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 and Estrela 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.
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 - 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.
Passadiços do Paiva - Arouca Geopark | © Nelson Garrido
A little further 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 - 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.
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.