More than 5% of the mainland area in Portugal is under protection and diverse nature parks and reserves are scattered all around the country. Portugal's amazing coastline along the West and South stretches over 800km and offers a varied scenery with sandy golden beaches, dramatic cliffs and low marshlands, creating plenty of opportunities for fun and thrilling outdoor activities.
While Peneda-Gerês in Northwestern Portugal is the only National Park in Portugal, you will find ten Nature Parks scattered all around Portugal, which come with a fantastic scenery, interesting and rare wildlife and a unique cultural and geological heritage. If you choose to go off the beaten track in the Serra da Estrela or Douro Internacional Nature Park in eastern Portugal or stay close to Lisbon in the Sintra-Cascais or the Arrabida Nature Park, be sure to find plenty of opportunities to get active and enjoy the unspoiled scenery to the fullest
Hiking in Portugal
Walking and hiking trails are well developed, sign-posted and take you through lush green scenery, historic towns and villages and along clear streams and rivers. From challenging hikes in the central mountain ranges, rural walks in the peaceful, idyllic Alentejo countryside to long-distance hikes along the beautiful and dramatic coastline, Portugal has plenty of fabulous hiking spots to choose from, many of which are deeply steeped into local history and tradition.
Cycling in Portugal
Cycling is possible in nearly any part and city of Portugal and is a great way to discover cities at a leisurely pace or to enjoy the beautiful unspoiled nature. There are many cycling routes in Portugal, ranging from beginner to expert, from coastal to rural mountain routes and from loops to long distance trails. There is hardly any better way to enjoy the rich cultural heritage and the beautiful unspoiled scenery.
Canoeing, kayaking and SUP
Water sports are widely available all over Portugal and it is possible to explore rivers and streams, lakes and the coast by canoe, kayak or SUP. Portugal’s biggest water body, the Alqueva reservoir, offers great possibilities to explore this historic area on the water and the designated dark skies region also offers night kayaking tours to admire the starry sky from the lakes! Eastern interior Portugal offers many great kayaking opportunities along clear mountain streams and canyons while along the Algarvian coast, there are many fascinating grottoes and caves waiting to be discovered from the sea. Peneda-Gerês National Park, Serra da Estrela or the Douro Valley in northern and central Portugal also all offer magic scenery to be enjoyed from the water.
Along many parts of the Portuguese coastline, you can find excellent conditions for wind and wave surfing. While it attracts the water-sports community all-year-round, the main Portugal surf season runs from late winter to early spring. Come at this time of year and you can expect waves measuring anything from 2 meters. Especially the resort town of Peniche in central Portugal is famous for its impressive waves, caused by a unique submarine canyon that lies off the shore. Some of the most popular locations for surfing Portugal include; Algarve, Alentejo, Lisbon, Ericeira, Peniche, Beira, and Nazare.
Canyoning and Rafting
Particularly refreshing over the hot summer months, the central and northern regions of Portugal with its mountainous terrain offer great opportunities for rafting along mighty rivers or to discover some of the gorges and canyons on a canyoning adventure. Canyoning and rafting are great fun activities to experience unspoiled beautiful nature, explore rocky canyons and enjoy the physical challenges while jumping off cliffs and splashing into the clear, refreshing waters.
Protected areas in Portugal are scattered across the country, each very different, but with special significance because of their European ecological interest. Besides wild mammals including wolves, lynx, wildcat, wild boars, goats, deer, hares and more, Portugal is rich in bird life due to its location on the western migration route of many western and central species. The Peneda-Gerês National Park in the North or the Douro Internacional Nature Park on the Northeastern border to Spain are great places to spot some rare bird species in their natural habitat.
The Arrabida Nature Park South of Lisbon is an important breeding zone of maritime fauna in the Atlantic north and is home to a wide variety of fish and other marine amphibians and reptiles.
Heritage and Historic Tours
Nearly every city, town and village in Portugal comes with a long history and is home to some significant heritage. A tour with a local guide will let you discover many cultural and historic highlights and take you to places hidden away in small streets and courtyards. Learn about history and explore the rich cultural heritage that Portugal has to offer.
The taste of Portugal
From guided street food tours, traditional cooking classes to exclusive wine cellar tours and harvesting experiences, there are many ways to experience Portugal’s rich and unique gastronomic heritage. Taste the famous port wine in one of the renowned wine cellars on the banks of the Douro river, learn about the fine wines of the Douro and Alentejo region while relaxing in an exclusive quinta or enjoy a truly traditional farming day on a rural estate, Portugal’s food and drink scene has many different faces worth exploring and not to be missed.