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Porto and Peneda-Gerês National Park 6

Porto and Peneda-Gerês National Park

Overview

The Peneda-Gerês National Park is the only national park in Portugal and spans the Peneda, Soaja, Amerela and Gerês mountain ranges. Exploring the park on foot gives you the chance to witness mountain top splendours carved during the Ice Age and to meet the friendly inhabitants of the numerous traditional villages in the area. You will walk through woodland, meadows and pastures, and if you are lucky, you can also spot wolves, golden eagles and the elusive Pyrenean desman. In the evenings, savour some of the local delicacies: goat meat, ham, cured sausages, traditional stews and soups, and of course the famous “cozido de feijão” (bean stew) with cauliflower grown locally in Rio Caldo.

Highlights

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Ponte de Lima

Make your way to the charming riverside town of Ponte de Lima, where you will be greeted at your accommodation by a member of our team for a full briefing about your Peneda-Gerês National Park program and handover of the road notes. Then explore at leisure its renowned gardens, medieval centre and Roman bridge before enjoying the traditional Minho cuisine with a glass or two of locally produced vinho verde at one of Ponte de Lima’s excellent restaurants.

Day 2: Branda da Aveleira to Peneda | 11 km

Private transfer in the morning to Branda da Aveleira. Your first day of walking will take you from a remote mountain village, over the rugged Peneda mountain to Peneda Sanctuary with amazing views in every direction. You may encounter the long-horned Cachena cows and Garrano horses as they wander freely to graze on the surrounding slopes. Spend the night in a modern and comfortable hotel converted from the former pilgrim accommodation at the sanctuary.

  • Walking for the day: 11 km, 3-4 hours, ↑­­­­300 m
  • Accommodation: countryside hotel in Peneda (Hotel da Peneda or similar); breakfast and picnic lunch included

Day 3: Peneda to Lindoso | 18 km

Leave Peneda Sanctuary by walking down the valley along a centuries-old pilgrim route used by people from surrounding villages to attend religious festivals at the religious complex. Dramatic mountain scenery and enormous rock faces surround you as you follow the Peneda river through the small village of Tibo and continue down the valley to a place where two rivers converge. From the village of Várzea, it is an easy walk along a paved road beside the spectacular dam across the River Lima to nearby Lindoso with its impressive castle. Spend the night in a beautifully restored traditional cottage and take a while to examine the traditional tools and examples of embroidery on display.

  • Walking for the day: 18 km, 5-6 hours, ↑­­­­600 m
  • Accommodation: a country cottage in Lindoso (Casa dos Espigueiros or similar); breakfast and picnic lunch included

Day 4: Serra Amarela Circular Walk | 21.5 km

Walk through the ancient streets of Lindoso village and through a forest to follow an unpaved road that leads gently uphill, offering spectacular views of the Soajo Mountains. Once you begin your descent, the views get even better. Enjoy the utter peace and quiet and pure mountain air as you make your way downhill to the village of Cidadelhe, then take a taxi back to your hotel in Lindoso (not included). For those who want a longer walk, you can complete the circuit and walk all the way back to Lindoso.

  • Walking for the day: 21.5 km, 6-7 hours, ↑­­­­760 m (optional shorter walk with taxi transfer from Cidadelhe)
  • Accommodation: a country cottage in Lindoso (Casa dos Espigueiros or similar); breakfast and picnic lunch included

Day 5: Lindoso to Soajo | 14.5 km

As you leave Lindoso and its castle behind, you’ll walk through the varied countryside with moss-covered boulders, oak forests, streams and small waterfalls. You’ll also pass through the village of Parada, once one of the most important in the area, before returning to Cidadelhe. From here, you’ll make your way along paths and back roads to another village. Cross the River Lima, and then a final climb brings you into the village of Soajo, where you will spend two nights in a wonderfully restored traditional stone mansion. Spend the rest of the day exploring this village and reward your efforts with a cold beer sitting in the shade of the trees outside a local café.

  • Walking for the day: 14.5 km, 4-5 hours, ↑432 m
  • Accommodation: a country cottage in Soajo (Casa da Avo Rosa or similar); breakfast and picnic lunch included

Day 6: Avelar to Soajo | 19 km

A private transfer will bring you to Avelar, from where you will start your walk back to Soajo. After a rather steep start, you will be rewarded with striking views of the peaks and valleys of the Peneda and Soajo Mountains and the lush Ramiscal Valley. You will also see rare examples of local heritage in the form of wolf traps and shepherd shelters. As you make your way down to the Mezio Park Gate, the walk gets considerably easier. Stop here to learn about the natural and cultural treasures in this part of the vast national park. Make your way back to Soajo through mixed woodlands and mountain meadows. The views extend across the Lima Valley to the Amarela Mountains. Enjoy your last evening in the Peneda-Gerês National Park with a regional dish such as Carne Cachena, a succulent steak from the long-horned mountain cows.

  • Walking for the day: 19 km, 6-7 hours, ↑622 m
  • Accommodation: a country cottage in Soajo (Casa da Avo Rosa or similar); breakfast and picnic lunch included

Day 7: Porto

Private transfer from Soajo to Porto. Your final day brings you from the wilderness to the fascinating city of Porto. Take some time to explore the city’s historical monuments, revitalised areas such as Rua das Flores and the riverside Ribeira district. Cross the river and visit at least one of the port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia to see and smell where the barrels of ageing wine are stored. Spend the night in a comfortable city centre hotel before making your onward journey.

Day 8: Departure

Departure after breakfast or you can extend your stay in Porto.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in a mix of welcoming 3-star hotels and country cottages. They all have comfortable private en-suite rooms and provide a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. 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.

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*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 five 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. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the 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

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By plane

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

By train or bus

Airport transfers by public transport are recommended for this trip. Ponte de Lima is 1.5 hours from Porto by bus with AV Minho. From Porto, you can use the metro, bus, shuttle or taxi to reach Porto Airport. You can check the various options here.

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in a mix of welcoming 3-star hotels and country cottages
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 5 picnic lunches (Days 2-6)
  • 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 Ponte de Lima to Branda da Aveleira (Day 2), Soajo to Avelar (Day 6) and Soajo to Porto (Day 7)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Dinners and 2 lunches, 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
  • Private transfer Porto Airport – Porto city

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