Portugal is better known for its golden beaches and picturesque cities. It's good news for people who want to discover trails outside of the crowd.

There are a lot of scenic routes in the Iberian nation, from clifftop journeys to craggy mountain trails. Hiking here can take you back in time to ancient stone villages and ancient routes used by the Romans.

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The best time to hike is in the spring and fall, although if you are heading to the south, the winter isn't bad. Some of Portugal's best hikes are listed here.

A sign points in the direction of Foia, the highest point of the Algarve in Portugal. A hiker stands on top of the peak in the background.
Hike up to Fóia peak, the highest point in the Algarve © EunikaSopotnicka / Getty Images

Via Algarviana

Best long-distance hike in the southern interior

Moderate for 186 miles.

The Via Algarviana is the best way to appreciate the magnificent landscapes of this region if you have had enough of lounging on one of the Algarve's postcard- pretty beaches. There is a trail from the northeast to the southwest. Monchique is home to some of the prettiest sections, where you can see the highest peaks of the Algarve.

If you want to try out the trail for a couple of days, stay in Monchique, walk up to Picota, and then up to Fia. It's a good idea to avoid high summer when it can be very hot and dangerous.

Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Best walk along sea cliffs 

The one-way distance is 5.7 km.

One of the best seaside walks in the Iberian peninsula starts at the central coast of the Algarve. The sound of crashing waves, multi-colored rock formations, and scent of salt-tinged air set the stage for a hike along coastal cliffs. There is no bad time to see the light in the early morning or late afternoon. You can cool off at the beaches along the way if you wait until the end of the trail.

The Alfanzina lighthouse and the wind-carved arches at Praia da Mesquita are some of the best places to take a picture. If you want to see the interior of the Benagil Caves, you can go to Praia de Benagil.

The village of Piódão in Portugal. The rural mountain village is built on a steep slope, and consists of a number of traditional stone houses.
Hike from the beautiful Piódão Village to Foz d’Égua © Paulo Dias Photography / Getty Images

Piódão to Foz d’Égua Loop

Best village-to-village walk

2 hours, moderate, 6.8 km.

A trip to the tiny village of Pido will take you deep into the Serra de Aor, a range of vertiginous ridges, deep cut valleys, rivers, and virgin woodland. The village is set among steeply terraced slopes with its grey schist houses clinging to the hills but it can get busy with tourists.

The village of Foz d'gua is home to some lovely old stone bridges, schist houses, and a precarious looking footbridge over the river gorge. You can take a different path and see the landscape.

Paiva Walkways 

Best river walk  

The one-way distance is 8.7 km.

One of Portugal's best inland walks is hidden in northern Portugal. The Passadios do Paiva overlook the Paiva River and feature a number of staircases and walkways. There are three river beaches along the way and plenty of opportunities to cool off. The world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge can be visited at the end of the journey.

It's important to prepare for this walk. You have to have a ticket to go on the walk in the park. You can book this online. Since there are no buses here, you will need your own vehicle to get to the trail. You can start in Areinho or Espiunca and take a taxi back to your starting point. It is less strenuous to start in Areinho if you are only going one way. You should start in Espiunca and get the harder bits out of the way first if you are going to do a hiking trip.

Via Geira Roman Road

Best historical trail 

The distance is 4.3 km and it is easy to do.

The Via Geira, an ancient Roman road that used to stretch over 200 miles between Braga and Spain, is one of the highlights of Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gers. There is a Roman milepost at Portela de Homem.

You can follow the Rio Homem downhill through the Mata de Albergaria forest from the mile post. Some of the Roman trail markers are engraved with the names of the emperors who ruled them.

Rocha da Pena circuit

Best off-the-beaten-path hike 

The round-trip takes 3-6 hours.

The Serra do Caldeiro's best short walk is climbing the limestone escarpment. There are 450 plant species in the area. The short-toed snake-eagle, Iberian green woodpecker, and Egyptian vulture are some of the birds you may see. You can take the optional detour up to Talefe, the highest point in the Rocha da Pena at 479m.

There is a map-guide in the museums in Querena. The only refreshment stops are small shops at the base and in the village. Rock climbers like the Rocha da Peo.

An aerial shot of a hiking path running along coastal cliffs
There is a coastal and an inland trail on the Rota Vicentina © Vitaly Fedotov / Shutterstock

Rota Vicentina 

Best coastal walk in Portugal

Fourteen days each trail is moderate.

There are two walking trails, one coastal and one inland, that run along the southwest coast to Cabo de SoVincente. The Fishermen's Trail is a coastal walk that goes through some of Portugal's most dramatic coastal scenery. The Historical Way goes through rural villages, cork- tree forests, and river valleys, with a scenic coastal section anchoring the southern end.

Most of the trails are less than 25 km between villages, so you don't have to bring camping gear. The walk on the Fishermen's Trail is more difficult with some passages on dunes and thigh burning sands. It runs along the cliffs at times and only walkers are allowed. There are 13 sections of the Historical Way, totaling 263 km. The walk is easy and mountain bikes are allowed.

About 6 hours ago, this article was updated.