The Guadiana Grand Route (GR15) follows the River Guadiana as it winds through the hills and lowlands, on its way to the sea.
In this Self-Guided Walking Tour, you’ll find silent and impressive landscapes in lovely nature walks, the traces of those who lived here for centuries, and very few people along the way.
The historic villages of Mértola and Alcoutim will be our base.
The tour begins in Mértola, a charming village perched on a hill above the River Guadiana, in Alentejo.
Once the capital of the then powerful Moorish empire, today Mértola is a “museum village”, where layers of history can be unveiled.
You’ll explore the village’s narrow streets, walk along the hills to contemplate the undulating plains, the quartzite elevations, and the valleys. By the riverbank, you’ll find a beach, a much welcome relief in hotter days.
Following the river to the south, you reach the other base of our tour, Alcoutim, in the interior East Algarve.
Although smaller than Mértola, this picturesque village was a major Phoenician port at the time.
Across the margin, we can see the neighbouring Spanish village of San Lucar, with whom Alcoutim shares a long history of trading and smuggling. Those memories are honoured by the smuggler’s statue, which can be seen at the dock in Alcoutim.
The Guadiana Valley Natural Park is a rich ecosystem. Habitat for numerous birds of prey and various passerine species, it’s abundant in cork tree woods, some oak woods, extensive cistus areas, and rain fed plantations. The river is also home to more than twenty species of freshwater fish.
Along the days, you’ll discover interesting human scenery with small farming lands, and windmills, in harmony with the natural environment.
The wildlife here is exuberant, yet there is a sense of stillness in this unspoiled part of the territory, rich in heritage, history, and raw natural wonders.
To make the most of your Self-guided walking holiday in the lovely Guadiana Grand Route, try the delicious local food, based on simple and humble ingredients.
Bread baked in a wood-fired oven, fine olive oil, aromatic herbs, and produce from the river and the land, like the wild asparagus, mushrooms, and “túberas” (truffles).
The wines are also superb. The slopes of the Guadiana River were for centuries terroir of excellence for local wine production.
For all these reasons, this a tour not to be missed for the lovers of nature walks and authenticity.
Day 1 – Arrival to Faro
Individual arrival to Faro Airport or Faro train station.
Transfer to Mértola. Transfer time +/-90 minutes
Day 2 -Mértola Walk
Circular walk, start/end at the hotel.
Our suggestion for today’s walk covers the western borders of Mértola. Immersed in the Natural Park of the Guadiana Valley, the walk will bring you through the narrow streets of Mértola the hills where you can contemplate the undulating plains, the quartzite elevations and the embedded valleys of the Guadiana River. The river banks offer quite a unique ecosystem of Mediterranean scrub, rocky outcrops and farming landscapes.
Walking time: approx. 4hrs. / Distance: 14km; 8.6 miles / Ascent/Descent: +-288m
Day 3 – Além Rio Walk
Circular walk, start/end at hotel
A uniquely designed walk meant to explore the eastern hills of Mertola.
The walk will bring you northwards along the river beach that the locals use to refresh in the hot days.
From here, the walk continues to the Cerro das Antenas, 110m up.
The walk descends to the river to walk the veredas, narrow tracks on a fertile land, alongside the river.
Walking time: approx. 3h30m / Distance: 12km; 7.4miles / Ascent/Descent: +236/-241m
Day 4 – Transfer Day / Alcoutim Walk
Transport to the start of the walk & walk to the hotel. The driver will drop you at the beginning of the walk and drive to Alcoutim to deposit the bags in the Hotel.
Take a scenic walk to Alcoutim along the edge of the River Guadiana. The walk today uses part of the GR13 (Algarve Way) and is called “The delights of Alcoutim”, with the River Guadiana forming the centrepiece of the walk and passing through orchards of almond, fig and olive trees.
Walking time: approx. 3h30m / Distance: 12.3km; 7.6miles /Ascent/Descent:53m/-197m
Day 5 – Day Off
We suggest a walk around Alcoutim or a boat trip to visit Sanlucar de Guadiana in Spain.
Various companies provide the crossing to Sanlucar. These can be found at the boat dock in Alcoutim.
Day 6 – Laranjeiras walk
Transport to the start of the walk & pick up.
The walk starts from the small village of Balurcos, southwest of Alcoutim. It includes the best of both worlds: the gentle hills of the Guadiana trails and the calm and peaceful views provided by the river itself.
On the way, you’ll find small remote house gatherings and remains of past Roman settlements. We suggest also a visit to the Museum of Guerreiros do Rio, dedicated to the importance, heritage and history of the river Guadiana.
Walking time: approx. 3h / Distance: 11.5km; 7.1miles /Ascent/Descent: 123m/-324m
Day 7 – Odeleite walk
Transport to the start of the walk & pick up.
Called by some as the “Blue Dragon River” the Odeleite dam is bordered by the small village with the same name. Roman ruins are a memory of past history, along with water and windmills typical from the Algarve Region.
Our walk parallels the river valley and passes through the small villages around.
Walking time: approx. 3h30 / Distance: 12.2km; 7.6miles /Ascent/Descent: +-168m
Day 8 – Individual departure or extra days
At convenient time, departure to Faro Airport or Faro Train station.
Hotel Museu, Mertola
Hotel Museu , Mértola (3*) or similar
Situated in the historic centre of Mértola, Hotel Museu offers picturesque views over the Guadiana River. Next to the reception is a museum showing an archaeological excavation.
The air-conditioned rooms at Museu feature free WiFi, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, and a private bathroom with a hairdryer. All rooms have modern décor, wooden furnishings and parquet floors.
Every morning, guests can enjoy a buffet breakfast. A selection of local and international drinks is available at the bar.
Hotel D’Alcoutim, Alcoutim (3*) or similar
Hotel D’Alcoutim provides accommodation with a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool with river Guadiana views, and a bar.
Featuring a shared lounge, the 3-star hotel has en-suite air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, a desk and a flat-screen TV.
The accommodation offers a 24-hour front desk and a terrace with scenic views.
You must be adequately insured to join our Guided and Self-Guided holidays. We do not insist that you insure with us but we require that you are adequately insured for the nature of your holiday.
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