Pros & Cons of the Rota Vicentina Trail – Portugal’s Best Hiking??

We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Read more about us.

A quick and dirty guide to the Pros and Cons of the Rota Vicentina Trail in South West Portugal. It’s one of the best Spring and Fall coastal hiking destinations in Europe, but is it all it’s cracked up to be? I went there in November to figure out this question.

This was my very first multi-day solo hiking experience.

And and I would highly recommend it to other travellers that want a comfortable multi-day “backpacking” trip.

I almost don’t want to call it that, because we’re talking about octopus and wine for dinner every night, but the Nature was incredible.

But there are downsides. Continue reading to learn.

Morgan’s Youtube Rota Vicentina Hike

However, it’s really not “backcountry” so some may not want to do this. That’s why I’ve decided to share the pros and cons of the Rota Vicentina so you can make your own decision.

What is the Rota Vicentina?

When presented with golf course and towering condo development along the Alentejo Atlantic coast, Portugal instead invested in the Rota Vicentina Eco Tourism project. This protected area brings people together in a slow and sustainable way.

It’s a network of trails that connects ancient fishing trails and where needed, new hiking trails have been built to create a total of 750 km or 446 miles of hiking heaven. You can also bike it and enjoy horse riding.

Quick Take Rota Vicentina Trail:

  • Coastal Views, Cliffs
  • Winter long distance trail in Europe
  • Incredible Seafood in Villages
  • Easy luggage transport
  • Variety of hotel/BnB on trail
  • Birds
  • Impossible in July and August
  • No chance for complete solitude
  • Wild camping is illegal
  • Sandy trails
  • Language barrier in smaller villages
  • Windy

Who is it good for?

  • Multi-day hikers
  • Day hikers
  • Birdwatchers
  • Fall, Winter and Spring Hikers
  • Bike Packers
  • Long Distance Hiking in Portugal
porto covo portugal the start of the fisherman's trail rota vicentina
The lovely Porto Covo – my favorite village along the trail. The crystal shop is adorable.

Who is it not good for?

  • Summer Hikers
  • Crusiers
  • Luxury At All Costs Travelers
  • People who hate sand and seafood
  • Hikers that want isolation and solitude

Keep reading to learn the pros and cons and a cheap and easy way to book your accommodations right on the trail.

Rota Vicentina Trail

There’s some confusion around the terms Rota Vicentina and Fishermen’s Trail. Under the umbrella of “Rota Vicentina” are included the Historical Way (inland, resembling the Camino Portuguese), Fishermen’s Trail (coastal), and Circular Routes (day hikes).

fisherman's trail sign

Trail NameDistance in KMDistance in Mi
Fisherman’s Trail227 km141 mi
Historical Way263 km164 mi
Circular Routes: Day Hikes263 km164 mi

Historical Way : 13 Stages

❌Views BUT ➡️ 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 Authentic

The Historical Way is one of the two main trails that make up the Rota Vicentina, a network of walking routes in Portugal’s Alentejo and Algarve regions.

This 263-kilometer trail takes hikers through the region’s rich cultural and natural heritage, passing through quaint fishing villages, cork forests, and stunning coastal landscapes.

The trail starts in Santiago do Cacém, a historic town known for its castle and Roman ruins, and ends in Cabo de São Vicente, the southwesternmost point of Europe.

Circular Routes (For Day hikers)

These are 24 short loops for dayhikers in and around the Rota Vicentina.

The Rota Vicentina network also includes a series of circular routes that offer hikers the opportunity to explore specific areas in more depth.

These circular routes range in distance from 3 to 16 kilometers and are designed to showcase the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the Alentejo and Algarve regions. 

Fisherman’s Trail : 13 Stages

❌ Kinda Busy BUT ➡️ 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥Views

The “Fishermen’s Trail” is considerably more scenic than the Historical Way and runs directly on the coast in 13 stages for 227 km. Each year more sections are developed and improved, great news for you explorers!

It’s possible to hike in either direction as the trail is very well marked in both directions, including symbols on “where not to hike”, however the North to South direction is the most simple in terms of bus connections.

Please note many hikers will use bus transport to avoid some of the more boring sections, such as between Odeceixe and Aljezur. Also, accommodations in winter may be difficult on the more southern stretches toward Lagos, and people may either wild camp or taxi to the next place to sleep.

Pros: Why Do the Fisherman’s Trail on The Rota Vicentina?

1. The Nature

Dark gray striped cliff sides, fossilized sand dunes, and tiny quaint fishing villages were linked by the Fishermen’s Trail with an emphasis on slow and responsible travel.

Rota Vicentina trail marker pros and cons of rota vicentina

It’s 227km (140miles) of the best coastal scenery path in Europe all the way to Cabo Sao Vicente at the very southern tip of Europe.

If you want to hike with only a daypack it’s easily possible, as luggage transport is simple and easy.

2. The Food

My first name is Sheilagh – and this breakfast was perfect before the 18 km of hiking that day.

Portuguese food is truly out of this world. Each fishing village along the trail has at least 2-3 lovely choices for dinners, even open in the winter. During summer the villages have many more restaurants for the “busy” tourist season.

My favorite place to eat is Lamella’s in Porto Covo with it’s elevated cuisine and creative kitchen.

In November, you may even have the luck to run into the sweet potato festival held annually.

3. Birdwatcher Paradise

And birdwatchers interested in the last white stork nesting ground in Europe will be surprised at what this little, last wild corner of Europe has to offer. Watch my youtube video of storking flirting or trying to kill each other, I’m not sure.

4. Bikepacking Break

On a bicycle tour of the Iberian peninsula and want to get off your butt on onto your feet? No problem, many of the hostels will hold your bike for you for 4-5 days to complete the walk.

Short on Time? Quick Resources

Top Places to Stay on Fisherman’s Trail

Download my spreadsheet of accommodations so you can easily book your places to stay right along the fisherman’s trail and bring only what you need with this Fisherman’s Walk Portugal Packing list.

Ready to go and just need navigation? ➡️ Download Fisherman’s Trail GPS.

Cons: Why you shouldn’t do the Fisherman’s Trail

It’s a trip perfect for first time multi-day hikers, families and winter travelers because the terrain is easy, warm and astounding, there’s always an easy out with buses or taxi if the hiking gets annoying and the food is crazy delicious.

  • While it is one of the best trekking trails in Europe, it is not isolated. If you are looking for something totally wild and rugged…this may not be for you.
  • Also, it is not great in summer. Even the luggage transport companies shut down their operations. July and August are ideal for sitting on the beach in the shade. It’s simply very hot and sandy and there’s not much shade along this trail.
  • One of the easiest long distance trails to just get up and go, but some planning in the “busy” season is needed to secure accommodation options such as hostels, hotels or cozy bnb private rooms.

PDF Accommodation Guide for Fisherman’s Trail

Just want the list of hotels, hostels and BnBs along the trail?

➡️ Spreadsheet Fisherman’s Trail Accommodation

Make it easy to plan your trek.

One of the Best Coastal Hikes in the World
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

A range of budget hostels, mid-range hotels and farm stays are available on the Fisherman Walk Portugal. Sustainable hotels are indicated on the website and I’ve listed my favorites that were open in November in each stage.

PDF Planner for Fisherman’s Walk

Download my Fisherman’s Trail Full Planner here where you can plan your trip step-by-step with the best places to stay.

➡️ Prefer PDF? Download a list of the accommodations directly on the Fishermen’s trail.

There are options for budget and luxury however some of the villages may require a taxi to get to a true luxury stay. It’s really fun to stay in town with the other walkers and share dinners and wine or even cola zero with each other.

Essential Gear Fisherman’s Trail

  • 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: Protect yourself with global rescue in case of medical or natural emergency.
rota vicentina guide

Fishing Villages on Fisherman’s Trail

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


How long is the Rota Vicentina trail?

The “Fishermen’s Trail” is considerably more scenic than the Historical Way and runs directly on the coast in 13 stages for 227 km. Each year more sections are developed and improved, great news for you explorers!

More Hiking Resources

Here’s more awesome gear to empower your journey.

Physical Therapist Curated Gear Guides for Hikers

I hope this answers all your questions about the Rota Vicentina Trail in Portugal.

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.