The Rota Vicentina is a network of hiking trails in the Southwest of Portugal. It goes through two provinces, Algarve and Alentejo. The Rota Vicentina includes two long-distance routes, the Fishermen’s Trail and the Historical Way as well as several day-hikes most called Circular Routes. It is part of the GR11 in Portugal.
In this article, you’ll find detailed information about the Rota Vicentina, the whole project, and the kind of hike it is. We hiked 12 days on the Rota Vicentina during our two-year-hike from Portugal to Turkey. If you would like to read our trip report, just check this article:
Table of Contents
1. Rota Vicentina overview
a. Historical Way
b. Fishermen’s Trail
2. Algarve and Alentejo
3. The Rota Vicentina project
4. Profile of the hike
5. Practical information
a. Best Season
b. Getting there
c. GPX track
e. Useful links
- Distance – 229 km (142 mi)
- Required time – 11 days
- Starting/Finishing points – Santiago de Cacém / Cabo de S.Vicente
- Total ascent – 4466 m
- Total descent – 4571 m
- Walking ground – gravel road most of the time, sometimes footpath
- Route marking – white and red color markers
- Accommodation – camping, hostels, guesthouses
- Distance – 226 km (140 mi)
- Required time – 11 days
- Starting/Finishing points – Porto Covo / Cabo de S.Vicente
- Total ascent – 4264 m
- Total descent – 42891 m
- Walking surface – a mix of soft sand and footpath with short parts on the gravel road
- Route marking – blue & green markers
- Accommodation – campsites, hostels, guesthouses
The paths of the Rota Vicentina meander through the regions of Algarve and Alentejo.
The Algarve is one of the most touristic regions in Portugal. It is best known for its many beaches and surf spots, but there is more. This land where almost nothing grows as the wind blows relentlessly is punctuated by high cliffs, natural parks, and rich historical heritage.
North from Odeceixe, this is Alentejo. The Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park is reputed to be the best-preserved section of the European coastline. It is home to unique flora and fauna.
The association officially created in 2013 has a dual mission. It aims to protect the natural resources of this region while promoting nature tourism on the Alentéjane and Vicentine coastline. Through the creation and maintenance of hiking trails along the coast and inland, the association intends to attract responsible and environmentally friendly tourism. By forging partnerships with hospitality and cultural professionals in the region, it completes the tourist offer for a complete and varied experience. It is an invitation to a deeper journey, without artifice, and especially around something that fascinates us both: hiking.
The huge surprise of our arrival on the trails of the Rota Vicentina was to see how it all went beyond a network of trails. It is above all a fantastic human and humanist network. Employees and volunteers put all their passion (and a lot of their time) into this activity. Trail maintenance, communication, development of partnerships, development of the tourist offer, waste collection...
The Rota Vicentina immediately joined our 1KG FOR THE PLANET project. They distribute our reusable bags to hikers who want to help maintain trails and preserve the environment.
Two main routes are available to hikers from North to South (or the opposite direction): the Fisherman's Trail along the coast and the Historical Trail which winds through the more rural part. For day hikes, circular routes complete the first two, allowing you to return to your starting point and therefore to live a more sedentary experience. As good nomads that we are, we have not really tested them 🙂 In total, 450 km (280 miles) of trails of which we have covered almost half. We loved discovering these two regions to the rhythm of our steps and the culture of this magical country.
Overall the Rota Vicentina is an easy hike. There is little elevation gain and loss, the trails are very busy and therefore easily identifiable. If you are not used to long-distance hiking, the main difficulty will probably come from the repetition of hiking days. Almost every town on the route has ATMs, shops, restaurants, and hotels. So, no problem for supplies.
Summer (July and August in particular) is the busiest season. You’ll get many people and higher prices. It also gets very hot (over 30°C/86°F).
Border season (April-May and September-October) is a perfect time for hiking the Rota Vicentina. There are fewer people than in summer, it’s not too hot but warm and accommodation is cheaper.
Off-season (November-March) is great if you want to have a solitary and quiet hike. Weather-wise it doesn’t get really cold here (between 12°C/53°F and 15°C/59°F). February and March are the best months to observe the storks returning from their migration to nest on the cliffs.
By plane to Faro or Lisbon. There are regular flights from most European big cities.
By train, you can find many solutions from Faro or Lisbon.
By bus. This is the most direct way to reach any point on the Rota Vicentina. Check out the Express Network
By car: as the trails are not loops, you'll have to use public transportation or a taxi to get back to your car at the end of your hike.
Some distances to keep in mind
- Lisbon - Sines: 165 km
- Lisbon - Odemira: 202 km
- Porto - Odemira: 478 km
- Faro - Odemira: 149 km
- Lisbon - Aljezur: 244 km
- Faro - Aljezur: 108 km
Get in touch with the Rota Vicentina teams, they can help you with organizational matters.
As this area is home to fragile flora and fauna, wild camping is officially prohibited. There are 3 campsites on the route in Odeceixe, Aljezur, and Sagres. All three are close to the trail.
The Rota Vicentina offers a multitude of accommodation solutions of varying standards. Every town on the route has hotels and guesthouses, some more popular touristy places have hostels. Most of the places can be booked online through booking sites.
Since the Portuguese are very welcoming people. You might be lucky enough to be invited to stay with the locals. But if you like to organize things in advance, this shouldn't be counted on.
Rota Vicentina: the official site of the Rota Vicentina
Visit Alentejo: the website of the Alentejo tourist office
Visit Portugal: the website of the Portuguese tourist office[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]