Backpacking in Portugal: TOP 5 Multi-Day Trails

Backpacking in Portugal: A hiker walking on a beach trail

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Backpacking in Portugal offers immense variety for outdoor enthusiasts, from the rugged hills of the Serra da Estrela to the windswept coastal paths of the Algarve, including popular destinations like the Douro Valley wine region.

And that’s what this post is all about – backpacking in Portugal. We’ll provide tips to help you prepare for backpacking in this diverse country as well as showcase the TOP 5 multi-day trails in Portugal.

Interested? Let’s get started.

Key Tips for Backpacking in Portugal

  • What to expect: The routes range from short day hikes to multi-day treks on famous paths like the Rota Vicentina. With well-marked networks of trails traversing lush natural scenery across the country, Portugal provides excellent hiking for backpackers of all levels. If you are not sure about the region to head to first, solid options are Cascais, Sintra, or Algarve.
  • Essential gear: Be sure to pack lightweight, versatile clothing that can handle changing weather, like moisture-wicking shirts, pants that convert to shorts, and layers for chilly coastal breezes. Don’t forget sun protection like hats and sunscreen.
  • Wildlife: Hikers and backpackers in Portugal should be alert for certain hazardous creatures like jellyfish, Portuguese man o’ war, venomous vipers, wild boar, and free-roaming dogs, though dangerous encounters are uncommon.
  • Wild camping in mainland Portugal is legally restricted but loosely enforced. While pitching a tent outside designated campgrounds violates regulations in protected areas and private properties, some tolerant municipalities permit it. The key is being respectful by not overstaying, keeping noise down, and leaving no trace. If you want to learn more about stealth camping, check here.
  • Best times to go are in spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November), when temperatures are mild and crowds are smaller than summer peak season. Spring brings blooming flowers and greenery, while autumn showcases Portugal’s vineyards during harvest. The weather stays pleasant into early summer and late fall as well.

Top 5 Backpacking Trails in Portugal

Explore Portugal’s best scenic long trails for epic adventures with diverse wildlife:

1. Caminho Português pela Costa: Porto – Santiago de Compostela

A scenic coastal hiking trail along the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Moledo, Portugal

Length: 169.3 mi / 272.5 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 17 007 ft / 5184 m
Location: Porto
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 36 000 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

Trek the stunning 169-mile Portuguese Coastal Way from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. This challenging route takes about 65 hours to complete and is open year-round. Expect beautiful coastal views, historic villages, forests, beaches, and rivers along the way. Encounter fellow pilgrims on this popular alternative Camino de Santiago route. Careful planning is essential for the terrain and longer coastal stages. The rewarding journey and peaceful seaside offer a perfect Camino experience.

2. Rota Vicentina: Porto Covo – Odeceixe via Fishermen’s Trail

An aerial view of a sandy beach and turquoise ocean water along the shoreline on a sunny day

Length: 45.9 mi / 73.9 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 3950 ft / 1204 m
Location: Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 3200 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

Hike the scenic 45.9-mile coastal trail from Vila Nova de Milfontes along Portugal’s southwestern shore. This moderately challenging route takes around 17 hours to complete. Enjoy ocean vistas, coastal villages, and sandy beaches on this popular trail perfect for backpacking, hiking, and biking. The mild weather from September to June provides ideal conditions. Plan for sun exposure and bring plenty of water as shade is minimal. While the terrain is relatively flat, the soft sand makes for a leg workout. With proper preparation, savor the natural beauty and solitude found along this peaceful seaside trail.

3. Rota Vicentina Complete via Fisherman’s Trail

A brown rocky mountain next to a deep blue sea and coastline on a sunny day

Length: 137.4 mi / 221.1 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 13 136 ft / 4004 m
Location: Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 23 500 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

Trek the scenic 137.4-mile Rota Vicentina route along Portugal’s picturesque southwestern coast. This moderately challenging trail takes approximately 53 hours to complete. The route is open year-round and offers stunning coastal vistas as it passes through the Alentejo and Algarve regions. Expect to encounter white sand beaches, imposing cliffs, flowering fields, and lush forests. While most sections are suitable for hikers of all skill levels, some feature steep climbs and descents. The trail is well marked and can be done in sections over multiple days.

4. RoVia Algarviana Rota Completa

A scenic view of the sun setting over distant mountains on the horizon

Length: 189.1 mi / 304.3 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 26 108 ft / 7958 m
Location: Alcoutim
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 60 400 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

Hike the challenging 189-mile Via Algarviana from Alcoutim to Cabo de São Vicente along Portugal’s southern coast. This stunning point-to-point trail takes approximately 81 hours to complete. The route is open year-round and passes through historic towns and picturesque villages with breathtaking mountain views. Terrain varies from paved to rough and rocky. Plan ahead as amenities are limited along the way. While popular, the trail offers solitude during quieter times. Hike in the fall and winter months to avoid intense heat. 

5. Discovering the Algarve’s Treasures: Albufeira – Portimão

A brown rock formation next to bright blue sea water along the coast during the day

Length: 29.4 mi / 47.3 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 2769 ft / 844 m
Location: Albufeira
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 1500 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

Conquer the challenging 29.4-mile coastal hike from Albufeira to Portimão in the Algarve region of Portugal. This scenic two-day trek takes around 11 hours and is best done from March through October. Be prepared for incredible cliffside views along the Ecovia do Litoral road. Take care when walking along unbarricaded cliffs and soak in the striking landscapes, beaches, villages, and diverse flora and fauna. Highlights include the charming village of Carvoeiro and the Fort of Ferragudo before reaching Portimão. With its breathtaking coastal scenery, this hike is a must for outdoor enthusiasts visiting the Algarve.

Annual Weather Averages

The annual weather for backpacking in mainland Portugal varies, but generally, it experiences a Mediterranean climate:

  • Summer (June to August): Expect high temperatures ranging from 77 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 35 degrees Celsius). It’s the driest period, providing ideal conditions for backpacking, but be prepared for the heat.
  • Fall (September to November): Temperatures start to cool down, ranging from 59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 25 degrees Celsius). Fall brings more comfortable weather, and the landscapes are still vibrant.
  • Winter (December to February): Mild temperatures prevail, typically ranging from 46 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit (8 to 15 degrees Celsius). It’s the wettest season, so be prepared for occasional rain.
  • Spring (March to May): Temperatures rise again, ranging from 54 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (12 to 20 degrees Celsius). Spring is a great time for backpacking, with blooming flora and pleasant weather.

Before you grab your backpack and head outdoors, take a look at the weather statistics for Portugal (Lisbon):

High °F586065677278828379726459
Low °F474851545762656564595349
Rainy Days765652113789
Note: This table is approximate; weather can change with altitude.

Alternative Backpacking Destinations

Not sure if Portugal is right for you?

Don’t forget to check out our backpacking guides for Spain and France.


Can I have a campfire while camping in Portugal? 

Lighting campfires while backpacking in Portugal requires extra caution and consideration. Open fires are prohibited in many protected wilderness areas, so research regulations beforehand. Where permitted, choose durable surfaces like sand or gravel, keep fires small, gather only dead & downed wood, maintain safety buffers from vegetation, avoid lighting fires during dry conditions, never leave the fire unattended, fully extinguish embers before leaving, and follow any restrictions on backcountry fire bans.

What are some safety tips for backpackers in Portugal?

When you go backpacking in Portugal, make sure to do some research on your route. Pack the right gear, like maps, a compass, a first aid kit, and extra layers. Tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to be back. Stick to the marked trails, be careful on steep slopes and loose rocks, and always have enough water with you. If you’re hiking on the beach, be cautious of strong winds and currents. Know the signs of getting too hot, make sure you’re eating well, and use insect repellent. Keep your valuables hidden, ask park rangers about recent wildlife sightings, and only camp in designated areas. It’s safer to hike with a buddy, check the weather forecast, and consider getting evacuation insurance just in case of an emergency.

Where to go if I don’t want to backpack in mainland Portugal?

For stunning hikes surrounded by nature and mountains beyond mainland Portugal, consider the Azores and Madeira islands. The Azores are known for volcanic peaks, lush forests, waterfalls, crater lakes, and abundant wildlife. Hike through UNESCO-protected laurel forests or up Pico Mountain for incredible views. Madeira’s mountainous interior is covered in levadas providing access to the island’s pristine native laurel forests, cascading waterfalls, and spectacular coastal vistas. The Azores and Madeira both offer incredible hiking opportunities immersed in dramatic natural scenery and mountainous terrain away from mainland Portugal’s crowds.

Do U.S. citizens need a visa to visit Portugal?

U.S. citizens do not need a visa to visit Portugal for tourist or business purposes for stays of up to 90 days. With a valid U.S. passport, Americans can enter Portugal and the rest of the Schengen Area visa-free. Just be sure your passport is valid for at least 3 months beyond your planned departure date from Europe.

What are the must-visit destinations for backpacking in Portugal?

Porto, Lisbon, Sintra, Lagos, and Coimbra are must-visit destinations for backpacking in Portugal. As a budget traveler, immerse yourself in the history, culture, architecture, and natural beauty across this diverse country. Wander the historic centers of Porto and Lisbon, hike Peneda-Gerês National Park, and experience student life in lively Coimbra. With its walkable cities, stunning coastline, and budget-friendly accommodation, Portugal is an ideal backpacking destination.

Spread the word →

Why you should trust us

At Hikinglite, we're all about helping you hit the trails with lightweight and ultralight outdoor gear that won't weigh you down. Our crew of content creators? Real outdoor enthusiasts who've logged countless miles on the trails.

Leading the pack is our editor-in-chief, Alex Jardine – an ultralight evangelist who's hiked over 10,000 trail miles across the globe. He's basically a walking outdoor encyclopedia. This dude loves testing out the latest and greatest products, so you can trust his recommendations are always well-informed and reliable.

We treat all our suggestions like advice from close trail buddies. No fluff, just real insights from folks who live and breathe the outdoor life.

Have any questions?

More Insights

Suscribe to Our Newsletter

Stay smartly informed with our weekly newsletter

Follow us

hikinglite logo white
© 2024 Hikinglite - All rights reserved

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe now to stay ahead of the pack with the most up-to-date outdoor content.