The Fishermen’s Trail in the south of Portugal is a part of the Rota Vicentina hiking routes. The trail follows the coastline and offers breathtaking scenery; rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and crystal clear water, it’s a perfect route for those who like the sea and outdoor activities. The route can be walked as a separate trek or combined with the Historical Way of the Rota Vicentina.
For more details on the Rota Vicentina and the Historical Way check out the post The Rota Vicentina detailed guide & Historical Way itinerary.
The Fishermen’s Trail facts
- Distance – 76 km/47 mi
- Time required – 4 days
- Starting point – Porto Covo
- Finishing point – Odeceixe
- Total ascent (in 4 days) – 1178 m
- Total descent (in 4 days) – 1181 m
- Walking surface – a mix of soft sand (dunes, beaches) and footpath with short parts on the gravel road.
- Route marking – blue & green markers
- Average cost – 30 Euro per person per day
- Accommodation – camping, hostels, guesthouses
- Food – grocery stores, restaurants & cafes
Fishermen’s Trail route options
The official route is 76 km, it starts in Porto Covo and finishes in Odeceixe, total distance 76 km. If you have more time and would like to do a longer route you can combine the Fishermen’s Trail with the Historical Way. The Historical Way starts in Santiago de Cacém and finishes at Cabo de S.Vicente, both routes join in Odeceixe.
There are several options;
Start in Porto Covo and walk to Odeceixe, from there continue on the Historical Way to Cabo de S.Vicente (Sagres). Total distance – 173 km.
Start in Santiago do Cacém (the beginning of the Historical Way) and go to Cercal do Alentejo from there walk to Porto Covo and continue on the Fishermen’s Trail. From Odeceixe, you can continue on the Historical Way to Cabo de S.Vicente (Sagres). Total distance – 232 km.
Start in Santiago do Cacém walk on the Historical Way till Odeceixe and from there walk to Porto Covo, it can be done other way around; starting in Porto Covo and finishing in Santiago do Cacém. Total distance – 199 km.
Need to know before the trek
Tap water in Portugal is drinkable no need to buy bottled water or use filters.
The route is well-marked it’s easy to follow and plan on your own no need in hiring a guide or joining a tour.
The trail goes through the Alentejo region in the south of Portugal it gets very hot here in summer it’s advisable to start walking early in order to escape the afternoon heat.
If you don’t feel like walking with a heavy backpack it’s possible to arrange luggage transfer on the route from accommodation to accommodation. The main company that does transfers on the route is Vicentina Transfers.
Every town on the route has ATMs, shops and hotels you don’t have to carry food or a lot of cash with, many places accept credit cards.
Distances between towns are quite long there is nothing in between always make sure to have enough water for the whole day.
In a book shop in Porto Covo on Vasco da Gama street (a block away from the church) you can buy an official guidebook and a route map.
The area gets very busy in July and August as a result accommodation prices increase quite a lot, keep it in mind when planning your hiking holiday.
Accommodation on the route
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. 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 get filled 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’d 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.
We usually use booking.com for making reservations and it worked great for planning the Fishermen’s Trail; every time we made a booking the system suggested us to “extend” our holiday and book a place in the next town and every time the next town was the next town on the route. It showed as well the entire booking with the names of the places and dates it was impossible to book a wrong place or to mix up with dates so thumbs up for this feature. It sounds confusing so I took a screenshot that might explain it better.
Download our PDF spreadsheet that will help you to systematize your bookings The Fishermen’s Trail Rota Vicentina booking spreadsheet.
Day 1. Porto Covo
It’s a very popular destination with many hotels and guest houses but most of them are quite pricey, there is a handful of budget and middle price accommodation options in Porto Covo it’s highly recommended to book a place in advance.
- Camping Costa do Vizir (in the town)
- Parque de Campismo Porto Covo (in the town)
- Parque de Campismo Ilha Pessegueiro (outside of the town)
Middle price range
- Apartamentos Campos 0
- Apartamentos Campos 1
- Ze Inacio Apartments phone 269-959-136 [email protected]
- Parque de Campismo da Ilha do Pessegueiro (4 km outside the town)
Day 2. Vila Nova de Milfontes
According to how many hotels and pensions we saw in the town I guess it’s a very popular beach holiday destination though there are many options I’d suggest in summer to book a place beforehand as the most budget-friendly options are usually fully booked.
- Hike & Surf Lodge
- Apartamentos Pátio Victória
- Pirata hostel Milfontes
- Get Lost In Milfontes Hostel
- Alojamentos Vitinho
- Hotel Casa dos Arcos
- Alojamentos Vitinho 2
Day 3. Almograve
It’s a really small town about 500 m away from the beach, budget accommodation here is pretty scarce, plus there is no campsite nearby definitely would recommend booking something in advance in summer.
There is no campsite in Almograve, the nearest one is in Vila Nova de Milfontes or Zambujeira do Mar.
Day 4. Zambujeira do Mar
Another small town with many fancy guest houses and apartments for rent and a couple of more budget accommodation options.
Day 5. Odeceixe
The last stop on the Fishermen’s Trail and the only town on the route that is away from the sea though there is Odeceixe beach a tiny town with a couple of guest houses and restaurants right at the beach.
Parque do Campismo Sao Miguel (about 2 km outside the town and 5 km away from the beach)
Day 5. Praia do Odeceixe
All the following accommodation options are right at the beach but quite far from the town itself, about 4 km, there are a couple of restaurants and coffee shops around but no shops so do shopping in Odeceixe on the way or prepare yourself for paying quite a lot for food.
Fishermen’s Trail cost
The cost of the trek depends a lot on the type of accommodation you decide to stay (camping, dorm rooms or private) and on the season you walk it. If you’re planning to camp, to cook your own food and not to go out for drinks every night budget 20 Euro per person per day. To stay in dorms and make your own food 25-30 Euro pp. per day. Staying in private and eating out from time to time 30-35 Euro. If you want to stay in private, eat out at least once a day and go out for drinks I’d suggest to budget 45+ Euro per day per person.
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 (tent, mattress, sleeping bag, cooking stuff, etc.) which adds a lot of weight to your backpack. The price for camping is between 6 to 10 Euro per person per night.
A bed in a dormitory is another budget option, there are not many hostels on the route and they are usually fully booked as the area is a very popular surf destination. In order to get a spot in season, it’s advisable to book in advance. Price for a bed is between 15 and 20 Euro depending on the season.
A private room is the most comfortable way to go and sometimes a double room with a shared bathroom cost the same as two beds in a dormitory, so if you’re a couple it’s a much better deal. There are several hotels that offer triple and family rooms if you’re a group of people hiking it will work well for you. Prices for a budget double room vary between 30 and 40 Euro but we had one or two places where we paid 25 Euro for a double room with a private bathroom. I guess if you walk completely off season e.g. March or November it might be a standard price.
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, just make sure you book places with a kitchen (most places we stayed had at least a microwave). Depending on what kind of stuff you buy shopping (lunch, dinner, and breakfast) costs between 8-10 Euro per person.
Eating out is quite expensive on the route, unlike in other parts of Portugal local restaurants don’t have Menu do Dia – a set lunch that usually includes starter, main dish, drinks (beer, wine, cool drink), bread, coffee or dessert and costs between 8-10 Euro per person. We had these menus everywhere on the Portuguese Camino de Santiago. In most places on the Fishermen’s Trail you pay about 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 Euro, for coffee with milk – 1 Euro. Note! If you order Americano it’ll cost you more, about 1,2 Euro, for cappuccino you’ll pay between 2 and 3 Euro (they add a lot of milk and chocolate to it). Cafe con Leite (coffee with milk) is usually similar to what is known as cappuccino in most countries.
Our budget for the route (2 people, 5 days);
We stayed in mixed private rooms and dorms, ate out twice, most of the time we cooked food and stopped at least once for coffee.
- Accommodation – 160 Euro (3 nights in private, 2 nights in dorms)
- Shopping (grocery) – 58 Euro
- Eating out – 47 Euro
- Transport – 30 Euro, bus Lisbon – Porto Covo
- Coffee+cakes – 24 Euro
Total: 319 Euro or 32 Euro per person per day.
Best time for hiking
The Fishermen’s Trail goes through the south of Portugal it’s never really cold here and it doesn’t rain that much which means the route can be walked all year around. All routes we’ve done in Portugal we walked in spring between April and May. For us it’s the best time of the year; not cold but not hot yet, not too many people like in summer, many flowers and trees in blossom and prices are lower than in peak season.
Summer particularly July and August are the hottest and the busiest months here if you have a choice I’d suggest to walk 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. April – June, and September – October are probably the best months for walking with the most comfortable weather and fewer people.
As for walking the route completely offseason; November – March it’s absolutely possible, many hotels and hostels are open all year round, though it might be too quiet like in any other beach holiday area off-season. So if you’re seeking for a solitary and tranquil walking holiday it’s the right time of the year to come here.
Travel insurance for the trek
Walking like any other outdoor activity involves a risk of getting injured or losing some of the gear. It’s always recommended to have travel insurance when you go away. Though the Fishermen’s Trail is not a high altitude wild hike through remote areas it’s still a physically challenging experience that involves walking long distances with a heavy backpack. Anything from small injuries like blisters to a knee or shin split issues can happen along the way. Make sure you will be able to get medical assistance any time you need. Note! If you have a European Health Insurance card you don’t need any other medical insurance for Portugal. It’s quite handy as well to have insurance in case of a gear or device break/loss. It makes the trek less stressful when you know you’re covered for any unpredictable emergencies.
How to get to Porto Covo from Lisbon
There are direct buses from Lisbon Sete Rios bus terminal to Porto Covo, buses leave several times a day, more frequent over the weekend. Rede Expressos is the company that operates buses on the route, tickets can be bought at the bus terminal or online (in peak season I’d recommend purchasing tickets beforehand). The journey takes 2h10min. (5 pm bus takes 3 hours), ticket costs 15,6 Euro.
Note! Consult Rede Expressos site to confirm departure time.
Tours and activities in Lisbon
If you have some time in Lisbon before or after the trek there are many activities you can do in and around the city;
The Fishermen’s Trail of the Rota Vicentina itinerary
Day 1. Bus Lisbon – Porto Covo, 2h.
Porto Covo is a really nice town, probably our favorite town on the whole Rota Vicentina. It’s quite small and cozy; cobblestone streets, two-story houses with red roofs, the main square with many restaurants and bars and a great holiday vibe. We liked the town so much that we are thinking of renting a place here for a couple of weeks.
If you arrive with a morning bus (available only Friday – Sunday) you can start walking the same day but we’d recommend stopping at Porto Covo for a night, to walk around, drink a beer on the square, watch the sunset, etc.
Ahoy Porto Covo Hostel is a great place to stay for trekkers, Nicolau, the owner, knows everything about the route, he is much better informed than people at the information office. We got some useful tips, recommendations and even a map (Maps.me) of the trail with some marks on it. The location is perfect, close to the restaurants, shops, and the beach, right on the trail. Price depending on the season varies between 16 and 20 Euro per bed, there are private rooms as well. The hostel was fully booked so it’s better to book it in advance, it’s one of the few budget accommodation options in the town.
Day 2. Porto Covo – Vila Nova de Milfontes, 19 km
- Time – 5h10min.
- Ascent – 278 m
- Descent – 292 m
- Difficulty level – 3 out of 5 it was a short walking day but most of the time you walk on sand dunes sometimes ankle deep in the sand.
It was an incredible walking day, the route goes along the shore or on the beach with some stunning views from the cliffs. Water temperature was about 17 °C a bit cold to go for a swim but nice to walk barefoot ankle deep in water. Make sure to take enough water especially in summer walking on sand makes you tired and thirsty you’ll need at least 1,5l of water per person. There were a couple of amazing beaches on the way the route sometimes takes you away from the sea but it’s possible to walk along the coast all the way. I’m sure in summer the water is warm enough for swimming so pack swimming costume and a towel.
A couple of long sandy beaches; Praia da Ilha do Pessegueiro, Praia dos Aivados, Praia do Saltinho, Praia dos Nascedios, Praia do Malhao. Every time we got a chance we took off the shoes and walked barefoot on the beach, basically first 10 km you can walk on the beach.
There are many wildflowers along the trail (we walked the Fisherman’s trail in May).
A couple of stork nests at the edge of the cliffs.
In fact, the entire walk was one big highlight we absolutely loved it despite the tough part of walking on the sand dunes.
As I already mentioned walking on sand was quite difficult, our shoes were full of it for most of the day, it doesn’t help to shake it out because it gets in immediately.
We were unpleasantly surprised how many people walked the trail maybe because it was Sunday and there were many day walkers.
No place to stop for food or water for 16 km after the restaurant at Praia da Ilha do Pessegueiro.
Stops on the route
- At 3,5 km at Forte do Pessegueiro, there is a restaurant
Vila Nova de Milfontes
This place is quite a bit bigger than Porto Covo, but to be honest we liked the previous town more. The center of the town is nice with traditional white houses with blue, red and yellow color doors and windows but the big part of the town is just hotels it wasn’t the season yet the place was very quiet. There are a nice fortress Forte de Sao Clemente and a couple of beaches in the town.
Apartamentos Patio Victoria – good value for money, we got a spacious double room with attached bathroom for 23 Euro. I guess it depends on the season in this area in summer months you’ll pay more for the same room. The only drawback of this place was its location, about 15 min. walk to the center and 10 min. walk to the beach, but the room was clean and neat, everything worked good, the owner was very nice and friendly.
Day 3. Vila Nova de Milfontes – Almograve, 16 km
- Time – 4h15min.
- Ascent – 204 m
- Descent – 192 m
- Difficulty level – 1 out of 5, a short and easy walking day on the footpath with some sandy parts.
Alternative! In Vila Nova de Milfontes you can take a boat to the other side of the river instead of walking across the bridge, it’ll make your walking day about 4 km shorter, but to be honest you won’t miss out a lot, the first 4 km were through the town and along the road (we walked this part). I’d rather spend that time enjoying the beach Praia das Furnas. The boat leaves as soon as there are people willing to go, the pier is at the fortress in Vila Nova de Milfontes, price 5 Euro pp. The boat drops you at the beach on the opposite side you don’t have to look for the route just continue walking along the beach till Ocean Drive Beach restaurant.
The route goes through Vila Nova following Rua Custodio Bras Pacheco (the main street in the town) from your hotel you just can get to this street and continue following the signs on the left-hand side of the street. The first 4 km was not very scenic; out of the town, along the road, across the bridge to the other side and then through the bush back to the coast. You can easily skip it and take a boat.
Praia das Furnas is a great place to stop, the route goes past the beach but we’d recommend to go down and walk on the beach. After Praia das Furna the trail goes on and off the coast through forest and fields. At about 3,5 km before Almograve, there is a split; the left route continues inland, the right route goes back to the coast, both routes join in Almograve. We’d recommend taking the coastal route it’s more scenic and takes you past three beautiful beaches, though we missed the split and took the inland route. We walked a part of the coastal route from Almograve later without backpacks.
Several great beaches on the way; Praia das Furnas, Praia dos Picos, Praia da Angra.
Stunning views from the cliffs, rugged coastline, fields of flowers.
1,5 km of walking on the road in the beginning from Vila Nova de Milfontes across the bridge to the other side of the river. You can skip this part by taking a boat.
No places in between to stop for food and water make sure to have enough water and some snack with. There was a bar at Praia das Furnas at about 5 km but it was closed (maybe because it was Monday).
Stops on the route
- At 5 km (if walk across the bridge) at Praia da Furnas, there is a restaurant.
A very small town much smaller than Vila Nova, about 500 km away from the beach. There are a couple of restaurants on the main square and several guesthouses.
Refugio do Almogarve – a cozy house with two rooms, one shared bathroom, a kitchen, and a living room, there are only two double rooms in the house so sharing the bathroom and the kitchen wasn’t a problem. Our room was very nice and cozy. The facilities were great, all you need for cooking, washing, etc. Price 30 Euro for a double room with a shared bathroom. This place seems to be very popular they’re always fully booked I’d recommend to book it in advance.
Day 4. Almograve – Zambujeira do Mar, 22,5 km
- Time – 5h45min.
- Ascent – 293 m
- Descent – 274 m
- Difficulty level – 2 out of 5
There are two options to walk out of the town; the first route goes back to the beach the second one continues inland. Both routes join after about 1 km. We took the beach option, this route goes past the church left through the bush to the beach. After about 1 km at the parking spot, the official route goes inland but it’s possible to walk on the beach Praia da Longueirinha for about 500 m and then go upstairs back to the trail. It’s the only place on the route for the whole day where you can actually get to the beach so don’t miss this opportunity. For the rest of the day, you can enjoy the stunning sea scenery but no chance to get close to the water.
For the first 10 km, the route goes through the dunes again walking in deep sand. After a small town of Cavaleiro most of the time, you walk on the gravel road.
Breathtaking views from the trail; sea, small beaches, rugged coast, cliffs, etc.
Cabo Sardao – a beautiful cape and a lighthouse.
Many stork nests at the edges of the cliffs. The best area for spotting storks was at 18 km just before Entrada do Barca, there were some nests with babies that you could come pretty close to.
Stunning views from the cliffs just before Zambujeira.
- First 10 km on the sand dunes
- A short stretch of boring walking along the road past Entrada do Braca, for about 1,5 km.
Stops on the route
- At 10 km Cavaleiro; two restaurants, shop, hotels, bus stop
- At 19 km Entrada do Barca; two restaurants
Zambujeira do Mar
Another small town, a bit bigger than the previous one, with many restaurants and guesthouses. There are a couple of nice beaches around the town.
Hostel Hakuna Matata – an awesome place, very close to the sea, good facilities, clean and comfortable. We stayed in a dormitory but with only 2 beds so basically we got a private room. All dorms are quite small; 2-4 beds, there is one or two private rooms as well.
Day 5. Zambujeira do Mar – Odeceixe, 19 km
- Time – 4h50min.
- Ascent – 403 m
- Descent – 423 m
- Difficulty level – 2 out of 5, a couple of short ascends and descends, here and there some sandy parts.
From the beginning till about 4 km before the end, the route goes next to the ocean so incredible views are guaranteed. Today’s walk had a bit more ascends and descends than the previous days but nothing really tough. The last 4 km to Odeceixe is along the road with the river on one side and green hills on the other side, not as stunning as the rest of the day but still beautiful. Just before Odeceixe you across from Alentejo to Algarve, probably the sunniest part of Portugal, the place to be for those who love sunshine, sea, beach, and surfing.
Praia dos Alterinhos – an unspoiled beach right after Zambujeira with a cave (at the end of the beach) and interesting rock formations, the only beach on the route for the day.
Breathtaking views on the way; rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, pine forest, fields of flowers
Not really a highlight more curiosity, after Praia do Carvalhal (at 3 km) there is a safari park, a person from Angola brought several African animals here like ostriches, zebras, giraffes, antelopes, and even an American buffalo, we got to see a couple of ostriches and an antelope.
Praia de Odeceixe-Mar – stunning view over the beach with a couple of houses on the opposite side and a river.
- Walking in deep sand from time to time
- A couple of steep but short ascents
Stops on the route
At 3 km Praia do Carvalhal there is a coffee shop but we wouldn’t recommend stopping here, everything is very expensive.
At 10 km Azenha do Mar – a tiny village with a restaurant
The first town on the route that is not by the sea, the beach is about 3 km away. Odeceixe is the place where both Rota Vicentina routes; the Fisherman’s Trail and the Historical Way join, from here you can continue on the Historical Way to Cabo de Sao Vicente.
If you prefer to stay at the beach you can walk 3,5 km extra to Praia de Odeceixe, a tiny place with a couple of hotels and restaurants located right at the beach, you’ll see it from the cliff on the way. It’s on the opposite side of the river, at low tide it’s possible to walk across the river close to the sea, it still might be about knee deep. If the crossing is impossible you’ll have to walk first to Odeceixe where you can cross the river over the bridge and then back to the beach, it’s a 6 km loop.
Hostal Ceixe – a nice place, very clean, cozy, with good facilities. We stayed in a double room with shared bathroom (there are no rooms with attached bathroom here), the room was quite big with a small balcony. Price 35 Euro. They have small dormitories as well.
Transport from Odeceixe
If you want to continue your holiday and spend a couple of days at the beach you can take a bus from Odeceixe to Lagos and stay in Lagos or go to another smaller beach town from there. Buses leave several times a day (no buses on Sundays and public holidays), I’d suggest confirming the departure time in the town. The journey takes 1h15min., price 4 Euro pp.
There is no direct bus from Odeceixe to Lisbon in order to get there first you’ll have to take a bus to Santiago do Cacém, takes about 2h20min., price 5 Euro. From Santiago take another bus to Lisbon (Sete Rios bus station), 2 hours, 15 Euro. There are only evening buses at 5.50 pm from Odeceixe to Santiago do Cacém but there are more options through other towns. Check the departure time in the town it changes depending on weekdays, school and public holidays.
Packing list for the trek
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 it walking basically with a day pack.
Backpack – a 30l backpack will be enough to pack hiking clothes for 4-5 days and some toiletries. If you’re planning to travel for some time before or after the hike you can arrange luggage storage with one of the hostels or hotels you’ll be staying instead of carrying all your stuff with.
Comfortable shoes for walking, it might be a pair of light hiking shoes/men’s model (no need to bring heavy boots), a pair of running shoes or sandals. Most of the time you walk on sand whatever you wear it will get into your shoes.
- flip-flops – to change into after a long hiking day
- sleeping clothes
- waterproof pouch for documents, money, phone, etc.
- sunscreen with high protection
GoPro HERO7 – we made a choice and instead of carrying our big DSLR camera we got a new GoPro, the quality of the footage and photos is great, it’s very light and small, it can get wet, you can swim with it, hike with it, dive with it, etc. All photos and videos in this post are taken with the GoPro7.
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 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.
If you’re planning to camp you need a bigger backpack and more gear;
- light sleeping bag (for summer, if planning to camp offseason bring a warmer option)
- cooking set (if you’re planning to cook)
Recommended books and guidebooks