If you’re keen to try a walking holiday in the North region of Portugal but can’t decide which of its wonderful landscapes to choose from, here’s the solution! You can get a taste of the mountains, coast and Douro wine region all on the same trip with this amazing itinerary.
I truly love this programme because of the variety; it encompasses some of the main highlights of other, week-long self-guided hiking tours in each of these different areas of Northern Portugal offered by the same local tour operator.
You’ll explore the Douro Valley‘s UNESCO-recognised wine region, Peneda-Gerês National Park‘s mountain and valley landscapes, and the Minho’s stunning coastline, all of which provide you with an authentic glimpse into this diverse region. Not to mention ample opportunities to sample delicious Portuguese food and wines and experience different cultures.
Start your “Best of Northern Portugal” hiking vacation with an exploration of the Douro Valley; two days of hiking and breathtaking views, plus a chance to savor renowned port and table wines as well as local delicacies including olive oil, almonds and seasonal fruits such as figs and cherries.
Afterwards, explore the untamed wilderness and tranquil villages of Peneda-Gerês National Park, a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. There, you’ll find ancient castles and bridges, remote shrines, fairytale forests, crystalline rivers and authentic local cuisine.
After hiking the mountains, your self-guided walking tour programme takes you through Vila Nova de Cerveira and Caminha, next to the Minho River, and onwards along the Atlantic coast. You’ll be able to observe coastal fishing villages and stunning beaches on your way to Viana do Castelo, a picturesque city located on the riverbank.
It’s possible to use public transport to get to the start/end points of this walking holiday, one of the many features that make this a sustainable and responsible travel experience that supports local communities and environments.
Suggested itinerary for this Highlights of Northern Portugal walking holiday
Day 1: Porto to Douro Valley
Make your way from Porto to the heart of the Douro Valley. You can take the train to Pinhão (not included) where you will meet a local taxi driver who will drive you to the wine-producing town of Alijó and your 4-star boutique hotel.
Explore the town then relax and enjoy the hotel facilities to prepare yourselves for the adventure to come!
Day 2: Alijó to São Mamede da Ribatua | Circular walk | 15 km (9.3 miles) | +369m
Shorter option: Linear walk | 8 km (4.9 miles) | +110m
Begin your adventure from the hotel and take in the beautiful views of vineyards, woodlands and fields as you make your way to São Mamede da Ribatua, a historical village with plenty of charm. Enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Tua reservoir along with its rugged mountains.
Return to Alijó using a different route, or a taxi if you want to shorten your walking day (not included).
Day 3: Alijó to Pinhão | Linear walk | 20 km (12.4 miles) | +281m
Leave Alijó behind and hike through the tranquil scenery of the Douro wine region as you make your way to a ridge that offers stunning views of the Pinhão Valley. This brings you to the village of Casal de Loivois, home to one of the world’s best viewpoints according to the BBC.
From there, you can see the Douro River and surrounding terraced hillsides in all their glory as you walk down the vineyard-clad slopes towards the riverside village of Pinhão, where you will spend the night.
Shorter option: Linear walk | 14 km (8.7 miles) | +223m
Day 4: Castro Laboreiro Castle | Circular walk | 2.2 km (1.4 miles) | +117m
Today you’ll travel to the Peneda-Gerês National Park by private transfer. The quaint village of Castro Laboreiro, which has existed since the Iron Age and is home to a close-knit community, will be your base for the next two days in a comfortable 3-star hotel.
Once checked in at the hotel, you could take a pleasant walk to the ruins of the castle that have beautiful views of the village and its surroundings. The scenic views from the top are a more than adequate reward for the climb! As you head back to the village, take some time to explore the local culture and traditions of this isolated place by visiting the small museum.
Day 5: Castro Laboreiro | Circular | 12.5 km (7.8 miles) | +440m
Venturing out of the village and into the hilly landscape, you can admire the interesting rock formations of the stunning countryside.
Descend into the valley and discover a tranquil wooded area, where an old bridge stands. Here, you can dip your feet into the clear fresh water.
As you gently climb to the plateau full of granite boulders, enjoy the shade of the trees and gurgle of the stream. From the top, enjoy the scenic views across other surrounding ridges and valleys as you make your way back to Castro Laboreiro for the night.
Day 6: Castro Laboreiro to Peneda | Linear walk | 15.1 km (9.4 miles) | +311m
You’ll leave the National Park this afternoon, after walking across the hills to the amazing Peneda Sanctuary.
First, climb over rocky, wild highlands to reach Lamas do Mouro Park Gate, taking in amazing views of the region’s mountains. The park gate provides opportunities to learn more about the local flora and fauna.
As you continue towards Peneda Sanctuary, the beauty of the forest surrounds you as you meander along ancient stone paths built by local pilgrims.
Upon arriving to Peneda Sanctuary, your driver will take you to the quaint town of Vila Nova de Cerveira near the Minho River. You will spend the night here in a delightful country hotel.
Take some time to relax and then explore the town’s historical centre – it is home to a regular arts festival so there are plenty of sculptures on display.
Day 7: Vila Nova de Cerveira to Vila Praia de Âncora | Linear walk | 22.7 km (14.1 miles) | +173 m
When you are ready to leave Vila Nova de Cerveira, walk beside the River Minho until you reach the river’s mouth. This river serves as the natural border between Portugal and Spain.
When you arrive in Caminha, check out the stunning Gothic parish church or take a break in the charming main square with its Renaissance-era fountain before heading to the coast.
After leaving Caminha, traverse an ancient pine forest then follow a gentle coastal path to the sandy expanse of Moledo beach. From here, the coastline becomes more rugged on the way to the fishing village and seaside resort town of Vila Praia de Âncora, where you will spend the night in a boutique 4-star hotel.
Shorter option: Linear walk | 13 km (8 miles) | +102m
Day 8: Vila Praia de Âncora to Viana do Castelo | Linear walk | 19.4 km (12 miles) | +132m
It’s time to leave your hotel and embark on an interesting journey to Viana do Castelo.
Leave Vila Praia de Âncora by walking across the wide sandy beach. After venturing into forest and farmlands, you will return the scenic coastline with its stone windmills and fortresses.
As you arrive in Viana do Castelo, take a stroll down its historic streets to reach your 4-star hotel.
After freshening up, take a walk through this lovely town and discover its historic streets and squares.
Day 9: Departure
Check out of the hotel in time for your onward journey. If you are returning to Porto, we suggest you take the train (not included).
End of our services.
Note: This itinerary can be adapted to suit your personal interests, needs and schedule to create your ideal holiday in Northern Portugal.
Available: From 1st March to 31st October
What you need to bring:
- Most of this walking holiday is off-road on rugged terrain so you will need proper walking shoes with cushioning and support (see my tips for packing for a multi-day walking holiday).
- There is little shade so adequate weather protection is also vital.
- Walking poles will be useful when walking in the Douro and the Peneda-Gerês.
What’s included in the price?
Price per person based on double room occupation
- 2 people: 1170 euros/per person
- 3 to 6 people: 1080 euros/per person
Single room supplement
- Up to 2 people: 450 euros/per person
- From 3 to 6 people: 430 euros/per person
- 8 nights’ hand-picked accommodation with breakfast;
- Packed lunches on days 2, 3, 5 and 6;
- In-person welcome briefing on day 1;
- Detailed route notes (in English/German);
- App with trail information for use on a smartphone;
- Private transfer from Porto airport to Campanhã train station and from Pinhão train station to Alijó on day 1;
- Private transfer from Pinhão to Castro Laboreiro on day 4;
- Private transfer from Peneda to Vila Nova de Cerveira on day 6;
- Luggage transfer between accommodations;
- 24-hour emergency contact number (English-speaking).
- Meals not mentioned above;
- Train transfer between Porto train station and Pinhão train station;
- Transfer from Viana do Castelo to Porto city/airport at the end of the programme;
- Touristic taxes;
- Personal expenses;
- Anything not mentioned in the “Included” section above.
Complete the form below to make an enquiry for your dates
If you’re interested in this Highlights of Northern Portugal walking holiday, please fill in this form and I’ll connect you with the tour operator by forwarding your request and contact details.
Disclosure: At no extra cost to you, I will receive a small referral fee if you book this, or another tour, with them.
Highlights Of Northern Portugal: Self-Guided Walking Holiday
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