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2018-01-08

The Best Grandes Rotas (Long Distance Trails) of Portugal

With its sunny weather year-round, Portugal is the ideal destination for an outdoors adventure holiday. And the options to explore it are endless! Whether you are looking to discover the country’s most popular sites or you want to take a detour and head off the beaten path, Portugal boasts a network of well-marked long-distance trails (called Grande Rotas) to take you exactly where you want to go. From the steep mountains to the deep river valleys and the breezy Atlantic Coast, our four favorite walks below will take you through some of Portugal’s most stunning landscapes and fascinating historical sites.

1. Grande Rota das Aldeias Históricas de Portugal (GR22)

Extending for over 500km, this long-distance circular trail connects Portugal’s 12 Historical Villages taking you through Almeida, Belmonte, Castelo Mendo, Castelo Novo, Castelo Rodrigo, Idanha-a-Velha, Linhares da Beira, Marialva, Monsanto, Piódão, Sortelha and Trancoso. A unique archive of Portugal’s rural history, this trail also leads you through some of Portugal’s richest protected regions covering parts of Serra da Estrela, Serra da Gardunha, and Serra da Malcata. Along the journey, spend the night in charming boutique hotels, indulge yourself in the most delicious local gastronomy and discover some of Portugal’s oldest traditions. You can complete the trail on foot or bike, and you can even split it into 12 shorter legs that take about a day to complete.

2. Grande Rota do Vale do Côa (GR45)

Running along the Côa River, this trail extends from some 200km from the river spring in Sabugal to its mouth in Vila Nova de Foz do Côa. You can discover the incredible landscapes on foot, on two wheels or on horseback – there are even some exclusive detours for bikers and horse riders. Along the way, discover charming villages, ancient archaeological finds, historical monuments and the stories of the locals who have called this river valley their home for centuries.

3. Rota Vicentina (GR11-E9)

If you want to make the most of Portugal’s pristine west coast, then the Vicentine trail is your ideal destination for an adventure holiday in Portugal. Covering over 400km, this route takes you from Santiago de Cacém to the tip of Europe in Sagres. Enjoy the fresh breeze along the coast, dive into the depths of nature in the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park and take a detour through one of the many fishermen villages along the way.

4. Grande Rota do Zêzere (GR33)

One of Portugal’s newest additions to its long-distance trails, the Grande Rota do Zêzere follows the Zêzere River from its spring in Serra da Estrela to where it joins the Tagus River in the village of Constância. You can follow the trail on foot, on a bike or even a canoe! And if you don’t have time to complete the 370km journey, you can opt to explore one of its shorter day-long trails.
 
From mesmerizing historical sites to charming villages and breath-taking landscapes, Portugal’s long-distance trails have something to offer to all types of explorers. So, grab your gear, pack your bags and book your flight: it’s time to begin your adventure of a lifetime.

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