Portugal is easily one of the most dramatically beautiful countries in Europe yet somewhat one of the most under-rated. Some of the best hikes in Portugal will easily rival any other options in other European countries yet for some reason, they just seem so much less known (or at the very least, less talked about) as their European rivals.
Sure, the beauty of Lisbon, Sintra, Porto and The Douro Valley (to mention but a few) are known the world over but step outside of most few key hubs and it’ll be a struggle to find places visitors have even heard of, let alone thinking of visiting.
Funny thing though is that with its position so much further down south in Europe, Portugal has some of the best weather we get here in Europe.
Throw in the exposure to the Atlantic ocean, which is constantly bashing away at its coastline and you have yourself some of the most dramatically beautiful coasts in all of Europe (just look at the Algarve coastline alone to see exactly what I mean).
The best hikes in Portugal are just a great way to make the most of your time here and even if you’re not much of a hiker, you’re still bound to find at least one of these hikes that will just suit your pace to a Tee.
Without wasting any more time, let’s just into the best hikes in Portugal you definitely have to experience.
1.) Rota Vincentina
You will begin this beautiful hike at Cabo Saint Vicente, which is the southernmost tip of the European continent.
The absolutely stunning views of the cliffs jutting jaggedly down to the crystalline ocean make for quite an amazing sight to see here.
This is one of the best hikes in Portugal as you get the opportunity to go through historical villages in addition to all that natural beauty, which balances things off quite brilliantly on your hike (also, it makes for a great excuse to stop an rest).
One of the major highlights of this hike though is the picture-perfect lighthouse that stands guard over the area just as it did when it was originally erected many centuries ago. (It kinda doesn’t look like your average lighthouse in that over the years it’s become rather sprawled out for a lighthouse).
2.) Trilho da Cidade da Calcedonia
This is one of the most popular day hikes in the Peneda-Geres, which is Portugal’s sole National Park. The round-trip hike takes anywhere from four to five hours to complete and is fairly moderately paced.
On this hike, you will find some pretty spectacular views of Portuguese villages set against a scenic backdrop of really lush vegetation and rolling hills.
Stop at Saber al Borralho afterwards to treat yourself to a wide selection of traditional Portuguese food and wine.
3.) 25 Fontes Hike
Located on the beautiful Portuguese island of Madeira, this is one of the best hikes in Portugal if you’re really into waterfalls as this moderate hike will take you to no less than twenty-five stunning waterfalls.
It is worth setting aside a bit of extra time on this hike to allow yourself just chill and relax at some of the waterfalls and after you’re done with your hike, you can stop to treat yourself at the Rabacal Café to some sugary sweet goodness.
4.) Serra de Montesinho
This hike is located in the Montesinho Natural Park and is one of the best hikes in Portugal for just getting lost in nature. T
his 8-km round-trip hike is not a difficult one at all (it’s moderately paced at best), taking you right up to the highest point in the park, Serra de Montesinho.
This is one of those hikes whereI’d say you definitely need to pack yourself a picnic for (like go all out) as it’s the summit is just the perfect spot for relaxing and unwinding.
This hike isn’t about challenging yourself or testing your physical endurance, it’s more one for just having a fun day out in the sunshine.
5.) Serra de Lousa
If you want to take a hike that will make you feel as though you are in a fairy tale, this is it! A bold claim, I know.
The lush eucalyptus forest, vividly coloured wildflowers set against snow-capped (depending on when you visit) mountains you ascend the moderate trail are just so gorgeous.
The main attraction, however, lies in the beautiful rustic villages built from schist (it’s a kind of rock). These schist villages are very old, some dating back for thousands of years and make you feel like you’ve stepped right back in time!
When you’re gone with the hike, stop at Restaurante Casa Velha, to refuel on delicious Portuguese food in one of the best traditional family-style restaurants in Lousa.
6.) The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail
Thanks to Portugal’s natural beauty is constantly shaped by its exposure to the choppy seas and wild Atlantic ocean and this is no more evident than in its abundance of sea caves down south by the Algarve.
The sea caves are such fascinating natural formations and one of the best hikes in Portugal for exploring them is the 12-km trail Seven Hanging Valleys Trail.
While there are seven different caves to explore, the true gem of the hike is Benagil Beach – which is arguably one of the most picturesque spots in all of Portugal.
The sandstone cave even has a built-in, naturally-formed skylight which just makes it all that bit more dramatic to visit.
7.) Serra de Ossa
The Alentejo region is an absolutely beautiful part of Portugal to visit and (approximately) 12-km long Serra d’Ossa hike takes around four or five hours to complete and is just one of the best ways to make the most of this beautiful region.
When you’re on the hike, be sure to set aside some time to visit the historic 16th century Sao Gregorio village (Aldeia de São Gregório in Portuguese).
The village was left abandoned for quite some time until it was restored in the late 1990s and now is a rather charming spot you can actually rent a place if (if you wanna stick around for longer).
One of the best ways to learn about a country is to immerse yourself in the local culture – I guess that kinda goes without saying, and although this hike isn’t really one for the nature buffs out there, this is one of the best hikes in Portugal if you are looking to explore local villages and Portuguese life.
This 14.5-km path takes you through no less than three charming villages, where you can visit chapels and monasteries and spend some time with the locals.
Suffice to say, this is one of those hikes worth taking slowly so get a chance to truly soak everything up. (Almost might be worth brushing up on a bit of Portuguese while you’re at it).
The crown jewel of this hike is a visit to the Monastery of the Savior, which has literally been standing for a millennium.
9.) Paiva Walkways
This is a moderate, 8-km hike that is an easy favourite for many visitors to Portugal. See, what makes this trail so memorable is not just the beautiful walk along the Paiva River, it is the impressively built wooden walkways you find on the hike.
Almost the entire trek is on these walkways, which lead you over the river and along the banks for a view that cannot be had anywhere else.
After the hike, be sure to stop for a meal in Alvarenga, a small Portuguese village that is famous for Posta Aroucaquesa, (beef, grilled spiced and served with a side of vegetables) – a local Portuguese dish you just have to try!
10.) Praia do Carvalho
While a long descent down a steep flight of sandstone steps carved into a cliff may not initially seem appealing, the moderately difficult hike is well worth the effort.
Once you get to the bottom, you will find yourself on the shores of one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Portugal. Not only do the surrounding cliffs add to the feeling of seclusion, but they also offer a number of sea caves for exploring.
Be sure to bring some good sturdy shoes on this walk, and also make sure to pay attention to the tides (it’s absolutely essential!), as a number of the caves and even part of the beach itself can become submerged underwater quite quickly.
11.) The Castalejo Environmental Trail
If what you’re looking for on a hike is more nature-based (we’re talking both plants and animals) and you also want a relatively easy hike then this is one of the best hikes in Portugal for you. The trail is a 3.5-km (round trip) and is just the best balance of nature and relaxation.
Located in Vincente Coast Natural Park, the area is thick with pine as well as Spanish lavender and other rather gorgeous flowers (which actually make a visit in springtime particularly special).
If you’re here more for the animals than the plans, there are a number of foxes and wild boar in the area, as well as birds like the Eurasian jay worth keeping an eye out for.
And don’t worry, there’s nothing scary here! The relative ease and source of many-a-distraction also make it a particularly great adventure for people with small children.