Estrela is the main mountain in Portugal mainland due to its mass and altitude. The largest element of the Central Mountain Range, is the Torre which is 1991 meters high. Serra da Estrela Nature Park (88,850 ha) has a varied landscape: ponds and high altitude pastures, peat bogs, oak and sweet chestnut woods, wood areas and production forests.
Presence of granite and shale, countless remnants of the last glaciation, the springs of the Mondego, Alva and Zêzere, a veritable water castle dominating the Beiras and the seat of varied climatic facets.
The vegetation is influenced by three climate types - Mediterranean, Atlantic and Continental - distributed through three altitudinal stages, basal, intermediate and superior.
The fauna includes a large number of mammals and birds, notable for its importance and diversity, small reptiles and amphibians with endemic species such as the Iberian rock lizard.
Essentially peripheral populations with some isolated habitation groups and interesting examples of the regional architecture.
The mountain is the home of the "Estrela Mountain dog", of the “ovelha da Serra da Estrela” (Estrela Mountain sheep), a race of sheep that excels in producing milk, and the famous “queijo da serra da Estrela” (Estrela Mountain cheese), trademark of the regional gastronomy.
Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas, I.P. (ICNF, I.P.)
Celorico da Beira
Identification and Access
Access coming from:
- Viseu, through the IP5 until Celorico da Beira or exiting at Mangualde's Intersection 22 going through the N232 up to Gouveia;
- Coimbra follow the IP3 towards Viseu, exiting to the IC12 until Nelas and continuing through the N231 until Seia;
- Castelo Branco, use the A23 exiting at Intersection 30 to Covilhã or at Intersection 35 to Guarda.
An ice crystal reflecting past episodes and present waters is the symbol of the SENP. Visit the Natural park during the winter in a snowy day, reliving in your mind the days of the last glaciation. Climb to the "Torre", the highest point in mainland Portugal. It is said that, on a clear day, you can even see the Ocean!
To observe the fauna leave early in the morning or a bit before dusk. Bring binoculars and a camera, if you have them. Always pay attention to the weather forecast and avoid performing activities in days of rain, thunderstorm or fog. It there is a presence of fog you should not plan visits to the highest and more isolated areas. In a mountain like Estrela, the altitude with its thinning air supply, the cold, the snow, the ice and the fogs constitute risk factors which should be taken seriously. Due to the altitude, the exposure to sunlight is very strong which may cause heat strokes and solar burns. Take care! In the Central Plateau, above 1500 m, from December to May, the soil is frequently covered in snow, and you should pay attention to the recommendations of the National Authority for Civil Protection, to avoid unpleasant setbacks both in the roads as much as in the trails. Therefore, the ideal season to visit the Central Plateau is from May to October. Avoid going to the mountain by yourself, but, if you do, inform an acquaintance or a local entity of your departure and return. Use simple and comfortable clothes. Make outerwear, food, water, sunscreen and/or a raincoat available. You can also take a cellphone and a flashlight (don't start a fire or dispose of cigarette butts incorrectly). Take special precautions when you walk through wet and rocky areas to avoid falling and do not act in a way that might endanger yourself or others. Take note that, in some places, mines are present, therefore you should not leave the existing paths and trails.
In case of accident contact the emergency service 112.
Supports in place
The Park has directional and informative signs throughout all of its area.
Statutes of Conservation
PTCON0014 Serra da Estrela (Estrela Mountain)
RAMSAR site: - upper plateau of Serra da Estrela and upper Zêzere river Biogenetic Reserve (Council of Europe).
Guarda: the highest city in Portugal and, according to tradition, strong, rich, cold, true and beautiful. Be sure to visit the emblematic Guarda's Cathedral.(Know more)
Covilhã city associated with the wool industry since medieval times, picturesque town perched on the slopes of the Serra da Estrela and great viewpoint of Cova da Beira. (Know more).
What you can do
1. Walk down the mountain by foot on marked trails, watching the flowering cervunais.
1. Visit lagoons, on hidden places, with pure and crystalline waters.
1. Observe and photograph the changing colors of the vegetation, particularly the fields with chestnut trees (souto) in Manteigas county.
1. Between December and May, the snowfall is the Central Plateau and its granite monuments, are an unforgettable visit.
Best Season: All year long