Three cool spring hikes in Northern Portugal
Updated: May 6, 2021
Spring has arrived in Portugal, mother nature is painting her colorful masterpiece once again! This is a very exciting time of year. Step outside and immerse yourself in this new natural world. Did you know that Northern Portugal, spring and hiking holidays are a match made in heaven? Here is why.
The northern part of the country is an extremely varied region. From granite mountains to the pristine beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, from famous UNESCO world heritage sites to well-hidden cultural reminders of ancient times and from the refreshing Vinho Verde wine to the famous Port wine, this area is full of sweet surprises!
Choosing which trails to take can be difficult. Especially because you may be limited in time, and you do not want to return home to find out that you missed those coolest hiking spots. That is why, we will let you in on our favorite trails which are well-worth considering if you plan on visiting Northern Portugal in spring time.
1. Peneda-Gerês NP: Águia do Sarilhão Trail
Peneda-Gerês National Park is the crown jewel of all protected areas in Portugal and can be found in the northern corner of the country. No less than 70 000 hectares are filled with mountains, rivers, an intriguing culture, centenary old shepherd trails and an amazing natural scenery. As spring sets in, an explosion of colors appears in the mountains of this National Park.
Wild flowers, such as heath flowers and gorse, create a spectacular mosaic which contrasts nicely with the blue water of the Vilarinho da Furna reservoir. This trail in the Mata de Albergaria, one of the signature landscapes of Peneda-Gerês NP, definitely could not be left out of our selection of cool spring walks. In addition to the landscape, this route has a very strong historical-cultural component. Part of the route runs along the old Roman road, known as the Geira Romana, which was built to connect Astorga in the north of Spain with what we now know as the city of Braga in Portugal. Down on the other side of the reservoir lies the village of Vilarinho da Furna.
Part of the trail takes you along a few steep sections which require some attention.
Type of trail: circular hike
Distance: 9 km or about 5,6 miles
Duration: +/- 3h
Total climbing: 372 meters or about 1220 ft up and down
Altitude: min. 570 meters / max 691 meters or min 1870 ft / max 2267 ft
2. Geopark Viana do Castelo: Forte do Paço Trail
The coast of Northern Portugal is less explored by international tourists than the famous southern beaches in the Algarve region. However, locals tend to vacation in the northern part of their country during summer months as they love this pristine region just as much as we do. Therefor spring is absolutely perfect to beat the local crowds and to discover the laid-back lifestyle, ancient forts and authentic fishermen’s villages, dotted along the stunning coastline. We recommend the Forte do Paço trail to all types of travelers.
Let’s go and smell the ocean! In the recently classified Geopark at the Coast of the Viana do Castelo province runs a trail where a pleasant ocean breeze will accompany you during your walk. The Montedor Lighthouse, rock engravings, millinery beaches and Iron Ageage salt extraction basins are just some beautiful discoveries you will make on this route. Although it is not an extensive trail, there is a lot to explore. In spring, the Atlantic forest gives a special touch to the landscape, causing an explosion of life and colors. This trail is suitable for the whole family.
Type of trail: circular hike
Distance: 4 km or about 5,6 miles
Duration: +/- 1h30
Total climbing: + 77 meters or about 250 ft up and down
Altitude: min. 0 meters / max 70 meters or min 0 ft / max 230 ft
3. Alvão Natural Park: Fisgas do Ermelo Trail
The Alvão Natural Park is still a great unknown to many, making it a true hidden gem. It lays inland, not far from the remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Douro Valley. Aside from authentic villages and mountain landscapes, this natural park hides several spots that are well-worth discovering. We have selected a more challenging but very rewarding hike in this natural park.
The Fisgas do Ermelo trail takes you to impressive waterfalls, surrounded by a unique landscape. And, in between admiring some amazing views, why not take a refreshing plunge in small ponds along the way which embrace crystal clear waters? Access to this hiking trail, which starts in the village of Ermelo, should preferably be done by Mondim de Basto.
This is a trail with some difficulty due to the unevenness and type of soil, which can sometimes be slippery. However, the extraordinary beauty of the landscape helps to overcome any difficulty.
Type of trail: circular
Distance: 12,4 km or about 7 miles
Duration: +/- 4h30
Total climbing: 652 meters or about 2140 ft
Altitude: min. 327 meters / max 771 meters or min 1070 ft / max 2530 ft
Of course, we know many more magnificent trails. All depends on the distance you would like to walk, your level of experience and what you prefer to focus on, such as for example endemic plants, nature photography, bird spotting or any other specific interest. Don’t hesitate to let us know. We are always happy to advice and create a personalized itinerary according to your preferences.