We begin with a transfer north of Lisbon to the famous fishing village of Nazaré, in the heart of Portugal. Set on a long beach facing the powerful Atlantic Ocean, Nazaré 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 Nazaré’s world-renowned maverick waves and end our hike with lunch at Nazaré 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
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 Óbidos Lagoon. Choose to return to our hotel on foot or take a short transfer. Tonight, we visit the medieval UNESCO castle town of Óbidos 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
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'
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'
Today’s first hike is alongside the Zezere River near the schist village of Pedrógão 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.Simão. 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'
Today we hike in the magical Buçaco 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 Buçaco Palace Hotel. The Portuguese royal family enjoyed Buçaco 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 Buçaco 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
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