Serra do Açor, Portugal: Between Schist Villages and Waterfalls

Serra do Açor.
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2024-01-25

Serra do Açor extends across the municipalities of Arganil and Pampilhosa da Serra, but it also partially includes territories in the municipalities of Covilhã, Seia, Oliveira do Hospital, and Góis.

This mountain range ranks as the fifth highest in mainland Portugal, boasting its highest peak, Pico da Cebola, at an impressive 1,418 meters.

Serra do Açor conceals captivating secrets within its rugged terrain, including the enchanting shale villages. It also harbors treasures that are exclusively accessible to the most adventurous souls.

In this article, we will guide you through the concealed wonders of Serra do Açor, confident that you will fall in love with the region just as we did.

What to Explore and Experience in Serra do Açor

For nature enthusiasts, the allure of these mountains is boundless, and a single visit will likely spark a desire to return, given the sheer diversity of landscapes on offer.

To whet your wanderlust, we’ve compiled a selection of recommendations for exploring Serra do Açor, allowing you to craft an itinerary tailored to your preferences.

Our suggestions primarily revolve around Schist Villages, river beaches, traditional hamlets, and breathtaking viewpoints.

And, of course, we couldn’t omit the mesmerizing Fraga da Pena Waterfall, a gem located within Mata da Margaraça.

So, are you ready to embark on this captivating journey with us?

Explore the Schist Villages of Serra do Açor

Benfeita Aldeia Branca do Xisto
Benfeita, Schist Villages in Serra do Açor.

Located in the Serra do Açor, you’ll uncover five captivating Schist Villages: Aldeia da Dez, Benfeita, Fajão, Sobral de São Miguel, and Vila Cova de Alva.

Although petite in size, these villages exude a remarkable beauty, making them an essential addition to your mountain itinerary.

Exploring the Riverside Paradises of Serra do Açor

Piódão Aldeia Histórica em Portugal
Piódao, Schist Villages and Historic Village.

Serra do Açor unfolds as a genuine haven of crystal-clear waterways, where nature’s grace harmoniously blends with human ingenuity to create breathtaking river beaches.

As you journey through Serra do Açor, set aside time to uncover these pristine natural gems – enchanting river beaches that, in some instances, proudly bear the Blue Flag designation.

Among the must-visit destinations are Piódão River Beach, Coja River Beach, Urtigal River Beach, the lesser-known Ribeira do Porsim River Beach, and the Benfeita bathing area.

Indulge in unique moments as you plunge into these refreshing waters, surrounded by lush greenery and breathtaking Serra do Açor landscapes. Each river beach offers a distinctive and memorable experience, beckoning you to immerse yourself in nature and relish the region’s finest offerings.

Prepare yourself for an authentic rendezvous with tranquility and the natural allure of Serra do Açor’s river beaches.

Exploring the Charming Villages of Serra do Açor

Aldeia das Dez

Serra do Açor is undeniably adorned with a wealth of charming villages that beckon you to embark on a captivating journey from one locale to the next.

For those who relish hiking, seizing the opportunity to traverse the trails connecting these villages is a must.

Incorporate into your Serra do Açor village odyssey such treasures as Avô, a village steeped in authenticity and history, offering an enchanting landscape of cobblestone streets and traditional abodes.

Aldeia das Dez, as mentioned previously, is an indispensable stopover, captivating visitors with its quaint streets and characteristic houses.

Also, be sure to include São Francisco de Assis, nestled near Minas da Panasqueira, where you can fully immerse yourself in the unique essence of this region.

Every village boasts its distinct allure and concealed gems, promising an authentic immersion into the local culture and traditions of Serra do Açor.

With each step, you’ll be captivated by the beauty and warmth of these special places.

Have a Picnic at the Fraga da Pena Picnic Area

Queda de Água
Fraga da Pena Waterfall.

Fraga da Pena, a stunning waterfall in the heart of Mata da Margaraça, can be a dual destination within a single trip.

The waterfall descends from a height of 19 meters, culminating in a picturesque lagoon that beckons you to take a refreshing swim during the summer months.

It’s worth noting that there are two waterfalls here, interconnected by a tranquil lake.

So, if you intend to thoroughly explore the area, be prepared to dedicate a good couple of hours to your adventure.

Viewpoints in Serra do Açor

Ultimately, there’s no better way to appreciate the splendor of Serra do Açor than from a viewpoint.

Here are some of the best viewpoints in the region: Miradouro da Serra in Fajão, Miradouro Serra do Vidoal in Pampilhosa da Serra, and Miradouro de Avô.

See also the following Mountains in Portugal:

  • Serra do Alvão: Located in the Vila Real district, Serra do Alvão is rich in biodiversity, making it a paradise for nature and hiking enthusiasts.
  • Serra do Soajo: This unique destination in northern Portugal is known for its granite granaries and lush valleys, offering a deep immersion into rural culture.
  • Serra do Larouco: Dominating the landscape in the northeast of Montalegre, Serra do Larouco presents a thrilling challenge for mountaineering enthusiasts.
  • Serra da Gardunha: Famous for its cherry orchards, Serra da Gardunha is a place of enchanting natural beauty.
  • Serra da Marofa: Offering distinct rock formations, Serra da Marofa is an area of unique geological interest located in Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo.
  • Serra da Freita: With surreal landscapes, including the famous Pedras Parideiras, Serra da Freita is a natural treasure trove with numerous trails and viewpoints waiting to be discovered in Arouca.
  • Serra do Buçaco: Embracing the majestic Palácio do Buçaco, Serra do Buçaco is a haven of both natural beauty and history, adorned with lush gardens.
  • Serra da Estrela: As the highest mountain range in mainland Portugal, Serra da Estrela is renowned for its winter landscapes and gastronomy, making it a must-visit destination.

When to Visit Serra do Açor?

Serra do Açor offers unique experiences throughout the seasons, making each visit a special one. If you’re planning to explore this wonderful region, consider the best times to enjoy different aspects of its beauty.

  • Spring and Autumn: These seasons are ideal for nature enthusiasts who enjoy hiking. The watercourses flow serenely, and the mild climate allows for comfortable trail exploration.
  • Summer: Many visitors prefer summer, as it’s the perfect time to enjoy Serra do Açor’s river beaches. Crystal-clear waters make them favorite destinations for swimming and immersing oneself in nature’s beauty.
  • Winter: During winter, the landscape transforms with a blanket of snow, creating a stunning white panorama. It’s an excellent season for family activities like playing in the snow.

No matter when you visit, it’s crucial to remember that Serra do Açor is a protected area.

Adhering to safety rules, such as wearing appropriate footwear, refraining from lighting fires, and not leaving any litter behind, is essential to preserve the natural beauty of this exceptional region.

Where is Serra do Açor, in Portugal?

Serra do Açor is located in Central Portugal, in close proximity to Serra da Estrela.

It is approximately 200 km from Porto and 260 km from Lisbon.

The most convenient way to reach it is by car (you can explore car rental options in Portugal), as bus connections are not as practical.

Accommodation in Serra do Açor

When deciding where to stay for your visit to Serra do Açor, I recommend considering the Piódão region.

This area not only boasts breathtaking beauty but also offers a variety of accommodation options suitable for different types of travelers.

For instance, Love, made in xisto is a charming accommodation between the Piódão river beach and the village of Piódão. It features three bedrooms and can comfortably accommodate a family of up to six people.

As such, you have the choice of staying in either the village of Piódão or Coja as your base. However, if you prefer a livelier atmosphere, the town of Arganil is also a viable and convenient option.

Hotels in Piódão

Accomodation in Coja

Hotels in Arganil

Map and how to get to Serra do Açor, Portugal

Day trip from Lisboa

Day trip from Porto

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