Hiking in Portugal – The 5 Best Hikes to Explore
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Portugal is a spectacular country nestled in the Iberian Peninsula of southern Europe. It’s filled with central mountain highlands, Atlantic coast trails, and scenic getaways on the islands of Madeira and the Azores. Hiking in Portugal is one of the greatest ways to see the country and enjoy its natural beauty at your own steady pace.
Despite everything Portugal has to offer, it is surprisingly overlooked compared to its European neighbors. Fortunately, that leaves a lot of incredible areas still waiting to be discovered! Although there is only one official National Park at Peneda-Gerês, Portugal is filled with Nature Parks & Reserves perfect for intrepid adventurers. Want to get hiking in Portugal? Here are 5 of the best hikes you can explore.
1. Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
LENGTH: 7.4 Miles
ELEVATION: 394 Meters (1,292 Feet)
ROUTE TYPE: Out & Back
TIME: 3-4 hours
Portugal has 1,115 miles of exquisite coastline. So naturally, hiking in Portugal will involve tracing along some of the wind-blasted and sun-scorched Atlantic coast that borders much of the country.
On the south coast, near the fishing port of Faro, you will find the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. The route traces along the Algarve coast from Praia da Marinha to Praia Vale de Centeanes.
From breathtaking seascapes to surreal rock formations, this trail has everything you could want from hiking in Portugal. You’ll come face to face with some truly unique geological features The main highlights not to be missed are the seven sandstone caves formed by the pounding of the tides against the rocky inlets!
2. Rota Vicentina – Fisherman’s Trail
LENGTH: 46 Miles
ELEVATION: 1,200 Meters (3,937 Feet)
ROUTE TYPE: Point to Point
TIME: 4 days
The Rota Vicentina is another example of what the spectacular Atlantic coastline can offer when hiking in Portugal. This 466-mile trail benefits from being both scenic and historical. You will follow a cliff path alongside sapphire waters, passing quaint fishing villages and roaring waves.
This is one of the most beloved long-distance hikes in Portugal. The full trail is huge and would take many weeks to complete. The Fisherman’s Trail is one of the most popular segments leading from Odeceixe to Porto Covo.
Along the route, you will see coastal wildflowers, nesting birds, and many sweeping beaches. There are difficult sections that cross over soft sand and up steep headlands, but the seascapes are so extraordinary, that it’s worth the challenge!
3. Paiva Walkways
LENGTH: 10 Miles
ELEVATION: 712 Meters (2,335 Feet)
ROUTE TYPE: Out & Back
TIME: 3-4 Hours
This unique hike is situated in Arouca, not far from the city of Porto. You can begin the trail in either the village of Espiunca or Areinho. This trail is special due to the marvelous wooden walkways that thread their way through the canyons above the Paiva River.
There are waterfalls, river rapids, and swimming spots to enjoy during the warmer months. As is often the case when hiking in Portugal, the nearby town of Alvarenga is a popular spot with hikers due to its tasty food and charming setting.
The Paiva Walkways boasts the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world – the Arouca 516. It is 1,575 feet (480 meters high) and 492 feet (150 meters) long with a transparent viewing floor. This project has added to the allure of the trail making this route busier than ever. Make sure you buy a ticket in advance to secure your slot as the hike does fill up!
4. Pico do Arieiro – Pico Ruivo
LENGTH: 6.7 Miles
ELEVATION: 1,180 Meters ( 3,871 Feet)
ROUTE TYPE: Out & Back
TIME: 4-5 Hours
The natural splendour of Portugal is not only consigned to the mainland. On the magical island of Madeira, there is some of the best hiking in Portugal. This challenging trail will take you deep into the cloud-cloaked mountains for jaw-dropping panoramas across the island.
On this hiking route, you will summit the 3 highest peaks in Madeira: Pico do Arieiro, Pico das Torres, and Pico Ruiv. You will also traverse through dark tunnels (don’t forget your head torch) and up long mountain staircases.
This trail is physical and involves steep summit ascents. To complete this trail will require a reasonable level of fitness, and a stomach for heights! But don’t let that deter you, the views will be worth every step!
5. Serra de Lousã (PR2) – Castelo da Lousã via Casal Novo
LENGTH: 3.2 Miles
ELEVATION: 368 Meters (1,207 Feet)
ROUTE TYPE: Loop
TIME: 2 – 3 Hours
Hiking in Portugal often involves a delightful mix of natural beauty and cultural sites. The Serra de Lousã is a prime example of this winning combination. The trail will pass through eucalyptus forests, and groves filled with wildflowers as the path ascends deep into the misty mountains.
Once at altitude, nestled in the crook of the peaks, you will find charming villages made from schist – a type of mountain stone. Some of these villages are truly ancient and hiking amongst the streets will feel like walking back in time.
This mountain range, set in central Portugal, is a lesser-known spot for tourists. There’s a calming atmosphere in these mountains which is rather unlike anywhere else in the country. For that reason, this is an experience not to be missed when hiking in Portugal!
Bonus: Central Camino – Portuguese Way
It would be hard to talk about hiking in Portugal and not mention the Central Portuguese Camino or Portuguese Way. This is a world-famous pilgrim’s route that has now been adopted by long-distance walkers.
There are various trails the pilgrims take on their annual walking route. The Coastal Route is 174 miles (280 km) and the Central Route is 161.5 miles (260 km). The full route from Lisbon to Santiago is over 372 miles (600 km) long and takes months to complete.
This is a very sacred and spiritual trail that highlights the range of landscapes you can experience when hiking in Portugal. It is a challenging route and not for the faint-hearted. However, if you do commit to this trail, you will delve deep into the true natural wonders that Portugal has to offer.
FAQs about Hiking in Portugal
We want to make sure you get all your questions about hiking in Portugal answered so here are some important answers to popular questions.
Does Portugal have good hiking?
Portugal definitely has some excellent hiking routes! With a diverse range of landscapes, there really is something for everyone.
The Central Portuguese Camino or Portuguese Way is the most famous trail in Portugal. This is a world-famous pilgrim’s route that has now been adopted by long-distance walkers.
What is the famous trail in Portugal?
The Central Portuguese Camino or Portuguese Way is definitely one of the most famous trails in Portugal. This world-famous pilgrim’s route highlights the diverse and beautiful landscapes that you can experience when hiking in Portugal.
What are the best places to hike in Portugal?
There are so many great places to hike in Portugal! It really depends on what kind of hiking experience you are looking for.
Some of the best places to hike in Portugal include the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, Rota Vicentina– Fisherman’s Trail, Paiva Walksways, Pico do Arieiro – Pico Ruivo, Serra de Lousã (PR2) – Castelo da Lousã via Casal Novo and the Central Camino – Portuguese Way.
Are there any dangerous animals in Portugal?
There are no dangerous animals in Portugal that pose a threat to humans.
What should I take with me on a hike in Portugal?
Make sure you pack appropriate clothing for the weather, sturdy shoes, plenty of water and snacks, and a map of the area. It’s also a good idea to bring hiking poles and a first-aid kit just in case!
Are there any good hiking trails near Lisbon?
Yes, there are many great hiking trails near Lisbon. Some of the best include the Serra d’Ossa , Santuário da Peninha Trail and Paiva Walksways.
Do I need a permit to hike in Portugal?
No, you do not need a permit to hike in Portugal. However, it is important to follow all local hiking guidelines and regulations to avoid any safety issues or fines.
Best Time to Explore Portugal Hiking Trails
The best time to explore Portugal hiking trails really varies depending on the region. Hiking in Portugal is an amazing experience that can be enjoyed year-round. In general, the best time to hike is during the spring (mid-March to May) and fall (late September to November).when the weather is milder.
This is a great time to enjoy all that Portugal has to offer without having to deal with sweltering summer temperatures or cold winter conditions.
Lisbon is the perfect starting point for those who want to explore the stunning natural scenery that Portugal has to offer.