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The Best of the Rota Vicentina

The Best of the Rota Vicentina

Overview

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 best sections of the Historical Way and the Fishermen’s Trail and covering 182 km (113 miles) in nine stages, our The Best of the Rota Vicentina walking holiday in Portugal provides a great Rota Vicentina hiking experience.

  • Hike through the majestic coastal scenery of the Alentejo region
  • Stay in pretty coastal towns
  • Swim at remote beaches away from the busy resorts
  • The storks which nest along the cliffs
  • Visit Cabo de São Vicente – the most south-western point of continental Europe

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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Itinerary

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.

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, 6h ↑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 to finish the route, heading to the village of Longueira, located inland (35 minutes walking distance).

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, 6h ↑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, 6h ↑260 m ↓280 m
  • Accommodation: Casas do Moinho or similar

Day 6: 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 ↑400 m ↓400 m
  • Accommodation: Vicentina Hotel or similar

Day 7: Aljezur – Arrifana Beach | 18 km

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 ↑600 m ↓600 m
  • Accommodation: Hi Arrifana or similar

Day 8: 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 ↑400 m ↓500 m
  • Accommodation: Pensão das Dunas or similar

Day 9: Carrapateira – Vila do Bispo | 21 km

This day brings again beautiful colours, hills meeting the sea, beautiful meadows in the 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 birds species, especially as you approach Vila do Bispo.

  • Walking for the day: 21 km, 6h ↑300 m ↓200 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Mira Sagres or similar

Day 10: 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 ↑210 m ↓280 m
  • Accommodation: Mareta View or similar

Day 11: Departure

Return home or individual stay extension.

What to Expect

Accommodation

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

*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.

Meals

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; the average walking time is 5-6 hours per day (15-20 km) (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.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

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By plane

Our recommended airports for this tour are Lisbon (LIS) and Faro (FAO).

By train or bus
  • 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.

Inclusions

Included

  • 10 nights accommodation in small hotels, as described
  • 10 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

Excluded

  • 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

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