless to say, it was an incredible experience. The water was freezing and the waterfall was still under the shadow, but the morning swim was incredibly refreshing.
Be very careful when you hike there, though. You have to go through dozens of large and small stones, and my friend once saw a guy slip and breaking both his legs. So, go at your own risk and pay extra attention to where you’re placing your feet.
Go to Portela do Homem waterfall
This waterfall is also really impressive, but it was not my favorite, simply because it was full of people!
Nevertheless, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it a lot if you go early. It has plenty of space to swim, if you can handle the freezing water.
It can also be tricky to actually leave the waterfall. Descending is not so hard, but I saw some unexperienced people getting stuck while climbing back up again, not knowing where to put their feet or where to hold on to. So, take this into consideration!