South of the Tagus and Lisbon lay the Setubal Peninsula. The coastline is dominated by a 1,600 foot mountain, the Serra da Arrabida, and the small national park named for it. This park is home to the best hiking trail in the vicinity of Lisbon, and its a mere 30 minute drive from the city. The trailhead is located about 100 feet down the road from the Convento da Arrabida. It runs down the extremely steep slope of the mountain, along a rugged, partly washed-out trail that winds through heavy foliage, including fragrant wild rosemary bushes. The views of the sea on the way down are spectacular and worth stopping to savor. At the bottom, hikers should follow the road to Portinho da Arrabida and the Oceanographic Museum. Along the way, there is a large orphanage that looks like a hotel or dormitory on the left. Across from this is a path that leads down to a sea cave. The main road itself leads to a small village with a few good seafood restaurants and a nice beach, and at the very end of the road are the ruins of a Roman salt fish works. This is a one-way trail, so the return trip means going back by the same route.
Fortaleza de Sta. Maria da Arrábida
Portinho da Arrábida
Tel.: (351) 21 218 97 91
Northern Portugal is home to the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Geres, and inside this large, lush protected area is the Serra da Geres, a 5,078 foot rugged mountain with steep sides that plunge into the river valleys below. Starting at the Gerese campground, there is a 23 mile trail that traverses the mountain, coming back around in a loop to return at the campground. Given the steep climbs, any hiker who wants to enjoy the scenery should plan on this being an overnight hike.
Porta do PNPG em Campo do Gerês
4840-030 CAMPO DO GERÊS
Tel. (351) 253 351 888
Another of Portugal's major parks is in the north, the Parque Natural Serra de Estrela, and it is also named after a rugged mountain. This is Portugal's highest mountain, at 6,539 feet. It is also home to a trail that runs for 70 miles, traversing the mountain. It can be done in less time, but enjoying the scenery and stopping at campsites for the night will space the trek out to 4 or 5 days. The route strings together several of the parks trails into one long network, so it can be broken into shorter day treks if that is desired.
Centro de Informação de Bragança
Rua Cónego Albano Falcão, Lote 5
5300 - 044 BRAGANÇA
Tel. (351) 273 300 400
The Beira Littoral is home to Coimbra, Portugal's medieval capital. Near Coimbra is Lousa, and in the hills above Lousa are a collection of "lost villages" that were abandoned in the 1950s. They are now partly reclaimed by people seeking upcountry holiday homes, but the landscape retains its isolated character, and the village cottages, both ruined and restored, are still quaint things fashioned from local stone. From Lousa, follow the signs out of town and towards the Castelo da Lousa. The castle itself is a nice medieval fortress fringed with oak trees, and worthy of a little lingering. Downhill from the castle is a fluvial and a restaurant, and behind that restaurant is a large patio overlooking the valley. At the rear of this is the trailhead, which forks out to three different "lost" villages: Talasnal, Casal Novo, and Chiqueiro. Once the trailhead is found, the route is clearly marked, and the hike to a single village should take little more than an hour.
Tourist Information Office
Rua Joao Luso
3200 - 246 LOUSA
Tel: (351) 239 990 040