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Explore Portugal – The Dão Valley

This blog is bought to you with many thanks to The Caminho do Dão project, a new long-distance hiking trail in the Dão Valley in Northern Portugal. The Caminho do Dão is a week-long nature pilgrimage through the beautiful valley, from the source to the mouth of the river. For more info and booking see here.

The Dão valley and its rich patchwork of landscapes that tell the story of what is happening in and to nature in the entire Centre/North region of Portugal. Along the 100km length of the river valley you find everything from patches of the original endemic forests teeming with wildlife to burned swats of eucalyptus monoculture plantations with no topsoil left. For the hiker interested in this ‘story of nature in the 21st century’, walking through the Dão valley is an engaging experience of a landscape that changes throughout every single hiking day and the valley has enough nature left to breathe in deep gratitude along the way.

The Dão River and valley measure a length of about 120km, on the Caminho do Dão you can walk the valley in 6 days.

Everywhere in Portugal the landscape is full of old caminhos that have been used by the locals for centuries and lend themselves perfectly for experiencing the countryside of the interior of Portugal

While walking the Caminho do Dão you meet many people working on the land or in the villages and small café’s. The experience is that hikers are always met with kindness and curiosity. Of course it helps to walk with hikers that also speak Portuguese so that you can have an actual conversation with the people you meet along the way. The conversations and contact with the locals is heartwarming and while walking you also get to know the ‘Boa Gente’ (Good People) of the Dão valley.


In setting out the trail the focus was on providing a varied experience of the landscape as well as of the act of hiking. This has resulted in a trail that weaves its way through the valley over, along, away from and back to the river. You get to experience all the qualities of a river valley from the shaded cool banks of the Dão to the vistas deep into the valley ahead and behind as seen from the valley rims.

The Dão river flows from east to west which means that one walks with the direction of the water and the movement of the sun. From the source to the mouth of the river, you ‘walk with the movement of the elements’. Walking days average at about 22 km per day and during the week you cross the Dão river 14 times.

One of the goals of this project is to generate conservation work in collaboration with local communities. Your footsteps will help bring this path and vision to life, so that other hikers can enjoy nature in the Dão valley for many years to come.

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