Portugal Coastal Hiking

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Trip Length 7 Days
Group Size 4-14
Difficulty
3

Starting from

$3,299

for REI Members

$3,599 for non-members

Departures

May 2019-Nov 2020

Set out on an incredible 7-day hike along Portugal’s sun-drenched southwestern Atlantic coast.

From the rich culture of Lisbon to the sparkling white villages of Algarve, take a turn through one of the best preserved coastlines in all of Europe. Hike to quaint towns, rocky seascapes and unspoiled beaches along our journey. Beginning near Lisbon in romantic Sintra, where forested hillsides give way to white sandy beaches, we hike by centuries-old castles and palaces. The scenery can only be described as absolutely quintessential.

Savor the fresh, salty air and indulge in traditional southern European cuisine. Tour through inviting plazas and savor quiet conversation in a charming café. Explore jumbled rocks along vast stretches of shoreline. We find the end of our route in Sagres. 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. Take in the beauty of the shoreline before we ourselves depart home.

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Trip highlights

  • 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.

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. The first three days are a mix of culture and hiking; the last three days are dedicated to hiking and exploring nature. Days are full and you should anticipate rising early and retiring for the evening after 10pm. The daily hikes range from 2.5 to 10 miles (4-6 hours). The terrain will vary and includes forested trails, grassy lanes, dirts pathways and sandy beaches. It is important to note there will be uneven, rocky, steep and/or hilly sections, and some trail sections have areas of exposure. Hiking in sand is more strenuous than hiking on dirt trails; likewise hiking in very warm weather can make the hills feel more strenuous.

A conditioning regimen beginning at least 2 months prior to departure is highly recommended. Walking/hiking, running, cycling, and carrying a 10-pound daypack are all great ways to physically prepare for this adventure.

  • Hiking

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 to Guincho beach and the Cresmina Dunes, visit Quinta da Regaleira estate.

Our trip begins in Lisbon, Portugal with a 9am group rendezvous. A short drive brings us to the dramatic Peninha Sanctuary. According to local legend, the 17th-century chapel was built after the Virgin Mary appeared to a hermit. We begin our hike, heading downhill on trails to Guincho beach and then onwards to Cresmina Dunes Nature Center for lunch. The views, not the exertion, will render us breathless! Our next stop is the luxurious Quinta da Regaleira estate, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We stroll through amazing gardens filled with rhododendrons and hydrangeas, labyrinthine tunnels and grottoes, foot bridges, ponds, towers, and a beautiful palace designed by the famous 19th century Italian opera set designer and architect Luigi Manini. Upon reaching the village of Sintra, we’ll check into our hotel to freshen up before dinner. Dinner included.

Hiking: 6 miles; terrain: some rocky sections. Driving: 1 hour.

Day 2

Day 2: Hike to Cabo da Roca, visit Capuchos Convent.

At Praia Grande Beach we hike on trails hidden among the coastal flora to Cabo da Roca, the western-most point of continental Europe. 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 a picnic lunch we visit the contemplative, moss-covered Capuchos Convent, located in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a wide diversity of landscapes including mountains, forests, lakes, sand dunes, and a rugged coastline with high cliffs interspersed between lovely beaches. Transferring to the seaside village of Cascais, if time permits we take a walking tour of the Old Town, which dates from the 17th century and hosts fortresses, a lighthouse and a lovely citadel. All meals included.

Hiking: 5 miles; terrain: some steep, rocky sections on ascents and descents; Driving: 1.25 hours.

Day 3

Visit a wine cellar, then hike along Rota Moinhos for panoramic views.

We stretch our legs with a boardwalk stroll from Cascais to Estoril before transferring south of Lisbon over the Tejo River. We visit a tile workshop to discover the five-centuries-old tradition of Azujelo painted ceramic tile work; these decorative tiles are found everywhere from churches and palaces to ordinary homes and railway stations. We continue to Azeitao to tour and sample wines made at the cellars of Jose Maria da Fonseca, a family winery dating back to the 1800s. There is free time for lunch in town before beginning our hike along a portion of the Rota Moinhos (windmills path) in the Arrábida Natural Park. The trail, named for the traditional windmills along the path, offers panoramic views of region's mountain ranges, Palmela Castle and the Tejo River estuary. Tonight we stay in the whitewashed village of Vila Nova de Milfontes, and dine at a favorite restaurant. Breakfast and dinner included.

Hiking: 2.4 miles; terrain: mostly rolling with an initial steep ascent; Driving: 3.5 hours.

Day 4

The famous Rota Vicentina leads us to the coastal village of Almograve.

The next two days takes us along splendid sections of Portugal's Rota Vicentina. This coastal trail is used by fishermen to reach prime fishing spots; it is also used by hikers eager to experience Southern Europe's wildest stretch of coast.

We begin with a short crossing of the Mira River in a traditional Moliceiro boat. We hike from Praia das Furnas to Almograve, a quiet coastal village blessed with two distinctive beaches. The northern Almograve beach is spread over gentle sand dunes, while the southern beach has dramatic black shale rocks jutting from the steep cliffs. We enjoy a picnic lunch that includes famous local cheeses. This afternoon, trip members can choose to transfer to our lodgings or opt to continue hiking. The optional hike brings us to Cabo Sardão, where storks nest on the cliffs above the Atlantic. Overnight for the second night in Vila Nova de Milifontes. Dinner on your own.

Hiking: 6 miles; Terrain: mostly flat trails with some steeper up-and-down sections; Optional hike: 5 miles; terrain: sandy trails.

Day 5

Hike to Ponta em Branco for stunning views of Odeceixe beach.

We continue our hike on coastal 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. We are rewarded with an exceptional view of Odeceixe beach from Ponta em Branco (White summit). Hiking down to Odeceixe beach on the Seixe river delta, we take time to stroll the soft sands before heading to the Algarve village of Salema, a small fishing hamlet between two steep cliffs. Guests choosing to opt out part of today’s hike will enjoy the countryside views of Alentejo, with free time to explore the fishing village where we stop for lunch before transferring to Salema. ​ Breakfast and dinner included.​

Hiking: 8.5 miles; Terrain: sections of hard packed dirt trail and sandy trails; Driving: 1.5 hours.

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 final hike along golden sand beaches and clifftops ends in Sagres.

Our hike begins in Salema, a lovely village known for its brightly colored fishing boats, which are launched from its golden sands by a tractor. We make our way to Zavial Beach, located on a sheltered, sandy bay. This is an ideal place to enjoy the views while eating lunch. From here trip members can choose to transfer to our hotel in Sagres, or opt for a challenging hike of 5.6 miles to this coastal village.

The beaches of Sagres, many of which are nearly deserted, the unspoiled coastline, the pristine bays and towering cliffs are all visual delights. Here, Henry the Navigator, a famed figure during the Age of Discoveries, walked these same cliffs in the 15th century and built a church and his home. Breakfast and dinner included.

Hiking: 4 miles; Terrain: hard-packed dirt trails, sandy beach sections and some steeper up-and-down sections; Optional hike: 5.6 miles; Terrain: hard-packed dirt trails and sandy beach sections.

Day 7

From the rugged Algarve coast we return to Lisbon to say our good-byes.

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 this morning. We provide a drop-off at the Lisbon airport and a downtown hotel. Breakfast included.

Driving: 3 hours.

Portugal Coastal Hiking Departures

Adventure Expert

Janel

Hiking along one of the finest preserved stretches of European coastline offers something for everyone….. Vestiges of Iberian inhabitants, small fishing towns, castles, and trails with sweeping views of the rugged Atlantic coast.

Paige K

Wonderful adventure


This trip was great. I came alone, and I was made to feel immediately welcome and comfortable. The people in my group were fun and adventurous, and the guides were awesome. The hotels and restaurants were great. Portu...

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