Blessed with perfect weather, gorgeous coastlines, delightful towns and tantalising cuisine, Portugal is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, and lovers of all things sunshine and scenery. It is no wonder it is becoming a popular haunt for walkers drawn to the trails that crisscross through this compact country.
Given its size you don’t have to cover huge distances and the terrain is mostly forgiving, so you can enjoy easy to moderate trails on a relaxed walking holiday. You can walk with a guide and small group or take a self-guided walk where you can either pick up the pace if you wish, or in true Portuguese style, slow things down and stop to smell the pastry and wine.
Follow the levada trails of Madeira and discover the varied landscapes of this small island in the North Atlantic. These levadas, or irrigation canals, weave their way throughout the island flanked by flowers and fruit orchards, taking you on an adventure from seaside villages and coastal forts to lush forests and moss covered waterfalls. If you’re feeling up to it, tackle the island’s summit of Pico Ruivo for sweeping views from the peak at 1862m. You can either walk the levada trails of Madeira on a guided walking holiday with a small group of fellow kindred spirits, or take things at your own pace on a self-guided walking trip around Madeira.
Explore the wine regions of northern Portugal on an easy paced walking tour that showcases the natural scenery, traditions, culture and, of course, the produce. Porto boasts charming cobblestone streets flanked by facades of azulejos, traditional blue and white tiling, and wine cellars flowing with the namesake drop. It is also the gateway to the wine region of the Douro Valley where you can wander through vineyards and olive groves and enjoy tastings and the warm Portuguese hospitality at one of the many quintas (a traditional estate). This part of Portugal is the perfect place to mix some walking and wine.
Nestled in the pine covered hills, Sintra stands proud with its gorgeous palaces and its mystical mossy gardens. Meander the cobblestones of the township, wander the gardens, explore the palace grounds, and head into the woodlands that encircle it to walk the beautiful trails and picture book scenery. If you can tear yourself away from Sintra’s romantic allure, you can walk from the forested paths to the rugged coast where seaside forts and charming fishing towns welcome you. Take your time to watch the waves rolling in and follow the route at your own pace on a self-guided walking itinerary around Sintra.
The Rota Vincentina trail hugs Portugal’s dramatic west coast between its the south-westerly extremity of Cabo Sao Vicente and Odeceixe where it splits into two routes – the inland trail of the Historical Way and the coastal Fishermen’s Trail. Rota Vincentina weaves its way through a relatively untouched part of Portugal and was developed as an eco-tourism initiative with visitors encouraged to leave nothing but footprints in the sand. Pair this beautiful guided walk with a self-guided exploration of the Algarve from West to East taking in the pristine beaches and charming fishing villages that make this pocket of the world so special.
Island hop the Azores and walk a series of trails that crisscross this breathtaking landscape – an unspoiled archipelago that sits quietly humble in the North Atlantic despite plenty of bragging rights. Home to abundant national parks and marine reserves, this pristine environment boasts blue and green crater lakes, thermal hot springs, gurgling mud pools, rugged cliffs and cute cosy coves. Follow the trails along craggy shores and coastal vineyards or up Pico Alto, a volcano soaring to 2350m. If you choose, kick off your hiking boots to swim with dolphins, soak in the thermal waters or take a dip in the lava rock pools. Bliss.