Just an hour drive from Porto there's a place providing the perfect escape from city's bustling nightlife, all the wonderful cathedrals and historical sights - Passadiços do Paiva (Paiva Walkways). Get ready for a moderately challenging hike by the left bank of the Paiva River, full of points of interest when it comes to biology, geology and archeology. Similar to the passadiços of Aveiro, but at the same time completely different, this breathtaking walkway is a must-see sight for every nature lover.
The linear walkway connects two villages - Areinho and Espiunca, and it's 8.7km long which usually takes 2h30min to be completed. You can start in any of the two villages, but my advice is to do it from Areinho. Although the initial 400 meters are very demanding, the rest is going all the way downhill which allows you to better enjoy the landscape, the sounds and the peaceful atmosphere. Most of the time you will walk on the boarded path, just occasionally the boardwalk is replaced with a stony path.
There are a few small fluvial beaches - perfect spots for a picnic, reading a book or meditation. I recommend that you stop near the beach of Vau, after passing the bridge, a beautiful place where you can get some shade and also go for a swim.
If you feel hungry after the hike, seems like there's a regional specialty for meat lovers that you can taste in the area. Some say it's "the best meat in Portugal" - the famous “Posta Arouquesa”, a piece of grilled beef. I still haven't tried it, but it's very popular around here.
Passadiços do Paiva were built in 2015, and in the same year were partially burnt in a forest fire. The sight was quickly rebuilt and reopened in February 2016. Ever since, the entrance is limited to 3500 visitors daily, and there's a symbolic fee of one euro that can be paid online. Passadiços can be visited from 7:30 to 20:00, from April to October and from 9:00 to 17:00, from November to March.
Last month, Passadiços do Paiva were nominated for the European World Travel Awards for the fourth consecutive time, and the winner will be revealed in June. The sight competes in three categories: European Tourist Attraction, Best European Tourist Development Project (this is the category in which it won in the last three years), and European Adventure Tourist Attraction (in which it won for the first time last year). This title guaranteed the world-wide nomination, followed with the conquest of the "Best Adventure Tourism Attraction of the World 2018".
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