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Fishermen’s Trail, Rota Vicentina, Portugal

Hiking along the coast of southern Portugal following its rugged cliffs is the best way to discovery the beauty of the region. The Fishermen’s Trail offers a unique opportunity to explore the beautiful Vicentine Coast Natural Park. This multi-day hiking trail is a bucket-list thing to do in Portugal for outdoors and hiking lovers.

What is the Fishermen’s Trail?

The Fishermen’s Trail is a coastal route of the Rota Vicentina network in the south of Portugal. The trail crosses two provinces; Alentejo and Algarve. The route is considered to be one of the most scenic coastal routes in Europe. It’s a perfect trail for those who enjoy hiking, the sea, beaches, and nature. 

If you don’t have enough time to do a multi-day route you can walk a section of the trail or do one of the day hikes in the region e.g. the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail or the Trail of the Headlands. Both routes offer spectacular scenery.

Where does the route start?

The Fishermen’s Trail starts at S.Torpez Beach, which is halfway between Sines and Porto Covo in the Alentejo region. Many hikers start walking in Porto Covo skipping the first 10 km. We didn’t walk from S.Torpez Beach but we drove that part and to be honest, it wasn’t the most spectacular stretch of the route. You do walk along the coast but most of the time next to the road. 

Places to stay in Porto Covo

Where does the trail finish?

The Fishermen’s Trail finishes in Lagos, one of the most popular holiday towns in the Algarve region. The route goes around the town past the spectacular Ponta da Piedade cape taking hikers to some of the best beaches in Lagos. The route used to finish in Sagres but a couple of years ago the Sagres – Lagos section was added to it.

Places to stay in Lagos

The center of Porto Covo, a small town on the Fishermen's Trail in Portugal
Porto Covo is one of our favorite towns in the first half of the Fishermen’s Trail

How many days do you need to walk the Fishermen’s Trail?

The total distance of the trail is 230 km/143 mi. To complete the entire route from S.Torpez Beach to Lagos you need 12-14 days. 

If you don’t have that much time you can walk a part of the Fishermen’s Trail. You can start and finish at any town along the route. You can walk for a day or a week. All towns on the trail are accessible by public transport and have hotels, shops, and restaurants. The last two stage of the trail from Salema to Praia da Luz and from Praia da Luz to Lagos are popular day hikes with breathtaking scenery.

How difficult is the Fishermen’s Trail?

It’s a moderate long-distance trail that doesn’t require a lot of hiking experience. It can be completed by any relatively fit person. Some stages are short and easy e.g. Praia da Luz to Lagos, some are longer and more challenging e.g. the Sagres to Salema walk. A great thing about the Fishermen’s Trail is that you can skip some stages or take an extra rest day at any time you feel tired.

How to get to the trailhead?

You can take a direct bus from Sete Rios Bus Station in Lisbon to Sines/Porto Covo. If you decide to start walking at S.Torpez Beach you’ll have to get off the bus between Sines and Porto Covo at Kalux Bar. The bus journey from Lisbon to Porto Covo takes 2h10min. There are several daily buses. The price is 16,5 Euros. You can check the current timetable and purchase a ticket online

After finishing the Fishermen’s Trail in Lagos you can get to Lisbon (Sete Rios or Oriente Bus Station) by bus. There are several direct buses that leave from Lagos Bus Terminal. The journey takes between 3h30min. and 4h30min. The price is 20 Euros. 

The nearest to Lagos international airport is in Faro, 90 km away. It’s easy to get to and from Faro to Lagos by bus or train.

Is the trail well-marked?

Yes, the Fishermen’s Trail is marked with blue and green stripes that are painted on small wooden poles and rocks. It’s easy to follow the route you don’t need a guide or a GPS to find it.

Route marking (blue & green stripes) on a rock on the Fishermen's Trail
Route marking on the Fishermen’s Trail in Portugal

Can the Fishermen’s Trail be walked in either direction?

Yes, you can walk the trail starting in Porto Covo and finishing in Lagos or another way around. The direction doesn’t matter. It’s easy to follow the trail south to north or north to south. 

What is the scenery like?

The Fishermen’s Trail follows the coastline offering the breathtaking scenery; rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, dramatic drips, rocky capes, small fishermen’s villages, and charming towns. The trail is considered one of the most beautiful coastal trails in Europe. The scenery won’t disappoint every day on the trail is filled with stunning views.

The best months for hiking in the Algarve

The spring months, March, April, and May are our favourite months for hiking in the Algarve. We walked the Fishermen’s Trail in May and had great weather; warm, sunny, and not too windy.

It gets very hot between June and September in the south of Portugal, daily temperatures are between 30°C and 35°C. August and September are the hottest months and probably the worst time for hiking the trail. In June it’s quite warm but still manageable especially if you start walking early in the morning and finish by lunchtime. Summer is the peak season in the Algarve beaches are full of tourists, prices go up, and everything is fully booked. It’s a good time for a beach holiday but not a great time for a multi-day hike. 

October to mid-November is a good time, it’s still warm, not much rain, and significantly fewer tourists compared to the summer months. Accommodation prices are lower and you don’t have to book it months in advance. 

As for the winter months (December, January, February), it’s the coldest time in the Algarve with the most rainfalls. It doesn’t rain non-stop for days and the days are relatively warm, between 14°C and 17°C. You might be lucky and get nice sunny weather with no rain or unlucky and hit the rainy period. The West Coast of the Algarve is a bit colder, windier, and rainier than Southern Algarve. If you want to walk a part of the Fishermen’s Trail during the winter months I’d suggest choosing the last part from Sagres to Lagos. 

S.Vicente Lighthouse on the Fishermen's Trail in Portugal
The Lighthouse at Cabo de S.Vicente, one of the most beautiful lighthouses on the Fishermen’s Trail

The cost of walking the Fishermen’s Trail

I’d recommend budgeting from 35 Euros per person per day for accommodation (if you’re two people sharing a room), food, and transport. If you’re one person your accommodation will be more expensive. 

A budget double room costs from 35 Euros for 2 people. During the summer prices are much higher.

A bed in a hostel – from 12 Euros.

Breakfast (a toasty/croissant and a coffee) – 3 Euros.

Lunch in a restaurant – 7-10 Euros. If you want to save money don’t order food at restaurants and bars by the beach. These are good for stopping for a coffee. Rather find a small local place. Many supermarkets (Lidl, Pingo Doce, Continente) have cafeterias where you can get a well-priced meal. 

Dinner – 10-14 Euros per person (without drinks). You can cook your own dinner or buy a takeaway it’ll work out cheaper than going out.

Transport – local buses are not expensive. A bus from Lisbon to Porto Covo or Lagos costs 16-20 Euros. 

What is the accommodation like on the route?

There are hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and a few campsites on the Fishermen’s Trail. Hotels/guesthouses can be found in every town along the route. More popular touristy towns have hostels and campsites. All places we stayed on the trail were nice, clean, and comfortable. 

During the busy summer months and the Easter holiday, it’s highly recommended to book your accommodation a couple of months in advance. Outside the season you can book places as you go a day or two ahead just to make sure you’ll have a place to stay. Some towns have very limited accommodation options.

Campbell and Summer walking on the beach on the Fishermen's Trail
Campbell and Summer at Bordeira Beach on he Fishermen’s Trail

If after completing the Fishermen’s Trail you decide to spend a couple of days in the Algarve make sure you don’t miss the Benagil Cave, an impressive cave with a small beach inside. It’s one of the highlights of the region.

Luggage transfer service on the Fishermen’s Trail

You can use a luggage transfer service on the trail. Your backpack/suitcase will be transferred door to door between your accommodation places. When you arrive at your next place your luggage is already there. You can walk with a day pack carrying only essentials. Vicentina Transfers is the company that does luggage transfers on the Fishermen’s Trail. They charge 15 Euros per luggage item per stage. The service is not provided in July, August, December, and January.

Fishermen’s Trail walking itinerary

  • Day 1. S.Torpez Beach – Porto Covo, 10 km/6,2 mi
  • Day 2. Porto Covo – Vila Nova de Milfontes, 19 km/11,8 mi
  • Day 3. Vila Nova de Milfontes – Almograve, 16 km/10 mi
  • Day 4. Almograve – Zambujeira do Mar, 22 km/13,6 mi
  • Day 5. Zambujeira do Mar – Odeceixe, 19 km/11,8 mi
  • Day 6. Odeceixe – Aljezur, 23 km/14,2 mi
  • Day 7. Aljezur – Praia da Arrifana, 19 km/11,8 mi
  • Day 8. Praia da Arrifana – Carrapateira, 20 km/12,4 mi
  • Day 9. Carrapateira – Vila do Bispo, 22 km/13,6 mi
  • Day 10. Vila do Bispo – Sagres, 21 km/13 mi
  • Day 11. Sagres – Salema, 20 km/12,4 mi
  • Day 12. Salema – Praia da Luz, 12 km/7,4 mi
  • Day 13. Praia da Luz – Lagos, 12 km/7,4 mi
Storks in the nest that is built on the edge of a rocky cliff
Storks’ nest on the rocks on the edge of the cliff

Towns on the Fishermen’s Trail

Every walking day starts and finishes in a small town or village which means you get access to all facilities such as hotels, restaurants, and shops. All towns on the route can be accessed by public buses. Many have direct buses to Lisbon.

Porto Covo, a charming small town with a tiny beach, a couple of cobblestone streets, and a beautiful square with a church. We really enjoyed staying at Ahoy Porto Covo Hostel. It’s a great palace, the owner is very knowledgeable about the Fishermen’s Trail he can give you some tips.

Vila Nova de Milfontes is a popular holiday place among the Portuguese. Outside of the season it’s very quiet but during the summer months it gets very busy. There are many hotels, guesthouses, and a couple of campsites in the town.  

Almograve is a tiny village with one or two streets, a couple of restaurants, and guesthouses. Most people who stay here are hikers or cyclists on the Fishermen’s Trail. The beach is nice and sandy. 

Zambujeira do Mar is a beach town on the West Coast in the Alentejo region. The views of the coast from the cliffs in the town are stunning. 

Ocedeixe, the town sits on the slope of the hill 2 km from the beach. If you want to stay at the beach book accommodation at Praia de Odeceixe, it’s a very small village with a just a handful of houses, a couple of restaurants and bars. Accommodation at Praia de Odeceixe is significantly higher than in Odeceixe itself.

Aljezur is a small market town with whitewashed houses and cobbled streets. It’s about 8 km away from the nearest beach, Praia da Amoreira. 

Porto de Mos Beach, Lagos, Algarve
Porto de Most Beach is the first beach in Lagos that you get walking the Fishermen’s Trail

Praia da Arrifana is a popular surfing spot.T he views of the coast from the cliffs at Arrifana are truly spectacular especially at the sunset. It’s one of our favorite beaches to watch sunset on the Fishermen’s Trail.

Carrapateira, is a small village about 1 km from the beach, Praia da Bordeira. It’s a very quiet place with a couple of nice bars and guest houses. The beach is never very busy even during the peak season. It’s a very wide beach with sand dunes and a stunning lookout point on the top of the hill. It’s one of our favorite beaches on the Fishermen’s Trail.

Vila do Bispo is a small quiet inland town with Lidle, several bars and restaurants. 

Sagres is a popular surf spot in southern Algarve. Tonel Beach is the place people come for surfing. Cabo de Sao Vicente the southwesternmost point of continental Europe is 3 km outside the town. The Fishermen’s Trail goes through the cape on the way from Vila do Bispo to Sagres.

Salema outside the season is a sleepy beach village with not much going on but during the summer it’s a popular holiday place. Praia da Salema is a beautiful sandy beach surrounded by the yellow cliffs.

Praia da Luz is a beautiful small town with a nice sandy beach surrounded by limestone cliffs. Praia da Luz is one of our favourite beaches in the vicinity.  

Lagos where we currently live is one of the best holiday destinations in the Algarve. The town is quite big compared to the other towns on the Fishermen’s Trail. It’s famous for its fantastic beach, rugged limestone cliffs, and charming Old Town. The trail goes past some of the best beaches in the town; Praia do Porto de Mos and Dona Ana Beach.

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