Cabo da Roca, Portugal

Walking holidays in Portugal

Fewer places in Europe outshine Portugal for enviable wine regions, glittering beaches, medieval castles, botanical wonders, gorgeous little towns, sleepy villages, and rural heartlands. Not only does it delight with a huge coastline bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, but it also guarantees year-round sunshine, diverse landscapes for walking and hiking, and a slew of beauty spots – especially around the Eastern and Western Algarve, the island of Madeira, and the nine-island archipelago known as the Azores. 

Discover the stunning island of Madeira 

The island playground located 600 miles from the mainland, Madeira is all vineyard-clad hills, rugged mountains, lush green forests, and cultural sites. It was a favourite haunt of Winston Churchill for good reason; when holidaying here in 1950, he was smitten with this “floating garden” and its sub-tropical climate. As you’d expect, it’s fabulous on the seeing and doing front. You’ll get to experience the glass-bottomed Cabo Girão Viewing Platform for views of one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe, walk a chunk of the magnificent Levada do Norte, and explore the island’s western regions filled with flower-lined waterways and mountain slopes. Further highlights include spending time in Funchal - Madeira’s compact capital which charms with a smart marina, centuries-old architecture, and a museum dedicated to the island’s football superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Explore the historic capital of Lisbon 

A city built on seven hills, Lisbon has so much more appeal than just pastéis de nata (custard tarts). You’ll get ample time to explore its cobbled streets and bougainvillea-filled squares and pack in landmarks such as the 16th-century Jerónimos Monastery, the Belém Tower, St. George’s Castle, and Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square). Highlights include strolling along Liberty Avenue, admiring artworks at the Berardo Collection Museum, marvelling at ceramics at National Tile Museum, and riding the Elevador de Santa Justa (also known as the Carmo Lift) for arresting city views. 

Soak up the scenery in Eastern and Western Algarve 

For walking holidays, Portugal has a superb network of routes. This is all too apparent in the Algarve, the country’s south-coast stunner where the lesser-known eastern and western regions are the real stars. Spanning a vast space between Olhão to Vila Real de Santo António and the Spanish border, Eastern Algarve is characterised by its rolling countryside, vineyards, lagoons, white-washed villages, and salt pans of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. You’ll get to admire the Moorish castle and stroll the Ria Gilão cobbled streets in the pretty town of Tavira and learn about the history of Vila Real de Santo António – the fishing town on the banks of the Guadiana River.  

Stretching from Silves to the Atlantic seaboard, Western Algarve has a wilder vibe that’s perfect for walkers keen to navigate dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, and golden sands. Highlights here include visiting the historical town of Lagos, exploring the pine, oak, and eucalyptus forests around the Serra de Monchique, and following the coastline to Praia da Bordeira. Equally rewarding is Cape St. Vincent – the most south-westerly point in mainland Europe famed for its sacred ground, birds of prey, and lighthouse dating back to 1846.