Hiker's Journey to Portugal

Pilgrim Trails, Castle Towns, and Douro Valley Vineyards

Overview

Portugal has gorgeous rural landscapes, from rolling vineyards and lush mountains to meandering rivers, including the renowned Douro. Our trails bring us across rock-built villages, through the terraced Douro wine country, into the forests of Peneda-Gerês National Park, and even along sections of the famed Camino Portugués pilgrim route. We balance our hiking with cultural experiences along the way, tasting wine in a family-owned quinta, exploring 13th century castle towns, and sampling regional cuisine and velvety port wines. We end in Porto, a World Heritage Site of centuries-old lanes and classic wine cellars. Our lodging includes a former wine warehouse in picturesque Pinhão and the 17th century Paço de Calheiros, where we are welcomed by the Count of Calheiros himself.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Porto / Mantiegas / Serra da Estrela

From Porto, we head into the Serra da Estrela (“Mountains of the Stars”), where our trails bring us across terraced meadows and past shepherds’ huts into deep glacial valleys. The rich pastures here sustain hardy sheep famed for their Queijo Serra da Estrela cheese, and we may see the local breed of sheep dog, the cão da Serra da Estrela, while on our hikes.

Hotel Berne
Manteigas, Portugal
Days 1 to 2 (2 nights)
Days 3-4
Belmonte / Pinhão / Douro Wine Tasting

Castle-topped Belmonte’s medieval Jewish Quarter is fascinating to explore, and a classic rail journey along the Douro brings us to the wine town of Pinhão. In the Douro Valley, our vineyard hike ends with a visit to a historic family-run estate for a tasting. On the tranquil Douro itself, we take a late afternoon ride by traditional flat-bottomed boat.

The Vintage House
Pinhão, Portugal
Days 3 to 4 (2 nights)
Days 5-8
Pilgrim Path to Peneda / Peneda-Gerês National Park

An ancient pilgrim trail leads us to the revered sanctuary at Peneda. As we hike in Peneda-Gerês National Park, with its craggy peaks, wild Garrano horses, and long-horned Barrosã cattle, we’ll probably meet no one else on the trail, except perhaps a herder and his castro laboreiro (Portuguese watchdog), a breed that originated in this area.

Hotel Fonte Velha
Ponte da Barca, Portugal
Day 5 (1 night)
Peneda Hotel
Gavieira, Portugal
Days 6 to 7 (2 nights)
Hotel MiraCastro
Castro Laboreiro, Portugal
Days 6 to 7 (2 nights)
Paco de Calheiros
Ponte de Lima, Portugal
Day 8 (1 night)
Days 9-10
Camino Portugués / Ponte de Lima / Porto

Our last hike is across a beautiful stretch of the Camino Portugués, which has brought pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela since medieval times. We end our journey in Porto’s historic quarter, listening to soulful fado songs. Depart on Day 10.

Highlights

Highlights

Explore Porto and beyond, tasting port wines and vinhos verdes
Hike on the famed Camino Portugués, a medieval pilgrim trail
Meet a Douro Valley vintner, ride the Linha do Douro (Portugal’s historic river-hugging train), discover castle-topped towns
Enjoy unique lodgings, including a converted pilgrimage hostel and a 17th century manor house

Details

Length: 10 days
Cost From: $5595  
Arrive: Porto, Portugal
Depart: Porto, Portugal
Lodging: 9 nights charming accommodations
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

9 hiking days on moderate to strenuous trails (some steep sections), 3-6 hours a day with two longer days, van support (for luggage or if you wish to skip a day's hike)

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