Updated May 2016

In this article we will talk about three Portugal hiking trails. 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 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. We did it when we travelled to Borneo and got lucky with a wandering orang-utan, we got some stunning views exploring the Sassi of Matera in Italy and we looked for a walking path in the beautiful valleys of Slovenia, but we got three full days of rain instead.

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 the Portugal nature trails we created in our Wikiloc account, 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 is the great website HotelsCombined. We’ve always found great offers there, because we can compare all the top travel sites.

Lousa

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.

outdoors in Portugal

Fragile bellflowers in Lousã.

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.

outdoors in Portugal

Nothing dramatic.

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

outdoors in Portugal

The 11th-century Castle of Lousã.

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.

outdoors in Portugal

One of the chapels of Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Piedade.

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.

outdoors in Portugal

The left-right dilemma.

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.

outdoors in Portugal

In Talasnal.

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.

outdoors in Portugal

No way to look inside.

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.

outdoors in Portugal

View of Casal Novo.

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.

Insider tips:
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.

outdoors in Portugal

Views of 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.

outodoors in Portugal

Sleep like a king.

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.

outdoors in Portugal

Relax hard.

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.

Best Hotels for Lousa, Portugal.

Quintal de Alem do Ribeiro

Quintal del Alem

A 4-star accommodation with kids pool, terrace and garden. The hotels has also restaurant and bar.

Price: $35 per person/per night/double room

Casa do forno

Casa do Forno

If you want to sleep in the schist village of Talasnal, this is your best choice. A rustic property surrounded by nature.

Price: $18 per person/per night/two-bedroom house

Hi Lousa

Hi Lousa Hostel

If you travel on a budget this hostel has dormitories and twin rooms. There is also kitchen, garden and shared lounge with free wifi.

Price: $13 per person/per night/dormitory

Borba

The colour ‘sky blue’ must have been invented in the Alentejo region of Portugal. When we got off the car near the bridge before starting our hike in Serra d’Ossa, we would have stared at that blue for hours, was it not for the bright sun.

outdoors in Portugal

The blue of Alentejo.

The excitement of setting off for a hike that had been created only a few weeks before our arrival was quite overwhelming. We had no idea what scenery to expect, how difficult the path would be and we were quite thrilled that we couldn’t see any previous reviews of the hike.

outdoors in Portugal

Off we go.

We followed the brand new yellow/red sign feeling truly challenged and delighted when we realised that we were probably two of the first hikers there (if not the very first ones.)

outdoors in Portugal

Free eucalyptus aromatherapy session.

We walked below an enchanting, motionless blue sky with no clouds, we passed curious cows taking their daily “dose” of fresh grass, while tiny flowers and leaves that created a beautiful alleyway tickled our ankles. That’s how our hike in Serra d’Ossa near Borba commenced.

Dry trees mingled with their younger brothers and sisters, creating shade for thousands of fern bushes that contrasted with the dry soil we walked on later.
Once you arrive at the top of the mountain range, you get a view of scattered villages and cork trees farms, lakes and private pools. Both equally tempting.

outdoors in Portugal

Views from the Serra d’Ossa.

Elegant eucalyptus trees and thyme bushes offering free aromatherapy, lazy introvert snails swinging on wild chestnut flowers; a summer yellow landscape, with solemn cork trees growing apart from one another. That’s Alentejo.

Interesting places to stop around Serra d’Ossa

outdoors in Portugal

São Gregório’s chapel.

São Gregório village. Don’t miss this place. What looks like a chapel with a single house from afar, is in fact a hidden village where up to 40 people used to live. The village was abandoned in the 1980s and despite the official website saying that the houses have been renovated and welcome tourists, local people told us that tourism has stopped in São Gregório due to issues between home owners.

In any case, this tiny village on the top of the vineyards and below the mountains is definitely worth a visit!

outdoors in Portugal

Almost on the top.

More info for Borba hiking trail

The hike is 11.95 km long and we did it in 4 hours.
Maximum altitude: 548 m
Download the full map of hiking in Borba.

Insider tips:
1. Bring enough water with you. There’s no source of water on the way.
2. Don’t forget sunscreen or coconut oil. You’ll walk half of the way under the sun, with no shade.
3. If you need to grab a map of the area or pick the best hiking trail/outdoor activity for you, please visit the new multimedia local tourism office in Borba. New technologies will make the office more interactive and interesting as you can see directly how the trail looks like or whether a historical tour around nearby villages would be attractive enough for you.

outdoors in Portugal

That’s why you need a lot of water and sun protection.

How to get to Serra d’Ossa
One of the best options for a hike in Serra d’Ossa in the Alentejo region is to have a base in Borba municipality. You can take a train from Lisbon to Evora (1.5 hour) where you can have a break in the historical center and then continue with a bus to Borba (1 hour 10 minutes).

Where to stay in Borba?

outdoors in Portugal

Borba town.

Borba is a quintessential small Alentejo town, where you can get a perfect glimpse of local life in Portugal. You’ll walk tiny streets with lots of small cafes on squares that are never empty, visit unique churches with no tourist queues, and you’ll be able to have tasty local meals in small taskas.

outdoors in Portugal

At the Casa do Terreiro do Poço.

To stay close to local life, we recommend Casa do Terreiro do Poço, a very special hotel where Mr. João and Mrs. Rita (owners of the hotel) put their passion for design and furniture into their hotel business.

outdoors in Portugal

Swimming time!

Apart from chilling out on your own terrace or in a big lounge, you can freshen up in a swimming pool. The hotel has recently got four new rooms with a new garden for guests to relax – which is not hard to do, since the place is located in a very quiet area.

Best Hotels for Evora (near Borba), Portugal.

Pousada Convento de Evora

Pousada Convento

A 5-star accommodation close to Roman Temple, eateries and shops. Each room comes with cable/satellite channels and wifi.

Price: $83 per person/per night/double room

Evora Hotel

Evora Hotel

This 4-star hotel features a golf course, outdoor tennis courts, swimming pool and all rooms with balcony. It has also restaurant and lounge bar.

Price: $46 per person/per night/double room

Vitoria Stone Evora

Vitoria Stone

A 4-star hotels with outdoor swimming pool and spa. The hotel features a restaurant and a bar and is conveniently located close to all sightseeing attractions.

Price: $40 per person/per night/double room

Penafiel

Visiting Penafiel was like watching a short documentary about rural landscapes. Whispering women arranging flowers before Sunday Mass, a bashful man pulling his cart overloaded with hay, vineyards with no fence, folk music blowing from a distance, women hanging the laundry briskly so they can run away from the hot sun.

outdoors in Portugal

Pleasant shade made of vineyards.

This is a section of the walking path in Penafiel, a municipality located only 39 km from Porto in Portugal.

Passing through villages of Galegos, Alvite, Santo Ilos, we were immersed in local life. We observed life around us, talking to farmers, vendors and house wives. We stopped at a random house asking for a bit of drinking water because our bottles had been empty for a long time.

outdoors in Portugal

A local farmer in Galegos village.

A walk in Penafiel is not a typical hike in nature. Although you’ll enter a few eucalyptus forests there, it’s much more about getting to know local life in Portugal and interacting with locals. If this is your way of exploring places, you’ll find what you look for in Penafiel.

Interesting places to see in Penafiel

outdoors in Portugal

Interior of the Monastery of the Saviour of Paço de Sousa.

Monastery of the Saviour of Paço de Sousa: one of those Romanesque churches where you wish you could stay longer. There are ancient stone pillars that lived through a millennium of history, as they seemingly haven’t been restored at all.

The monastery origin dates back to the 10th century and it used to serve as a Benedictine Monastery later in the 11 th century. The impressive portal is just the beginning of a series of architectural treasures the monastery offers (three interconnected chapels, the tomb of Egas Moniz, the diaphragms-arches.) The monastery of the Saviour of Paco de Sousa is also one of 21 monuments on the Romanesque Route.

outdoors in Portugal

Walking towards the walls of Castro de Monte Mozinho.

Castro de Monte Mozinho or Cidade Morta de Penfield (Penafiel Dead City) is an important Celtic hill fort that used to be a three wall lines strategic defensive spot. On an area of 22 ha, you can walk among round-shaped (Celtic tradition) and rectangular or square (Roman tradition) ruins of houses. The first bricks were put into the basement in the first century AD!

outdoors in Portugal

Only ruins are left.

More info for the Penafiel hiking trail

The hike we did was 14.4 km long and it took us 4.5 hours to complete it.
Maximum altitude: 416 m.
Download the full map of hiking in Penafiel.

Insider tips:
1. The path is not marked currently, so make sure to get a handheld GPS navigator or a smartphone with offline navigation with you.
2. There is about 800 m of the path, where you’ll need to walk along a road with no pavement. Watch the cars while walking here.
3. There are no water springs on the path, so make sure to bring enough water with you or buy your supplies in one of the villages on the way.

outdoors in Portugal

Rural landscape near Penafiel.

How to get to Penafiel
There’s a direct train from Porto. The journey takes around 45 minutes.

Where to stay in Penafiel
To start your rural landscape experience right from the heart of Penafiel, we suggest staying overnight with the fabulous Vinha family of Solar Egas Moniz hotel.

outdoors in Penafiel

A stylish room in the Solar Egas Moniz hotel.

The rooms are very bright and stylish, with a cozy lounge and fireplace. There’s an outdoor swimming pool with comfortable blankets and sitting bags outside.

outdoors in Portugal

The lounge and a dining room.

The hotel is a family run business in true sense. The Vinhas care about their guests with love and respect everyone’s needs. Do you need some advice about transport or local shops? Ask them. Do you have a travel story to share? Talk to enthusiastic Iva. Do you fancy having some local wine? The owner of the hotel will be glad to join you. And if you wonder where all these fresh ingredients for your breakfast/dinner come from, say thanks to Iva’s mother.

Best Hotels for Penafiel, Portugal.

Exe Penafiel Hotel

Exe Penafiel Hotel

The hotel offers sauna, jacuzzi and swimming pool. All the rooms are air conditioned and soundproofed for guest comfort.

Price: $40 per person/per night/double room

Palace Hotel Penafiel

Palace Hotel & Spa

This 4-star hotel features jacuzzi, indoor pool, sauna and mineral bath. There are also several rooms specifically designated for families.

Price: $4o per person/per night/double room

Quinta de Abol

Quinta de Abol

Featuring a Jacuzzi, the hotel is situated in Penafiel and offers comfortable accommodation. It also provides bicycle rental and massage services.

Price: $40 per person/per night/double room

How to organize a hiking trip in Portugal

Some of you might be avid independent hikers, but some of you, as you told us, prefer to have things nicely scheduled and get some local assistance. There’s no way to tell who is right. If you belong to the second group, we suggest considering We Love Small Hotels (WLSH) as your choice when planning an outdoors trip in Portugal.

WLSH is an aspiring initiative of locals who love nature, history and genuine local life, and decided to combine it with friendly, cozy and stylish hotels which will eventually become your base when indulging in the hiking tours.

The concept of the company is to help you to choose the best tour in Portugal as well as to help you to pick the best accommodation (with choices of charm, history, country categories).

outdoors in Portugal

Matching your accommodation with an outdoor activity.

Once you choose a hotel (or more of them if you stay in Portugal for some time), you will be able to match it with tours that will suit you best (walking, biking, bird watching, food & wine, romance or family).

The whole package also includes a pick-up from the airport, where a representative of WLSH will provide you all necessary information and GPS devices with installed Wikiloc application (this app also works offline on your mobiles.)

The tours are self-guided (apart from bird watching). We did all three hikes with the app as we found it pretty easy to follow. Bonus of the app: there’s no rush to follow a group or your guide and you can have a break whenever you like.

You’ll be able to pick the length of a tour depending on your needs and fitness level, as there are shorter and longer variations of some tours.

All the tours have been designed by the team of We Love Small Hotels and they are constantly working to make them even better and more interesting. Well, seeing the joy and dedication to their work in the hotel in Penafiel, which is part of the company, we’re confident they’ll keep following their ambitions.

Disclosure: Our hiking experience in Portugal was possible with the help of We Love Small Hotels who kindly hosted us in Lousã and Penafiel and of João and Rita who invited us to spend a couple of nights at their family hotel in Borba. A big thanks goes also to Interrail.eu, who generously provided Interrail train passes for us.

Our opinions, sweaty backs, foreheads and arms, caught trains and a missed stop are our own.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, which at no extra cost to you, will earn us a small commission and reduce the costs of running this site.

Have you been to Portugal? Did you experience its nature element?
We’d love to hear from you. Please, leave a comment below.

22 Responses

  1. Wendy@TheNomadicVegan

    Hi Ivana,
    Thanks so much for this list, these hikes look awesome! I plan to move my base home from Switzerland to Portugal sometime in the next year, and last weekend while hiking in the Alps I was getting a bit sad about not having the mountains at my doorstep anymore. But it looks like there is plenty of amazing hiking to be done in Portugal too, so that’s wonderful.

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Oh wow, you will love Portugal for its hiking trails, Wendy! And it looks also that they are very easily accessible, too. I’d love to see some of your favourite places once you settle and find more time to explore the country :)

      Reply
      • dorothy zachmann

        Ivana loved your post and pictures. We have about 10 days in Sept 9-19 /2016 to go for our first time to portugal and love the idea of hiking from town to town, also want to see Lisbon
        What route would you recommend with good stops and beautiful hiking?

      • Ivana Greslikova

        Hi Dorothy,

        Thank you a lot for reading and reaching us out! I’m afraid I cannot suggest any particular hiking trails apart from those we’ve written about. We are not Portuguese and we visited the country only for a couple of weeks last year. You might want to check a very useful app called http://www.wikiloc.com/ where you can check lots of trails anywhere in the world. You’ll need to get a local sim card to do that though, but it’s dirty cheap in Portugal. You can get one in any mobile shop. We got ours at the train station in one of the shops on the ground floor. For exploring Lisbon, we’ve put together some tips on what to do and see there: http://nomadisbeautiful.com/travel-blogs/visiting-lisbon-what-to-do-and-see/
        and if you want to please your taste buds, then I recommend to get inspired by this article: http://nomadisbeautiful.com/travel-blogs/portuguese-cuisine-from-bacalhau-to-piri-piri-to-francesinha/ & to go for a food tour with a FANTASTIC guide Filipa from http://www.tasteoflisboa.com/ who knows a lot about the cuisine and the history of the city.
        Hope this helps and if you have any other Q, pls feel free to drop us a msg :) Cheers!

  2. Karianne

    Wow, these hikes look amazing! We were hoping to go on a hiking holiday for a couple of weeks next year – Portugal might be the perfect place for us. We’ve only been to Lisbon before, but would love to explore more of the country!

    Thanks for the inspiration Ivana! Hope you and Gianni are well! x

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Karianne, Portugal surprised us a lot too! We’d heard a lot about quiet beaches and mountains there, but after having seen its beautiful nature ourselves, we can only nod to the fact Portugal is a perfect hiking place in Europe! You gonna love it, guys :) ps: Make sure to visit Porto. A.ma.zing!

      Reply
  3. Waypoint

    Great article Ivana! :)
    You can’t miss to hike in Peneda-Gerês in your next visit to Portugal!

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Thank you, guys :) We’ll check it out, the trail looks gorgeous!

      Reply
  4. Alex

    Great post, super informative, and glad to see you experienced some of the places we’ve been meaning to check out ourselves. Gladly adding it to our Facebook queue, very useful article, keep up your travels!

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Thank you, Alex! Happy you’ve found the post helpful. Portugal has soooo many beautiful places to explore. Hopefully we’ll get back there in the future!

      Reply
  5. Samantha

    I was amazed with all the information in your post. We have not been to Portugal yet, but all the hiking info will come in handy when we do. Thanks for sharing and for the great pictures.

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Samantha! Thanks a lot for reading and sharing the article! Portugal is an amazing place to do all possible outdoor activities, including hiking :) If you’ll need any help when you get there, feel free to contact us.

      Reply
  6. SHARON EPSTEIN

    Great information for planning . Going in 2017

    Reply
  7. Vandrestøvler

    Great article. Never been to Portugal before but it has definitely raised my interest a lot. Great pictures as well!

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Thanks so much for reading and your kind words! Portugal might be an offbeat place when it comes to outdoors, but definitely worth of exploring its nature on foot. Happy hiking :)

      Reply
  8. Francine Schutzman

    Thank you so much for your informative article. My husband and I are just starting to talk about visiting Portugal. Would you recommend December as a good time to go?

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Francine, thanks so much for your feedback! Hmmm, December is actually the coldest month in Portugal, which still means the temperature is around 14°C (57°F). You haven’t mentioned the areas you plan to visit, but south might be still pleasant to visit I guess. Sorry if I’m not so helpful with this, we’ve been in the country only during summer. Have a great time!

      Reply
  9. Catia @ A Pulgarita

    Found your post now! I am Portuguese and love hiking! I had never heard about the second and third hiking trails so I was really impressed. I may add that you also can find a lot of hiking trails in the Sintra and Cascais region (close to Lisbon) and some other hiking trails I did and I liked were Bioria (close to Aveiro) and Serra do Buçaco (between Aveiro and Coimbra). Maybe for a next visit to Portugal? =) Thanks for showing that there’s more to Portugal than great beaches and food 😉

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Catia! Thanks so much for the tips! We’d love to go to Sintra, heard so many good things about the town. Currently we’re in Alentejo region, near Marvao, where are also many hiking trails. Hopefully we’ll be able to do some of them and update the post :) Obrigada once again and happy hiking :)

      Reply
  10. Frank Cahill

    Great looking hikes and lovely descriptions and photos. I will be in Alcoboca in April and I plan to find some hikes somewhere in the area. Thanks for your efforts.

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Frank, thank you a lot for the feedback! Never been around the area of Alcoboca, but Portugal has some great hiking paths all over the country, I’m sure you’ll find some around Alcoboca, too. If so, pls let us know so we can get inspired for the next trip :) Happy travels!

      Reply

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