As in 2020 travel was upside down, I was on the search of hiking opportunities in Europe that were off the beaten paths. Portugal may not come first in mind when searching for this. The country is mainly known for it’s amazing beaches at the Algave region. May some know the Fishermen’s Trail (Rota Vicentina), which is still on my list but I wanted to leave it for our trip around the world. With that said I looked into the north of Portugal. Which provided the three regions below for hiking.
We started our hiking adventure in the North of Portugal in Montaria. Which is a real local region, where not many foreign tourist can be found. From there our journey continued over Dem to Caminha. Starting in Caminha we followed the Camino de Santiago to Vila Praia de Anora and Viana do Castelo. Another real local hike was from Ponte de Lima to Viana do Castelo. Out of these hikes I enjoyed the most the once following the Camino de Santiago, that are along the beach. It is a nice touch when you can hike a few kilometers at the beach. It is nice having the sand and the cool seawater between your toes.
Douro Literal (Douro Valley)
The next hiking days we did in the Douro Valley. Here we did a 4-day hike from Pinhão to Sabrosa to Alijó to Vale Mendiz to Pinhão. In none Covid-19 times the valley is flooded with foreign tourist and wine tasting needs a reservation forehand. In 2020, we did not see any other person on our hikes, besides the 100 dogs – that been terrifying for me. With that in mind, I had a love hate relationship with this hike. On the one hand it was beautiful, on the other hand I always waited for another dog behind the next corner.
Geres National Park
This park was the big surprise for us in the North of Portugal. Before going there, I was not even aware that Portugal has a park like that to offer in the first place. Neither that there are mountains like that to find there. We actually visited two part of the park. The town of Geres in the south of the park and the town of Soajo in the north of the park. Geres is a more know and tourist town. Soajo is on the countryside and way more quiet. Both places had amazing hikes to offer, in order to explore the park.
The best two hikes (in my view)
GR50 from Geres
My dream hike in the Geres National Park started in Geres. Leading over the Cascata do Arado to an amazing valley. Here we learned the first time about the long distance hiking trail of GR50. That is connection the different mountain town in the Geres National Park. This part – from what we saw – is really beautiful piece of nature. I was not expecting this at all in Portugal.
Vila Praia de Anora to Viana do Castelo (in Portugal)
Even that I cannot compare – as I did not do the Fishermen’s Trail (Rota Vicentina) yet – this is how I figured the Fishermen’s Trail would look like. Hiking always near or directly at the beach. Always the noise of the waves in the background. It added such a charm to hike, that this became one of my favorites of all the hikes we did in Portugal.