|Height|| ||1993 metres (6,538 feet)|
|Vertical Elevation|| ||<1 metre|
Serra Da Estrela (central Portugal)
|Nearest town|| ||Covilhã (21km)|
|Climbing time|| ||<1 minute|
|Grade|| ||1/5 Climb|
|Date climbed|| ||18th June 2014|
With a road all the way to summit, reaching Portugal's highest peak couldn't be easier. Even so, the 360° views are spectacular, with multiple hikes in the surrounding mountains, sporting Portugal's only ski resort, a fantastic cheese shop, the summit is well worth the trip. But most spectacular of all is the drive in and around Torre. The Serra da Estrela National Park, in which Torre is located, is a really beautiful part of the country and I couldn't get enough of driving over the surrounding mountain roads.
At 1993 metres, King Dom João VI decided to build a 7 metre tower way back in the 19th century bringing the height to 2000 metres. Unfortunately climbing the 7 metre tower was likely going to result in a broken ankle, so I had to satisfy myself with standing at the base of the stone structure.
Long warm summer nights or cold snow covered winter nights, I guess the choice is yours. The road is likely to be open year round, so getting to the summit should never be a challenge. However, unless you intend to ski, or particularly enjoy the snow, I'd suggest the warmer months provide more things to do and see in the area.
There are no special access requirements to reach Torre. However, there does not appear to be any public transport, so you'll need to have a car to get to the summit.
The surrounding countryside and mountain roads are really fantastic, so try to ensure you have plenty of time explore the surrounding area. We drove from Gouveia and back via Manteigas. On another day we drove from Gouveia to Covilha.
All the roads are very good, quite well sign-posted, although there isn't fuel up on the mountains. Ensure you leave with a full tank. There are a few villages between the above mentioned towns, offering food/drink, tourist stuff, and fur coats.
It's definitely worth having a tourist guide of the area, to ensure you can visit some of the other great sites in the area.
The below site is the official Tourism website for the Serra da Estrela national park (English and Portuguese):
The below site is the Estancia ski website (Portuguese only):
There are no fees or costs to climb Torre.
I'm not sure the walk from your car to the summit of Torre actually gains any vertical height :) Climbing to the heightest point in Portugal isn't a climb at all. Rather, you park your car and walk a few metres and voila, you are there. I suspect you can even drive to the actual summit (I can't remember now). Nevertheless, the heightest point, no matter how you reach it, is still the highest point. And driving to Portugal's heightest peak, no matter from which direction is spectacular.
We had spent our previous night at Madre De Agua (http://madredeaguahotelrural.pt), a small boutique hotel just outside the town of Gouveia. I can honestly say that Madre De Agua is one of the nicest boutique hotels I have ever stayed at. This may well be influenced by the fact that Portugal is a beautiful country, with friendly people, fantastic weather, great food, and our early summer holiday was experiencing warm days and nights. After a lazy breakfast (about midday) we had the rest of the afternoon to drive the 38km to the summit of Torre. If it hadn't been for our GPS we would really have struggled to get onto the right road taking us in our desired direction. All the street signs are in Portuguese, all towns/villages are network of nameless lanes and streets, and while the locals were always keen to help us, directions weren't always quite so easy to understand. So our route to Torre generally involved plugging into our GPS a town near where we were going and then when reaching that town/village plugging in the next location. There is no GPS location for Torre (or at least we couldn't work out how to enter this into our GPS). Nevertheless this didn't prove an issue and we never really got lost. Once you are on the right road, and you can enter a town past Torre the going is easy.
So despite us leaving our hotel with hours and hours to get to Torre it wasn't infact until 7pm that we finally parked our car by the summit. The road in is simply spectacular, and we couldn't help stopping continuously for photos, short walks, and strolls through some of the villages we passed through. I absolutely recommend the following route to and from Torre. Sabugueiro, Torre, Manteigas. This circular route is simply beautiful and despite the many hours we had, I wish we'd had more time. The drive to Covilha is also great.
The turn-off to Torre is well sign-posted and we passed very few cars during our drive. We were driving on a weekday in the late afternoon in summer. I expect on weekends and/or during winter the road may be more congested.
The summit is actually pretty crowded with buildings. There is a restaurant (closed when we arrived), a bunch of telescopes/observatories, a tourist/cheese shop (open), the ski lift and associated buildings, and a bunch of other buildings. Despite all of this there is no doubting where the summit actually is. Right in the centre of all the buildings, encircled by a road, is the summit tower right beside the actual survey marker. We didn't spend too long at the summit, as most of the buildings were closed and it was a little cool (16C).
We then returned to Gouveia via Manteigas, again stopping constantly for photos. And again with not enough time to enjoy this part of the country. I suggest you give yourself a few days (even with a week you'd have plenty to see and do) to really enjoy this area and you really need a car to get around.
Timings for Climb
Gouveia to Torre: ~38km, 45-60 minutes
Torre to Manteigas: ~22km, 30-45 minutes
Torre to Covilha: ~ 27km, 30-45 minutes
Manteigas to Gouveia: ~30km, 30-45 minutes
Turn-off to Torre summit: ~1km, <5 minutes drive
Arrived at summit: 7.20pm
Temperature at summit: 16C
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