Soajo Mountain Range: Hidden Gems of Northern Portugal

Serra do Soajo, andar a cavalo ao por-do sol.
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The Soajo Mountain Range is the sixth highest mountain range in Continental Portugal, reaching 1416 meters in altitude and spanning territories of the municipalities of Arcos de Valdevez, Melgaço, and Monção.

Bounded by the Lima and Minho rivers, it is part of the Peneda-Gerês National Park.

The highest point of the Soajo Mountain Range is Alto da Pedrada, and it’s a simply magical place…

And what to see in the Soajo Mountain Range?

Well, it’s one of the most beautiful areas in Northern Portugal, featuring lagoons (or pools), waterfalls, swings, viewpoints, and hiking trails that connect these charming places to rural villages, “brandas,” and “inverneiras” (traditional mountain settlements) worth discovering at a leisurely pace.

So, will you accept our invitation to visit Northern Portugal?

Best Thing To Do and see in the Soajo Mountain Range

Exploring the Granaries and the Village of Soajo

Soajo: espigueiros de granito centenários.
Soajo: centennial stone granaries
Espigueiros do soajo.
Granaries of Soajo
Poço das Mantas na vila do Soajo.
Poço das Mantas, lagoon in Soajo.
Poço Negro, no Soajo.
Poço Negro, lagoon in Soajo.
Soajo: Poço Negro (lagoa).
Soajo: Poço Negro, lagoon.
Vila do Soajo.
Village of Soajo.

If you made the association between the Soajo Mountain Range and the Soajo Espigueiros, then you did it right!

Indeed, the Village of Soajo is home to the famous 24 granite espigueiros, or granaries, and lends its name to the mountain range we’re talking about.

It is a protected area within the Peneda-Gerês National Park, so breathtaking landscapes are guaranteed.

The best way to enjoy the Soajo Mountain Range is to include a visit to the Village of Soajo and the renowned espigueiros in your itinerary, which should also include a stop at Poço das Mantas and Poço Negro.

Discovering the tradition of transhumance in the Soajo Mountain Range

Vacas na Serra do Soajo.
Cows in the Soajo Mountain Range.

The summer pastures, or “brandas,” are linked to the traditional practice of transhumance, still observed in some areas of Gerês.

These are places inhabited only during the summer, with people living elsewhere during winter, in locations known as “inverneiras.”

So, in the Soajo Mountain Range, the main “brandas” include Portelinha, Cachadinha, Ínsuas, and Murço.

Observing the Garranos, wild horses of Gerês

Gerês o que visitar
What to Do in the Soajo Mountain Range: See the Garranos (Wild Horses).

Don’t forget that the chance to see garranos, i.e., wild horses, greatly increases when you explore remote places, such as the brandas.

Discover the Mezio Swing, overlooking the Soajo Mountain Range

Baloiço do Mezio
Mezio swing.

Have you heard of the Mezio Swing, or Baloiço do Mezio? It stands over seven meters tall and is the perfect spot to admire the Soajo Mountain Range.

From the village of Soajo to the Mezio Swing, you have a short eight-kilometer journey ahead, but trust me, it’s worth the detour.

Additionally, there’s parking available, and you just need to take a short walk to reach it.

Discovering the Travanca Lagoons

Lagoas de Travanca.
Travanca Lagoons.
Passadiço para a Lagoa de Travanca.
Boardwalk to Travanca Lagoon.
Piscina natural: lagoas de Travanca.
Natural pool: Travanca Lagoons.
Paisagem luxurante nas Lagoas de Travanca.
Lush landscape at Travanca Lagoons.

The Travanca Lagoons caught the attention of many visitors during Christmas, as it’s where the Enchanted Forest takes place, a illuminated trail with Christmas motifs.

However, visiting the Travanca Lagoons is worth it year-round. It’s a peaceful, green place with the flowing water simply magical.

And best of all, away from the crowds.

Visit Arcos de Valdevez

Paço de Giela
Paço de Giela (castle), in Arcos de Valdevez.
Arcos de Valdevez o que visitar
Bridge in Arcos de Valdevez.

If you’re in Soajo, don’t miss the chance to visit the town of Arcos de Valdevez (23 km), known as “where Portugal was made.”

The historic center in Arcos de Valdevez is beautiful, but there are also equally interesting places in the surroundings.

So, include a visit to Paço de Giela (3.4 km) in your itinerary and take a journey back in time.

Visit Melgaço

Termas de Melgaço
Peso Thermal Park.
Castelo de Melgaço
Keep Tower of Melgaço Castle.
Percursos Marginais do Rio Minho.
Percursos Marginais do Rio Minho, or Riverside Trails of the Minho River, in Melgaço.

Melgaço is the northernmost municipality in Portugal, and in Cevide, you can see the country’s Marker No. 1. In the town center, explore Melgaço Castle and the Jean Loup Passek Cinema Museum, just a few steps away.

Make sure to taste the famous Alvarinho wine at Solar do Alvarinho and learn about the region’s history of emigration and smuggling at the Museum Memory and Frontier Space (Espaço Memória e Fronteira).

To conclude your visit to Melgaço, take a walk along the Riverside Trails of the Minho River to the Peso Spa, where you can try the famous carbonated water.

Visit Monção

Rafting no Rio Minho com a Melgaço Radical.
Rafting in Rio Minho.

In the town of Monção, take some time to discover the 17th-century Fortress and the architectural treasures inside the walls.

Explore the incredible Monção Castle and pay attention to the entrance gates to the old town, such as the Salvaterra Gate and the Rosal Gate.

From above, try to identify the Our Lady of Guia Bastion and the Saint Joseph Bastion while peeking through the viewpoints on the walls.

The most well-known are the Néris Viewpoint and the Jardim Deu-la-Deu viewpoint, but honestly, the views are incredible from any part of the castle.

To conclude your itinerary inside the town, visit the Alvarinho Museum, after all, we are in the land of good wine!

Accommodation in Soajo

Quarto do Ribeira Collection Hotel by Piamonte Hotels, em Arcos de Valdevez.
Room at Ribeira Collection Hotel by Piamonte Hotels, in Arcos de Valdevez.
Quarto do Luna Arcos Hotel Nature & Wellness.
Room at Luna Arcos Hotel Nature & Wellness.
Quarto duplo do hotel Monte Prado
Monte Prado Hotel & Spa, in Melgaço.

To visit Soajo, it’s essential to come with time. This is because if you make the round trip in just one day, you’ll certainly miss out on a significant part of the experience.

The good news is that there are different types of accommodation available for overnight stays. In the Soajo region, your favorites are the Monte Prado Hotel & Spa (4 stars) in Melgaço, the Ribeira Collection Hotel by Piamonte Hotels, and the Luna Arcos Hotel Nature & Wellness, both in Arcos de Valdevez.

However, I recommend exploring the map below to see other hotels and country houses in the Serra do Soajo region.

Hotels in Soajo

Restaurants and traditional food in the Soajo Mountains.

Restaurante A Floresta
Restaurant A Floresta, in Arcos de Valdevez.
Cabrito do Monte em Melgaço
Mountain kid goat, at Adega Sabino, Melgaço.
Restaurane Saber ao Borralho.
Restaurant Saber ao Borralho.
FLUME Restaurante e Bar.
FLUME Restaurant and Bar.
Padaria do Soajo.
Padaria do Soajo (Soajo bakery).

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that eating well is a common practice in Minho.

Indeed, in the region of Serra do Soajo, there are several restaurants that showcase the best of Minho’s cuisine.

So, for traditional food, my favorite restaurants in the Soajo region are Saber ao Borralho, Adega Sabino and A Floresta.

However, if you prefer international cuisine, FLUME Restaurante & Bar offers burgers, tacos, francesinhas, and a variety of sangrias.

And of course, stopping by Padaria do Soajo to buy Pão de Ló, or local sponge cake and “charutos dos arcos” at Doçaria Central is a must.

Everything you need to know before visiting the Serra do Soajo (Soajo Mountain Range)

Serra do Soajo na primavera.
Soajo Mountain Range in Spring.
Cão Sabujo da Serra do Soajo.
What to see in Soajo.
Serra do Soajo, andar a cavalo ao por-do sol.
Soajo Mountain Range: Horseback Riding at Sunset.
O que fazer na Serra do Soajo: ver as Lagoas de Travanca.
What to Do in Soajo Mountain Range: Visiting Travanca Lagoons.

What Are the Roads Like in Soajo Mountain Range?

Overall, the roads in the Soajo Mountain Range are passable. The signage is good, especially concerning signs indicating places and villages.

However, expect steep ascents and descents, as well as some narrow paths. Some curves require extra attention, and it’s crucial to drive defensively.

This is because you may encounter cows and wild horses walking on the road, as well as cars simply stopped in the middle of the road while taking pictures.

Map and How to Get to Soajo Mountain Range

To reach the Soajo Mountain Range, you can use the following map. However, if you’re traveling from Porto, expect a journey of 124 km, and 433 km from Lisbon.

On the other hand, if you’re in Arcos de Valdevez, the trip is only 23 km away.

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