Along the west coast, you can set off to discover Rota Vicentina. You will be accompanied by the ocean between jagged cliffs and, at times, you will be presented with seemingly endless fields of wild flowers. There cannot be a better suggestion for a walk…
This long hiking path covers a total of almost 340km along one of the most beautiful and best preserved coastal areas of Europe, and there are two paths to take to enjoy the diversity of its landscapes.
The “historical way”, at 230km, is the longest route and goes from Santiago do Cacém to the Cape of São Vicente. It is a rural trail, with 12 stages through forest tracks, towns and villages with centuries of history, and can be done on foot or by bike.
The “fishermen’s trail”, in turn, hugs the coast for the 111km between Porto Covo and Odeceixe, using paths that give access to beaches and fishing grounds. It is an exclusively pedestrian trail, more demanding physically, and is organised in four stages and five complementary itineraries.
Each stage covers no more than 25km and is designed to last a day. The schedule is left to personal choice, so you can just attempt the sections that better suit your individual preferences or physical condition.
You can follow the route sequentially, over a number of days, staying overnight in the accommodation associated with the project. Given advance notice, arrangements can even be made to organise luggage transportation, to make your hiking more convenient and comfortable. You will be able to visit monuments and taste the delicious regional cuisine, seafood, fresh fish and the appetising dishes of Alentejo and Algarve standing out, since the Route crosses both regions.
Along the way, you can fully enjoy the landscape and appreciate the surprises nature has to offer, such as wild flowers, the aroma of herbs in the cool of the morning and the colourful butterflies. More detailed observation requires more time, but it provides rare opportunities, like sighting otters, that are almost never found in marine environments, or watching the storks that nest here on the coastal cliffs, like nowhere else in the world.
It is well worth stopping for a day or two to have a go at some activity like surfing in the strong waves of the Atlantic, or discovering a peaceful, perhaps even deserted, beach, and relaxing from the exertions of hiking. As an alternative to the sea, streams and rivers are also good places to get some relief from the heat on summer days.
Many of these trails were already well known to pilgrims who would set off from the Cape of São Vicente towards Santiago de Compostela. Like them, you can arm yourself with comfortable shoes and clothes and be on your way - but without leaving a trace of your passage so as to contribute to the preservation of this natural haven. It will certainly be a memorable walk…