In Portugal, we go to the beach but we can also ski!
When we think of Portugal, we immediately think of the sunniest country in Europe, with its dry and hot summers and the splendid beaches of the Algarve. We also sometimes think of its mild winters, its gastronomy, its historical monuments and the magnificent cities of Porto and Lisbon.
But in the center and north of the country there are also beautiful mountainous landscapes, among them the Natural Park of the "Serra da Estrela" which is part of the great Iberian mountain range and has the highest point in mainland Portugal at almost 2,000m above sea level.
★ And, at an altitude of 2.000m, you can ski...
In the center of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, 3.5 hours from Lisbon and 2.5 hours from Oporto, lies the small village of Loriga, where the lowest temperatures in Portugal are recorded, with minimums that can sometimes reach -20°C in winter. It is near this village that the first ski slopes were built in the 50s.
Obviously, there is no tradition of skiing in Portugal and there are many ironic comments such as: "You can only get there by car when there is no snow and if there is snow to ski, you can't get there by car".
Nevertheless, today, it is a small ski area, ideal for the initiation to skiing or snowboarding which is offered to children, beginners and even confirmed skiers.
★ Access to the Portuguese ski slopes.
The station is located in the center of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, 3H1/2 from Lisbon and 2H1/2 from Porto. The best way to get there is by car if the road accesses allow it. There are not many snow clearing machines, so it is recommended to consult the resort before traveling and to equip yourself with snow chains.
The station usually opens between November and December and closes around Easter. Of course, the opening depends on snowfall and weather conditions, but the production of artificial snow ensures 120 to 150 days of snowfall per year.
The resort opens its doors at 9am, the ski lifts close at 4.30pm and rented equipment can be returned until 5pm.
★ The ski resort.
Of course, there are not many tracks and the low gradient does not allow the development of beautiful black tracks. The area is therefore well suited to children and beginners, but experienced skiers will also find a nice playground.
- Altitude from 1850 to 2000 meters, 150m elevation gain
- 8 km of trails, the longest of which is 1 km long.
- 9 marked trails: 2 green 2 blue 4 red and 1 black
- 10 natural tracks: 2 blue and 8 red
- 1 snowpark
- 1 chairlift, 2 teleski and 1 rug
- 1 mountain restaurant on site
- 10 hotels in the immediate vicinity
On the other hand, the installations are recent, the production of artificial snow is efficient and the modern ski pass identification system avoids waiting at the lifts.
★ A Portuguese style ski resort...
In this ski resort you will find all the Portuguese characteristics: the prices are moderate, the service is always efficient and attentive and the food is very good.
It is possible to rent equipment for all ages: skis, snowboards, boots, helmets are always available even for the youngest. The staff advises each person, is attentive to the adjustment of the equipment and is available
The little ones, from the age of 3, can learn to ski at the Snowpark where there is always a friendly employee to help at the entrance and another one at the exit and if they need to stop the rug, they don't hesitate to do so.
If you or your children can't ski, there are ski lessons at the resort for various age groups. Reservations can be made at the ticket office on the same day.
★ And during the summer ?
In summer, from July 15 to September 10, the station opens at 10 am and closes at 6 pm. The chairlift operates in a different way and allows you to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the Serra da Estrela. It is also equipped to carry bicycles and enjoy, in a sporty way, the steep descents that the resort has to offer.
The nature park is also famous for hiking, horseback riding and cycling with 375 kilometers of marked trails with different levels of difficulty.
Finally, in central Portugal, we eat very well. For us Portuguese, the "Serra da Estrela" is synonymous with Queijo da Serra, good hams and meats and excellent bread.
The cheese (Queijo) of the Serra da Estrela is famous all over Portugal, but it is obviously the best cheese to be found there. It is a soft sheep's milk cheese with a washed rind and a protected designation of origin.
It can be eaten during the autumn and winter months, when it is called Amanteigado (like butter) flowing, smooth and soft, often wrapped in a cloth. It can also be eaten all year round in this case, it is said to be Curado (matured), with a harder crust and dough, crumbly, and with a stronger flavor and smell.