Northern-Portugal is a region which is still purely Portuguese, varied and colourful. This region looks picturesque, primitive and full of character. Here sandy beaches are wide and long, the landscape is green and fertile and the people are friendly and hospitable. The biggest city in the region is Porto and this town is bubbly, charming and has multiple beautiful things to see. The Portuguese Traffic Bureau invited me to go hiking for a few days in the north of Portugal. I’ve enjoyed every step I took in this beautiful region! Hiking in the north of Portugal is a lot of fun!
Hiking in the north of Portugal & citytrip Porto!
The north of Portugal is less known to many travellers compared to the south like the Algarve. But this region is definitely not any less beautiful! The north of Portugal is characterized by its beautiful natural areas, authentic villages, endless beaches, beautiful waterfalls, winding rivers and countless of vineyards. It’s greener, rougher and quieter compared to the rest of Portugal.
Hiking in the north of Portugal
Before I will tell you where in this region you can go for fun hikes, it’s important to note that I am not an extremely well experienced hiker. I rarely hike for multiple days. Sometimes, I go for a walk for a couple of kilometres and I love it. Once in a while I go hiking for a couple of days while traveling. I enjoy the scenery on the way, take pictures of everything I see, talk to people I meet and stop for a tasty and extensive lunch in the afternoon. That is the sort of hiker that I am!
Recently I’ve made a couple of hiking trips in the north of Portugal. The hikes are accessible for everybody on any hiking level and are a lot of fun with distances of a maximum of 10km a day. Hiking in the north of Portugal is a lot of fun!
I am happy to share my 3 most fun hiking trips in the north of Portugal!
1. Hike (a part of) the Pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain
In the north of Portugal, you can take the pilgrimage route to Santiago, also known as the well-known Camino de Santiago. Camino is an extensive European network of pilgrimage paths and ends in Spain at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (Saint James Cathedral). The Portuguese Camino route has an official starting point in the city of Porto and ends 240 km further in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. This route starts in Porto and you hike through the beautiful Douro valley surrounded by a beautiful landscape with green hills and vineyards. The Douro valley is known for its quintas. These are the mansions with stretched vineyards. This is the place where the grapes from the famous port and Douri wine are grown.
Do you want to experience the Camino feeling, but just don’t have the time to be out for weeks or months, then you might want to consider to walk (a part of) the Portuguese Camino.
The routes of the Portuguese Camino
There are two different routes of the Camino in the north of Portugal which you can walk. The Camino Costal (265km) and the Camino Central (241km). One route takes you along the coast and the other goes straight inland. Both routes are beautiful for hiking! The routes are mainly made up out of paths without any kind of extreme differences in height and they will take you along old towns and villages. In some of these villages, time really seems to have stood still.
The Camino in Portugal is less crowded than (most) routes in Spain. Another advantage is that the route is very clearly marked with yellow arrows. You mostly walk through small villages and small unpaved roads. It’s a very green route which will go through many forests and vineyards. The local people are very helpful and friendly along the way.
Why do people hike on the Camino?
The Camino is a special hiking trip which most people don’t take without a reason. To be away from everything is an important reason why people walk the Camino. No distractions, just walking.
Life on the Camino is simple. The only thing you need to think about is to eat, drink, walk and to sleep.
The physical challenge can also be a reason to walk the Camino. It requires quite a bit from your body to walk day after day for 20 to 25km a day. People also walk the Camino for spiritual reasons or to simply enjoy the scenery along the way and the gastronomy of the country. People also walk here because they are looking for a sense of enlightenment or to put certain things into perspective.
Camino Preparation Tips
• Break your shoes in well
• Test your equipment beforehand. Go for a long walk with your backpack and test your rain clothes.
• Think well about what you want to bring and use a backpack that carries around 10 kg.
• The hiking period is from March until September
• The most popular months are May and September
My Camino experiences
I chose to walk the Camino for a day and I started in Ponte de Lima, about 120 km away from Porto. This city has a beautiful, car-free and middle-aged city centre and is a true pearl. In Ponte de Lima you walk on the famous Roman bridge across the Lima river. A beautiful place to start! Along the way, I met “real” Camino hikers and it’s fun to talk to them. The environment is so beautiful and rural, surrounded by only small villages and vineyards. I felt a serene kind of tranquillity and for almost the entire time, I hiked with an empty and clear mind. That’s why I think it was such a shame that I did not have more time to walk for more than one day.
I would love to go back again so I can complete the two whole weeks of the Camino!
Hiking in the north of Portugal with Portugal Green Walks
You can opt to arrange your hiking trip of the Camino all by yourself and to just walk and see what happens, but a nice option is to take care of things beforehand with Portugal Green Walks. They can tailor this route completely according to your wishes. For example, you can opt for them taking care of your luggage so you don’t have to carry this yourself during your hike. They also have various options for your overnight stays, from sleeping in luxury hotels to spending the night in a hostel’s dormitory. You can let them plan your entire 240 km hiking trip or let them take care of a single day or multiple days. They also offer countless of other beautiful hiking trips in the north of Portugal.
Check Portugal Green Walk’s website for more fun hiking trips!
2. Hike through the Arouca Geopark
One hour away from Porto, you will find the Arouca Geopark. This is a unique place in the world. The park knows a climate of hot summers and cold winters and because of it, you can find some very special geological heritage. It’s a geological open air museum and consists of an area of 328 km2.
There are various mountains, rivers and waterfalls in the region. Canyoning, canoeing, kayaking and mountain climbing are perfect things to do here. But it’s also a very beautiful area with hiking facilities. I went for a few short hikes in the park which are clearly marked with signs. The best thing about this is that I got to see different places. The view is wide and impressive anywhere. You get to see waterfalls, mountains and a couple of small villages.
What makes the Arouca Geopark so special?
The special thing about this area is that its stones are made out of granite. Because of erosion, there is a continuous process of the creation of new stones. The park has a centre which shows you how this process works with a clear 3D movie. Because of the continuous “birth” of stones, there is also a bit of superstition and people say that if you want to become pregnant, you should bring a stone from this park and place it under your pillow. This will increase the chances of pregnancy.
3. Walk the Passadicos do Paiva
Paiva hiking paths have a total length of 8.700 metres and take you straight through nature. The beauty of the landscape is unique and along the way you will find several beaches along the river where you can rest and cool down. These hiking paths are situated on the left bank of the Paiva river.
You can start the hiking trip from two different locations: Espiunca or Areinho. The easiest route is from Areinho, because it goes downstream (and downhill) to Espiunca. At a normal walking speed, this route from Areinho to Espiunca will take approximately 2,5 hours. You can also stop hiking at 4km and, for example, take a taxi to the parking area of Areinho or Espiunca. If you also want to walk back to Areinho again, then it will take you about twice as long, mainly because it’s uphill. For people who want to take the route in both directions, it’s going to be about 17 km and it’s recommended to start in Espiunca.
In 2019, the longest suspension bridge in Europe will be opened here and it already looks promising now! A good reason for me to return to this area someday soon.
Tickets and opening times
These hiking paths are very popular and because of this reason they will only allow a maximum amount of visitors a day. That’s why it’s recommended to reserve a ticket up front by using the website. The costs for a ticket are €1,- for adults and kids under 12 can enter for free.
• April (Monday till Friday): 09:00 h – 18:00 h
• April (weekend and holidays): 09:00 h – 19:00 h
• May till September : 08:00 h – 20:00 h
• October till March : 09:00 h – 17:00 h
These are my tips for hiking in the north of Portugal! Do you know more places for hiking in the north of Portugal?
When you’re in the north of Portugal, you cannot miss out on the city of Porto. This is probably your point of arrival at the airport. Porto is a city full of charm and atmosphere and here you can enjoy everything the city has to offer. Cafes, restaurants, cathedrals, churches and museums are all to be found here. The city has beautiful main Streets, but also countless of small streets with cozy squares. The city is built on several hills which provide you with an amazing view.
Porto is great to explore on foot, but keep in mind that there are some steep streets which go up and down.
You don’t need to be bored for a single moment in Porto. If you have enough days to spend in Porto, check the Porto itinerary. But these are a few things you really should do even:
• Visit the Igreja do Carmo and Capela das Almas churches
• Check out the São Bento train station. In the main hall, you will see one of the most beautiful azulejos pieces of arts in the city.
• Taste port! The port houses are situated across the Douro.
• Vila Nova de Gaia cable car brings you to the top of the bridge.
• Walk through the Ribeira neighbourhood. A maze of small streets, shops, wine bars and port houses.
• Look over the city from the Ponte Dom Luis I. This is a massive iron bridge with two floors and spans over the Douro river.
• Livraria Lello is a book store known from a Harry Potter movie and looks beautiful. You need to buy a ticket to enter.
• Go for a cruise on the Douro river. You sail along vineyards and get off the boat at local wine farmers.
Looking for a nice hotel in Porto? Then I’ve got two nice options for you!
Hotel Solverde Spa & Wellness is located 15 minutes away by car in the town of Espinho. The hotel is beautiful and is 5 minutes away from the beach. The breakfast is delicious and has a lot to offer. They have different saunas and wellness baths. In the evening, the bar of the hotel is a great place to stay because of the live music.
Hotel Porto Nautico is in the middle of the centre of Porto and is a small complex with a couple of rooms. They have a great swimming pool on the roof terrace. A bottle of wine is complimentary on arrival.
- Not what you are looking for? Find here more great places to stay in Porto!
The best travel times for the north of Portugal
When it comes to the north of Portugal, spring and autumn are the best times to travel. In the beginning of May, it can still be a little cold. From November until April there is also a chance of a lot of rain. During the winter, there is snowfall in the north of Portugal in places such as Serra de Estrela. The summers are warm and sunny in this region. In August, it is great to stay at the beach, because this is the driest and warmest month of the year. There is only 20 millimetres of rainfall compared to the 180 millimetres in its wettest month.
Information regarding the booking of flight tickets to Porto can be found on the TAP Air Portugal website.
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