The Paiva Walkway are one of the greatest natural treasures in Portugal, offering a spectacular setting of natural beauty and an unforgettable walk through the region of the Paiva River, near Arouca. The route is about 8 km long and is one of Portugal’s most beautiful and popular walkways.
The walkways were inaugurated in 2015 and comprise a suspended wooden structure, which runs along the bank of the Paiva River. The tour starts in Areinho and continues to Espiunca, crossing mountainous areas, suspension bridges, waterfalls and an unparalleled natural setting.
The walkway is located near Arouca. We decided to stay in Arouca to walk the walkway, although there are other villages and other accommodations.Booking.com
What are the Paiva Walkway?
The Paiva walkway is linear during the journey and it´s possible to enjoy the natural landscape and discover surprising corners that in some places, seem to be still untouched. It is possible to observe some species of animals and even small rapids along the river.
Hiking is an excellent option for those seeking closer contact with nature, but who do not dispense with comfort and safety. Almost the entire trail is on a walkway, although in the initial and final areas, there are some sections without walkways, which makes it impossible for people with some mobility difficulties to visit.
There is a concern with safety along the route, as SOS phones were placed in areas where the mobile phone network is non-existent.
The panoramic views along the route are simply breathtaking. The Suspension Bridge 516 Arouca is currently one of the highlights of the route, with 516 meters in length and 175 meters in height. This bridge was once the longest in the world and crosses the Paiva River valley, providing an incredible panoramic view.
Another highlight of the tour are the various river beaches along the river, such as Praia do Vau, Praia da Espiunca and Praia de Areinho, which are perfect for a break at the beginning, during or at the end of the walk.
The Suspension Bridge 516
The suspension bridge is located at one end of the Paiva walkways, next to the control portico for the walkway entrances. The bridge arouses great curiosity due to its size and height.
This is built-in metal, made up of 127 metal decks that allow you to look down and the bridge to move as pressure is exerted (wind, walkers).
To make the Paiva walkway it is not necessary to make the bridge. However, if you want to take the walkway and the bridge, it is likely that you will have to cross it twice, as it crosses the valley to the other side and you will have to go back to continue the walkways.
Bridge 526 is quite high, especially in the central area. For this reason, the visit is always accompanied by a guide. In addition, the passage will normally have to be made in both directions.
So, if you want to build the bridge and the walkway, you should start the walkways at Areinho, starting the walkway at the Areinho river beach. After climbing 500 stairs, you will reach the ticket control gate.
If you choose to cross the bridge, you can park in Alvarenga and walk for 1 km to the initial portico.
Bridge 516 has a reservation system and a website where you must buy your reservation in advance.
In which part do we start to walk?
This was our first question. However, as we wanted to do the bridge and the available time was only in the morning, we started the route through Areinho. It seemed like the ideal place to do it because it’s the most technical and difficult area. There are 500 steps to climb to reach the initial portico and if done at the end of the 8 km it will certainly cost more. If you start in Espiunca, you will only experience some difficulty towards the end of the walk.
Start by booking your tour
The Passadiços do Paiva route is made up of several parts that offer us a different experience throughout the entire route. From an area with immense stairs to the river beaches, the atmosphere changes along the way.
Here is a detailed description of each part of the route:
1. Areinho: As we mentioned, we start our walk in the Areinho area, where there is a parking lot and a small bar/restaurant. Km 0 is done on the banks of the Paiva river, next to a river beach area. This first part is easy until we reach the beginning of the biggest staircase that we will face. The staircase is difficult and requires that it be done calmly and with time.
2. Main Gate: At the end of the stairs we find the ticket control portico and access to the bridge or walkway. Here, if you have purchased a ticket for the bridge, you can take the route on the bridge to one side, go back on the bridge and then continue the pedestrian route.
3. Suspension Bridge 516 Arouca: The Suspension Bridge 516 Arouca is the most famous and iconic part of the route. At 516 meters long and 175 meters high, it is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. Crossing it is an unforgettable experience, with impressive panoramic views of the Paiva River, the waterfall and the surrounding mountains.
4. Wooden Stairs: Next to the entrance portico and the suspension bridge, there is another huge staircase, similar to the one before the entrance portico. The wooden stairs are one of the most challenging parts of the route, but also one of the most beautiful. These cross the slopes taking us from the top of the hill to the river, where the path continues almost in a straight line.
5. Suspension Bridge: Next to Praia do Vau we find a small suspension bridge that can take you to the other side of the river. This, unlike bridge 516, is at a relatively low height in relation to the riverbed. If you couldn’t cross the 516 bridge, take the opportunity and cross this one.
6. Vau Beach: About halfway through the route, we find Praia do Vau, which is the only river beach found along the route. Here there are bathrooms and a small bar and it is one of the entrance areas for rafting down the river. The crystal clear waters and the small waterfall next to the river are breathtaking landscapes. It’s a great place to take a break before continuing the route.
7. Gola do Salto: After continuing the walk, leaving Vau Beach behind, we pass by several places of scenic interest. One of the most impressive is a narrower part of the river, creating a small area of rapids. Here there is a small viewpoint that allows you to contemplate the collar of the jump.
8. Espiunca Main Gate: The final part of the route is equally breathtaking. We walked along the banks of the river, with parts of the route suspended and along the rocks and the very green vegetation. At the end of the route, we pass the final portico where we can refresh ourselves in a small café.
9. Espiunca: Espiunca is a very small village by the river. Here, as it is the final or initial part of the walkways, there is currently a parking lot, and a small bar where meals are served right next to the river. Espiunca also has a small river beach where you can enjoy the cold waters of the river.
Each part of the Passadiços do Paiva route offers a unique walking experience in the middle of nature, with breathtaking views and a deep connection with the natural environment. The combination of river beaches, suspended walkways, staircases and the famous suspension bridge created an unforgettable experience.
Where to eat on the Paiva Walkways
Both in Areinho and Espiunca there were small open cafes that served meals. These supports also serve the small river beaches there.
In the middle of the route, in Praia do Vau, there is an improvised support that was closed when we made the walkway. Being open will be another support for all those who are building the walkway.
Where to Stay
Next to Areinho or Espiunca there are small local lodgings where you can stay. In the surrounding villages, there are also accommodations in restored houses that will provide all the comfort. However, they end up staying far from the city of Arouca where we chose to stay.
How to get to the Paiva Walkways
The Paiva walkways are located between Areinho and Espiunca near Arouca. From Arouca to the walkway it takes about half an hour and just follow the R326-1 road. Both in Areinho and Espiunca there are car parks where you can leave your car. Arouca is near Oporto city where you have an international airport.
How to book tickets
Tickets for Passadiços do Paiva and also for Suspension Bridge 516 must be booked in advance on the respective websites. If you book the entrance to the bridge, this includes entry to the Paiva walkways. To make the purchase follow the addresses of the official websites.
Book in advance as the number of visitors per day is limited. In the case of the bridge, the number of visitors daily is lower than the number of visitors on the bridge.
And how to get back to the beginning of the pedestrian route?
As the route is linear, you may wonder how to get back to the beginning, where you probably left your car. We also faced this situation we had to choose one of the following options:
- Go with a group of friends in a second car. Leave one car in a park upon arrival and take the other car to the beginning of the route.
- Take the car to the beginning of the route, follow the route and at the end take a taxi. Taxis regularly make the route between the beginning and the end of the routes.
- Take the car to the beginning of the route, take the route to the end and then take the same route again in the opposite direction.
- Book a guide service that can transport you from Arouca and make the trips between departure and arrival.
- Take comfortable shoes. There are many miles of walking;
- Take sunscreen or a raincoat (depending on the season). In summer the valley is quite hot;
- Carry plenty of water, especially in summer;
- Take some food. About halfway through, enjoy the shade of Praia do Vau and have a picnic. There are also public toilets here;
- If you go with friends, leave one car in Espiunca and the other in Areinho. So you don’t need to take a taxi to get back to your starting point;
- Both in Espiunca and Areinho there are toilets and cafes for a last purchase or even to rest and eat something after the walk;
- Book in advance online. Entries are controlled and limited to a number of people daily;
The Passadiços do Paiva attract visitors from all over the world and are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Portugal. It is important to point out that the daily visitation capacity is limited, so it is essential to book in advance to guarantee your visit.
In summary, the Passadiços do Paiva is an unmissable experience for anyone looking for a deeper connection with nature. The tour offers a unique opportunity to appreciate the area’s natural beauty while enjoying a safe and peaceful walk along the boardwalks. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit this magical place yet, don’t waste any more time and book your visit now!
Plan your trip using the following tools and/or website
Using the following links and tools on the website you are helping to maintain Scannertrip. This use is the same for you and you do not pay more for it. For Scannertrip it makes all the difference!!
- To find the best stays use Booking. It is one of the best websites for booking stays and always with some promotions on some destinations. The reliability and ease of booking and cancelling make it even the most popular.
- Transfers to and from the airport can be purchased via the website kiwitaxi. So you don’t need to get in touch with the different companies in your destination looking for the best price.
- If you choose to rent a car, also use the price comparators. The autoeurope website compares prices from different rental companies.
Did you like the Paiva walkways? Are you willing to visit them? You will undoubtedly love this contact with nature in a unique setting. Enjoy and discover Arouca and its surroundings. If you are curious, you can read other articles about the northern region of Portugal.
- Norwegian Fjords Cruise: Between Mountains and Sea
- Kiel, Germany – The charming city
- Discovering the charms of Flam, Norway
- Alesund, Norway -The city of Art Nouveau
- Ria Formosa Natural Park, Olhão – Environmental Education Center
- Discovering the natural beauty of Hellesylt – Norway
- Barranco do Demo Walkway: An Adventure Tour in the Algarve
- Crossing the Guadiana River in Algarve from Spain to Portugal on a zipline
- Explore Malaga: the vibrant city of the Costa del Sol
- Discovering the beauty of Paiva Walkway and the emotion of crossing the 516 Bridge