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7 Super Fun Outdoor Experiences | Portugal

You can’t help but notice that Portugal feels different from its Western European neighbors. Yeah, it has romantic cities with the usual tourist zones, but get into the wild and you’ll find hiking trails where you can amble for hours without passing another hiker and unlittered beaches with waves you can catch alone. Portugal still feels unchartered in some ways. There are adventure opportunities ranging from hiking to campervanning to surfing at every edge of the country. The uncrowdedness of Portugal’s natural areas lends some adventure back to getting outside, and that’s something worth recognizing.

Want to experience some of the best outdoor experiences in Portugal? Let’s go.

Walk Really, Really Far Along the Coast

Best Walking Trail: The Camino Portugués

While most travelers are familiar with the Camino de Santiago, the Camino Portugués is a less well-known alternative where you can still wind up at the famous Santiago de Compostela. The Camino Portugués technically starts in Lisbon (616km) but you can avoid some of the less enchanting parts of the journey by starting your trek up north in Porto (240km). Pilgrims walking independently on this route will have the benefit of fewer crowds (about a third as many as you’d see on the Camino Frances) and a trail well marked with yellow arrows. Tip: Want someone to show you the way? Check out the walking routes offered by Walk Hike Portugal!

Trekking the Coast of PortugalTrekking the Coast of Portugal

Surfing Pointbreak Waves on the Southern Coast

Best Surf Spot: Algarve Region

The feedback I’ve gotten on surfing in Portugal is that if you go to Portugal but you don’t go surfing in Portugal, why did you even bother going in the first place? … I didn’t go, but everyone raves about the Southern coast of Portugal for a surf trip. Legendary beaches like Arrifana and Sagres are just a few hours from each other by car, and the diversity of pointbreak, jettybreak, and beachbreak waves makes surfing in Portugal managable for any level of surfer.

Cover Lots Ground in a Campervan

Best Campervan Spot: Alentejo Region

Traveling by campervan is a right of passage for any self-proclaimed adventure traveler. Just load up your van with everything you need for an adventure and set off along the cork tree-lined backroads. While all of Portugal is well established for campervan travel, perhaps the best drives are in the Alentejo region between Lisbon and Sagres. You’ll see dramatic coastlines and plenty of beaches that hug up with the Atlantic, plus, there are plenty of places to park your van and explore. You can only trouble will be waking up with sand in your bed, and that, my dear, isn’t so bad at all.

Wanna learn more about campervan travel in Portugal? Check out this post on everything you need to know about exploring Portugal by van.

Campervan in Portugal

Campervan in Portugal
Campervan in Portugal


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Stand On Water on a Stand-Up Paddleboard

Best SUP Spot: Cascais

If you’re not quite up for surfing, stand up paddling (SUP) is the next best way to get time on the water. The bigger board makes for greater stability so you have fewer chances of getting dragged under by a big wave. Head to some of the nice beaches in Cascias – Carcavelos, Guincho or Praia Grande – to give SUP’ing a shot. Tip: No idea what you’re doing on a stand-up paddleboard? Get a lesson with Beyond Boards.

Stand Up Paddling in PortugalSUP in Portugal

Go Wherever the Wind Takes You On a Kitesurfboard

Best Kitesurfing Spot: Esposende

Kitesurfing has never really taken off in the US, but Europeans are INTO it. If you want to try kitesurfing in Portugal, the best place to go is Esposende. There, kiters will find consistent wind all summer, and year-round good waves. Tip: There’s a Kitesurf Camp at Cable Park where the water is flat and ocean waves are just a few meters away. You can stay here for one to two weeks during the summer months and really get into the sport.

Explore Fairytale Castles on Foot

Best Hiking Spot: Sintra

Sintra Natural Park is best known as the park with the fairytale castle on the hill (Pena Palace). Perhaps less acknowledged is that the 145 km² park is packed with hiking trails. Sintra Natural Park is easy to access as you can hike from Sintra straight into the park. Once you’re in, a walk in any direction will take you somewhere new. You can hike up the Santa Maria trail (1.5 hours) to Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle or get all the way out to Cabo da Roca (6 hours) without ever hopping in a car. 

Hiking in SintraHiking in Portugal

Get Stuck Between Rock [Climbing] and a Hard Place

Best Rock Climbing Spot: Pedra do Urso

Since the 1950’s, climbers have been coming to Portugal for its many single and multi-pitch routes. There’s a huge variety of spots for rock climbing in Portugal, ranging from the granite mountains of Portugal’s North to the emblematic routes on the Western side of the Moorish Castle in Sintra. Pedra do Urso is by far the largest bouldering area in Portugal, with thousands of climbing routes to choose from.

Rock Climbing in Portugal

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Want to go hiking, surfing, or campervanning in Portugal? Here are 7 awesome adventure travel experiences that you shouldn't miss.

Have you had any of these adventure experiences? Any tips for travelers looking to go hiking, campervanning, or surfing in Portugal? Share them in the comments below!

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