Wine, Waves & Walking: Portugal’s Very Best Walking Holidays

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From the dramatic cliffs of the Algarve to the verdant vineyards and winding roads of the Douro Valley, Portugal is a walker’s paradise. For those eager to explore Portugal on foot, here are some of the best walking holidays in this enchanting country.

The Fishermen’s Trail

Route: Sines to Odeceixe
Distance: Approximately 100 km
Duration: 5-6 days

We had to start here. The Fishermen’s Trail, part of the Rota Vicentina, is a stunning coastal path that follows the footsteps of local fishermen along the southwestern coast of Portugal.

Starting in the historic town of Sines, the trail meanders south through rugged cliffs, hidden coves, and pristine beaches, ending in the picturesque town of Odeceixe. The route offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and is well-marked, making it accessible for walkers of all levels. The trail can be completed in sections, allowing for flexibility in planning your journey.

IDEAL for: Coastal Walk Enthusiasts and Nature Lovers. The Fishermen’s Trail is perfect for those who enjoy seaside walks with plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife and take in the natural beauty of the Alentejo and Algarve coastlines.

Key Dish to Try: Savour a bowl of Cataplana de Marisco, a traditional seafood stew cooked in a copper pot, which captures the fresh flavours of the sea.

Best Wine of the Region: Alentejo wines, particularly the white Antão Vaz, are known for their crisp and refreshing qualities, making them a perfect match for the region’s seafood dishes.

Highlights Along The Way

Sines: A historic town known for its castle and as the birthplace of the explorer Vasco da Gama.
Praia do Malhão: A stunning beach with golden sands and dramatic rock formations.
Zambujeira do Mar: A quaint fishing village with beautiful coastal views and excellent seafood restaurants.
Odeceixe Beach: A unique beach where the river meets the sea, offering a perfect spot for a refreshing swim.

The Douro Valley Walk

Route: Peso da Régua to Pinhão
Distance: Approximately 30 km
Duration: 2-3 days

The Douro Valley, famous for its terraced vineyards and port wine production, offers a scenic, leisurely experience and, of course, plenty of delicious wine, that makes for one of Portugal’s very best walking holidays.

Begin your journey in Peso da Régua, a key town in the Douro wine region, and follow the trails that wind through the vineyards, olive groves, and charming quintas (wine estates). The route takes you to the quaint village of Pinhão, nestled on the banks of the Douro River. This walk is relatively easy and can be enjoyed over a few days, with plenty of opportunities to sample the local wines and cuisine.

IDEAL for: Wine Enthusiasts and Leisure Walkers. The Douro Valley Walk is ideal for those who appreciate fine wine and picturesque landscapes, offering a relaxed pace with plenty of stops for tastings and vineyard tours.

Key Dish to Try: Indulge in Posta à Mirandesa, a traditional dish from the Trás-os-Montes region, featuring thick slices of beef steak, typically grilled and served with potatoes and a rich, wine-infused (obviously) sauce.

Best Wine of the Region: Douro DOC wines, particularly the robust reds made from Touriga Nacional grapes, are a must-try. Pair them with local dishes for a true taste of the region.

Highlights Along The Way

  • Peso da Régua: Visit the Douro Museum to learn about the region’s wine history.
  • Quinta do Seixo: A renowned wine estate offering tours and tastings of its famous port wines.
  • Casal de Loivos: A small village with one of the best viewpoints over the Douro Valley.
  • Pinhão: Explore the beautiful azulejo-tiled train station and take a boat trip on the Douro River.

Read: Wike your way through these 5 incredible wine destinations

The Peneda-Gerês National Park Trek

Route: Lindoso to Gerês
Distance: Approximately 50 km
Duration: 4-5 days

For those seeking a more rugged and adventurous walking holiday, the Peneda-Gerês National Park in northern Portugal offers a spectacular trek through one of the country’s most beautiful natural landscapes.

Starting in the historic village of Lindoso, the trail takes you through ancient forests, past cascading waterfalls, and across high mountain plateaus, ending in the spa town of Gerês. The route is well-marked but can be challenging due to the varied terrain, so it’s best suited for experienced hikers.

IDEAL for: Adventure Seekers and Mountain Trekkers. This trek is perfect for those who enjoy challenging hikes and the opportunity to explore Portugal’s only national park, with its diverse flora and fauna.

Key Dish to Try: Try Cozido à Portuguesa, a hearty stew made with a variety of meats, sausages, and vegetables, perfect for refuelling after a day on the trails.

Best Wine of the Region: Vinho Verde, a young and slightly effervescent wine from the Minho region, is refreshing and pairs well with the local cuisine.

Highlights Along The Way

  • Lindoso Castle: A medieval castle offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Soajo: A village famous for its traditional granaries and beautiful stone houses.
  • Cascata do Arado: A stunning waterfall where you can take a refreshing dip.
  • Gerês: Relax in the thermal baths and explore the charming town centre.

The Madeira Levada Walks

Route: Ribeiro Frio to Portela
Distance: Approximately 11 km
Duration: 1 day

Madeira, known as the “Island of Eternal Spring,” offers a unique walking experience along its network of levadas (irrigation channels).

One of the most popular routes is the Levada do Furado, which starts in Ribeiro Frio and ends in Portela. This walk takes you through lush laurel forests, along narrow paths with stunning views of the island’s dramatic landscapes. The route is relatively easy and can be completed in a day, making it perfect for a leisurely exploration of Madeira’s natural beauty.

IDEAL for: Island Explorers and Casual Walkers. The Madeira Levada Walks are ideal for those who enjoy gentle walks with plenty of opportunities to appreciate the island’s flora and fauna.

Key Dish to Try: Espetada Madeirense, skewered beef marinated in garlic and bay leaves, grilled over an open flame, is a local favourite that’s not to be missed.

Best Wine of the Region: Madeira wine, a fortified wine with a rich history, is available in a variety of styles from dry to sweet. It’s perfect for sipping after a day of walking.

Highlights Along The Way:

  • Ribeiro Frio: Visit the trout farm and enjoy the beautiful gardens.
  • Balcoes Viewpoint: A stunning viewpoint offering panoramic views of the valley and mountains.
  • Laurisilva Forest: Walk through this UNESCO World Heritage site, home to unique flora and fauna.
  • Portela: A charming village with traditional Madeiran houses and beautiful views of the coast.

The Bottom Line

Walking holidays in Portugal offer a unique way to experience the country’s diverse landscapes, rich culture, and delicious cuisine. Whether you’re looking for a coastal adventure, a vineyard stroll, or a mountain trek, Portugal has got you covered. As long as you cover its paths in return…

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