Passadiços do Paiva - Following the Paiva River & Walking through the Paiva Gorge:
When we visited the 516 Arouca pedestrian suspension bridge we also took some time to walk the Passadiços do Paiva or Paiva pathway and it was magical! The Passadiços do Paiva is a linear trail which starts/ends at the Praia Fluvial do Areinho or at Praia Fluvial de Espiunca. Both Areinho and Espiunca river beaches have parking, a cafe, toilets and taxis. You can walk in either direction or walk out and back, returning to where you begin.
Where We Started & Why!
We decided to walk out and back for a couple of reasons. Firstly, by walking out and back we did not need to organise transport back to where we parked. Secondly, we were fairly certain our level of fitness would allow us to do this longer route without issue (approximately 16kms). Thirdly, it was quiet, the weather was great and we wanted to see as much as possible!
When it came to deciding where we would start our walk we chose to start at Praia Fluvial do Areinho. Again, there were a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, we had chosen to stay in the village of Alvarenga and it was only a 7-10 minute drive to Praia Fluvial do Areinho from our accommodation. Secondly, as we had a 10am tour booked for the 516 Arouca bridge, starting at Areinho made more sense as we only had to walk about 1.8kms to reach the bridge from the Areinho car park. Thirdly, once we were finished at the bridge we could walk to Espiunca and back at our leisure.
If you intend to walk one way only, the recommended starting point is Areinho as this way you get most of the climbing of the whole pathway out of the way at the beginning of the trail and it is then mostly downhill all the way to Espiunca. There are taxis available at both Areinho and Espiunca that will bring you back to your car (approximately 15Euro). If it is a hot day and you start your walk early, this is also a great direction to walk as you will get the climbing done when it is cooler, although I bet you will work up a sweat on all the wooden steps regardless of the temperature. There are a lot more wooden steps than those pictured in the photo below!
You must purchase a ticket in advance to walk the Passadiços do Paiva, they are not available at the entry gate. Tickets are cheap, 1-2 euro depending on the time of year. You can buy your tickets online here.
When you purchase your ticket you also choose the period of the day that you will enter/walk the pathway e.g. 8am-14.00hrs. I think this is a great idea that prevents the pathway from becoming over crowded and congested. The number of tickets sold per day is also limited so be sure to book in advance online especially during the busier Summer months.
Don’t forget to check the official Passadiços do Paiva website for up to date information on opening hours, Covid-19 updates and so on.
What To Bring?
Well of course depending on the weather this can change but dress appropriately and bring your ticket! Hiking boots are not necessary, there were people walking in flip flops although I would question how comfortable they would be for 8kms of walking (if you walk one way). Runners are perfect. Definitely bring water and snacks. We brought a packed lunch and found a picnic table near the Praia Fluvial do Vau. As there are river beaches along the route then a swim suit and towel if you plan on swimming. If the weather is hot I would suggest a sun hat, sunglasses and of course sun cream.
Passadiços do Paiva - Starting at Praia Fluvial do Areinho:
We arrived early, around 8.45am at Praia Fluvial do Areinho and had no problem getting a parking space. Once we were parked and ready with our day packs on it was very easy to spot the start of the trail. As you can see from the photos, it was very foggy at that time of the morning on the day we were there!
The start of the trail is well signposted and is easy to follow from the car park:
We could see ahead to where the wooden steps awaited us:
The approximately 1.8km long walk from where we parked at the praia fluvial do Areinho to the ticket checking office. From the car park you follow the board walk until you come to the road:
Cross the road and up you go! Climbing wooden steps, about 135 meters in elevation:
A lovely view as you make your way up:
Making progress, a small trail section before more wooden steps:
The photo below has an arrow pointing to the trail/wooden steps that we walked up from the car park, this is where you come out:
In the photo below you can see the entrance area to the 516 Arouca bridge (left side) and to the Paiva pathway (right side) with the bridge in the background. When we had finished our bridge tour we returned to this area and entered the Paiva pathway via the right side entrance:
Even if you are not doing the 516 Arouca bridge tour you will still get a great view of the bridge from the Paiva pathway which passes right underneath it. Below the left arrow is showing the ticket entry point and the right arrow is the path up to the bridge:
Here are a few foggy shots of the bridge taken from the Paiva pathway:
And a few shots once the fog started to clear:
The Paiva pathway goes down under the bridge where you see the sign for Cascata das Aguieiras:
There is a view point here for the Cascata das Aguieiras:
The photo below is just to give you a better idea of the Paiva pathway as seen from the 516 Arouca bridge, the boardwalk on the left side of the gorge is where you will be walking, so pretty! As you can see, the path is gradually going downwards.
A great view of the 516 Arouca bridge from the Paiva pathway:
Can you spot the wooden steps of the Paiva pathway below?
It was really gorgeous walking along in the sun. It was also pretty quiet the day we visited so we had a lot of time walking totally by ourselves.
Not too far from the river beach do Vau there was this stunning section with a narrow wooden bridge across the river:
Having walked the 516 Arouca earlier, this bridge felt very small and narrow but of course we walked over and back:
Below, looking back the way we had come from (towards Areinho) with the path on the right:
And then looking ahead (towards Espiunca) where we were headed next with the path on the left:
Back on the path once more:
A lovely waterfall near the river beach do Vau:
We left the wooden walkway temporarily in search of a good picnic spot:
Found the perfect picnic spot complete with picnic table:
Spotted this cute little guy/gal:
After lunch and back on the wooden walkway we came across this giant slug (size 11.5UK male shoe for scale):
This next section of walkway had very little shade as you can see in the next few photos:
We had the path to ourselves:
We walked on towards Espiunca and once there we simply turned around and walked back. After a few photos the phone/camera was put away and we knocked off the kms.
My camera came back out as we approached the 516 Arouca bridge for a few last snaps before beginning the climb back up to the higher path where we had started out that morning:
Back on the final section to the ticket entry area and one last photo of the bridge:
Then it was time to walk down the wooden steps onto the final section of the path that would bring us all the way back to our car in Areinho:
We Did It!
Once we got to the car park we were so hot (it was almost 30’C) so we decided to go to the cafe at the river beach do Areinho for a lovely ice cold drink and a well deserved sit down.
A short drive and we were back at our hotel Casa do Soutinho where we showered and then enjoyed a coffee on their terrace:
Then we headed to the pool area to relax:
And enjoyed the view from there, including the view of the 516 Arouca bridge:
I think it is obvious from this blog that we thoroughly enjoyed our Passadiços do Paiva experience and the photos speak for themselves, this UNESCO Geopark is not be missed and should be on your Portugal Travel “MUST Do/See” List.