Northern Portugal walking hiking tour

Northern Portugal

A self-guided walking tour. Make it your own!

A cultural connection of walkers to landscapes and local life.

Self-Guided

You choose your departure date!

12 Days, 10 Nights

A unique adventure in Northern Portugal

$000USD        

Priced from:

Questions?
Call Us. +1 623.561.0846

per person, double occupancy

$1250 USD Due With Registration

WALKING

Explore the surprising variety of northern Portugal in a unique itinerary that combines mountains, rivers and the Atlantic coast. This trip unlocks some of best kept secrets of the north; from places that seem to be frozen in the past century, to ever-changing scenery, you'll be visiting what are some of the least-known - and most charming - parts of Portugal.

In the very north of Portugal, discover the small town of Sistelo, '7th Wonder of Portugal,' and its gorgeous terraces. Located within the boundaries of Peneda-Gerês National Park, Sistelo has been nicknamed the ‘Little Portuguese Tibet;' walking this forgotten village's old cobbled streets and trails will transport you into the past.

 

As you trace the flow downstream of the Rio Vez and the Rio Lima during the next couple of days, you’ll be stopping at the gorgeous towns of Arcos de Valdevez, Ponte de Barca and Ponte de Lima, before heading north for a diverse section of the Caminho Portugues. The third part of the trip will take you right up to (and briefly over) the border with Spain, along the Rio Minho and to the coastal towns of Caminha and Viana do Castelo. 

CONNECTION

The route has been chosen to take you off the tourist trail, to genuine Portuguese towns that still retain their soul and traditional lifestyles. We also include a detour to the better-known, curious Galician town of A Guarda, home to a unique archaeological site. It's just one of many surprising discoveries you'll make on this holiday.

 

To make sure you get the most out of your time, you will be met on your first day by one of our local guides, who talks you through the maps, walks and information for the week ahead. They will handle the short transfers linking you between the different areas, and are also there to give you on-call support and advice throughout your holiday.

Northern Portugal Highlights

CREATE CONNECTIONS

Take in the the landscape and the local culture-- create a unique experience. Your local guides will ensure your trip goes smoothly, while you navigate Portugal at your own pace.

CULTURAL IMMERSION

Visit remote seaside villages, impressive cathedrals and ancient walking paths.

BETTER WALKS, BETTER LIFE

The trails through Portugal are hundreds of years old, and for good reason.

Your Experience

Level of Activity

 

This is a walking holiday, so in that sense active, though it should not be terribly challenging for anyone used to hill walking. Although the itinerary has you walking almost every day, you should also have plenty of time to relax into the slower pace of life in Minho.

 

Distances on your walking days average around the 20km mark. Except in Sistelo and on the Caminho, elevation gains/losses are not dramatic by and large. In some cases, particularly on the shores of the river Minho and at the coast, the walks can easily be shortened, and your guide can explain these options at your welcome briefing.

 

The climate in Minho is mild, and generally warm and temperate, with temperates ranging around 20º-25ºc from May to October.

Level of Comfort

In keeping with the varied nature of the places you see on this trip, your accommodation is equally mixed. Most of the hotels you stay in during this trip are historical buildings that have been recently renovated, so have a lot of comfort and character.

 

In Porto you stay in a recently renovated hotel near the river, perfectly located to explore the city on foot.

 

For your first couple of nights in the mountains you stay in a local traditional granite house that has been renovated a few years ago. The house used to have the living area upstairs and the lower floor for animals. Today it's an adorable two-room house with great character.

 

The ones in Arcos, along the Caminho de Santiago and those along the Minho river also include swimming pools. The hotel at the end of the Caminho day is simpler than the others, since it's a pilgrims' hotel, but in truth it's a very comfortable one by many Caminho standards!

 

We also added a couple of nights in a delightful hotel outside the town of Caminha, so that you can have a full day relaxing at the pool or the spa before heading to Viana, your final destination.

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Photo Credit: Maasai Wanderings

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Level of Culture

 

One advantage of the slow pace of an inn to inn walk is that it allows you to enjoy not only the nature around you, but also gain a deeper insight into the local life of the area.

 

This holiday takes you into contrasting areas of Alto Minho; from the terraces of the Peneda-Geres National Park, along three different rivers, and to the golden sands of the Atlantic coastline. Life in these regions is very different in many ways, though in any case has changed little over the years.

 

This itinerary has been designed so that you get a real insight into one of the least visited corners of Portugal. Some short guided transfers have been included both to facilitate the walking route and to ensure you have a rich cultural experience at each stage of your journey.

 

Of course food and wine will be a big part of your cultural experience in Northern Portugal as you discover the varieties of vinho verde or the stunning sea food of the Atlantic coast.

 

Day-By-Day

Please note that the details of this itinerary are subject to change. Many of the planned activities are organized according to availability, events or seasonal dates, appropriate weather conditions or the discretion of our guides. We make every effort to provide the experience described in the itinerary with the understanding that some things may change.

DAY 1
Arrive Porto

Arrive in Porto and make your way to your first hotel in the heart of the city, from where you can start exploring on foot the surrounding Ribeira neighbourhood. 

Accommodation: Flores Village

Arrive in Porto today and make your way to your hotel.

Settle in this afternoon and begin to explore this lovely quarter of the city. It's a short walk down to the Ribeira district, where you can wander along the waterside, watching the rabelos (small wooden boats) bob on the river’s currents. These modest vessels laden with casks transported wine to Porto from the quintas upriver until the railroad came along.

There are plenty of spots to have a drink, not far from the girders of the Ponte de Dom Luís I bridge, designed by an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel. Watch the sun go down over the river, with views across to Vila Nova de Gaia.

DAY 2

Porto

Enjoy a privately guided day exploring Porto and the wineries of Vila de Gaia, a great introduction to the history of Portugal, the local way of living and eating and the great wines of the Douro region

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodation: Flores Village

Your guide comes to meet you at your hotel this morning to take you on a full day exploration of the city and neighboring Gaia. Porto has long benefited from commerce, whether providing provisions to medieval crusaders on their way to the Holy Land, importing goods during Portugal’s famed Age of Discovery, or exporting its fortified port wine to Britain. The grand yet unpretentious architecture you’ll see was built on that wealth.

Your hotel is on the edge of the city’s Cathedral district, putting the city’s mammoth church within easy reach. Heading in the other direction from the river takes you to the São Bento train station, with its artful display of azulejos, the famous blue tiles which decorate so many of the buildings.

After a tasty lunch, cross the river to visit one of our favorite wine lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia. Though no longer transported by rabelo, wines from the heart of the Douro region are still brought here to mature in the famous cellars.

DAYS 3

Sistelo

Travel from Porto in the company of our local guide to the Lima Valley, where you will stop for an introduction to the area as you taste the famous Vinho Verde in one of the oldest wineries in the area. Finish your trip into the mountains of Peneda, settling in the picturesque village of Sistelo, where tonight you can explore our local recommendations for dinner.

Meals Included: Lunch

Accommodation: Casa Ferreirinha Sistelo

Arrive in Porto today, where you are met by your local guide and head to the gorgeous Quinta do Ameal, for a walk through its Vinho Verde winery and to a wine tasting session.

Afterwards, finish your day in the small village Sistelo, your stay for the next couple of nights. Your accommodation is a renovated typical granite house that used to have the living area upstairs and the lower floor for animals. The house is set in the upper part of the village so you get nice views over the mountains.

Your guide runs you through the week ahead, talks you through our route in detail over 1:50,000 IGEO maps and explains how to use your smart-phone navigation device (both provided by us).. They then remain on call for any assistance you may need throughout your trip. This evening have dinner at leisure in town in one of the two restaurants that serve traditional Portuguese food.

Day 4

Sistelo

Your breakfast and picnic lunch are delivered to the house in the morning (they do not have an on site restaurant). You have two options available for your circular walk from Sistelo today, either 9 or 15km. Return to Sistelo for dinner at leisure. 

Walk Distance: 9km

                     (450m ascent/450m descent)

                     OR

                     15km

                     (600m ascent/600m descent)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodation: Casa Ferreirinha Sistelo

After taking delivery of your excellent breakfast this morning, start hiking directly from the house. As you walk very old cobbled paths that have been eroded by hundreds of years of passage of the animal wagons, you will be passing by a couple of small villages that feature the traditional 'Espigueiros' - the typical granaries from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula.

If you take the longer walk option, this will also allow you to get to the upper part of the mountain and reach the impressive 'Brandas' and 'Cortelhos' - which are stone-built huts for animals that resemble Iron Age settlements.

As you end your walk in the center of Sistelo, you might like to refresh yourself at the local bar and take time to visit the small museum to learn more about the history and culture of the area.

Day 5

Arcos de Valdevez

Your luggage is collected today as you set off from Sistelo to Arcos de Valdevez, following wooden walkways on the Ecovía along the Vez river. If the weather's warm, you can always take a cooling dip along the way. On arrival, settle in your beautiful hotel by the river before heading out to enjoy one of the great restaurants on offer in town. 

Walk Distance: 21km

                     (100m ascent/300m descent)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodation: Ribeira Hotel Piamonte Arcos de Valdevez

The ecovia that links Sistelo to Arcos is a walking path that features plenty of wooden walkways that often undulate alongside the river. As you move slowly from remote mountains to civilization, feel free to stop anytime for a dip in the river.

Arcos still retains much of the typical charm of the Alto Minho province - luxuriant green landscapes and the traditional architecture of its buildings. As you arrive at your hotel, you might like to visit the spa or relax in the garden which overlooks the lovely Vez river.

Take time to visit the town and explore its streets before dinner at one of the local restaurants near your hotel.

Day 6

Ponte de Lima

Walk from Arcos to Ponte de Lima today, exchanging the Vez River for the Lima River. Enjoy a stop along the way in the pretty town of Ponte da Barca, where you can find various places to eat or simply collect picnic supplies before continuing to Ponte de Lima. In the early evening enjoy a wine tasting and tour at the local wine museum before exploring the dining options in town. 

Walk Distance: 23km

                     (100m ascent/100m descent)

Meals Included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Mercearia da Vila

As you continue your way along the ecovia you can notice how the Vez River gets wider and wider. On your arrival at Ponte de Barca, where you can have lunch, you will enjoy lovely views over the town from the opposite side of the river.

After lunch, head to Ponte de Lima along the ecovia but this time following the Lima River. The walk is gentle and pretty as you have crops on the left and the very wide river on the right. Along the way, you will also spot a few abandoned water mills as well as some lovely birdlife.

Ponte de Lima is a charming walled town, a bit larger than Arcos, which has a lovely historical center with romanesque church, and a castle. Ponte de Lima boasts itself to be the oldest village of Portugal as it was founded in the 12th Century – before Portugal became a nation.

After settling into your comfortable accommodation near the main square, stroll around and visit the Museum of the Minho Wine where you have a wine tasting session.

Day 7

Caminho de Santiago

A more challenging day sees you leave the rivers behind and walk along a stretch of the Caminho de Santiago, sharing a day with the pilgrims on this ancient cultural highway. Your route takes you up through a forest of eucalyptus, acacias and pine trees into the open valley and along Roman cobbled tracks to Casa da Capela. Spend the night at a comfortable if not luxurious hotel on the Caminho. 

Walk Distance: 21.5km

                     (570m ascent/330m descent)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Casa da Capela

With almost 68,000 pilgrims in 2018, the Caminho Portugues is the second most popular route after the iconic Camino Frances.

Being able to feel you are part of the Caminho community is perhaps the main highlight of the day, as such it's a striking contrast with the rest of your time walking. Although this stretch also gives you a genuine insight into the Portuguese countryside.

Before you start, make sure you get a full breakfast as today is probably the most demanding walk of your trip.

From walking on ancient cobbled paths through small villages and along small vineyards to paved road, potholes and small dirt trails, you will get a great taste of the variety of the Caminho today

Day 8

Minho River

A short transfer this morning takes you to the shores of the Minho river to hike or cycle along the shore from the fortress town of Valença to a beautiful historic estate overlooking the river where you spend the night. Along the way you can stop for a lunch at leisure at the lively town of Cerveira.

Walk Distance: 16km

                      (150m ascent)

                      Option for cycling alternative

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Boega

You are collected this morning for a 30- minute drive to Rio Minho where you will start walking along the riverside from the fortress town of Valença to the charming town of Vilanova do Cerveira - the City of Art.

If you'd like a change of pace, it's also an option today to take a bike for the majority of the journey along the river.

Cerveira is smaller than Valença, but has a more authentic and lively atmosphere. The town celebrates many festivities throughout the year and features a market every Saturdays. Have a tour around the fortress, stop at the local shops and have lunch before you start walking to your hotel on foot.

Hotel Boega is a wonderful historical estate overlooking the river that has plenty of amenities. Have a dip in the lovely granite pool and hopefully enjoy a perfect sunset before dinner.

Day 9

Caminha

Another short transfer this morning brings you to the mouth of the Minho River for a short boat transfer into Galicia, Spain. Walk along the opposite riverside and along the ocean to reach the fishing port of A Guarda where you can enjoy a seafood feast. In the afternoon, take a taxi up to the hill of Santa Tecla to visit one of the largest Iron Age settlements in the Peninsula and enjoy the fantastic views as you walk down towards the river. A short boat ride will take you back into Portugal, your destination is the town of Caminha where you stay in a wonderful hotel above the town. 

Walk Distance: 11.5km

                      (300m descent)

Meals Included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hotel Rinoterra

Take a short taxi to the shores of the Rio Minho where Jose, your captain, will take you across the border to a sandy Galician beach. As you land, you can enjoy a nice walk along the coast with great views of the river mouth and the iconic Insua island in the middle of the border. Then as you follow the wooden platform towards A Guarda, the ocean on your left and Monte Santa Trega on the other side, the golden sands give way to a rocky granite coast.

Have lunch in one of the restaurants near the port, before taking a second taxi drive to the top of the impressive Santa Trega hill, which is home to one of the most unique ‘Castros’ in Iberia. Built in the Iron Age, this Pre-Roman settlement was home to some 3000 people, and was only rediscovered in 1913. Enjoy the view over Portugal, visit the site and when you're ready, hike down on the southern slopes of the mountain, until you get to the ferry station, where Jose will be waiting to take you back to Portugal. It's then a short transfer up the road to your next hotel.

Day 10

Caminha

Today is a rest day to enjoy the calm and comfort of your hotel. In the afternoon you might like to take a taxi (paid locally) down into Caminha to enjoy a walk around town before dinner; we'd highly recommend the unique Amandio Restaurant.

 

Meals Included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hotel Rinoterra​

You're in a beautiful spot to simply relax this morning and take a break from walking. The hotel pool is ideal for a lazy morning, or you might even enjoy a spell in the hotel's sauna.

In the afternoon take a transfer down to Caminha. This beautiful Portuguese town is one of the locals' favorite destinations in the area. Enjoy a walk around the town, visit Torre do Relógio, its museum and the couple of gorgeous churches around the central square before finding somewhere for dinner.

Our top recommendation is Amandio's quirky restaurant, probably the best place to eat in town!

Day 11

Viano do Castelo

After a short transfer to the town of Ancora, start walking along the Atlantic coast towards the town of Viana do Castelo, where you settle in the old town before meeting you guide again for a walking tour. This evening we'd suggest a delicious dinner at the fishing port to celebrate the end of your trip.

Walk Distance: 18km

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodation: Casa Melo Alvim, Viana do Castelo

After a short transfer to the town of Ancora, you will start your last walk of the trip towards the fishing town of Viana do Castelo.

Follow the coastal ecovia, following the wooden platforms over sand dunes past old forts and into a little biological reserve. As you approach the Montedor lighthouse, take a little detour uphill to the old windmills of Montedor. Continue downhill to reach the coast and take time to observe the ancient rock carvings and traditional salt pans before starting a long section alongside the ocean.

As you arrive in Viana, cross the fishing port, then walk along the main avenue to reach your hotel, which is set in a refurbished 15th Century palace.'

Viana do Castelo is a proud and genuine Portuguese town that - perhaps surprisingly - remains relatively untouched by tourism. Have a stroll around and, if you have time, visit the traditional dress museum and amazing Baroque house of Misericordia.

Day 12

Farewell

Transfer this morning back to Porto - or to Guimaraes / the Douro area if you wish to keep on exploring the beauty of Northern Portugal. 

 

Meals Included: Breakfast

Depending on your departure time, you might want to explore the historic center before making your way out to the airport; alternatively we can drop you off directly for your flight. If you'd like to see more of northern Portugal, perhaps with a few days strolling through vineyards and sampling the wines of the Douro, we'd be happy to discuss ideas to extend your trip.

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Where We Sleep

Quaint village luxury. The accommodations on this Portuguese walking tour were carefully selected by Jo Ann Taylor and are in the style she has created and the Walking Connection has become known for. The lodges. With luxurious amenities and unique local flavor, you will rest comfortably night after night. Your luggage will be transferred between locations and be waiting for you upon arrival.

Flores Village

 

xxx Description

Kasbah du Toubkal

 

The Kasbah is also in the Toubkal National Park and set dramatically below the towering flanks of Jbel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa standing at 4167 metres. 

The delightful garden and large terraces offer unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains. The friendly and knowledgeable local Berber team make every effort to ensure your stay is as enjoyable as it can be.

Photo Credit: Maasai Wanderings

Photo Credit: Maasai Wanderings

Photo Credit: Maasai Wanderings

A Dream Come True...

"“Thank you for organizing such an amazing trip to Tanzania.  Everything was first class and far exceeded my expectations.  Each day I kept asking myself, how can this get any better?  And each day it did!

- Cindy R., California

"The guides, the food, the service, and most of all our fellow travelers made this a trip of a lifetime."

- Colleen H., Alberta, Canada

"The accommodations were all excellent and unique, perfectly suited to the terrain we visited. For those who count, the numbers of animals, especially the big ones, were amazing."

- Tom M. and Elizabeth D., Arizona

Questions?

 

Great! We love talking about Northern Portugal! Give our FAQs below a quick look. You might find answers there. Or email us: info@WalkingConnection.com or call us at +1 (623) 561.0846 to speak with a team member. Either way, we are at your service, so please don't hesitate to reach out!

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Plan your personal adventure to Northern Portugal

Gene & Jo Ann Taylor, Co-founder & President of The Walking Connection.

WHAT DOES THE PRICE INCLUDE?

•9-nights accommodations •Meals per the itinerary •Private tours with resident local guides eager to share their extensive wildlife knowledge, history and cultural •Access and entrance fees to national parks •Local beverages with meals •Detailed “Know Before You Go” information including recommended website, reading lists, packing list, what to bring, weather and much, much more

WHAT DOES THE PRICE NOT INCLUDE?

International roundtrip airfare or departure taxes. •Travel insurance. •Airport transfers/Transportation to the trip’s starting point. •All items of a personal nature, including beverages and shopping • Photographs or phone calls • Discounts/Refunds on any unused portion of the tour • Anything that is not expressly stated in the itinerary or on the inclusion list above.

WHAT IS THE CANCELATION POLICY?

Should you have to cancel your tour the following terms will apply: •Due to the exclusive and small group nature of this adventure, all cancellations requests will forfeit the initial trip deposit. After that: •For cancellations 61-90 days prior to the trip, 70% penalty of the total trip cost. •For cancellations and no shows 60 days or less prior to the trip, no refunds. •No refunds will be made for any unused portion of the tour.

More Details!

 

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