Snow in Portugal; Visit Serra da Estrela for skiing and tasty cheese

Does it snow in Portugal? Oh yes, it does! But only in the highest mountains! Serra da Estrela is the highest mountain range on continental Portugal and is THE place to spot some snow. There are even ski resorts in the Serra da Estrela mountains, and it is the perfect place to enjoy some winter weather.

Snow in Portugal Serra da Estrela

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Learn more about snow in Portugal and the Serra da Estrela mountains

  • What to see? Snow, mountains, mountain villages, waterfalls, lakes, and castles. Serra da Estrela Portugal is ideal for active travellers who like discovering hiking trails and enjoy nature. Also, Torre is the highest point on mainland Portugal.
  • Costs? Most things are free. You’ll have to pay if you use the ski lifts or go skiing.
  • Where? The Northern Portugal region (300 km from Lisbon, 200 km from Porto.)
  • Worth it? If you like nature and winter temperatures, then YES!

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Snow in Portugal

Does it snow in Portugal? Oh yes, it does! But only in the highest mountains! Serra da Estrela mountain is THE place to spot some snow this winter season when you visit Portugal. In the winter, you can find snow up in the mountains, whereas with warmer temperatures, Serra da Estrela is a paradise for hikers and mountain bikers! Let’s see what there is to see and do and where to go to enjoy some Portuguese snow!

What is Serra da Estrela?

Serra da Estrela is the most extensive mountain range on mainland Portugal, and with 1,993 meters ((6,539 feet) above sea level, Torre is mainland Portugal’s highest mountain. The highest point in Portugal is the 2,351 meter (7,713 feet) high Ponta do Pico, on the island of Pico, Azores. Serra da Estrela is also a natural park that offers sportive activities all year round. When visiting Portugal during the winter months, there is a chance to enjoy snow in this mountainous landscape.

Serra da Estrela

Serra da Estrela, Portugal, is 100 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide. A granite ridge forms it and is nestled between the historical villages of Seia, Manteigas, Guarda, Gouveia, and Covilhã. Serra da Estrela Natural Park is also the home of three important rivers: the Mondego, the Alva, and the Zêzere. This last river ultimately flows into the well-known Tagus.

There are some fantastic river beaches where people love swimming during the summer months. The large lake Lagoa Comprida is also a wonderful spot to visit! So once you’ve been here in winter, come again with warmer weather!

How do you get to Serra da Estrela from Lisbon or Porto?

Serra da Estrela is located in central Portugal, and it’s easy to get there by car. From Lisbon, follow the A1 northbound and the A23 towards Castelo Branco. The drive to Serra da Estrela from Lisbon will take around 3,5 hours.

From Porto, you can reach Serra da Estrela within 3 hours. Follow the A1 southbound and take the A25 towards Viseu. Driving to Serra da Estrela is the easiest, although some trains ride to nearby towns. 

Handy tip

During the weekend, the roads are busy, and there might be traffic jams in the mountains! Visiting the Serra da Estrela mountain during the week will be a great option to avoid crowds.

To discover the mountain range, it’s easiest to have a car. Toll roads are on the way to Serra da Estrela, but you can rent a toll tracker during your car rental. Need help with renting a car when you visit Portugal? Read the complete guide, and check the car rental prices below for your visit to Serra da Estrela.

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Serra da Estrela in winter

Forget about the sun in the Algarve region! Let’s discover some snow in Portugal instead! This might not be your first thought when you think about the country. You expect sunny days, golden beaches and palm trees. But think again, as Serra da Estrela is gorgeous all year round!

Serra da Estrela turns into a little winter wonderland during the winter months! You can expect the first snowflakes in December, but January, February, and March are the best months with the most snow in Portugal.

Snowfall in winter

The average snowfall at the beginning of March is around 14 centimetres. This much snow may not sound too impressive if you’re from a cold country. But for Portugal, snow is rare and remarkable. You’ll be surprised how many people who have never seen snow travel to the Portuguese mountains! The snow, unfortunately, doesn’t often stick, and due to global warming, there is less snow in the country every year. The mountain range is the only place you can see snow in Portugal.

The paved road is looked after, but be mindful of fresh snow and icy roads in winter! The mountain roads have many bends, and you should take care whilst driving! Also, note some roads will close during heavy snowfall. That said, let’s discover some activities in the snow in Portugal!

Serra da Estrela weather and temperatures

The coldest months in Serra da Estrela are December through April. The average temperatures in winter range from -2°C (28.4°F) to 12°C (53°F), and, as you can see, it gets as low as freezing. Add a little wind, and a winter jacket, gloves and a hat are certainly needed! Also, many houses don’t have central heating but have a fireplace instead. In hotels, you’ll often use an electrical heater. Warm clothes in winter are a must!

Snow in Portugal

In summer you can expect warm weather! In August, temperatures around 32°C (90°F) are typical. During the 2022 summer months, temperatures were well over 40°C (104°F). This and the extreme drought caused many forest fires in the region. For the current weather conditions, it’s wise to check the webcam.

Is it snowing? Let’s visit Serra da Estrela ski!

Serra da Estrela even has ski resorts! It is the only ski resort in the country, and Estância de Esqui da Serra da Estrela is perfect for beginners and kids! But there are some vertical descents for experienced skiers also.

Snow in Portugal
Serra da Estrela ski contains 9 ski slopes

January, February, and March are the best times to ski and snowboard in Portugal. And if there isn’t enough snow for skiing, artificial snow and snow canons will keep the pistes covered in a blanket of snow during the winter months.

There is a place where you can rent skis, snowboards and gear. And if you’ve never skied before, you can also take classes. There are nine slopes in total, with a total length of 6.1 kilometres. The ski resort and ski lifts are open from November to April. For more information about times, prices and maps, click here.

Snow in Portugal

The highest point of mainland Portugal

Next to the ski resort, you’ll spot another iconic place. Torre is the highest mountain, and two towers can be seen here. During the Cold War, they were used by NATO as a radar station (If you’ve been to Berlin, they might remind you of the towers at Teufelsberg).

These 1970s towers are historical monuments from that time but are no longer in use and are abandoned. There are also some shops where you can buy local products such as ham and cheese. You can also use the toilets and grab a bite to eat in the restaurant.

A small roundabout is close to the car park, and you’ll find a statue in the middle. The large cross is 7 meters high, making this point precise 2,000 meters above sea level. This spot marks the highest place on mainland Portugal! Enjoy the area’s walking trail and the magical views over Serra da Estrela! You can even see as far as the Atlantic Ocean with clear skies!

Snow in Portugal

Teleférico da Serra da Estrela

Next to the towers, you’ll also see the Teleférico da Serra da Estrela. Take a ride on the cable car and enjoy the most magnificent views! Each gondola has space for four people. Tickets are € 7,50 for adults, and children under six can travel for free. When you use the teleférico in the winter season, wear enough clothes! It might be windy, and the air makes the ride pretty cold.

Serra da Estrela cheese
Serra da Estrela

Our Lady of the Good Star

Before you reach the top, you might spot a carved-out sanctuary. Nossa Senhora da Boa Estrela (Our Lady of the Good Star) can be seen from the road, and it’s a small sanctuary carved into the mountainside. It’s worth stopping here and discovering the short hiking trail.

The statue was made by António Duarte and was placed here in 1946. The figure is to honour the local shepherds who have a hard job keeping the flocks safe in these temperatures and weather conditions. The statue is 7 meters tall (23 feet), and on the second Sunday in August, many people come here for a mass. A small car park is here so you can visit the sanctuary easily.

Serra da Estrela in summer

Not only is Serra da Estrela an excellent place to visit in winter, but it’s also an activity paradise with warmer weather! More than 300 kilometres of marked trails are in the Serra da Estrela mountains and some of the best in the country! The perfect spot for a hike! You´ll discover glacial valleys, sources of the largest Portuguese rivers, waterfalls, and forests. There are suitable trails for beginners and advanced tourists, and you can find some beautiful trails here.

Some favourite hikes are:

  • PR1 MTG Rota do Poço do Inferno
  • PR2 MTG Boar Manteigas
  • PR6 MTG Glacial Valley of Zêzere
  • PR7 MTG Rota dos Poios Brancos
  • PR11 MTG Sun
  • Covão dos Conchos

Adventurous activities

Besides going on a hike, there are many other activities for tourists. For example, there are 43 mountain biking trails in Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela! Discover the MTB routes, and rent a bike in the nearby towns. In need of more adrenaline? Then canyoning is for you! Other outdoor activities include horse riding, fishing, rock climbing, and rafting.

Do you prefer some chill time in the sun by the water? Then you can visit some of the many waterfalls and lakes. Examples are Poço do Funil, Lagoa Comprida, Calhão Mogueiro, and Covão dos Conchos. Praia Fluvial de Loriga even has a beach, and here are 25 lakes to discover!

Covão dos Conchos looks like a natural sinkhole but is artificial. It was constructed to create a spillway and water diversion from Ribeira das Naves to Lagoa Comprida. 

Thermal spas in Portugal

After all that hiking, skiing, and cycling, it’s time to relax! Thankfully, Serra da Estrela boast several spas in the area! Check out the Aquadome in Termas de Unhais da Serra, one of the biggest in Europe. Or visit Termas Caldas de Manteigas, where you’ll enjoy relaxing treatments. Termas de Almeida – Fonte Santa is another recommendation. You might find reduced hours off-season, so check before heading for a relaxing bath!

Queijo Serra da Estrela DOP

When you visit Serra da Estrela, you might notice fields full of sheep and goats. You might even hit a traffic jam with farm animals! Raw sheep’s milk is used to make one of Portugal’s most famous cheesesQueijo Serra da Estrela DOP is a tasty soft cheese from this region, and the recipe goes back 2000 years! Ancient techniques are still used for rich and memorable cheese making.

The Serra da Estrela cheese is made from raw Bordaleira sheep’s milk and salt and is used in many local dishes. Try it with some rye bread and enjoy! Want to learn more about Serra da Estrela cheese? Visit the Farmer and Cheese Museum in Celorico da Beira! Also, check out the annual Serra da Estrela Cheese Festival in Oliveira do Hospital!

This region produces some of the best foods in the country. You can try the Juniper beef stew in local restaurants, olive oil, smoked meat and sausages (enchidos and alheira de urtiga), or biscoito com Queijo Serra da Estrela and jam. Bom appetite!

Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau

If you can’t make it to Serra da Estrela during your trip to Portugal, visit Casa do Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau in the major cities. The first shop opened in 2015 on Rua Augusta in Lisbon, but there are many shops throughout Portugal. The codfish cakes have the Serra da Estrela Cheese DOP hidden inside! Perfect with a glass of Port Wine! Stores are in Lisbon, Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia, Aveiro, Cascais, and Óbidos.

Wool in Serra da Estrela

The wool produced by goats and sheep is also used. The town of Covilhã is known for its woolwork and woollen fabrics. If you’re into knitting and yarn, check out Woolfest! In Manteigas, you can take a look at the Burel Factory. Many beautiful garments, blankets and other wool products are made here. 

Villages and towns in Serra da Estrela

Apart from nature, Serra da Estrela has many towns to visit. Guarda, for example, is a city at the highest altitude (1,056 meters – 3,465 feet) in Portugal. Making it also one of the coldest! The city is known for the five F’s: Farta (abundant), Forte (strong), Fria (cold), Fiel (loyal), and Formosa (beautiful). Highlights are the cathedral, the historic centre, and Torre de Menagem.

The village Manteigas is centrally located and a great spot to start exploring Serra da Estrela. It’s close to Poço do Inferno waterfall, and the PR2 is a fun hike through the village. Check GreenTracks for all local hikes. Unhais da Serra is a cute village in the southern part, and a river runs through it.

The town of Covilhã is the closest one to Torre de Serra da Estrela. It’s known as the village of wool and snow with a beautiful historic centre. Belmonte lies on the other side of the valley. Visiting the castle on top of the hill is worth a stop.

Another quaint town is Linhares da Beira, with its highlight as the Castelo de Linhares da Beira. Piódão is located just outside Serra da Estrela, but it is a great place to visit! Discover the charming houses or visit Praia Fluvial de Piódão on a hot day.

Serra da Estrela map with highlights

Hotels in Serra da Estrela

There are many places to stay in Serra da Estrela. Covilhã is perfect if you like a bigger town and stay close to Torre. If you enjoy a hike and being surrounded by nature, Manteigas is perfect! Check the hotels below to find your dream accommodation in Serra da Estrela.

Depending on your plans, you’ll need a minimum of 1 to 2 nights to visit most sights. If you come here to enjoy the snow in Portugal and go skiing, you’ll need more time to enjoy this beautiful part of Portugal. Zoom out to see all the hotels in the region!

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The Serra da Estrela mountains are the only places in Portugal where it snows. You can find these north of Lisbon, in central Portugal.

The Serra da Estrela is located in Central Portugal. During winter months, you can expect snow in Portugal.

No, even in winter, it is too warm for snowfall. It snows in the mountain range north of Portugal in winter. Here, you can even snowboard and ski!


Does it snow in Portugal? Absolutely! But only in the Serra da Estrela region. If you happen to be in Portugal in winter, it’s worth spending some time skiing and building snowmen. Are you in Portugal at any other time of the year? Then Serra da Estrela is a paradise for nature lovers. Hiking, mountain biking, and climbing are some of the best activities in the Portuguese mountains. Have fun!

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  1. Wow there are so many things to see and do here! Before reading this I didn’t know much about places to go in Portugal outside of Lisbon. Thanks for the info.

  2. You’re right, when I think of Portugal, I definitely didn’t think of snow! I will now though. I love the history you’ve included here, too.

  3. I figured there were areas on Portugal to find snow in winter. So I am glad I know where to go for some winter fun. I love the idea of visiting the Serra da Estrela mountain range. A great outing from Porto or maybe even a longer stay. As Canadians, the snow does not scare us!

  4. Wait a minute! I had no idea it snowed in Portugal!
    This shows how little I know about the world!
    Would love to visit some day, so have pinned your pinterest pins to refer back to.

  5. I had no idea it snowed in Portugal! I feel so silly know. Great post thank you – Portugal is number one on my Europe list

  6. I wouldn’t have imagined Portugal as a winter destination – especially without snow, but you’ve definitely persuaded me! I love traveling in winter as it’s less crowded (and I don’t mind the cold) your pictures are beautiful!

  7. Portugal and snow are two words I never imagined together. This post has opened my eyes to the unknown. Serra de Estrela looks like a wonderful place to visit, especially during winter after a good snowfall. The cheese certainly makes the trip sound even better.

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