DIY Travel Guide Series: Magic Mountains of Portugal
Located in Centre/North of Portugal, Magic Mountains (or Montanhas Mágicas in Portuguese) are one of the most fascinating and beautiful natural areas of this tiny, but incredibly charming country.
Portugal is often recognized by its exotic beaches, and they are indeed pretty, but there is another less explored and known side of the country where the sun is always shining.
This area includes several mountains and is certified as a sustainable tourist destination since November 2013.
You could easily spend one month or even more exploring this area. There is about 500 km of rural tracks and 40 walking routes, but we know you might have limited time, so we created this itinerary to give you a glimpse of the beauty of this territory.
The best way to reach this area is definitely by car. Once you get there, we are sure you will feel tempted to explore it by foot, which we totally recommend.
If you want to take advantage of the natural and fresh swimming pools that you can find along this route we recommend you to go from May to September.
Communication in cities like Lisbon or Porto, most likely, won´t be a problem, since you can easily find locals who speak English. In the most remote villages that you will find on your journey through Magic Mountains, you might face some communications problems, but you will meet some of the friendliest people.
Road to reach the “Hell Gate” (Portal do Inferno in Portuguese)
Even more breathtaking than the Hell Gate itself is the road that leads to it. It´s definitely a dangerous road with too many narrow curves. Sometimes you´ll find yourself driving through zigzag shaped roads, but the views you have along the way turn this ride into an unforgettable one. You might even stop for some minutes to contemplate the landscape and take some photos. We did this and got this shot!
Poços da Ponte Teixeira
This is the perfect place to take a refreshing swim in these spring waters in complete harmony with nature.
Regoufe and Drave Villages
These two villages are one of the most singular places we have ever been to.
Here, you can feel the charm of rural areas, still untouched by modernization.
In Regoufe, you can still find shepherds taking their goats for a walk and planting their own food. You can also explore the mining complex of Regoufe, where tons of tungsten were extracted, exported and used for the construction of weapons during World War II.
Drave is known as a magic abandoned village located in the heart of these mountains.
Watching the sunset over the mountains
Where to Eat (Best Restaurant/s)
If you like salads we highly recommend the ham and brie salad from “Time to Eat” in Viseu, but in case you are looking forward to trying traditional Portuguese food, then we recommend “Mesa da Sé,” also in Viseu.
During your stay in the Magic Mountains, we suggest one of these two restaurants which serve delicious traditional food – Tasquinha da Quinta (Rua 1º de Maio, Arouca: ) and Colher de Pau (Rua Fábrica 207, Vale de Cambra).
Where to Stay
Pousada Viseu (92 USD – 143 USD)
Bemyguest – Loft Guest House Jardim das Mães Charming ( 70 USD -107 USD)
HI Hostel Viseu (15 USD – 38 USD)
Near Santa Cruz da Trapa:
Quinta do Fontelo (180 USD – 219 USD)
Unique experience with rustic charm of Mosteiro De S. Cristovao De Lafoes (old monastery/77 USD – 159 USD)
Castelo dos Sonhos (30 USD-37 USD)
Day 1: Rent a car, leave from Lisbon headed to Viseu
Viseu is a secular city of narrow and charming streets, located about 300 km north of Lisbon. Take some time to stroll around its streets and to visit the Grão Vasco National Museum where you can admire the work of Vasco Fernandes, master of the Renaissance painting.
Closed on Monday
Monday: 2: 00-17: 30
4th a Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Day 2: Leave Viseu in the morning and drive to Santa Cruz da Trapa
Santa Cruz da Trapa is 50km away from Viseu. From Santa Cruz da Trapa you can easily drive to the other points of interest that you will visit during this day.
1st point of interest: Poços da Ponte Teixeira
A quiet and peaceful place for those who are looking for a swim in crystal clear waters. From Santa Cruz da Trapa drive 3,5km headed to Vale de Cambra.
All over this area there a lot of informative boards signaling the interest points, turning this area easier to explore, so keep an eye on them!
2nd point of interest: Poço Azul
This is another great place to swim in natural pools. Although this one might be a little more attended by people. You can find this gem on the road to Vale de Cambra, 1,8km after Santa Cruz da Trapa, take the road to Sabrosa and do 1,3km more.
3rd point of interest: Road to Hell Gate (Portal do Inferno e Garra)
This was one of the highest points of our road trip through this region. To get there follow the signs saying “Portal do Inferno e Garra” or just “Portal do Inferno.” Near Santa Cruz da Trapa shouldn´t be hard to find these informative boards.
While going through this road, we advise you to be extremely careful and prudent, the road is very narrow and curvy.
4th point of interest: Sleep in a Monastery
To end your day in a unique way sleep in an old and restored monastery – Mosteiro De S. Cristovao De Lafoes
Day 3: Drive to Regoufe and walk until reaching Drave, a magic abandoned village
Get up early, take some food with you and drive about 35 km to Regoufe village. Leave your car at the entrance of this village, explore its surroundings and the abandoned mines by foot and walk to Drave.
Drave is only accessible by foot, and it´s 4 km away from Regoufe, it will take about 2 hours to get there. There are no shadows along the way; we strongly advise you take a hat and sunscreen.
Near Drave, you can also find freshwater ponds to take a refreshing swim.
After this day you might need some rest, you can either choose to stay another night around this area or head back to Lisbon.
Note: We visited this area in July of 2016. One month later, a big fire occurred, our heart shattered with that news. We didn´t have the chance to visit this place ever since; we don´t know exactly how big was the damage. Unfortunately, it might not be so green as you can see in our pictures, but we are sure these mountains will recover from this misfortune fast.
To visit Portugal and the rest of the countries in the Schengen area, you might need to secure a Schengen Visa.
About the Writer
A Portuguese couple of travel bloggers. Constantly dreaming about faraway places and trying to find new and unique places to stay. Join them to discover unique hidden gems in Portugal and throughout the world!
Pinterest: Heart of Everywhere
Are you on Pinterest? Pin these!
Leave a Reply