Everything about the Paiva Walkways and Arouca 516 Bridge.
Open all year (Spring and Autumn are more pleasant seasons are it is less crowded than during the Summer)
Distance to Cimo da Vinha: 7 km (Espiunca entrance)
€ Ticket: information and reservation links in the last paragraph
→ What to Take: walking shoes, light backpack with snacks, sunscreen, sun glasses, camera, garbage bag
Map of the Paiva Walkways
History and distance to Cimo da Vinha (Espiunca entrance)
Since the opening in 2015, the Paiva Walkways quickly conquered the Portuguese travelers while also became an International attraction due to their wild charm and the 8 km of constant discovery, on its suspended boards that serpent the escarpment on the left riverside. Once only known mainly by locals and extreme mountain sports fans, this gorgeous river landscape in the heart of the forest is now open to be discovered by everyone.
Just 7 km away from Cimo da Vinha (Espiunca entrance) and one hour drive from Oporto, the enchanted atmosphere of the Walkways transports the visitors to a new sensory dimension of total immersion in the wild.
Awarded by the World Travel Awards, its opening created such a buzz that 200.000 people have visited the attraction in the inaugural two and a half months. Since then, measures have been taken – such as the daily limit on visitors – to minimize the impact on the ecosystem.
From Espiunca to Areinho, the entire course of Passadiços do Paiva
Part of Arouca Geopark, (recognized by UNESCO as a Geological World Heritage spot), the Walkways go through dizzying cliffs in the Paiva “straight”, curves in steep rock walls and corridors that cross the valley. All of this between the two gorgeous river sand beaches of Espiunca and Areinho. In the middle of the course you can rest in the sands and take a dive at Vau beach where there is also a small waterfall and a suspended bridge, to the other side of the river. It is common to observe cows from the local Arouquesa breed (that wander free in the mountain) that usually prefer this spot to graze and cool off in the same waters where trouts and barbs swim,
One of the highlights of the course is the monumental stairway – almost 200 meters high – that goes up to the top of the “straight” where there is a stunning view of the entire natural set: the river that flows through the rocks, the cliffs and even the amazing Agueiras waterfall.
The entire route is surrounded by Nature and this breath-taking landscape is bypassed by the river with its wild current going through mountains and forest. The geology is imposing with quartz crystals, supporting a unique mosaic of fauna and flora. In the region live numerous animal species such as otters, eagles, several kinds of butterflies, hares. foxes, newts and salamanders, hedgehogs and beautiful birds like cuckoos, jays, blackbirds and kingfishers. Despite being more hidden, according to the biodiversity study conducted by the Geopark, in the surrounding mountain range and forests there are snakes, boars, wolves, lizards, squirrels and wild cats.
Where to start, tickets, tips and difficulty level
Part of the Douro river’s hyfrographic’ basin, the Paiva river is also famous for its strong currents and wild rapids being an International hotspot for Rafting. Through the Walkways path you will pass by the famous “Jump Collar” (a platform was built to contemplent it), a 4 meters high river drop that challengeous the most fearless rafters.
The dificulty level of the entire traject is considered High but with the right measures it is apprpriated for all ages. Despite having several ascending levels and starirs it is possible to finalize the circuit (one way) in about two and a half hours. The less demanding way is Areinho – Espiunca. There are parking lots and support bars in both extremities of the Walkways and paid transfers connecting both entrances.
To enter the Walkways you need to reserve a ticket (for a price to help mainetance) through the official website due to the fact that the circuit is limited to a maximum of 3500 daily visitors. As an alternative to the digital booking, you can also get tickets in person in the Interactive Tourism Store, in the center of Arouca. As an alternative to the digital booking, you can also get tickets in person in the Interactive Tourism Store, in the center of Arouca.
516 Arouca Suspended Bridge
In the spring of 2021, 516 Arouca was inaugurated, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world. At 175 meters in height and 516 meters in length, it puts adventurers through the Throat of Paiva, towards the Cascata das Aguieiras, in a breathtaking atmosphere.
The bridge is open all year and tickets also provide access to the Walkways. Can be booked, here.
cover photo © Câmara Municipal de Arouca