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The Fisherman’s Trail, Portugal – a 2023 guide

The Fisherman’s Trail is a walking route in the south of Portugal. It’s part of the Rota Vicentina network. The trail is considered one of the most beautiful coastal routes in the world. The scenery along the route is breathtaking; rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, stunning lookouts, charming towns, clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and diverse wildlife. We were so impressed by the beauty of the area that after completing the trail we decided to move to the south of Portugal where we live now.

Cabo S.Vicente lighthouse, Fisherman's Trail, Portugal
Cabo de Sao Vicente is one of the highlights of the Fisherman’s Trail

Fisherman’s Trail downloadable PDF file

To make your planning easier we’ve created a downloadable PDF file with walking stages and places to stay on the Fisherman’s Trail.

We have a detailed Fishermen’s Trail walking itinerary post where you can find complete information on each stage of the trail with distances, elevation profiles, times, and accommodation options.

Fisherman’s Trail GPX

Day 1. Porto Covo – Milfontes. Download Day 7. Arrifana – Carrapateira. Download
Day 2. Milfontes – Almograve. DownloadDay 8. Carrapateira – Vila do Bispo. Download
Day 3. Almograve – Zamjubeira. DownloadDay 9. Vila do Bispo – Sagres. Download
Day 4. Zambujeira – Odeceixe. DownloadDay 10. Sagres – Salema. Download
Day 5. Odeceixe – Aljezur. DownloadDay 11. Salema – Praia da Luz. Download
Day 6. Aljezur – Arrifana. DownloadDay 12. Praia da Luz – Lagos. Download
Fishermen’s Trail GPX files

The route overview

  • Total distance – 230 km/143 mi
  • Number of days – 11-13 days
  • Starting point – S.Torpes Beach, 10 km before Porto Covo, Alentejo
  • Finishing point – Lagos, Algarve
  • Route marking – wooden poles with blue & green stripes
  • Average cost – 40 Euros per person per day
  • Accommodation options – camping, hostels, hotels
A view from a lookout point at Ponta da Piedade on the Fisherman's Trail in Portugal
Spectacular scenery at Ponta de Piedade in Lagos, at the end of the Fisherman’s Trail

Where is the Fisherman’s Trail in Portugal?

The trail follows the southern coast of Portugal, between Porto Covo and Lagos. The starting point is near Sines, 170 km south of Lisbon. The Fisherman’s Trail goes through two Portuguese provinces Alentejo and Algarve.

How long is the Fisherman’s Trail?

The total distance of the Fisherman’s Trail is 230 km/143 mi. One needs 11-13 days to complete it.

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Where does the route start?

The trail starts at S.Torpes Beach, 10 km before Porto Covo, and finishes in Lagos. We started walking in Porto Covo skipping the first 10 km because logistically it worked out better for us. We arrived a bit later to start walking and wanted to stay for a day in Porto Covo. The last part of the Fisherman’s Trail from Sagres to Lagos was added to the route later. Originally the end of the trail was in Sagres.

A great thing about the trail is that you don’t have to walk the entire route you can walk only a section of it depending on how much time you have and how far you want to walk. In fact, any part of the Fisherman’s Trail can be walked as a day hike. You can combine walking the trail with a beach holiday.

The most popular route options of the Fisherman’s Trail

Porto Covo – OdeceixeS.Torpes Beach/Porto Covo – SagresS.Torpes Beach/Porto Covo – LagosS.Topres Beach/Porto Covo – Santiago de Cacém
76 km/47 mi
4 days
191 km/118 mi
9-10 days
230 km/142 mi
12-13 days
196 km/121 mi
10-11 days
Route options with distances and times required on the Fisherman’s Trail
Blue and green route markers on the Fisherman's Trail
Wooden poles with blue & green stripes mark the Fisherman’s Trail

Walking the Fisherman’s Trail from Porto Covo to Odeceixe. It’s the original 4-day trail that later was extended to Cabo de Sao Vicente (Sagres) and then all the way to Lagos. The part Odeceixe to Sagres used to be a part of the Historical Route of the Rota Vicentina. Now the Historical Route starts in Santiago do Cacém and finishes in Odeceixe. The total distance is 76 km/47 mi.

Starting in Porto Covo or São Torpes Beach and finishing in Sagres is the way we walked the trail (the Sagres – Lagos extension was added later). The total distance is 181 km/112 mi or 191 km/118 mi if you start in St.Torpes Beach. Most of the time the route goes along the coast. You’ll need 9-10 days to complete it.

If you want to complete the entire Fisherman’s Trail from São Torpes Beach to Lagos you’ll need 12-13 days. The total distance of the route is 230 km/142 mi.

It’s possible to combine the Fisherman’s Trail with the Historical Way. You can start in São Torpes Beach or Porto Covo walk along the coast to Odeceixe and from there continue on the Historical (inland) route to Santiago do Cacém. The total distance of this route is 196 km/121 mi. You’ll need 10 days to complete it.

Is the Fisherman’s Trail hard?

Like any multiday trail, the route is quite hard especially the first part of it from Porto Covo due to walking on the beach and over the dunes. If you don’t have any previous hiking experience I would suggest doing a part of the Fisherman’s Trail or having rest days in between. Using a luggage transfer service will make your walking easier. You can carry a day pack and your main luggage will be delivered to your hotel every day.

Spectacular coastal scenery on the Fisherman's Trail
Coastal scenery on the Fisherman’s Trail on the way from Sagres to Salema

What is the best part of the trail?

The scenery on the Fisherman’s Trail is spectacular from the start to the end. My favorite part of the trail is between Sagres and Lagos. Maybe because we live in Lagos and we’ve done that part several times. For the cliff views the part from Carrapateira to Vila do Bispo (along the coast) is one of the best.

Best guidebooks for the Fisherman’s Trail

The official guidebook by the Rota Vicentina organization is the best one to use. You can buy it online or at one of the information offices along the route. In Proto Covo, you can purchase a guidebook and a map at Papelaria O Correiro, Vasco da Gama Street 7b, (a block away from the church).

There is a Cicerone guidebook on the Rota Vicentina that has a lot of information on the trail that you can buy on Amazon.

What is the accommodation like on the Fisherman’s Trail?

Accommodation on the trek was our main concern but in the end, it wasn’t a problem. Since we couldn’t find a list of accommodation options along the route we tried our best to make a complete list of hostels, hotels, and campsites along the way.

Hostels, hotels, and guesthouses can be found in every town along the route some places have more options some less. The campsites can be found in Porto Covo, Vila Nova de Milfontes, Zambujeira do Mar, Odeceixe, Aljezur, and Sagres.

We don’t like booking accommodation in advance and usually don’t do it, but for this route, we did book all the places a couple of days before we started. Every place we stayed in was full mainly because most of the hostels and guesthouses are very small; two or three private rooms or 8 to 10 beds so they fill up quickly. We walked the trail at the beginning of May which is not the busiest season if you’re planning to walk it between June and August we strongly recommend booking accommodation beforehand even if you’re planning to camp at least contact campsites to find out how full they are.

When booking accommodation;

  • check for the check-in time in most hotels it’s quite late, around 3 pm.
  • make sure your hotel is in the town itself and not 5 km outside of it
  • find your place on Google.maps beforehand as sometimes following the route you might walk past it on the way to the center of the town
  • check if you pay for accommodation when making a booking or on arrival, most places charge beforehand.

Download our PDF spreadsheet that will help you to systematize your bookings The Fishermen’s Trail Rota Vicentina booking spreadsheet.

Porto do Mos Beach in Lagos
Praia de Porto do Mos in Lagos is one of the beaches on the Fisherman’s Trail

Luggage delivery on the route

It’s possible to use a luggage transfer service on the Fisherman’s Trail if you don’t want to walk with a big backpack or have too much luggage to carry with you every day. Vicentina Transfers is a company that provides luggage delivery services on the trail. They’ll deliver your luggage door to door between any type of accommodation along the route including campsites. It’s 15 Euro per section for 1 piece of luggage.

The company provides only luggage delivery they don’t do accommodation booking for you. Before you arrange the luggage service you have to book your accommodation. The cost of luggage delivery on the Rota Vicentina is quite high compared to for example 6-7 Euro that you pay on the Coastal Route of the Portuguese Camino.

The cost of walking the Fisherman’s Trail

The cost of the trail depends a lot on the type of accommodation you decide to stay in; camping, dormitories, or private rooms, and on the season. If you’re planning to camp, make your own food and not go out for drinks every night budget 25-30 Euro per person per day. To stay in dormitories and make your own food 30 Euro pp. per day. Staying in private and eating out from time to time is 35-40 euros. If you want to stay in private, eat out at least once a day, and go out for drinks I’d suggest budgeting 45+ Euro per day per person.

Accommodation

Keep in mind that accommodation prices vary a lot depending on the season with winter months being the cheapest and the summer months between May and September the highest. In summer you might pay double for the same.

Camping is the most budget option here, prices still vary depending on the season with August being the most expensive month. The main drawback here is that you have to carry camping gear with you (tent, mattress, sleeping bag, cooking stuff, etc.) which adds a lot of weight to your backpack. The price for camping is between 10 to 15 Euros per person per night.

A bed in a dormitory is another budget accommodation option on the Fisherman’s Trail. There are not many hostels on the route and they are usually fully booked as the area is a very popular holiday destination. In order to get a spot in the season, it’s advisable to book your accommodation in advance. The price for a dorm bed is around 20 Euros depending on the season.

A private room is the most comfortable accommodation option and sometimes a double room with a shared bathroom cost the same as two beds in a dormitory. So if you’re two people it’s a much better deal. There are several hotels that offer triple and family rooms if you’re a group of people hiking you can share a bigger room. Prices for a budget double room are between 30 and 40 Euros. We had one or two places where we paid 25 Euros for a double room with a private bathroom. If you walk completely off-season between November and March it might be more or less a standard price.

Tonel Beach is one of the beaches on the Fisherman's Trail
A view of Tonel Beach from Sagres Fortress

Food

There are grocery stores and mini-markets in every town on the route if you’re on a tight budget making your own food is the best option. Always make sure you book accommodation with a kitchen (most places we stayed had at least a microwave). Depending on what kind of stuff you buy shopping for 3 meals (lunch, dinner, and breakfast) costs between 10 and 12 Euros per person. Many supermarkets have cafes where you can get a meal, a sandwich, or a pastry for relatively cheap compared to the restaurant prices.

Eating out is quite expensive on the route the Costa Vicentina and the Algarve are popular tourist destinations prices in local restaurants are higher than average in Portugal. Very few restaurants along the Fishermen’s Trail offer Menu do Dia – a set lunch that usually includes a starter, main dish, drinks (beer, wine, cool drink), bread, coffee, or dessert. We had these menus everywhere on the Portuguese Camino de Santiago. In most places on the trail you pay an average of 10 Euro for a dish, every time we went out for dinner we paid about 15 Euro pp. including drinks. Breakfast (toasted sandwich and coffee) you can get for 3 Euro.

We always stop quite a lot for coffee and Portugal is a real paradise for coffee lovers, the coffee here is good and cheap; for a cup of Espresso, you pay about 0,7 euros, and for coffee with milk (Galao)1,5 Euros. If you order Americano it’ll cost you more, about 1,2 Euros, for cappuccino you’ll pay between 2 and 3 Euros.

One of the beaches surrounded by the cliffs on the Fisherman's Trail
Carrapateira Beach from a lookout point on the Fisherman’s Trail

Our budget breakdown (2 people, 11 days)

We didn’t camp on the trail. We stayed in private rooms and dormitories and went out every other day but most of the time we made food and stopped at least once a day for coffee. We didn’t use a luggage transfer service. If you do add to our budget 15 Euro per person per day.

  • Accommodation – 422 Euro
  • Shopping (food, toiletries) – 116 Euro
  • Eating out – 151 Euro
  • Transport – 70 Euro, 15 Euro per person bus Lisbon – Porto Covo, 20 Euro per person bus Lagos – Lisbon
  • Coffee+pastry – 35 Euro

Total: 794 Euro or 36 Euro per person per day.

When is the best time to walk the Fisherman’s Trail?

The Fisherman’s Trail is in the south of Portugal. It’s never really cold here which means the route can be walked all year round. We’ve done several multi-day walks in Portugal and really like hiking in spring, between April and May. For us it’s the best time of the year; not cold but not hot yet, many flowers and trees blossoming, and prices are a bit lower than in peak season. We’ve done several coastal walks in Portugal in April and May including the famous Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. In recent years due to the increasing popularity of the walk, the trail gets quite busy during these months.

Summer particularly July and August are the hottest and the busiest months here if you have a choice I’d suggest walking the route any other time even in May. Over the weekends there were many people on the route doing day hikes, I can imagine in peak season there will be hundreds of people. Prices for accommodation go up in summer quite a bit so you get more people, very hot weather, and higher prices. October and the beginning of November are probably the best months for walking; comfortable weather and not too many people.

As for walking the route completely offseason; December – March it’s a good time, as many hotels and hostels are open all year round. It might be very quiet like in any other beach holiday area off-season. So if you’re seeking a solitary and tranquil walking holiday it’s the right time of the year to come here. As for the weather, it’s sunny in the south of Portugal even in the winter but it does get chilly and rainy, especially on the West Coast.

Amoreira Beach is one of the beaches on the Fisherman's Trail
Amoreira Beach at the sunset

How to get to the trail?

There are direct buses from Lisbon to Porto Covo/São Torpes Beach. Rede Expressos buses leave throughout the day from Sete Rios Bus station in Lisbon.

The journey takes 2h10min. The ticket costs 16,5 Euro. Tickets can be bought at the bus terminal or online. In the peak summer season, I’d recommend purchasing tickets beforehand. You can check the up-to-date itinerary and buy tickets online.

If you’re planning to start walking at S.Torpes Beach which is 10 km north of Porto Covo you’ll have to get off the bus earlier. S.Torpes Beach is between Sines and Porto Covo. Ask a driver to stop at Praia de São Torpes.

There are direct buses to Lisbon from Odeceixe, Sagres, Lagos, and Santiago do Cacém. Wherever you decide to finish the Fisherman’s Trail you’ll be able to get back to Lisbon by bus. From smaller towns, there are one or two daily buses to Lisbon. From bigger places e.g. Santiago do Cacém or Lagos there are many daily departures. You can get a direct bus to Lisbon from almost every town on the route. You can purchase tickets and check the current itinerary on the Rede Expressos website.

If you’re coming from Lisbon and want to spend a couple of days there here are our recommendations for places to stay in the city.

Places to stay in Lisbon

Tours and activities in Lisbon

Lisbon is an amazing place with many tourist attractions and things to do. If you have some time in Lisbon before or after the Fisherman’s Trail here are some recommended activities;

What to pack for the hike?

If you’re planning to stay in hotels or hostels you don’t need much stuff to carry which is great you can pack really light for the hike and enjoy the trail walking with a day pack.

Backpacka 30l backpack will be enough to pack hiking clothes for 4 days and some toiletries.

Comfortable shoes for walking, might be a pair of light hiking shoes (a men’s model) or a pair of running shoes (a men’s model).

GoPro HERO11 – on the Fishermen’s Trail instead of carrying our big DSLR camera we packed a new GoPro. The quality of the footage and photos is good, the camera is very light and small, it can get wet, and you can swim and dive with it.

Garmin Fenix 5 GPS watch – our new hiking companion, we used it to get the elevation profiles and the maps for this post.

Kindle – we always take our Kindles Paperwhite with us when traveling. If you’re an owner of Kindle by joining Kindle Unlimited program by Amazon you’ll get access to thousands of e-books and audiobooks.

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Laura Henkel

Monday 13th of May 2024

Hi there! We are thinking about doing the Fishermans route mid-September all the way to Lagos. I think the Original Fisherman's trail is more remote with smaller towns. I think we may find the southern portion to be too touristic? I did see suggestions to walk South to North this time of year due to winds? We are avid long distance hikers but usually in mountains so a coastal walk is new to us. Any other long distance trails you recommend in the area or nearby countries?

Laura

Tuesday 28th of May 2024

@Stingy Nomads, One last question. Possible to buy hiking sticks in Porto Covo? Don't want to check any baggage.

Laura

Tuesday 28th of May 2024

@Stingy Nomads, We Just returned from completing the Manaslu circuit and Tsum Valley are 4th trek in Nepal! Funny. Yes we are thinking coast sounds good. Hike Peaks of the Balkans the highlight of many long distance treks. Do it before it blows up. Thanks we are planning on starting trek October 13 thru 24.

Stingy Nomads

Thursday 16th of May 2024

Hello Laura. Thank you for the comment. The part Sagres to Lagos definitely is more touristy and September is still the busy season in the Algarve. You see tourists in the towns, not on the trail through. I'm not sure about the wind direction. We live in Lagos and the wind often comes from inland. As for other routes there are many routes of the Camino de Santiago in Spain and two in Portugal but it's less than a hike and more of a pilgrimage walk. Saying that I mean the routes go through cities and towns. There is the Historical route, a different route of the Rota Vicentina network that is far less popular. https://stingynomads.com/historical-way-rota-vicentina/ It's an inland route and in September it might be too hot to walk it. I think the Fisherman's Trail is a good choice, the scenery is spectacular. The first time we did it was after hiking in Nepal for two months and it was very nice to get to the sea and beaches. Good luck

Ed Miles

Wednesday 8th of May 2024

Hi Alya and Campbell! Thanks for the informative site and your videos, esp. of the Fisherman's Trail, which we'll be walking N to S, starting in a couple of weeks. Quick question: when you get close to Odeceixe, is there an easy way across the river near the river mouth, or do you have to walk into town and back out again? We're booked into a guest house near the ocean, so it would be great to cross near the mouth! Hope you're able to help. Ed

Stingy Nomads

Tuesday 14th of May 2024

Hello Ed. We've been at Odeceixe Beach a couple of times and every time the river looked too fast and strong to cross. I can't remember if there is a trail to get down to the river from the cliffs. It might be another problem to cross there instead of walking around. Please, let us know if you manage to cross or go around so we can update our post. Good luck and enjoy the walk

Rosali

Sunday 5th of May 2024

Hi there, thank you for all the information! I am wondering if you have any info on taking a dog on the fisherman’s trail. If it’s ok? And renting rooms along the way? He is not a large dog so I’m also wondering about loose and stray dogs along the way if people have any difficulty with aggressive dogs and or maybe cows? I love long hikes with my terrier and love Portugal would really like to have both together! Thanks for any help

Stingy Nomads

Wednesday 8th of May 2024

Hello Rosalie. Thank you for the comment. I don´t know how easy it´s to find rooms that allow dogs. You can check it yourself using our PDF file where you can find a list of places to stay in each town on the Fishermen´s Trail. As for stray dogs and cows I do not remember seeing any on the trail. I don't think it'll be a problem. Good luck

Hilary

Sunday 28th of April 2024

Hi Thanks for this superb website. Thinking of planning an off season walk late 2024 or early 2025. We always say we have 8 mile legs, 10 miles and we are done! Are there taxi companies/buses who would pick us up on the longer stretches?

Stingy Nomads

Monday 29th of April 2024

Hello Hilary. Thank you for the comment. It might be not possible to get a taxi from anywhere along the route. Sometimes the road is away from the trail. It might be easier to arrange on the part Vila do Bispo to Sagres. Vicentina Tours offers taxi service on the Fisherman's Trail but it states between the start and the the stage so I don't know if they pick hikers up in between. You can contact them and find out. Cheers

Mel Chaplin

Wednesday 24th of April 2024

What a wonderful site. Thankyou for all the detailed information making any trip much much easier. I will stay in Lisbon for three nights then have 7 night before having to return to Lisbon. I would like to walk along the coast as much as possible. Are there more beautiful spots or is it all stunning. Could you recommend a suitable section for 7 days. I will probably walk 5-6 hours a day. I would also like to stay in decent hotels as I need a good break and sleep! This might determine where I walk. I looked at starting at POrto Covo as theres a good selection of hotels there. A huge thankyou for any advice. Mel

Stingy Nomads

Thursday 25th of April 2024

Hello Mel. Thank you for the comment. There are good hotels everywhere along the Fisherman's Trail. The entire route goes along the coast. The first two day from Porto Covo are on the beach or over sand dunes it makes the walk more challenging. If you want to stay in less touristy towns then it's better to do the first half of the route from Porto Covo in walk south. If you prefer bigger towns with more infrastructure for tourists then you can walk the second half starting in Lagos and walk north. it depends on the time of the year as well. July and August are the peak tourist month in the Algarve it's better to book your accommodation in advance. You can get to Lisbon from most of the town on the route. Good luck

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