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Discover the Protected Reserves and Landscapes of Porto and Northern Portugal

Associação Montesinho Vivo CC BY-NC-ND

Whether during the week, at the weekend, or on holidays, it's always possible to transform your day with a well conducted visit to discover the protected nature of Porto and Northern Portugal. From the mountain areas of the Peneda-Gerês National Park (Biosphere Reserve), Montesinho and Alvão, travel through new habitats, with rivers and marches, estuaries and coastal lagoons, cliffs and beaches. In between, you will encounter a mountain landscape that will stay with you always.

There is a lot to see and do over the course of these six natural and well-preserved landscapes, which go from Minho to Trás-os-Montes, passing through Porto.

Douro Estuary Local Nature Reserve

On the left bank of the river Douro, next to Vila Nova de Gaia, you will find a granite outcrop of national interest, the “Granito de Lavadores” geosite, near to the Cabedelo do Douro beach. The waves hit here at high tide, while at low tide congregate diverse species of birds that can be seen from the riverside viewpoint.

If you feel like taking some exercise, you can travel along the promenade (on foot or by bike) that leads from the Douro Marine to Av. da Beira-Mar, where there are curious rock formations on the beaches of Lavadores and Pedras Amarelas.

Faia Brava Private Protected Area

Founded to protect the Bonelli eagle and facilitate its breeding, as well as to preserve the surrounding biodiversity, this area comprises around 526ha, and includes the parishes of Algodres, Vale de Afonsinho and Cidadelhe.

The craggy rocks, adjacent to Côa river valley, the characteristic traditional cork oaks and pigeon lofts can be seen from the footpaths that cross the area, and which can be travelled independently on foot, by bike, or on horseback. Wandering freely through the fields to watch the birds brings many fans to this region.

Tua Valley Regional Nature Park

This is an area of rivers and marshes, embellished by mountains and plateaux, towering rocky outcrops and the beautiful valleys set between the Tua and Tinhela rivers. Surrounded by the Montesinho, Alvão, Douro International nature parks and by the Azibo Reservoir, this is a region of indescribable beauty that we invite you to discover up come.

The regional fauna boasts nearly 1,000 species, with terrestrial invertebrates representing more than 70 families, and the flora is also very diverse. There is a strong vocation for enotourism and for spa activities, which originate in the springs at Caldas de Carlão/Santa Maria Madalena and the hot springs at Caldas de São Lourenço. This is between Vila Real and Bragança.

Corno de Bico Protected Landscape

Here you will find the smooth and rounded mountains, where the highest peak reaches 883m and is called Corno de Bico. Climb up and down the Paredes de Coura in the mood to enjoy every natural monument. The landscape of rocks upon rocks may look untidy, but this disorder is part of its identity.

Three of Minho's rivers depart from this zone: the Coura, Labruja and Tempo, giving rise to the Cavaleiros stream and Reiriz riverside. The latter can be observed along the Mills trail (8 km), an easy to navigate circular walking route that takes in the various archaeological, ethnographic and scenic locations.

The greatness of this territory also includes the conservation of its species, from the holly oak forest, to the small pointed-snout frogs and the imposing barrosão cattle.

Bertiandos and São Pedro de Arcos Lagoons Protected Landscape

Go to Ponte de Lima, the land of kindness and flavours, of natural beauty and riches. Throughout its 346ha of nature, you will find a great woodland diversity, more than 140 species of birds, organic raspberries and blueberries and many activities in nature, from horseback riding, off-road biking, to educational paths that allow you to discover natural and cultural values. The Mimoso and S. Pedro de Arcos lagoons are two points on interest on this landscape to which diverse aquatic birds, bats and amphibians retreat to feed and reproduce.

At Penteiros Farm and at the Environmental Interpretation Centre, you can find good starting points to discover this protected area.

Vila do Conde Littoral Protected Regional Landscape and the Mindelo Ornithological Reserve

Of all these landscapes, this is the only one of the cliff and beach type; in 1957, it became the first ornithological reserve in Europe. With more than 100 different bird species, it is a world-renowned centre for bird ringing, with thousands of species identified, with a highlight being more than 20,000 turtledoves (which are no longer a target for hunting). In this rich territory, you can learn a lot about natural and human sciences. It is an exciting destination for those who admire the contrasts of nature: sea and rivers, dunes and pine forests, and even fields of agricultural cultivation.

With an extension of 8.5km along the coats, a long wooden walkway passes over Mindelo beach, where you can walk while enjoying the surrounding landscape. In addition to walking routes, you can find some cycle paths to traverse while appreciating the richness of this territory.

Enjoy nature with one of our guides and find good surprises throughout the rich Porto and Northern region, to more easily identify the points of interest. Contact us whenever you need help.

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