Adventurous Portugal Coastal Hiking Tour

A 9 day trip to Portugal 
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Portugal’s southwestern coastline provides an expedition for the soul with a journey through wilderness and white villages with castles and the charms of tradition alongside. Spend nearly a week along the rugged and utterly unspoiled route, traversing the cliffs and moving across the vineyards to the grand destinations of the past. This region comes with the aura of tradition that extends to decadent local cuisine and cultural insight. Trek at your own pace and indulge all your senses on an unforgettable vacation adventure. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Algarve coast, Portugal.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Lisbon, Peninha Sanctuary, Guincho, Cresmina Dunes Nature Center, Capuchos Convent, Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais, Sintra, Pena Palace, Palacio Nacional, Praia Grande, Cabo da Roca, Cascais, Estoril, Tagus River, Azeitao, Arrabida Natural Park, Alentejo, Palmela Castle, Vila Nova de Milfontes, Rota Vicentina, Mira River, Praia das Furnas, Almograve, Cabo Sardao, Odeceixe, Ponta em Branco, Salema, Sagres, Zavial Beach, Albufeira, Faro

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Lisbon – Discover the Capital and Uncover Culture

Lisbon is a great warm-up for your legs, a city built on seven hills along the Tagus River. Sidewalks are polished smooth by three centuries of footsteps, and yellow tramcars roll past tiled buildings as narrow alleys open out onto plazas and views above the city. Lisbon is a city where everything is connected, yet every few minutes of walking can bring you to an entirely different neighborhood. This morning you will be collected from the airport for an overnight stay at a small boutique hotel, neatly situated for exploring both the riverside and the most iconic of neighborhoods. Meet your guide for lunch and discuss what will happen over the next week as related to the weather and your surroundings, and take time to clarify anything you may be unsure about so that you can be properly prepared for your adventure.

Throughout the afternoon, you can wander slowly between the colorful parts of Lisbon. Grand 18th-century architecture provides the backdrop in Baixa, the centerpiece of the city’s redevelopment after an earthquake in 1755. Graffiti and blue tiles are just two ways the buildings are painted in Alfama, while in Bairro Alto, the steep pedestrian streets lead you to vintage stores with youthful vibes. Ascend to St. George’s Castle high above the city, and then descend to the riverside promenade where there are various cafes and restaurants to complete your walking tour. This day will be very relaxed, and there are various options for customization as you may want to rest your legs entirely and travel on the famous number 28 tram instead.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 2: Peninha Sanctuary to Guincho Beach to Sintra – Hike Through the World Heritage Beauty of Ancient Portugal

Peninha Sanctuary provides a dramatic starting point with a 17th-century chapel packed with Baroque tiles that reveal the life of the Virgin Mary. Juxtaposed with the cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean, it is an immediate insight into the remoteness of the expedition’s trails. Descend across the green cliff-top hills and follow a narrow trail to Guincho beach, where you can remove your shoes and dip your toes into the soft white sand. Sand dunes start to rise liberally, making the going a little tougher as you pick a route along the ocean. With each dune, you can glimpse the Atlantic Ocean, but then you will descend and feel humbled by the wilderness. Stop for lunch at the Cresima Dunes Nature Centre, and then continue in Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais, a UNESCO World Heritage landscape that will dazzle your imagination.

Ascend along a rugged path to Capuchos Convent, the moss spreading abundantly across its ancient facade. Find yourself in between forests and mountains, then above the dunes and beside a lake. Finally, you will keep walking on some rocky sections to Sintra, a small town of cobblestone and charm. Immortalized in Lord Byron’s poetry and site of the Portuguese national palace for centuries, this little town is perfect for a quiet first evening on the trail. It completes a day that will epitomize the atmosphere of this expedition, concerned with both the destination and the journey.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, transfer, breakfast

Day 3: Sintra to Praia Grande to Cabo da Roca to Cascais – The Dramatic Coastline on the Westernmost Edge of Continental Europe

After six hours of hiking yesterday, you will walk for about four miles today. Praia Grande Beach is the starting point of your journey to continental Europe’s westernmost point. Peculiar flora lines the trail, flickering in the salty ocean breeze. Wild Atlantic waves crash below, echoing raucously up to the cliffs. Occasionally, you can spot a fishing boat out on the ocean, rocking in the wind. The beautiful trail takes you from windswept wilderness to the history of Europe, with a lighthouse marking the point where the continent ends. Set sail from here, and the next landmass you would reach would be the East Coast of the United States. Fishers are perched on the cliffs close by, hooking up their catch, a gorgeous sight to enjoy while having a picnic lunch.

After food and some rest, the afternoon will be at your leisure. Transfer to Pena Palace to tour this former monastery, the pink hue a vivid contrast to the green of hills. The New Palace is ochre-toned, another colorful display in this UNESCO World Heritage landscape. After a short transfer, you will spend the night in Cascais, a seaside resort town made famous by vacationing royalty in the 19th century. It has a lovely old town to explore and a welcoming coastal atmosphere as well as one of Portugal’s most famous eateries, a local fish restaurant for an informal dinner.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, transfer, breakfast

Day 4: Estoril to Vila Nova de Milfontes – The Beauty of Rural Portugal

Get your legs moving on a promenade stroll to Estoril, and then transfer to the region south of the Tejo River. The landscape is expressive and inspiring with open plains dotted with castles and vineyards, cliffs that descend to remote beaches and decorative ceramic tiles providing a splash of color in almost every village. It is about a three-hour transfer to the start of your hike, but you can stop at a ceramics workshop and a vineyard on route. The winery dates to the 19th century and reflects the tastes of the region, which is responsible for more than half of Portugal’s wine production.

Enjoy lunch in Azeitao, and then set off across even more remote landscapes, following the renowned windmills path, Rota Moinhos. With windmills the omnipresent on the panorama, the trail will lead you through a protected natural park and towards the village of Vila Nova de Milfontes. Pass Palmela Castle in Arrabida Natural Park, and savor the distant backdrop of mountain ranges and inhale the solitude that can be found in this corner of the world. The village provides a perfect insight into rural Portugal, especially when you dine at a local and widely celebrated restaurant.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Praia das Furnas to Almograve to Cabo Sardao – Southern Europe’s Wildest Stretch of Coast

Set off on the Rota Vicentina for a truly immersive experience. Look to the interior, and you will see the allure of nature with the plains open and uninterrupted. Gaze out beyond the cliffs, and the force of the Atlantic Ocean will take over with invisible waves heard crashing down below. For the next two days, you will hike two handpicked sections of this trail to explore Southern Europe’s wildest coastline. For centuries, this trail has been crafted by fishers, who still use it to cross the cliffs and access the ultimate fishing spots.

Today you will cross the Mira River in a wooden boat and hike from Praia das Furnas to Almograve. While the cliffs are dramatic, the route is mostly flat as it weaves along the tops of the cliffs to the sound of the surf. There are sporadic but steep ascents and descents that will take you onto the deserted beaches. You can wander above the sand dunes and across the black shale rocks that jutt out towards the ocean, and then picnic on local cheese with an endless view over the Atlantic. The morning section is six miles in length, and there is an optional afternoon hike that covers another five miles to Cabo Sardao and a colony of nesting storks. You will then transfer back to Vila Nove de Milfontes.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 6: Ponta em Branco to Salema – Strolling Soft Sands and Exploring the Force of Nature

Ocean breezes and opulent views are the order of the day as you will continue south on the Rota Vicentina. The cliffs become more dramatic with vertical slabs that Mother Nature has crafted in all kinds of colors. Nesting seabirds flutter around, abandoned fishing hamlets stand beneath the cliffs, and the force of nature is omnipresent. This section of Portugal’s Atlantic coast can make it feel like you are on the edge of the world, hiking through the unknown towards the tip of a continent. Rather than hike the whole Rota Vicentina, the two sections you see reflect the diversity of the coastline. Yesterday’s route was flat and open while today’s is winding and jagged.

Hike down from Ponta em Branco, the white summit, to a beach that only rarely has footprints. Continue back up the cliffs with the ocean on your right as you pick a route towards Salema. It will be close to ten miles of walking, the longest and toughest day of the hike but the rewards are many, and Salema is a lovely place to rest your legs. The village is quintessential Algarve, with its whitewashed houses and calm golden beach. Serene and sublime, it is just one of many villages that feel wrapped in the atmosphere of the past. There are even a handful of fishing boats docking on the sand and the fragrances of barbecued octopus floating through the air.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Salema to Zavial Beach to Sagres – Across the Cliffs to the Southwestern Tip of Europe

Today you will hike the coast to the southwestern tip of Europe to complete an expedition that has been about the body and the soul. Wind up and down the cliffs to Zavial Beach, a sheltered sandy bay that reflects the tranquility of the hike. Your legs may be aching, but you will want to keep going up and over the towering cliffs and towards the more deserted beaches and bays. In total, it will be almost ten miles to Sagres, where a lighthouse and a fort mark what feels like the edge of the world. It will be a fitting place to end, full of visual delights and an atmosphere that soothes the soul. You will have come a long way from Lisbon, so dinner at a local seafood restaurant is a fitting way to celebrate the end of the trail, choosing what you want from the trays of fresh fish.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 8: Albufeira – Free Day to Rest on the Algarve Coast

Over the last six days, you will have had many early starts to avoid walking in the heat of the day, so you will probably opt for a late breakfast on the balcony overlooking the water. After breakfast, you will be transferred to Albufeira for a quiet final day after a week spent hiking. Your hotel will be just a few minutes from the golden sand, and you could happily spend a slow day in the sun. If you are still feeling adventurous, it will be possible to experience the cliff-strewn coastline from another angle. Paddle into the caves to hidden beaches on a kayak tour for a wonderful insight into the landscape the waves has carved. There will also be opportunities to view local culture, particularly in the nearby town of Lagos.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 9: Albufeira to Faro – Departure

From Albufeira, it will be a one-hour transfer to Faro International Airport and your departing flight. Your legs should be slightly recovered after the rest day yesterday, but your mind will still be replaying images of the coast and the trails. This has been a hiking journey for the soul, and one that has connected you with a part of nature that most people do not realize still exists in Europe.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$1,795
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.