Portugal: Skiing, Riding And Natural Conservation -

Holidays in Portugal are known for their beautiful beaches, luxury golf courses, fresh food, and local wines. But the country is also a winter destination with skiing offered in Portugal’s largest mountain range – the Serra da Estrela National Park.

The Serra da Estrela National Park is the country’s largest natural conservation area and extends over 1000 kilometres. It is located at the country’s highest point and more than half of its area is set above an altitude of 700 metres. Skiers can reach an altitude of 1967 metres. The nine pistes have a total area of eight kilometres and the longest run measures one kilometre.

The ski area is connected by six lifts and offers a maximum vertical of 130 metres. The six lifts can transport 8,000 skiers and snowboarders to the top of the slopes every hour. The ski area of Serra da Estrela is well suited to beginners and intermediates, with plenty of green and blue runs, but also has a red run for more advanced skiers and boarders. There is also a terrain park.

The resort centre features a couple of bars, restaurants, and an equipment hire shop. Skiing and snowboarding in the Serra da Estrela is particularly popular with locals during weekends. The ski season runs from December to April, but the best snow usually falls in February.

Although skiing in Serra da Estrela isn’t widely known outside Portugal, most international visitors fly in to Lisbon, the country’s capital, which is a three-hour-drive from the resort. A popular daytrip from Serra da Estrala is the city of Guarda – the highest city in Portugal, located northeast of Serra da Estrela. The main attraction of the 12th-century city is the cathedral. The old city of Fundao is another popular excursion from the ski area. There is also a dry ski slope near Manteigas.

Ski holidays in Serra da Estrala can also be combined with a city break in the capital. Lisbon is also known as ‘Europe’s sunniest capital’ and boasts a wide range of sights. The city is known for its millennium-old castle, 18th-century squares and cobbled lanes, traditional street cafes, art nouveau shops, grand palaces, sandy beaches, the Jeronimos Monastery and Belem Tower, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the Berardo Collection of contemporary art, and a state-of-the-art aquarium. Lively nightlife in Lisbon features bar hopping and dancing in the Bairro Alto district.

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