Walking the Rota Vicentina is one of the most exciting and exquisite ways to visit Portugal. It’s a 400km colossal web of natural trails, in two separate sections: the Caminho Histórico or Historical Way and the Trilho dos Pescadores Fishermen’s Trail. This 14 day, self-guided route dips in and out of both. It starts inland at the medieval town of Santiago do Cacém up north in Alentejo and finishes at Cabo de São Vicente, the most south-western point of continental Europe in the Algarve. As well as many coastal gems, highlights along the way include inland idylls such as swimming in Campilhas Lake, walking through groves of cork oaks (sobreiros) and strolling across wildflower meadows.
- Alentejo and Algarve
- Castelo de Santiago do Cacém
- Farol do Cabo Sardão
- Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park
- Cabo de São Vicente
- Caminho Histórico or Historical Way
- Trilho dos Pescadores or Fishermen’s Trail
Click to view map
Day 1: Arrival in Santiago do Cacém
Arrive in Santiago do Cacém, a medieval town that was an important stopover settlement during Roman times. Visit the nearby ruins of Miróbriga, an archaeological site showcasing a well-preserved acropolis. The town’s main attraction, Castelo de Santiago do Cacém, offers panoramic views over the town from its hilltop position.
- Accommodation: Hotel Dom Nuno or similar in Santiago do Cacém
Day 2: Santiago do Cacém – Vale Seco | 20km
Follow the route along the Alentejo coastline, before the path heads inland, leading through woodland and sobreiros (cork oaks). Keep an eye out for wildlife along the way, since a wide variety of bird species nest in these habitats. Your day comes to a close in the village of Vale Seco.
- Walking for the day: 20km, 6h ↑450m ↓500m
- Accommodation: Casinhas da Aldeia or similar in Vale Seco
Day 3: Vale Seco – Cercal do Alentejo | 20km
Walk through woodland, along field tracks and olive tree groves, heading past small lakes and reservoirs along the way. Follow the path around Barragem de Campilhas, perfect for a refreshing dip in the lake, before ending the day in Cercal do Alentejo.
- Walking for the day: 20km, 5h ↑295m ↓330m
- Accommodation: Solar do Alentejo or similar in Cercal do Alentejo
Day 4: Cercal do Alentejo – Porto Côvo | 17km
Today’s stage joins the Fishermen’s Trail. After a few kilometres of walking past farms and fields, you come to a eucalyptus grove. Continue on through open fields, from where the ocean can be seen in the distance. Today’s route ends in the coastal town of Porto Côvo, where there is the chance to relax on one of the many nearby beaches or explore the town’s white and blue historic centre.
- Walking for the day: 17km, 5h ↑290m ↓415m
- Accommodation: Porto Côvo Hotel or similar in Porto Côvo
Day 5: Porto Côvo – Vila Nova de Milfontes | 20km/14km/8km
Before leaving Porto Côvo, we recommend stocking up on supplies for the day of walking, as it’s going to get wonderfully rural. Today’s walk is also fairly demanding and involves crossing several unpaved areas with loose sand, although we can offer a less strenuous route option. Your final stop today is in the coastal town of Vila Nova de Milfontes.
- Walking for the day: 20km, 6h ↑160m ↓150m (alternative option: 8km or 14km)
- Accommodation: Mil Réis or similar in Vila Nova de Milfontes
Day 6: Vila Nova de Milfontes – Almograve | 12/15km
There are two route options for today’s walk. Either take a small ferry across the river to start your walk, or start walking from Vila Nova de Milfontes and cross the river on foot via a bridge. Both options provide an easy day of walking, heading south along cliff paths with access to several beaches along the way. Arrive in Almograve and spend the afternoon swimming or strolling along the beach at Praia do Almograve.
- Walking for the day: 15km, 5h ↑260m ↓280m (or 12km with the ferry)
- Accommodation: Vicentina Rooms by Casas do Alentejo or similar in Almograve/Vila Nova de Milfontes
Day 7: Almograve – Zambujeira do Mar | 21km
Follow the route along rocky cliffs, with panoramic seascapes and the opportunity to spot cliff-nesting storks. Take a break in the small village of Cavaleiro to buy some supplies or to have lunch at a local restaurant. Head west towards the lighthouse, Farol do Cabo Sardão, before continuing to Entrada da Barca, Zambujeira do Mar’s fishing harbour, perfect for an overnight stay, with several beaches in the area.
- Walking for the day: 21km, 6h ↑200m ↓200m
- Accommodation: Rosa dos Ventos or similar in Zambujeira do Mar
Day 8: Zambujeira do Mar – Odeceixe | 18km
Leave Zambujeira do Mar and head south towards Praia do Carvalhal. Continue on along the coast, heading past Herdade Amália Rodrigues, the famous fado singer Amália Rodrigues’ former beach house, which is now a guesthouse. Arrive at Azenha do Mar, a small fishing town, where we recommend stopping for lunch at one of the local restaurants. Cross the bridge over Ribeira de Seixe, the river that forms a natural border between the Alentejo and Algarve regions, ending your day in the village of Odeceixe, located within Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park.
- Walking for the day: 18km, 6h ↑260m ↓280m
- Accommodation: Casas do Moinho or similar in Odeceixe
Day 9: Odeceixe – Aljezur | 23km
From Odeceixe, head south along the coast, following the route through the village of Rogil, where batata doce (sweet potato) is a local speciality. Continue south, before arriving in the village of Aljezur, dominated by the ruins of Castelo de Aljezur, which made up part of the coast’s defensive system during the 12th and 13th centuries.
- Walking for the day: 23km, 6h ↑400m ↓400m
- Accommodation: Vicentina Hotel or similar in Aljezur
Day 10: Aljezur – Arrifana | 12-18km
Leaving Aljezur, today’s route follows the Rota Vicentina’s Historical Way, leading to the small fishing village of Arrifana. There is the option to extend your walk by continuing along the Fishermen’s Trail to Praia da Arrifana, the perfect place for a refreshing swim and rest after a day of walking.
- Walking for the day: 12km, 4h, ↑220m ↓180m (longer option: 18km, 5-6h ↑345m ↓290m)
- Accommodation: HI Arrifana Destination Hostel or similar in Arrifana
Day 11: Arrifana – Carrapateira | 22km
Head south, following the route along the coastline, over hills and dunes, with views over flat sandy beaches, bringing your day to a close in the coastal village of Carrapateira.
- Walking for the day: 22km, 6h ↑400m ↓500m
- Accommodation: Pensão das Dunas or similar in Carrapateira
Day 12: Carrapateira – Vila do Bispo | 22km
Leave Carrapateira and follow the route towards Vila do Bispo. Along the way, today’s route features a variety of landscapes, including hills, valleys, flat pastures, meadows and small rivers that lead to the ocean. There are opportunities to spot a variety of birdlife, especially on the approach to Vila do Bispo, where today’s walk ends.
- Walking for the day: 22km, 6h ↑300m ↓200m
- Accommodation: Hotel Mira Sagres or similar in Vila do Bispo
Day 13: Vila do Bispo – Cabo de São Vicente – Sagres | 21km
Your last day of walking takes you to Cabo de São Vicente, the most southwesterly point of continental Europe, and also a destination for pilgrims following in the steps of Saint Vincent. Over recent centuries, the lighthouse has been damaged and reconstructed several times, and it now stands at 24m and has a small museum, which provides an insight into Portugal’s maritime navigation history. Continue walkin to Sagres for the final night of your tour.
- Walking for the day: 21km, 6h ↑140m ↓160m
- Accommodation: Mareta View or similar in Sagres
Day 14: Departure
Departure after breakfast, or extend your stay with an extra night in Sagres.
What to expect
Accommodation on this tour includes a mix of mostly small, locally-owned hotels, B&Bs, traditional guesthouses and one hostel. They have been carefully selected based on a variety of criteria including their location, warm hospitality, fine local food or commitment to responsible tourism. All rooms have en-suite or private bathrooms.
Click to view default hotels
Accommodation is subject to availability. In the event of a particular hotel or guesthouse being fully booked for your chosen dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included on all days, except day two. When no restaurant location is available en route, lunches and snacks can either be bought from local shops or packed lunches can be pre-ordered from your accommodation the night before. Dinner is available either at the accommodation or from restaurants in the local area.
Difficulty and terrain
This tour is rated moderate and is suitable for seasoned walkers. A reasonable level of fitness is required to get the most out of this tour, since the average walking time is 5-6h per day and daily walking distances range between 12-22km. It is possible to shorten some stages and, in general, the routes are very easy to follow. The routes follow waymarked paths and trails, and involve walking on sand and dirt roads (read more about difficulty grades).
We strongly advise you to only follow marked trails and never try to shorten the path through unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed route notes and maps and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed information on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available from the beginning of February until the end of June and then mid-September until the end of November. It is too hot for walking during July and August. The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, meaning you can start your trip on any date during the season.
The region benefits from a Mediterranean climate, which brings long, warm and dry summers and very mild winters. The spring is pleasant, with average temperatures of 21C. Autumn temperatures are typically moderate, at an average of 26C, cooling slightly by November to 19C. For more information, see our blog on the best time to go to Portugal and on detailed blog on the Fishermen’s Trail and Rota Vicentina.
Click to view travel options
By train or bus
- From Lisbon Airport: take the bus (17mins) to Sete Rios bus station, from where there is a direct bus to Santiago do Cacém (2h 5mins). For further information and tickets, see Rede Expressos
- From Faro Airport: take the bus, changing in Lagos for Santiago do Cacém (approximately 6.5h, depending on connections). For further information and tickets, see ALSA and Rede Expressos
- When leaving Sagres, it is possible to book a private transfer to Funcheira railway station (2h), from where there are direct trains to Lisbon. Alternatively, take the bus to Lagos and then the bus or train to Faro or Faro Airport
- For more information, see Comboios de Portugal and Rede Expressos or use the Omio planner above
- 13 nights accommodation
- 12 breakfasts (not included on day two in Vale Seco)
- Daily luggage transfers (one piece per person, up to 15kg)
- Detailed holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions and map (digital format and one set of printed materials per room)
- Phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Breakfast on day two, lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable locally)
- Any items not specifically listed as included in the programme
Options, extras and supplements
- If you’re travelling in a group, a supplement applies to group members who would like to have a room of their own
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Extra nights before, during and after the tour
- Airport transfers or transfer to Funcheira railway station on departure