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.
- Hike through the majestic coastal scenery of the Alentejo and Algarve regions
- Stay in pretty coastal towns
- Swim at remote beaches away from the busy resorts
- The storks which nest along the cliffs
- Cabo de São Vicente – the most south-western point of continental Europe
- The Santiago do Cacém Church
Our Co-Founder Peter Duncan hiked along the Vicentina Coast in the spring of 2019. You can read his blog post here.
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Day 1: Arrival – Santiago do Cacém
Arriving in 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.
- Accommodation: Hotel D. Nuno or similar
Day 2: Santiago do Cacém – Vale Seco | 20 km
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 that use the montado areas to settle their nests.
- Walking for the day: 20 km, 6h ↑360m ↓430m
- Accommodation: Moinhos do Paneiro or similar
Day 3: Vale Seco – Cercal do Alentejo | 19 km
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, 6 h ↑160 m ↓200 m
- Accommodation: Solar do Alentejo or similar
Day 4: Cercal do Alentejo – Porto Côvo | 19 km
Now it’s time to get closer to the ocean, this stage is the connection with the Fishermen’s Trail. After 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, 6 h ↑160 m ↓200 m
- Accommodation: Hotel Porto Côvo or similar
Day 5: Porto Côvo – Vila Nova de Milfontes | 8-20 km
In the morning, you will have a 25 minutes transfer to Porto Côvo (start), where you’ll be able to stock up on supplies for the day since, 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 an 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, 6 h ↑160 m ↓150 m (or 14 km / 8 km alternative walks)
- Accommodation: Mil Réis or similar
Day 6: Milfontes – Almogarve / Longuerira | 15 km
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 lunch and enjoy the 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: 15 km, 5h ↑90 m ↓115 m (full walk)
- Accommodation: Vicentina rooms by Isa or similar
Day 7: Almograve – Zambujeira do Mar | 21 km
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, 6 h ↑200 m ↓200 m
- Accommodation: Rosa dos Ventos or similar
Day 8: Zambujeira – Odeceixe | 18 km
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 to 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, 6 h ↑260 m ↓280 m
- Accommodation: Casas do Moinho or similar
Day 9: Odeceixe – Aljezur | 22 km
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
- Accommodation: Vicentina Hotel or similar
Day 10: Aljezur – Arrifana Beach | 18 km
Today you will follow the Fishermen’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
- Accommodation: Hi Arrifana or similar
Day 11: Arrifana Beach – Carrapateira | 23 km
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 blackberries and wild strawberries to the walkers.
- Walking for the day: 23 km, 6h ↑400m ↓500m
- Accommodation: Pensão das Dunas or similar
Day 12: Carrapateira – Vila do Bispo | 21 km
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
- Accommodation: Hotel Mira Sagres or similar
Day 13: Vila do Bispo – Cabo de São Vicente | 19 km
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
- Accommodation: Mareta View or similar
Day 14: Departure
Return home or individual stay extension.
What to Expect
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.
Click to view default hotels
- Hotel D. Nuno, Moinhos do Paneiro, Solar do Alentejo, Hotel Porto Côvo, Mil Réis, Vicentina rooms by Isa, Rosa dos Ventos, Casas do Moinho, Vicentina Hotel, Hi Arrifana, Pensão das Dunas, Hotel Mira Sagres, Mareta View
*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.
Difficulty & terrain
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 February – May and mid-September – December. Best months to visit are March – May/June and October – November. Departures between 13 – 30 June 2022 available upon request.
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. 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. December is winter’s wettest month with 96 mm 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.
Click to view travel options
- From Lisbon Airport, there is a direct bus to Santiago do Cacém.
- From Faro, you will have to take the bus to Lagos and then to Santiago do Cacém.
- On departure, you can get a private transfer to Funcheira train station (about 2 hours drive) and from there take direct train to Lisbon; or you can take the bus to Lagos and then bus or train to Faro.
- For more information, visit Rede Expressos or use the Omio planner above.
- Private transfers are available upon request.
- 13 nights accommodation in small hotels, as described
- 13 breakfasts
- Briefing on arrival
- One dinner at Moinhos do Paneiro
- Recommended restaurants list
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days
- Detailed holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions and map
- GPS tracks to use via our smartphone navigation app
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners (except one dinner at Moinhos do Paneiro), drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
Options, extras & supplements
- A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
- 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 along the trail are bookable upon request
- Airport transfers
We were blown away by the dramatic Portugal coastline. Having lived on the Oregon Coast I was not prepared to see even a more dramatic coastline. I would advise travelers to be prepared to walk extensively on dry sand which is not easy. The directions for the last leg of the trip to the Cape Vincent did not indicate the new coast line trail. We learned that by accident and verified it from others. I would rate your firm with a 5 and would be happy to share that my thoughts with others. There were no negative experiences.