8 Most incredible hikes & hiking trails in Portugal
Searching for the best hikes in Portugal? Look no further than this of 8 Top Hiking Trails in Portugal!
Portugal may be a small country, but the combination of its picturesque coastal views, lush forests, and rolling green countryside make it an incredibly scenic destination, and a favorite spot for hikers.
Hiking trails in Portugal range in length and difficulty. If you’re a well-seasoned hiker looking for a new challenge, you can pick one of the trickier routes, but there are also plenty of short and easy hikes which only take a few hours to complete.
Whether you already have a particular hiking destination in mind, or you’re simply curious about what Portugal has in store, I’ve put together this list of the best hikes in Portugal to give you some adventurous ideas for your travels to this gorgeous country.
Portugal Hiking Trails
To give you a well-rounded list of possible hikes in Portugal, we’ve included spots from all over the country.
Many of the top hiking areas are along the coast, where the scenic Atlantic views make for some breathtaking and equally dramatic landscapes. Inland Portugal’s hiking trails pass through rolling hills or traverse the mountains up in the north.
Most of the hiking options are public access areas, so for many there’s no need to pay for entry. As long as you figure out transportation to and from the start/finish point, you’ll be ready and set to head out hiking!
The Best Hikes in Portugal
1. Ponta de São Lourenço – Hikes in Madeira
One of the most popular hikes in all of Portugal, the Ponta de São Lourenço loop is on the island of Madeira. Famous for the stunning coastal views and rocky coastal cliffs, Madeira is extremely popular with tourists, photographers, hikers, and all-round nature lovers.
Ponta de São Lourenço is in my view one of the best hikes in Madeira. It is also super popular, so if you want to avoid the crowds, it’s best to come early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
The hike itself takes about four hours for most people, with the trail taking a winding path along the rocky shoreline. Although the terrain isn’t too difficult to maneuver, what makes São Lourenço more of a challenge is exposure to the sun and windy conditions. The landscape is very open and exposed, with no shade for the duration of the hike. Certain areas of the trail are also completely unprotected from the strong Atlantic wind, which can add more of a challenge.
There’s a parking area at the beginning of the loop, but with limited amenities and services available, so you’ll want to make sure you have water and snacks along the way. Remember to bring a camera so you can get those postcard-worthy shots of the coastline! And, don’t forget the sunscreen for this stunning Madeira, Portugal hikes.
2. The Rota Vicentina
Tucked away in the south of Portugal, there’s an extensive network of hiking trails called the Rota Vicentina. These trails cross through the provinces of Alentejo and the Algarve, passing through countryside, villages, and coastlines, and is in my view one of the best walks in Portugal.
Spanning roughly 750 kilometres in total, many of these hikes are multi-day treks, which usually take most hikers somewhere between a week to two weeks to complete. If you’re looking for other Algarve hikes, many of the trails can be broken into shorter day excursions.
There are accommodation options along the Rota Vicentina including hostels, guesthouses, and campgrounds. Since it is considered “in season” in the summer, prices for food and accommodation will be higher between June to August.
The two main sections of the Rota Vicentina are known as The Historical Way and The Fisherman’s Trail. If you don’t have time for these longer treks, then rather embark on the shorter day hikes so you can still experience some of the best hikes Portugal has to offer.
3. Ribeira do Faial da Terra-São Miguel, Azores
The hiking opportunities in the Azores are endless; these scenic islands are famous for their coastal views and lush green landscapes.
There are so many great hikes in the Azores that it’s hard to pick the best, but the Faial da Terra trail stands out for several reasons. First, it’s a good trail to take regardless of the weather; because there aren’t big vistas, you don’t need a clear day to appreciate the scenery, which is still absolutely stunning.
Second, it’s not super difficult and only takes most people about two hours. However, within those two hours, you’ll be walking along beautiful streams, past picturesque waterfalls, and around some local farms and rural orchards, truly getting a feel for the island and it’s natural beauty.
4. Serra do Topo-São Jorge, Azores
Another of the best Azores hiking trails worth mentioning is the famous Serra do Topo trail, also called the Caldeira do Santo Christo. If you’re hoping to see the stunning coastal scenery the Azores are famous for, then this is the hike for you.
The trail is about ten kilometers in length and runs a linear path beginning in the Serra do Topo park and ending at Fajã dos Cubres. The winding path follows the coastline, so be prepared for some jaw-dropping views of the Atlantic as you’re walking this trail.
About halfway through, you’ll pass by the Caldeira do Santo Christo, which is a lake formed from the caldera of a dormant volcano. It’s a perfect spot to take a break, snap some pictures, or even take a dip in the cool waters!
5. Ponta da Piedade – Hiking Algarve
Beyond the sun-kissed sands and chill beach vibes the Algarve region is so famous for, you’ll also find some of the most breathtaking coastal views in all of Portugal.
Lagos, Portugal is one of my absolute favourite places to visit in the Algarve, with its charming and historic town centre and gorgeous golden Lagos beaches, what’s not to love!
Ponta da Piedade takes the prize for the best hike in the Algarve by way of scenery. This is the spot made famous on postcards and in travel brochures, thanks to the incredible rock formations and pillars carved out by the strong Atlantic ocean.
The path begins about three kilometers south of Lagos, where there is a car park, refreshment options, and gift stalls. It takes most hikers somewhere between two and three hours to complete the trail, or longer if you decide to stop and rest to appreciate the view!
It’s a relatively smooth path, and even though the landscape is dramatic, this is a good option for a fairly easy hike in Portugal.
6. Santa Maria Hiking Trail in Sintra
In search of hiking near Lisbon? Well, just a short hour away from Lisbon is the magical town of Sintra, popular for its history, castles and palaces. Set on the edge of a mountain, the town is also surrounded with fairytale-like forests offering up several enchanted hiking trails around the city.
One of the best hiking Sintra has to offer is the Santa Maria Trail, which passes by the Moorish Castle and the Pena Palace, two of the most famous Sintra landmarks, and in fact in all of Portugal.
The trail is fairly smooth, with only a slight gradient for most of the way, but with a few steeper slopes. It’s a good walk in Portugal for families since it doesn’t take too long and isn’t overly complicated or exposed to strong winds and harsh sunlight like some other coastal hikes.
7. Trilho dos Currais in Peneda-Gerês National Park
Despite the great variety in landscape and scenery in Portugal, Peneda-Gerês is the only National Park in the country, although there are equally beautiful Natural Parks too. It’s a must-visit spot for people interested in hiking in Portugal thanks to the unique flora and fauna, as well as some spectacular views.
Trilho dos Currais is a great place to begin hiking in the park. This loop is about ten kilometres and takes most hikers between 4 and 5 hours to complete.
The path leads through forests, rocky outcrops, and past the famous granite rock formations the park is so famous for. Peneda-Gerês is well frequented by tourists, so there are lots of good accommodation options as well as shops and markets to pick up any hiking supplies you might need.
It’s a good idea to stop by the tourist office to purchase a well-marked map of all the hikes in the area so you can try out the Trilho do Currais and other great walks during your stay.
8. Portuguese Way (Camino de Santiago)
The famous Camino de Santiago has starting points all over Europe. Each path eventually leads to Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain, where legend has it the remains of St. James are buried.
In Portugal, the Camino Portugal route begins in Lisbon, which ends up being about 640 kilometers to Santiago! Although some pilgrims chose to take the entire route, a more popular place to begin is Porto, which is about 250 kilometers away north.
From Porto, you can either pick the Coastal Camino route which follows the ocean, or the Central Camino, which is the traditional route which takes a shorter amount of time to complete and travels through a series of villages, countryside and forests.
Both of these walks through Portugal are full of history and beautiful landscapes. Because they take a bit more time and planning to complete, the Camino isn’t for everyone. However, if you really want to immerse yourself in Portuguese culture and landscape, then it’s a great hike to conquer!
From coastal vistas to charming inland towns, the best hikes in Portugal will allow you to experience the beauty of this small country firsthand!
Unfortunately, there is no way to include every single one of the country’s amazing hikes. However, after looking through some of the top picks, hopefully, you’re excited to head out on your own hiking adventure in Portugal.