Portugal is clearly a country of trends, and the walkways trend seems to be here to stay, at least for a while. We quickly went from having very few walkways in Portugal, to all regions having several. The best walkways in Portugal contribute to the local economy, attract people, have limited or a positive impact on the environment.
In this article, we are going to focus on what we consider to be the best walkways in (mainland) Portugal. We have left out some projects that we think haven’t been done adequately, that don’t make any sense, or simply because we don’t know them yet.
Here at Portugal Things, we are neither pro nor “anti walkways”. We love hiking, either short and easy or several days long – and that’s why we believe that walkways are a good way to get to know new parts of the country and above all a way to bring new people into the world of hiking and outdoor sports.
So let’s explore the best walkways in Portugal.
10 Best walkways in Portugal
Paiva walkways, Arouca
Any list of the best footbridges in Portugal that does not include the Paiva walkways is incomplete. Paiva’s walkways were not the first footbridges in Portugal, but they were undoubtedly the ones that kick-started this new trend.
The Paiva Walkways have everything we’re looking for. They are located in a spectacular area of the Paiva river, they are part of a development project for the Arouca region, and the Geopark and the walkways themselves are impressive engineering work. Even more impressive is the new suspension bridge that connects the banks of the Paiva River. It is considered the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world.
Located in the municipality of Arouca (Aveiro), the Paiva walkways connect Espiunca and Areinho over a length of about 8 km. They are the only walkways with controlled entry, tickets, and timetables. The route is linear and takes about 2h30 to complete. Due to its popularity, it is necessary to book the ticket. See all the details here.
Sistelo Walkways, Arcos de Valdevez
Sistelo’s walkways are part of the much longer Ecovia do Vez. The Ecovia do Vez has 32 km, separated into 3 stages, while the Sistelo Walkways are the final section of the third stage between Vilela and Sistelo with about 10 km. If you are only interested in the footbridges, the ideal is to take the Passadiços do Sistelo trail, which is just 2 km long.
If the Paiva Walkways are the best known and most popular in Portugal, in our opinion the Sistelo Walkways are the ones with the most beautiful landscape. The walkways themselves are not that impressive, but the natural environment is one of the most beautiful in Portugal. The Sistelo and the banks of the Vez river are absolutely breathtaking at any time of year.
Despite being outside the Peneda Gerês National Park, Sistelo and the walkways are very close to the park’s boundaries, so you can combine these two destinations in a short getaway of several days.
Vila do Conde Walkways
The Vila do Conde walkways are perhaps the least known on this list, but they are also one of the oldest, built well before this recent trend. They begin on the south bank of the Ave River, next to Azurara beach, and continue along the sea, the beach, through the dunes, going into fishing villages, until the mouth of the Onda river in Angeiras.
The entire route between Azurara and Angeiras is about 9 km long, nearly always on footbridges. The only exceptions are when we enter the fishing villages, namely when we cross Vila Chã, but that is a well worth interruption as Vila Chã is one of the highlights of the route.
Another mandatory stop is the beach and Castro of S. Paio, in our opinion one of the best beaches in the north of Portugal and a place of rare beauty and historical importance. Unfortunately, this is also the only part of the route that has some stairs. All the remainder of the walkways is accessible and very easy. The only difficulty is the distance.
Coastal walkways of Vila Nova de Gaia
Gaia’s walkways are similar to the ones in Vila do Conde, but even longer. They run from the mouth of the Douro to Espinho, crossing all the beaches in the municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia for over 15km, practically always on wooden walkways. Thus, these are probably the biggest walkways in Portugal.
Although it is quite long, the course is completely flat so the level of difficulty is only moderate. Just like the walkways in Vila do Conde, the trail runs along the beach, with a wonderful setting, passing by some iconic beaches such as Madalena and Miramar, ending at Espinho beach.
Esmoriz Footbridges, Ovar
Although they are also by the sea, the Barrinha de Esmoriz Walkways, also known as the Lagoa de Paramos Walkways, are quite different from the previous ones. They were born from the redevelopment project of the Barrinha de Esmoriz/Lagoa de Paramos, quickly becoming an indispensable means of getting to know the charms of this place and allowing anyone to walk around the lagoon.
With about 6 km in length, the footbridges of Esmoriz surround the Esmoriz lagoon, giving us the possibility to see this lake up close. With about 1.5 km long and 1 km wide, the lagoon is a unique ecosystem in northern Portugal and consists of brackish water, separated from the sea by the dunes.
In our opinion, this is an exemplary project in which the walkways are an asset to the community and the environment. The route is extremely easy, it can be done by literally anyone as it is completely flat and accessible. The only thing to be careful about is the sun, as there are no shadows along the way.
Fiães walkways, Santa Maria da Feira
The Fiães footbridges are one of the most surprising in our list of the best footbridges in Portugal. In fact, when we first heard about them, we were surprised by their existence and even suspicious of their nature, but the truth is that we really liked them and we’ve been there several times already (it helps to have family who lives nearby).
Also called Rio Uíma walkways, they have a linear route of about 2 km (4 round trip) and do not present any difficulty. They are perfect for a family walk, even with wheelchairs and prams. Due to the dense forest in a large part of the route, it is also quite protected from the sun.
This route is pleasant all year round, but to see the Ribeiras Park in its splendor, we advise you to go after it rains. At that time the streams will be full of water and the scenery with an intense green. If there were no walkways it would be impossible to pass there without destroying the habitat or getting completely muddy.
Passageways in the Ria de Aveiro
The Ria de Aveiro walkways are part of a larger project, the 48 km “Ecological Cycling Way”, from Estarreja to Aveiro (where these walkways are located) and then from Vagos to Mira. The section of Ria de Aveiro walkways is “only” 5 km (10km round trip), and goes from the Pier in Esgueira to the fallen bridge in Vilarinho, Cacia. If you want, you can start in Aveiro, but in this sector, the path is made of walkways and it is very uninteresting and urban.
Along the 5km, you can enjoy the estuary, some boats, the surrounding woods, birds, among other things. The route is almost entirely on wooden walkways along and above the ria, with some parts on forest paths. One of the most interesting things about this path is to see the difference the tide makes to the landscape. The landscape of the walkways at high tide is completely different from at low tide.
The route through the Aveiro walkways is completely flat and therefore very easy and accessible to the whole family, even for the elderly, children, and babies. They are open to bicycles and so we have to pay some attention to that. The only negative point of these walkways is the fact that they are relatively monotonous, the landscape is beautiful but always very similar.
Penedo-Furado Walkways, Vila de Rei
Located in the very center of Portugal, in Milreu, municipality of Vila de Rei, the Penedo-Furado walkways are one of the shortest on this list, but also one with the most tourist attractions.
In just 2 km we can go to Penedo Furado (which is exactly that, a curious huge boulder with a hole), the river beach of Penedo Furado (one of the best river beaches in Portugal), the waterfalls of Penedo Furado, and the bicha pintada (a fossil about 480 million years old).
These walkways are part of the Bufareiras trail and the Grande Rota do Zêzere. Because they are quite short, they are an ideal route to take with the family and can be done by anyone who does not have mobility problems. On the other hand, they are not accessible to wheelchairs and prams.
Alamal’s Walkways, Gavião
Located in the municipality of Gavião in the Alentejo, the Alamal Walkways is a perfect destination for a family walk along the Tagus River. With about 1.8 km, the Alamal footbridges connect the Belver bridge to the river beach of Alamal, always along the Tagus river and with the imposing Belver castle as a backdrop.
The route of the Alamal walkways is linear, with only entrances next to the beach and the bridge. Thus, you will always have to make the round trip (just over 3 km). However, this won’t be a problem as the route is completely flat and therefore very easy. They are also very accessible, with only 3 stairs in the middle of the route.
The ideal is to combine the walk along the bridges with a trip to Alamal beach. The beach is extremely pleasant, with sand and some water activities taking advantage of the Tagus river. If you want to take a longer walk, you can continue the trail and follow the PR 1 – Arribas do Tejo.
Alvor Walkways, Portimão
Located in the parish of Alvor, Portimão, these are just a few more walkways by the sea. They follow the coastline between Praia dos Três Irmãos and Ria do Alvor, making a circular route between the estuary and Praia do Alvor.
In total, this route has about 6 km divided between walkways and roads. Given its location, Alvor’s walkways are naturally flat and great for those looking for an easy, relaxing, and accessible walk for all family members, from babies to the elderly.
One of the most interesting features of the Alvor footbridges landscape is the influence the tides have on the landscape, and how the rising and receding tide completely transforms the experience of walking on the footbridges.
Like the walkways in Esmoriz, the walkways in Alvor were built during a project rehabilitation of the Ria do Alvor. This entire project allowed for the cleaning of the estuary and the transformation of a degraded area into an interesting tourist attraction while construction of the walkways now allow us to enjoy the salt marsh, the dune landscape, and the beaches comfortably and with minimal interference with nature. For all that, they are clearly one of the best walkways in Portugal.