Visitors flock to Portugal for its laid-back Southern European charm, and its sun, sea and sand. Today this wondrous country, located on the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula, is also celebrated for its ancient history, affordable wine, and strong cultural identity. Due to its varying landscapes Portugal’s countryside is fabulous to explore on foot. But where exactly are the country’s best walking spots?
1. Parque Natural do Litoral Norte
The North Coast Natural Park (Parque Natural do Litoral Norte) is a protected area that stretches in a line of white sand dunes for nearly 18 kilometres, between the Cávado River estuary and the village of Apúlia. This protected area was established in November 1987, and then earned re-qualification as a Natural Park in July 2005. Most of the park’s beaches are quiet and unspoiled. Crystal clear water can lap against your feet as you take a long, bracing walk out in the open.
2. 25 Fontes Hike
If you want more of a challenge, then the 25 Fontes (Fountains) Hike could be for you. Located in Madeira, this is one of the most sought-after “levada” walks in the region. A levada is man-made channel created to carry water for agricultural irrigation.
For nature lovers, walking alongside a levada is an exciting experience. The 25 Fontes Hike begins either in Rabaçal on the E.R. 105, or in the picnic area of Caldeira, which is referred to locally as “the garage”, located at Estrada Dr. Roberto Monteiro. You will experience no less than 25 stunning waterfalls on the hike, and it’s truly unforgettable walking experience.
3. The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
Another exceptional Portuguese walking route to consider is The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. Known locally as Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos, this is one of the most scenic hiking routes in the whole of the Algarve. The hiking trail is moderately challenging (approximately 12km) and follows the coastline between Vale de Centianes (Carvoeiro) in the west, and the Praia da Marinha to the east. The walk encompasses an exploration of “hanging valleys” – incredible natural formations in the limestone cliffs. There are 7 different caves to explore in total, but arguably the most beautiful spot is Benagil Beach – considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Portugal.
In the North of Portugal, located in the Arouca municipality, you will find the Paiva Walkways. If you love nature, this route is a must-walk. 5.5 miles of steep wooden walkways take you through the bank of the Paiva River with jaw-dropping scenic views. You can expect to experience quartz-crystals and some of Europe’s most endangered habitats as you make your way along the Walkways. But don’t take our word for it, The Paiva Walkaways were the winner of the World Travel Awards in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
If you’re looking for a walk that’s a bit more relaxed, consider the 3.5km Castalejo Environmental Trail. The trail is located in Portugal’s Vincente Coast Natural Park, and is known for its Spanish lavender and other rare flowers, which make it a particularly popular spot in Spring. The trail is very well marked and it will take around 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete. When you’ve completed the walk, make sure to check out the viewpoint of Castelejo, which offers breathtaking views of Praia da Cordoama.
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