A Self-Drive Walking Tour in the Guadiana Grand Route (GR15), where you’ll find silent and impressive landscapes in a scarcely populated region. Enjoy independent nature walks and discover the traces of those who lived here for centuries.
The historic villages of Mértola and Alcoutim will be our base, as we follow the River Guadiana winding through the hills and lowlands.
The tour begins in Mértola, from where the river Guadiana is no longer navigable. This charming village, perched on a hill above the River Guadiana, in Alentejo, was 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.
The tour includes a trip to the abandoned mine of São Domingos. Eerie and enigmatic, the place is today left for the curiosity of random lone travellers and storks.
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-drive 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 delicacies from the river and the land, like the wild asparagus, the 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 independent nature walks and authenticity!
Day 1 – Arrival at Faro Airport and rent-a-car pick up
Individual arrival to Faro Airport and rent-a-car vehicle pick up. Drive to Mértola.
Day 2 – Mértola Walk
Circular walk, start/end at 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 a quite unique ecosystem of Mediterranean scrub, rocky outcrops and farming landscapes.
Walking time: approx. 4hrs. / Distance: 14km; 8.6 miles / Ascent/Descent: +-288m
Day 3 – Minas De S. Domingos Walk
Today we suggest exploring the S. Domingos Mine area. The walk starts west of S. Domingos and will bring you through some of its most exquisite views like the Tapada Grande’s lake and the river beach. We suggest having a deserved break in the village and explore the abandoned mining sites, before continuing the walk.
Walking time: approx. 4hrs. / Distance: 14km; 8.6 miles / Ascent/Descent: 86m/-84m
Day 4 – Transfer Day / Alcoutim Walk
Circular walk, start/end at hotel.
Today we suggest a walk around Alcoutim, after settling in your new hotel. The walk will bring you around this small picturesque village, along its scenic river beach and up to its castles.
Walking time: approx. 1h30m / Distance: 5.7km; 3.5miles /Ascent/Descent: +-109m
Day 5 – Day Off
We suggest a boat trip to visit Sanlucar de Guadiana in Spain.
There are various boat companies that provide the crossing to Sanlucar. These can be found at the boat dock in Alcoutim.
Day 6 – Laranjeiras walk
The walk starts from the small village of Laranjeiras, south west of Alcoutim, just next to the river. 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. 2h30m / Distance: 8.6km; 5.3miles /Ascent/Descent: +-231m
Day 7 – Odeleite walk
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 wind mills 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
Hotel Museu, Mertola
Hotel Museu (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 (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.
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.