This relaxing horse riding holiday in Portugal is based on a ranch that is situated in 12 hectares of rugged riding country in the beautiful Algarve. Trails pass through scented macchia, trees and shrubland, over hills and dales and along paths that are only accessible on horseback, by mountain bike or walking. You may not see another soul, meaning you are free to enjoy the magnificent views and the peace of the countryside around you, just horse and rider.

All the horses are schooled in Western style using natural horsemanship, where a closeness and trust is developed between horse and rider. They are kept in a large paddock which runs in front of the accommodation, so the day will begin with a view of grazing horses and the smell of freshly brewed coffee coming from the nearby kitchen.

Many other interesting activities are available if required, including trips to the nearby beach. The ranch is situated in ideal countryside for Western riding trails, which is the speciality of the hosts. The Wild West is at the back door and waiting to be explored on horsebackand. Discuss the days ride while sitting around a campfire with a drink under the beautiful Algarve night skies.

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from KN of Maryport on 26/10/2022

Ride Summary
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments



Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
Please give more details to explain your response:
Been a number of times and enjoy the international family atmosphere, the variety of trails and the emphasis on safety
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
I know Horse Shoe well
What could we do to improve this ride?
It’s finr
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Trails are chosen to suit the ability of the rider and are varied each day
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
Please give more details to explain your response:
Only started riding when I was 84 and first visited Horse Shoe after a few lessons but always happy to go back
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had another great visit! :)

Day 1
Arrive at Faro Airport and transfer to the ranch i(about an hours drive). As there is no riding on the first day, riders can arrive any time during the day.

Days 2-7
See below for a typical day.

Rides leave twice a day and and lead through the beautiful surrounding countryside. For advanced riders there is one full day ride, following trails for 3 hours through forests and scented Macchia trees to a large, impressive dam. Here riders will enjoy a well deserved BBQ at a small Portuguese restaurant for lunch. 

The 3 hour ride back to the ranch follows a different route with the impressive coastline always in view. The afternoon before the full day ride there is no riding and riders are free to do what they want on that afternoon, be it swim in the pool, relax in the sun. The hosts will happily to take riders to the beach or nearest town and pick them up again for no extra charge.

Day 8
Departure. After a sad goodbye to the  hosts and of course your trusty steed, riders will be transferred back to Faro for the departure light.


A Typical Day;

Breakfast - a hearty breakfast including breads, cheeses, a selection of meat, yoghurt, fruit and fresh soft boiled eggs. A feast to start the day!

Meet at the stables, to meet the horses and tack up, ready for the start the trail by 10am. On the first riding day, the group will be introduced to Western tack and shown how to tack up. There is plenty of guidance for those new to western riding and all riders are encouraged to take the natural horsemanship approach when around the horse. There is always help available everyday and horses are carefully checked prior to mounting.  

10am - 12:30pm
Riders will explore the wonderful countryside heading out in a different direction every day. Encounter large lakes which are the home to water turtles, while roaming through wild lavender and under imposing Eucalyptus trees. The pace is gentle and relaxing. Every now and then, riders can experience a 'jog' or a rythmical 'lope' along the tracks.

1pm - 2:30pm
Lunchtime - the lunches are also relaxed and riders can help themselves to whatever can be found in the kitchen. This could be  leftovers form the previous night's delicious meal. or bread, cheeses, meats and fruit. And of course, a cooling can of something from the fridge!
Next it is siesta time...either have a snooze or have a dip in the pool, a walk around the grounds, or simply relax in the sun with a good book.

2:30pm - 4:30pm
Back at the stables riders will prepare for the afternoon ride - again exploring the countryside and taking in the wonderful views to the coast and out to sea. See the bustling town of Portimao in the distance while sat on a horse at perfect peace, far away in the hills above.

Back at the stables to untack and groom the horses while slipping them a few tasty treats to say thank you. Now there is free time to freshen up and relax with fellow riders while sitting around the large outside dining table, drink in hand, talking about the days events.

Dinner is served! Expect typical German dishes such as Schnitzel, stews and roast meats followed by fruit or yoghurt for dessert. Drinks like wine, beer, cider and  soft drinks are on tap. Your host also makes an excellent Caprihinas cocktail; a tasty (but strong) blend of white rum, ice and freshly squeezed limes!

In the summertime the lunch break runs from 1pm-3:30pm and in the wintertime it runs from 1pm-2:30pm due to the weather and daylight hours. Please note that there is NO riding on arrival and departure days.

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

All the horses on the Ranch are schooled in western riding, where closeness and trust is developed between horse and rider. Safety is of utmost importance and this can only be offered this if we can trust our horses. The ranch has developed their own method through years of experience based on Natural Horsemanship.

The horses are first trained to recognise body language and are then walked (without rider) behind the more experienced horses, this ensures that they are never pressured or made nervous. After this process, the horse is introduced to a saddle first, and then rider. It is necessary to accustom the horses to everyday noises and distractions e.g. barking dogs, traffic noise and sudden unexpected movements. The horses are schooled daily with regular treks through mountainous countryside and across riverbeds etc. to maintain their sure footedness and excellent condition.

There are a total of 23 horses, and 14-16 horses are available for the guests to ride at any time.

The Western style saddle gives the utmost comfort and safety to horse and rider alike on long day treks. Depending on the condition of the ground, riders will walk, jog (which is a very slow seated trot) and canter, and will always be accompanied by an experienced guides on all trails.

For advanced riders there is a 2 hour morning ride, 2 hours in the afternoon, and one whole day (6 hours), (we do not ride in the afternoon before the dayride) altogether 24 hours per week.

For beginners: 1.5 hrs in the morning,and 1.5 hrs in the afternoon, altogether 18 hours per week. If required riders can have lessons in the outside training paddock. There is no riding on arrival or departure days.

Rider requirements

For the beginners programme you do not have to have any riding ability. You learn by handling the horse on-site. According to the principle ‘Learning by Doing’ you are soon able to go for your first rides in the countryside. There is a minimum age limit of 18 for this ranch.

Guests who book the programme for advanced riders (longer hours, faster pace) must be confident in walk, trot, and canter and open to Western style riding. Your guide will give you directions in western style: neck reining, jogging and seated canter. All the horses are trained in real western style and ridden this way. Your guide is passionate about Western Horsemanship and likes things done according to ranch protocol. He has a strong personality and is lots of fun.

Riders for the advanced programme should be used to riding in the countryside and must be fit enough to ride between 2 and 6 hours a day. There are lots of hills and rough terrain in the Algarve, some of the very steep hills you have to lead your horses down. So riders should be able to mount and dismount by themselves and should be sure footed. Riders who are less experienced can ride in a separate group, so all abilities can be catered for.

Guests are encouraged to catch, groom and tack up their horse by themselves however there is always someone who can lend a hand! Either a keen interest in Western riding and natural horsemanship or a willingness to learn is preferable for this ranch.

Weight limit: 13.3st/85kg. Please note that there is NO riding on arrival and departure days.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 187 lb/85 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The Ranch is situated in 12 hectares of rugged riding country, 3 km north of the little village of Mexilhoeira Grande (near Portimão) in the beautiful Algarve. This quiet village is an ideal destination for a relaxing holiday.

The accommodation consists of 4 basic apartments, each with 2 beds, a shower and toilet. They were built in 2000 and are comfortably, but simply furnished and decorated to offer a private seating area to relax in. The beds come equipped with heated under blankets for the cold/damp winter mornings and evenings you may experience in the winter.

A plentiful breakfast is served In the separate kitchen or covered area with coffee, tea and a choice of fruit juices.

Lunch is either taken al-freco on the trails, or at the ranch you were you can help yourself to whatever takes your fancy. There are usually leftovers from dinner the evening before or you can help yourself to bread, cheese, cold meats, yoghurts from the fridge.

Dinner is a freshly cooked hot meal or BBQ, sometimes with invited guests and friends. The evening meal is just one main course followed by coffee or tea. Guests can help themselves to fruit or yoghurt from the fridge for dessert. The kitchen is always open and is for the use of guests to help themselves whenever they need. The fridges are always fully stocked!

Between the paddocks is the sun-heated above ground pool, ideal for a refreshing dip in summertime between the rides, while watching the horses.

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures

Passport and Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.

Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice:

In the US:

In Canada:

Climate Summary

The pronounced Atlantic climate brings at the Algarve coast not to hot temperatures in the summer and moderates winters, never under the freezing point. Most precipitation we have from November to February. The water temperature of the Atlantic is in the midsummer about 21 degrees. The most beautiful travel months are April/May or September/October, if the temperatures are not too high and in April/May the Cistus and wild Lavender bloomall over the hills. In addition, in the summer it is always relatively green in the countryside. The average temperature amounts to 17°C, the average air humidity is between 50% and 75%. In the winter (December, January, February) the temperature can drop below 10°C, and in the dry and hot summers the high temperatures (the hottest month is August reaching over 30 degrees during the day) are made comfortable by a constant light wind off the sea.
The whole year around the climate is perfect for horseback riding in the countryside.

Climate Chart


COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

You should always bring any regular prescription drugs you may need with you.

If you need to contact the emergency services in Portugal call 112.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Portugal and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Health (ride specific)

It is recommended that you bring anti-histamine cream/tablets in case of insect bites


In Portugal the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.

Film and Camera Equipment

The closest town is about 20 minutes drive by car where you will be able to purchase batteries or film for those using 35mm SLR cameras

There is mobile phone reception and WiFi at the ranch

Packing List

We have put together a suggested packing list for your trip. This should be used as a guideline as requirements may very according to your programme and preferences.

• Riding Helmet - we strongly recommend that you wear a properly fitted riding helmet of the current standard which is PAS015 or BSEN1384. Helmets are not available to borrow at the ranch.
• Jodhpurs - jodhpurs, breeches or other comfortable trousers.
• Riding Boots - it is important to have correct shoes or boots for horse riding. Jodhpur or ankle boots with a rubber sole are recommended but sturdy shoes with a definite heel are acceptable (such as walking boots)
• T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts
• Sunhat
• Sunglasses
• Fleece - Although the weather is generally very warm, the evenings can be a bit cooler
• Warm layers - At times the evening temperature drops significantly
• Casual Clothes - for when out of the saddle
• Raincoat - it is always a wise idea to pack a light waterproof/ windproof jacket and also light waterproof trousers in the winter!
• Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take insect repellent and plenty of sun cream
• Camera and Spare Batteries/Charger - an absolute must! It is also a good idea to take a camera case you can strap around your waist or onto a belt for whilst you are riding
• Swimwear (warmer months)

In the apartment you will find linen as well as a selection of towels.
Mosquito plugs and electric blankets for the beds are also provided.


There are two programmes offered at the ranch: A programme for beginners which includes 18 hours of horseback riding over a 6 days period. You learn to handle the horse informally. With the varied training “on” and “off” the horses you quickly obtain a ‘relationship’ together. According to the principle ‘Learning by Doing’ we are soon able to do our first rides in the countryside.

There is a minimum stay of 3 nights.

The programme for advanced riders includes 22 hours of horseback riding within 6 days. We ride through the Macchia, through trees and shrubland, over hills and dales on small paths. On our dayride we will go to the largest artificial lake in the Algarve called ‘Barragem de Bravura’, with beautiful views of the coastline.

Departure Dates

2023: Any day start and finish from 4 March to 5 August and 26 August to 31 October (minimum stay 3 nights)

No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.

No of   
Riding days Product item description £
2023 Weekly8d/7n6double pp - advanced programme809
2023 Weekly8d/7n6double pp - beginners programme735
2023 Weekly8d/7n6single supplement98
2023 Weekly8d/7n6non-rider389
2023 Weekly8d/7n62nd week - advanced programme725
2023 Weekly8d/7n62nd week - beginner programme659
2023 Weekly8d/7n6El Rocio Supplement 98
2023 Per Nightper night1double pp - advanced programme115
2023 Per Nightper night1double pp - beginners programme105
2023 Per Nightper night1single supplement14
March Special Offer (2022 prices)per night1double pp - advanced programme105
March Special Offer (2022 prices)per night1double pp - beginners programme96
March Special Offer (2022 prices)per night1single supplement13
No of   
Riding days Product item description
2023 Weekly8d/7n6double pp - advanced programme905
2023 Weekly8d/7n6double pp - beginners programme815
2023 Weekly8d/7n6single supplement109
2023 Weekly8d/7n6non-rider435
2023 Weekly8d/7n62nd week - advanced programme805
2023 Weekly8d/7n62nd week - beginner programme735
2023 Weekly8d/7n6El Rocio Supplement 109
2023 Per Nightper night1double pp - advanced programme129
2023 Per Nightper night1double pp - beginners programme119
2023 Per Nightper night1single supplement16
March Special Offer (2022 prices)per night1double pp - advanced programme119
March Special Offer (2022 prices)per night1double pp - beginners programme109
March Special Offer (2022 prices)per night1single supplement15
No of   
Riding days Product item description US $
2023 Weekly8d/7n6double pp - advanced programme1,019
2023 Weekly8d/7n6double pp - beginners programme919
2023 Weekly8d/7n6single supplement125
2023 Weekly8d/7n6non-rider485
2023 Weekly8d/7n62nd week - advanced programme909
2023 Weekly8d/7n62nd week - beginner programme825
2023 Weekly8d/7n6El Rocio Supplement 125
2023 Per Nightper night1double pp - advanced programme145
2023 Per Nightper night1double pp - beginners programme135
2023 Per Nightper night1single supplement18
March Special Offer (2022 prices)per night1double pp - advanced programme129
March Special Offer (2022 prices)per night1double pp - beginners programme115
March Special Offer (2022 prices)per night1single supplement16
No of   
Riding days Product item description SEK
2023 Weekly8d/7n6double pp - advanced programme10,360
2023 Weekly8d/7n6double pp - beginners programme9,345
2023 Weekly8d/7n6single supplement1,250
2023 Weekly8d/7n6non-rider4,940
2023 Weekly8d/7n62nd week - advanced programme9,230
2023 Weekly8d/7n62nd week - beginner programme8,395
2023 Weekly8d/7n6El Rocio Supplement 1,250
2023 Per Nightper night1double pp - advanced programme1,479
2023 Per Nightper night1double pp - beginners programme1,335
2023 Per Nightper night1single supplement179
March Special Offer (2022 prices)per night1double pp - advanced programme1,345
March Special Offer (2022 prices)per night1double pp - beginners programme1,219
March Special Offer (2022 prices)per night1single supplement165
Other Activities

Although the holiday is specifically tailored for horse riding there are many other activities available locally for non riders including golf, places of historical interest, waterparks, etc. Some of the most fantastic golden sandy beaches are close by offering various watersports, with beachbars and restaurants with mouthwatering local cuisine. Independent transport will be required by non-riders and the hire vehicles can be obtained at Faro airport through companies such as Avis and Europcar.


During our rides we occasionally see a shepherd with his flock of goats, sheep or cows wandering the hills. There is abundant wildlife in the Algarve and many different and unusual species can be seen on the rides such as water turtles, eagle eared owls and even golden eagles have been spotted!

On the ranch there are lemon, clementine, orange and sweet pepper trees and out on the rides you will discover cork, eucalyptus, Oak, Pine and Olive trees.

Other Country Information

Historically, the Portuguese have been the intrepid explorers of the world. In the 15th Century they discovered the sea route to India, via the Cape of Good Hope. Vasco da Gama reached India in 1498 and Pedro Cabral, trying to reach India, discovered Brazil two years later (1500). Other Portuguese explorers reached the Far East, China and Japan. The first circumnavigation of the globe was led by Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan.

Portugal has a rich seafaring past, superb beach resorts, quaint towns and a landscape wreathed in olive groves, vineyards and wheat fields. Portugal is dotted with UNESCO World Heritage sites and graced by one of Europe's most relaxed and attractive capitals.

Savouring life slowly is a Portuguese passion, and much of the best is humble - traditional folk festivals; simple, honest food drowning in olive oil; music that pulls at the heart strings, recalling past love and glories; and markets overflowing with fish, fruit and flowers.

Portugal is in the GMT time zone and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.

The international dialling code is +351

If you are hiring a car, you will need to know about how to pay any toll fees as these are done automatically and not on the road. This is a new system from January 2012 and the method for how to pay this will change throughout the year. Please check this website for current information:

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Faro Airport (FAO)
2023: approx. £63pp each way from Faro Airport, approx. 1 hour. Transfers are payable upon booking.
Flight Guide:
London to Faro with easyJet from £70 return
Riders who booked this ride also considered
Zebra on the Zululand Game Reserve
South Africa, Zululand Private Game Reserve

Situated in the rolling hills of KwaZuluNatal province th...Read more >

from US $199
Western riding through the forest
France, Le Sidobre Ranch

A welcoming ranch with tuition if required and varie...Read more >

from US $1,245
Riding in Andalusia
Spain, Andalusian Mountain Retreat

Beautiful finca accommodation in a National Park, riding ...Read more >

from US $239