Portugal is great for hiking

Hikers walk beside a flower-covered stream in near Alvaiazere in central Portugal. The white, red and yellow marking on the tree is a symbol to guide walkers on the trail.

Springtime in Portugal is a wonderful time to enjoy the countryside on foot. Whether you walk by yourself, take your dog with you or join and organized hike, there are endless trails to choose from. Of course there are the famous hiking experiences; the Camino de Santiago and the Rota Vicentina. The Portuguese Camino traditionally begins in Lisbon and continues about 660 kilometers into the Spanish province of Galicia to reach Santiago de Compostela. But many people chose to start in the northern city of Porto

For those who want a day hike, many municipalities regularly organize events which are popular with participants of all ages. Even in my small village, several dozen people showed up for a hike during the fall.

Last Sunday, two friends and I joined a hike set up by the municipality of Alvaiazere. The event advertised a 10 kilometer (6 mile) hike or a 14 km run. We opted for the walk. We had to sign up online and pay the princely sum of five euros. When we showed up at the meeting point in a tiny village, it looked like a fairground. There was a bright green inflatable arch, lively dance music and a crowd of about two hundred walkers plus dozens more runners. We had to check in and get a number.

The runners set off first. Then came the walkers. They ranged in age from gray-haired grandmothers to a little kid who looked about six years old, plus a couple of well-behaved dogs. Our group proceeded at a pretty leisurely pace and dozens of hikers soon passed us. No problem, it allowed us more room to enjoy the trail. The route took us through woods, past tiny villages, through a rocky dry stream bed, up two steep hills and along a beautiful stream.

A popular destination for hikes in Portugal is to visit one of the many giant swings (Baloiço) that have been erected on hilltops all around the country. They provide a great lookout point to view the surrounding landscape. It’s also fun to indulge your inner child and get on the swing.

A giant swing or “baloiço” looks out over the countryside in central Portugal. In the background you can see one of the many windfarms that dot the landscape. Wind energy makes an important contribution to the electricity grid in Portugal.

Follow my blog to learn more about daily life in Portugal, exploring this country and fun things to do here. Also, check out my mystery novel “The Power of Rain” available in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.

The hike organized by the municipality of Alvaiazere took us over this old stone bridge and on to a magical spring called the Olho do Tordo, or “the eye of the thrush”.


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