- From Sintra to Sagres, discover Europe's best preserved coastline.
- Hike the finest sections of famed Rota Vicentina – the Fisherman's Trail.
- Absorb Portugal's heritage visiting historic sites built by conquerors and kings.
- Delight in fresh local cuisine—seafood, homemade cheese, and Alentejo wines.
From the culturally rich city of Lisbon to the sun-drenched Algarve, join us to hike along Portugal's wild southwestern Atlantic coast, one of the best preserved coastlines in all of Europe. Enjoy awe-inspiring views of the dramatic, rocky seascape while breathing in the fresh, salty air of remote and unspoiled beaches.
Beginning near Lisbon in romantic Sintra, where steep, forested hillsides give way to white sandy beaches, we hike by centuries-old palaces and castles as well as charming whitewashed villages complete with inviting plazas and cafés providing a quintessential southern European experience. Our hiking concludes in the famed Algarve near Lagos, at the towering cliffs of the Sagres promontory. This bluff, once thought to be the end of the world, is where ships departed from the sailing school of Prince Henry the Navigator in a quest to discover far-off lands.
- Day 1 - Hike on the wild Atlantic coast and discover majestic Sintra.
- Day 2 - From the Sintra Mountains, hike to the charming village of Cascais.
- Day 3 - Hike Arrábida Natural Park covered in rich Mediterranean vegetation.
- Day 4 - Hike along the famous Rota Vicentina to Zambujeira do Mar.
- Day 5 - Continue hiking along the Alentejo Coast to Odeceixe beach.
- Day 6 - Our route concludes in Sagres, at the edge of the Old World.
- Day 7 - Our time on the rugged Algarve coast ends with a trip back to Lisbon.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Day 1 - Hike on the wild Atlantic coast and discover majestic Sintra.
Our trip begins in Lisbon, Portugal with a 9:00 a.m. group rendezvous at the Hotel Lisboa Plaza. From Lisbon, we take a short drive to Portugal's spectacular Atlantic Coast and begin with a hike on trails hidden among the coastal flora to Cabo da Roca, the western-most point of continental Europe. Along the way we stop for a picnic lunch on the beach. From the windswept landscape of this historic Cape we marvel at views of the wild Atlantic and local fisherman perched on the cliffs ready to hook their day's catch.
After our hike, we head to Sintra, a romantic mountain village nestled in Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The park contains a stunning diversity of landscapes including mountains, forests, lakes, sand dunes, and a rugged coastline with high cliffs interspersed between lovely beaches. The area is a testament to the harmonious coexistence of man and nature with palaces, manor houses and gardens nestled throughout the park. This afternoon we visit a selection of the local monuments, including Pena Palace and its gardens.
There is an option to take a short hike to the hilltop medieval Moorish Castle to admire the panoramic views, or take time to wander the quaint streets of Sintra. Tonight we sleep in the heart of historic Sintra and dine on delicious local specialties such as roasted duck rice and fresh grilled fish. Lunch and dinner included.
Driving: 45 min/25 min; Hiking: Praia Grande to Cabo da Roca: 4 miles; optional Moorish Castle hike: 3 miles; Terrain: trails and coastal paths with some steep, rocky sections on ascents and descents.
Day 2 - From the Sintra Mountains, hike to the charming village of Cascais.
We begin the day with a visit to the contemplative moss-covered Capuchos Convent, located high on the northwestern flank of the Sintra mountains. It was built by Franciscan monks in complete harmony with its surroundings. Next, we make our way towards the dramatic location of Peninha Sanctuary. The chapel dates back to the 17th century and, according to local legend, the Virgin Mary appeared here in the 16th century. From this peaceful place, we meander downhill on trails to Guincho beach for lunch and then along a pedestrian boardwalk to the attractive fishing town of Cascais. The views, not the exertion, will render us breathless today.
Ending in Cascais, a charming village that was once the summer residence of the royal family, we explore the town and fish market, and eat some of the best artisanal ice cream around. We stay the night in a cozy hotel in Cascais. Breakfast and dinner included.
Driving: 15 minutes; Hiking: Options from 5 miles to 12.8 miles; Terrain: forest trails, coastal paths, beach walking, paved walking path, boardwalk, mostly downhill.
Day 3 - Hike Arrábida Natural Park covered in rich Mediterranean vegetation.
After an optional walking tour of Cascais, we head south of Lisbon over the Tejo River, the longest in the Iberia. Our first stop is a visit to a tile workshop. Azujelo, painted ceramic tile work, is found throughout Portugal; it is a tradition that is at least five centuries old. These decorative tiles are found everywhere from churches and palaces to ordinary homes and railway stations.
In the aristocratic town of Azeitao, we tour the historic wine cellars of Jose Maria da Fonseca, a family winery dating back to the 1800s. There is time to walk through the gardens and enjoy a wine tasting. After a picnic lunch to sample the famous local cheese, we begin our hike in Arrábida Natural Park. The landscape is distinct from previous days, consisting of pine forest and rich Mediterranean vegetation. There are views of turquoise waters (home to dolphins!), rocky bays and Troia, a sandy spit of land once inhabited by the Romans. The trail will take us past a 16th century convent and sanctuary nestled in the mountainside. We end our hike above the tiny bay and beach of Portinho da Arrábida facing the Sado River.
We transfer to Vila Nova de Milfontes, a charming whitewashed village set on the Mira River delta. Famous for its regional cooking, we dine in one of town's most popular restaurants. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.
Driving: ~3 hrs: 50 min (morning) + 2 hrs (afternoon); Hiking: Arrábida Natural Park, 6.3 miles; Terrain: trails, mostly rolling with one steeper climb and descent.
Day 4 - Hike along the famous Rota Vicentina to Zambujeira do Mar.
The remainder of our hiking route runs through the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park. This park encompasses the entire southwest coast of Portugal from north of Vila Nova de Milfontes to Sagres and Cabo São Vicente at its southern tip, protecting the dramatic and rugged scenery from development. Today and tomorrow our route takes us along two of the most beautiful sections of Portugal's famous Rota Vicentina, a coastal hiking trail used by fishermen to reach the prime fishing spots and now by hikers eager to experience Southern Europe's wildest stretch of coast.
Almograve is a quiet coastal village blessed with two very different beaches that are considered among the most beautiful along the Alentejo Coast. The northern beach is spread over gentle sand dunes and the southern beach has dramatic black shale rock jutting from steep cliffs. We begin today's hike here and head south to conclude in Cabo Sardão, where storks nest on the cliffs above the Atlantic. Or, better yet, we continue hiking all the way to the cliff-top town of Zambujeira do Mar, which offers a breathtaking panorama of the ocean. Our coastal walk will take us along trails predominately composed of red sandstone with a unique terracotta color. Tonight we stay in a small family run hotel in Zambujeira do Mar. Breakfast and dinner included.
Driving: 20 min; Hiking: Almograve - Cabo Sardão, 3.5 miles or Almograve - Zambujeira do Mar, 10 miles; Terrain: trails, sandy coastal paths, mostly flat with some steeper up and down sections.
Day 5 - Continue hiking along the Alentejo Coast to Odeceixe beach.
Hiking directly from our guest house, we continue along Atlantic coast trails with sea breezes and sweeping views of the rugged coast. The jumbled geology of the sedimentary rock along this stretch of shoreline is evidence of the force of nature here. Our hike culminates with one of the most exceptional views in the entire region: Odeceixe beach seen from Ponta em Branco (White summit). Our hike ends at Odeceixe beach on the Seixe river delta, which marks the border between the Alentejo and Algarve regions of Portugal. Tonight we stay in the Algarve village of Salema, a small fishing town with white stucco houses on a wide beach between two steep cliffs. Breakfast and dinner included.
Driving: 1 hour; Hiking: 8.5 miles; Terrain: Trails, beach walking, sandy paths, flat with some rolling terrain.
Note: March and November departures stay in the village of Vila do Bispo (10 minutes from Salema), a pretty town with older, typical Algarvean houses clustered around a 16th century church.
Day 6 - Our route concludes in Sagres, at the edge of the Old World.
Our final hike begins at Salema beach, where brightly colored fishing boats are still launched from its golden sands by a tractor. En route to Sagres, the trail takes us above steep shale cliffs along the southern Algarve coast and through fields of wildflowers in the spring. The beauty of Sagres beaches, many of them nearly deserted, the unspoiled coastline, the pristine bays, and the towering cliffs are all visual delights. Many of the locals still devote their time to the sea and land, taking advantage of nature's abundance resulting in varied and tasty cuisine. Sagres is one of the few places in the Algarve region where the wilderness, in conjunction with a rich historical and cultural heritage, remains intact. Breakfast and dinner included.
Hiking: Salema Beach – Sagres, 10 miles or Ingrina Beach – Sagres 5.5 miles; Terrain: sandy, coastal paths, beach walking, rolling, rocky, dirt trails with some steeper sections.
Day 7 - Our time on the rugged Algarve coast ends with a trip back to Lisbon.
Our journey along Portugal's wild Atlantic Coast comes to an end. Continue exploring the famed Algarve coast on your own or transfer back to Lisbon with the guides. Breakfast included.
Driving: 3 hours.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule above, the itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control, including weather and terrain conditions.
Double-occupancy accommodations; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; wine included with dinners; bi-lingual hiking guides; private transportation and luggage transfers; sightseeing as noted in the itinerary including entrance fees.
Round-trip airfare; airport/hotel transfers; 4 lunches and 1 dinner; insurance of any kind; excess baggage charges; alcoholic beverages (apart from wine with dinners); items of a personal nature.
This trip is rated Moderate . The daily hikes range from ~5-13 miles and are over varied terrain - from forested trails, grassy lanes, to sandy pathways and the beach. Since some of the trails we hike can be uneven, rocky, steep and/or hilly, a conditioning regimen beginning at least 2-3 months prior to departure is highly recommended. Hiking in sand may feel more strenuous than hiking on dirt trails. Walking/hiking, running and biking are all great ways to physically prepare for this adventure. The better shape you are in, the more you'll be able to enjoy all that the ruggedly beautiful Portuguese Coast has to offer!
Lisbon and the southern Atlantic coastal areas offer abundant sunshine and pleasant temperatures. February, March, April and November enjoy mild weather with average daytime temperatures in the low- to mid-60s and around 50°F at night. May, June and October have daytime temperatures in the mid-70s, cooling to around 60°F in the evenings. September weather is usually the warmest, with daytime temperatures around 80°F, cooling to the low 60s at night. As our route heads south, the temperatures may increase on the thermometer by 5-8°F, but our proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the resulting breezes can make temperatures feel cooler. Rainfall is always a possibility, making quality raingear an essential item on the packing list.
If you are traveling alone and specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the single supplement fee. There is no single supplement fee for those willing to share accommodations, and we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. Please be advised that there are a limited number of single accommodations available.General Information
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Portugal Coastal Hiking Gear List
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.
- Valid passport
- Airline tickets
- One piece of luggage, wheels and a retractable handle are recommended
- Daypack to carry your camera, water bottle, extra clothing
- Daypack rain cover, waterproof
- Luggage tags and luggage locks
- Passport pouch or money pouch
- Bring a few lightweight, easily washable items for travel and daily wear
- Comfortable shoes
- Sun hat
- Midweight insulating layer - fleece, wool, or PrimaLoft
- Lightweight thermal underwear top and bottom, synthetic or wool
- Hiking pants (zip-off legs are convenient)
- Hiking shorts
- Long-sleeve shirts (synthetic, quick drying)
- T-shirts (synthetic, quick drying)
- Hiking socks
- Liner socks
- Rain jacket, waterproof and breathable
- Rain or wind pants, waterproof and breathable
- Wind resistant shirt/jacket, lightweight
- Day hiking boots with lateral support, lightweight, waterproof, broken in, aggressive tread
- Watersport sandals for the beach
- Two 1-quart water bottles or a hydration system
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Sunblock and lip balm with high SPF
- Toiletry kit
- Ditty bag containing 1/2 compact roll toilet tissue, several 1-qt Ziploc baggies, hand sanitizer gel or wet wipes, feminine hygiene supplies as required
- Personal first aid kit with medications
- Insect repellent
- Beach/travel towel, lightweight & quick drying
- Hiking stick or trekking poles
- Desert ankle gaiters
- Fleece or wool hat
- Fleece or wool liner gloves, lightweight
- Camera, memory cards, spare batteries
- Electronics/battery charger
- Small binoculars
- Ear plugs
- Electrical adapter plug/voltage converter
- Watch with alarm or travel clock
- Favorite energy snacks and/or drink mixes
- Spare contact lenses or glasses
- Reading and writing materials
Things to Consider
- Always pack essential items such as your passport, REI Adventures trip final bulletin, money, eyewear, medications and hiking boots in your carry-on baggage in case your luggage is delayed.
- Cotton is wonderful in warm weather and walking about town. However, once it becomes wet, it will drain your body heat. Bring wool or synthetics such as Capilene®, MTS® and Thermax®.
- Always test your layers before a trip. Your outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without binding and bunching up.
- Make sure boots are broken-in. Bring moleskin or blister remedies for foot treatment. Thin liner socks worn under regular hiking socks may minimize the risk of blisters. The liner sock should be synthetic, not cotton. Test your sock combination before you go on the trip.
- Stuff sacks are great for sorting gear. Use different sizes/colors to differentiate contents.
- Bring a small ditty bag that includes a Ziploc bag with toilet tissue (Cotton Buds Tissues To Go and Coghlan's Toilet Paper are available on www.rei.com), spare Ziploc bags to dispose of soiled tissue, a small bottle of hand sanitizer and wet wipes. Women should add any necessary feminine health supplies. Your ditty bag will be carried in your daypack each day.
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.