Looking to experience the beauty of Rota Vicentina on the Portuguese coast?
With 450km of walking trails and many options to choose from, here is a guide to help you make the best choice: whether you are looking to complete a multi-day walk or enjoy a more relaxed half-day walk.
See Best hikes in Europe for a complete list of hiking trails.
Rota Vicentina is a network of walking trails in south-western Portugal along the most beautiful and best-preserved coastline of Southern Europe fully within SW Alentejo and Vicentina National Park.
Rota Vicentina is one of the leading destinations in natural, sustainable tourism. Rota Vicentina is home to some of the most well-preserved coastlines in Europe and its natural beauty and diversity will blow you away.
It totals 450km of walking trails between the city of Santiago do Cacem and the Cape St. Vincent.
It is comprised of the Fisherman’s Trail, the Historical Way and 8 circular loops.
Walking will take you through the protected SW Alentejo and Vicentina National Park which is home to untouched diverse habitats with a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean.
Enjoy the unsoiled coastline where you will encounter pristine beaches, dramatic sand dunes, incredible limestone cliffs and green woodland.
Rota Vicentina is known for its spectacular natural beauty that will be sure to take your breath away.
Rota Vicentina is blessed with a beautiful Mediterranean climate, despite not being on the Mediterranean coast, with an impressive 300 days of sunshine per year.
Due to its benign weather Rota Vicentina boasts diverse plants and wildlife including beautiful wildflowers in spring.
The area provides a great opportunity to view some fantastic wildlife, such as azure-winged magpies, mongooses coastal dwelling amphibians, sea fauna as well as Europe’s only colony is marine storks.
The national park provides excellent bird watching opportunities as it is an important waypoint for many migrating species such as raptors, passerines and soaring birds during the autumn months.
There are 700 species of plants of which 100 are rare or endemic to the area. The fauna and flora of the area are truly unique and should not be missed.
There are a variety of different route to be chosen from to suit your needs and fitness level.
You are able to choose to do multiple routes or combine routes to get the best experience.
The Fisherman’s Trail can be quite challenging at times and is not suited for those with a fear of height or vertigo as much of the trail is along unprotected cliffs.
The routes are divided into sections varying from 15km to 25km with each section to be completed in a day.
The circular routes are a great choice as the end where they begin and are a nice option if you want to experience a taste of Rota Vicentina in just one day instead of embarking on the more challenging multi-day hikes.
There are many tour agencies to choose from to make sure your walk is hassle free, they will help organise accommodation and transport your heavier bags to the next stop over in order to make your walk more enjoyable.
The Fisherman’s Trail is probably one of the best coastal trails in the world. It is a multi-day walk comprised of 5 sections and 4 complementary circuits and totals 165km down a single track along the rugged cliffs and soft sandy beaches.The trail connects Porto Covo and Odeceixe.
This trail can only be travelled by foot and has self-explanatory trail signs meaning you won’t necessarily need a guide. Each group walking can have a maximum of 20 people and the trail is not recommended for those with a fear of heights or vertigo.
The trail can be quite exerting at times and there are short moments when you will be required to use your hands. This trail is physically demanding and challenging, and you will need a degree of physical fitness to complete it.
If you are walking through a guided tour accommodation will be organised for you. But there are many hotels and bed and breakfasts along the way to choose from.
The Historical Way is made up of 12 sections totalling 230km of walking. It has been certified by the European Ramblers Association as “Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe”.
The route seeks to re-establish a route used by pilgrims, travellers and locals throughout history. Learn about the area’s history through fountains, churches, old country houses and villages that you will encounter along your journey.
You will pass through many towns and villages along the way, make sure to embrace the cultural richness and extraordinary landscape of the area.
The first half of the route is mostly dirt roads and the second half of the route consists of coastal trails with rocks, some beaches to cross and dirt roads.
The trail is a mixture of flat and hilly sections with some steep ascents and descents.
As with the Fisherman’s trail, by booking a guided tour accommodation will be booked through them. But there are incredible options for accommodation in every leg of your walk.
This cannareggio1’s video gives you a good overview From Historical way to Fishermen Trail.
The circular routes are the best option if you want to start hiking the SW of Portugal without any fuss. There are 8 different circular routes to choose from based on your needs and interests.
The circular routes begin and end at the same point and only go up to 16km long, giving you a taste of the multi-day walks at a fraction of the time.
The options are:
Like the other routes, there will not be a shortage of accommodation available near your walk.
Our favourite is a very easy-to-follow guidebook Never too old to backpack: More Algarve hiking by Tracey Burton.
You can also get maps and guidebooks directly from the Rota Vicentina kiosk.
The Rota Vicentina guidebook is available for €10. It is available in Portuguese, English, German and French.
It gives you information about the area and includes a fact sheet, topographic profile, suggestions, warnings and a description of each route.
Hiking insurance is not a mandatory requirement for hikes in Rota Vicentina, but in general we recommend having insurance.
Check out the World Nomads calculator for a quick calculation of the cost of travel insurance for your trip to the States.