Portugal (Portuguese Republic)

Languages: Portuguese

Currencies: EUR · Euro (€)

Capitol: Lisbon

Continents: Europe

Borders: Spain

More useful information

Area: 92,090km2

Population: 10,305,564

Traffic/driving side: right

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +351

Timezones: UTC-01:00, UTC

Last updated on April 22, 2024

Portugal offers a rich tableau of hiking experiences along azure coastlines, untouched natural parks and historical mountains.

I’m a huge fan of Portugal, I traveled through the country number of times and you need to know the south is completely different to green mainland and peaceful, often protected area in the north.

You can chose from leisure walks through vineyards and coastal cliffs or put yourself through challenging mountainous trails. Here are top 10 best hikes in Portugal, to help you decide which parts you wish to explore, considering the scenery, difficulty level, trail length and unique experiences the trails offer.

Key Takeaways

  • There are a variety of top-rated trails to explore, including Rota Vicentina, Paiva Walkways, Peneda-Gerês National Park, Algarve’s Seven Hanging Valleys, Douro Vineyard Hike, Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, Madeira’s Levadas, Azores’ Faial’s Volcano Capelinhos, and Monsanto Trail. 
  • The difficulty and lengths of these trails vary widely, offering something suitable for everyone. Beginners or families may enjoy a comfortable stroll along Paiva Walkways, while experienced hikers might seek the challenge of the Peneda-Gerês National Park or Madeira’s Levadas.
  • These trails offer varied experiences, from cliff-hanging coastal paths, rippling vineyards, and rugged mountain trails to historical villages. 
  • Being prepared before setting off for a hike in Portugal is important. Essential gear includes sturdy hiking boots, layered clothing, and sunscreen. 
  • It’s advisable to have a map for more challenging hikes. Safety measures should also be taken, and respect for the environment is paramount, following the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles.
  • Lastly, the best time to hike in Portugal is typically between May and September due to more favorable weather conditions and longer daylight hours. However, some trails reveal their unique appeal in other seasons as well.

Rota Vicentina, Southwest Coast.

HARD: Rota Vicentina – 8/10: A long-distant trail network involving various degrees of difficulty and length (up to 28km), especially the Fishermen’s trail demands high fitness levels due to its cliff edges and sandy routes.

The Rota Vicentina encapsulates the charm of Portugal’s untouched southwest coast. The route spanning over 280 miles is split into two main trails – Fishermen’s Trail and the Historical Way, each providing hikers an intoxicating mix of breathtaking coastal sceneries, meandering through charming fishing towns, and venturing into the depths of Alentejo and Vicentina coastlines. 

A hike along the challenging Fishermen’s Trail, tracing the edge of the coastline, provides hikers awe-inspiring views of the Atlantic Ocean’s infinite blue expanse. It is characterized by narrow, sandy paths, steep cliff ascents, and descents making it a demanding but worthwhile experience.

On the other hand, the Historical Way follows the footsteps of pilgrims, and offers an opportunity to immerse into the heartland of the region, making it one of the best hikes in Portugal.

Passadiços do Paiva (Paiva Walkways), Aveiro.

EASY: Paiva Walkways – 3/10: An 8km wooden walkway along the Paiva River with defined steps and railings, making it a comfortable journey.

The Paiva Walkways, situated in the district of Aveiro, takes you through an exhilarating journey along the Paiva River, accompanied by the orchestra of rippling water and chirping birds. This relatively easy 5.5-mile walkway offers a wooden stairway consisting of 300 steps and provides unparalleled views of a variety of landscapes including waterfalls, beaches, exotic geological formations, and unique flora and fauna.

Despite its relatively short length, Paiva Walkways has won the World Travel Awards repeatedly for the most innovative tourism project, making it one of the best hikes in Portugal. For an added dose of thrill, end the day with a walk on the 516 Arouca, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world!

Peneda-Gerês National Park, North Portugal.

Peneda-Gerês National Park, North Portugal.

HARD: Peneda-Gerês National Park – 8/10: Portugal’s only national park offering a variety of trails with difficulty levels ranging from moderate to challenging. Some of the hikes may involve high ascents, rocky steep paths, and long distances, pushing it into the hard category.

If you are looking for a memorable experience – Canyioning In Peneda Geres National Park is the right choice. It was one of the most adventurous and magnificent tours I did in Portugal. Here is a full experience: Canyioning in Peneda Geres National Park.

Located in North Portugal, the Peneda-Gerês National Park captures the untamed beauty of the country’s only national park. With a diverse terrain catering to varying skill levels, hiking in this park offers a blend of rugged mountainous landscapes, old Roman roads, rustic villages, and a peek into the myriad of unique wildlife inhabiting the park.

Seven Hanging Valleys, Algarve.

MEDIUM: Seven Hanging Valleys – 6/10: Considered medium-difficulty due to its 5.7km grueling staircases and cliff edges. However, the panoramic coastal views are worth the effort.

The Seven Hanging Valleys route, set in the stunning Algarve region, serves the magnificence of Portugal’s southern coast on a silver platter. Extending over 3.7 miles, this medium-difficulty trail brings you face-to-face with captivating ochre cliffs, soothing turquoise sea, and secluded beaches.

The walkway, crowned as the ‘Best European hiking route,’ is peppered with natural wonders like the iconic Marinha Beach, the Alfazina lighthouse, and awe-inspiring viewpoints like the Vale Espinhaço lookout point.

Douro Vineyard Hike, Douro Valley.

Douro Vineyard Hike, Douro Valley.

EASY: Douro Vineyard Hike – 4/10: This easy-grade hike involves leisurely walks along the vineyard slopes but can get slightly strenuous under the midday sun.

There are few hiking experiences as satisfying and delicious as hiking through one of Portugal’s oldest wine regions, the Douro Valley. This relatively easy hiking experience takes you on a journey through vibrantly green terraced vineyards, alongside the Douro River, with pit stops at multiple centuries-old quintas (wineries).

Beyond the undulating landscapes and the deep blues of the river, this hike provides an immersive lesson about Portugal’s wine culture, and of course, exquisite wine-tasting sessions.

Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, Sintra

MEDIUM: Sintra-Cascais Natural Park – 6/10: With a variety of treks involving moderate difficulty, length and ascent, the total difficulty measure largely depends on the trail you choose and the weather conditions.

Encompassing the fairy-tale town of Sintra and the wild coastline of Cascais, the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is a portrait of Portugal’s cultural heritage blending seamlessly with nature. It offers a medley of hikes ranging from modest town tours, exploring palaces and castles, to moderately challenging coastal cliffs ventures, and mountain ascensions.

Whether walking under the mammoth foliage of the Pena Park, climbing the high peaks of the Sintra mountains, or exploring the rugged coastline of Cabo da Roca, every trail in this national park is a step into an enchanting world.

Madeira’s Levadas, Madeira Island

HARD: Madeira’s Levadas – 8/10: Although appearing easy at first sight due to their flat gradient, some of the Levada walks like the Caldeirao Verde or 25 Fontes can be challenging due to their long distances, altitude gains, vertiginous cliffs, and narrow paths.

On Madeira Island, a walk along the Levadas (irrigation channels) is a must for any hiking enthusiast. Carving through mountains and forests, these paths provide a unique way to explore the island’s varied landscape.

Whether it is the challenging 25 Springs Levada, with its dark tunnels and huge waterfalls, or the less strenuous Levada Loureiro providing breathtaking views of coastal cliffs, the Madeira Levadas are arguably the scenic veins of the island, making them one of the best hikes in Portugal.

Faial’s Volcano Capelinhos, Azores

HARD: Faial’s Volcano Capelinhos – 8/10: With most walks being relatively flat, the only tough part of the trail, especially for those with vertigo, are the very steep sections, where you almost need to climb. Also the ash fields can be quite challenging as there is no shade and it can get very hot.

In the isolation of the Atlantic Ocean, the Portuguese archipelago of Azores hides the surreal landscape of the Capelinhos Volcano on Faial Island. Hiking this lunar-like terrain, formed by a volcanic eruption in 1957, is like walking on a completely different planet. The stark contrast of the deep blue sea against the grey ash landscape offers an uniquely mesmerizing hiking experience.

Monsanto Trail, Monsanto.

EASY: Monsanto Trail – 5/10: A moderate 7km hike going uphill towards the castle can be slighlty challenging but usually manageable for everyone.

In the heart of Portugal, the historic village of Monsanto invites hikers for a walk through time. The Monsanto trail, spread across 4.6 miles, guides you through moss-embellished boulders, rustic homesteads nestled between rocks, and leads to the medieval Monsanto Castle. The imposing boulder formations, medieval buildings, and panoramic views make it one of the best hikes in Portugal.

Tips for Hiking in Portugal.

Just as hiking in the UK unveils a world of lush landscapes and panoramic vistas, Portugal unfolds a rich tapestry of hiking trails engulfed in natural beauty, history, and culture. To fully appreciate this, it’s essential to be prepared. This includes understanding Portugal’s weather, required gear, and trail navigation.

Safety precautions and respect for the environment will enhance your hiking experience and preserve the natural beauty of Portugal’s trails for future generations. Here are some tips for hiking in Portugal.

A. The Weather and The Best Times to Go

In Portugal, the weather can vary considerably from one region to another, but generally, the country enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers, and mild, wet winters. Spring (March-May) and Fall (September-November) are usually the best seasons to hike due to moderate temperatures, fewer tourists, and striking landscapes.

B. Necessary Gear You Should Prepare

Good-quality hiking shoes are a must for any hike. Due to the warm climate, breathable clothing and a hat are recommended. Sunglasses and sunscreen are also necessary as the sun in Portugal can be quite strong, particularly in the summer months. Other essentials include a water bottle, light snacks, and a map or a guide. Along with these, it’s always safe to carry a basic first aid kit.

C. Maps, Guides, and Directions

While many hiking trails in Portugal are well-marked, it is always a good practice to have a physical or digital map for reference. For more challenging and remote hikes, booking a guide can help you safely explore the trails while learning about the local culture and history. For shorter or popular trails such as the Paiva Walkways, signs and maps are available at trailheads and major junctures.

D. Safety Precautions and Things to Avoid

Before setting off on a hike, make sure you are aware of the trail’s length and grade of difficulty. Always inform somebody about the trail you’ll be hiking and when you plan to return. Keep your belongings secure, and do not litter. When hiking in wildlife-rich areas, maintain respectful distances from animals and stick to the designated paths to protect biodiversity.

Respect the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles when hiking in Portugal: take only pictures, leave only footprints. This ensures that the beauty of these trails can be preserved for future generations to admire.

Whether you’re an ardent hiker seeking a rugged high-peak adventure or a casual walker looking for a tranquil nature exploration, Portugal caters to every wanderlust with its diverse landscapes and enriching trails.

These are the best hikes in Portugal, from the wind-swept cliffs of the Algarve’s Seven Hanging Valleys (there are many short hikes in Algarve to start from), the enchanting vineyard walks through the Douro Valley, to the volcanic landscapes of Azores — each trail unfolds a unique side of Portugal. Remember only with the right preparation, appropriate gear, and respect for nature, your hiking experiences can be satisfying and rewarding.

Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!