Overview for Rota Vicentina Complete
Rota Vicentina is a network of walking trails in south-western Portugal along the most beautiful and best preserved coastline of Southern Europe. Combining the Historical Way and the Fishermen’s Trail and covering 230 km (143 miles) in 12 stages, our Rota Vicentina Complete walking holiday in Portugal provides the ultimate Rota Vicentina hiking experience.
Itinerary for Rota Vicentina CompleteGo to top of page
Day 1: Arrival – Santiago do Cacém
Arriving to Santiago do Cacém, a medieval town located in the inland of Alentejo’s coast, well worth exploring. After the check-in, our local representative will deliver a short briefing to clarify everything related to the tour. All the trails are fully marked, being part of Rota Vicentina’s Historical Way and Fishermen’s Trail.
- Overnight in Santiago do Cacém
Day 2: Santiago do Cacém – Vale Seco
Time to start your adventure. Following the Alentejo’s coastline, this inland path will take you through woods and montado (groves of cork oaks). There’s also the chance of seeing some endemic species of birds which use the montado areas to settle their nests.
- Walking for the day: 20 km, 6h ↑360m ↓430m
- Overnight in Vale Seco
Day 3: Vale Seco – Cercal do Alentejo
The third day brings a strong rural flavour to the walk, passing by many farms and cultivated fields, a good opportunity to see a different lifestyle. You will walk through forests, open fields and olive tree groves, pass by small lakes and water reservoirs. Before getting to Cercal, the path takes you around the beautiful Campilhas lake, a nice place to refresh and go for a quick swim in the warmer days.
- Walking for the day: 19 km, 6h ↑160m ↓200m
- Overnight in Cercal do Alentejo
Day 4: Cercal do Alentejo – Porto Côvo
Now it’s time to get closer to the ocean, this stage is the connection with the Fishermen’s Trail. After the a few kilometres passing by small farms and their beautiful cultivated gardens, you can smell the eucalyptus in the air as you pass by a plantation. You’ll know the ocean’s getting closer as soon as you reach some open fields, with the blue already on the horizon.
- Walking for the day: 19 km, 6h ↑160m ↓200m
- Overnight in Porto Côvo
Day 5: Porto Côvo – Vila Nova de Milfontes
In the morning, you will have a 25 minutes transfer to Porto Côvo (start), there you’ll be able to stock up on supplies for the day, since that during the day you won’t be able to get any. This is a moderate-to-strenuous walk, crossing several areas with loose sand, you will notice that this is a unexplored area, where you can take in some astonishing views. If you are not an experienced walker, there are two shorter alternative walks available – 14 km and 8 km.
- Walking for the day: 20 km, 6h ↑160m ↓150m (or 14 km / 8 km alternative walks)
- Overnight in Vila Nova de Milfontes
Day 6: Milfontes – Almogarve / Longuerira
You have two options for today’s walk: a) take the small ferry to do the river crossing first and then start walking, or, b) cross the river on foot via the bridge, taking the path from the beginning. Both options will lead you into an easy day of walking crossing fields and passing by small cliffs, with access to several beaches, heading to Almograve, further South. Almograve is a nice place to have a lunch and enjoy local gastronomy. After lunch, it’s time to explore the Almograve beach, or to finish the route, heading to the village of Longueira, located inland (35 minutes walking distance).
- Walking for the day: 17 km, 5h ↑90m ↓115m (full walk)
- Overnight in Longueira
Day 7: Almograve – Zambujeira do Mar
Leaving Almograve behind, you will be once again exploring the landscapes along the unspoilt coastal Alentejo. Pass by Zambujeira’s fishing harbour (Entrada da Barca), then walk next to the cliffs offering panoramic seascapes, where you’ll be able to watch cliff-nesting storks. You can make a stop at the small village of Cavaleiro, buy some supplies and enjoy a good home-made local dish, just before heading West do the beautiful lighthouse of Cabo Sardão. Your walk finishes in Zambujeira do Mar, with one of the most amazing beaches in Portugal.
- Walking for the day: 21 km, 6h ↑200m ↓200m
- Overnight in Zambujeira do Mar
Day 8: Zambujeira – Odeceixe
This is one of the most popular hiking routes used by the fishermen going South, heading to Odeceixe, the first village in the Algarve region. You’ll find plenty do explore, passing by Carvalhal Beach, the residence of the famous fado singer Amália Rodrigues and the locally famous harbour of Azenha do Mar, and these are just some of the highlights. After recharging your batteries at Azenha do Mar’s seafood restaurant, you will have the energy to continue your journey to Odeceixe, where the bridge over the river sets the border between Alentejo and Algarve regions.
- Walking for the day: 18 km, 6h ↑260m ↓280m
- Overnight in Odeceixe
Day 9: Odeceixe – Aljezur
From Odeceixe you keep walking south near the coast, passing through the small agricultural village of Rogil, where you’ll be able to try their famous sweet potato. After that, you will keep going south until you reach the village of Aljezur.
- Walking for the day: 22 km, 6h ↑400m ↓400m
- Overnight in Aljezur
Day 10: Aljezur – Arrifana Beach
Today you will follow the Fihermen’s Trail and explore the way into Arrifana beach, with amazing views over the ocean. Wonderful place to spend some time enjoying the beach.
- Walking for the day: 18 km, 5-6h ↑600m ↓600m
- Overnight in Arrifana
Day 11: Arrifana Beach – Carrapateira
Leaving Arrifana, you will walk south in the company of both sea and mountain, a beautiful walk enjoying the hills, dunes and flat sandy beaches from the top of the cliffs. A very primitive and untouched part of the route, which will offer a big diversity of species along the way. A blooming garden during spring time, with amazing colours from butterflies and all the different flowers, and with beautiful foliage during the fall, providing black berries and wild strawberries to the walkers.
- Walking for the day: 23 km, 6h ↑400m ↓500m
- Overnight in Carrapateira
Day 12: Carrapateira – Vila do Bispo
This day brings again beautiful colours, hills meeting the sea, beautiful meadows in valley’s bottoms, small rivers running towards the ocean and temporary ponds, extremely important for the local biodiversity. There will be opportunities to watch some unique species of birds, especially as you approach Vila do Bispo.
- Walking for the day: 21 km, 6h ↑300m ↓200m
- Overnight in Vila do Bispo
Day 13: Vila do Bispo – Cabo de São Vicente
The last stage of your walking adventure will take you to the most south-western point of continental Europe. Also a destination for many pilgrims following the steps of St Vincent. This is a good area for bird watching, so pay attention and keep your binoculars ready.
- Walking for the day: 19 km, 5h ↑210m ↓280m
- Overnight in Sagres
Day 14: Individual Stay Extension, Departure, or Onward Travel
Hotels for Rota Vicentina CompleteGo to top of page
Accommodation is mainly on a bed and breakfast basis using local small hotels. The places we stay at during the tour are all privately owned, and have plenty of Portuguese character. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour. Please note that many rooms with en-suite/private facilities have a shower rather than a bath, usually because of limited space.
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included (usually coffee and toast/bread/croissant). A recommended list of local restaurants (based on our personal experience) will be supplied on arrival – we have listed places with character which offer delicious traditional dishes of fresh Portuguese cuisine. When no restaurant location is available on route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before.
Travel for Rota Vicentina CompleteGo to top of page
Our recommended airports for this holiday are Lisbon and Faro.
Please note that flight information can change rapidly, and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner before finalising any booking with us. Please do not book your flights before we have confirmed your booking.
Transfers to/from Airports
Lisboa to Santiago do Cacém:
- Lisbon Airport: http://www.lisbon-airport.com/
- Bus service – Rede Expressos – http://www.rede-expressos.pt/ (it goes directly to Santiago do Cacém).
- Private from Lisboa (on request)
Sagres to Lisboa:
- You can get a private transfer to Funcheira train station (about 1 hour drive, around £80 extra cost) and from there take direct train to Lisbon;
- Bus service – Rede Expressos – http://www.rede-expressos.pt/ – You can take the bus directly to Lisbon
- Private transfer to Lisboa (on request);
Faro to Santiago do Cacém:
- Faro International Airport link: http://www.faro-airport.org/
- Bus Service – EVABUS and REDE EXPRESSOS – You will have to take the bus to Lagos and then from there to Santiago do Cacém. More info at www.rede-expressos.pt/.
- Private transfer from Faro (on request)
Sagres to Faro:
- Bus service – EVABUS and REDE EXPRESSOS – You can take take the bus to Lagos and then bus or train from there to Faro. More info at www.rede-expressos.pt/;
- Private transfer to Faro (on request)
Airport transfers by public transport are recommended for this trip, however private transfers can be arranged at an additional cost.
All hotel to hotel luggage transfers on walking days are included (maximum one piece of 20 kg per person). When arriving at hotels, sometimes your luggage will have been taken to your room awaiting your arrival. However don’t be surprised if in some places your luggage is waiting for you at the reception desk. Please politely ask someone from the staff if you need assistance to bring it to your room.
Up-to-date travel advice on Portugal is available here.
Trip Info for Rota Vicentina CompleteGo to top of page
Difficulty Grade: Moderate
This holiday is appropriate for seasoned walkers and requires a reasonable level of fitness; average walking time is 5-6 hours per day (14-15 km). Some stages can be optionally shortened (read more about difficulty grades).
The routes are on waymarked paths and trails, including walking on sand and dirt roads, and in general the itinerary is very easy to follow. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to Go
This trip is available in January – June and September – December. Best months to visit are March – June and September – November.
The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date during the season.
The region is benefiting from the Mediterranean climate which brings long, warm and dry summers and very mild winters. The region receives more sun each year than California.
The spring season is warm, with temperatures averaging around 20 °C to 21 °C across the season. A quieter time of the year, visitors to the area need not worry too much about the rainfall, but there are occasional showers. By the end of spring, the weather is more like summer with temperatures rising quickly. The days grow longer through the spring, with an average of eight hours of sunlight per day at the start of the season, rising to around 10 hours by the end of spring.
Travellers looking for sunshine will enjoy the summer, but it may become too hot for hiking. This is why we do not run this holiday in July and August.
The autumn is typically warm and pleasant, cooling slightly by November. Late-season sun seekers can still be found sunbathing throughout the autumn, enjoying average daily maximum temperatures ranging from 26°C in September to 19°C in November. Whilst it remains warm, rainfall gradually increases through the autumn season: 26mm in September, 56mm in October and 81mm in November.
December is winter’s wettest month with 96mm of rainfall through the month, typically. Whilst the winter season is warm – expect the air to feel cool to mild, although you might find temperatures in the sunlight to be as high as 20°C – the days are much shorter, with 5 to 6 hours expected each month through the winter.
What to Bring
We recommend that you travel as light as possible – airlines might charge you an extra fee, and during ground transfers, the place might be limited. Ideally, you should bring one piece of luggage weighing not more than 20 kg (to be checked in) and a daily pack (15 – 20 l rucksack) for your everyday essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc.). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack. If you need further advice, please contact a reputable outdoor retailer or us.
- Good hiking boots
- Hiking socks
- Several t-shirts (preferably breathable/fast drying)
- Packable waterproof and windproof jacket with hood
- Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece
- Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside accommodation
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
- Hat/Baseball cap
- Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)
Included for Rota Vicentina CompleteGo to top of page
- Detailed holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions and map
- GPS tracks to use via our smartphone navigation app
- Briefing on arrival
- Recommended restaurants list
- 13 nights in small hotels
- 13 breakfasts
- One dinner at Moinhos do Paneiro
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days
- 24/7 assistance by phone
Single Room & Solo Traveller Supplements
- Single room supplement: please note that on this holiday the single supplement guarantees the privacy of your own room, however, rooms can at times be smaller and in some places you may not enjoy the same facilities as in double/twin rooms.
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; as costs are not shared, there is a solo traveller supplement to the standard price.
To see the price of the holiday for your desired dates, including the cost of different options and supplements, please click the CHECK AVAILABILITY button above.
Other Trip-Related Costs
- Entrance fees for attractions and museums
- Flights and airport transfers
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
- Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the program
Extensions and Optional Extras
- Extra nights along the trail bookable upon request
- Airport transfers
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Reviews for Rota Vicentina CompleteGo to top of page
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Trails are very well marked and generally well maintained. Accommodation was generally of a very good standard. Local representative was very thorough and helpful. I would rate the holiday very highly - the coastal stretches of the walk were particularly beautiful.