For all hiking enthusiasts, the Passadiços do Sistelo are a gem. Located in the heart of the Arcos de Valdevez municipality, the Passadiços do Sistelo have long ceased to be a secret. Nowadays, they are already one of the most emblematic hiking trails in our country.
The small village of Sistelo delights all tourists who choose to visit it. Elevated to National Heritage status in 2007, it is already known as “the small Portuguese Tibet,” as it boasts unique terraced fields unlike any other in the country. The Passadiços Trail is a must-visit attraction for anyone passing through the area.
Passadiços do Sistelo or Ecovia do Vez?
The Passadiços trail spans a total of approximately 19 kilometers. However, if you’re looking for a bigger challenge, the Passadiços do Sistelo are part of the Ecovia do Vez, allowing you to extend the hike to an impressive 32 kilometers, which can be covered either on foot or by bike.
The trail follows the banks of the Vez River and takes you through forests, medieval bridges, hermitages, chapels, granaries, and of course, unique natural landscapes. The 32 kilometers are divided into three stages, allowing you to complete the hike in phases.
- Stage 1: Jolda S. Paio – Gondoriz, Arcos de Valdevez (approximately 13 km).
- Stage 2: Gondoriz, Arcos de Valdevez – Vilela (approximately 9.5 km).
- Stage 3: Vilela – Sistelo (approximately 10 km).
For hotter days, it’s important to know that this trail allows for stops for swims, with beautiful waterfalls and river beaches. This is an aspect that appeals to both young and old alike and provides a well-deserved, refreshing conclusion to your hike!
However, recognizing that not everyone visiting the Passadiços do Sistelo has the time or readiness for the full 19 kilometers, the Arcos de Valdevez Municipal Council has created a mini-circular route of 2.5 kilometers. This route starts and ends in the center of the village of Sistelo and doesn’t involve significant slopes. Due to its small size, scenic beauty, and circular path, this route is highly sought after by tourists from all over. Of course, we shouldn’t fail to mention that these 2 kilometers showcase some of the most beautiful parts of Gerês, making the experience truly worthwhile. This is an accessible walk for most people and an excellent choice if you’re going on a stroll with younger children.
Passadiços do Sistelo combined with the Ecovia do Vez
If, on one hand, the mini-route of the Passadiços do Sistelo leaves you wanting more, we acknowledge that completing the entire Ecovia do Vez might not be for everyone. Therefore, to venture into the midst of the Gerês-enveloped nature, the aforementioned Stage 3 is an excellent option. This trail already covers a distance of 10 kilometers, which can be extended to 20 kilometers if you choose to return on foot.
To do this, you should begin the trail at the Medieval Bridge of Vilela, which ends in the village of Sistelo. Along the way, you’ll also have the opportunity to explore the Passadiços das Lagoas do Vez, crossing the path connecting to the Poço das Caldeiras and São Sebastião River Beach.
The only downside is that this route is linear. Therefore, if you wish to avoid the 20-kilometer distance on foot, you’ll need to call a taxi, wait for public transportation, or hitch a ride.
Things to know before you go?
One of the main points to note is directly related to the trail’s name. Despite being called ‘Passadiços do Sistelo’ (Sistelo Boardwalks), only a portion of the walk is actually on wooden boardwalks. The rest of the trail will take you across solid ground, stone paths, and roads, right through the village.
Access to the Passadiços do Sistelo and Ecovia do Vez is free. As there’s no limit on the number of visitors, it’s common for the Passadiços do Sistelo to be more crowded on weekends and holidays. Therefore, if possible, consider visiting during the weekdays.
- Accessibility for Children
Completing the entire Passadiços do Sistelo trail with children can be quite challenging. However, since the mini-route offers a low difficulty level, it’s a good option for a walk with young kids. Nevertheless, be prepared to give them a lift now and then.
Where to start and how to get there?
If you’re planning to take the mini-route of the Passadiços do Sistelo, you should start at the center of the village of Sistelo. To get there from Porto, take the A3 highway towards Ponte de Lima. Then, continue on IC28 and EN101 towards Arcos de Valdevez. Once in Arcos de Valdevez, follow the signs and you’ll easily reach Sistelo.
On the other hand, if you opt for the combined route, head towards Vilela and start the trail at the Medieval Bridge of Vilela. To reach there from Porto, take the A3 highway towards Ponte de Lima. Then, take IC28 and EN202 towards Caminho da Sobreira.
What to bring?
If you’re already preparing for your next adventure, here’s a list of things that shouldn’t be left behind during your visit to Sistelo:
- Lightweight and comfortable backpack;
- Proper hiking footwear;
- Plenty of food, snacks, and water (there are no cafes or stores along the way);
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat;
- If visiting in summer, bring a swimsuit. The river beaches are irresistible;
- In colder weather, bring a raincoat or waterproof jacket. You never know when it might start raining;
- Camera to capture the best moments;
- Trash bag;
- Good vibes and a positive attitude!
Where to stay in Sistelo?
After a brisk hike and a well-spent day in Sistelo, there’s nothing better than staying overnight in the surrounding area to enjoy the calm, nature, and countryside landscapes. Less than 15 kilometers from the center of the village of Sistelo, Quinta da Lamosa is a hidden gem that has been winning hearts for over a decade. The unwavering commitment to sustainability and the typical architecture of the region make Quinta da Lamosa a perfect refuge to spend your night in the Sistelo area.
This place is now a gem of ecotourism and agrotourism in Arcos de Valdevez. Providing its guests with a unique nature-immersive experience, Quinta da Lamosa represents the pinnacle of rural tourism in Gerês. The property embraces the principles of sustainable tourism and is committed to protecting and preserving the natural environment that surrounds it. Additionally, it’s pet-friendly, making it a viable option for the whole family (even for the four-legged friends!).
At Quinta da Lamosa, you can stay in one of their emblematic houses: Espigueiro House, Tree House, Stone House, or Barn House. All of them have an authentic regional touch, allowing guests to reconnect with nature. Each house is equipped with Wi-Fi, TV, air conditioning, and heating – providing guests with a comfortable and welcoming stay any time of the year.
Reservations at Quinta da Lamosa can be made through Quinta Lamosa Booking, making the planning of your stay convenient. Welcome to your rural getaway in Sistelo, and get ready to discover the hidden corners in Northern Portugal!
Now that you’re ready to explore Sistelo, we wish you a pleasant hike!