Geoparque de Arouca

Get to know the Portuguese geoparks that UNESCO has integrated into its World Network. They are unique territories with sites of high geological relevance, where you will discover breath-taking landscapes. 

This distinction was awarded to Naturtejo, Estrela and Oeste Geoparks in central Portugal, Arouca and Terras de Cavaleiros in the area of Porto and North and the Azores islands in the Atlantic Ocean.
All these territories have very different characteristics, but in common they have the concern for the conservation and protection of natural and cultural values, as well as the promotion of sustainable development involving local communities. 

Naturtejo Geopark

Geopark Naturtejo - Portas de Almourão
Geopark Naturtejo - Portas de Almourão

Naturtejo Geopark was the first in Portugal to obtain this classification that recognizes the importance of its 17 geomonuments such as the imposing Portas de Ródão (Ródão Gates) that surround the Tagus River or the Penha Garcia's ichnofossils. It is also here that the Parque Natural do Tejo Internacional (Natural Park of International Tagus) is located, where you can observe 154 species of birds and practice activities such as climbing, canoeing or walking and cycling. In a visit to these lands it is also essential to discover their cultural heritage, which is clearly evident in the historical and schist villages.

Estrela Geopark 

Estrela Geopark - Vale Glaciar
Estrela Geopark - Vale Glaciar

Not far away is Estrela Geopark, where the highest mountain in mainland Portugal is located. Here, the marks of the last glaciation are visible in several places like the Zêzere Glacier Valley or the Lagoa Comprida. On your visit, you can follow the trails marked on the terrain that lead you to viewpoints with breath-taking views, from where you can appreciate the lagoons, the rocks shaped by nature or the rich flora and fauna. Also highlight to the cultural heritage in the villages, in the castles or in the religious marks, which besides the many catholic temples, includes a strong Jewish presence more evident in Belmonte. 

Geoparque Oeste

Geoparque Oeste - Baleal
Baleal - Geoparque Oeste | © OesteUGGp

Further south, Geoparque Oeste has an internationally renowned geological heritage thanks to the unique extent to which it has been preserved, and the paleontological discoveries made. Over 180 fossil sites and 12 species of dinosaurs have been found and identified for the first time here. This region is also home to a vast biodiversity of fauna and flora and 70 geosites, including coastal cliffs made up of layers that date back over 200 million years. Several hiking trails and vehicle routes allow you to explore the region further, that will also lead you to the historical sites of important battles fought against invasions by Napoleon’s troops.

Arouca Geopark 

Arouca Geopark - Passadiços do Paiva - Nelson Garrido
Passadiços do Paiva - Arouca Geopark | © Nelson Garrido

In the north, in Arouca Geopark you can discover 41 geosites with unique characteristics, of which the Pedras Parideiras de Castanheira (Castanheira’s Breeding Stones) or the Trilobites Gigantes de Canelas (Canelas' Giant Trilobites) stand out. This mountainous territory, which highest points are in the Freita and Montemuro mountain ranges, is crossed by rivers with excellent conditions for canyoning, canoeing or rafting, which has in the Paiva rapids one of the best practice places in Portugal. Other mandatory visits are the Frecha da Misarela waterfall and the Passadiços do Paiva [Paiva Walkways], which cross the geopark along 8 kms, being an excellent way to enjoy it.

Terras de Cavaleiros Geopark

Geopark Terras de Cavaleiros
Geopark Terras de Cavaleiros - Albufeira do Azibo

In the Northeast of Trás-os-Montes, in the Terras de Cavaleiros Geopark you will find about 180 km of trails that lead you to the discovery of 42 geosites of recognized scientific value and places of great beauty such as the Azibo Reservoir Protected Landscape. The offer of activities is diversified and includes bird watching, mountain bike cycling, canoeing, kayaking or simply relaxing on river beaches. In a visit to the region it is also fundamental to discover the richness of the gastronomy and the originality of the traditions, in which the Caretos de Podence that animate the winter festivities stand out.

Azores Geopark

Geopark Açores - Ilha do Pico|- Maurício de Abreu
Geopark Açores - Ilha do Pico | © Maurício de Abreu

In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores Geopark is unique in the world, as it has 121 geosites scattered across the nine islands and the surrounding marine area, mirroring the archipelago's vast volcanic geodiversity. Each of the islands has specific characteristics having in common the overwhelming beauty of an intoxicating nature. Volcanoes, calderas, lagoons, lava fields, fumaroles, thermal waters, fajãs, escarpments, caves and volcanic caverns are part of the list of geological assets of the region that the majestic mountain of Pico, with its cone still intact, seems to protect. 

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