High Paths of Northern Portugal

A walk through untamed & timeless Peneda-Gerês
 

Holiday Highlights

The incomparable landscape | Mountain lakes, oak forests and forgotten hamlets.
Hidden treasure | Discover spectacular churches and sanctuaries in even the humblest settings.
Mountain culture | In the high granite villages, life goes on much as it has done for centuries.
Wildlife | Magnificent Cachena cows roam the landscape, and wild Garrano horses graze freely.
High Paths of Northern Portugal. 7 nights
High Paths of Northern Portugal. 7 nights
 

Holiday information

 

A walking holiday in northern Portugal

Enjoy top-notch walking and a range of accommodation from village house to Pousada on this self-guided, hotel-to-hotel holiday; while your luggage is transferred, you follow pilgrim paths and Roman roads through remote hamlets and above mountain lakes in Portugal's only National Park.
In the far north-west of Portugal, beneath the border with Spain, lies a vast glacial amphitheatre of jagged mountains, high plateaus and yawning valleys where hallowed sanctuaries lie sequestered in forests or tucked beneath precipitous cliffs and where life in isolated villages is still as hard as the monolithic granite boulders that pepper the landscape.

Along paths worn smooth by the feet of pilgrims and Roman legionnaires, you travel south from the granite mountain village of Soajo, over the Gerês Mountains to the lake valley of Cavado and onto Terras de Bouro – a journey into Portugal's past, through an incomparable landscape of mountain lakes, oak forests and forgotten hamlets.
 

A taste of Northern Portugal

 
Gallery

 

Itinerary

The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on the day of your choice, and are free to add extra nights.
  • The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.
    Average temperatures and rainfall
      Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    °C 12 13 15 18 20 23 26 26 24 20 15 13
    mm 166 157 119 104 90 48 16 23 66 132 161 170
  • Arrival in Arcos de Valdevez
    Night 1: at Hotel Ribeira Collection (where you spend one night).
    As your first night’s accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of walking.
  • Arcos de Valdevez to Soajo: 16.5km, 6.5hrs; ascent 580m / descent 900m
    Your first day begins with a transfer to the hamlet of Lombadinhas, from where you ascend into the Peneda-Gerês National Park to join a mountain path which crosses high, summer grazing grounds. After taking in the fojo de cabrita – an old walled pen used to trap wolves – you descend through more grazing land (brandas) and traverse the Mezio Forest before emerging onto mountain plains where views open up across the Soajo Valley. Your destination is the granite village of Soajo with its raised stone granaries, or espigueiros, and its unusual stone pillory. Here you stay for two nights in a traditional village house, with the chance to try the local speciality of Cachena steak or other hearty dishes at a village restaurant.
    Arcos to Soajo: 16.5km
    The 'espigueiros' of Soajo
  • Soajo to Peneda (and taxi back): 15.5km, 6hrs; ascent 990m / descent 620m
    Setting off from the village, you join a pilgrims' path and ascend the valley along a splendid medieval road. Continuing to ascend, you cross the Soajo mountains before the landscape opens out with expansive views across the entire Peneda mountain range. The route now levels out, passing through a smattering of hamlets and along a shady riverside path before reaching the imposing stone staircase that leads to the spectacular mountain sanctuary of Our Lady of Peneda, from where a taxi will return you to Soajo.
    Soajo to Peneda: 15.5km
    Walking from Soajo
  • Soajo to Gerês: 17.5km, 6hrs; ascent 670m / descent 1070m
    A scenic transfer takes you above the Lima basin and into Spain before dropping you at the deserted border checkpoint of Portela do Homem. Here, you join the old Roman road of Geira and follow its course over ancient bridges alongside tumbling waterfalls and engraved Roman milestones, descending to skirt the Vilarinho reservoir and into Campo de Gerês. Next, you head up into the Gerês mountains, after which a dazzling descent brings you to the spa town of Gerês, famous since Roman times for its healing waters, and at whose Águas do Gerês Spa Hotel you spend two nights.
     
    Soajo to Gerês: 17.5km
    Looking down on Gerês
  • Gerês circular route: 9.5km, 5hrs; ascent / descent 640m
    Today’s circuit from Gerês is challengingly steep at both start and finish, but with plenty of shade and an extraordinary middle section that makes it all worthwhile. This section sees you explore a glorious high plateau, where beautiful, sparse pine forest and extraordinary granite formations are interspersed with high summer pasture and corrals, and there are frequent ‘wow’ views. Return to Gerês via a steep descent.
    Gerês circular route: 9.5km
    Fantastic views await today
  • Gerês to Rio Caldo: 12.5km, 4.5hrs; ascent 720m / descent 800m
    With a shorter walk today, you have time to enjoy the leafy tranquillity of the hotel's park with its thermal waters and boating lake before setting off on the penultimate leg of your journey. Walking initially through the town, you gradually ascend high above shimmering Lake Cavado, tracing the course of its feeder river around the valley. Continuing to the quiet, western end of the lake, a glimpse upwards through the foliage reveals the stone towers of the revered Santuário de São Bento da Porta Aberta, Portugal's second-most-visited sanctuary. You gently ascend to emerge at its entrance, directly opposite which is your next base, the Hotel São Bento.
    Gerês to Rio Caldo: 12.5km
    Lake Cavado
  • Rio Caldo to Santa Maria do Bouro: 12.5km, 5hrs; ascent 780m / descent 940m
    Stepping into the park alongside the hotel sees you joining a popular pilgrim's path in reverse. Ascending into the mountains along a forest track where you may well encounter wild Garrano horses, you are treated once more to expansive views over Lake Cavado below. You then cross the ridge into Terras de Bouro and follow an old merchant's trail alongside a brook; the stone spires of the sequestered Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Abadia tantalise through the treetops and you soon descend to walk through its grounds. Tracing a cobbled dot-to-dot of chapels, you arrive into the village of Terreiro and the magnificent Pousada Mosteiro de Amares, where you spend your final night.

    If you are staying instead at Pousada Caniçada-Gerês, you will be transferred here by taxi from Pousada Mosteiro de Amares.
    Rio Caldo to Santa Maria do Bouro: 12.5km
    En route to Santa Maria do Bouro
 

Accommodation

Your diverse accommodation includes a traditional village house and a magnificent pousada set in a 12th-century Cistercian monastery.

In some places, we work with more than one hotel, as shown below. All are hand-picked by us and, unless there is a price implication (in which case we will contact you to discuss your options), we will tell you which one we have booked for you on your booking confirmation.

Whichever final hotel you stay at, we recommend adding an extra night for more time to enjoy the additional walking on offer. 
 

Extend your stay

 
Prices & travel options
All prices are in £ sterling (GBP). If you'd like to see what they equate to in your currency, use the converter. For general information on pricing, see the 'your holiday price explained' page.
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  • 7 nights: 01 April 2024 - 14 July 2024, 20 August 2024 - 31 October 2024, 01 April 2025 - 14 July 2025 & 20 August 2025 - 31 October 2025

    Start any day | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 Apr - 14 Jun 2024 £1040 £330
    15 Jun - 7 Jul 2024 £1080 £360
    20 Aug - 12 Sep 2024 £1130 £390
    13 - 30 Sep 2024 £1030 £340
    1 - 24 Oct 2024 £965 £310
    1 Apr - 14 Jun 2025 £1085 £345
    15 Jun - 7 Jul 2025 £1125 £375
    20 Aug - 12 Sep 2025 £1180 £410
    13 - 30 Sep 2025 £1075 £355
    1 - 24 Oct 2025 £1005 £325
    3rd & 4th person discount -£90 to -£94
    Single traveller supplement £90 to £94

    Includes accommodation, meals and services integral to the holiday as described, plus walking notes and maps, but no travel from the UK, nor any connecting travel from the airport unless stated below.

    Book your flights through us and we'll find the best route and times to suit you. Please contact us to find out more about our flight booking service. We can also book connecting travel - see below.

  • Room upgrades (£ per person per night)

    Hotel Ribeira Collection, Arcos de Valdevez
    Panoramic: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2024 £10
    Panoramic: 20 Aug - 31 Oct 2024 £10
    Panoramic: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2025 £10
    Panoramic: 20 Aug - 31 Oct 2025 £10
    Hotel Águas do Gerês, Gerês
    Suite: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2024 £25
    Suite: 20 Aug - 31 Oct 2024 £25
    Suite: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2025 £26
    Suite: 20 Aug - 31 Oct 2025 £26
    Superior: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2024 £9
    Superior: 20 Aug - 31 Oct 2024 £9
    Superior: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2025 £9
    Superior: 20 Aug - 31 Oct 2025 £9
    Hotel São Bento da Porta Aberta, Rio Caldo
    Suite: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2024 £10
    Suite: 20 Aug - 31 Oct 2024 £10
    Suite: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2025 £10
    Suite: 20 Aug - 31 Oct 2025 £10
    Superior: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2024 £6
    Superior: 20 Aug - 31 Oct 2024 £6
    Superior: 01 Apr - 14 Jul 2025 £6
    Superior: 20 Aug - 31 Oct 2025 £6

    Extra nights (£ per person per night) in a double or single room

    Hotel Ribeira Collection, Arcos de Valdevez (B&B) Double room Single room
    01 Apr - 14 Jul 2024 £67 £134
    20 Aug - 31 Oct 2024 £67 £134
    01 Apr - 14 Jul 2025 £70 £140
    20 Aug - 31 Oct 2025 £70 £140
    Pousada Mosteiro Amares, Santa Maria do Bouro (B&B) Double room Single room
    01 Apr - 14 Jul 2024 £85 £170
    20 Aug - 31 Oct 2024 £85 £170
    01 Apr - 14 Jul 2025 £88 £176
    20 Aug - 31 Oct 2025 £88 £176
  • RECOMMENDED AIRPORT(S):
    Porto
    As an alternative to flying, we can arrange rail travel from London

    Travelling from the UK

    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying via Porto or Lisbon. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    Outward route Airline
    Aberdeen - Porto (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Aberdeen - Porto (via Paris CDG) Air France,  KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Birmingham - Porto Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Bristol - Porto easyJet,  Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Edinburgh - Porto Ryanair 
    Edinburgh - Porto (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Edinburgh - Porto (via Barcelona) Vueling 
    Edinburgh - Porto (via Geneva) easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Glasgow - Porto easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Leeds Bradford - Porto (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Liverpool - Porto Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Gatwick - Porto British Airways,  easyJet,  TAP Air Portugal 
    Gatwick - Porto (via Geneva) easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Heathrow - Porto British Airways,  TAP Air Portugal 
    Heathrow - Porto (via Lisbon) TAP Air Portugal 
    Outward route Airline
    Luton - Porto easyJet,  Wizz Air 
    Outward route Airline
    Stansted - Porto Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Manchester - Porto easyJet,  Ryanair 
    Manchester - Porto (via Brussels) Brussels Airlines 
    Manchester - Porto (via Frankfurt) Lufthansa 
    Manchester - Porto (via Lisbon) TAP Air Portugal 
    Outward route Airline
    Newcastle - Porto (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Newcastle - Porto (via Brussels) Brussels Airlines 
    Newcastle - Porto (via Paris CDG) KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Norwich - Porto (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying via Porto or Lisbon. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    This list of flight options should be used as a guide only, and you should check each airline’s website for current routes, frequency and schedules. Not all flights operate daily, and may not run for the entire season. You should also heed the latest flight arrival time and earliest flight departure time stated in the connecting travel section, as it may not be possible to arrange connecting travel outside these times. Please do not book your flights until we have confirmed your accommodation to you. Alternatively, our expert reservations team will be happy to offer advice and to make flight bookings for you for any of the options listed above. We charge £35 per person for our flight booking service. Your flights are then covered by our package-booking conditions, which give you greater protection in the event of delay or cancellation, as well as providing ATOL cover.

  • Prices below are based on 2 people travelling together. If you are travelling solo or as a party of 3 or more and our arrangements include a taxi, please contact us for prices; additional passengers often pay less.

    Unless otherwise stated, connecting travel by rail or bus tends to be from the city centre station, rather than from its airport, and connections between the two should be paid for locally.

    Where a price range is given, the price you pay depends on your date of travel.

    Connecting travel options - flying via Porto

    Outward route Price per person Latest flight
    arrival time
    coach Porto airport to Arcos de Valdevez (1h50) £20-£21 1600 (1430 Sat & Sun)
    direct taxi Porto airport to hotel (1h10) £62-£64 flexible
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest flight
    departure time
    bus Amares to Braga bus station (0h40, pay locally), bus Braga to Porto airport (0h50, pay locally) pay locally 1230
    taxi hotel to Braga bus station (0h40), bus Braga to Porto airport (0h50, pay locally) £46-£48 1230
    direct taxi hotel to Porto airport (1h10) £81-£84 flexible
What is included
  • 7 nights
  • 3 dinners
    5 picnics
    7 breakfasts
  • luggage transported
  • route notes and maps
  • GPS navigation
  • transfers on days 1, 2 & 3
 
Reviews

If you've experienced this holiday first hand, why not write a review?

We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, we include a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >

 

FAQs

If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help. You might also find our General FAQs section helpful.
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from A to B, but also include practical information about places of interest and eateries along each route, plus cultural information about the area. If/when you are moving between hotels, you leave your luggage in reception as you leave, and it will be transferred ahead to your next accommodation, meaning that all you need to take with you are a camera, sun cream, drinks, food and waterproofs.

    For more detailed information, see our walking holidays in Europe page.
  • Yes, prior to going on holiday you will be able to download GPX tracks so that you can follow your route on your smartphone or dedicated GPS device if you wish. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you use them – our detailed, step-by-step route notes remain the principal means of guiding you from A to B – but we provide them as a secondary means of navigation for additional reassurance when walking.
  • We can book a wide range of routes from the UK with a variety of airlines. As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. The fee for this service is £35 per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). More information on flights >
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted to book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • Since our holidays are self-guided, we recommend calling us for a chat about your plans before making a booking, especially if it’s the first time you’ve booked with us.
    The price panel shows the supplement for a single room and also the single traveller charge (this covers (luggage) transfers and other costs which are usually shared between two people).
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.

    More information about the booking process >
    Information about accommodation, general practicalities and more >
    Booking conditions >
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can incur a five or six-figure bill.

    Many insurers offer travel insurance (you can find details on our insurance page of a policy that you may like to consider if you are a UK resident), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies – including falling ill with Covid-19 while on holiday – and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.

    When you purchase a policy, be sure to check that it covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. If you’re a UK citizen, you need a full British passport to travel to Portugal, Madeira and the Azores, but not a visa (please note, however, that a new travel authorisation system is being introduced). If you are a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check requirements with the national embassy or your own consulate.

    Current information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice for UK citizens can be found through the Travel Health Pro website. You must make sure you have adequate insurance cover for illness, accidents and repatriation (see the insurance question). You should also apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) if your EHIC has expired (if you have a still-valid EHIC, you can use this until it expires).
  • The official language is Portuguese. The currency is the Euro. Portuguese time is the same as GMT/UTC. It uses Daylight Saving Time, so in summer is on the same time as BST.
  • For information on the practicalities of travel now that the UK is no longer part of the European Union, visit www.gov.uk/visit-eu-switzerland-norway-iceland-liechtenstein.
  • The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.

    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
  • You are the best judge of your child’s/children’s capabilities. We are happy to take bookings for families of older children/teenagers if they walk regularly, love the outdoors and are comfortable with the distances and ascent/descent involved. Please note that the bedrooms at most of the accommodation we use will normally only sleep a maximum of 3 people, and sometimes only 2.
 

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