There are many amazing outdoor opportunities in Europe, though many people tend to think of Scandanavia, the British Isles, The Alps, or the Greek Islands when someone brings this up. However, you’re missing out if that’s your entire outdoor repertoire for the continent of Europe. Portugal actually has plenty to offer.
The Algarve region in the southwest of the country refers to a region that is just short of 5,000 square kilometers in size and delivers a ton for the outdoor adventurer. Mild in winter and warm (but not too hot) in the summer, this region features 150 km of beautiful beaches in addition to many historical sites in the hilly inlands that are even protected by UNESCO.
Exploring the natural area can feel like a trip back in time as small villages located throughout the hilly countryside keeps that truly old school charm and construction.
The Rota Vicentina Hiking Path
The most famous network of walking and hiking trails in all of Portugal, the famed Rota Vicentina sticks out as a true treat that hikers will love. Allowing hikers and backpackers to thoroughly explore this hilly region, this is a full network of hiking paths with some that have been maintained for decades and others only recently restored in a way to make them viable once again. As of 2017 the total trails in this network add up to a full 450 kilometers of paths.
That gives plenty of walking opportunities and many of these trails allow the use of bicycles, as well. In fact, most do however the famous circular routes known as “From Bordeira to the Sea” and the equally popular “The Dunes of Almograve” are both foot traffic only.
Many of these trails are incredibly interesting with very intentional routes, scenery, and personality. Depending on where you want to check out, the path is likely there. In many places one path then splits in two or even three directions and each one is then another path.
Wonderful Sights to See
The Vicentina Coast Natural Park is a very popular region to visit, as is the Historical Way. From rolling hills and quaint villages to imposing seaside cliffs and incredible beaches, there is a lot to witness when visiting these trails and Fisherman’s Trail is going to be a far cry from The Dunes of Almograve and that’s what makes covering this entire network so interesting.
This isn’t just a “beautiful for the region” type of deal. In fact, in 2016 the Historical Way path of the Rota Vicentina network was recognized as the best walking trails in Europe. That is quite an honor!
Get a different perspective on the beautiful scenery on Albufeira boat trips.
The Food & Scenery
Villages on the sea offer an amazing array of fresh fish and fresh seafood dishes. Whether your ideal backpacking means campsites, hostels, or the occasional small hotel or bungalow, all these options are available depending on where you show up. The people are friendly, the food is delicious, and there’s a lot to love about these trails.
Add in the high level of safety and there’s a lot to love here. While open throughout the year, the best hiking times overall are seen as being from September to June with July and August being high heat and not as desirable a time to visit and explore.
However, whenever you choose to visit the decision to explore these Portuguese treasures will be one that you will never come to regret.