Located on the border of Portugal’s only ski resort – Serra da Estrela – in the centre north of Portugal, is one of the country’s most well-hidden gems: a small medieval village called Linhares da Beira.
This small stone-built village is home to an imposing 12th-century castle, offering sweeping views over the valley and the village’s own slow pace of life’s pace take you back centuries. The castle, with its large granite slopes lends itself to being a nature outdoors playground and museum.
Our small child loved playing in the castle, as I used to myself as a little girl, picking up sticks as if they were swords, and sliding down the castle’s granite boulders. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, and relax as your kids are entertained by simply being here. If you have a smaller child, there is a great playground just to the right of the castle – you can’t miss it.
I grew up visiting Linhares on our Easter holidays; my grandma used to hide our chocolate eggs behind the huge granite boulders that populate the village, and some of my earliest memories are of sliding down the castles epic slopes, whilst the locals washed their clothes in the small stream below.
Chances are if you look up, you’ll find a sky dotted with multi-coloured paragliders (or parapente in Portuguese), Linhares is a paragliders dream. Thankfully, and despite its niche familiarity to paragliders around the world, not much has changed in Linhares. Clothes are still washed in the stream below, the café is still owned by the same wonderful lady; however, my childhood friends from the village have migrated to the capital or Canada… Like most of rural Portugal, this is an ageing village, where life goes on as it did in the early 20th century.
By train: Take a train to Celorico da Beira, and take a taxi from here to Linhares. If you’re planning on hiring a car take a train to nearby city of Guarda instead.
Where to stay:
The only hotel in Linhares is the modern 3 star Inatel Solar de Linhares. The hotel is located in the centre of the village, facing breathtaking views over the plains. There is also an outdoor swimming pool, landscaped gardens and a tennis court.
If you’d rather something a little more special, the 4 star Pousada da Serra da Estrela is a wonderful alternative. This historical hotel features modern and beautifully designed rooms, a playground, an indoor and outdoor pool and spa services.
Where to eat:
The best restaurant in the village is without a doubt Restaurante Cova da Loba. Though probably not what you’d expect in such a rural location, we absolutely love it here. You can read our full review of Cova da Loba here.
What to see and do in Linhares da Beira
Walking trails around Linhares, and into the mountain.
The trail maps are both in Portuguese and English.