Experience History as You Walk from One Ancient Village to the Next
With homes made of granite or shale, these ancient villages shield stories of wars, conquests and old traditions. They are located in the center of the country and can be seen from far away because of the tall towers of their medieval castles. Nowadays they are peaceful and quiet, and their streets and houses preserve the most genuine of Portugal’s features: the authenticity of its people and a 900-year-old proud history. But it wasn’t always like this. Built on the top of mountains and hills, from their towers and walls watch was kept over the surrounding land. That is why they are so strategically located along the border. Kings and landlords thought this was the only way to get some peace and quiet. How wrong they were! Moors, Christians, Castilians and Portuguese all tried to conquer these lands, leaving each of these villages an ancient tale to tell. These historic villages will captivate you not only with their rich heritage and history. You’ll also enjoy some of Portugal’s most magnificent landscapes and feel surrounded by their natural warmth.
7 Days of easy-moderate hiking, walking and touring
- Enjoy a walking tour of Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon, with its Gothic cathedrals, majestic monasteries, and the narrow lanes of the old quarter
- Explore historic villages lost in time with traditional houses made of shale, and their striking blue doors and windows, all in the shadows of ancient watch towers and medieval castles
- Walk through Portugal’s stunning landscapes and feel surrounded by its natural warmth
Duration: 8 days Start Location: Lisbon, Portugal End Location: Lisbon, PortugalDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrival in Lisbon
Arrive in Lisbon, Portugal. Your guide will be waiting at the airport to welcome you and transfer you to our hotel. We’ll have some time to rest after checking in, followed by lunch and a first walk to discover the charm of the old city of Lisbon and the Mouraria and Alfama neighborhoods, divided by an enchanting castle. We finish our day with dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 2 : Lisbon – Salvaterra do Extremo – Monfortinho
Today we will start our trip inland, all the way to the small village of Salvaterra do Extremo, where our hiking begins. This village, located near the border of Spain and dating from the ancient past, was originally a stronghold used by the Romans and the Arabs. Upon its ruins, D. Afonso Henriques ordered the construction of a castle and, in 1229, D. Sancho II assigned its charter. From its distant past, it preserves only as a testimony a pillory, for its castle and fortress are long gone. The whole village has a special charm. The people are kind and friendly, and along the streets we’ll find such little wonders as the House of Sardões (lizards), the moon-shaped well, Casa da Câmara and its bell tower, the typical houses made of shale, the storks in the belfry, and the cylindrical sties made of granite. The hiking trail is about seven miles long and has a varied terrain of ancient Roman roads, beaten earth tracks and a snippet of tar. At the end of the day, we´ll head towards Monfortinho.
Day 3 : Monfortinho – Idanha-a-Velha – Monsanto – Penha Garcia – Monfortinho
Today we are going to walk through the villages of Streak. We’ll leave early to Idanha-a-Velha, a small village successively occupied by a myriad of different people who bequeathed to it a valuable historical heritage. Those who walk here usually feel as if they’re visiting an open air museum, where great civilizations still breathe through the remains they’ve left behind. Embedded in this rich history of times past, we will start our hike towards the village of Monsanto. The five-mile trail follows a beaten path, gradually climbing up to Portugal’s “most Portuguese” village. Monsanto is located in high cliffs, where both geography and climate mark the transition between North and South, and as Portugal’s “most Portuguese” village, it keeps intact the deep roots of Portuguese culture.The cluster of houses has grown on the slopes, adding intrigue to our walk through the narrow streets. The difficult ascent to the castle is rewarded by one of the most stunning viewpoints of the region. After a picnic lunch, we’ll have time to walk around the village and contemplate and photograph the location’s magnificent features. From here, we’ll start the return to Monfortinho, stopping along the way in the village of Penha Garcia for a brief hike.
Day 4 : Monfortinho – Sortelha – Belmonte – Linhares da Beira – Penhas Douradas
We will leave Monfortinho after a refreshing night’s rest and an excellent breakfast taken with beautiful views of the hotel garden. Our first destination is the village Sortelha. We'll explore Sortelha and then continue to Belmonte. After a visit to this old Jewish town, we'll continue to Linhares da Beira in the Serra da Estrela Natural Park. We'll explore this beautiful village then continue to Penhas Douradas, on the central high plains of Estrela mountain.
Day 5 : Hike in Serra da Estrela Natural Park (Penhas Douradas Region)
After breakfast, prepare for the ups and downs of the route that will take us from the diversified landscape of Penhas Douradas to the dam of Vale do Rocim. We’ll stop along the way for a picnic and then we’ll continue our journey to the hotel, where we’ll arrive in the afternoon.
Day 6 : Penhas Douradas – Piodão – Lousã
Today we'll leave Serra da Estrela behind, starting our route towards the small town of Lousã. En route, we will visit the village of Piódão. The village is shaped as a nativity scene, with its houses harmoniously displayed as an amphitheater, easily blending into the landscape. Entirely made of shale, houses and streets form a beautiful single shape, interrupted only by the strong blue of the doors and windows of some of the houses. We’ll reach our destination, Lousã, in the middle of the afternoon.
Day 7 : Lousã – Lisbon
After breakfast, we’ll hike on the magnificent trail of the Serra da Lousã, passing through villages lost in time. Our hike starts at the Castle of Arouce, on the west slope of Serra da Lousã. The narrow trail, molded by the passage of the mountain people over the centuries, winds up the hill. In the village of Talasnal, we’ll wander through the small streets of winding sidewalks, along the shade of the houses made of shale, where you can drink the fresh water straight from the fountain or just sit back and relax, contemplating the landscape and silence around you. We’ll continue our journey through a beaten path track, crossing the bridge over the creek, and “guarded” by the chestnut trees of the hill we’ll climb towards Casal Novo for our last “urban” walk. From there, we’ll walk all the way down the woods, where mimosas are abundant, until we catch a glimpse of a calvary that offers the best view upon the valley and the castle which was once the scene of many battles between Christians and Moors. We’ll proceed through the terraces of the ancient farms, nowadays turned into gardens, to reach the end of this route. Before lunch, the bravest will have the opportunity of bathing in the very fresh waters of river swimming pools. Return to Lisbon at the end of the day.
Day 8 : Departure from Lisbon
Transfer to the airport in Lisbon with your guide, and depart for home.
DATES: Best time to go: April - May, September Departures: Apr 27, 2014 - May 4, 2014 May 25, 2014 - Jun 1, 2014 Sep 28, 2014 - Oct 5, 2014
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
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