Adventure tourism has been gaining more and more fans all over the world and Portugal is not an exception. Among all the modalities, hiking, even for being very accessible and adaptable to all ages, has come to stand out in recent years. There many options from north to south of the country and for all levels of difficulty, but Paiva Walkays, even for its pioneering spirit, are one of the ex-libris for nature lovers in our country.
The Paiva Walkays (in portuguese Passadiços do Paiva) are located in Arouca (Aveiro), which is about 65 km from Porto, and are integrated in the Arouca Geopark. Coming from Invicta, the best and quickest option is to take the A32, exit in Louredo and then follow the national road 326 to the village of Arouca. Once in the county's capital, there is no shortage of signs to indicate the path, which is basically to follow the same N326-1 towards Alvarenga.
The Walkays have a 8 km linear path, connecting Areirinho to the village of Espiunca, however the more adventurous can do it in a circular way, that is turning back and ending at the starting point, making a total of 16 km.
you choose to do the route in a linear way, it is recommended that you do it in
the direction Areinho - Espiunca, which is less physically demanding (the climb
up the grand staircase of Garganta do Paiva is done when the legs are still
cool). If you are traveling by car, this is not a problem either: the Areinho
area has a huge free parking, and in Espiunca there is no shortage of taxis
connecting the two points at a price between € 10- € 15.
If you have physical dexterity to do the 16 km route, it is advisable to start on the opposite side, that is, in Espiunca. This way you can pick up the most demanding part of the way. On the Espiunca side there is also no lack of parking!
most important thing is to enjoy this magnificent encounter with nature! And
what a meeting! Along its 8 km in length, the walkways follow the bed of the
Paiva River, one of the cleanest rivers in Europe. Its valley is of high
geological interest, as it is in a transition zone between schist and granite
landscapes, which results in a large number of curious geological accidents,
such as the aforementioned Garganta do Paiva or the Fault of Espiunca.
Waterfalls, river beaches (Areinho and Vau), fauna, flora, crystal clear waters and areas of native forest are other highlights of the route. Ah! We cannot fail to mention the suspension bridges!
The suspension bridge of Vau, close to the river beach with the same name (by the way, a great place to cool off in the waters of Paiva or have a snack), is quite picturesque and soon the largest suspension bridge in the world will open, with over 500 m long and 175 m high!
But don't limit your visit to the walkways! Arouca has a unique historical, archaeological and ethnographic heritage! The monastery of Arouca is a must visit. This former Cistercian monastery, almost as old as the country itself, has an interesting museum of religious art, in which you can see all the excellence of the Portuguese Baroque. The Frecha da Misarela, an impressive waterfall, or the famous Pedras Parideiras are other elements that you can visit in this beautiful corner of Portugal.
In Arouca be sure to try the wonderful Arouquesa veal! The roasted or grilled veal are delicious in the village of Arouca, and in the parish of Alvarenga there are the famous steaks of Alvarenga! Sweets are also kings here. The famous sweet cigars, the morcela doce, pedras parideiras, the sweet chestnuts or the pão de ló Arouca (with sugar icing) will quickly restore the caloric levels spent on the Paiva walkways!