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5 of the best walks for your Portugal holiday

Minho & North Portugal

1. Sistelo, Minho. We begin up in the very far north, in the historical province of Minho. It’s a pocket of Portugal unaffected by tourism, indifferent to modernity, and steeped in historical richness.

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Portugal minho sistelo terraces 3 c diego pura

At Sistelo great agricultural terraces wrap around the hillsides, dotted with traditional architecture and linked by old cobbled paths eroded over the centuries by animal wagons.

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Portugal peneda hiking sistelo padrao farmer cows c diego

As you walk you will see that locals still wear their traditional dress - with women usually wearing black - and still use the cobbled paths to drive their livestock, as their ancestors did.

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Portugal minho peneda sistelo high route branda porto covo c diego pura

If you head up into the upper mountain, extending the walk to 12km, you reach the impressive 'Brandas' and 'Cortelhos' - stone-built huts for animals that resemble Iron Age settlements.

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Portugal minho peneda padrao espinheiros laurent back c diego pura

You'll also pass several 'Espigueiros' - typical granaries from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. Slowly ageing in the sun, these monuments keep alive Sistelo's link to its agricultural past.

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Portugal Minho River casa ferreirinha living room c laurent pura

Even the place you stay, a renovated granite house in the village, has a weight of history about it. Breakfast is delivered to your front door in the morning, fuel for a good day's walking.

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Portugal peneda peasant

If you'd like come and walk in Sistelo, you have two options - this walk features early on in our North Portugal Inn to Inn, or can also be enjoyed on our Porto to Lisbon Road Trip. Your choice!

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Portugal Minho Caminho de Santiago cross

2. Caminho Português. As a route to Santiago the Portuguese Way is second in popularity only to the Camino Francés across northern Spain. In Minho, it splits into two branches...

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Portugal Minho Caminho Caminho Portugues walking down alto da portela grande labruja

One branch tracks the coastline, whilst the other cuts inland. It's the latter we share with you here, giving you a 21km taster of the special atmosphere and community of The Way.

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Portugal Minho Caminho de Santiago casa da capela c diego pura

Walking for a day won’t grant you forgiveness for your sins. But it does give you a window into the character of the Caminho - most pilgrims are very happy to share their experiences with you.

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Portugal Minho Caminho de Santiago yellow arrow c diego pura

We chose this walk because it gives a great taste of the variety of the Caminho. You will walk along ancient cobbled paths, through quiet villages and past small, sunny vineyards.

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Portugal minho caminho ponte de lima hiker highway 2 c diego pura

Ok, not every inch is pretty - this horrible flyover for example - but honestly it's such a small price to pay for a very special day's walking and all part of the Caminho experience.

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Portugal Minho Ponte de Lima pilgrim backpacks

Rucksacks lined up outside pilgrim hostels is a common sight here. Whilst you'll share your simple but cozy hotel with pilgrims tonight, you're on holiday, so there's no shared dorms for you.

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Portugal Minho Caminho de Santiago cruz dos muertos c diego pura

Again, you have the same two options for this walk. Our North Portugal Inn to Inn would give you the full experience, or we could work a version of the Caminho into our Porto to Lisbon Road Trip.

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Portugal douro loivos pinhao hike seven

3. Douro Valley. Moving south-east, we come to the Douro region, known the world over for its wine production. It is in fact the oldest Denomination of Origin in the world.

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Portugal douro quinta autumn

The wine landscape of the Douro has been shaped by two thousand years of wine making. Historic quinta farmhouses perch above the vines, spreading down the valley to the great river below.

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Portugal Douro leaves grapes fall two

The pace of life here is dictated by the grapes slowly ripening in the sun, making the Douro a wonderfully relaxing place to slow right down and explore through the simple act of walking.

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Porto & the Douro Valley

One of our favourite walks leads you up through the vines to the tiny hamlet of Casal de Loivos, returning back to Pinhão with stunning views over the vines and the river unfolding as you go.

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Portugal douro quinta da corte c hotel

Truth be told, you don't need to walk very far to enjoy the views and immerse yourself in the landscape - you don't really even need to leave the grounds of your wine 'quinta' farmhouse hotel.

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Douro Valley

Whichever walk you choose, you're not going to come here without making time to properly enjoy the wines and understand the history and wine heritage of the Douro...

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Portugal Douro Quinta Dos Poços c diego martin pura2

So you'll also spend a day with our good friend Paulo, drifting down the river on a private boat ride, sharing lunch at his family's quinta and, naturally, sampling the estate's finest wines.

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Portugal douro poços paulo farm worker c diego pura

Sound good? Of course it does! The Douro features on our Porto to Lisbon Road Trip, so please check that out. We can also arrange the Douro as an extension to our North Portugal Inn to Inn.

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Portugal alentejo marvao castle 3

4. Galegos to Marvão, Alentejo. We are now in the southern half of Portugal, almost at the border with Spain. Much like Minho in the north, this photogenic area proudly retains its old ways of life.

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Portugal alentejo castelodavide marvao landscape

The contrabandistas who once smuggled back and forth over the border might have had their day, but you will see that the plains around Marvão still sustain many traditional industries...

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Spain andalucia blossomed fields dehesa

This is thanks to the Montado landscapes which define the region - a managed ecosystem of crops and trees which allow agriculture and biodiversity to flourish side-by-side.

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Portugal alentejo marvao galegos hike 8

Our 12km walk starts in the hills near the Spanish border, following ancient paths surrounded by giant cork oak fields. You are guided by views of the hilltop village of Marvão, to which you are walking.

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Magic of the Montado

En route, you will see locals working in the fields and pass through a romantic patchwork of wildflower meadows, small vineyards, majestic olive groves and open stands of Mediterranean oaks.

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Medieval Marvão

Journey's end is Marvão's medieval castle, which crowns a rocky outcrop above a cluster of whitewashed and red-tiled houses. Unbroken views stretch across the plains as far as the eye can see.

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Portugal alentejo marvao pousada

Portuguese Nobel prize winner Jose Saramago exclaimed that "from Marvão, you can see the whole earth". As you eat your breakfast in your hotel the next day, you can see what he was getting at.

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Portugal alentejo marvao galegos hike goat

If you like the sound of this walk, you have a couple of options. It's another that features on our Porto to Lisbon Road Trip, or it's part of our country-crossing Alentejo & Costa Vicentina Inn to Inn.

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Rota Vicentina

5. Ruta Vicentina, Alentejo. Few coastlines are as dramatic, yet as pleasant to walk as the Costa Vicentina. High cliffs, dotted with umbrella-like pine trees, loom over a fierce Atlantic ocean.

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Portugal alentejo rota vicentina odeceixe zambujeira 4

The Ruta Vicentina is a network of old Fishermen Trails which snakes along the clifftops. Whilst an established path can often mean a busy path, it’s not really the case here in most stretches.

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Portugal alentejo costa vicentina odeceixe village and beach from ponta em branco

Our favourite stretch is probably between Odeceixe and Zambujeira do Mar, where there is always a quiet spot to hear the waves hitting the cliffs and an empty golden beach to go for a dip.

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Portugal alentejo vicentina sardao storks 8

In spring look out for the world's only sea-nesting storks, raising their young just metres above the fierce ocean waves, and just metres away from us strange humans watching on.

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Portugal alentejo rota vicentina zambujeira seafood goose barnacles langostines

The fishing culture is still very much alive here. If you are a lover of seafood, you will be spoilt for choice in any one of the fantastic restaurants that look out over the ocean.

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Portugal alentejo rota vicentina sunset

And because we are facing west here, the edge of the world in the Middle Ages, the sunsets are quite spectacular - a memorable end to a memorable day, and to a memorable journey across Portugal.

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Herdade do touril c hotel

This walk is also in both our Porto to Lisbon Road Trip and Alentejo & Costa Vicentina Inn to Inn, staying with Angela and Luis at their restored farmhouse, washed over by gentle sea breezes.

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Footprints1

So now it's over to you. These are just five walks of many that we'd love to share with you. Please take a look at our Portugal holidays and remember that each can be adapted to suit you.

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Minho & North Portugal
Portugal minho sistelo terraces 3 c diego pura
Portugal peneda hiking sistelo padrao farmer cows c diego
Portugal minho peneda sistelo high route branda porto covo c diego pura
Portugal minho peneda padrao espinheiros laurent back c diego pura
Portugal Minho River casa ferreirinha living room c laurent pura
Portugal peneda peasant
Portugal Minho Caminho de Santiago cross
Portugal Minho Caminho Caminho Portugues walking down alto da portela grande labruja
Portugal Minho Caminho de Santiago casa da capela c diego pura
Portugal Minho Caminho de Santiago yellow arrow c diego pura
Portugal minho caminho ponte de lima hiker highway 2 c diego pura
Portugal Minho Ponte de Lima pilgrim backpacks
Portugal Minho Caminho de Santiago cruz dos muertos c diego pura
Portugal douro loivos pinhao hike seven
Portugal douro quinta autumn
Portugal Douro leaves grapes fall two
Porto & the Douro Valley
Portugal douro quinta da corte c hotel
Douro Valley
Portugal Douro Quinta Dos Poços c diego martin pura2
Portugal douro poços paulo farm worker c diego pura
Portugal alentejo marvao castle 3
Portugal alentejo castelodavide marvao landscape
Spain andalucia blossomed fields dehesa
Portugal alentejo marvao galegos hike 8
Magic of the Montado
Medieval Marvão
Portugal alentejo marvao pousada
Portugal alentejo marvao galegos hike goat
Rota Vicentina
Portugal alentejo rota vicentina odeceixe zambujeira 4
Portugal alentejo costa vicentina odeceixe village and beach from ponta em branco
Portugal alentejo vicentina sardao storks 8
Portugal alentejo rota vicentina zambujeira seafood goose barnacles langostines
Portugal alentejo rota vicentina sunset
Herdade do touril c hotel
Footprints1

From the immense terracing tucked away in the mountains of the north, to the hillside vineyards perched above the Douro River and down across the fertile plains of the Alentejo to the clifftop Fishermen Trails of the Atlantic, Portugal has quite the array of landscapes for us to tie our walking boots up in. You could experience it all on a self drive from Porto to Lisbon, or focus on certain areas on an Inn to Inn walking holiday. Whichever you choose, the views will be special, the walking relaxed, the navigating easy and the hospitality and food a true delight.

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