Portugal Hiking

Portugal Hiking Guide: 9 greatest hiking trails

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Park up the rental car and leave your bicycle behind – the best way to explore Portugal is on foot! Portugal has some of the most incredible hiking trails in Europe. Affordable, beautiful, and easy to get to, Portugal should be at the top of your list of hiking destinations. 

We love Portugal. On our recent Spain to Portugal road trip we started in Malaga, crossed Gibraltar to Sevilla then traveled along the coastline to Faro, Lisbon, and Porto. We ended our trip in Madrid. Along the way, we took many hikes, enjoyed lots of sunshine on the beaches, and ate some super tasty food!

In this Portugal hiking guide, we discuss key information on planning a hiking trip in Portugal. And we also cover 9 of the best Portugal hiking trails. So, keep reading!

What to expect when hiking in Portugal

Portugal has a total surface area of more than 90,000km². A quick Google search brings up thousands of Portugal hiking trails, so where should you start? 

Some of the most popular hiking trails in Portugal are located along its 837km Atlantic coastline. Cliffs teeming with birdlife, working fishing villages, and perfect hidden beaches make the Portugal coast a top European destination. The Portuguese Algarve offers endless opportunities for a coastal hike you’ll never forget. 

But there is much to explore inland too! The inland regions of the Algarve and Alentejo, as well as Alto Alentejo, Sintras, and Portugal’s Centro Region are home to incredible hikes. The territory of Portugal also includes the archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira. Here you’ll find plenty of Portugal’s famous volcanic mountains to circle and summit. 

Our Portugal Road Trips post shows you the best way to navigate Portugal by car, making sure you don’t miss out on any great sights. 

Portugal is also one of the cheapest countries to visit in Western Europe so it’s a great choice for travelers on a budget. Check out our post on Things to do in Portugal for more inspiration on making your money go further. 

When is the best time to go hiking in Portugal?

Portugal’s temperate Atlantic climate makes it possible to hike all year round. The weather is pleasant throughout but for a hiking trip, we recommend visiting in the Fall or Spring. 

The Winter months in Portugal are quite mild. However, the scenery isn’t at its best during the Winter months and Portugal’s coastline can be battered by storms. In the summer months between June and August, Portugal is very hot, particularly in the south, making hiking difficult. 

There is usually a bit of rainfall during Fall and Spring in Portugal. But a bit of rain is no problem! September to December and March to May is the best time for outdoor activities like hiking and camping in Portugal.

Portugal hiking essentials

Hiking in Portugal during Fall or Spring does not require much adventure gear but you should always pack the essentials: 

  • A good-quality daypack (also see our guide on buying the perfect daypack)
  • Enough water for your entire hike (or a reusable water bottle and a water purifier!)
  • High-energy snacks
  • Extra layers in case of weather changes
  • First aid kit
  • Navigation tools such as a paper map and a compass (just in case!)

Take a look at our packing list for hiking for more advice on what you need to pack for hiking in Portugal.

Best Portugal hiking trails – day trips

Now you’re all packed, all you need to do is choose which Portugal hiking trail to tackle first!

1. Cabo da Roca to Azenhas do Mar 

Starting point: Cabo da Roca

Distance: 12.2km (7.6 miles)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Type of trail: One-way

Powered by Wikiloc

Click here or on the Wikiloc logo, to get more information about this hike.

This fantastic coastal trail begins at a very special place, Cabo da Roca (Cape Roca). Cabo de Roca is the westernmost point of continental Europe and a great place to begin your first Portugal hiking trail. Located in the Lisbon region and part of the Sintra Mountain Range, Cabo de Roca is easy to access from Lisbon airport. 

Looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, you will hike from Cabo da Roca to Azenhos do Mar, a trail of around 12km that will take between 4-5 hours to complete. Look out for the historic lighthouse that dates back to 1772! 

2. 7 Hanging Valleys Trail

Starting point: Praia da Marina

Distance: 11.9km (7.4 miles)

Difficulty level: Moderate 

Type of trail: One-way

Click here or on the AllTrails logo, to get more information about this hike. You can also find more information about this trail on this awesome map.

The 7 Hanging Valleys trail is one of the most spectacular Portugal hiking trails in the Algarve region. Start at Praia da Marina, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, and take a leisurely back trail along the coast to Praia de Centianes. 

This trail is also around 12km in length and features a waterfall and lots of opportunities to look for local wildlife. This trail is popular and as it’s located in the south is also suitable for hiking all-year-round. 

3. Sintra

Starting point: Sintra National Palace

Distance: 10.9km

Difficulty level: Moderate

Type of trail: Loop

Journey into Portugal’s ancient past on this scenic trail that starts at Sintra National Palace and loops around Pena Palace and Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors). This trail is often busy due to the fantastic cultural sites you can visit on your hike but do bear in mind there is a cost to enter Sintra Palace. Suitable for hiking all-year round and rated “moderate” this is a great hike for a group or family trip. 

4. Rota Vicentina

Starting point: Vila do Bispo

Distance: 13.7km (8.5 miles)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Type of trail: One-way

Rota Vicentina refers to several Portugal hiking trails in the Alentejo and Algarve regions of southern Portugal. This one is our favorite and starts in the small town of Vila do Bispo. From here, the trail leads you away from the pretty forest and down to the coast. 

Although almost 14km in length, this trail is moderate as it’s almost all downhill. This is a pleasant hiking trail that’s best tackled between Fall and Spring and can be incorporated into other, longer multi-day hikes in this region.

5. PR1 Mountain Trail Madeira

Starting point: Pico do Arieiro

Distance: 10.8km

Difficulty level: Difficult

Type of trail: Out and back

This is a very popular mountain trail located near São Roque do Faial in the archipelago region of Madeira. You can reach the peak of Pico Ruivo, Madeira’s highest peak from Achada do Teixeira but we recommend this challengings 10.8km trail from Pico de Arriero.

You can also backpack and camp at different spots along this Madeira mountain trail – one for the real adventurers!

6. Lagoa do Fogo Loop

Starting point: Lagoa do Fogo Trail Head

Distance: 7.9km

Difficulty level: Moderate

Type of trail: Loop

Lagoa do Fogo loop is a beautiful, gentle hike around a remote lake near Maia, on the island of São Miguel in the Azores archipelago. Around 8km in length, this trail is moderate but the trailhead is 250m higher than the lake so bear in mind that the downward slope at the start will be an upward slope on the way back!

7. Cabeço do Canto 

Starting point: Trupes

Distance: 8.9km

Difficulty level: Moderate

Type of trail: Loop

Another great Portugal hiking trail in the Azores, the Cabeço do Canto trail is located on Faial Island near Horta. Faial Island is known as The Blue Island due to the fields of hydrangeas that bloom there in the summer months. The popular Cabeço do Canto hiking trail is a moderate loop that begins and ends in Trupes. This hiking trail circles three volcanoes and features fields of wildflowers and the chance to see some local wildlife. 

Best Portugal hiking trails – multi-day trips

These last two hiking trails we cover in this Portugal hiking guide are multi-day trips. But you can also take a section of either of them to complete in one day. 

8. Fisherman’s Trail

Starting point: Porto Covo

Distance: 74.7km

Difficulty level: Moderate

Type of trail: One-way

Porto Covo is a charming fishing village located on the Alentejo coast, around 170 km south of Lisbon. This multi-day Portugal hiking trail takes you further south along a 74.7km trail that ends at the Odeceixe. Along this moderate trail, you’ll pass through several fishing villages and endless stretches of beautiful beach. The best time to backpack this trail is between September and June.

9. Serra da Estrela

Starting point: Manteigas

Distance: 56.8km

Difficulty level: Moderate

Type of trail: Loop

This multi-day loop trail begins and ends in the mountain town of Manteigas, located in the Centro Region of Portugal. Hiking through the Valley of the River Zêzere, you will circle and summit volcanoes and can even take a dip in a pretty lagoon. This trail is rated difficult but features great campsites so you can complete it as quickly or slowly as you like. 

Portugal is truly one of the best hiking destinations in Europe with endless hiking trails to explore. Tell us about your favorite trail in the comments below. And do you want to discover more about Portugal? Check out our Portugal page to read all our Portugal articles.

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