These days more and more people are heading for the countryside and other natural places in search of wilderness and peace of mind. Despite us living in the era of technology and knowledge, there is still some misinformation about the legally protected areas in mainland Portugal, what you can or cannot do, etc. So, we bring you some advise on what to do to find that peace of mind you’re looking for, in respect for the applicable local rules and regulations…
Portugal has more than 30 nature parks and reserves plus other legally protected areas belonging to the Natura 2000 and RAMSAR conventions under the official jurisdiction of ICNF, where the natural diversity and richness of the country is preserved. Some of these areas are under a growing pressure caused by human activity, housing, touristic developments and recreational activities not respecting the applicable regulations, such as wild camping and caravanning.
Depending on the environmental values being protected, each of these areas has its own regulation covering recreational or touristic activities such as cycling, hiking, camping, motorbiking, use of fire, driving 4×4 vehicles, etc. In some of these protected areas, driving motorised vehicles is only allowed on tarmac roads, while in others the possibility of driving off-road (where permitted), is subject to permits and permissions from the Park authorities that must be obtained beforehand. Next time you plan to visit one of these protected areas we recommend that you start by checking with the park officials what you’d like to do, where you can or cannot go and what limitations are in place at the time of your tour.
Code of Conduct
As a registered tour company with a special accreditation to work inside these areas, we have formally adhered to the applicable norms and regulations. If you intend to visit any of these areas, we recommend that you always follow the ICNF Code of Conduct for visitors, which sets the generic rules for a safe, legal and environmentally responsible fruition of our protected lands.
For more information about the network of protected areas in Portugal, please consult the website from the Portuguese Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF) here.
When going to any of the protected areas, we suggest you always look for the Natural.PT brand sign in local shops, restaurants or places of accommodation. This brand was created by ICNF to develop an integrated promotion of the territory, as well as the products and services available in the network of Protected Areas. By choosing this brand, you’ll be helping local people and businesses who share the same values and principles of sustainability and adding value to the endogenous resources.