Discover the Heart of Portugal

Trip Length 7 Days
Group Size 4?14
Activity level
Starting from
$3,199 for REI Members
$3,499 for non-members
Departures Sep 2020-Oct 2021

Head off the beaten path into authentic Portugal. Savor its layers of history, culture, cuisine and exquisite natural beauty.

Venture into central Portugal, a crossroads of scenery and history. Gentle hikes draw us through a kaleidoscope of landscapes, from the sapphire lagoons and wind-lashed cliffs of the Atlantic coast to the lush valleys of the Rio Zezere. We follow its banks to the unique schist village of Casal de S.Sim�o in the heart of Portugal.

Remnants of the past punctuate our travels. Spend a night in a palace in the magical forest of Bu�aco, a walled arboretum featuring flora from the Age of Discovery. Marvel at Tomar, founded by the Knights Templar; Almourol, a fortresslike castle on an island; and Obidos, a castle town on a site once occupied by the Romans. Our adventure ends in Porto, a vibrant city with a labyrinth of medieval streets?a fitting end to our journey into the living heart of Portugal.

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Trip Highlights

  • Discover Portugal?s best kept secret?the Centro region
  • Hike along the beaches and cliffs of the wild Atlantic coast
  • Explore walled castle towns and riverside villages of the Knights Templar
  • Begin and end in two historic and vibrant Portuguese cities?Lisbon and Porto
  • Delight in fresh cuisine?seafood, local cheeses and Portuguese wines

Activities

This trip is rated Easy Active [2]. Trip members should be capable of hiking up to 4 hours (up to 6 miles) on consecutive days. Hikes may include trails with loose dirt, rocks, sand, numerous stone stairs of variable height, and sections with steep ascents and descents. Elevation gain/loss is minimal on this trip.

  • Hiking
  • Walking

What's Included

Lodging and meals as indicated on the daily itinerary. Wine with dinners. Professional guide services. Transportation during the course of the trip.

Accommodations

Hotels, 6 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Hike the wild Atlantic coast; visit a traditional fishing village.

We begin with a transfer north of Lisbon to the famous fishing village of Nazar�, in the heart of Portugal. Set on a long beach facing the powerful Atlantic Ocean, Nazar� gives us a glimpse of life in a unique Portuguese fishing village, where some local women still dress in traditional seven layered skirts and colorful fishing boats dot the coastline. Our hike begins in a coastal pine forest planted by King D. Dinis in the 14th century and continues along the cliffs with dramatic views of the ocean. We?ll pass by the lighthouse famous for its viewpoint of Nazar�?s world-renowned maverick waves and end our hike with lunch at Nazar� beach and watch the locals hang their fish on nets to dry in the sun. We have time to freshen up at our hotel overlooking the Obidos lagoon in Foz do Arelho before a short walk to a restaurant for our first delicious dinner together. Lunch and dinner included.

Hiking: 4 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +644'/-859; Transfer: 2 hours

Day 2

Discover Caldas da Rainha and colorful farmers? and fish markets.

We start our day with a visit to the peaceful spa town of Caldas da Rainha which translates to "Spas of the Queen". It was named after Queen Leonor who believed in the thermal waters? medicinal properties. We walk along a route with sculptures by Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, the local 19th century ceramicist known for his sarcastic political commentary and cabbage leaf pottery. We stop to visit the local farmers? and fish markets before a guided visit of the famous Bordalo Pinheiro ceramics factory. After lunch we take a short hike along the coast and enjoy sweeping views over the rugged Atlantic coast and �bidos Lagoon. Choose to return to our hotel on foot or take a short transfer. Tonight, we visit the medieval UNESCO castle town of �bidos and take a sunset walk through the narrow cobbled streets lined with whitewashed cottages and bougainvillea vines before we enjoy a group dinner. Breakfast and dinner included.

Hiking: 2.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +474'/-682'; Walking city tour: 2 miles

Day 3

Hike in Serra de Aire National Park and the Mira de Aire Caves.

Our hike in the Serras de Aire Mountains begins in Fornea de Alcaria. We are provided with views over the valley leading to a plateau and ending at the bottom of a limestone amphitheater, an extraordinary geological phenomenon. Next, we visit the Mira de Aire caves, a Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal site. The caves are the largest in Iberia extending for 7 miles. Over thousands of years, rainwater has created beautiful sculptures in the limestone. Once in the heart of the cave, more than 600 stairs deep, we stop for tapas and local wines, aged at an ideal cool temperature. We spend the next three nights in Tomar, one of central Portugal?s most charming riverside towns. We walk to dinner on the pedestrian streets of the cross-shaped medieval neighborhood. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Hiking: 3 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +493'/-1,199; Walk inside caves: 1 mile with 600 stone steps, Elevation gain/loss: +490'/-1,200'

Day 4

Tour Tomar?s Convent of Christ and Almourol castle on the Tagus River.

This morning we transfer to the small town of Constancia on the Tagus River for a short hike on the river banks followed by a boat ride to the medieval Castle of Almourol perched on a small island in the middle of the Tagus River. After enjoying a picnic lunch in beautiful gardens along the river we?re off to the UNESCO World Heritage site Convent of Christ for a guided tour. The Convent, built by the Knights Templar in 1160 AD, is a unique Portuguese monastic fortress that was in construction for nearly five centuries. After our visit we return to our hotel to enjoy a free night in Tomar. Breakfast and lunch included.

Hiking: 3.1 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +651'/-700'

Day 5

Hike along the Zezere River, visit Casal de S.Sim�o village.

Today?s first hike is alongside the Zezere River near the schist village of Pedr�g�o Pequeno. Our hike rewards us with extraordinary panoramic views over the river amongst the lush vegetation and a two thousand year old Roman bridge. After a picnic lunch we transfer to one of the best preserved and most unique schist villages in the country, Casal de S.Sim�o. Grand houses built mostly from quartzite with timber balconies and colorful flower beds line the only street in the village. We take a loop hike through a pristine forest nestled in a valley filled with native species, through farmland to the Alge River. We?ll enjoy views of stony crags, river pools and water wheels along the way. We return to Tomar for the evening and a group dinner. All meals included.

Hiking: 6.2 miles, Elevation gain/loss: =2,546'/1,699'

Day 6

Hike in Bu�aco National Forest; overnight in a former royal palace.

Today we hike in the magical Bu�aco National Forest. The forest dates back to the 6th century when it belonged to a Benedictine monastery. The virgin forest was conceded to the Barefoot Carmelites in the 17th-century for their spiritual hermitage to withdraw totally from the outside world. Our hike follows the water trail, full of springs and streams immersed in a forest with exotic tree species. The forest retains characteristics of a primitive forest in the mountains of central Portugal with high ecological relevance. It is renowned by for its rarity and unique biodiversity. We overnight in the historic Bu�aco Palace Hotel. The Portuguese royal family enjoyed Bu�aco so much, they built both a royal summer palace and hunting lodge in the center of the forest. Today these royal sites have been converted into the Bu�aco Palace Hotel where we overnight. We gather for a farewell dinner in the palace dining room. Breakfast and dinner included.

Hiking: 2.2 miles, minimal elevation gain/loss; Optional hike: 1.6 miles

Day 7

Say farewell; return to Porto or Lisbon.

This morning we say goodbye to our guides and each other, making a final transfer to Porto. Drop-offs at the Porto airport and a designated downtown hotel are available. You are welcome to schedule your homeward flight for any time after 2:30pm or stay on and explore this vibrant city. We also have the option to return to Lisbon with our guides. Breakfast included.

Transfer: 1.5 hours to Porto or 2.5 hours to Lisbon

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.

What to pack

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Travel documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)
  • Valid Passport

Contact Us

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 REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.