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Portugal Outdoor Pursuits

Portugal with its varied landscape and mild climate offers the opportunity for plenty of outdoor pursuits.  Walking is popular especially in spring when the fields are full of wild flowers or later in the year when temperatures are cooler. The hilly Serra de Calderão region inland is off the beaten track and great for walkers as are the cliff paths along the Algarve coastline and the deserted sandy beaches of the Silver Coast (western central Portugal). The island of Madeirais ideal for walking and many follow the vast network of irrigation channels that cross the country known as levadas. The Azoreswith their volcanic mountainous terrain and lush countryside are also great for hiking. Nature lovers and birdwatchers will love the Ria Formosa Natural Park (Algarve), Sapal Nature Reserve near Castro Marim andthe Parque Natural de Serra de Estrêla in the mountainous Beiras region. Cycling is popular along the coast but harder going inland.  For the less energetic there are several riding centres along the Algarvecoast and in the Ribatejo region offering one-hour or full day treks into the countryside. Those keen on river fishing will need to obtain a licence from the local Instituto Florestal.
 
The Algarve has more than 100 subterranean caves to explore, many with impressive stalagmites and stalactites and guides are available. The island of Terceira in the Azoreshas a giant cave known as Algar do Carvão and smaller Gruta de Natal cave, both well worth a visit. Experienced climbers will enjoy scaling the sea cliffs and central mountainous range in Madeira. If you are looking for a real challenge the island of Picoin the Azores boasts Portugal’shighest peak!Canoeing is popular on Portugal’s rivers especially the Arade, Cavado, Lima, Mondego, Vez and Zezêre.
 
The Algarveoffers air sports enthusiasts several options. Microlight flying is available at the Algarve Sports Centre run by ex-world champion Gerry Breen. Skydiving is offered at the Aerodrome Municipal de Portimão. You can also book a pleasure flight along the rugged Algarve coastline.
 
The Algarve boats some of Europe’s top golf courses and tennis centers. The new Victoria Vilamoura golf course was recently proclaimed as being one of the best in Europe. Meanwhile the Quinta do Lago North and South golf courses are superb as is the Pinheiros Altos. The Vale de Lobo golfcourse offers spectacular views over the Atlantic. Tennis coaching is available at the Vale do Lobo Tennis Academy or the David Lloyd Tennis Centerin Carvoeiro and there are plenty of other courts along the coast where you can play a match.
 
Finally, yes you can ski in Portugal! Slopes in the Serra da Estrêla are open from November to February. However, it would be fair to say that most visitors to Portugal will come for the sunshine, beaches and outdoor life!