In this article we will talk about three hiking trails in Portugal. Sure, there are much more walking trails in Portugal, but unfortunately we had only two weeks to visit the country. We also stayed in some amazing hotels and we’ll help you to decide where to stay in Portugal considering your budget and other preferences.
It’s a kind of habit for us. Whatever country we plan to visit, we check its hiking trails first. Well, we didn’t do anything different when planning our trip to Portugal. At the end, finding great walking routes in Portugal, where the forest grows year after year, rather than disappearing, was not so difficult.
In the following article, we’ll share with you some stories, tips and maps of Portugal nature trails, and suggest three hiking paths with some useful information about the outdoors in Portugal.
We are also suggesting some of the best hotels in Portugal where you can rest after a long day of hiking. The best way for us to find hotels when we travel in Europe is the website Booking.com. It’s definitely the best hotel booking site to find great deals in Europe.
Updated: March 2017
Thick milky mist was covering the sleepy forest that morning, when we headed up to Serra da Lousã (Lousã Mountain). Starting this Portugal trekking path was like entering a mysterious realm where you don’t really know what is hidden under the white layers of fog.
These secretive feelings disappeared once we hiked up to the forest, with a bright sun peeking from behind high pine and eucalyptus trees. Suddenly, all the terrain was clearly visible. A dry river that used to flow across the forest and a random local man walking his hyperactive puppy appeared together, surrounded by fragile purple bellflowers.
The path to the top of Lousã Mountain is not dramatically steep, but there are some parts in the forest where you’ll start to breathe faster, and your muscles will be challenged, too.
Most of the walking trail goes through a forest, which is a big relief especially in hot summer, and a couple of fountains with spring water can literally save you when you need some refreshment along the way.
Interesting places to stop around Lousã Mountain
Apart from the beautiful views you get while following the path, you can find a few special spots where not so many hikers arrive. Our favourite was Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Piedade, a shrine above river pools with a quirky statue of Jesus in one of the chapels. You don’t see a holy person twisted into painful position carrying the cross with a smile on His face every day.
The Lousã Mountain path is worth taking mainly for the ancient schist villages scattered among the hills in the forest, as they are almost invisible from below the mountain. Schist is an ancient building material, that has recently become very popular to make trendy thin plates made of layers of rocks.
The most famous, but also the most heavily reconstructed schist village, is Talasnal. It was abandoned in the 1950s during a mass exodus from the countryside, but it is coming back to life thanks to wealthy locals and foreigners who renovated some of the houses and started renting them out.
Most of the schist houses attached to the renovated ones are still empty. Walking between the rocky walls, heavy wooden doors and windows that won’t allow you to look inside will make you wonder what lies beyond.
In the village, you’ll find a “bar” with souvenirs; a very modest shop with local home made delicacies and handcrafted goods.
To experience an immensely quiet atmosphere, where the past triumphs over the present, make sure to visit the villages of Casal Novo, Catarredor or Vaqueirinho and Chiqueiro, where local shepherds still live.
More info for Lousa hiking trail
The hike we did was 11.53 km long and it took us 5.5 hours to complete it.
Maximum altitude: 538 m.
Download the full map of hiking in Lousã.
1. Bring sturdy hiking shoes with you. There are a few parts where the trail gets really rocky.
2. In summer, snakes love to sunbath on hot stones near trails, so be aware of your steps when hiking there.
3. If you want to cool down, bring swimwear. You can take a dip in one of the river pools you’ll pass on your way around the Lousã Mountains.
How to get to Lousã
Take a train from Lisbon (Santa Apolonia station) to Coimbra B (station for high-speed trains). From there take a regional train to Coimbra A (station for regional trains in the center of town). When you exit the Coimbra A train station, cross the road on your right (direction of the river) and take a bus to Lousã. The whole journey from Lisbon to Lousã takes about 2.5 hours.
Where to stay in Lousã
If you want to immerse yourself in local history, you can do so at the Palácio da Lousã boutique hotel. It’s an 18th-century palace with stylish décor, spacious rooms, outdoor swimming pool and international cuisine served in an impressive dining room.
The hotel holds a remarkable place in history. Here Marechal Massena, a commander of the Napoleonic troops, was getting ready for his dinner when he found out they were being attacked. He fled immediately, leaving his dinner for his enemy, Duke of Wellington.
In Palácio da Lousã, the first local newspaper was also published.
The hotel serves special honey produced from local pollen. You can buy it together with other natural products (teas, bee pollen) at the reception.
Palácio da Lousã offers something far more original than the usual tours provided by hotels. This year they are creating a special event, a guided walk of Shinrin-Yoku, which is a healing technique of traditional Japanese medicine that was developed in the 1980’s.