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New for 2020, explore the surprising variety of northern Portugal in a unique itinerary that combines mountains, rivers and the Atlantic coast. This trip unlocks some of best kept secrets of the north; from places that seem to be frozen in the past century, to ever-changing scenery, you'll be visiting what are some of the least-known - and most charming - parts of Portugal.
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Arrive in Porto today, where you are met by your Pura Aventura guide before heading north to the gorgeous Quinta do Ameal. Here you will go for a walk through its Vinho Verde winery and enjoy a wine tasting session, followed by an introduction to all the practicalities of your holiday, including maps, walking notes and gps. Travel up to the mountains of Peneda, where your base for the first two nights is a renovated farmhouse in the upper part of Sistelo village, with nice views over the mountains. Please note that international flights are not included in this itinerary.
Breakfast is delivered fresh to your door this morning, before you lace up your boots for your first walk directly from the house. There are two circular options along old cobbled paths around the iconic Socalcos - the amazing terraced landscape. The longer walk leads to the upper part of the mountain and the impressive 'Brandas' and 'Cortelhos' - stone-built huts for animals that resemble Iron Age settlements.
Hike towards the charming town of Arcos de Valdevez along the Ecovia that follows the tranquil waters of Rio Vez. As you move slowly from remote mountains to fertile valleys, feel free to stop anytime for a dip in the river. On arrival at your hotel, you might like to visit the spa or relax in the garden which overlooks the lovely river.
Today you'll swap Arcos for Ponte de Lima and the Vez River for the Lima. It's a lovely walk, with crops on the left and the river on the right, with abandoned water mills and some thriving birdlife en route. Though more of a town these days, Ponte de Lima is the self-proclaimed first village of Portugal, established in the 12th century. This history is evident throughout its charming centre.
Leave the rivers today and hike along the Caminho de Santiago, sharing a day with the pilgrims on this ancient cultural highway. From walking on centuries-old cobbled paths through small villages and along small vineyards to paved road, potholes and small dirt trails, you will get a great taste of the variety of the Caminho today.
You are collected this morning for a 30-minute drive to the riverside, where you'll walk from the fortress town of Valença to the charming town of Vilanova do Cerveira - the 'city of art'. If you'd like a change of pace, it's also an option today to take a bike for the majority of the journey along the river. Settle into your delightfully historic hotel, with time for a dip in the lovely granite pool and hopefully a perfect sunset before dinner.
Take a short taxi to the shores of the Rio Minho where Jose, your captain, will take you across the border to a sandy Galician beach. Walk along the coast with great views of the river mouth and the iconic Insua island in the middle of the border. Have lunch in one of the restaurants near the port in the colourful town of A Guarda before heading up to an Iron Age Pre-Roman settlement, high on Santa Trega hill. Enjoy the view over Portugal, visit the site and hike down on the southern slopes of the hill.
You're in a beautiful spot to simply relax this morning and take a break from walking. The hotel pool is ideal for a lazy morning, or you might even enjoy a spell in the hotel's sauna. In the afternoon take a transfer down to Caminha -this beautiful Portuguese town is one of the locals' favourite destinations in the area. Later, we have a very special restaurant recommendation for you tonight.
Follow the coastal Ecovia to the fishing town of Viana do Castelo. Wooden platforms rise over sand dunes, past old forts and into a biological reserve as you walk towards the Montedor lighthouse. Continue down to the coast, passing ancient rock carvings and traditional salt pans. Viana do Castelo is a proud Portuguese town that - perhaps surprisingly - remains relatively untouched by tourism. Your hotel is set in a refurbished 15th Century palace.
Depending on your departure time, you might want to explore the historic centre before making your way out to the airport; alternatively we can drop you off directly for your flight. If you'd like to see more of northern Portugal, perhaps with a few days sampling the wines of the Douro, we'd be happy to discuss ideas to extend your trip.
This is a walking holiday, so in that sense active, though it should not be terribly challenging for anyone used to hill walking in the UK or elsewhere in Europe. Although the itinerary has you walking almost every day, you should also have plenty of time to relax into the slower pace of life in Minho. Distances on your walking days average around the 20km mark. Except in Sistelo and on the Caminho, elevation gains/losses are not dramatic by and large.
We would love to discuss this holiday with you. It can be tailored to suit you in certain ways though as an inn to inn walk, we can't really deviate from the fundamental route without spoiling the trip. An obvious way to extend this trip is by adding a couple of nights in Porto, either before or after your walk. We can get creative with things though to loop this walk in with our other Portugal Inn to Inn in Alentejo, our self-drive trip through Portugal or perhaps even as an addition to our unique Camino de Santiago Inn to Inn.
Give us a call or send us a quick message to discuss ideas and possibilities.
The climate in Minho is mild, and generally warm and temperate, with temperates ranging around 20º-25ºc from May to October. Please note: services on this trip are always private. Because this walk is through remote areas and is exclusive to Pura Aventura, we feel that overlapping departures risk detracting from your experience. We limit departures to a maximum of one per day.
The holiday price is per person, based on two people travelling, sharing a room. It includes breakfasts, most lunches, some dinners and private transfers from Porto to the start of the walk, onward to Sistelo, the Minho river, and back to Porto. It also includes private guiding as described, walking notes, maps/GPS device and local information.
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best flight routing is to fly into and out of Porto (airport code: OPO).
Your money is 100% protected by ABTOT (membership number 5331).
Most of the hotels you stay in during this trip are historical buildings that have been recently renovated, so have a lot of comfort and character. For your first couple of nights you stay in a local traditional granite house that has been renovated a few years ago. The house used to have the living area upstairs and the lower floor for animals. The ones in Arcos, along the Caminho Portugues and those along the Minho river also include swimming pools. The hotel at the end of the Caminho day is simpler than the others, since it's a pilgrims' hotel, but in truth it's a very comfortable one by many Caminho standards!
We also added a couple of nights in a delightful hotel outside the town of Caminha, so that you can have a full day relaxing at the pool or the spa before heading to Viana, your final destination.
For more details, please get in touch to request a detailed PDF itinerary.
One advantage of the slow pace of an Inn to Inn walk is that it allows you to enjoy not only the nature around you, but also gain a deeper insight into the local life of the area. Some short guided transfers have been included both to facilitate the walking route and to ensure you have a rich cultural experience at each stage of your journey, allowing locals to share their way of life.
The way that we work, directly with local partners, ensures that your time in Minho is of maximum econcomic benefit to the hoteliers, drivers and guides of one of the least visited corners of Portugal. Our Holiday Guide is full of background information and recommendations for small locally-owned restaurants at every stage.