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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.