Wild beaches, impressive cliffs, traditional towns and villages, cork forests, valleys, hills and mountains: the Rota Vicentina is a walking itinerary that takes you to the heart of one of the most beautiful areas of Portugal.
This fascinating Portuguese path includes two linear and eight circular routes for a total of over 400 km between Algarve and Alentejo, two beautiful regions in southern Portugal with an incredible biodiversity. One linear route (Fishermens’ Trail) winds along the wild Costa Vicentina while the other (Historical Way) traverses the gentle rural hinterland.
It is an easy and safe trail. The length of each section of the linear routes is between 15 and 25 km, while the circular routes are even shorter, making the Rota Vicentina a magnificent experience within everyone’s reach. The trails are well marked in both directions. You have no excuse not to slip on your hiking boots and hit the trail!
Hiking the Rota Vicentina is a wonderful experience, but it’s not for everyone. It is a slow journey suitable for those who love nature and those who want to rediscover the joy of simple things.
If you feel it’s for you, don’t wait any longer and start planning your itinerary. You will spend wonderful days away from the stress and chaos of everyday life and you will often find yourself walking miles in total solitude with a heart full of emotion.
The Historical Way of Rota Vicentina is a walking tour in rural Portugal: a fascinating linear route through traditional villages, cork forests, valleys, mountain areas, riverbanks, recommended for those who want a mix of nature, history and culture. A true Grand Route in southern Portugal.
The route largely takes up an old path used in the past by pilgrims, travelers and locals to move within the region. It was possible to trace the route thanks to the information found in the inscriptions of churches, fountains, statues and legends and stories handed down from generation to generation.
The Historical Way is the ideal route for those who want to dive into the past and at the same time admire an enchanting rural landscape. If you choose this route, you’ll also have more opportunities to do local living and chat with the locals.
It includes 11 sections + 1 connecting to the Fishermen’s Trail for a total of 230 km.
Historical Way stops from north to south:
As the name suggests, the Fishermen ‘s Trail of Rota Vicentina is a linear itinerary that winds almost entirely along the coast and that takes up in large part the paths once used by fishermen to reach the best areas from which to leave by boat to fish, which were not always so close to the village of residence.
The name of the itinerary is a tribute to the sea wolves that with their daily exploits have made the history of these regions.
It is the ideal itinerary for those who deeply love the sea, the suggestion of the strong waves breaking on the coast, the coolness of the sea breeze, the enchantment of the color contrasts created by water, cliffs and vegetation. If you choose this itinerary you will have the opportunity to admire a wild landscape, on several occasions you may find yourself completely alone.
The Fishermen’s Trail is physically more demanding than the Historical Way, not so much in terms of climbs and differences in height but for the terrain, which in many places is sandy and therefore more tiring.
It includes 5 linear stages and 4 complementary circular routes for a total of about 125 km.
The stages of the Fishermen’s Trail from north to south:
Circular routes along the Fishermen’s Trail:
In addition to the linear itinerary of the Historical Way and the Fishermen’s Trail, there are eight circular routes that begin and end in the same place.
They are designed for those who want to walk in nature but don’t feel like a multi-day trek. More tenacious hikers can add these easy routes to the overall itinerary for the satisfaction of saying they’ve really seen it all.
The circular routes are shorter than the stages of the linear routes and do not require any particular organization since you start and finish from the place where you are staying. No need to book a hotel somewhere else or have your luggage transported!
Some are along the coast, others inland.
The circular routes of the Rota Viccentina are:
Here are some useful tips to better enjoy the walk along the Rota Vicentina.
The Rota Vicentina is an experience within everyone’s reach: the paths are well marked, the ground is generally not slippery, the differences in height are within everyone’s reach (maximum height difference of 300 meters, but generally much less), the distances are never extreme (maximum 25 km per day).
The only difficulty lies in the fact of walking every day, an activity for which a minimum of training is required.
If you are already a regular hiker, you won’t have any problem walking the Rota Vicentina; if, on the other hand, you are completely new to trekking, it’s a good idea to start walking regularly in order to get ready for the challenge. They don’t have to be very long walks, but it is important that you are constant in your training.
The Fishermen’s Trail, which has sections along the edge of cliffs and sandy ground, is a separate issue. It should absolutely be avoided by those who suffer from vertigo or are afraid of heights.
The areas crossed by the itinerary are rural areas without crime problems, so it is possible to walk the Rota Vicentina alone.
However, it is advisable to leave in the company of at least one other person in order to get help in case of small accidents that can always happen while trekking. Another good idea is to inform your friends and relatives or the owners of the accommodations where you are staying about the itinerary you intend to follow.
You can leave with people you know or join an organized group.
The best months to walk along the Rota Vicentina are from September to June.
Spring is absolutely the best period: temperatures are already warm but not torrid, rainy days are infrequent, nature is at its best.
In autumn temperatures are cooler than in spring but still mild and there are good chances of being able to swim.
Winter is warmer than in Italy and temperatures generally do not fall below 11°. The advantage of this season are the very low prices of flights and hotels, the disadvantage is the higher probability of rain.
Avoid traveling the Rota Vicentina during thesummer: since the itinerary is practically all exposed to the sun, the heat would be excessive and you could easily have problems with dehydration and sunburn. Moreover, it is high season for tourism, so the prices of flights and hotels increase significantly, the beaches are crowded and you can not enjoy the route in peace.
If you are in Portugal during the summer and you want to walk the Rota Vicentina, choose one of the shorter circular routes and start your journey in the early hours of the morning.
How long you need to walk the Rota Vicentina depends on your itinerary and your physical abilities. The stages are designed to each be completed in one day in the case of the Historical Way and Fisherman’s Trail and in half a day or less for the circular routes.
To walk along the Rota Vicentina we recommend trekking clothing, with breathable t-shirts, comfortable pants and appropriate shoes. Absolutely not sandals and flip-flops, and low quality sneakers should be avoided.
The most appropriate footwear is hiking boots because they offer good ankle support. Don’t wear new boots: it’s better to wear a pair that you’ve been using for a while and that you find comfortable, to limit the risk of blisters.
Trekking poles are not essential but they are very useful.
Unfortunately, the Rota Vicentina does not have a network of albergues like the more famous Camino de Santiago in Spain. You’ll find yourself staying in privately-owned hotels, b&bs or hostels that charge the same prices as a normal tourist.
Don’t be discouraged though: in general Portugal is not an expensive destination and in the towns and villages of the Rota Vicentina there are accommodations for all budgets, including cheap solutions for low cost travelers.
Although there is a good choice of accommodations in every town and village at the beginning and end of the stage, it is strongly recommended to book your accommodation in advance in order to avoid the risk of being sold out and having to extend the daily walk by several kilometers in search of a place to stay.
Can you do the Rota Vicentina by bike? Yes and no.
The Historical Way can be entirely covered by mountain bike but not with other types of bicycles, while the Fishermens’ Trail is forbidden to bicycles.
Don’t try to be smart and ride it anyway: the ground is 70% sandy and many sections run along the edge of a cliff, being extremely dangerous if done by bike.
Here are some other things to know before undertaking the Rota Vicentina: