The best of Penha Garcia: waterfall, river beach, castle, and fossils

Barragem e albufeira de Penha Garcia.
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Penha Garcia is a parish in the municipality of Idanha-a-Nova, located in the Beira Baixa region.

Visiting Penha Garcia is like taking a journey back in time, exploring its castle and fossils, as well as encountering a unique waterfall that flows into a picturesque river beach.

From the castle’s viewpoint, you can admire the agricultural fields, the reservoir, and its shimmering waters on sunny days.

Don’t forget to include a visit to the outdoor fossils and mills in your itinerary, as we’ll explain in this article.

So, are you ready to join us on this journey through Central Portugal?

Best Things To Do and See in Penha Garcia

Visit Pego Waterfall

Cascata da praia fluvial do Pego
Pego Waterfall.

The Pego Waterfall is also known as the Penha Garcia Waterfall.

It’s a very beautiful place throughout the year, but it’s during the hot summer days that tourists go there to swim.

However, if you want to see a more intense water flow, try visiting the Pego Waterfall in spring or autumn, after the first rains.

Swim at Pego River Beach

Praia fluvial do Pego
Pego River Beach.

The charm of the Pego River Beach has been significantly enhanced with improvement works carried out near the Pego Dam.

These interventions not only accentuated the natural beauty of the area but also provided a more enjoyable and comfortable experience for visitors.

Now, in addition to enjoying the refreshing waters of the river, visitors have access to a renovated infrastructure, with more space to lay out their towels and enjoy relaxing moments by the water.

With the revitalized and inviting environment, the Pego River Beach attracts both locals and tourists seeking a tranquil and rejuvenating retreat.

Visit the ruins of Penha Garcia Castle

Castelo de Penha Garcia
Penha Garcia Castle.

The Penha Garcia Castle is a medieval fortress located in the village of Penha Garcia, in the central region of Portugal.

The castle was built in the 13th century, during the reign of King Afonso III, as a defensive stronghold against Moorish invasions. It has a long and fascinating history, serving as a military fortress, royal residence, and monastery over the centuries.

Perched on a hill overlooking the village, the castle offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Enclosed by walls and towers, though not in the best state of preservation, the castle retains its historic charm.

Inside the castle, visitors can explore various rooms, including the chapel, kitchen, and main hall.

In addition to its historical and cultural significance, the Penha Garcia Castle is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with several hiking trails and picnic areas, as well as a venue for events and activities such as concerts, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Exploring the center of Penha Garcia

Monumento à Guerra do Ultramar
Monument to the Overseas War.

Next, we outline an itinerary for a day in this magnificent locality. Our trip coincided with the warm summer weather, so we suggest taking a few dips in the river pool.

So, for a well-spent day in Penha Garcia, we suggest starting your visit at the Monument to the Overseas War.

You will find a parking lot, and shortly afterward, a war tank and some sculptures are visible.

Take advantage of parking your car there and continue your walk, as you will soon encounter the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.

Continue uphill, and shortly after, you will find steps that lead to the castle area.

Travel Tip: You can take your car and park it near the castle, but you will miss the area of the steps and the opportunity to encounter someone along the way who might want to chat!

Be careful when climbing the stairs to the castle as the stones are worn and slippery.

However, the best place to observe the reservoir is from the viewpoint of the Castle House, a few meters from the ruins we just saw.

The view from there is wide and unobstructed. So, you will see from afar the dam, the river beach of Pego, the Ichnofossils, and also the water mills.

By this time, it should be almost lunchtime, so we suggest having a picnic in the leisure area of the Pego river pool.

You will have to walk a few meters, but believe me, it’s worth it.

So, take your picnic basket with you and take a dip in the river pool if the weather is nice.

After lunch, go visit the ichnofossils and mills near the dam. It will be a great day, believe me!

Exploring the Fossils Route in Penha Garcia

Rota dos Fósseis
Fossils Route in Penha Garcia.
Rota dos Fósseis em Penha Garcia.
Listening to the explanations of Joana Rodrigues from Naturtejo. Fossils Route in Penha Garcia.

The Fossils Route in Penha Garcia is something you can do independently and with your family.

It starts in the square next to the castle and extends to the watercourse.

On the way down, pay attention to find the fossils, as they are not marked.

So, to help you, refer to the previous image.

Where is Penha Garcia located?

Barragem e albufeira de Penha Garcia.
Penha Garcia Reservoir.

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, Penha Garcia is located in Beira Baixa (Central region of Portugal) and belongs to the municipality of Idanha-a-Nova, in the district of Castelo Branco.

Travel Tip: Also check out our three-day itinerary through Beira Baixa, passing through Penamacor, Idanha-a-Nova, Castelo Branco, Vila Velha de Ródão, Oleiros, and Proença-a-Nova.

Accommodation in Penha Garcia

Termas de Monfortinho.
Monfortinho SPA.
Hotel Fonte Santa (Monfortinho).
Hotel Fonte Santa (Monfortinho).


You can stay overnight in Penha Garcia to make the most of your visit, and in that case, we suggest Casal da Serra, Casa Santa Catarina, or Casa do Alecrim.

These are pleasant local accommodations.

However, if you prefer the comfort of a hotel, check out Hotel Fonte Santa in Monfortinho, about 12 km from Penha Garcia.

What to visit near Penha Garcia?

Aldeia Histórica de Monsanto.
Historic Village of Monsanto.
Interior da Sé Catedral de Idanha-a-Velha.
Interior of the Cathedral of Idanha-a-Velha.
Visitar Penamacor
Monumental area of Penamacor Castle.
O que visitar em Sortelha
Sortelha Castle.

Not far from Penha Garcia, there are several amazing places that you can include in your itinerary.

From my side, I must confess that I almost always go to the same places because it’s a region I really like and I don’t mind going back whenever I have the opportunity!

So, here are my suggestions on what to visit near Penha Garcia, along with the distances. I hope this information is helpful.

  • Historical Village of Monsanto (11 km);
  • Historical Village of Idanha-a-Velha (21 km);
  • Penamacor (27 km);
  • Historical Village of Sortelha (57 km).

Map and how to get to Penha Garcia

Penha Garcia is approximately 293 km from Porto (about 3h15) and 281 km from Lisbon (about 3h).

Visiting the region by public transport is not convenient, as bus connections take a long time and are not direct.

Therefore, if you do not have your own car, the best alternative is to rent one.

The good news is that Discovercars usually has reasonable prices for car rental in Portugal.

See how much it costs to rent a car in rent a car in Portugal!

From Lisbon

From Porto

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