The Duero River, in its tireless flow from its source in the Urbión mountain range to its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the main actors in the lands it bathes. The beautiful landscapes it draws along its path are a sign of identity and are part of the history of each region. A natural environment, in many cases of incalculable value, which is the home chosen by different species, both plant and animal, and where we can find traces of past times that tell us about the link that the Douro River has had with the human being since time immemorial. An unbeatable example of this symbiosis is undoubtedly the Arribes del Duero Natural Park.
The Route of the Viewpoints of the Arribes del Duero Natural Park will take us through the imposing corners that are hidden on both sides of the river. A river that has carved a colossal natural border between Spain and Portugal, creating landscapes of great beauty with every jump it makes. This Arribes del Duero Natural Park extends from north to south through the provinces of Zamora and Salamanca, being twinned with its Portuguese counterpart the Douro International Natural Park, which extends on the opposite bank. The rivers Tormes, Uces, Huebra and Águeda have chosen these lands to pour their waters into the Douro, being together with it responsible for the characteristic landscape formed by steep gorges that in many cases are hidden behind the quiet calm offered by the plateaus that precede them. Remains of ancient settlements, spectacular waterfalls, upland slopes full of olive trees, almond trees or pastureland, colossal engineering works, vultures, black storks, Bonelli's eagles, undoubtedly a great intangible heritage of unimaginable value that comes to add to the dizzying landscapes that we will see when we travel this Route of the Viewpoints of the Arribes del Duero Natural Park.
There are many places along this route that will invite us to visit them calmly, discover their charms and lean out of their lookouts. One of these places is the Fermoselle, located between the rivers Tormes and Duero, where in addition to walking its streets, knowing part of the history that treasures this town, we can climb to the different viewpoints that we will find there. Viewpoints such as the one located in the old castle of the town and from which we can contemplate the magnificent natural environment that surrounds Fermoselle. A good starting point for this route of the Viewpoints of the Natural Park of Arribes de Duero as we will serve to go gradually into the history and landscapes that await us in each of the places of obligation that we have to visit. As it will happen along the route, there will be countless tempting places that will invite us to deviate from our route to get to know them and Fermoselle could not be an exception seeing us tempted among other options with that of approaching the spectacular Bemposta Dam.
We say goodbye to Fermoselle and set off for our next stop, but not before deciding whether to go to the Almond Dam or leave this colossal engineering work for the end of our route. To reach the Viewpoint of Las Barrancas we must go up the Duero River in search of the town of Fariza, as it is in its vicinity where we will find the track that will take us to the hermitage of Nuestra Señora del Castillo located a short distance from the viewpoint point. This ancient fortress where the chapel is located today allows us not only to enjoy beautiful views, but also to have a good idea of the customs and habits of the people who lived in these lands since the beginning of time, marking the traditions that today endure and helping to shape the landscape that we find. The access to the lookout is made through a simple path that brings us closer to the imposing cliffs on which it sits, leaving at our feet the winding silhouette that describes the Duero as it passes.
We return to Fariza and from there we head towards Moralina, as our next stop is on the road between this town and the village of Pino. Once again we have the tempting option of varying the proposed route, since the route we will follow passes relatively close to the Portuguese town of Miranda do Douro, another of the obligatory stops on this route through the lookouts of the Arribes del Duero Natural Park, although it is actually in the Douro International Natural Park. Undoubtedly the course of the Douro River has been a natural barrier that for years made communication and transport difficult for the civilizations that passed through here. Romans or Visigoths among others, sought and followed different routes that met the need to save the Douro River. One of these routes coincided in part with the location we know today of the Requejo Bridge, and until the construction of this vertiginous bridge a boat was in charge of joining both banks of the river, thus allowing the transit of people and goods. It is already in the nineteenth century when the first steps were taken to build this bridge which today we can enjoy from the different viewpoints that are located at the foot of the road on both sides of the river.
Once this natural barrier of the Douro has been overcome, we head towards Fonfría in search of the road along which we will now follow the descending course of the Douro River and enter the Portuguese part of the itinerary that could now be called the Route of the Viewpoints of the Douro International Natural Park. The small Portuguese town of Paradela is the starting point of the path that will lead us to the Viewpoint of Salto de Castro. As usual, we must pay attention to the signs that indicate the route to follow to reach each viewpoint. In this case the road seems to come to an end when it meets a small picnic area where we will park our vehicle to approach the viewpoint. This stop offers us a privileged aerial view of the Salto de Castro dam embedded between the walls that mark it out on both sides of the course of the river it holds.
We continue the march in search of the next stop on the journey, our destination now is the town of Aldeia Nova as from this small village the road that leads to the hermitage of Sao Joao das Arribas starts. There, in addition to the chapel, the remains of an ancient castro await us, giving us an idea of the importance that these lands have had throughout history. A history undoubtedly linked to the Douro and the Arribes or waterfalls that it stars and that the human being has known how to take advantage of both for agriculture and livestock as well as to exploit the electrical resources that could be obtained and are obtained from the whims that nature allowed itself here. The viewpoint of Sao Joao das Arribas awaits us a few steps ahead of the place where the chapel is located and offers us a panoramic view of the wild flow of the Douro along this part of its route.
The well-cared for and tourist town of Miranda do Douro awaits us with its historical architectural and cultural heritage. On our arrival we can already get an idea of the historical importance of this village in Portugal, which is a must see. Its castle, its episcopal palace or its main church almost make us forget the real reason for this route, which is none other than to enjoy the improvised viewpoint that we will find descending the road that leads to Spain. A zigzagging road that in one of its curves has a wide open space from which we can contemplate the curious colors that paint the cliffs that rise from the riverbed. These cliffs are home to countless species of birds that, with luck, we will be able to see. But this viewpoint also offers us a privileged panoramic view of the Miranda do Douro dam, another of the colossal architectural works that regulate the flow of the Douro River.
We bid farewell to the bustling Miranda do Douro to immerse ourselves once again in the tranquil villages that sit on the river's edge. One of these places is the beautiful village of Picote where another of the stops on this route awaits us through the viewpoints of the Douro International Nature Park. Although you can almost reach with our vehicle to the vicinity of the viewpoint, the narrowness of some streets suggest parking in the village and walk the short distance that separates us from it. When we arrive, we are surprised by the burned out structure of the aerial viewpoint that was here, although we quickly see ourselves wrapped up in the singular panoramic view that surrounds us in this charming place. Here the Duero River draws a marked meander before our eyes, a clear example of the tireless struggle between the river and the terrain through which it flows.
We say goodbye to the town of Picote and start a long stretch of the route in which there will be no lack of possible stops at the different viewpoints that we will find along the route, some more tempting others less but all of them with their particular charm that they undoubtedly have. One of these stops could well be the Cruzinha Viewpoint located near the town of Lagoaça. As on other occasions, we must pay attention to the signs that indicate the direction to follow to reach the viewpoint. Once there, we can enjoy a panoramic view that includes, on the other side of the river, the village of the Village of the Green, located at the foot of the dam of the Salto de Aldeadávila hidden for the moment to our glance behind the walls that delimit the riverbed.
We continue to descend towards the south on the Portuguese side of our route and of course we keep coming across signs that promise to take us to different viewpoints. It is in the middle of the road that leads from Lagoaça to the town of Freixo de Espada à Cinta where we find the sign indicating our next stop. A detour that actually leads to the Mazouco and that in its itinerary offers us the possibility to contemplate this beautiful village of Portugal and its surroundings from a privileged balcony at the roadside, with just enough space to park our vehicle. This road descends to Mazouco giving us the possibility to visit it and then return to the main road that we left without returning on our steps.
We resume our journey towards the town of Freixo de Espada à Cinta and shortly after crossing it, following the course of the road that brought us to it, we come across the long detour that we must follow and that will take us to, if not the most beautiful and well-known viewpoint of all those that we will find on the Portuguese side of this route, one of those worthy of this description. A long road between vineyards and pines leaves us in a conditioned space of recreation that in fact hides a spectacular viewpoint that waits for us a little further down after visiting this cozy area. From here we can contemplate the Saucelle waterfall and the dam that we have to cross to return to Spain and the winding route that awaits us.
We return to the place where we started this not at all disposable detour to follow the course of the road that we abandoned at the time and that will take us to cross the dam of Salto de Saucelle from where we will begin to climb the slope that falls on the Spanish side towards the Duero River. A climb that we will interrupt to make a stop at the strategic Viewpoint of Salto de Saucelle, facing almost in line with the other balcony that we have just visited. From here we will have a different view to the one we have previously contemplated from the other bank of the river before going back up its course towards the north and through the lands of Salamanca.
A long stretch of road awaits us, which we will have to travel to reach the town of Mieza from where the paths that lead to the different viewpoints that are located nearby start. Viewpoints such as Peña del Águila, which we reach after a long stretch of dusty road. Another of the paths that start from Mieza takes us to the Viewpoint of Tío Paco, a magnificent balcony hanging over the Tuerto Ravine. From there, and already on foot, we will go through a characteristic almond forest to the Viewpoint of La Code from where we can contemplate the peaceful course of the Duero River and the Portuguese side that we travelled before. In front of us upstream, the Jump of Aldeadávila, still hidden from our eyes, insinuates itself again.
We return to the road to go to the town of Aldeadávila de la Ribera where just before arriving we will take the detour that will lead us to two of the most spectacular viewpoints that we can visit in the Arribes del Duero Natural Park. This road not only gives access to the viewpoints, but also to the village of La Verde, which we saw before, although for this we will have to take a detour and abandon our main objective. The road to follow is the one that communicates with the power station that is located on the Jum of Aldeadávila Dam and it is shortly before reaching the barrier that prevents access to this complex where the dizzying Viewpoint of El Fraile is located, from where we can contemplate the impressive panoramic views that can be enjoyed over this work of engineering.
To reach the next viewpoint from which we are apparently not too far away, we have to return to our vehicle and leave behind the small car park in the middle of the bend shortly before reaching the Viewpoint of El Fraile. When we arrive on the road, just before passing by the power station before starting the descent, we will surely have seen the sign and the path that will take us to our next stop. At the beginning of the path we will have a first parking area and a little later the second one. Right there begins the, in principle short and simple, path that will lead us to the Viewpoint of Picón de Felipe. No doubt beautiful balcony from which to defy the void while we let ourselves be enveloped by the majestic landscape that surrounds us.
We return to Aldeadávila de la Ribera to head now to Villarino de los Aires where our next stop is waiting for us. But before that, as we pass through the towns of Masueco and Pereña de la Ribera, two other jewels that the Arribes del Duero Natural Park treasures, attract our attention. These are the well-known Well of the Fumes and the less remarkable but very beautiful Well of Airón, undoubtedly an obligatory stop for those who visit these lands. Once in Villarino de los Aires, more specifically as soon as we leave this town in the direction of Trabanca, we will find the track that will take us to the vicinity of the Teso de San Cristóbal. Once there, we will go up the slope on which it sits to reach the chapel of San Cristóbal in whose environment this viewpoint is located. But once there, we cannot help but approach the Rock Sanctuary where history and landscape merge in almost equal parts.
We continue with our route that will take us to the town of Trabanca once there, if we have advanced the visit to the Almond Dam, we can end our journey heading towards Fermoselle, if we so decide. Otherwise, we will head for the town of Almendra, from which the dam takes its name and which will be our last stop on this route through the viewpoints of the Arribes del Duero Natural Park. Before arriving at the town we will have to turn off and follow the road that crosses this impressive dam. A route on it that gives us the opportunity, thanks to several areas equipped as parking, to make a stop to contemplate calmly this colossal construction and the beautiful landscape that revolves around it. Without a doubt an unbeatable point and followed by our journey through these lands.
Map of the route
This map is a sketch made as an example of the route, in no case represents the best or the only itinerary to follow. Its development has not taken into account the current rules of circulation or the state of the places through which it passes and that could affect its layout.
¿Did you know that...
Throughout the length and breadth of the Arribes del Duero Natural Park we can find the remains of the different civilizations that inhabited these lands, from such ancient remains that date back to the Palaeolithic, through castros of the Celtic period, to vestiges of the Roman and Arab times, without forgetting of course its belonging to the Kingdom of León.
Don't miss out...
Some of the various catamaran trips you can take along the riverbed. There are several piers from which these tours leave, allowing us to enter the canyon, get to know its different characteristics and discover the fauna and flora that inhabit it. From this link you can book the boat trip through the Arribes del Duero.
Distance of the route
321 Km. This figure may vary depending on the route we follow.
Duration of the route
From 2 to 3 days
Time of year
All year round
Landscape and cultural. This route shows us a large part of the Arribes del Duero Natural Park
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Route information updated on 18-07-2020. The route may vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered in the natural environment where it is located. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are for guidance only and are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day, taken from trained people, with the appropriate experience and with a high level of physical and technical preparation as a reference, as well as correctly equipped.
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