Independent Rail Holidays to Explore the Northern Portugal by train

Self-Guided Sightseeing by train

Duration: 8 Days / 7 Nights

Availability: January - December

Grade: Moderate (4/8)

The North of Portugal is an enticing combination of historic cities, lush countryside, and an extensive and wild coastline.

This walking tour by train is an individual adventure based in two lovely cities: Viana do Castelo, known as the “Pearl of the North”, and Guimarães, the birthplace of Portugal.

Take the train, and enjoy your walking holidays in this timeless and magical place!

Highlights

  • Travel independently by train
  • Historic cities of Viana do Castelo and Guimarães
  • Spectacular hikes along coastal trails in Caminha and Vila Praia de Âncora
  • Inland paths along ancient trails in Canos d’Àgua, Senhora da Penha and Fafe
  • The traditions and culture of the Minho region
  • Free day for independent exploration
  • The amazing Portuguese gastronomy, with the highlight for the earthy Minho food, and delicious wines
  • Includes all the information and services you need, from detailed route notes to a 24h hotline

The North of Portugal is an enticing combination of historic cities, lush countryside, and an extensive and wild coastline.

This walking tour by train is an individual adventure based in two lovely cities: Viana do Castelo, known as the “Pearl of the North”, and Guimarães, the birthplace of Portugal.

Take the train, and enjoy your walking holidays in this timeless and magical place!

Viana do Castelo Castle Portugal

Beautiful Viana do Castelo overlooking the city.

The first base of this self-guided walking tour is Viana do Castelo, at the mouth of the river Lima, on the Atlantic coast. It’s an attractive town, crowned by the basilica of Santa Luzia, from where you get amazing views. The longest funicular in Portugal will get you there.

The charming medieval centre with narrow winding streets has churches and impressive buildings. The city’s charismatic traditions and culture are present in colourful arts and crafts, and in gold filigree jewellery.

Rock beach - Vila Praia âncora

Rock beach – Vila Praia âncora, an attractive natural environment, which features good walking.

From here, take the Canos d’Àgua trail, following the ancient water supply pipes built in granite. It features lovely paths meandering through the forest and offers magnificent views over Viana and the Lima River.

A train ride will lead you to Vila Praia de Âncora, to a landscape of wild beaches, with endless sandy stretches backed by dunes and pine forests.

Caminha is one step away from the Spanish coast, visible on the other side of the river Minho with its Santa Tecla Hill looking back. Caminha’s traditional stone-walled houses and flower-decorated squares will be a treat at the end of your walk!

Take the train to Guimarães, known as the birthplace of Portugal. The city has a well-preserved medieval centre, enlisted as a Unesco Heritage Site. It’s a scenic entanglement of alleys and plazas, with chapels, churches, a 15th-century palace, and a castle with 1000 years.

Guimarães city center

Guimarães city centre, exceptionally well preserved Historic Centre of Guimarães.

From here, you’ll get to experience a walk to Senhora da Penha, a pilgrimage site accessible by narrow tracks, perched between large granite boulders.
Fafe will be another stop, a city blessed by the proximity of the rivers Vizela and Ferro.

An old train line from the late XIX century was transformed into an ecological track, crossing verdant landscapes with stunning views.

Don’t forget to have a good sample of the amazing food and wines of the region!

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival to Viana Do Castelo

This holiday and our services start in Viana do Castelo. We recommend flying into and out of Porto Airport.
There are various options of public transport (Bus/Train) so that you can comfortably make your way to the first hotel that will welcome you for the first days of this tour.
Should you prefer optional private transport, we are able to offer private transfers from Porto (OPO) Airport. Please contact us for further information.

Viana do castelo - Nossa Sra Agonia

Viana do Castelo – Nossa Sra Agonia.  The feast of Senhora da Agonia is the most famous pilgrimage in the region.

Day 2 – Canos d’Água walk

Start the day by dedicating time to explore the town that welcomes you for the next days. Meander through the narrow streets of Viana do Castelo and enjoy the local life and traditions.
From here, head to the magnificent sanctuary of Santa Luzia area, where the walk begins. You can reach the beginning of the walk by climbing up the hill, or by funicular, the longest in the country.
The Canos d’ Água walk is a circular trail following the ancient water supply pipes built in granite. It features lovely trails meandering through forests and offers magnificent views over Viana and the Lima River.

Walking time: approx. 3hrs. / Distance: 10km; 6.2 miles / Ascent/Descent: 276m/273m

Fafe Countryside

Fafe Countryside Walk, with views over the surrounding countryside and the local town of Fafe

Day 3 – Vila Praia de Âncora & Caminha

Today you head north, taking the train to Vila Praia de Âncora. This magnificent coastal walk will bring you to the nearby villages that still keep their traditional traits, but have been evolving and improving the quality of life of their populations.
Vila Praia de Âncora and Moledo were in the past, small local fishing communities. Nowadays, they’re vibrant coastal beach areas that thrive on local businesses.
Caminha is one step away from the Spanish coast, visible on the other side of the Minho River with its Santa Tecla Hill looking back. Caminha’s traditional stone-walled houses and flower-decorated squares will be a treat at the end of your walk!

Walking time: approx. 3hrs. / Dist.: 10km/6.2mi / Ascent/Descent: flat

Day 4 – Free Day

This is the day to take the time to rest or wander around town and explore the local traditions. There are numerous monuments to discover, whether your preference is related to the historical background of the town or just exquisite architecture.
Should you wish to visit the nearby towns, we suggest a visit to Braga and the beautiful Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary.

Braga Bom Jesus

Braga Bom Jesus. The stairway leading to the top contains 17 landings adorned with symbolic fountains, allegoric statues and Baroque-style decorations.

Day 5 – Transfer to Guimarães

Take the train to Guimarães. The town that will welcome you for the next few days is a mix of experiences, whether you prefer historic monuments and exquisite lanes, or green lush valleys and scenic viewpoints.
Its attractive medieval centre has the charm of a movie set, and you can lose track of time just sitting and observing life going by.

Chapel of Saint Francis in Guimarães

Chapel of Saint Francis in Guimarães, with ornate gilt and traditional tiles above the altar

Day 6 – Guimarães

Today will be entirely dedicated to Guimarães, a charming and historic city, regarded as the birthplace of Portugal. It is a World Heritage Site, the proud birthplace of Afonso Henriques, the first independent king of Portugal.
The walk will bring you up to the Senhora da Penha pilgrimage site, along a narrow track perched between large granite boulders.

Walking time: approx. 3hrs. / Dist.: 10km/6.2mi / Ascent/Descent: 300/-300m

From Fafe to Guimarães

From Fafe to Guimarães, the best Walking trail in Fafe

Day 7 – Fafe

Today is a day that sums all the experiences of the week. Walk eastwards, to visit Fafe, a town located only 30 minutes away from Guimarães. This town, as many in the country, became the home for a majority of immigrants that returned from Brasil with large fortunes, ready to invest in big palaces and the textile industry, blessed by the proximity to the margins of the rivers Vizela and Ferro.
The investments of the local councils have permitted to convert an old train line existent since the late XIX century between Guimarães and Fafe, into an ecological track, available for both walkers and cyclists.

Walking time: approx. 2h30 / Dist.: 8km/4.9mi / Ascent/Descent: 32m/-183m

Fafe Countryside

Fafe Countryside Walk. Fafe a land of tall granite hills, deep forest and vineyards.

Day 8 – Departure or extra days 

This holiday and our services end in Guimarães. We recommend flying out of Porto Airport (OPO).
There are various options of public transport (Bus/Train) so that you can comfortably make your way to the airport you selected.
Should you prefer optional private transport, please contact us for further information.

What's included

Accommodation

  • 7 nights in a twin standard room for two pax

4 nights in Viana do Castelo
3 nights in Guimarães

  • Single supplement available with a surcharge
  • Extra nights available on request

Meals

  • 7 buffet breakfasts at the Hotel
  • Half-board available with surcharge (buffet dinner at the hotel without drinks)

Transport

  • Train tickets/vouchers for second class regional and intercity trains according to program

Your information pack includes

  • Accommodation vouchers
  • Train tickets/vouchers for second class regional and intercity trains according to program
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • General information about your holiday and destination
  • List of the hotel(s)
  • Directions for arriving at your first hotel, if applicable
  • Detailed maps and route notes in your own mobile with App Routes & Maps (or detailed travel documents 1x per room)
  • Travel Advice
  • Assistance 24/7

Exclusions

Any services not listed as included

  • Flights to and from Portugal
  • Meals, tips/gratuities, baggage, or personal insurance (except as outlined)
  • Admission fees to castles & attractions or events (except as outlined)
  • Personal expenses
  • Supplements

Insurance

You must be adequately insured to join our Guided Sightseeing holidays and Self-Guided Sightseeing holidays. We do not insist that you insure with us but we require that you are adequately insured for the nature of your holiday.

BeCool Travel has partnered with WorldNomads.com to keep you travelling safely. WorldNomads.com Travel Insurance is designed for independent and adventurous travellers, with coverage for overseas medical expenses, cancellation, baggage, and other expenses.

Please consult our Travel Insurance page, where you’ll be able to get more detailed info about insurance requirements and an immediate quote for your trip.