Rota Vicentina: coastal hiking in the southwest of Portugal

The Rota Vicentina is a long-distance hiking trail that combines the best of Portugal's southwest coast: the rugged coastline, the Atlantic Ocean, beaches and coves, and above all, sunshine. Best of all, although the Rota Vicentina is natural and breathtakingly beautiful, it is not overrun with tourists.

The network of the Rota Vicentina is about 450 kilometers long and is part of the Natural Park Sudoeste-Alentejo e Costa Vicentina. It consists of the Historical Path, the Fishermen's Path and various circular routes. By the way, the Rota Vicentina is also part of the long distance hiking trail E9.

Key data Rota Vicentina

  • Trek: Long distance trail
  • Region: West Coast Portugal
  • Length: 450 kilometers in total
  • Difficulty level: medium

Recommended clothing

  • Surefooted hiking boots
  • Windproof jacket
  • Rain cover
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses and headgear

The highlights of the Rota Vicentina

The Rota Vicentina is located in the Natural Park Sudoeste-Alentejano e Costa Vicentina and runs in large parts along the wild and unspoiled coastline of southwestern Portugal.

By walking along parts of the Rota Vicentina you will get to know the breathtaking nature of Alentejo and the authentic culture far away from the tourist masses. The long distance trail is fully marked and you can hike it independently in about 25 kilometers of daily stages.

The Fishermen's Trail

The Fishermen's Trail is probably the most popular of the Rota Vicentina tours, because it runs continuously along the Atlantic Ocean. It is called the Fishermen's Trail because it follows the paths of local residents to reach fishing spots.

Some parts of the route are very sandy and can be quite challenging as you experience the wild nature of the coastal landscape first hand. The hike along the wild, unspoiled coastline and the view of the bays and the Atlantic Ocean are well worth the effort.

The fishing trail can be hiked in four stages and is 125 kilometers long in total.

Historical path

The Historic Trail was established in 2016 by the European Ramblers' Association e.V. has been awarded with the Europe-wide quality predicate "Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe" and is therefore one of the best hiking trails in Europe. It consists of 12 stages and is 232 kilometers long.

The route of the historical path goes through agricultural roads, mountains and valleys, cork oak groves and along rivers, but also through small towns and villages with centuries of history.

The historical path is the right one for you if you want to get to know the culture and natural diversity of Southwest Portugal.

We hiked the Historic Trail ourselves and reported about the section from Vila do Bispo to the most southwestern point of Europe.

Circular routes

The Rota Vicentina offers eight circular routes with a total length of 89 kilometers. The advantage over the Historic Trail and the Fishermen's Trail is that the trails can be hiked in one day and have the same starting and ending point.

So if you only want a day hike without transfer complications, one of the circular trails near Almograve, S. LuIs, Troviscais, Santa Clara, Saboia, Odeceixe, Bordeira or Carrapateira.

Starting point Rota Vicentina

Ideally you fly to the airport of Lisbon. Then it depends on which long distance trail of the Rota Vicentina you want to hike.

If you want to hike the Fishermen's Path, take the direct bus from Lisbon to Porto Covo, the official starting point of the Fishermen's Path.

If you want to hike the Historical Trail, you can also go from Lisbon to Santiago do Cacem, the starting point of the Historical Trail.

If you are coming from Faro, there are also bus connections, but they take longer.

The local bus company is Rede Expressos and you can buy your ticket online.

Accommodation on the Rota Vicentina

During your hike on the Rota Vicentina you will encounter a lot of untouched nature and small Portuguese villages, but no big hotels or luxury houses.

The cheapest option is to stay at campsites. If you like it a bit more comfortable and want to have a shower and a fresh bed after a long day of hiking, you can sleep in a guesthouse, for which you pay about 20 to 30 euros.

Alternatively, you can treat yourself to a room in a traditional white country house, but you'll pay at least 40 euros a night.

By the way, wild camping on the Rota Vicentina is officially forbidden!

Best time to travel

The best time to hike the Rota Vicentina is between September and June. The summer months are simply too hot.

We went hiking on the Rota Vicentina trail in early November and had sunshine and pleasant temperatures. The exception was a ten-minute storm with rain, but it was well tolerated.