The Fishermen’s Trail is the coastal part of Portugal’s famous Rota Vicentina long-distance trail. This walking holiday follows some of the best-preserved coastlines in Europe through the beautiful national park in the Alentejo region.
During your walks, you will be accompanied by the ocean always on your side, and, at times, you will be presented with seemingly endless fields of wildflowers. Well-signposted paths will take you along impressive cliffs, down to deserted beaches and secret sandy coves, accessible only on foot.
- Hike through the majestic coastal scenery of the Alentejo region
- The pretty coastal towns
- Swim at remote beaches away from the busy resorts
- The storks which nest along the cliffs
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 – Vila Nova de Milfontes
After the check-in, our local representative will deliver a short briefing to clarify everything related to the tour, after that, everything will sound much clearer. All the trails are fully marked, being part of Rota Vicentina’s Historical Way and Fishermen’s Trail.
- Accommodation: Mil Réis or similar
Day 2: 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 3: 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 finish the route, heading to the village of Longueira, located inland (35 minutes walking distance).
- Walking for the day: 15 km, 5 h ↑90 m ↓115 m (full walk)
- Accommodation: Vicentina rooms by Isa or similar
Day 4: 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 to 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 5: 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: Casa Celeste or similar
Day 6: 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 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 ensuite/private facilities have a shower rather than a bath, usually because of limited space.
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*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 January – June and mid-September – December. Best months to visit are March – June and October – 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. 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.
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- From Lisbon Airport: Get the train from Oriente to Funcheira train station, you will need a private transfer from there to Vila Nova de Milfontes (50 km distance, around £60 extra cost). For more information, visit http://www.cp.pt. or use the Omio planner above.
- Bus service – Rede Expressos – goes directly to Vila Nova de Milfontes.
- From Faro Airport, get the train from Faro Station to Funcheira train station, you will need a private transfer from there to Vila Nova de Milfontes (50 km distance, around £60 extra cost). For more information, visit http://www.cp.pt. or use the Omio planner above.
- You can take the bus to Lagos and from there to Vila Nova de Milfontes with Rede Expressos.
- On your departure day, you can get a private transfer to Funcheira train station (about 1-hour drive, around £80 extra cost) and from there take a direct train to Lisbon or bus to Faro via Lagos.
- Private transfers are available upon request.
- 5 nights accommodation in small hotels, as described
- 5 breakfasts
- 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
- Transfer on Day 2 to Porto Côvo
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners, 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
The most memorable experience was having the opportunity to gather two of my best friends who’d not spent much time together. We truly lost track of time, not even knowing what day it was. The other most memorable part were meeting all the local people, whether the B & Bs we stayed at, the proprietors at small shops, or the places we ate, everyone was so warm and welcoming. And then there was the trail, being outside, and having the Atlantic Ocean as our constant companion. And the food! Eating at local places with everything so fresh and delicious…and very affordable. To summarize, it was just about everything that made this holiday special.
We had an amazing time. We loved the trip and all the accommodation was terrific and the weather great. Thanks so much.
My granddaughter and I had a brilliant time. The coastal scenery was stunning and it was great to enjoy fresh fish and good local wine each evening. We found the smartphone app with the GPS tracks really helpful, especially for the odd occasion when there was an unmarked fork in the trail. We were particularly impressed with the Turismo Rural in Monte Novo da Longeira and least impressed with the Rosa dos Ventos in Zambujeira.
There were many enjoyable spots making it difficult to specify any particular place or moment. I would think it is very important to do the walk during the Spring or Fall and to avoid July and August when hot temperatures could be dangerous.
Dear Ana, thank you for your feedback. Your comment about temperatures in July and August is very adequate and indeed we are not offering this itinerary in July, August and early September.
Hello, wonderful, seemless organisation, great local representative, miraflores accommodation lovely with fresh breakfast, Sand dunes harder to walk than we had anticipated, spring flowers in full bloom. We had travelled from Australia with tight schedules so professionalism much appreciated. Dependable. Recommend unreservedly, will book another walk. A wild part of Europe, the nesting storks a highlight. Thank you from the mature and fabulous lady walkers.