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PORTUGAL'S NORTHERN HIGHLIGHTS

from £1495
Combine our 'Portugal Emerald Coast' and 'Wilderness Parks of Northern Portugal' holidays for a wonderful two week holiday discovering Portugal's highlights.
  • Product Code 26690
  • Holiday Type Holidays With Two Grades Of Walking, Multi Centre Holidays
  • Grade Grade 4, Grade 6
  • Holiday Duration 14 Nights

Guided Walking Holidays - Portugal's Northern Highlights

The holiday combines our 'Portugal Emerald Coast' and 'Wilderness Parks of Northern Portugal' holidays. 

Based on the stunning Costa Verde, famous for its mountains, lush green countryside, beautiful beaches and “Vinho Verde”, this is a captivating and unforgettable holiday destination. Our walks are taken along some of Portugal’s finest coast line, as well as meandering through classic Minho villages and lush pastoral valleys.

We’ll explore the dramatic mountains of the Serra d’Ágra, where wild horses roam, and cross the river Minho to Portugal’s Spanish sister, O Muiño, to climb to the sanctuary of Santa Tecla where Celtic history comes alive. This area has been inhabited since pre-historic times and is rich in natural and cultural history ranging from Neolithic to Roman times, with villages full of history for us to visit.

We stay in the coastal town of Vila Praia de Ancora in the North West corner of Portugal. After our walks, there will also be time to relax on the beaches and maybe take a dip in the sea before enjoying the sunset and local cuisine. Our hotel is located in the very centre of this charming town with all facilities within a few minutes’ walk.

The Peneda-Gerês National Park is high country of outstanding natural beauty. Here the air is clear and the waters pure. This park contains some of the most beautiful and varied scenery found in the whole of the country and you’ll find an abundance of rare wild flowers, birds of prey, wild horses and other wildlife.

Our two-centre holiday is centred in the Serra da Peneda and is designed so you visit the most spectacular parts of these mountains. Our varied walks circle dramatic crags and granite landscape of Meadinha and follow ancient trails down the lush river Peneda valley.

Our first centre is in the mountain village of Castro Laboreiro dominated by its ancient castle. Isolated traditional villages with high mountain meadows and rolling moorland stretch to the frontier with Spain to the east. Yet walk out of the hotel to the west and we are amongst towering granite crags and hidden wooded valleys.

We walk across the mountains to our second centre in the remote sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Peneda. Our hotel, once the pilgrims’ hostel, has been imaginatively converted into a high quality hotel. Set with a backdrop of trees, crags and waterfalls, the grand stairway of the sanctuary descends into the valley below.

The somewhat remote location has protected the park landscape. You’ll not only enjoy the beauty of the region, but also visit many of the ancient hamlets dotted about the countryside.


Holiday Highlights

  • Explore the valley of the Rio Peneda with its rustic trails, wild hillsides, intricate patchwork of fields and traditional farms.
  • Admire the abundance of rare wild flowers, birds of prey and wild horses.
  • Visit isolated villages with high mountain meadows.
  • Sample  Portuguese hospitality, wine and cuisine.
  • Enjoy this walkers’ paradise - endless ancient stoned pathways in unspoiled countryside - a nature lovers delight
  • Explore attractive towns alive with local flavour and colour.
  • Relax on uncrowded beaches with azure seas.
  • Visit the green landscapes of Galicia in Spain.
The holiday inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What's included in this holiday Items that are covered in the cost of holiday price.

      Return Flights from Gatwick to Oporto (TAP Portugal)
      Airport transfers 
      Ferry travel between Portugal and Galicia 
      En suite accommodation 
      Breakfasts and dinners at our hotels and in local restaurants 
      All local transport costs.
Whats not included in this holiday Items that are not covered in the cost of holiday price.

  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Insurance
Please select Departure Date to view:

Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised program, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

This departure: Grade 4 & 6 1st wk, Grade 6 2nd wk

  1. Day 1

    We fly to Oporto, Portugal's second city. On arrival, transfer by coach to Hotel Meira in Vila Praia de Ancora (approx. 1 hour 15 minutes). Our excellent four star hotel is located in the very heart of this charming town with all facilities within a few minutes' walk, and allowing us to eat out at local restaurants.

  2. Day 2 to 7

    The northern coast of Portugal is simply very beautiful. In an area famous for its young wine, Vinho Verde, you will find a lush green landscape, quiet beaches, traditional villages and excellent local cuisine. Our 2 leaders, 2 grades walking programme allows us to fully explore the area as we cross the Rio Minho, into Galicia, Spain, visit the Ancora Valley, and also go up into the Serra d'Agra mountains following ancient tracks. Following are examples of the walks that we plan to include in our walking programme, to give you an idea of the terrain and mileage. The final walking programme will be confirmed by your group leaders at the daily briefings. 

    Ancora Valley walk 
    Grade 4: This gentle introduction to the area is centred on the valley of the river Ancora itself. We walk through lush green fields still farmed in the classic Minho style. Charming villages dot the valley. At the centre of the walk is the river Ancora with its many old crossing points and its sparkling crystal clear waters. 14.5km; Ascent/descent: minimal. Grade 6: 16.5km; Ascent/descent: minimal

    Dem-Orbacém
    Grade 4: Today we move onto the lower slopes of the Serra d'Agra and walk through villages strung along a spring line. The rough slopes of the Serra d'Agra are above us but our meandering route takes us through the fields and villages that form the lower slopes. After a picnic lunch we descend again into the valley of the river Ancora where the river again accompanies us as it cascades down through rock pools, passes under ancient bridges and gently winds its way through fields. 14km; Ascent/descent: undulating with one main ascent of 80m and an easy descent of 180m

    Afife to VPA via Carreco.
    Grade 4: A day of coastal and inland walking.
    The walk mixes the Caminho de Santiago through the villages of Afife and Carreco nestled at the base of the wooded hillside before we join the coast and follow our favourite section of coastline with sandy beaches and protected coves, waves crashing on the rocks where, even today, some people still harvest the seaweed, a final remnant of a once thriving way of life. 14.5km; Ascent/descent: minor at start then flat

    Free Day 
    It is possible to organise a  visit to Valença & Tuy, the two twin cities gazing at each other across the beautiful River Minho. We visit the fortified old town of Valença with its myriad shops, restaurants and lovely old buildings before walking across the river Minho on the Eiffel bridge and into Galicia. We walk up to the Tuy Cathedral before sightseeing in the lovely old town.

    Serra d'Agra.
    Grade 4: Today we go into the mountains. After driving as high as we can we walk up the final section of the northern slopes of the Serra d'Agra before walking across the high level plateau that forms the summit to Porta do Lobo, the "Gate of the wolf". Here we feel on top of the world looking down into the valley of the river Lima and across to the high mountains of the Gerês and Peneda ranges beyond. From here an ancient stone trail gently winds down the hillside and our walk continues through the iconic Agra villages. After an easy but dramatic walk we may relax in the very traditional Taberna do Horacio before returning to Vila Praia de Ancora. 12km; Ascent/descent: 220 ascent, 270m down

    A day in Galicia.
    Grade 4: We ferry across the estuary of the river Minho and walk up the dramatic hillside of Santa Tecla, where every stone seems to ooze with Celtic history. The spectacular views from the top of the hillside are made even more interesting by the simple sanctuary at the summit and the remarkable remains of the Celtic settlement. Although this is not a demanding day anyone who does not want to walk to the top can have an easy low level wander through the charming village of Camposancos and enjoy a stroll along the estuary. 10.3km;  Ascent/descent: 300m up/down


    Ancora Valley walk
    This gentle introduction to the area is centred on the valley of the river Ancora itself. We walk through lush green fields still farmed in the classic Minho style. Charming villages dot the valley. At the centre of the walk is the river Ancora with its many old crossing points and its sparkling crystal clear waters. Grade 6: 16.5km; Ascent/descent: minimal

    S. João-Montaria-Gondar.
    Grade 6: Our walk begins at the ancient monastery of S Joao de Agra and follows a route over the open rocky mountains with the rough slopes of the Serra d'Agra all around. From the village of S Lourenço de Montaria we follow the lower slopes of the Serra D'Agra as we walk through farming villages along the spring line. We complete the walk by descending into the lush valley where fields & vineyards surround the village of Gondar. 18km;  Ascent/descent +280m/-600m

    VPA - Afife - Carreço - VPA
    Grade 6: Our walk begins in Vila Praia d’Ancora and follows the Caminho de Santiago southwards to Carreço taking in traditional little villages and meandering through verdant woodland before reaching the coast and returning northwards along a magnificent coastline and lovely beaches. 16km Ascent/descent: minor at start then flat Serra de Santa Luzia.

    Grade 6: Our walk starts Carreço then climbs 400m to the top of Serra de Santa Luzia. It goes across the hills before descending gradually to village of S Mamede. It then follows the waymarked route “Trilho dos Canos de Àgua”, an ancient water supply system in granite “pipes” into S Luzia sanctuary before descending into Viana do Castelo via the longest funicular in Portugal. 16.5km Ascent/descent: +/-400m approx

    Serra d'Agra-Sra do Minho-S. Aginha.
    Grade 6: Today we go into the mountains. After driving as high as we can we walk up the final section of the northern slopes of the Serra d'Agra before walking across the high level plateau to the viewpoint of S. do Minho on the southern edge. Here we feel on top of the world looking down into the valley of the river Lima and across to the high mountains of the Gerês and Peneda ranges beyond. From here an ancient stone trail goes through Porta do Lobo, the "Gate of the wolf" before winding down the hillside and our walk continues through the iconic Agra villages to finish at Taberna do Horacio. Most may choose to finish here but others may continue to a further village for a real full day's walking. 16.5km or 22km; Ascent/descent: 220 ascent, 270m down until 16.5km mark

    A Day in Galicia.
    Grade 6: Santa Tecla where every stone seems to ooze with Celtic history. We ferry across the estuary of the river Minho and walk up the dramatic hillside of Santa Tecla. The spectacular views from the top of the hillside are made even more interesting by the simple sanctuary at the summit and the remarkable remains of the Celtic settlement. We then descend on the Via Sacra to the port town of A Guardia before following a coastal walk, initially on the rocky Atlantic coast and then along the estuary of the river Minho. 15.5km;  Ascent/descent: 300m up/down

     

  3. Day 8

    After a relaxing morning, our transfer coach will take us to our second centre at  XXXXX

  4. Day 9 to 11

    We spend our days at Castro Laboreiro, which is overlooked by its ancient castle, walking in the high mountain meadows and rolling moorland as well as among towering granite crags and hidden wooded valleys.

    CASTELO DE CASTRO LABOREIRO: A short walk to the remains of the castle above the village of Castro Laboreiro. The castle dates back to the founding of Portugal and is accessed by a circular route from the village.  An ideal morning walk before an elevenses stop in the village cafés.

    2.5km; Ascent: 100m / Descent: 100m

    PENEDOS DE CASTRO LABOREIRO: A walk into and amongst the dramatic rock outcrops to the west of the village of Castro Laboreiro. Initially following narrow mountain trails up into the hills, we then return on easier paths and tracks.

    10km; Ascent: 250m/ Descent: 250m

    TRILHO CASTREJOBased partly on a local waymarked route this walk explores the valley below Castro Laboreiro and visits many of the tiny villages in the area letting us see some traditional farming and the way of life of the area.

    15km; Ascent: 400m / Descent: 400m

    ALTO DE GONTIM: A contrast to our other walks in the area, this walk along pleasant easy tracks and through villages also explores the moorland area to the east of Castro Laboreiro. As the walk climbs to the border with Spain it gives extensive views over the whole region. 

    14km; Ascent: 300m / Descent: 300m


  5. Day 12

    Our third centre in the Peneda-Geres National Park is Peneda. We walk between centres today, across the mountains, with our luggage being transferred separately. Our hotel, once a pilgrim's hostel for the sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Peneda, has been imaginatively concerted into a high quality hotel.

    CASTRO LABOREIRO TO PENEDA:  This walk links our two centres.  After passing through villages the route passes through a wild, open, mountain section. Finally it gives magnificent views over the village of Peneda as it descends to the village on an ancient track.  (It may be possible to transfer the short distance by mini–bus for those who would prefer to not do the walk, however this will incur a cost, which will be at your own expense).

    15.4km; Ascent: 350m / Descent: 600m

  6. Day 13 to 14

    Our walking programme from Peneda is set to the backdrop of trees, crags and waterfalls. This remote region has protected the natural landscape of the area.

    MEADINHA AND BOUÇA DOS HOMENS: This walk passes through some of the most dramatic granite scenery in these mountains and visits the isolated village of 12km; Bouça dos Homens. Ascent: 500m / Descent: 500m

    VALLEY OF RIO DA PENEDA: A walk descending the valley below Peneda with lush vegetation and fascinating villages.

  7. Day 15

    Transfer by road to Oporto Airport for return flight to the UK

Travel Details

  • Return Flights from Gatwick to Oporto (TAP Portugal) 
  • Airport transfers by road c. 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights this may be Premium Economy, Business or First Class. Most low-cost carriers also have extra legroom seats. 
  • If direct regional flights are not available, we can often offer add-on flights to a London airport at a competitive rate. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.

Trip Map

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Hotel Castrum Villae

The Hotel Castrum Villae is a comfortable hotel surrounded by nature and clear mountain air in the centre of Castro Laboreir, a charming village nestled in the hills. There are small shops and cafés nearby. An elegant restaurant overlooks the village and serves highlights of traditional Portuguese cuisine, whilst the bar serves drinks such as cocktails and is a quiet and relaxing space. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. All rooms are en-suite and feature hairdryer, air conditioning/heating, TV mini bar and room service.


Hotel Meira

Located just a couple of minutes’ walk away from the charming Priaia das Criancas beach and five minutes from the town centre, the modern, yet cosy Hotel Meira provides a relaxing base for our holiday. Its excellent facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, sun terrace, restaurant, bar and complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. All of the recently refurbished rooms feature air conditioning, telephone, hairdryer, safes, and satellite TV. Breakfasts and dinners are included, and are taken at the Hotels own Dona Belinha restaurant, which serves the best in traditional Portuguese cuisine, as well as a buffet breakfast with a large range of choice.


Hotel Peneda

Our final three nights will be spent in the beautifully designed Peneda Hotel, staffed by a friendly team and near to the Sanctuary, making an excellent base for our walks. The hotel enjoys a secluded location, near to the impressive Church that dominates the square, but from where you can enjoy beautiful views over the countryside and verdant mountains as well. Wandering into the village you can find a small café nearby but the hotels facilities do include a cosy restaurant, bar and lounge with wood burning fireplace. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel, although this can be patchy. Simple rooms are en suite with TV and heating.


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