Portugal: Hiking 50 km through the Douro Valley

In order to mix our hiking experiences a bit up in Portugal we went on a 50 km hike through the Douro Valley. As we never did a multi day hike through a winery region, I was exited to put this to our list. The kilometers were split into 4 days, nearly equally. The difference between the days been the incline in altitude. This was between 800 and 250 meters. This kind of a hike should not be underestimated, as the climbs can be really steep. As well as the descents. The views need to be earned – as usually.

Pinhão to Sabrosa

The hike provided old paved trails between Vineyards, stone surfaces and cobbled streets with long climbs and descents. In general the hike can be started in Porto. Either way by taking a boat on the Douro river or the train through the Douro Valley. As we already been in the Valley we started our hike in Pinhão. The hike started flat at the Douro river before the steep long climb to Provesende started. The small village of Provesende is one of the seven wine cellars Villages of Portugal and on of the oldest settlements in Portugal. The town was out of another time. Small streets, old buildings and stone surface roads. The destination for today was  the town of Sabrosa.

Sabrosa to Alijó

We started our day with an amazing breakfast in the Casa dos Barras. Which is an old traditional mansion, which we been the only guest in at this time. The owner Paula was great, she provided us with information about the region and a traditional wine at the pool after a long hiking day. With Covid-19 still around, we saw sadly one more time what a turn the pandemic has on the overall travel industry. Many places are just closed especially restaurants, or we were the only guest in. But saying it with Paula’s words: “This will not be the end, and we will get through this”. I really love this calmness of the Portuguese people.

Alijó to Vale Mendiz

As the hike to Alijó and the town itself was mainly uneventful, we left for this day’s hike in the hope to find an open winery. The last days we only crossed wineries that been closed. So no wine-tasting so far. Today we were more lucky with the Quinta da Avessada. It was built a century ago. It preserves its oldest tradition, but interactive also a developed and technological System. Even without a reservation we could do a wine-tasting, a tour through the winery and a 4-course lunch. In normal times, it is recommended to make a reservation as the place is mainly visited by tourist coming from the Douro River Boats. This year, we were one of the few foreign tourists. Usually they have 90% foreign, 10% Portuguese people. This year it was 99% Portuguese and 1% foreign people. So the pattern of doing vacation at home, is not only usual in Germany.

Vale Mendiz to Pinhão

From our accommodation for the night the Quinta do Silval, we started our final hiking day in the Douro Valley. We followed a path towards the village of Vale Mendiz. It is a typical small village of the Douro Valley. With its cobblestone streets. On the way up we crossed a landscape of vineyards and to once at the top, near Vilarinho de Cotas Village, we found just another great viewpoint at the Douro River. This time to the upper end of Pinhão.

Good to know

The Best summary: 50 kilometers, 1900 meters of incline/decline, 100 dogs and a snake. Let me explain a bit here. In general the hike is doable for hikers that do not mind the steep increases. Kilometer wise the day tours are not long, but the steepness can be from times challenging. Even in fall, 22 degrees in Portugal can be pretty warm. Regarding the dogs. We saw every day dogs – around 20 to 30. Nearly every house owner has an own dog, or several. The problem with the dogs is, that there are a lot of dogs on the streets, with no owner around. Most of the dogs are parking, running towards you, or behind you for a while. So you never know, behind which corner is the next one. This was not only limited to the towns, every small settlement or even on the fields. If you do not mind dogs, go for this hike. If you are afraid of dogs, like I am, this might not be the best choice. Beside the dogs, we had also a snake encounter. Man this was scary. We are not sure which snake it was, but it was around 1.5 meters long, thick and really fast. It was crossing the street in front of us, luckily direly in the next field. Seeing something like that, make you rethink of going anywhere away from the trails.

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