Portugal only has one national park – the Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês, in Minho – but there are over thirty other protected areas, designated as parques naturais (natural parks), reservas naturais (natural reserves) or other specifications. You’ll find them all listed and profiled on the website of the government’s Instituto da Conservação da Natureza (icnf.pt – some information in English available).
All the main parks, and many of the minor ones, are covered in the guide and between them account for some of Portugal’s most dramatic landscapes – from the high-mountain scenery of the Serra da Estrela to the limestone caves of the Serras de Aire e Candeeiros, or the island hideaway of the Ilha Berlenga to the lagoons, dunes and marshes of the Ria Formosa.
Throughout the guide we recommend walks and hiking trails wherever possible. All the parks have information centers, and most promote trails and tours within their area. Marked walking routes are becoming more popular, but signage and trail maintenance are extremely patchy. English is rarely spoken, even at major information centres, making it difficult to find out about the status of routes, while there is a real paucity of proper walking maps.