- Clear sustainable travel policy
- Tourism Dispersal
- Behavioral Awareness Education
- Small Group Travel
Learn about local traditions and feel welcomed at cozy guesthouses on this 1-week self-guided walking holiday in northeast Portugal through the Douro International Natural Park and the Côa Valley. Journey through prehistoric lands to witness dramatic rock formations, endangered wildlife, historical villages, and ancient cultures.
Begin your holiday in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Porto, Portugal. You’ll be met by a private local driver and taken to your hotel for a full briefing. Then, depending on your arrival time, you can wander the streets of Porto to uncover its eclectic architecture, food scene, and dynamic nightlife. The next day, a scenic train ride along the Douro River and past remarkable UNESCO sites will bring you to the Spanish border, near the departure point for your walking tour.
About as far as you can get from the madding crowds, you’ll be staying on a working wine estate and olive farm for the first few days while you explore the Douro International Natural Park. In this wild, rocky landscape, endangered bird species such as the Egyptian vulture and the griffon vulture are protected, so keep your eyes peeled for these birds. The wonders of this area include prehistoric human activity. Your walk will take you past a 10,000-year-old rock engraving of a horse! To make your stay at the Douro International Natural Park even more memorable, you will rest at a beautifully converted stone farmhouse, where your host will prepare delicious meals from local produce.
In the Côa Valley Archaeological Park area, you’ll be staying in a quaint and charming shepherding village and get to visit a local cheese producer. The highlight of your journey will undoubtedly be the spectacular night visit to the Palaeolithic rock art site on the banks of the Côa River. Under the moonlight, your eyes will witness the ancient, breathtaking art that has survived for thousands of years.
Walking through the medieval village of Freixo de Espada à Cinta, you can marvel at the surprising amount of Manueline (Portuguese Gothic) architecture. You’ll pass through other smaller villages too as you make your way along trails that are over a thousand years old.
Walk through old paths to immerse into the Portuguese serene country life. As you hike, notice how the main crops of grapes, almonds, and olives are cultivated in this remote part of Portugal and learn about some traditional agricultural practices. Through the rocky plains local sheep graze, so, you may see local shepherds taking their flocks there.
If you’re lucky enough to do this walking tour of the Douro International Natural Park and the Côa Valley in late February or early March, you will see the countryside transformed by the pink and white puffs of almond trees in blossom. You may even catch a festival dedicated to the almond blossoms in Vila Nova de Foz Côa towards the end of your adventure. Wait a little later in the year and you’ll be surrounded by colorful spring flowers.
Are you ready to take the plunge and embark on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure? Book this incredible trip with a partner or a small group of walking buddies and leisurely walk through scenic landscapes where the magic of Portugal is vibrantly alive.
Like what you see but it is not quite a perfect fit?
Simply tell us what you’re looking for. We’ll happily adapt this itinerary to suit your personal interests, needs, and schedule to create your ideal holidays.
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Low season: March-April, and the second half of October
High season: May through mid-October
The end of winter through spring (late February through May) is a great time to do this trip if you enjoy cooler weather and blossoming landscapes. You’ll likely encounter blooming almond trees, wildflowers, and lush greenery during your walks. Days can be warm and sunny, and rainfall can be frequent during this season. So, come prepared for changeable conditions.
Summers in Portugal can be hot and dry, which might be challenging for long walks during the day. Summer coincides with the high season, meaning it is also likely to be the most crowded with tourists. We don’t recommend doing this Douro walking holiday in July and August, as temperatures regularly exceed 30°C (86°F). June can be a good balance of warmer weather and fewer visitors than in July and August.
Early fall (September and October) is also a very pleasant time to do this walking trip. Similar to the spring, days can be sunny and warm with chances of wind and rain. If your trip aligns with the grape harvest, which is usually in September, you will have the opportunity to experience the hustle and bustle of grape picking and transportation to the wineries. With a bit of luck, you can even participate in grape treading or harvest celebrations.
Traveling during the low or shoulder seasons is generally considered to be a sustainable tourism practice as it helps with tourism dispersal: spreading out where tourists go and how their money supports locals throughout the year.
Day 1: Porto [Portugal] (arrival day)
Day 2: Scenic train ride from Porto to Pocinho
Day 3: Linear walk from Mazouco to Freixo de Espada à Cinta (16.8 km | 10.4 |+268 meter elevation gain)
Day 4: Linear walk from Ribeira do Mosteiro to Freixo da Espada à Cinta (15.8km | 9.8 miles |+611m)
Day 5: Linear walk from Barca D’Alva to Vilar de Amargo (15.2km | 9.4 miles |+635m)
Day 6: Linear walk from Vilar de Amargo to Castelo Melhor (16.1km| 10 miles |+147m)
Visit a cheese producer with tastings
Day 7: Linear walk from Castelo Melhor to the Côa Museum (12.5km | 7.7 miles |+381m)
Day 8: Return to Porto
This walking tour was crafted using extensive local knowledge and designed to respect both the way of life of local populations as well as the natural environment. We firmly believe that travel should be a safe and rewarding experience for all concerned, including the destinations that you visit and the people you meet.
Our self-guided hikes follow rural backroads and paths through a fascinating landscape with the undulating countryside, vineyards, valleys, and villages, offering you the chance to enjoy the local flora and fauna with negligible environmental impact.
We focus on green transportation by taking the train out to the valley and then beginning the walking tour. We use some accommodations for multiple nights in order to reduce the need for luggage transfers. When necessary (to avoid some luggage transfers), we'll use local taxi drivers to reduce carbon emissions and support the local economy.
Since the quality of tap water is excellent in Portugal, we supply a refillable bottle that clients can use during their walking holiday and beyond.
Sociocultural and Economic Initiatives
Preventing Economic Leakage:
To make sure that money stays within the small local communities that our clients spend time in, the accommodation for this program is in a combination of small, unique hotels and family-run rural lodgings, which give clients an insight into local history and culture. Some accommodations produce their own wine, olive oil, and fruit, from which they make products that can also be purchased as gifts/souvenirs.
The daily lunch pack contains fresh local produce and we encourage guests to have dinner at hospitable local restaurants where they can enjoy traditional regional dishes, engage with the owners, chef, or servers, and, of course, sample Douro wines and port.
Most of the walking days involve passing through small hillside villages where you are welcome to stop at local cafés, bakeries, and grocery or craft stores in order to get a sense of what local life is like and interact with the residents. You will also get to see cheese production in action.
This trail is in two very special parks near the border with Spain, where rural traditions and agricultural practices are still evident. You’ll probably see shepherds with their flocks in Vilar de Amargo and you’ll be staying at a farmhouse for a few nights where Margarida will be happy to share her local knowledge. Marco, your host in Vilar de Amargo, is also a font of information about the local history, culture, flora, and fauna and he’ll be taking you to the cheese factory and the rock art site.
Use the Google map to orient yourself about where in the world this trip is. The location indicates the starting point for this trip.
A specific route map is included in the downloadable detailed itinerary.
If you would like us to add one or more nights in Porto, just let us know.
Price per person$ 1350
Price per person$ 1100
If you cancel:
If you do need to cancel, you may reschedule the trip for another date as long as you request the trip a minimum of 30 days before you want to depart. It is free of charge to postpone your trip.
This trip has a variable start date, so you can plan a departure date when it suits you.
Be sure you have traveler's insurance.
Please be fully vaccinated and boosted before traveling. You may also need proof of a negative Covid test before arrival to the country. Keep a mask and hand sanitizer with you at all times.
Q: What does the Physical Rating of "Average" mean?
A: With potentially longer walking days, this tour is designed for experienced, regular walkers and can be enjoyed by anyone in good health who has prepared sufficiently in advance.
Distance: Max 16.8 km (10.4 miles) per day
Elevation gain: Max 635 m per day.
Q: What do I need to bring?
A: Most of this walking holiday is off-road on rugged terrain so you will need proper walking shoes with cushioning and support.
There is little shade so adequate weather protection is also vital.
We recommend you bring walking poles.