The Best Known Waterfalls in Portugal

Whether they’re called cachoeiras or cascatas, Portugal is overflowing with waterfalls. With so many to choose from, read on as we explore the best waterfalls in Portugal.

Travel and Exploration
20 April 2023

Much as birds of a feather flock together, many of the waterfalls of Portugal seem to cluster in certain mountainous or karstic areas. Thus, where there is one, there are likely to be several Portuguese waterfalls.

As we explore Portugal’s best waterfalls, there’s also the promise of others in their vicinity. Let’s start with what is possibly Portugal’s tallest cataract.

Cascata da Frecha da Mizarela: The Tallest Waterfall in Portugal?

Cascata da Frecha da Mizarela (Photo: Wirestock via Getty Images)

Nestled in the rugged karst landscape of the UNESCO Global Geopark of Arouca, Cascata da Frecha da Mizarela is believed to be the tallest waterfall in Portugal. Indeed, with its impressive force and a drop of almost 200 feet, it’s an impressive sight to behold. This is all the more captivating amongst the schist and granite rock of the Freita mountain range. At the bottom of the waterfall is a laurel forest, adding to the beauty of the area. The area is home to several examples of wondrous waterfalls in Portugal, including the Aguieiras waterfall some 25 miles away and Cascata da Água d’Alta, which happens to be next on our list of Portuguese waterfalls.

Cascata da Água d'Alta

Cascata da Água d'Alta (Photo: Ernesto r. Ageitos via Getty Images)

With an approximate drop of 100 to 115 feet, Cascata da Água d’Alta may be around half the size of the tallest waterfall in Portugal, but is nonetheless eminently imposing. It marks the point where the Ribeira de Lamoso river, flowing over the cliffs joins the iconic Douro River. Located in the International Douro Natural Park, it’s surrounded by a wide range of wildlife, including birds of prey, deer, and wild boar. The area is also home to a variety of plant species, including a number of rare and endangered varieties.

Cascata do Arado

Cascata do Arado (Photo: Joaquim Oliveira via Getty Images)

In Peneda-Gerês National Park in the far northwest of Portugal, the Rio Arado tumbles again and again through granite corridors in succession of waterfalls and emerald pools before arriving in a lake. This natural wonder is Cascata do Arado, one of Portugal’s best waterfalls located amidst the rich flora and fauna of Portugal’s only protected area that’s also a national park. Cascata da Rajada, Cascata da Laja, Cascata de Leonte and Cascata de Fecha de Barjas are just some of the other great Portuguese waterfalls nearby.

Fisgas do Ermelo

Fisgas do Ermelo (Photo: Ricardo Jato de Evan via Getty Images)

Within Parque Natural do Alvão, the Olo river takes an astonishing approximate drop of 650 feet. However, it does not do this in one massive cataract. Instead, it twists and turns in an extraordinary array of tiered horsetail waterfalls, its crystalline waters travelling from pool to pool through the craggy grey and green slate mountains. The surrounding area is dominated by the rugged Alvão mountain range, which is characterised by its steep and rocky terrain, with jagged peaks rising up on all sides.

Cascada Salto del Cabrito

Cascada Salto del Cabrito (Photo: Jeremy Woodhouse via Getty Images)

From Poço do Bacalhau Waterfall on Flores Island to Aveiro Waterfall on Santa Maria, the archipelago of the Azores is home to many of Portugal’s best waterfalls. Cascada Salto del Cabrito is found on the island of Sao Miguel. Framed by looming dusty-coloured cliffs, Cascada Salto del Cabrito appears as a lone yet determined downpour of water. That is, until a closer look reveals that it is one of a series of cascades, some hidden in between the rocks.
In total, it has an approximate drop of between 100 and 130 feet, the exact height difficult to discern given its obscured position.

Cascata da Portela do Homem

Cascata da Portela do Homem (Photo: zm_photo via Getty Images)

Cascata da Portela do Homem, also known as São Miguel Waterfall, is a natural wonder found just by the Spanish border, near Portela do Homem, Braga, Portugal. The waterfall is formed by the Homem river, which burbles down a string of steps, creating a chain of waterfalls.

The waterfall’s physical characteristics are unique, as it is not just a single cascade but a series of waterfalls that tumble down the rocks. The water cascades down a string of steps, which adds to its visual appeal. The waterfall is surrounded by natural greenery, including trees and ferns, which provide a natural canopy over the water.

Poco do Inferno

Poco do Inferno (Photo: Julen Arabaolaza via Getty Images)

Hell’s Pool seems an ominous name for this rather bucolic example of Portuguese waterfalls. And yet that’s the meaning of Poco do Inferno. One of three falls formed by the Asseca stream, it’s named after a local legend that tells of a carriage that fell into the lake and was never found. The story goes that anyone who falls into the lake is bound for the netherworld.

Cascata da Fraga da Pena

Cascata da Fraga da Pena (Photo: @afrequichavenancio via iStock)

Cascata da Fraga da Pena is a lively horsetail shaped fall that descends 65 feet or so down mossy rocks, spraying the unspoilt surroundings in the Protected Area of Serra do Açor. The falls create a fine mist as the water sprays the surrounding area, adding to the natural beauty of the waterfall.

Cascata da Cabreia

Cascata da Cabreia (Photo: Helena Fernandes / 500px via Getty Images)

Cascata da Cabreia, also known as Cabreia Waterfall, is located in the district of Aveiro. The waterfall is formed by the fast-flowing Mau River cascading over a rocky area, which creates a spectacular display within the dense forest.

The Waterfalls of Portugal

The Waterfalls of Portugal (Photo: Patrick Donovan via Getty Images)

As we’ve seen, there’s seemingly no shortage of waterfalls in Portugal. What’s more, Portugal’s best waterfalls like company.


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