Before you go on an adventure through this amazing place, here are some things you should know about Paiva Walkways.
In the Arouca municipality, located in the North of Portugal there’s a crown jewel to eco-travellers, the Paiva Walkways. This is a must do visit if you love nature. You will be taking through a biologic, geologic and archeologic journey in a natural sanctuary. Expect to see some quartz crystals and Europe endangered species.
Arouca is not only the Paiva Walkways. They are part of Arouca Geopark. You can explore the zone, there are many trails to do and, amazing landscaping to be discovered.
Among other awards, Paiva Walkways was elected World Leading Adventure Tourist Attraction at World Travel Awards for the last 3 years.
Paiva Walkways are located along one of the most amazing rivers in Europe. The Paiva river has some pristine waters to explore.
Local people and also tourists search for these waters to practice activities. Is common to see adventurers doing rafting, kayaking, hydrospeeding, and canoeing.
Paiva river in an international reference for his white waters. The Paiva River Fest and the FIAB (International Festival of White Waters) are held here.
In summertime people gathering and relax in the bathing areas. There are 6 places for that:
Along the riverside, you can also find waterfalls, geosites of significant relevance and even granitic cliffs.
In the past, Paiva river was considered one of the cleanest in Europe. Nowadays, with the affluence of tourism is a little bit different. But, in general, the river still very clean. Every year efforts have been making towards conservation.
How to get to Paiva Walkways
One of the most asked questions is how to get to Paiva Walkways. People normally think this is difficult. They are not settled in the middle of anywhere and is actually quite easy to get there.
Paiva Walkways are located in Arouca. Just more or less 65 km distance from Porto and 310 km from the capital, Lisbon.
If you are flying to Porto, you can rent a car here. The same can be done from other starting points in Portugal.
The GPS coordinates are:
Espiunca: 40°59'34.67"N 8°12'41.19"W
Areinho: 40°57'9.68"N 8°10'33.05"W
Nowadays, you can also benefit from private transfers to Arouca. There are many companies doing it. This is a good option if you are staying in Arouca for the night.
But, if you intend only spend one day at Paiva Walkways without booking accommodation one good option can be a day tour. More information available here.
Where to eat
The local gastronomy in Arouca is so divine. The typical restaurants offer to everyone who visits the best flavors of local food.
Most of them have traditional decoration. Entering in some restaurants is like to enter someone’s house who invites you to taste the dishes. You can feel the genuineness and authenticity of local traditions and customs.
We love the Arouca gastronomy. The dishes always show excellent quality. The meat is from native breeds. Our favorite dish is “Grilled Arouquesa steak”. Is a must try dish if you visit Arouca.
The restaurants around Arouca also serve the local green wines. Even the deserts are from regional confectionery. Restaurants are almost all the time full. So, it’s advisable to book in advance.
Here are some suggestion restaurants around Paiva Walkways:
Casa dos Bifes Caetano
Located in Alvarenga not far from the Paiva Walkways. Inside, space is cozy and modern. They keep alive the tradition of the well-known steaks of Alvarenga since 1954.
Here you can also eat the Arouquesa veal, very traditional of the region. All cooked in a wood-fired oven. The surrounding area is amazing. Green lush nature and fresh air. You will definitely have to pay a visit to this place.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 12:00 a.m to 03:00 p.m and 07:00 p.m to 10:00 p.m (Closed on Monday)
Right in the heart of historical Arouca is Parlamento restaurant. They open in 1996 and since then the restaurant been on the raising. The building is located in one of the oldest streets in Arouca.
Inside the room is big and very clean. The Parlamento restaurant combines the traditional kitchen and decoration with a modern twist. All of this matched with the good quality of service.
This is the perfect place to eat if you are staying in the center of Arouca.
Opening hours: Sunday and Tuesday from 12:00 a.m to 03:00 p.m
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 12:00 a.m to 03:00 pm and 07:00 p.m to 10 p.m.
Mira Freita Restaurant
If you are exploring Serra da Freita, the restaurant Mira Freita is just a good option. This totally deserves a visit, if you are in Aouca. Located on the southern slopes of Serra da Freita.
The restaurant was inspired by the rural experiences of this area. Far from the pollution and stress of the city, Mira Freita is daily very crowded. Mira Freita restaurant was created in the image of the surroundings. The purpose was to provide support and provide the visitor with a pleasant feeling of well-being in contact with nature.
The gastronomy is based on traditional food. The food is many times considered one of the best in the region. The highlight dishes are the veal and roasted lamb.
Opening hours: Daily from 11:00 a.m to 11:00 p.m
Where to stay
Arouca is a little place. The local accommodation is very traditional. There aren’t big hotels in Arouca. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t sleep comfortably.
There are small hotels, some guesthouses, and hostels. You also have the possibility to rent a house or an apartment. If you are in a group of travelers could be a good choice.
If you want to be ready to action there is a campsite in Serra da Freita. The Merujal Campsite has all the conditions you need, plus you will be closer to nature. The facilities suit all tastes. They offer sports activities perfect for mountain lovers, this also includes Paiva Walkways.
Staying in the center of Arouca is also a good option. Special for those who want restaurants, coffee, bakery’s, and shops around. You can make a booking of a good place.
Rural tourism is a good practice in Arouca. Not for the budget travellers but, is an amazing experience. You can stay in a farmhouse and enjoy daily activities. Things, like taking care of animals or picking some fruits, can be done by tourists.
Before you go, here some tips:
- Paiva Walkways extends for 8km, you can visit between sunrise and sunset. The schedule is from 7:30 a.m to 08:00 p.m from April to October and 09:00 a.m to 05:00 p.m from November to March;
- You have to pay for entry. The price will be 2€ per ticket from June 2019. Therefore it's better to book online, only 3500 were allowed per day.
- It is forbidden the entry of animals and even prams. Please avoid making noises that disturb the local peace;
- There are emergency phones along the way. So, if you are not feeling well contact the authorities;
- Wear comfortable shoes and appropriated clothing;
- Bring water with you. The trail can be a lit bit demanding;
- Do not damage nature! Don’t throw litter away and do not collect plants or rock samples;
- You can enjoy shaded areas along the route. Take a chance to do a picnic, one option is at the Vau beach;
- If your physical level is not so good, choose the route Areinho – Espiunca. It’s less demanding;
- There is a parking lot at Areinho beach, in Canelas. If you want some food or water you have a bar there too;
- There are small coffee shops at the entry (or end) both sides of the walkways;
- If you only want to do one away there is a taxi at the end of each route. The price is around 10€/15€;
- There is under construction the longest pedestrian suspended bridge in Portugal. The bridge was inspired by Inca bridges that crossed the deep valleys and mountains of the Andes. Do not go if you have fear of heights because it's a glazed bridge with 150 meters high, the same as 50 floors.
In the breath-taking landscape along the Paiva River, this walkway was designed in dialogue with nature, morphology and panoramic views.
If you want to see more photos of Paiva walkways, check out our still & motions.
For more information visit the official website: passadicosdopaiva.pt