Portugal Reflections – Hiking & Biking

Portugal Preview: I fell under the spell of Portugal, two weeks of site inspections yielded a full Journal of touring, dining and stays at the best hotels. To begin with hiking and biking activities: beautiful hilly landscapes covered in grapevines is just one reason to visit Portugal – our elite biking team can organize exceptional bike rides in Portugal. I passed through a beautiful forest outside of Lisbon, the Natural Park of Sintra-Cascais, near the unique surroundings of the mystical Serra de Sintra, where the narrow hilly roads were filled with bikers – who eventually disappeared into the forest on scrubby off road steep trails.

We can organize biking and trekking throughout Portugal.

Hiking through the Quinta Seara d’ Ordens Vineyards in Douro Valley

If you stay in the Douro Valley at our favorite Six Senses Resort, there are quite a few day hikes of various difficulty. We can accommodate any level of fitness – if you need 10 miles a day of difficult terrain, we can organize in various areas. Need a gentle hike and a picnic, happy to design hikes for every level of activity. Family friendly hiking and tenacious trekking opportunities!

We won’t list all of the hikes, but one could stay at the Six Senses and enjoy a distinctive hike/trek every day, it might include wine or port tasting at a small family owned vineyard or lunch in a remote village. Or cheese tasting at the barns of a local goat or sheep farm.

Mind the cows and goats in the hillside villages.

You might notice the aged grape stakes are chiseled from shale or shake as they call it, not wood. Quinta Seara d’ Ordens Douro Valley

Quinta Seara d’ Ordens Vineyards. Douro Valley Vineyard hike

My three night stay in the Douro Valley included a Vineyard hike through the extensive wine and olive property of Quinta Seara d’ Ordens for a few hours – this was not a stroll; the Portuguese don’t waste a smidgen of ground – the hillsides are terraced from top to bottom and the vines amazingly flourish despite very rocky soil – we would describe the soil as shale- their term is shake. Many of the vineyards are so steep the grapes are still picked by hand. Hikes may include a stop at a locally owned vineyard for a tasting. Our guides know the vineyard owners and wisely, all the dogs roaming the vineyards. My guide, João Carlos, was a long-term Military man in special services, he could also be described as a dog whisperer. While hiking a private vineyard, a few dogs barked at us but on our approach to a large lanky dog, he whispered that is a very dangerous dog, we had already encountered a pit bull that looked menacing to me; I hesitated as he slowly knelt down and said this breed, Cão de Gado Transmontano, is a vicious sheep herding dog who will take on a wolf. The trick is to get to their eye level, thus I stooped a bit, still not wanting to get too close…I have to admit the dog had paws the size of a lion… João Carlos, extended his hand and spoke sweetly to the dog, he became a friend.

Wandering the rugged hillsides there is much to be discovered besides roaming guard dogs protecting wine and olive estates, on this particular hardy hike, to Fisgas do Ermelo you may encounter cows or goats as you pass through a small village.

The cascade of Fisgas de Ermelo is one of the largest waterfalls in Europe. As viewed from a hike near the Douro Valley

Hiking trail in the Alvão Natural Park, one of the most beautiful and preserved Portuguese landscapes.

Descriptions of just a few hikes adjacent to the Douro Valley.

Alvão Natural Park – Fisgas do Ermelo – The tour begins with a hiking trail in the Alvão Natural Park, one of the most beautiful and preserved Portuguese landscapes. It begins north of the Olo River and follows trails that provide a very privileged view over the Fisgas de Ermelo cascade. The cascade of Fisgas de Ermelo is one of the largest waterfall in Europe. 
The tour continues with a visit to the Alto Douro Wine Region, the oldest UNESCO world wine heritage site, you will visit a winery to enjoy  a private wine tasting.

Hiking Trail: (adjustable) One day program. Length: 5 miles Duration: 3 h 30 m Difficulty: Hard. Experience- Visit winery “Quinta Seara D’Ordens” and wine tasting.

Hike through the hillsides and end with a fresh cheese tasting lunch!

A second experience: Serra de Santa Comba – Passos (Mirandela)  The tour starts up toward the castle of the “Orelhão” King. The hiking trail then proceeds to the Cruzeiro viewpoint, where one may see the quartzite ridges, and the Pala’s cavern (Rock painting). The trail continues down toward a Cave Shelter and then heads to the Passos Forest old house.  After hiking, you will visit the Cheese Artisian House – “Quinta de Alvar”, in the village of Navalho. Visit the cheese farm, learn about the cheese making process, stop by the sheep and goat  stables and conclude the visit with a cheese tasting. Hiking Trail: (adjustable) One day program. Length: 9.5 miles. Duration: 5 hours. Difficulty Hard. Experience: Visit to the Cheese Artisian House “Quinta de Alvar” and cheese tasting.

My pleasurable steep hike was rewarded with a sumptuous picnic of local cheeses, freshly baked bread, sliced hams, fruit and of course, wine! Beautifully served from the roof of a water collection tank atop the vineyard hill. Oh, did I mention the hand-pumped espresso for the final note with dessert?

Pedro hand pumping Picnic Espresso ..perfect hike, perfect picnic! Only the best with our teams!

Six Senses outdoor infinity pool with a dramatic view of the Douro River and rolling vineyards.

Our bike and hike teams in Portugal go the extra mile. If staying in the Douro Valley, settle back at The Six Senses and head to the spa for sauna or steam or a few laps in the indoor pool or the outdoor pool. Heaven!

Are you ready for a Hiking and Biking Escape in Portugal?