Madeira, Portugal

5 Best Hiking Destinations in Portugal

This is a guest post by one of our favorite travel writers, Emma Higgins, from Gotta Keep Movin’. She has been up to some wonderful adventures recently, and we are excited to have her share some of her favorite hiking spots in Portugal with you! 

Situated on the edge of Europe and battered by the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is home to some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in Europe. Further inland, it’s also possible to find jaw-dropping mountain landscapes that are barely touched by travelers.

I was stationed in Portugal for an entire year while writing my book about the country, and when I wasn’t scribbling away I was lacing up my hiking boots and heading for the hills, cliffs, and country roads. If you’re interested in hiking in Portugal, consider travelling to these top five destinations.

1. Rota Vicentina

Covering 450km along the southwest coast, the Rota Vicentina is one of the best long-distance hiking trails in Portugal. The very southern tip of the route lies at Cabo de São Vicente, the most southwestern point in Europe characterised by mind-boggling cliff scenery and an end-of-the-world atmosphere. The rest of the route north is just as big and bold, with two options for hikers – the Historical Way, which takes you across the inland through rustic villages and across plains, or the Fisherman’s Trail, which hugs the coastline.


If you don’t have time to complete the whole thing, there are also eight circular routes that have been added to the two main trails. These show you some of the Rota Vicentina’s best highlights in just a few hours or half a day. We recommend the Bordeira route, which connects you with some of the best beaches in the region.

2. Parque Nacional de Penada-Gerês

As Portugal’s only national park, it’s of course implied that you’ll find some of the country’s best nature in Penada-Geres. This magnificent area is located right up in the far northwest of Portugal, and shares a border with Spain. As well as hiking, there’s ample opportunity for biking, canyoning, kayaking, horse riding, and more here – plus it’s relatively low on the Europe radar, with mostly Portuguese travellers exploring it.

Parque Nacional de Penada-Gerês, Portugal

Trails criss-cross all over the region, meaning you can park up just about anywhere and wander your way across the hills. For a manageable four hours try the Trilho da Cidade da Calcedónia route, which starts and ends at Campo de Gerês. Also make your way up to Pedra Bela, near the village of Gerês, one of the park’s most spectacular viewpoints. There are plenty of shaded trails around her to discover if you’re visiting at a hot time.

3. Montesinho Natural Park

Tucked away in the far northeastern corner of Portugal, Montesinho offers some of the most undisturbed nature in the country. The region it calls home – Trás-os-Montes – was cut off from the rest of Portugal for centuries, and remnants of its isolation can still be felt here today.

Montesinho National Park, Portugal

CC image courtesy of MiguelVieira on Flickr

Along this parks many hiking trails, you’re likely to be alone. Head to the village of Montesinho and walk up to Serra de Montesinho, the highest peak in the region – a moderate level round trip of just under 8km. Alternatively, take a stroll around the countryside near the village of Dine in the center of the park, another 8km walk that passes by Neolithic caves.

4. The Algarve

Portugal’s most southern region is among the most tourist-heavy in the country, but don’t be put off by the sun, sea, and sand worshippers that flock here every year. There’s plenty still left to discover in the Algarve, especially if you’re willing to go off the beaten track on two feet.

The Algarve, Portugal

CC image courtesy of mat’s eye on Flickr

The 300km Via Algarviana is the perfect route for hikers seeking something different in the Algarve. Running from Alcoutim on the Spanish border to Cabo de São Vicente, the trail winds through the region’s northern villages not often explored by other travellers. Highlights include the historical town of Silves and the Serra da Monchique, the tallest peaks in the Algarve.

5. Madeira

Cast adrift out in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa, Madeira is Portugal but not quite as you know it. While the main island has often been linked to more of a package holiday picture, its volcanic nature – a network of pointed, soaring peaks – actually makes it perfect for a hiking getaway.

Madeira, Portugal

Many of Madeira’s best walking routes center around Pico Ruivo, the highest summit at over 1,800 meters above sea level.  Walk the Vereda da Ilha, 8km to the top of Pico Ruiva then down to the village of Ilha, or Vereda da Encumeada, 11km along a mountain pass of the side slopes of the mountain. Alternatively, hike along a levada route – irrigation systems that brought water to drier parts of the island.


About the Guest Author:

Emma Higgins is a British travel writer who spends one year in a region of the world before moving onto the next. She has just come back from living in Portugal, and her latest book A Year in Portugal is available to pre-order now.


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  • Ryan Biddulph
    Posted at 20:25h, 28 July Reply

    Everything looks gorgeous Emma. I have heard and seen only awesome things about Portugal. My friend Scott Eddy loves the place, as we chatted about it during a meeting in Turkey, about a year ago to the day. He raved about the natural beauty and the kind folks.
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted…BFP Podcast 24: How NOT Making Income Claims Increases Your Blogging SuccessMy Profile

  • Anne Slater-Brooks
    Posted at 03:09h, 30 July Reply

    Wow all of these look amazing. I honestly would not know where to start. I really fancy a trip to portugal and might have to work one of these into my plans

  • kristelle
    Posted at 03:58h, 30 July Reply

    what an amazing place, Portugal is one of my bucket list will visit there soon

  • Travelwith2ofus
    Posted at 11:58h, 30 July Reply

    All are amazing hiking spots, but two among those listed stand out to me. I would love to make the trek to Rota Vicentina and the Algarve.
    Travelwith2ofus recently posted…The 8 most breathtaking Caribbean resorts for family funMy Profile

  • Nadine
    Posted at 19:56h, 30 July Reply

    Your pictures look amazing! I must admit that I am not a hiker, but the Algarve and Madeira look amazing on your pictures and as you say it is better to go off the beaten track and discover something different.

  • Lauren
    Posted at 21:21h, 30 July Reply

    I’m always looking for new places to go hiking.. You have me thinking that I need to plan an entire trip devoted to hiking in Portugal! Looks fab! 🙂
    Lauren recently posted…Mont Tremblant Vegan Dining in the Pedestrian VillageMy Profile

  • Karla
    Posted at 03:21h, 31 July Reply

    We visited the coast of Portugal but didn’t get into doing the hikes Now, I kinda wish we did.. Definitely a reason to go back.
    Karla recently posted…Ultimate Guide to Warsaw, PolandMy Profile

  • Paige Wunder
    Posted at 08:13h, 01 August Reply

    You’re speaking my language. I love hiking!!! Plus, I keep hearing amazing things about Portugal. Maderia and Rota Vicentina look like my kind of hiking destinations!
    Paige Wunder recently posted…Experience A Cultural Vacation In Mexico CityMy Profile

  • RaW
    Posted at 14:41h, 01 August Reply

    I’ve only been to Lisbon before but I knew that I have to go back to Portugal and explore more of the country one day. This list has just given me more reasons to do it soon. The question now is which one I should go for out of these 5? They all sound interesting and look beautiful!
    RaW recently posted…Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur Helicopter TourMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:38h, 25 August Reply

      Yeah that’s definitely a tough decision! They all look like wonderful options! Hope you can get back again soon and can check some of these out!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: Columbus, OhioMy Profile

  • Cat
    Posted at 16:27h, 01 August Reply

    Portugal is such a beautiful country! I will definitely be interested to go hiking there! I’ve seen pictures of Algarve. It is good to know that there are other fantastic scenic places for hikers too!

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:37h, 25 August Reply

      Agree–we need to get to Portugal too! Emma’s book and posts definitely makes us want to visit! So many great spots to hike!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: Columbus, OhioMy Profile

  • Lisa N
    Posted at 06:48h, 02 August Reply

    Montesinho Natural Park reminded me a bit of the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa… beautiful! I didn’t know that Portugal offered such a good variety of different hikes. Your pictures are amazing!

  • J Harvey
    Posted at 09:11h, 02 August Reply

    Ok, this post makes me want out into the world and hike asap. Madeira is definitely at the top of my list!

  • Veronica Cavanaugh
    Posted at 13:27h, 22 January Reply

    Awesome pics! Are there any good backpacking trails you know of?
    Veronica Cavanaugh recently posted…5 Primo Tips for Being a ‘Stand Out’ CamperMy Profile

  • Lynda
    Posted at 05:27h, 30 June Reply

    Parque Nacional de Penada-Gerês is the most spectacular natural park in all Portugal! you should visit it whatever the time of the year. In winter with it’s white’s from the snow, in spring with the reborning nature, the summer with it’s freshness and te autumn with it’s charming browns.
    Lynda recently posted…Mountain Hiking: How to Hike Mountains SafelyMy Profile

  • Mary Ann
    Posted at 14:47h, 28 July Reply

    We are going to Portugal for 10 days in the end of September. We are big hikers and looking for day hikes. Obviously we cannot hit all these spots in 10 days. Do you have an suggestion for an area to focus on if we want to hike and also do beaches. Maybe heading south and doing the Algarve? Thanks for any advice. Great site.

  • anne zahn
    Posted at 12:02h, 31 May Reply

    Hi Jenna,

    Is there places to lodge/stay near the hikes? or are they day trips from the city? also looking to rent a bike- have you done this??

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 17:05h, 06 June Reply

      Hi Anne! Unfortunately, we haven’t been to this area–our friend wrote this as a guest post for us because she spent a year exploring the region. If you go to though, Emma should have lots of great info there for you! Hope you have a great trip!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Behind the Scenes in Nashville: Hatch Show PrintMy Profile

  • Amsterdam Airport
    Posted at 15:51h, 20 December Reply

    This looks great! So, you took a ferry to the island only to hike this mount. Is that right? That sounds like fun. I am sure the Azores are an unique place. I get so many travel specials (from accompany based in Boston) related to them that I feel tempted to go.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 13:06h, 26 December Reply

      Thanks for stopping by! This was a guest post by one of our friends–she spent a year in Portugal exploring the country so I think she probably spent more time on the islands. We are really wanting to visit the Azores too though, lots of great deals from Boston for sure! Hope you can visit sometime!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Beluga Whale Experiences in Churchill, ManitobaMy Profile

  • Eric Petersen
    Posted at 05:16h, 22 October Reply

    Hiking is definitely something that I’m looking forward to getting into a lot more. Did a 7-mile hike last month with my brothers and while it did kick my butt I loved it! Planning a longer hike for next spring, between now and then I’ll go on as many hikes as I can to get some experience and my fitness level up. Definitely a lot of good information in this article and the comments. Thank you all so much for sharing.

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