Take a look at our recommendation of 10 places to visit in Freita Mountain Range – Arouca Geopark (“Serra da Freita”).
The main acces to this mountain is made through “Arouca” the small town over which all its grandeur is noted, almost like if a giant that guards it.
Quickly, you will start to get involved in this beautiful mountain range.
Its winding roads are the delight of driving aficionados, the fresh air is like an injection of life into the lungs, charged with a purity that can only be found in places like this.
But this mountain is not only made of a pure environment, it is loaded with cultural, historical and natural heritage. Here inhabit ecosystems that are still untouched and with thousands of years old, all this is possible by the remoteness of the place and protected so that they will not be lost!
Our mission is to show you all this magic, so here we leave the 10 places that you certainly cannot miss in “Serra da Freita”!
Capela da Senhora da Lage – Chapel of Senhora da Lage
This magical trip must be calm and prudent, because along these old mountain roads the twists and turns are immense which, despite giving us an incredible visual and driving experience, require attention.
Our first stopping point, the Chapel of “Senhora da Laje”, emerges next to the small village of “Merujal”, one of the many located in “Serra da Freita”.
Entirely built in granite and with robust and well-outlined features, this chapel was built in the “Barroco” style, an architectural style very common throughout the country.
The date of its construction is uncertain because it has several dates engraved in its different parts, which leads us to think that it will have been rebuilt or complemented with other structures over the years, the most distant date recorded, dates back to 1652, which due to Portugal’s ancient history is considered a relatively recent monument, we know… we are old .
Here is also the place where the 3rd of May is held the “Festa das Cruzes”, a festivity for the surrounding communities.
Miradouro de São Pedro Velho – São Pedro Velho Viewpoint
One thing is certain, Serra da Freita would not be the same mountain without its endless views.
As such, we present the traditionally called “S. Pedro Velho”, more than a viewpoint it is one of the many Geosites of “Serra da Freita”.
It has a geodesic landmark, which according to military cartography informs us that we are 1077 meters high, one of highest points of this mountain.
Let yourself be envolved by the unprecedented freedom that you will feel, it will seem impossible, but from this point we have a 360º view.
Due to its location, on the top of a rocky dome of very hard and resistant granite, it allows us to sweep most North of Portugal, to the “Mondego” valley in the south, amazing how from a single point we can see half of a country.
But we must also focus on what is closest to us, the beautiful mountain villages, which you can find all around you, the endless waterways that feed the rivers, which run there and which are so important for the biodiversity and even the contrast of the human action in the mountains that, as an example, has the existing wind farms nearby, contemplate in the distance and focus in the near!
Albergaria da Serra
After the amazing sights from S. Pedro Velho, where for a few moments you probably noticed a beautiful village in the landscape, know that its name is “Albergaria da Serra” and believe me you will not want to miss it.
Due to its antiquity it had several names, “Albergaria do Monte de Fuste”, “Nossa Senhora da Assunção da Albergaria”, the name of the village’s patron saint or “Albergaria das Cabras” due to the pastoral activities that abound there.
However, in all the names he had, it was always called “Albergaria”, this is due to the fact that D. Mafalda, First Queen of Portugal, built a refuge there, with the mission of providing food and lodging to the poor that passed by on the 12th century.
It is also here that one of the rivers of the region is born, the River “Caima”, which in turn supplies the fantastic waterfall of “Frecha da Mizarela”, which we will talk about next.
Nowadays, tourism begins to acquire significant value for this village, from which camping sites are increasingly being requested, creating wealth and publicity.
Land of agricultural and pastoral landscapes, where the true rurality of Portugal still lives, will give you a raw and true view of culture, history and nature.
Frecha da Mizarela
As we have discovered where the River “Caima” is born, why not discover one of its paradisiacal sites, the fantastic “Cascata da Frecha da Mizarela”, a must stop for those who explore the “Serra da Freita”.
Idolized by canyoning enthusiasts in which we proudly include ourselves, it is the largest waterfall in the country and one of the largest in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. Causing the river to fall for more than 60 meters creating in the bottom a beautiful crystal clear lagoon with cold waters, which in the strong summer heat that is felt in the region will be the icing on the cake, with the delightful baths that can be taken there.
This waterfall represents a huge unevenness in the landscape, due to the fact that downstream the rocks are softer and softer, and therefore, of easy river erosion, which allowed the river to dig relatively easily between the granite formations more resistant to erosion.
This is perhaps the perfect place for a longer stop or for a snack in the middle of a beautiful day in the mountain, take a seat and let yourself be carried away by the sounds of the water falling, the birds singing and the powerful green that surrounds you.
Pedra Boroa de Junqueiro – Junqueiro Maize Bread Rocks
Continuing to report the riches of this place, let us move on to one of the geological riches of the region.
Here they called them “Pedras Boroas do Junqueiro”.
This fantastic granite formation, has its origin due to the immortal sculptors of these landscapes, water and wind.
These forces cause polygonal tears in the rock that acquire a crust aspect on its surface, with irregular veins, very similar to the crust of the typical “Broa de Milho” or corn bread, so appreciated throughout the country, where the name “Pedras Boroas” comes from.
Located in the middle of the “Serra da Freita” plateau, you will forget for a moment that you are on a mountain, due to the flat area being quite large. It may even seem a little inhospitable the place, but it is just another proof that there are still places where man does not yet reign and we should, in a way, be happy about it.
Pedras Parideiras de Castanheira – Birthing Stones
And because a geological richness never comes alone… in the village of “Castanheira”, famous for its beauty untouched by time, you will find the ex-libris of this beautiful site, another geological phenomenon called in a picturesque way, the “Pedras Parideiras” (Birthing Stones).
“Parideiras” means that they give birth, we know that it is difficult to understand… but in fact there are stones that do.
They are the result of a geological phenomenon of granitization, which consists of nodules embedded in granite rocks, rocks that over the years and the erosion wears out and finally releases the encrusted nodules which in turn are expelled from the rock as if it were a birth.
Here you will be able to visit the Interpretative Center of this phenomenon, which is of such rarity, being detected only in 2 places on the Planet, in “Serra da Freita” and in St. Petersburg in Russia.
If you don’t plan on going to Russia, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.
Radar Meteorológico de Arouca – Arouca Meteorological Radar
After all this geological information, it is time to give the brain some time to assimilate all the information.
Nothing better than the Arouca Meteorological Radar, we believe you are asking, “why would we go to a Meteorological Radar?”, The answer is easy, although used for scientific purposes, it is open to the public and has 10 incredible floors.
From its entrance, the landscape catches our eye, but going up to the tenth floor is something really magical. The building offers us a 360º view, privileging views in all directions, it is worth to notice that they are 47 meters high!
And for the most passionate of science, they also have visits that are more focused on the purpose for which it was built.
Who said that science and visual experiences didn’t match? Not to lose!
We have to talk about the beautiful schist villages of “Serra da Freita”, which give the mountain a touch of magic made by the hands that have lived here for centuries.
At the end of a dirt road you will find hidden on your right the junction of 3 beautiful streams, which give rise to the River “Drave”.
This junction occurs at the bottom of a village that will soon jump into view, its name is “Drave” as the river. It is uninhabited and is therefore equipped with a stillness and calm that is not found everywhere. Also being the Base of the National Scout Corps.
Here there is no network, electricity and much less internet, the perfect place to disconnect from the hectic technological life we lead.
This village requires patience to get there, being possible to reach its surroundings by car, having to do a few minutes of walking or by the pedestrian route PR-14, called “Aldeia Mágica”, allowing you to know a little bit better the past of this place, it will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of all the places to visit in Freita mountain range.
If one schist village does not satisfy your desire for adventure, “Serra da Freita” never disappoints us.
Go to “Janarde”, another schist village on the banks of the Paiva river. In a peculiar way seems to look steadily at the river as if it were a watchman.
Here you will find the beautiful although small Chapel of “S. Barnabé” that will welcome you, in honor of whom a popular pilgrimage of the village is still made, so that the community sensibility is not lost.
On the right bank of the river that passes there, it is possible to see the so-called “Conheiros de Janarde”, an old gold mining zone, mineral that was once extracted by the Romans when they ruled over these lands.
Still with some inhabitants and now being a protected village, your trip will be more than just a visit, it will be part of the vital help in promoting this lost paradise.
Panorâmica do Detrelo da Malhada – Detrelo da Malhada Panoramic
Finally, without wanting this trip to end because we never get tired of this wonderful place in the interior of our country.
To get to the famous “Detrelo da Malhada” Panoramic, you will have to climb to 1099 meters in height and there you will find a view that will once again make you see half the country if the weather allow. On the way… pay attention to the village of “Moldes”.
If you arrive at sunset, you will be presented with shades of orange, red, yellow, contrasting with the vibrant green of the mountains and surely in the midst of all the characteristic silence of these lands.
Your heart will warm up of satisfaction, for having the bold but still completely correct decision to take this journey in “Serra da Freita”.
Here are the 10 fantastic sites of “Serra da Freita”, carefully chosen and organized by us in order to get the best out of this magical place.