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Itinerary for a 3-week back country road trip in Portugal


This post is our itinerary for a 3-week back country road trip in Portugal in July 2021.

We left the big cities behind us, and drove north from Lissabon to go canyoning in the Paiva river, hike in Peneda-Gerês national park, relax with port wine at the Douro river and enjoy the laid back country atmosphere in the mountains in Serra de Estrela and at the Zezere river, before spending the last days exploring the coast of Algarve.

See more posts from our trip to Portugal here.

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Itinerary

Our itinerary for a 3-week back country road trip in Portugal takes you on a grand circle to the north, east, central and southern parts of Portugal. We looked for the best places to go hiking and canyoning, and to places where we could experience the unique nature of Portugal. And to the Douro river for port wine, of course. We didn’t visit Lissabon or Porto, but these and other cities can easily be added.

Here is the itinerary for a 3-week back country and nature road trip in Portugal:

  • Day 1-3: Arrival in Lissabon. The city of Óbidos, Batalha monestary, the Atlantic beaches and the Templar city of Tomar. We stayed at Country Villages Senses.
  • Day 4-6: The Paiva river, canyoning and Paiva walkways. We stayed at Quinta Vilar e Almarde.
  • Day 7-10: Drive to Geres, hike the GR 50 trail in Peneda-Gerês national park, from Pitões das Junias to Gerês. We wrote all about the hike here.
  • Day 11-12: Drive to Douro. Visit port wineries and Douro river cruise. Relax and stay at Quinta Do Pégo
  • Day 13-14: Drive to Serra de Estrela, visit the highest point of mainland Portugal. We stayed at Hotel Berne.
  • Day 15-17: Drive to Hospital de Oliverio, 4×4 jeep tour in Serra de Acor. Relax and stay at Flag Hotel Convento do Desagravo
  • Day 18-19: Drive to Vila Nova on the shore of the Zezere river. SUP and kayak in the river. Kayak on the Tejo river. We stayed at Vila Nova Nautic and Nature.
  • Day 20: Drive to Moinho do Alamo close to Lisbon where we stayed.
  • Day 21-24: Drive to Algarve. Algarve boat tour and the western-most point of mainland Portugal. We stayed at Nau Salema Beach Village.

Day 1-3: Arrival in Lissabon. The city of Óbidos, Batalha monestary, the Atlantic beaches and the Templar city of Tomar

Praia da Foz do Arelho near Óbidos
The fortified city Óbidos
An afternoon run near the village Casal da Curtinha, from our accomodation Country Village Senses
Baltalha monestary

Day 4-6: The Paiva river, canyoning and Paiva walkways

Paiva walkways is a 10 km wooden walkway along the Paiva river near Arouca
At the start of the Paiva walkways trail with the bridge 516 Arouca in the background. It is a 516 metre pedestrian suspension bridge across the Paiva river. Tickets can be booked online from their website.
Rapelling on a canyoning trip on the Paiva river with the great guides from Clube do Paiva. See more photos from the day here

Day 7-10: Drive to Geres, hike the GR 50 trail in Peneda-Gerês national park, from Pitões das Junias to Gerês

We passed Guimarães on the day a class of mechanical engineers graduated from university, wearing characteristic robes.
The mountain city of Gerês
Miradouro de Fafião. Vi visited on a jeep tour with Lobo tours from Gerês to Pitões das Junias, where we started the hike on GR 50
Scenery on the GR 50 long distance trail. See more from our hike here.

Day 11-12: Drive to Douro. Visit port wineries and Douro river cruise. Relax at Quinta Do Pégo

Quinta do Pégo is portwine vineyard on the Douro. It is higher quality than what we normally choose, but the excellent service, facilities and dining were excellent after hiking GR 50.
The view over the Douro river from the pool at Quinta do Pégo
A pool with a view. Time to relax.
Douro river cruise from Pinhão to Tua in a rabelo, a boat traditionally used for the transportation of portwine to Villa Nova on the coast

Day 13-17: Drive to Serra de Estrela, 4×4 jeep tour in Serra de Acor. Relax at Flag Hotel Convento do Desagravo

View across Serra de Acor, on a jeep tour with Trans Serrano
Jeep tour in Serra de Acor with Trans Serrano
Piodão is one of the many villages in the valleys of Serra de Acor
A refreshing swim at the natural pool Praia Fluvial de Foz d’Égua
We stayed at Flag Hotel Convento do Desagravo, a monestary converted to a hotel.
The view from the balcony of our room at Flag Hotel Convento do Desagravo
Running in the countryside around Flag Hotel Convento do Desagravo brings you through typical landscapes of the dry, central Portugal

Day 18-19: Drive to Vila Nova on the shore of the Zezere river. SUP and kayak in the river. Kayak on the Tejo river

We borrowed SUP’s and kayaks at Villa Nova Nautic & Nature Hostel. Villa Nova a small city on the shore of the Zezere river, and a popular place for water sports
The view over the Zezere river from the restaurant at Villa Nova Nautic & Nature Hostel
Water fight on a kayak tour on the Tejo river from Constância to the Templar castle Almourol
Almourol castle was built by the Templars as part of the defensive system that protected Tomar

Day 20: Drive to Moinho do Alamo close to Lisbon.

Cork is a big produce of Portugal. It is harvested from cork oaks, which is often seen in central Portugal.

Day 21-24: Drive to Algarve. Algarve boat tour and the western-most point of mainland Portugal

The Algarve coast
The Algarve coast
Running on one of the trails around the Algarve village of Salema
Algarve boat tour
Algarve boat tour
Algarve
Our boat tour ended with a swim
Costa Vicentina, the windy Atlantic beach that attracts surfers

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