12 Best National Parks In Portugal

Portugal is home to some of the most beautiful national parks in Europe. From coastal mountain ranges to sprawling forests and marshlands, Portugal's natural beauty cannot be overstated. Whether you're looking for a relaxing hike or an adventure-filled camping trip, these are the best national parks in Portugal to explore. From stunning coastal walks along craggy cliffs overlooking the sea, to picturesque valleys surrounded by lush green hills, Portugal's national parks offer something for every nature lover.

1. Alvao Natural Park

Alvao Natural Park in Portugal Pin

Nestled in the lush hills of northern Portugal, Alvão Natural Park is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. The park covers 7,360 hectares and borders four rivers – the Corgo, Sabor, Tâmega and Douro river. It features a variety of stunning landscapes including mountains, valleys and forests filled with a vast array of wildlife. From its high peaks to its deep valleys Alvão Natural Park is full of breathtaking beauty, and one of the best natural parks in the country.

Visitors will find plenty to explore during their stay at the Alvão National Park. Walking trails wind through the park’s mountainous terrain offering views of both dramatic cliff faces and waterfalls, as well as peaceful valleys below. Birdwatchers can observe a number of rare species in their natural habitat while hikers can take in some of Portugal’s most unique landscapes in one of the best natural and national parks in the whole of Portugal.

2. Douro International Natural Park

Douro International Natural Park Pin

The Douro International Natural Park in Portugal is a stunning natural landscape that features breathtaking views, lush greenery and wildlife. This park stretches along the banks of the Rio Douro and its tributaries, covering an area of over 800 square kilometers on the Spanish-Portuguese border.

Its highest point is Serra do Marão, reaching up to 1,315 meters above sea level. The scenery of this region is truly spectacular; with its rugged mountains, deep ravines and rolling hills covered in vineyards and olive groves it is no wonder why this area has been designated as a protected national park.

The flora and fauna found within Douro International Park are equally impressive; among them are wild boars, jackals, roe deer and some endangered species like otters and vultures.

3. Sintra-Cascais Natural Park

Sintra-Cascais Natural Park Pin

Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal. Located between two picturesque towns, Sintra and Cascais, this park is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The park covers an area of over 10,000 hectares of land and offers visitors a wide range of activities to take part in. 

From hiking trails through lush forests to exploring hidden beaches with crystal clear waters, there are plenty of ways to explore this incredible gem.

In addition to its natural beauty, the park also boasts a rich heritage that can be explored through numerous historical sites including monuments from the Roman Empire as well as Moorish palaces and villas from Portugal’s Golden Age of Discovery.

4. Peneda-Geres National Park

Peneda-Geres National Park Pin

Located in the Minho region of Portugal, Peneda-Geres National Park is one of the most beautiful natural attractions and wild areas in Europe. Spanning over 273,000 acres, it is one of the only nature parks to protect rare species such as wolves, wild ponies and golden eagles.

The park also offers an incredible array of activities for travelers to enjoy; its stunning mountain landscape provides some breathtaking views during a hike or bike ride through the park.

Visitors can also explore lush forests filled with pine trees and chestnut trees while searching for native animals like boars and foxes. Additionally, there are several crystal clear rivers that flow through the park where guests can go fishing or take a dip to cool off during warmer months.

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5. Arrabida Natural Park

Arrabida Natural Park Pin

Arrábida Natural Park is a stunningly beautiful natural and diverse park that brings something unique to the country’s natural areas. Located in Setúbal, Portugal, this protected area is brimming with life. The park includes miles of rugged peaks, limestone cliffs and sandy coves, as well as pine forests, olive groves and vineyards.

Its spectacular coastline offers views of the Atlantic Ocean from its headlands and beaches. The park also hosts a variety of wildlife including birds like partridges, buzzards, woodcocks and kestrels; reptiles like chameleons, lizards and vipers; mammals such as wild boars; amphibians like frogs; invertebrates such as butterflies; and fish varying from seahorses to eels.

6. Southwest Alentejo And Vicenti Coast

Southwest Alentejo And Vicenti Coast Pin

Located between the Guadiana River and the Atlantic Ocean, Southwest Alentejo and Vicenti Coast is a treasure trove of natural beauty. The region is renowned for its stunning beaches, quaint fishing villages, rolling wheat fields and olive groves. Exploring this unique landscape can be an unforgettable experience for visitors looking to truly immerse themselves in a different culture.

The area has plenty of activities to keep travelers entertained such as horseback riding along the coast or kayaking on the Guadiana River. Those looking for a more active holiday can take advantage of some of the nearby golf courses or head inland to explore one of the many nature reserves located in the hills beyond Monchique Mountain.

7. Serra Da Estrela Natural Park

Serra Da Estrela Natural Park Pin

Serra Da Estrela Natural Park in Portugal is an awe-inspiring reserve that should be experienced at least once in a life time. Boasting vast mountain ranges, high-altitude meadows, deep canyons and gorges, and over 2200 species of plant life, this park certainly has something for everyone. It is one of the most spectacular national and natural parks in all of Europe.

The highest peak of the park stands tall at 1,993 meters above sea level and offers breathtaking views stretching onto far horizons. This majestic peak can be accessed by car or on foot by taking the historic path called 'Caminho de Santiago'. Visitors to Serra Da Estrela can also explore crystal clear rivers and streams as well as ancient granite boulders which were formed centuries ago.

8. Montesinho Natural Park

Montesinho Natural Park Pin

The Montesinho Natural Park in Portugal is a nature reserve that has been around since 1989. Located in the northeast of the country, this park spans across 222 square miles and protects incredible flora and fauna along with two distinct eco-regions—the Montesinho Mountain Range and part of the Douro Valley region.

It’s home to many endemic species like the Iberian Lynx, Roe Deer, Wild Boar, Pine Vole Mouse and Bonelli’s Eagle which makes it one of Europe's most important natural wonders.

The park offers visitors a range of activities such as bird watching, hiking trails that offer stunning views of rolling hillsides as well as wildlife observation areas where one can observe wildlife from a safe distance.

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9. Litoral Norte National Park

Litoral Norte National Park Pin

Litoral Norte National Park is an important protected area located in the north of Portugal. It is composed of forests, hills and cliffs that span approximately 27 kilometers of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. The park features many different types of vegetation, including maritime pine trees and shrubland species such as strawberry tree.

Visitors to the park are able to take part in activities such as walking, photography and bird watching. There is a wide variety of wildlife within the park; everything from marine mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds can be found here. The most famous animal which makes its home in Litoral Norte Natural Park is the Iberian Lynx, an endangered species which has been successfully reintroduced into this protected natural environment.

The landscape of Litoral Norte National Park showcases some truly breathtaking views of the area.

10. Parque de Monserrate

Parque de Monserrate in Portugal Pin

Parque de Monserrate is a stunning and magical Portuguese national park and well worth a visit. Located on the outskirts of Lisbon, it offers spectacular views of the cityscape, as well as an abundance of natural beauty. A unique blend of gothic and exotic architecture make up this historic monument that attracts people from all walks of life.

The park itself is quite vast, with winding pathways covered by lush vegetation leading through forests and open gardens. Vacationers can take a leisurely stroll around the grounds or sit under one of its tall trees for some much-needed respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

For those who prefer more action, there are guided tours available which provide insight into the history and cultural significance behind this ancient site. There are also plenty of restaurants nearby to enjoy delicious Portuguese cuisine while admiring sweeping views over Lisbon's skyline.

Accommodation: Best Hotels In Lisbon

11. Tapada Nacional de Mafra

Tapada Nacional de Mafra Pin

The Tapada Nacional de Mafra is an incredible wildlife sanctuary that offers a chance to explore some of the country's most pristine natural landscapes. Located about sixty kilometers northwest of Lisbon, it is one of only two national parks located in the region and boasts over forty-five square kilometers of protected nature reserves.

The park was established in 1925 and receives its name from the nearby Mafra Palace and Monastery complex, which are both UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Visitors to the Tapada Nacional de Mafra can experience a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, bird watching, fishing, and horseback riding. The diverse terrain features a variety of habitats such as forests, meadows, wetlands and lakes; each offering unique opportunities for discovery.

12. Ria Formosa Natural Park

Ria Formosa Natural Park Pin

I recently visited the Ria Formosa Natural Park and it was a beautiful experience to remember. Located in the Algarve region in the southwest corner of Portugal, this national park is an ecologically important area that is home to many different species of animals and plants. The park consists of barrier islands, salt marshes, dunes, beaches, lagoons and mud flats.

The park's spectacular variety of flora and fauna are truly breathtaking - there are more than 200 species of birds alone. It's a great spot for bird watching as rare species like flamingos have made the area their home.

The entire area stretches along 60 kilometers of coastline and visitors can explore its beauty by boat or kayak. I chose to explore by kayak so I could visit coves and observe wildlife from up close. As I paddled through each lagoon I was mesmerized by the incredible colors that surrounded me- blues, greens, yellows- created a truly dreamy atmosphere.

You can also explore the area's many trails on foot or bike and take in views of the ocean that stretch as far as the eye can see.

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Q: What is the most popular national park in Portugal?

A: Among the numerous national parks scattered across the country, one stands out as the most popular among locals and tourists: Peneda-Gerês National Park. Located in the northern region of Portugal, this majestic park spans over 700 square kilometers and is known for its breathtaking mountainous terrain, pristine lakes, and cascading waterfalls that adorn its picturesque landscape.

Q: What is the biggest national park in Portugal?

A: The biggest national park in Portugal is the Peneda-Gerês National Park. Spanning over an impressive 700 square kilometers, this park is a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. It is characterized by its stunning mountain ranges, crystal-clear lakes, and dense forests that are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna.

Q: What is the nicest national park in Portugal?

A: Located in northeastern Portugal, the Douro International Natural Park is undoubtedly one of the country's most breathtaking national parks. Spread across an area of approximately 85,000 hectares, this park offers a truly immersive and unforgettable experience. The park's main attraction lies in its stunning landscapes, which are characterized by deep gorges, dramatic cliffs, and the meandering Douro River.

The Douro International Natural Park is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Within its borders, you can find more than 170 species of birds, including rare and endangered species such as the Egyptian vulture and black stork.

Q: Where is the most visited national park in Portugal?

A: While there are other notable national parks in Portugal, such as the Arrábida Natural Park and the Douro International Natural Park, Peneda-Gerês National Park generally receives the highest number of visitors, earning its reputation as the most visited national park in Portugal.

Q: Which national park in Portugal has the most history?

A: When it comes to national parks in Portugal with a rich history, one of the notable ones is the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park (Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais). While it may not be classified as a national park in the strictest sense, it is a protected area and holds great historical significance.

Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is located in the Lisbon District, encompassing the Sintra Mountains and the coastline of Cascais. This park is known for its gorgeous landscapes, including lush forests, rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and picturesque villages. However, what sets it apart is the wealth of historical and cultural heritage within its boundaries.

Within the park, you can find several remarkable historical landmarks and sites. The most iconic is the Pena Palace (Palácio da Pena), a colorful and whimsical palace that sits on top of a hill overlooking Sintra. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and represents a fusion of different architectural styles.

Another significant attraction is the Castle of the Moors (Castelo dos Mouros), an ancient fortress that dates back to the 9th century. It offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and is a testament to the region's Moorish influence.

Moreover, Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is home to numerous other historical sites, such as the Quinta da Regaleira, a fascinating estate with underground tunnels and mystical symbolism, and the Monserrate Palace, known for its exotic gardens and romantic architecture.


Book Your Hotel In Portugal

You can book your hotel in Portugal with Booking.com as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hotel, they also return the cheapest rates for accommodations like guesthouses and apartments.

Book Your Flight To Portugal

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Need a Rental Car In Portugal?

Here is a budget-friendly car rental resource. No matter where you’re traveling, you’ll be able to find the best — and cheapest car rentals in Portugal here.

Looking for an Airport Transfer Service In Portugal?

If you are looking for a convenient and affordable option to get to and from the airport in Portugal, here you will find all the answers to book your next airport transfer in Portugal.

Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance

Travel insurance will protect you against illnesses, an injury, luggage theft, and even trip cancellations. It’s a comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong during your trip. I never travel to Portugal without it as I’ve had to use it several times in the past. My favorite travel insurance companies that offer the best service and value are:

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Want More Information on Portugal:

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