Portugal: Hiking, Kayaking, & Culture

Destination: Portugal

| Activities: Hiking, Kayaking, Culture

Portugal is the oldest nation-state in Europe, ancient in history and rich in maritime culture. We'll enjoy the view from the westernmost point of Europe, and soak in Portugal's diverse landscape by hiking along white sand beaches, through thick forests, and kayaking along the coast. We will explore fascinating historic sites including ancient castles, a lavish palace, two abandoned monasteries, and the sites of two sets of dinosaur tracks. We will immerse ourselves in this unique culture with walking tours in some of Lisbon's oldest and most interesting neighborhoods. Along the way we'll experience Portugal's cuisine and have the opportunity to indulge in some Portuguese wine. Maximum group size: 12 participants.


  • Hiking through a myriad of cinematic landscapes, from white sand beaches and thick forests, to limestone cliffs and rocky outcrops
  • Visiting historic castles, monasteries, and two sets of dinosaur tracks
  • Kayaking in Maritime Reserve Luiz de Saldanha
  • Exploring the culture of the nation's capital with a walking tour of some of Lisbon's oldest and most interesting neighborhoods
  • Experiencing the unique maritime cuisine of Portugal

Departures and Prices

June 15 to June 23, 2024
$4950.00 - FULL
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June 07 to June 15, 2025
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October 11 to October 19, 2025
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  • A local guide and an AGC guide (If there are fewer than 8 on the trip, there will not be an AGC guide)
  • 8 nights double occupancy lodging
  • All meals from lunch on the first day through breakfast on the day of departure
  • All transportation within Portugal
  • All entrance fees and activities as described in the itinerary

Not included: Airfare to and from the Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS), transfers to and from the trip hotel, alcoholic beverages, gratuities, and travel insurance.

Trip Info

This trip is designed for women who enjoy hiking and want to explore Portugal on foot. Hiking is generally 3 - 6 hours with elevation changes on dirt trails, rocky paths, and occasionally uneven footing. A rating of 3 requires some aerobic conditioning, such as walking vigorously up hills, jogging, cross country skiing or stair stepping for 30 - 45 minutes at least 3 - 4 times a week. The area of Portugal we will be exploring is hilly, we recommend that you include stairclimbing in your fitness routine. Rating: 1 2 [3] 4 5.

This trip is designed as a hiking exploration of the natural beauty and diversity of Portugal's landscape, while immersing ourselves in its culture, cuisine, and historical relevance. We will be hiking 3-6 hours a day along the cliffs, beaches, and forests of eastern Portugal and a half day of kayaking along coastal cliffs.

All accommodations are quality inns or guest houses. The trip cost is based on double-occupancy. We will pair you with another traveler unless you specify a roommate or request a single supplement. There are a limited number of single supplements available at additional cost. Availability of each room type is noted on your registration form.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

We will meet at noon at our hotel in Lisbon. After greetings, introductions, and a brief orientation, we will have lunch before starting our guided walking tour of Lisbon. Our tour will take us through the heart of the city center where we will learn about the famous squares and monuments before continuing to Alfama, the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon. Known for its warren of small winding streets, Alfama is considered one of the most interesting part of Lisbon. We will end our walking tour with a visit to the Castelo de Sao Jorge. This ancient castle has recently been restored to its former glory. We will return to our hotel in time to clean up and relax before sharing our first dinner together. Overnight in Lisbon. Walking: approximately 3.5 miles, city streets. (L, D)
After breakfast we head to Sintra, name of both the town and the Natural Park, and our home for the next three nights. It is one of Portugal's best known and most beloved sites, as evidenced by the castles and palaces that were built here over the centuries. We will start at the Pena Park created by King Ferdinand II, luxuriant gardens with over five hundred species of trees originating from all over the world. We will walk through the lovely grounds of Pena Palace to the palace itself, a multihued castle full of quirky nuances and history. We will tour the Palace before descending down the hill on the way to the Castelo Dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors), one of the oldest buildings here and originally built as a defensive outlook when Portugal was part of the Moorish Empire. We will continue down via many flights of stairs to the town of Sintra. We will spend the next three nights in Sintra. Walking: approximately 7 miles, steps, paved trail/dirt/rocks; steep sections. 1,500 feet elevation gain and loss 1,500’ elevation gain/loss (B, L, D)
We start the day with a ride on an historic tram from Sintra to Praia das Maçãs, a nearby beach known for its white sand. It would be tempting to stay here on the beach all day but today we are walking along sandy paths and cliff tops to Cabo da Roca (Cape Roca), the westernmost point of Europe, once thought to be the edge of the world. Along the way we descend to Adraga beach, where we can enjoy a bowl of traditional soup. Depending on our desire and energy level we will head down to Ursa Beach, a much wilder and less visited beach with striking rock formations and crashing surf, along with very steep trails in both directions. Alternatively, we can take the cliff route to Cabo da Roca through grapevines and fields. There are several endemic species of plants here found nowhere else in Portugal. From here we take a 30-minute ride back to Sintra for our second night there. Walking: approximately 7 miles: beach/gravel path/rocky trail; steps 1,000 feet elevation gain, 650 feet loss (B, L, D)
Today we hike in the Serra, Sintra's Forest and Natural Park, to Convent of the Capuchos. We start with a public bus ride to our trailhead. We will hike to the Convent of the Capuchos, no longer an active monastery but open to the public and providing insight into the traditional and very basic life of a Franciscan monastery. The hike through the forest is a lovely contrast to yesterday's beaches, showing yet a different kind of vegetation. After our picnic lunch, we will return to Sintra where you are free to explore the town, shop or just relax for the afternoon. We will spend our last night in Sintra. Walking: approximately 4 miles, forested path 1,100 feet elevation gain, 300 feet loss (B, L, D)
We completely change gears today as we head for Arrabida Nature Park on the other side of the Tagus River where we'll spend the next three days. A 2-hour drive brings us to Arrabida. Whereas Sintra is known for its fascinating history and amazing buildings, the Arrabida area is almost untouched in its natural equilibrium and is one of the most beautiful and fascinating natural regions of Mediterranean influence. We hike on a path that follows the coastline to Cabo Espichel on the southwestern tip of the Setubal Peninsula. Along the way we will stop to visit dinosaur footprints: The Pedra da Mua track from the Late Jurassic era and the Jazidas de Lagosteiros track from the cretaceous period. These intriguing sets of tracks are separated by 500 meters and 50 million years! From the Cape we transfer to the town of Sesimbra, our home for the next two nights. Although parts of it have become quite built up, it still retains its fishing roots. We will spend the next three nights in Sesimbra. Walking: approximately 5.5 miles, dirt, rocks, some steep sections. 800 feet elevation gain and loss (B, L, D)
Arrabida's marine ecosystems are of great national and international importance. As such, they are protected by the Maritime Reserve Luiz de Saldanha, created in 1998 to preserve a diverse array of species including invertebrates, crustaceans, and many types of fish. This morning we will head towards the fishing Harbor of Sesimbra for a kayaking tour along this spectacular coastline, with incredible rock formations, secret beaches of white sand and crystal-clear waters, and caves we can explore. We will kayak to a beach where we will have a simple but delicious lunch and relax on the beach or have a quick dip before kayaking back. In late afternoon, we will walk up 750 feet to the Moorish castle of Sesimbra. The castle stands high above the village and has guarded it since its early founding. The castle was one of the first conquests of the Christians over the Moors in the 12th century and its strategic positioning was important for the defense of early Portugal. Our climb will be rewarded with stunning panoramic views over Sesimbra and the surrounding coastline. We will spend our second night in Sesimbra. Kayaking: approximately 5 miles. Hiking (to castle) approximately 3 miles: streets, dirt paths, and steps 700 feet elevation gain and loss (B, L, D)
We will head out to Arrabida Monastery which sits on a plateau 1,000 feet above town. Built in the 16th century, we will have a guided tour of the Monastery learning about the physical deprivation monks subjected themselves to and wondering if it was offset by the beauty of their surroundings. We then hop in the vans for a quick ride to the trail head where we will hike through the Arrabida Natural Park. Our trail will take us through fields, along the high cliffs above the ocean and town where we will be awed at the long and stunning views of the town and coastline. We will spend our final night in Sesimbra. Walking: approximately 7.5 miles, hard-packed path/sandy trail/some rocky & steep sections. 600 feet elevation gain, 1,200 feet loss (B, L, D)
Today we say good-bye to Sesimbra. After breakfast and loading the vans we will head to Belém. Belém is the most western district of Lisbon, located on the Tagus River, where historically Lisbon's elite resided. It is famous for many things, including its historic role as the departing point of the great Navigators, and its current role as home of a unique pastry, Pastéis de Belém. We will walk through the Jeronimos Monastery and all its architectural splendor. It is also the burial place of Vasco da Gama and the poet Luis de Camoes. We will have lunch and walk to visit the Monument to the Discoverers and the Belem Tower. The remainder of the day can be spent visiting one of the many museums in Lisbon, walking around Alfama, shopping or relaxing. We will get together for one last dinner and an evening of Fado music. Our final accommodation will be in Lisbon. (B, L, D)
You are free to leave anytime this morning. The hotel can arrange a taxi for you, or you can take the Metro, there is a station near the hotel. (B)


(41 reviews)
4.3 Food
4 Lodging
4.7 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Most Recent

Amber P.
11 months ago

Nancy A.
11 months ago

This was my first AGC trip and I was not disappointed. The food, accommodations, and activities exceeded my expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and interacting with my fellow travelers and our American guide, Karen and our local guide, Annabelle. The fact we hiked through woods and along paths rarely seeing other people to then pop out of the trail to a crowded cultural site was special for me; what a great way to see the country of Portugal. Thank you, Karen, Annabelle and all the wonderful women in this travel group.

Nancy W.
1 year ago

Melba W.
1 year ago

The guides were wonderful. Very friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive. They kept track of the heat and planned the next activity accordingly to ensure our safety.

Donna D.
1 year ago

Combo Portuguese and USA…each making different/special contribution. transfer all responsibility for necessary plan changes etc from me to them which made the experience problem free and chance to truly enjoy every minute

Jennifer W.
1 year ago

Kathy B.
4 years ago

Lynda N.
4 years ago

This adventure was so incredible! The walks and hikes were all so varied, occasionally challenging, always beautiful. The cultural excursions to castles, convents, and palaces were educational and enlightening, as well as beautiful. The food was amazing, especially the seafood and cheese! and the impromptu picnics along the trail were a delight. The accommodations were top notch, with the highlight being the small hotel in Sintra, with views of the Moorish Castle and wine on the lovely patio.

Marcia H.
4 years ago

The challenge! Our hikes and kayaking pushed me. I am healthy and active but was amazed at how well I was able to navigate the terrain. I did not know that the Level of a trip was based more on length or distance than degree of difficulty. The scenery was breathtaking. The food Annabelle arranged was always fantastic. I have never eaten such fresh fish, the bread cheese and pastries she pulled out of her backpack each day was beyond wonderful

Michelle H.
4 years ago

I loved the long, hilly hikes along the coast and in SIntra. It was a great workout. Really enjoyed the kayaking in Sesimbra. The accommodations were also great, especially the hotel in SIntra. I love fish so couldn't be in a better place for fresh fish.

Mayjo L.
4 years ago

Kathy B.
4 years ago

Beautiful scenery, food and wine was wonderful, accommodations were great ( especially the hotel in Sintra)

Kathy S.
5 years ago

Beyond my expectations. The guides were top notch and the participants were so fun. The places we visited were spectacular.

Donna B.
5 years ago

Loved learning about Portugal via the guides, tours and experiencing the country one on one by the hiking and kayaking trip.

Kristine C.
5 years ago

Great group of people, great guides (Anne and Annabelle were awesome). Food was outstanding. Hiking and kayaking were exactly what I wanted - gave me a runner's high!

Megan L.
5 years ago

The people - everyone on this trip contributed to make it an amazing experience. The guides were amazing (I loved not having to think about where to go/what to eat) and the itinerary was exactly what I wanted - lots of activity and exposure to the local culture.

Angela W.
5 years ago

Reconnecting with people I had traveled with before with AGC. The kayak trip was fantastic. Wish it had been longer.

Cathy G.
5 years ago

I loved the community in our group that was developed in a very Short time. The hiking was challenging yet doable. The scenery was spectacular. Our guides were very perceptive and alway went above and beyond to acomodate everyone's needs and wants.

Kathy S.
5 years ago

Oh so many each day. Just loved our group, our guides, the variety of locations, staying in a hotel for three nights at a time.

Margaret B.
5 years ago

So much to see and do. Everything was already planned out and taken care of. All I had to do was show up! Amazing, considerate guides who cared for us all.

Ford B.
5 years ago

Pamela C.
5 years ago

The organization and flexibility provided by the guides, the hotels and food arranged ahead of our arrival, the beauty and the history of country all provided for a superb trip. Everything was perfect!

Frances G.
7 years ago

Loved the crazy kayaking. The hikes were beautiful. The company was wonderful.

Elizabeth J.
7 years ago

Once again it was a great trip but even better were the group of women that were on the trip. Didn't get to try the paddle board but things were rearranged and all went smooth. Kudos to Annabell and Debra for all the work they did behind the scenes.

Luann B.
7 years ago

Loved the Pena Palace and beautiful grounds around it. Any time we got a spectacular water view was always appreciated. Would have liked to spend more time at the first Franciscan convent. Most of us didn't know the guide was going to give such a detailed explanation of everything and we missed the beginning of his talk. The view from the monastery that day was beautiful but it was disappointing we couldn't go in. We could have skipped the forest hike portion of that day but I wouldn't have wanted to miss the rock section where we had lunch. If you cut out part of that hike it could be replaced by a tour of the estate Anne Marie went to.

Jill W.
7 years ago

I really didn't know too much about Portugal before the trip, and I ended up falling in love with it! The guides were wonderful, as were all the other women.

Nancy S.
7 years ago

Cabo de Roca hike The hike on the last day in Sessimbra

Mary H.
7 years ago

I'm not sure I had specific expectations for this trip, except to read and look at photos of the Portugal trip immediately before ours. One minor disappointment was the weather, which made the kayaking less attractive for me (would have liked it but not really comfortable on rougher water in a small craft!) and that was completely beyond human control.) The previous week the weather had been perfect. However, we had a great group of women, yet again, great guides, beautiful coastal hiking--all in all, great experience. A highlight for me was the last night's dining and Fado music at the small neighborhood restaurant where our waiter was one of the excellent performers! This experience was so much more meaningful and enjoyable than a more "commercial" production done for tourists. Just loved that evening.

Andrea G.
7 years ago

I enjoyed everything about the trip. The hikes, the women, the food. Debra and Annabelle were both great guides too.

Trudy M.
7 years ago

Loved the high cliff, coastal hiking around Sesimbra. A nice variety of trails and challenges. I always love to see ancient architecture and we had many opportunities to see old monestaries and convents.

Anne S.
7 years ago

I try not to have expectations when I go on these trips. That way I am never disappointed. It's all pure experience!!!!!

Mary M.
7 years ago

When one leaves the detailed trip planning to others (an attraction to this type of trip for me), it is always a plus to see the unexpected. For me the dinosaur tracks were not even a draw to me initially as I envisioned tiny, cryptic patterns on a flat surface. To see the large, very prominent tracks actually sent shivers through me. The scenic hikes were better than I had anticipated as well.

Jan M.
7 years ago

Doris U.
7 years ago

The international mix of the participants was great. The highlights of the trip for me besides the awesome hiking was the private tour of Franciscan Monastery and the town of Sentra.

Val R.
7 years ago

Issues with guides and some restaurants. The guides were both lovely, not that. Just that neither was particularly effective. A couple of restaurants were not all ready for groups and the second last (in Sesimbra) was definitely not welcoming and should not be reused.

Susan R.
7 years ago

Amazing hiking, views, kayaking and overall trip. Oh!! and the food!!! The only not perfect part was it being a "first time - work out the wrinkles" trip.

Amal A.
7 years ago

Emily L.
7 years ago

Excellent guides and food. The group was very pleasant overall, cared for each other and looked out for one another. The country was beautiful and we couldn't have asked for better weather. I definitely enjoyed hiking along the coast the most. The Portuguese guide added a good variety to the trip, like taking a tram ride, a variety of castles and convents, little things that made the trip unique. The morning of kayaking seemed disorganized. We seemed to waste a large portion of time waiting at the port for the guides to prep the kayaks, which was a little frustrating and disappointing, because I feel like we could have used that time to kayak longer. Instead of her picking us up that morning, she maybe could have sent a transport for us, so she had the time to prep and have everything ready when we got there. I know this was the first trip so the kinks still need working out, but that was probably the biggest issues I saw. There was a night that our dinner restaurant could take us so

Margaret T.
7 years ago

Lived the scenery and hikes - but itinerary did not match daily miles (way off), frequent steps (would change training routine) or daily elevation gain

Catherine R.
7 years ago

I loved seeing the variety of terrain and landscape, walking the cobble stone streets and learning more about Portugal. I also liked the fact that most of the restaurants had a truly local flare. I would have appreciated more culture/history/information from our local guide.

Martha N.
7 years ago

Highlights: hikes on the coastal paths; kayaking; great pastries!; excellent guides; mostly good food; small hotels

  1. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts will be buffets at the hotels where you are staying. Dinners are in restaurants with typically a choice of a first course and a fish or meat entree. Lunches may either be picnics or in restaurants. Portuguese cuisine focuses on fresh fish and seafood, cheeses, wonderful breads, and salads. There are limited options for people who do not eat fish or seafood and/or are gluten-free
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    Vegetarian options for this trip are available but will be more limited than you are accustomed too. If you are concerned about having enough protein during your trip, plan to bring some plant-based protein sources such as nut butter, instant dried hummus, or high-protein energy bars. Portuguese cuisine focuses on fresh fish and seafood, cheeses, wonderful breads, and salads. There are limited options for people who do not eat fish or seafood and/or are gluten-free.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.