When you think of southern Portugal, you probably immediately think of beautiful beaches, huge cliffs and surfing. It is perhaps less well known that you can also walk very well there. Yet in southern Portugal it is bursting with fantastic hiking trails and walking routes, for which you really do not need to be a very experienced hiker. Here is a selection of the most beautiful hiking routes in southern Portugal that we – as true fair-weather hikers – have tested for you.
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Table of contents
1.Seven Hanging Valley Trail
This trail takes you over the most beautiful cliffs in the Algarve and has previously been voted one of the most beautiful hiking routes in Europe. The walk starts in Praia da Marinha, better known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. You walk past the cave of Benagil to the beach of Benagil where you can relax on the terrace from all the beauty. Then the route takes you to the beach of Carvalho, where you reach the beach through a tunnel in the rocks. Finally, the route continues past the Alfazina lighthouse and ends at Praia de Vale Centeanes. From there you can walk the route back or stay and enjoy the sunset.
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Travel Route is well signposted and has a few bits where you have to climb a bit, but is generally doable. It took us about 12 hours there and back (total 4 km). You can also start the route in Praia de Vale Centeanes.
2. Ria Formosa Ludo Trail – Faro
This walking route in southern Portugal, located near Faro airport, may not seem immediately attractive due to its location, but appearances are deceiving. The walk leads you right through the Ria Formosa nature reserve, rich in flamingos, spoonbills, (small) turtles and whatever other bird you can think of.
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The walk starts along a main road (where you can park your car) and leads you directly into the nature reserve via an extensive straight path. On the right you see some lights from the runway, on the left you see mainly swampy area, full of birds. The route partly runs through a magnifying glass, so that it also runs through a salt extraction area, where the flamingos are located, and a bit along the golf course.
the hike is 7 km (circular) and it took us about 2 hours. On hot days it is useful to start on time as the route offers little shade.
3. Trilho do Moinhos – Monchique
Monchiqiue is located in the middle of the mountainous nature reserve Serra de Monchique and is a paradise for hikers. Because it is rich in flora and fauna, it is also called the garden of the Algarve. We have walked the loupe trail Trilho dos Moinhos here. This walk leads you to the top of the village and from there through wooded area. You go up and down hills via winding paths and you have the idea that you are far away from civilization. About 2/3 of the way up the route you will pass a watermill, with some picnic benches for a well-deserved break.
the route is again well signposted and after about 10 km (3 hours) you are back at the start of the route; the heart of Monchique where the terraces await you.
4. National Park do Vale do Guadiana – Mertola
National Park do Vale do Guadiana is located in the Alentejo region, just above the Algarve. This used to be a real mining region, but many residents have left due to the closure of the mines and the park is characterized by vast plains, sheep and dilapidated buildings. At the time of year we were there (December) it is extremely green and the river (the Guadiana) is high. Perfect conditions for beautiful walking and cycling trips.
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The park has 10 official hiking trails† Up-to-date maps of the routes can be obtained from the tourist office in Mertola, the heart of the park. We have walked three routes; number 4, 6 and 9 (all circular). Due to the vastness of the park, the routes are quite diverse. Route 4 (13 km) leads you around a large freshwater lake and through the cork plantations. Route 6 (11 km) leads you through vast (green) plains and past old mines and route 9 (5,5 km) leads you past the waterfall Pulo do Lobo. We found the latter a bit difficult because the river was quite high, but the rest was doable. If you want the feeling of being alone (with a lot of sheep) in the world, it's more than worth testing out some of the hikes!
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5. Via the Algarviana – Across the Algarve
This is our favorite walking route in Southern Portugal! If after all these routes you've got a taste for hiking and are up for a bigger challenge, the Via de Algarviana might also be something for you.
This former pilgrimage trail runs from Alcoutim, near the River Guadiana, to Cape Cabo de São Vicente (Sagres) – right through the interior of the Algarve. This trail covers about 300 km, divided into 14 stages that start and end in places where you can eat and stay overnight (ie beautiful villages).
Every stage has, in addition to the route to and from the next destination, also a number of (circular) walks in the area on the stage map. For example, we walked a circular trail of 12,5 km around Sao Bartolomeo de Messines. Definitely worth taking a look at the different cards.
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