Where to walk in Portugal

A walking holiday is the perfect way to appreciate this country. You can be surprisingly close to Lisbon or the beach resorts of the Algarve coast, yet hiking through peaceful scenery. Opt for centre based, self guided walking in the westerly Sintra-Cascais Natural Park or through the rolling hills of eastern Algarve. For a great overview of the western Algarve and Alentejo, trek point-to-point on the Rota Vicentina, tackling manageable daily sections of 15-25km. Choose a trip with luggage transfer and you’re free to hike light, cooling your feet in clear rivers or the rolling Atlantic at the end of each day. Our map below gives more inspiration on where to walk in Portugal.

1. Alentejo

The Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina is the largest coastal park in Europe, a rolling landscape of river valleys, dramatic cliffs and golden beaches. The Fishermen’s Trail, part of the Rota Vicentina, sits within it, hugging the cliffs for 120km and often skirting precipitous drops. Views are long and spectacular and there’s wildlife to spot, from rare fishing eagles to the world’s only shore-living white storks.

2. Algarve

Base yourself a mere 10km inland from Faro and you’re perfectly placed to access the Algarve’s wildest walking routes. Follow the ‘backbone’ of northern Algarve on the Via Algarviana, head for the wild west coast between Sagres and Odeceixe or explore the east, with its rolling hills, rivers, sandy beaches, natural parks and elegant towns such as Tavira.

3. Azores

This lush, green archipelago of volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean, peppered with steep craters, feels a long way from Portugal. Each of the nine islands is ideally explored on foot, so you can get close to the lava plateaux and volcanic lakes. You’ll have flat, well-maintained paths under your feet with the odd stretch of rough terrain, too.

4. Madeira

Madeira has a great mix of walking for such a compact island. Trek the remote, dry eastern tip at Ponta de Sao Lourenco or the spectacular north coast path, or stroll along the flower-lined levadas, the irrigation canals that thread through the island. Want to test your calves? Hike through chestnut and eucalyptus woods, fragrant with wild thyme, to climb the 1,862m Pico Ruivo.
Sintra-Cascais Natural Park

5. Sintra-Cascais Natural Park

Just 25km from Lisbon, this UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the Serra de Sintra mountains, where dry stone walls divide fields between picturesque villages. Its wild landscape stretches right to the coast, where Cabo da Roca is continental Europe’s westernmost point. The park contains miles of walking trails, with centre based trips popular here, and its mild Atlantic climate means you can explore year-round.
The Portugal Way

6. The Portugal Way

Among the most popular of the many Camino de Santiago walking routes, the Portugal Way lets you embark on either a charmingly pastoral inland meander, or follow the wildly beautiful Atlantic and Galician coastline. It’s a comparatively forgiving route, mostly flat, with highlights include Ponte de Lima, the university city of Coimbra, and gorgeous Porto on the Douro River.

Walking in Portugal tips & advice

Packing advice

Ricardo Estevao, from our partner Aventuractiva, says:
“Hiking boots are a must if taking the sandy trails along the coast of Alentejo and the Algarve, as well as a hat and sun protection. I would also suggest a 25-litre backpack to carry a picnic and plenty of water. The Fishermen’s Trail in the Alentejo Region is the most spectacular area, ideal if you only have a few days to do it. Walk along deserted beaches with stunning cliff areas and a great landscape variety; I love the stretch from Porto Côvo to Odeceixe village.”
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Portugal walking or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Portugal walking tips from
our travellers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with, packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful walking in Portugal holiday tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday – and the space inside your suitcase.
Take time to look and absorb and enjoy! It's not a race!
– Denise Anne
“Bring binoculars so you can get a closer look at the storks and their nests, cleverly situated on remote, high rocks by the sea. And bring plenty of socks as the sand may well end up in your shoes as it did ours! Be prepared for spells of walking/ploughing through tracts of soft sand which inevitably slows down the pace a bit.” – Rosemary Cunniffe

“The Rota Vicentina is very reliable and marked with great frequency, but make sure you become acquainted with the marker system of the trails before you begin. The markers even go so far as to let you know when there may NOT be anything to follow for a while. For those afraid of heights, parts of the Fisherman’s Trail will prove challenging. The fishermen who carved this original trail were, in a word, crazy! There are times the trail literally skirts a sheer vertical edge 130m above a pounding sea. It is very stable ground, but intimidating. Most of the time there is an alternate route.” – Jeffrey Fish
If you love walking and exploring off the beaten track, then you will love it. This is not a city break.
– Doreen Brett
“Pack light, carry plenty of water and a First Aid kit. In short be prepared for any conditions. We were provide with a GPS downloaded with the trail maps. This was an excellent tool.” – Barry Corbett

“Be prepared for weather in Alentejo to be unpredictable in March. Bring a fairly heavy rain poncho and a warm hat that covers the ears - it can also get windy at the coast - or come in April when the sun is more common.” – Kathy House

“If you’re walking in Sintra Natural Park, bring snacks and sunblock. If you love walking and exploring off the beaten track, then you will love it. This is not a city break. Stay at least three days (the longer, the better). There’s so much to see and do.” – Doreen Brett

“In Sintra, consider hiring a guide to really get the most out of your visit. Our guide was extremely pleasant and knowledgeable and added so much to the whole experience.” - Joanne Deller
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: aldorado10] [Alentejo: Justraveling.com] [Algarve: Klugschnacker] [Azores: Chris Slupski] [Maderia: Jan Kraus] [Sintra-Cascais Natural Park: bjaglin] [The Historical Way: muffinn] [Packing advice: GregMontani] [Denise Anne Quote: Guillaume Baviere] [Doreen Brett Quote: VinceTraveller]