Walking Holidays In Europe


Walking Holidays In Portugal

An expert guide to walking and hiking in Portugal

Paul Bloomfield
By Paul Bloomfield

If you’re looking for lower cost hiking with the added bonus of glorious coastline, I’d suggest a walking holiday in Portugal should be near the top of your list.

Mainland Europe’s westernmost nation state is also among its oldest, and stories from its long history seep into every walk. Portugal’s long history stretches from prehistoric remains and relics of Roman occupation, through the Moorish era and subsequent Christian conquest, maritime heritage linked to the Age of Exploration and the legacy of the Port wine trade.

The best walking holidays in Portugal

Our experts' top picks


Rota Vicentina

Paul Bloomfield
By Paul Bloomfield
  • Distance: 220 km – or shorter segments

  • Duration: 14 days

  • Start/end point: Santiago do Cacém to Cabo de São Vicente

  • Difficulty: Moderate

In Portugal I’d highly recommend the Rota Vicentina, which comprises twin trails running north from the western Algarve through the Alentejo: the inland Historical Way and – my pick – the 226.5km coastal Fishermen’s Trail, traversing ancient cork-oak woods, wildflower-spangled cliffs and charming fishing villages. Both are blessed with good accommodation en route.


Camino Portugués – Traditional route

By HorizonGuides
  • Distance: 610km (or shorter segments)
  • Duration: 30 days
  • Start/end point: Lisbon (Portugal) / Santiago (Spain)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The Camino Portugués (Portuguese Way) is an alternative to the more popular camino pilgrimage routes that crisscross Europe en route to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain.

The Camino Portugués passes through quiet corners of rural Portugal and calls at some significant historical cities as it meanders north. Besides Lisbon and Porto, you’ll stop at Santarém, known for its beautiful Gothic architecture; Coimbra, home to one of the oldest universities in the world; and the verdant Minho region, famous for its Vinho Verde (green wine).


Camino Portugués – Coastal route

By HorizonGuides
  • Distance: 270 km
  • Duration: 14 days
  • Start/end point: Porto (Portugal) / Santiago (Spain)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The coastal version of the Camino Portugués is a shorter and quieter version of the traditional Camino Portugués route.

This version starts further north at Porto and hugs the Portuguese and Spanish coastlines as it meanders towards Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain.

As with the Camino Portugués main route you’ll get your fair share of historical towns and incredible Portuguese cuisine, while enjoying spellbinding coastal views and traditional fishing villages in this lesser-visited corner of Portugal.

Douro Valley

Douro Valley walking holidays

By HorizonGuides
  • Distance: Approx. 50 km
  • Duration: Typically 7 days
  • Difficulty: Mild

Portugal’s Douro Valley is a stunningly tranquil landscape of steeply terraced vineyards tumbling down to the winding Douro River. Walking holidays here are usually offered on a short self-guided basis, generally centred around Pinhão, in the heart of the Douro Valley. The town itself is picturesque, and there are several vineyards in the vicinity that welcome visitors. From here, there are various marked trails that will lead you through the beautiful vineyards, offering some fantastic views of the valley.

Walking itineraries will typically include visits to wineries or quintas, and may be combined with a cruise between Regua and Porto.

Douro Valley Portugal

Portugal's wine-producing Douro Valley

Planning a walking holiday in Portugal

Everything you wish you'd known before you booked

Unsurprisingly in a country with no really high mountains but a hefty coast-to-area ratio – the mainland shore stretches well over 900 km – Portugal is best known for its coastal walking holidays, with numerous shoreline trails.

But don’t overlook the country’s inland routes, notably through historic Alentejo, along the meanders of the wine-producing Douro Valley and in the wilder reaches of its national and natural parks, which are less trodden and, I’d argue, more alluring.

Portugal’s Atlantic islands also offer fine hiking, along the levadas (irrigation channels) of vertiginous Madeira and around the Azores’ volcanic craters.


Portugal’s only designated national park is Peneda-Gerês, 700 square kilometres of granite crags, time warp villages, oak forests and valleys flanking the Spanish border in the far north; its wilder reaches are home to bear, boar, otter and goshawk.

The southern coasts of the Algarve and Alentejo regions feature some surprisingly dramatic cliff top walking and delectable seafood – percebes (goose barnacles) are a prized speciality.

Need to know

Portugal is great value for walkers: accommodation, particularly outside Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve’s resorts, is relatively cheap, while food and drink are bargains – you’ll typically pay under a euro for a coffee, not much more for a cold beer, and meals are often huge.

Conversely, hiking infrastructure is often less developed than in many other European countries; you’re unlikely to find walkers’ refuges, in part because there’s no real need.

With the exception of the islands and the far north, July and August are really too hot for hiking; spring and autumn are better, though northern regions are particularly wet in April.

Top walking holidays

The Rota Vicentina (rotavicentina.com) comprises twin trails running north from the western Algarve through the Alentejo: the inland Historical Way and – our pick – the 226.5km coastal Fishermen’s Trail, traversing ancient cork-oak woods, wildflower-spangled cliffs and charming fishing villages. Both are blessed with good accommodation en route.

Several camino paths head north towards Spain and Santiago; the inland route from Lisbon cuts through the historic Minho region, visiting Porto plus the Roman bridge and magnificent manor houses around Ponte de Lima.

About the author

Walking Holidays In Portugal

Paul Bloomfield

Paul is an award-winning travel journalist writing on walking and hiking in Europe and beyond for the likes of the Telegraph, The Times, Wanderlust, Lonely Planet, BBC Wildlife and National Geographic Traveller.

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