Mira, and Praia de Mira in concrete, is one of the most popular destinations in central-north Portugal. Located in an area of pine forests, huge beaches, lots of water lines, and a freshwater lagoon. Mira is a destination within Portugal, one that’s very popular among locals, but completely forgotten by foreigners. Thus, it is not surprising that it is also an area with several trails and eco-paths to explore.
In this article we will explore the best trail in Mira, the PR5 MIR, also known as the rota das dunas (the dunes route). Officially with 17.5 km, it’s a long trail, mas as it’s completely flat it’s not as hard as it sounds. On the other hand, 5-6 km this trail is done in sandy soil making it slower and more difficult.
We should note that this is a circular trail, but in fact, it’s more of 8, or a double circle route. This means that’s perfectly possible to do it completely or parcially. You do Praia de Mira/Poço da Cruz, or Poço da Cruz/Cais do Areão/Praia do Areão.
Rota das Dunas trail – General Info
- Name: PR5 MIR
- Start – Lota de Pesca of Praia de Mira;
- Finish – Lota de Pesca of Praia de Mira;
- Distance – 17.5 km, PR5.1 is much shorter;
- Time – 4 to 5 hours of walking;
- Difficulty – moderate (dute to the distance and floor)
- Máx/min altitude: 18 / 1 meters
- Ganho de altitude: 167 meters
- Tipo – Circular (actually two circles)
- Sinalização (1-5) – 5 excellent, mas não segue a 100% os mapas disponíveis. Veja explicação em baixo.
- Destaques: fishing Auction, Poço da Cruz beach, Dunes, Gândaras, Areão Pier.
- Download the flyer here
Rota das Dunas in Mira
Rota das Dunas is a circular trail, so you can start and finish wherever you want, but one usually starts/finishes by the beach close to the fishing auction. That’s what we did and we suggest you do.
Poço da Cruz beach and Cais do Areão are other possibilities for starting/ ending the trail, but starting by the fishing auction has another advantage: it is from there that the Arte Xávega boats leave and if you start the trail early in the morning you can watch this “show”.
Going back to the trail, from the dock we have to head north along the coast. Initially and until we leave Mira beach we have a walkway over the dunes, where we have a very nice view under the endless beaches in the region.
Then we have to go to the sand and follow the trail, towards Poço da Cruz. It’s about 4 or 5 km always in the sand and under the sun, without any shadows. It is not advisable to do this part of the route in the peak of the summer sun, or it can be very hard and even dangerous. When you get to Poço da Cruz beach, take the opportunity to go to the beach, it is very beautiful. In many ways similar it’s a beach similar to Mira beach, but with far fewer people.
In Poço da Cruz you will have the chance to continue heading north, or to cut short by MIR 5.1 which will take you directly to the village of poço da cruz and then to the forest area. Here we will continue to the north to do the full route.
Continuing north, we remain in a sand dunes area, but with many bushes, and at this stage, although the route is signed, it becomes impassable in several parts, so it is necessary to follow alternative trails. The idea is simple, we want to continue north, along the channel to reach Cais do Areão. This whole area is very beautiful, with a lot of vegetation and the canal. In addition to Mira Beach and all its attractions, it is possibly the most beautiful part of the trail.
The problem appears when we realize that we should eventually find a bridge to cross the channel, and that bridge does not exist… or if it existed, it was eaten by vegetation. In any case, we haven’t found it… But, the strange part is that the trail is still signalized and keeps telling you to go forward. So, that’s what we did and what we suggest you do.
Following the trail’s directions, we continue north until we leave the sandy area and enter the paved road that leads to a bridge (on the right), and to Areão beach (on the left). This is another very beautiful beach with very few people. Here, we also have the Areão bar, where you can buy drinks and even have lunch/snacks if it’s time for that. It’s a very pleasant place to rest and recharge energy.
Weirdly, or maybe not, the trail continues well signalized. So, we continue following it, cross the bridge and start our way back, now on the other side of the canal, until we reach Cais de Areão, our original destiny.
Note: We were unable to find the bridge mentioned above, but the fact that there is a perfectly suitable route to go around the channel leading to the same place makes us believe that it may (not) exist at all. We searched online and found no reference to the alternative bridge/route, but if you find it, you also have that option. It is much closer, but you will not have the opportunity to go to the beautiful Areão beach.
At Cais do Areão, we have to turn left towards the forest area. Initially, we cross the village, then the national road, and a few meters later we have a sign to turn right to a forest path, which is also a section of the Ecovia de Mira. Eventually, the Ecovia and the trail separate, but the route is excellently indicated and goes mainly through the forest/pine forest until we reach Praia de Mira. Still, it is a 5 km long trek to the village.
After reaching the most urban area of Praia de Mira, the trail takes a few turns following the canals, and crossing some bridges, passing through the fishermen’s quarter, near the lagooen and through some traditional houses. Not many, because very few survived. It’s also very well signalized here, but assuming you already know this area, you may or may not follow the trail back to the Fish Market, where the trail started.
Best time to hike the trail
This is clearly a Summertime trail. However, as long as it isn’t raining there are no reasons not to do it at any time of the year, but if it isn’t hot enough, you won’t take advantage of the nice beaches along the trail, and the beach bars will be closed.
On the other hand, we advise you to pay close attention to the heat, and the time of day that you’ll do the trail. This is a very long hike, and for most of it there are no shadows – particularly the entire initial part hiked in the sand. Thus, we suggest you start the trail early in morning, so that you do the seccion early and avoid the heat, and then when it’s hotter you’ll be in the forest seccion with shadows.
Who can do this trail?
Given the sand and the distance covered, this is a trail for people with some physical capacity. But if you think it is too much for you, you can always do PR5.1 MIR, which is only half the distance, or even just hikes the circle that takes us from Poço da Cruz to Areão pier and back. Or one half each day, if you in Mira for a few days. Thus, enjoying the walking routes of the region without making too much effort.
People with mobility problems will have problems due to the distance, but mainly because of the long stretches in the sand. For children, if they are too small or not very active it can also be problematic. Again, the route is easy and completely safe, but it is long and more importantly, has long periods on the sand.
What to take?
This trail doesn’t need any special equipment, so this is similar to many other trails, though it’s long so taking the right shoes is important. I would do this with flip flops!
- lot’s of water (at very least 2l per person), but you have some shops along the way where you can stock up if you need.
- Snacks, but gain there are a few bars.
- Confortable walking/running shoes;
- Confortable and light clothes;
- Bathing suit, sunglasses, hat and sunscreen in the Summer;
- Camera and smartphone to take pictures. Smartphone also to use as GPS;
- Small backpack to take everything with you.
As usual, please don’t leave trash behind. Bring back everything you take with you.
How to go to the trail?
This trail is very easy to reach. To go to the fish market, just go to Mira beach and then walk north towards the warehouses of the Arte Xávega fishing boats. There is plenty of parking spots there, but during the Summer it can be difficult to park. At the beginning of the trail there is a sign with general information about it.
Both in Cais de Areão and Poço da Cruz beach also have information panels with information about the trail and indicating the alternative places where to start/finish this hiking trail.
Where to stay in Praia de Mira?
Praia de Mira is the ideal place to stay when you want to do this trail, both because it is the most lively place in the area and because it has lots of accommodation options. Mira is also a destination for those who enjoy camping, so staying in one of the several campsites is also a good option to consider.
Best hotel in Praia de Mira
The Macarico Beach Hotel is one of the best options to stay in Praia de Mira. First, because it is possibly the best hotel in Praia de Mira, second because it is excellently located, right in front of the beach. The rooms facing the sea have fabulous views that offer an unforgettable sunset. Check here if rooms are still available.
Budget hotel in Mira
If you are looking for a slightly cheaper hotel in Praia de Mira then your best option is Palheiros de Mira. It has rooms for 2 to 5 people, at very affordable prices. So it is a very comfortable hotel for both couples and families. Despite not being in front of the sea, it is quite close (300 meters), so you can go to the beach easily. Given the excellent quality at low prices, this hotel sells out quickly in the summer, so book in advance.
Guest house in Mira
If you prefer to rent a holiday home, there are plenty of options in Praia de Mira, but our suggestion goes to Avenida. It is right in the center, next to the bar and 200 meters from the beach. Avenida has an excellent rating from other travelers so it is a safe bet. See if it is available here.
Camping in Praia de Mira
Mira is a destination we go to a lot, especially for 3-4 days getaways, but it is a destination where we will often camp or stay in the bungalows, instead of hotels. Lots of other people do the same, so there are at least 3 big campsites. Mira Lodge Park, Orbitur Mira, and Municipal Park. If you like camping or staying in bungalows, consider this, it is always a different experience to stay in a hotel.
If none of these options please you, check in the map below all the lodging options available.
Pin for later