PR3 hike from Ermelo to Figas de Ermelo

The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
70 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 10
Time of year visited
Primary Tags
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How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
123rd/372 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 40% SUMMARY RATING: Superb


If you’re staying around the Duoro, or maybe Porto, I’d really recommend this 5 hour roundtrip hike from the beautiful mountain town of Ermelo to the waterfalls in the heart of the Alvao National Park.  Clearly signposted all the way, you’ll get some great views over the nearby mountains, walk through some of the gorgeous forest and reward yourself at the top with a swim in the natural pools and waterfalls.  Best of all, you’ll have it largely to yourself as, from what I saw, there are only see a few people along the way

Overall a great hike for a break away from the various wine tours!


#1 Wandering through the pristine forests with that gorgeous smell of pine in the air

#2 Looking out for miles around and being able to see the surrounding mountain tops in the distance

#3 Tantalising views of the waterfalls on the way to the top of the hike

#4 Reaching the top of the waterfall and being able to jump in for a refreshing swim in the natural pools

#4 Getting to walk by some of the local wildlife

Travel Tips

  • Distance – give yourself a good 5 hours for the overall hike and I’d say you’ll need moderate fitness to do it.  The total distance is 13km / 8 miles with a steady incline all the way to the top.  I tracked it at 20,000 steps, and the equivalent of 160 flights climbed
  • Start early – I’d really recommend starting early (say 9am or before) as, from what I saw, you’ll have the hike almost entirely to yourself for the trip up to the top, whereas it started to get a bit busier (maybe 10 people :)) on my way down.  It was a fantastic experience being able to swim completely on my own in the pools.  Plus, its cooler in the morning
  • Direction – I went the anticlockwise route because it saves the section where it is mainly road (the north west of the route) for the way down.  The route is clearly signed but, naturally, there may be a couple of times when it’s reassuring to check google maps etc, which followed the route correctly
  • The one hour option – if pressed for time or without the right level of fitness, there is also the option to drive up to much closer to the falls, where you can walk there and back within an hour or so
  • For more detailed tips on a stay in the Duoro, see this entry for Wine tasting around Pinhao in the Duoro Valley.  And for further tips on Portugal’s other top experiences, and for a 2 week itinerary, see the travel entry for 2 weeks for the best of Portugal

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone