Praia do Ribatejo is a small town in the centre of Portugal. Its name means the beach of the Ribatejo district, as it has the longest beach along the Tagus river.
It is set in a very unique environment with a very diverse natural habitat.
Easy to reach by train or car and only one hour from Lisbon the town has set our many interesting hiking trails that allow you to explore its unique plant life, historical relevance and the wonderful river Tagus with its tranquillity, views, flora and fauna.
The area that covers this unique habitat covers approximately 20km along the Tagus in the municipality of Vila Nova da Barquinha.
Praia do Ribatejo has many hiking trails some along the beach, others through the woodlands on the opposite side of town and to its historical surrounding villages and towns.
Each has a completely different habitat influenced by the river, the hills and the natural plantation of ancient and new species.
Praia do Ribatejo is a small village with a rich past. Manor houses go back generations and the quiet village has many tails to tell of the stone and wood factories that used to dominate the surroundings. The fisherman who lived off the river and the army which holds residence a short distance away.
Cork, olive, pine tree path with access to the river Tagus
The medieval town of Constancia
It is 3 km from the medieval town of Constancia rumoured to be the birthplace of medieval writer, Luis de Camoes, who can be considered the Portuguese Shakespeare.
2 km from the town is another famous spot, the magical Almourol castle set in the middle of the Tagus on a high rock overlooking the river. The castle was once a stronghold on the Tagus river for the Templar Knights.
2 meter high cactus arch over path, railway path Almourol – Tancos
River reed path Praia do Ribatejo
Praia do Ribatejo is the perfect starting point for a hike as it has a train station with direct trains from Lisbon (5 a day) and it is 3km from the A23. The hikes start at a length of 3km and reach to 11km, roughly every 3 km cross country there is a village with opportunity for viewing historical monuments, refreshments, boat trips or lunch. Its an amazing family activity that all will love and cherish.
The hike to Vila Nova da Barquinha
The hike we want to cover in this article is the hike Praia do Ribatejo to Vila Nova da Barquinha roughly 11km.
This hike has 3 train stations along its route allowing the hike to be shortened to 2.3 km (Almourol station), 6km (Tancos station) or 11km (Vila Nova da Barquinha train station).
For train times please check the official Comboios de Portugal site
Each of the stops harbours an interesting historical location that has restaurants and cafes. (Almourol 1, Tancos various, and vila Nova da Barquinha various)
The difficulty level is easy to medium and you’ll pass some amazingly interesting sites, most the hike you will be accompanied by a view of the wonderful Tagus river, narrow and rocky in this part of Portugal.
Castelo do Almourol
Where to start
Praia do Ribatejo will be your starting point, you can travel by train or park your car at the station or in the village. From the station and village, there is direct access to the beach.
The level of this hike is mostly easy but certain points will be medium. There are no parts of this hike that classify as difficult. Water bottles are advised as are proper hiking shoes, sunblock in summer and light clothing that covers the body as some parts will take you straight through grassland and light vegetation.
Most of the hike is made out of paths cut straight through nature some on the hilly heavily vegetated Tagus shore some cutting through the fertile farmlands along the river.
A lot of the paths have been made to accommodate a popular weekend pass time called BTT, All-terrain mountain biking and so are easily accessible on foot.
This hike provides not only nature but also historical monuments, local traditions and food.
The first traject, Praia do Ribatejo – Almourol
Praia do Ribatejo train station (parking) – Almourol 2.4km
The storks of the Praia
Praia do Ribatejo has many interesting sites. The lovely manor houses telling much of its past, the old wood factory, the olive fields but what is most striking are the abundant storks that have their many nests perched on each tree, pole and roof.
Nowhere in the district will you find as many as in Praia do Ribatejo. The proximity to the beach provides them with abundant food sources and the trees, poles and roofs of the quiet Rua Commendador Manuel Vieira da Cruz street, the perfect location for their nests.
Their nesting time starts around December and meeting time peaks around end of January straight into February when the clicking of their beaks and their scraping throat sounds provide an orchestral symphony that feeds the imagination with a prehistoric expectation.
In the summer months when their chicks can fly they no longer live on their nests and in Praia they no longer migrate but lounge timidly in large groups on the beach.
Large stalk community along the Tejo in Praia do Ribatejo
The walk to Almourol Castle
On the beach direction Almourol the path is found easily, you will now walk 2.3 km without the possibility of water or food so be prepared. This part is abundant with nature. The narrow path leads along the river and the fisherman’s boats, through a cane forest and up narrow climbs.
Dragonfly mating during a warm summer afternoon at Almourol castle
You will pass cork trees, cactus arches if your lucky you’ll hear otters in the waters below, although some have been luckier to even catch sight of them.
During the warmer months, you will be surrounded by many rare butterfly species and an abundance of wildflowers.
First stop, Castelo do Almourol
After reaching Almourol train station follow the road for about 200 meters before turning into the path to Almourol castle
At the castle there is a terraced cafe for snacks and refreshment. It is possible to take a boat to view the castle on certain days. To read about the castle check this article Almourol castle
Tancos, the port of the Tagus
Tancos A medieval river port with a long riverside boulevard and one of the oldest churches in the district.
Church of Tancos
Riverside boulevard Tancos
Barquinha A Small fishing town with a modern monumental art park along the shore of the Tagus
Distance Praia do Ribatejo to Barquinha is roughly 11km and has 3 train stations along the path. roughly 50meters in this route are of the path and on the road (at Tancos) and another 50m along the railway. the rest is al nature paths. There are 4 points with cafes, bars and restaurants – Praia do Ribatejo, Almourol, Tancos and Barquinha.
In the other direction from Praia do Ribatejo there are hiking paths in direction Constancia you can follow these either by the 2 rivers first The Tagus for roughly 1 km and then the Zezere river for another 1.5km (+- 3km into the village of Constancia.) or through the forestry fields in front of the Praia do Ribatejo town.
Constancia is another lovely old town in this district, once the home of one of Portugal’s most famous medieval writers, Luís de Camões
Now with its lovely medieval centre intact, it has gained a long boulevard along the rivers with restaurants, bars and canoeing possibilities. check also our Constancia article
Maps are available from the Praia do RIbatejo council or by request. This area is not touristic and even though you may meet some foreigners pr local tourists also searching for a different and authentic experience, its still our best-kept secret!
Hikes including lunch and return on a fisher boat are available for groups, please inquire for information and price! taxis, fisher boats and trains can help you find your way back, train time tables can be found on cp.pt and taxis, lunch, hike guide and boats can be reserved on Go Discover Portugal.
If you would like a guide to accompany on the hike, please contact us!