Although Portugal is a relatively small country, it’s blessed with natural wonders. This includes breathtaking coastal views, luscious forests, and stunning countryside. No wonder the hiking trails in Portugal are so popular among passionate hikers.
Guest post by Geraldine Mills
Portugal’s hiking trails usually vary in difficulty and length. If you’re a well-seasoned hiker that’s craving for a new challenge, you can go with the more challenging hikes. But if you’re a beginner, you’ll also find short and easy treks that only take a couple of hours to complete.
The majority of these hiking destinations are usually located along the coast. They feature scenic views of the Atlantic while offering some of the most dramatic landscapes.
Also, most of the hiking trails in Portugal on this list have public access. This means you don’t need to pay anything to enter the trail. Provided that you can figure out how you can bring yourself from start to endpoint, you are all set for your hiking adventure.
If you are ready to explore this part of the Iberian Peninsula, pack your back and get your trekking poles ready. That’s because we have listed down seven must-visit hiking trails in Portugal.
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Stunning Hiking Trails in Portugal
Ponta de São Lourenço
By far, this is one of the most popular hikes in Portugal. Nestled on the island of Madeira, it is famous for its stunning coastal views and rocky cliffs. Hence, it is a favorite destination for tourists, hikers, photographers, and nature lovers.
The hike here takes about four hours for a lot of people to complete. Although the terrain isn’t that particularly challenging, you have the weather to conquer.
Since the landscape here is open, hikers are more exposed to the sun’s harsh rays, with very little shade throughout the hike.
There are parts of the trail that are exposed to strong wind conditions, which adds to the challenge.
There’s a parking area at the start of the loop, but the amenities and services here are pretty limited. So, make sure that you bring plenty of water and snacks.
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Rota Vicentina – Fisherman’s Trail
You’ll be starting your hike at Cabo Sao Vicente, located at the southernmost portion of the continent. Considered one of the best hikes in Portugal, it features historical villages and exquisite natural beauty.
Rota Vicentina’s coastal route is also called Fisherman’s trail because it is considered Portugal’s most scenic hiking spot. Most hikers walk the entire trail, which spans about 76 kilometers, and take about four days to finish.
So, if you plan to take this multi-day hike, make sure that you’re equipped with the right gear. The trail’s entire length is broken down into thirteen sections, and each part spans approximately 20 kilometers.
Every segment can be ideal for day hikers with several stops along the way. In these stops, one can come across restaurants, bars, hostels, and several campsites. It’s also relatively simple and not hard to navigate, so you may not opt for a guide.
Paiva Walkways is perhaps one of the most exciting hiking trails in Portugal because of its long boardwalks. Located in Arouca, the course spans approximately 16 kilometers.
This takes the form of walkways stretching along Paiva River banks, thus the trail’s name. The track also features stunning views of the canyon and leads one past rapid and waterfalls.
If you’re hiking during the summer season, you can swim in the river or even have a picnic along the way. This is a moderate intensity hike, making it a tourist-favorite.
You can also end the hike by stopping by Alvarenga, a nearby village. It’s a great place to enjoy a local Portuguese meal of grilled and spiced beef, with some vegetables on the side.
Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
The Algarve region is also famous for another thing apart from its beaches – the sea caves carved out by the choppy waters of the Atlantic.
One way to explore these striking formations is to take the Seven Hanging Valleys trail that spans over 12 kilometers. Starting at Carvoeiro Boardwalk, it stretches up to Marinha Beach’s rugged cliffs.
Also, halfway along the trail, you’d come across the historic Alfanzina Lighthouse. While walking this trail, you’ll come across approximately seven caves. You can even get to experience the renowned Benagil Beach, which is one of Portugal’s most stunning beaches.
This is a relatively easy hike and will take about six hours to complete. If you are doing the hike one way, this will take roughly about three hours.
Serra do Topo – São Jorge, Azores
Another excellent Azores hiking trail is the Serra do Topo trail. If you wanted to witness the stunning coastal views that the Azores is famous for, we recommend taking this hike.
Spanning for approximately ten kilometers, this runs a linear path that starts at the Serra do Topo park and ends at the Fajã dos Cumbres. This path also follows through a coastline, so when taking this trail, expect some of the Atlantic’s most jaw-dropping views.
Halfway through your journey, you’ll also be passing along Caldeira do Santo Christo. It is essentially a lake inside the caldera of a dormant volcano. It’s a great spot to take some good pictures or dip in the cold waters.
An excellent way to traverse this trail is to rent a car or book a taxi that will take you to Serra do Topo and then do the same to pick you up at Fajã dos Cumbres.
Santa Maria Hiking Trail
If you’re searching for a great hiking spot close to Lisbon, then the Santa Maria Hiking Trail should be on your list.
Just an hour away from Lisbon, you’d come across the magical town of Sintra that’s well-known for its rich history and picturesque palaces.
Nestled at the mountain’s edge, this town is filled with forests that looked like it was straight out of a fairytale. The Santa Maria Trail is one of the best hiking trails that you’ll come across. It passes by two of the most famous landmarks of Sintra, the Moorish Castle, and the Pena Palace.
The trail here is relatively smooth, with some gradients and several steep slopes. The great thing about this trail is that it’s relatively quick and easy.
It also doesn’t expose you to strong winds and sunlight, which is quite common to many coastal hikes.
Trilho dos Currais in Peneda – Gerês National Park
Despite all the stunning landscapes and scenery in Portugal, Peneda-Gerês is the country’s only national park.
This is a must-visit for people who wanted to go hiking and experience Portugal’s lush flora and fauna and spectacular views.
The loop is about ten kilometers long, taking about 4-5 hours to complete the hike. The trail will also lead you to forests and the stunning granite formations the park is famous for.
Since it’s a popular tourist destination, various accommodation options, markets, and shops are available.
You may also drop by the tourism office to get a map of all the available hikes in the area. This includes Trilho do Currais and other great hikes throughout your trip.
Photo credit: Álvaro Montanha on Unsplash
From charming coastal views to interesting inland towns, hiking in Portugal allows you to experience its beauty. And if you want to bask in this beauty, there is no better time to visit and traverse the hiking trails in Portugal but now.
Click the link below to see find some of the best guided tours in Portugal by Eco Trilha:
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