fbpx
Skip to content
Hidden Gems
Best of Northern Portugal On Foot 1

Best of Northern Portugal On Foot

Overview

This unique walking holiday takes in three distinctive parts of Northern Portugal: the Douro Valley, Peneda-Gerês National Park, and the coastal Minho area, enabling you to experience this diverse region’s highlights in nine days. After you arrive in the Douro wine region, your Northern Portugal adventure begins with two days spent walking through the terraced vineyards, traditional villages and rural scenery of the stunningly beautiful Douro Valley. Next, you’re off to the wilder, rugged beauty of the Peneda-Gerês National Park. From your base in a historic village, you will discover breathtaking views from the ancient Castro Laboreiro Castle walls. Spend three days exploring the diverse landscapes, traditional villages and communities on foot and breathing in the pure mountain air. From the mountains, you will head to the historical town of Vila Nova de Cerveira to walk beside the Minho River and the Atlantic Ocean to the charming city of Viana do Castelo at the mouth of the River Lima.

Highlights

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Porto/Pinhão – Alijó

We’ll be at the airport to meet you and drive you to the train station in Porto where you’ll receive a detailed briefing about your self guided walking holiday. Take the train from Porto (ticket not included) to the small riverside village of Pinhão (2.5 hours), where the train station is decorated with painted tile panels depicting Douro wine production. You will meet your taxi driver for a private transfer to the small town of Alijó in the Douro wine region. Settle into your hotel and relax in preparation for your journey of discovery into the myriad of great experiences that Northern Portugal has to offer.

Day 2: Circular walk via São Mamede da Ribatua | 15 km

Set off from your hotel for a circular walk that takes you through constantly shifting landscapes of vineyards, woodland and fields to the ancient village of São Mamede da Ribatua. From here, you can enjoy stunning views of the calm Tua reservoir below, surrounded by rugged mountains. After lunch, return to Alijó via a different route.

  • Walking for the day: 15 km, 4-5 hours, ↑­­­­369 m
  • Accommodation: 4-star country hotel in Alijo (Pousada Barão de Forrester or similar)

Day 3:  Alijó to Pinhão | 20 km

Walk through the pleasant countryside at the outer edge of the Douro wine region to reach a ridge that runs along the hilltops to Casal de Loivos and down to Pinhão. You will enjoy magnificent views of the Pinhão Valley and surrounding slopes, followed by splendid vistas of the Douro River and Valley as you make your way down through the vineyards to Pinhão.

  • Walking for the day: 20 km, 6-7 hours, ↑­­­­281 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Pinhão (LBV House Hotel or similar)

Day 4: Circular Walk around Castro Laboreiro Castle | 2.5 km

Private transfer in the morning to the Peneda-Gerês National Park (~2.5 hours). Your base for the next 2 days is the historical village of Castro Laboreiro, which originated as an Iron Age settlement and has been occupied ever since, creating a tight-knit community. After settling into your hotel, you may wish to stretch your legs with a short yet delightful walk to the ruins of the castle that overlooks the village and the surrounding countryside. The views are well worth the short climb! On your way back to the village, you can visit the small museum to learn about the local culture and traditions of this remote community.

  • Walking for the day: 2.5 km, 1 hour, ↑­­­­117 m
  • Accommodation: countryside hotel in Castro Laboreiro

Day 5: Castro Laboreiro Circular Walk | 13 km

You will walk out of the village into the rugged hills and gorgeous countryside full of quirky rock formations. Once in the valley, a pleasant area of woodland leads to an ancient bridge where you may like to bathe your feet in the untainted waters. Enjoy the shade of the trees and the sound of the stream as you climb steadily to the plateau, full of smooth granite boulders and sweeping views across the valley to other hills, valleys and ridges. The trail ends back in Castro Laboreiro.

  • Walking for the day: 13 km, 3-4 hours, ↑­­­­440 m
  • Accommodation: countryside hotel in Castro Laboreiro

Day 6: Castro Laboreiro to Peneda / Vila Nova de Cerveira | 15 km

Set off from your hotel, through the village, and cross wild rocky highlands with glorious views over the surrounding mountains on the way to Lamas do Mouro park gates. From here, the enchantment of the forest takes over as you make your way towards the sanctuary at Peneda, at times following ancient stone paths built for local pilgrims. After reaching Peneda Sanctuary, your driver will take you to the charming small town of Vila Nova de Cerveira. Once refreshed, enjoy a stroll around the historical centre and look out for artwork – this town hosts a biennial arts festival.

  • Walking for the day: 15 km, 4 hours, ↑­­­­311 m
  • Accommodation: a countryside hotel in Vila Nova de Cerveira

Day 7: Vila Nova de Cerveira to Vila Praia de Âncora | 23 km

Check out of your accommodation and follow the trail along the River Minho, the natural border with Spain, all the way to its mouth at the riverside town of Caminha. Once there, you can visit the beautifully carved Gothic parish church or stop for refreshments in the atmospheric main square with its 16th-century fountain before heading to the ocean. After Caminha, you’ll walk through an ancient pine forest before following an easy coastal path to the fishing village and seaside resort town of Vila Praia de Âncora via Moledo beach. Spend the night in Vila Praia de Âncora.

  • Walking for the day: 23 km, 5-6 hours, ↑173 m
  • Accommodation: 4-star hotel in Vila Praia de Âncora (Hotel Meira or similar)

Day 8: Vila Praia de Âncora to Viana do Castelo | 19 km

Today you set off for the fascinating town of Viana do Castelo. Cross the wide sandy expanse of the beach as you leave Vila Praia de Âncora. You’ll briefly head inland through patches of forest and fields before following the coast and its stone windmills and fortresses south to Viana do Castelo. Stroll through the beautiful historical centre of Viana do Castelo to reach your hotel.

  • Walking for the day: 19 km, 6 hours, ↑132 m
  • Accommodation: 4-star hotel in Viana do Castelo (Hotel Melo Alvim or similar), breakfast included

Day 9: Departure

The tour ends after breakfast. You can extend your stay or return to Porto by train.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in a mix of welcoming 3 and 4-star hotels and country cottages. They all have private en-suite rooms and provide a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. Some have a swimming pool. The country cottages offer more basic facilities, but their authenticity provides for a truly local experience. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

All breakfasts are included as well as four picnic lunches. Dinners are available at all overnight accommodations or in the villages.

Difficulty & terrain

This walk is graded moderate and includes daily walks of 5-6 hours on average; the terrain is undulating, but there are only a few steep ascents and descents (read more about difficulty grades). The routes are not well-waymarked, but we will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. Most of the walks are on rugged terrain, so you will need proper walking shoes with cushioning and support. There is little shade, so adequate weather protection is also vital. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through unknown and unmarked terrain. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from the beginning of March until the end of October. The best months to visit are April – June, and September – October as in summer months it may become too hot for walking. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended arrival and departure airport for this tour is Porto.

Airport transfer from Porto airport to Porto train station is included. From Porto, you take the train to Pinhão, and at the end of the tour, you can take the train from Viana do Castelo back to Porto (about 2 h). Train schedules can be checked here: https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/en

Inclusions

Included

  • 8 nights in a mix of welcoming 3 and 4-star hotels and country cottages
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 4 picnic lunches on days 2, 3, 5 & 6
  • Welcome briefing
  • Detailed journey documentation and practical information
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (1 pc up to 15 kg per person)
  • Private transfers from Porto airport to Campanhã train station and from Pinhão train station to Alijó (Day 1), Pinhão to o Castro Laboreiro (Day 4) and Peneda to Vila Nova de Cerveira (Day 6)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and airport transfer on Day 9
  • Other public transport
  • Lunches and dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Local tourist tax & entrance fees (payable on the spot)
  • Personal expenses
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘Included’ in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is NOT available for solo travellers
  • Extra nights in Porto

Reviews