All you need to know
The Rota Vicentina is fully marked, in both directions, and divided into sections that vary from between 15 and 25 km, also offering 8 Circular Routes that can be walked in just half a day. These sections are mere suggestions, so you can decide to hop between villages and accommodation or choose a place from where you explore the different parts of the route.
All that you need to organize your visit to the Rota Vicentina, in the links below:
MAP AND GUIDE BOOK IN PAPER
These are useful tools to plan your walking trip in the Rota Vicentina, get to know intersection points of the trail with national roads, calculate distances from trail to the chosen accommodation and bring all relevant information in your pocket. Fill in the form, pay with credit card, PayPal or bank transfer and receive Maps and Guides at your doorstep!
HOW TO ARRIVE AND MOVE IN THE REGION
Tips to arrive by car, bus and train and move around in the region using the network of public transport.
LUGGAGE AND PASSENGER TRANSFERS
Rely on our partner transportation if you need a rent-a-car, a taxi or transfer for passenger or luggage transfers. Check the Rota Vicentina Distance Table and get to know the distances and expected taxi cost between the main locations in the region.
WHERE TO WALK:
Explore the Historical Way, the Fishermen’s Trail and the Circular Routes and choose the area where you’d like to walk. If time is not enough for everything, don’t worry, it’s because you have a good excuse to come back to Portugal and explore more of the Rota Vicentina.
WHERE TO STAY:
A list with all the Rota Vicentina partner accommodation and a booking system to book directly with us. We recommend that you book in advance ir order to avoid getting stranded.
Make a search with our Trip Planner and see what are the suggestions we have for you, especially adapted to the duration of your stay and your hiking profile.
Get a quick and intuitive overview of all the touristic services available and their location in relation with the marked trails.
ROTA VICENTINA HOLIDAYS:
Holiday proposals in the Rota Vicentina where everything is thought and prepared so that all you have to worry about is enjoying the trip.
RELY ON A SPECIALIST
The Rota Vicentina partner Travel Agencies and Tour Operators are specialized companies to help you prepare your adventure in the Rota Vicentina with everything included. You can also choose from different nature activities such as: donkey trekking, horseback riding, experiences guides, cultural tours, bicycle rentals or logistic support for your hiking trip.
RESTAURANTS AND SERVICES
Get to know what you can't really miss during your stay, even before coming.
All you need in a single place: GPS tracks, trail descriptions, maps, etc
If you still have any questions after exploring the links above, search the answer to your questions below:
1. When to travel the RV
All Summer season, particularly July and August, is not the best season to walk in the Rota Vicentina. It’s too warm, with average temperatures inland getting above 30ºC, what makes the walking day pretty tough. Beaches are full, not allowing you to enjoy the pure and wild beauty of this region. The accommodations request minimum stays of several days and rates are higher.
For a much more rewarding experience, follow our recommendation and avoid Summer if your goal is to enjoy this region while hiking in the RV.
The Autumn months are generally quite mild, with the ocean waters reaching pleasant temperatures and the winds dying down. From September on, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities for unforgettable swims and you will experience an hassle free region after the busy Summer season.
In Winter, temperatures do not fall below 11ºC during the day and this is normally the rainiest period of the year. We highly recommend that you check the weather forecasts close to the arrival date and bring adequate rain gear.
Most likely will rain, but rainy days will be followed by sunny ones, or periods where sun is shining again. As the old Scandinavian saying goes “there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong gear”!,
From March on, sunny days alternate with rainy days and temperatures start to rise. The reborn landscape and the intensity of the colours and aromas make Spring one of the best seasons to visit the area.
2. Where can I get detailed maps and a guide book of the route, in paper?
Maps to a scale of 1:55 000, with the route and the partner tourist facilities, as well as Guide Books with trail descriptions and information about the project and the route are available.
3. Where can I find the accommodation available along the route?
Check our Accommodation page, where you find the partner accommodations of the project. By booking through this website, you are contributing for the sustainability of the Rota Vicentina project and the quality of our work. Your choice will make the difference!
On the page of each accommodation you can easily access the Interactive Map and see the exact location of the accommodation in relation to the Rota Vicentina itinerary. Another option is to follow our directions on the pages of each section and choose from the accommodation suggested. Alternatively explore the Interactive Map where you can access all the available tourism facilities.
We recommend that you pay special attention to the characterization that we have prepared, in particular the minimum stay, languages spoken, and extra services, suggestions for programmes, calendar, etc., to find exactly what you are looking for. Also use the shuttle service for passengers and luggage made available by some accommodation, an option that must be requested at time of booking.
If you did not find what you are looking for, you can get a list of all licensed accommodations in the region, by town, available on the website of each of the 5 municipalities of the Sw of Portugal, with an indication of contacts and the website for reservations and other information: Sines, Santiago do Cacém, Odemira, Aljezur, Vila do Bispo.
4. Do I need to book in advance or can I go and see where to stay each night?
We always recommend to plan in advance and book ahead in order to avoid surprises and getting stranded.
Contact our accommodation partners directly, you’ll be contributing for the project Rota Vicentina and you can request extra services, like transfers, picnics, meals or any other special needs.
5. How can I find the shortest way to the chosen accommodation?
If you intend to walk directly to a particular accommodation you will have to contact them and request the GPS track connection, if it is available. Alternatively you should study the itinerary or get a detailed map, preparing the route yourself.
Alternatively, request a transfer service to your accommodation, or through one of our partner taxis.
6. Is there any luggage and passenger transfer service available?
You can also request the service directly through the Rota Vicentina Partner Transportation.
7. Can I camp along the route?
No. The Fishermen’s Trail is entirely within the Sw Alentejo and Vicentina Coast Natural Park, therefore it is prohibited to camp, spend the night, make fires, leave trash, collect plants, geological samples or do any other activities that disturb the nature and the surrounding space. Be aware and observe this rule.
On the Historical Way, there are currently no areas designated for camping so you should get permission from the owner of the property concerned if you are planning to put up a tent.
In the region, the campsites are all situated along the coast, so if you want to camp when doing the Rota Vicentina, you should plan the sections accordingly.
Note: Since not all existing campings in the region are part of Our Offer, you’ll have to search for available options through the internet. Follow our tips on question 3.
8. Can I use the public transport network in the region?
Since the regional public transport is not always sufficient, consider using the national express network to get around or bring the car, returning to your place of departure by transfer (ask your accommodation). Alternatively combine with friends or family, bring two cars and leave one at the beginning and another at your destination.
As an alternative, consider using a partner taxi (approx. 1 €/km, including already the return of the taxi to the point of departure), download the Rota Vicentina Distance Table, and get to know the distances and cost between the main locations within the region.
For more info, please check the area How to get There.
A few useful tips:
The places to buy a ticket are not always clear (it may be a cafe or shop). The best is to inquire locally and do it one day in advance, if possible. On Rede Expressos you may not be able to buy a ticket directly in the bus.
The long distance buses crossing the region coming/heading to Lisbon, connect neighbouring villages. You may have to pay a higher price for the duration of the journey, as it is a national rather than a regional service.
When searching for bus schedules over the internet, beware that these are only available 14 days before travel date. Check any other date that is the same week day of your travel, to see available departure times.
9. Can the Rota Vicentina be done by bike?
The Fishermen’s Trail is not for cycling. Besides being impossible it is dangerous and forbidden. The proximity to the edge of the cliffs, the terrain with over 70% of loose sand and the fact that the trails are narrow, will force you to carry the bike on your back and go over the vegetation as you try to go a few meters ahead. Besides these alerts that concern your security and the proper use of these trails, it is no allowed, by the laws of the Natural Park to cycle out of existing tracks (dirt road tracks), as are the footpaths of the Fishemen’s Trail.
The only sections that can be traversed by bike are the Pontal da Carrapateira Circuit (avoiding the narrow footpath on the edge of the beach of Bordeira), and between the lighthouse of Cape Sardão and Entrada da Barca, on the southern part of the Almograve » Zambujeira do Mar section. On the way down to the small fishing harbour you will have to carry the bike on your back down a steep footpath. Alternatively make a detour towards Touril until you reach the paved road. Turn right, towards Entrada da Barca. You can also cycle from here to Zambujeira do Mar.
The Historical Way is entirely suitable for mountain biking. It is important to stress this point, because if you want to make the journey with another type of bike will have great difficulty, given the irregularity and harshness of the terrain. By mountain bike, depending on your degree of preparedness, you can do two to four sections a day, at distances which vary between 40 and 80 km/day. It is difficult to find technical assistance in all of the localities, but you can count on support in Santiago do Cacém, Boavista dos Pinheiros, S. Teotónio, Lagos and Portimão.
Attention! To cross the Rota Vicentina by mountain bike, be careful in built-up areas, in areas of the trail with hairpin turns and on days of poor visibility, to avoid colliding with walkers or cars that might be coming in the opposite direction. You might also come across cattle or horse riders and scare the animals, which is potentially dangerous for all concerned.
If you wish to bring your bicycle back after cycling the Historical Way, you can do it by taxi, train or bus.
The bus companies Rede Expressos and EVA Transportes allow the transportation of bicycles, as long as “properly packaged in a bag or card box”, with the condition that each passenger luggage is not over 20 kg. Beyond this weight you’ll be charged accordingly.
Note: in order to avoid surprises, we recommend you to contact each of the companies mentioned above, to learn in detail the conditions of the bicycle transportation services.
10. How many days do I need to walk the entire Rota Vicentina?
The Rota Vicentina is divided into sections which are designed to be completed in one day and which vary between 15 and 25 km. If you do one section per day, it will take as many days as the number of sections that make up the route.
The Historical Way comprises of 11 sections between Santiago do Cacém and Cape St. Vincent and another section connecting with the Fishermen’s Trail, in the North, between Cercal do Alentejo and Porto Covo – which corresponds to 12 days of hiking.
The Fishermen’s Trail comprises of 4 linear sections between Porto Covo and Odeceixe – which corresponds to 4 days of hiking – and 5 complementary circuits in the Algarve, which can be combined with sections of the Historical Way in the South.
You also have 5 Circular Routes available, that correspond to half hiking day each, and that you can use to extend your stay in the region.
The final tally of days will depend on the number of sections, circuits and routes walked and whether or not you chose to extend or shorten the days hiking.
10. Are there organised walks and/or companies that offer this service?
You can rely in companies which will organize your walking holiday, putting together groups of people who may not know each other, to share the cost of a guide. These companies will deal with all the logistics of transfers, meals, and basically take responsibility for your entire stay.
In the area of our partner Travel Agencies and Tour Operators, you find specialized companies in the organization of walking holidays with everything included. Check out the Rota Vicentina Holidays and see our list of Activities getting in touch with the companies that offer guide services and organised walks. Some accommodations prepare hiking programmes for their guests, which you can discover on the page of each accommodation.
The Rota Vicentina is not a tourist company, and it is not qualified to organize activities of a commercial character, but rather the creation and maintenance of the paths and the organisation of the network of service providers that are increasingly adapted to the needs of this market.
Nevertheless we anticipate organizing awareness walks directed at the local population and institutions, within the framework of the project. Stay tunned to our Facebook page and then, if you want to walk with us, you will only have to register.
12. Is the Rota Vicentina for people of all ages and physical conditions?
Yes and no. The Rota Vicentina is a route accessible to almost anyone, as the trails do not present a high degree of difficulty, the biggest challenge being the distance. It is important however to clarify that this is a physical activity, so some degree of preparation/physical condition is necessary for a positive experience.
If you’ve never hiked 20 km in a day, you will surely get tired and will suffer some muscle pain, but this is a feeling which is part of the experience. Older people, those with some disability or muscular problems should follow their doctors’ advice and their instinct before setting off to do one of these walks. Children under 12-14 years must be accompanied by parents or someone responsible.
The Fishermen’s Trail is not recommended for those who have vertigo or fear of heights.
13. Are there special precautions to take on the Fishermen's Trail?
Yes. The cliffs are in a permanent process of erosion, so there will always be a risk of a fall when hiking across them. The Fishermen’s Trail is not recommended for people with vertigo or fear of heights, and you should be doubly careful with children, especially if they are small or particularly agitated.
The Fishermen’s Trail is not for cycling given the sandy ground and the proximity of the cliffs. In other words it is not only impossible but also dangerous.
13. 1 I would like to hike the Fishermen’s Trail, but I suffer from vertigo and I have fear of heights. Is it really dangerous and not recommended to people like me? Could you please tell me, which parts are the most difficult? Is there a way to avoid the most difficult parts? The fact is that I can’t find pictures of the “dangerous” places to evaluate the situation.
Pictures are not enough to show the “dangerous” places, once vertigo reveals itself while in the outdoors in various situations and according to each person.
In the Fishermen’s Trail, every now and then you’ll come across bits and sections that can cause unease and make you feel uncomfortable, compromising your confidence to keep on going. This is a natural park and a very sensitive ecosystem. The fact that there is a marked way has an underlying purpose to define one single route, avoiding hikers to step over vegetation, dunes and use other trails than the one which is marked.
People with vertigo will find themselves in a defending position, avoiding parts of the trail, many times not being able to be concerned about the low and sensitive vegetation, stepping over it and climbing dunes.
That is why we recommend to avoid the Fishermen’s Trail. One moment of fear can ruin an entire day of leisurely hiking, and contribute for damaging the environment as you avoid the marked trails. Consider alternatively to walk the Historical Way (especially south of Odeceixe where there a greater proximity to the sea) and combine with visits to the coastline and seaside villages. You’ll love it and experience the beauty of the region with no vertigo.
14. Can I hike the Rota Vicentina alone?
This is a quiet area, nevertheless we recommend that you walk at least with another person, in the event of a fall or a twisted ankle.
We also recommend to be alert at all times and to inform family, friends or the accommodation owner about your itinerary, should something unexpected happen.
15. What equipment is suitable for walking in the Rota Vicentina?
When walking, opt for light and comfortable clothing and bring a small backpack for a day hike. Always wear well used shoes/hiking boots or trainers which are adjusted to your feet, to avoid blisters and sore joints. We do not recommend the use of slip-ons or sandals that are not suitable for hiking, since they do not give any ankle support or protection from rocks, sand or vegetation.
On rainy days you should carry a waterproof jacket and a change of clothes in case you get wet. A hiking stick can also be useful, as it reduces the impact of the walk on the knees and joints and facilitates the steep climbs and descents. From May onwards do not forget your bathing suit and a small towel – there are beaches, dams, lakes, ponds and pools.
16. What should I carry in my backpack for a days’ hike?
Always bring a hat, sunscreen, water (1.5 L minimum) and provisions (fruit, sandwiches, pastries) and a phone in case of emergency. A camera, notepad, some money, maps, GPS and binoculars, are also useful. It is also important to carry a first aid kit with plasters, bandages, an antiseptic and elastic foot and knee supports. Try not to carry anything superfluous, the weight of the backpack determines the comfort of the walker, especially after the first few kilometers.
17. Is it possible to get water and provisions along the route?
Ideally you should come prepared and bring water and food for the days’ walking, since not all of the sections pass through places where you can find cafes and/or grocery stores.
At the beginning and end of each section you will have no problem getting provisions, with the exception of Vale Seco, where there is only a café. Check the pages of the route sections, for exact indications of the places where refreshments are available along that section.
18 . Which villages or towns along the route have banks with ATM?
You'll find ATM machines in almost all of the villages which are start/end point of the route. The exceptions are Vale Seco, Arrifana and Cape St. Vincent.