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Rota Vicentina

Rota Vicentina
Photo: Algarve Promotion Bureau
Photo: Algarve Promotion Bureau

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 stretches for nearly 400 km along one of the most beautiful and best preserved coastal areas of Europe. There are two main trails and eight circular routes to amaze us with their wonderfully diverse 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.

Rota Vicentina
Photo: © Rota Vicentina

The “fishermen’s trail”, in turn, hugs the coast for the 120km 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.

Rota Vicentina
Photo: © Rota Vicentina

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.

Rota Vicentina
Photo: © Rota Vicentina

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.

Rota Vicentina
Photo: © Rota Vicentina

If your time is limited or you have physical issues, you can try one of the circular routes. These are shorter and they all start and end in the same place, so you can walk them in half a day, or even less. These routes supplement and enhance the main ones (the Historical Way and the Fisherman’s Trail) and total about 90 km. They can be found in Almograve, São Luís, Troviscais, Santa Clara, Sabóia, Bordeira and Carrapateira.

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.

Rota Vicentina
Photo: © Rota Vicentina

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…


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