Bring those hiking boots, and hit the trail – we have new adventures for you. To enjoy nature, you can reach the highest peaks to be rewarded with a view of our beautiful country.
There’s no shortage of ideas and suggestions, the landscapes offer a wealth of diversity and the fine climate will surely be on your side... We might even say that in Portugal, the best companion for adventures is Nature.
++ Rota Vincentina Hiking trail
The new Vicentina Route, along the rugged western Atlantic coast of the Alentejo region, opened in the summer of 2012.
Rota Vicentina is a long distance path along the southwestern coast of Portugal, a joint initiative between private and public entities that consider Nature Tourism an essential tool for the development of this region. This route is the result of a careful selection of rural and coastal paths, so that one can fully enjoy this pristinely preserved coastal area, as far as scenery, natural and environmental values, culture and traditions are concerned.
Combining the Historic Way and the Fishermen's Trail, Rota Vicentina proposes a unique experience of these two worlds, between a living and rural culture and a wild coastline - fully within Southwestern Alentejo and Vicentina Coast Natural Park.
Historic Way - It runs through the main towns and villages in a rural itinerary with several centuries of history. Made up mainly of rural trails, this is a classic Grand Route (GR), fully accessible to hikers and mountain bikers, with stretches of cork tree forests, mountain ranges, valleys, rivers and creeks, in a true journey through time, local culture and nature trails. It has a total of 12 sections and 120 miles.
Fishermen's Trail- Always running along the coastline, it follows the trails used by locals to get to the beaches and hot fishing spots. It is a single track along the cliffs that can only be travelled by foot, and more demanding from a physical point of view. A challenge to a permanent contact with the ocean winds, the harsh coastal scenery and the wild and powerful natural landscape. It comprises a total of 4 sections and 5 complementary circuits, totaling 60 miles.
The Alentejo Region –hike cork country
The Portuguese often refer to the Alentejo Region in the southern third of the country, as its own nation because it retains its own dialect, has a strong Moorish flavor, boasts a unique musical tradition, and has towns full of white-washed buildings not seen much elsewhere. An hour's drive from Lisbon, this region accounts for one third of the mainland--extending from the southern bank of the Tejo River to the mountains of the Algarve region just to the south. Now, an array of new hotels, tours, eateries, and projects has given the largest province of Portugal a new tourism infrastructure, that makes it the perfect place to explore, relax, and enjoy a unique local culture.
Despite its expanse, the Alentejo's population is sparse. The region enjoys mild winter weather and its abundant, fertile soil has made it the agricultural heart of Portugal. It's known in some circles as "the bread basket of Portugal." One-story farmsteads dot the hillsides, while its cork forests have supplied cork to the world for centuries. Its main cities are Évora, Portalegre, Beja, and Sines.
Hiking and more!
. Visit the mostly intact Roman villa at Roman Villa of São Cucufate
. Appreciate the Moor influence at the Mosque at Mertola
. View the impossibly high castle tower at Beja
. Experience towns that are virtually museums, such as Alvito, Beja, and Serpa
. Stay in a "Pousada", a home once owned by royalty and now open to tourists
. Hike the route to olive oil along designated growing regions in Moura, the inner Alentejo and northern Alentejo
. Stroll through the medieval towns contained within the Parque Natural da Serra de Sao Mamede
To the northeast from cork country is the "Castle Route" with fortified villages such as Nisa, Castelo de Vide, Marvão, Portalegre and Alter do Chão. To the south, the landscape is flat and warm, scattered with sunflower and golden wheat fields, wine estates and olive groves. In the center is the city of Evora, a World Heritage city and a good spot from which to begin exploring. Evora also contains ruins from prehistoric peoples. Pottery and tapestry rugs are the local handicrafts. To the northeast, the towns of Estremoz and Vila Viçosa are "marble towns" which supplied marble to buildings throughout Portugal. Everywhere the landscape bears traces from cultures that once tried to conquer ancient Portugal--the Moors, the Romans, and the Carthaginians. On the western coast of the Alentejo, the beaches are unspoiled and rugged.
The Azores Region – on foot
About midway between the east coast of the United States and mainland Portugal sits the Azores, a collection of nine islands scattered over several hundred nautical miles. The closest point to Europe from the United States, the Azores were once the one-and-only stopping-off point for ocean voyagers traveling between the two continents. Today, the Azores are an autonomous region of Portugal, even though they are more than 800 miles west of Portugal's mainland. A direct flight from Boston to the Azores takes about four hours - shorter than a flight to Las Vegas or Aruba.
Hike up, under, around and through ancient volcanoes
On the island of Faial, the remains of a lighthouse mark the site of a massive volcanic eruption that took place in 1957, gutting the lighthouse, burying a small village and adding more than one mile of new shoreline to the island over the course of a year. Today the area is a nature park, with a hiking trail to the rim of the dormant volcano. Meanwhile, the island of Pico (which means "peak" in English) is the highest point in Portugal at 7,700 feet and also sits atop volcanic terrain. The peak can be seen from surrounding islands on clear days, with its lava cone rising above the massive volcano. The climb up to the summit takes about 3 hours, and the views are well worth the effort. It is, by the way, taller than Mt. Washington. Lava caves run for miles under the islands of Pico, Terceira, Graciosa and São Miguel. The cooling lava of past eruptions created these tube-like caves, but today they provide great adventure for a spelunker. Plus, geysers spout in nature parks on several of the islands. At the shore of Furnas Lake on the island of São Miguel, steam hisses out of a dozen geysers, offering a natural "oven" to cook food inside the caldeiras.
Three can't-miss hikes:
1. Povoacão to Nordeste, São Miguel Island - This 11-mile hike passes through forests and small villages, with breathtaking views of the flower-covered hills. And if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the, Priôlo (Pyrrhula murina) - only indigenous to São Miguel.
2. Pico Mountain, Pico Island - A hike up Pico Mountain, nearly a mile above the Atlantic Ocean, provides a great way to see the other islands that make up the Azores. Hikers will see craters and flower-covered slopes along their trek, which is strenuous, but not a technically difficult climb. A registered mountain guide must accompany hikers.
3. West Coast Walk, Flores Island - This 10-mile coastline hike can be done in one day for the super adventurous, or spread out over two days for the more leisurely trekker. Steep ascents and descents take you from cobbled paths to grass, to dirt pathways that cover the rolling coastline of Flores. A river crossing and boulder hopping make this hike an all-terrain adventure!