Rota Vicentina Blog : 10 Things I learned on my 1st Solo Adventure

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After doing my first solo backpacking trip and spending 4 days hiking along the Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail in Portugal, I can confidently say that it is a must-visit destination for Nature lovers and people who love quirky, off-the-beaten path destinations.

This network of hiking trails, authentic fishing villages and cycling area is located in the Alentejo and Algarve provinces in the south of Portugal is a nature lover’s paradise and great for more beginner and experienced long distance hikers.

Rota Vicentina Blog: Top 10 Things You Need to Know

The stunning views, rich history, and charming towns along the way make for a truly unforgettable experience.

Sections 2-5 are the absolute best parts.

The trails are suitable for hikers and cyclists of all levels, with various routes and distances available to suit different preferences and abilities. You can often call a taxi if you want to shorten the day’s route.

It’s like stepping back in time.

✅ It’s for people that want an authentic experience of Portugal’s past and Nature.

❌ It’s not for summer trekking. You’ll enjoy the hiking in Madeira and it’s beaches more during the hot months. Alentejo is especially great for April travel and hiking.

2. Rota Vicentina Trail Details

sign rota vicentina

One thing I appreciated about planning my trip was how easy it was to find information about the trails. The Rota Vicentina website has detailed maps and descriptions of each trail, which made it easy for me to choose which routes I wanted to take.

The trail is relatively quiet and uncrowded, allowing hikers to truly immerse themselves in the natural surroundings.

The trail is well-marked and easy to navigate, with clear signage and maps available at various points along the way.

The sense of accomplishment and fulfilment that comes from completing the trail is met with awesome dinners at legit Portuguese restaurants that have fish directly from the sea.

2. Entire Rota Vicentina

The network includes two long-distance routes and several day hikes some of which can be incorporated into one of the long-distance routes.

  • The Fisherman’s Trail is a 140 miles (225.6 km) trail that hugs the coast and offers stunning views of the ocean.
  • The Historical Way is a 163 miles (263 km) trail that takes you through rural villages and historic sites.

The Fisherman’s Trail takes you along the stunning coastline, while the Historical Way follows ancient paths and rural roads through traditional villages, cork forests, valleys, mountain areas, and riverbanks.

The 24 Circular Routes are shorter dayhikes that vary in length, but the longest is 10 miels (16 km).

Name of RouteDistanceTime to Hike It
Fisherman’s Trail125 km4-13 days
Historical Way230 km35-35 days
Circular RoutesVaries in length24 Day hikes
Fisherman’s Trail GPX Route ⬅️ Click Here

3. The Rota Vicentina is not just about the hiking!

The Rota Vicentina is a sustainable tourism project that aims to preserve the environment and support local communities. It’s also great destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all types, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, cycling, kayaking, and surfing.

It’s popular for bikepacking, mountain biking and volunteer trips for conservationists.


4. Rota Vicentina Review : Food

food on rota vicentina
From my last trip in 2022 – fresh pressed raspberrry juice at breakfast!

Nom, Nom! The food on the Rota Vicentina was delicious. I tried a variety of local dishes, including seafood and traditional Portuguese stews.

One thing I appreciated was how fresh the food was. Many of the restaurants source their ingredients locally, which made the meals even more enjoyable.


5. Rota Vicentina Review: Wine

The deep Alentejo reds were fantastic after a long day’s hike. The crisp whites at lunch weren’t too shabby either.

It’s a place with a range very cheap and delicious to very expensive and also delicious choices. I love it so much more than than German wine experience.


6. The Rota Vicentina is home to some of the most beautiful and wild beaches in Portugal

rota vicentina blog
Check out that Waterfall off the cliff into the ocean!

My absolute favorite beach in Zambujeira do Mar had a waterfall flowing into the ocean!

If you’re a beach lover, you’ll be in heaven when you explore the region around Rota Vicentina. The coastline is dotted with stunning beaches, each with its unique charm. Some of the most popular beaches include:

  • Praia do Amado: A popular surfing spot with a long stretch of golden sand.
  • Praia da Arrifana: A picturesque beach with rocky cliffs and clear waters.
  • Praia do Monte Clérigo: A family-friendly beach with calm waters and plenty of amenities.

When you’re not soaking up the sun on the beach, make sure to explore the charming coastal towns in the area. Aljezur, for example, is a beautiful town with a medieval castle and a lively market.


7. The region is also home to several charming fishing villages

rota vicentina

It’s hard to pick a homebase because there are so many interesting places. I loved staying in Porto Covo with it’s whitewashed houses with blue stripes.

The accommodations on the Rota Vicentina will vary depending on the town or village. Mine were comfortable and convenient. I stayed in a mix of hotels, hostels and guesthouses, all of which were clean and well-maintained.

The staff at each place were friendly and helpful, and they all spoke English fluently.

The friendly locals and welcoming atmosphere make for a warm and inviting experience.

I used booking.com to plan my entire trek. Not sure what that is? Here’s my full review of booking.com so you can make your decision.


8. Wildlife and Birdwatching

The region around Rota Vicentina is a nature lover’s paradise, with plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Some of the best natural attractions include:

  • The Vicentine Coast Natural Park: A protected area that offers stunning coastal views and plenty of hiking trails.
  • The Ribeira de Seixe: A beautiful river that runs through the region and offers plenty of opportunities for kayaking and swimming.
  • The Costa Vicentina Trail: A long-distance hiking trail that takes you through some of the region’s most beautiful landscapes.

Make sure to keep an eye out for the region’s wildlife, including dolphins, sea turtles, and rare bird species.


9. Rota Vicentina History

The historical significance of the trail, with ancient ruins and Portuguese landmarks dating back centuries, adds an extra layer of intrigue and fascination.

Historical Sites and Cultural Experiences

The region around Rota Vicentina is steeped in history, and there are plenty of historical sites and cultural experiences to explore. Some of the highlights include:

  • The Castle of Aljezur: A medieval castle that offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
  • The “São Clemente Fort”: A castle in Vila Nova de Milfontes showcases the history and culture of the region and dates back to the 1500s .
  • Cabo Sardão Lighthouse: A beautiful lighthouse on the sea cliffs of Zambujeira do Mar.

Make sure to also explore the region’s traditional villages, such as Carrapateira and Odeceixe, to get a taste of local life and culture.


10. Sustainable Tourism

rota vicentina

The friendly locals and welcoming atmosphere make for a warm and inviting experience unlike some of the major cities and overcrowded Algarve.

One of the things that make Rota Vicentina so special is the unspoiled nature and diverse wildlife.

From stunning cliffs to pristine beaches, the scenery is nothing short of breathtaking. Whether you are looking to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life or simply want to immerse yourself in Portugal’s rich history and culture, then the Rota Vicentina might be for you.


How to Get There

How to Get to Fisherman’s Trail Trailhead at Porto Covo from Lisbon

Lisbon Airport (LIS Humberto Delgado) – Lisboa Sete Rios stationPorto Covo

fisherman's trail portugal

How to Get to Porto Covo

Compared to the United States, public transportation is generally excellent in Portugal and inexpensive. Outside Porto and Lisbon, buses are the best. It’s possible to shorten or lengthen your hiking trip as there are bus stops in each of the main villages I’ve outlined.

For example, if you only have 3 days you can return to Lisbon from the 3rd village Zambujiera do Mar instead of going the full 4 days to Odeceixe.

Renting a one way car is not a viable option unless you hike all the way to Lagos (12 stages). Also the train options are much slower than buses and run inland.

Timetables do change with the seasons so start your planning here and plan your outgoing bus (16.50) to Porto Covo. Traffic can be challenging in Lisbon, so if you’re trying to get to Porto Covo on the day you fly into Lisbon you may want to have a morning flight arrival in order to get the late afternoon bus to Porto Covo.

I’d allow at least 2 hours commute time from the airport to the bus station in case of delays. Changing all of your nightly accommodations because you missed the bus won’t be much fun.

I had plenty of time to explore the TimeOut Market and wander through the exquisite tile-clad Alfama neighborhood on my arrival day before the bus ride to Porto Covo.

From Lisbon airport it’s simple to use google maps to find the correct subway (1-2 euros), or you can download the “Free Now” app for a private car (around 15-20 euros) to get to the bus station at Sete Rios.

✈️ Need cheap flight tickets for your trip? Consider choosing WayAway for these aims. WayAway is a flight aggregator that provides travelers with the best rates on airline tickets. Use the form below and buy cheap flights!

While taxis are available in small villages, they often are booked and much more expensive. If you want to fly out of Faro airport instead of Lisbon, this is likely going to be your best bet and you’ll want to call well ahead of time to secure a taxi.

How to Book it

Don’t have time to read the whole article? Ready to start planning? Rota Vicentina Trail and ready to start your independent planning. You don’t really need a guide on this excellent well-marked trail. 👎🏻

Author’s tl;dr: Ultimate Travel and Hiking Guide to the Best 4 days of the Fishermen’s Trail Section of the Rota Vicentina. Including GPX Stages for your phone and a Minimalist Packing List.

➡️ Spreadsheet Fisherman’s Trail Accommodation to plan your own adventure.

Summary of Accommodations

StageDistance WalkedMy Favorite Places to Stay on the Trail
Day 0Porto Covo: Mute
Day 112 miVila Nova de Milfontes: Vila Eira Boutique House
Day 29 miAlmograve: Almograve Beach Hostel
Day 313 miZambujeira do Mar: Monte Das Alpenduradas
Day 411 miOdeceixe: Bohemian Antique Guesthouse
Travel DaysLisbon, Lagos
Free SheetGet a full list of Accomodations

Quick Packing List for Portugal

If you’re planning a trip to hike, I’ve got you covered with a detailed minimalist packing list for the fisherman’s trail.

Here’s a quick and dirty:

  • Sun Protection: Hat, Sunscreen, Cat 4 Polarized sunglasses
  • Hiking Gear: Quick dry pants/skirt, 2 shirts, 2 pairs quality socks/liners, 2-3 liters of water, phone with GPS app, emergency snacks, first aid kit
  • Weather: Rain jacket, lightweight warm jacket
  • Trail running shoes – boots fill with sand
  • Equipment: 220v adaptor plugs, power bank, sleep sac if in hostel, sandals for hotel, mini tolietries, travel docs in waterproof bag, thermals if you get easily cold, dining clothes
  • Trekking Insurance: Global rescue offers peace of mind.

Final Verdict

The Rota Vicentina is a great shoulder season hiking destination. It’s very hot in summer and not great to hike, you’ll barely be able to do more than sit at the beach in July and August here.

Fisherman’s Trail Summary with Travel Guides for Each Village

Arrival Day: Get to Porto Covo: (Lisbon to Porto Covo 2.5 hours bus)

Stage 1: Porto Covo to Vila Nova Milfontes 12 miles, 20 km


Stage 2: Vila Nova Milfontes to Almograve 9 miles, 15 km


Stage 3: Almograve to Zambujeira do Mar 13 miles, 21 km


Stage 4: Zambujeira do Mar to Odeceixe 11 miles, 18 km

Download: ➡️ Fisherman’s Trail GPX
➡️ Minimalist Packing List
Ultimate Guide : Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail

Thanks for reading my Rota Vicentina Blog!


Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.