HIKING hiking Portugal

The Rota Vicentina detailed guide + Historical Way itinerary

The Rota Vicentina is a network of hiking trails in the south of Portugal, it passes through two provinces Alentejo and Algarve. It includes two long-distance routes The Fishermen’s Trail,  the Historical Way and several day hikes most of them can be incorporated into one of the long-distance routes. We’ve walked both multi-day routes and some of the short-distance hikes, it took us 15 days to complete them.

In this post, we give a detailed route description, budget break-down, many accommodation options and complete itinerary for the Historical Way.

Practical information for the route

Both long-distance routes can be walked, either way, it’s well-marked in both directions.

Almost all towns on the way have ATMs, shops, restaurants, and hotels (except Vale Seco, there is only one shop and two guest houses and Praia da Arrifana, there are only hotels and restaurants). Though there are shops in every town, there are only two big supermarkets on the route in S.Teotonio and in Vila do Bispo.

It’s possible to arrange luggage transfer on the route so if you don’t want to walk with a big backpack it can be transferred every day from hotel to hotel. Vicentina Transfers is the main company that does it.

Summer is a very busy time for this area with July and August being the peak season if you do the trek in these months make sure to book accommodation well beforehand.

Check-in in most hotels/hostels is after 3 pm you’ll have to kill some time in a restaurant or café while waiting for check-in.

Most of the day there is nothing on the route between the towns you have to carry enough water to last you for the day and maybe some snacks or sandwiches.

Tap water in Portugal is drinkable we didn’t buy bottled water.

On Sundays shops are closed to get food eating out is the only option.

I’d recommend buying a local SIM card it’s always handy to have a phone number to be able to contact a hotel or to use Google Maps to find a place. We had MEO SIM card – a 10-day package with 3Gb and many minutes of local phone calls for 10 Euro. You can buy it in phone shops, some supermarkets, and kiosks.

At the information office in Santiago do Cacém or in a book shop in Porto Covo you can buy a guide book and a map for the Rota Vicentina, each costs 10 Euro.

The route can be easily done on your own without a guide or a tour; it is well-marked, there is enough infrastructure in the towns, it’s not difficult to book accommodation or to arrange luggage transfer by yourself.

Map of the walking trails of the Rota Vicentina, Portugal.
A network of the Rota Vicentina trails, Portugal. The Fishermen’s Trail; Porto Covo – Odeceixe. The Historical Way; Santiago do Cacém – Cabo de Sao Vicente. The circular routes (marked with red color).

Rota Vicentina different route options

As I already mentioned there are two long-distance trails and many circuit routes/day hikes (9 routes, 78 km in total) most of the short routes can be incorporated into the multi-day trails. The Historical Way starts in Santiago do Cacém and finishes at Cabo de Sao Vicente, it’s 229 km route, it takes 10-11 days to complete. The Fishermen’s Trail is a 4-day route, 76 km in total, it starts in Porto Covo and finishes in Odeceixe. From Odeceixe, you can continue walking to Cabo de Sao Vicente following the Historical Way. We walked both routes and enjoyed them.

To compare different routes first I want first to split the Historical trail into two parts because in a way it felt like two different treks; the northern part from Santiago do Cacém to Odeceixe and the southern part from Odeceixe to Cabo de Sao Vicente.

The Fishermen’s Trail is the busiest route with many day walkers and weekend groups if you walk it in summer be ready to see many people and make sure to book accommodation on the route beforehand. It’s as well the most scenic part of the Rota Vicentina with many beaches, sand dunes, cliffs, and stunning views. This route has the most accommodation options and campsites mainly because it is a popular summer holiday destination so it’s possible to find a budget place to stay. Though eating out here is quite expensive compared to the inland route e.g. for a meal in a restaurant we paid 25-30 Euro for two people vs 15-20 Euro on the northern part of the Historical Way. You can save quite a lot by staying in places with a kitchen and buying food in shops. For more details on this route check our post the Fishermen’s Trail detailed guide and itinerary. 

The southern part of the Historical Way is not as busy as the Fishermen’s Trail it does get hikers but about 3 times less than the Fishermen’s route. Most people stop in Odeceixe but some continue all the way to Cabo de S.Vicente. The scenery here is a mix of coast, forest, and fields with Cabo de S.Vicente being a highlight of the trail. It’s a great feeling to arrive there after walking for several days. As for accommodation options on this route, there are still many but less than on the Fishermen’s Trail. Restaurant prices are about the same as on the Fishermen’s Trail the area is still very busy and caters to tourists.

Scenery on the way to Cabo de S.Vicente, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Stunning scenery on the last day of the Rota Vicentina, on the way to Cabo de S.Vicente

The northern part of the Historical Way sees significantly fewer tourists we saw between 2 and 5 hikers a day on this route. As a result accommodation options are pretty limited as well as campsites it was the most expensive part in a sense of accommodation. Though eating out here is cheaper you can get a set menu for 6-7 Euro, a dish for 5-6 Euro, cup of coffee for 0,60 Euro etc. which is great because most places don’t have a kitchen so you can’t really cook if you want a proper meal, not just a sandwich you have to eat in a restaurant or bar. The scenery on this part of the route is very peaceful with a lot of walking through the fields (if you walk it in April-May it will be covered in flowers), some forest and quite a lot of hills, it’s probably the route with the most ascends and descends.

How to combine the routes?

You can just choose to walk the Fishermen’s Trail or the Historical Way as it is or you can combine two routes in several ways.

Starting in Porto Covo and finishing at Cabo de S.Vicente – this way you can enjoy the seaside the longest though from Odeceixe the route doesn’t go along the coast that much. To complete this route you’ll need 9 days. Total distance – 179 km.

Starting in Santiago do Cacém walking on the Historical Way till Cercal do Alentejo (two days) and from there go to Porto Covo and continue on the Fishermen’s Trail till Odeceixe. You can finish there or go all the way to Cabo de S.Vicente following the Historical Way. It’s the longest route option it’ll take you 12 days to complete. Total distance – 

Starting in Santiago do Cacém, follow the Historical Way till Odeceixe and from there take the Fishermen’s Trail and walk up north to Porto Covo. This way you combine both country and seaside scenery and get to see different parts of the Alentejo region. You’ll need 10 days to finish this route. Total distance – 199 km.

There is a great option for those who want to combine tow outdoor activities (hiking and surfing) and enjoy the sea as much as possible; start in Porto Covo walk to Arrifana, stay there in a surf hostel rent a board or take a couple of surf lessons – an awesome and active beach holiday. Days needed – 6, total distance – 118 km.

 Rota Vicentina cost

Algarve and Alentejo are very popular summer holiday destinations which means in season June – August the area gets very busy and prices (mainly accommodation) increase significantly. How much money you’ll spend walking Rota Vicentina will depend on when you do; completely off-season (November – March) will be the cheapest, border season (September – October, and April – May) – more expensive and summer months (June – August) – the most expensive period. We walked both routes (the Fishermen’s Trail and the Historical Way) in May and did find accommodation prices being quite high in some places.

Here is an estimated cost of the route*

Accommodation

It was our main expense on the Rota Vicentina.

Camping is the cheapest option here though not every town on the route has a campsite you’ll have to stay sometimes indoors. Prices for camping are between 6 and 10 Euro per person per day depending on the season. You’ll have to carry your camping equipment.

Hostels are the cheapest indoor option though like with camping, not every town has one. A bed in a dormitory will cost you between 15 and 20 Euro per person again depending on the season in July-August the prices are at their highest offseason, November – March at their lowest.

Hotels/guesthouses are the most common accommodation type in the area, price between 30 and 40 Euro for a double room but we had one or two places where we paid less, between 23 and 25 Euro. I guess off-season you’ll find more places offering rooms in this price range.

Eating out

It was quite expensive here compared to some other areas in Portugal and even on the route, there was a significant price difference between towns located away from the sea and beach towns. Prepare to pay 10 Euro for a dish, plus 2-4 Euro extra if you order drinks, bread, coffee, etc. Our average bill was about 30 Euro for two people when we went out for dinner. If you order a sandwich and a coffee or a cool drink it’ll cost about 3 Euro.

Cliffs, Cabo de S.Vicente - Sagres, Rota Vicentina, Algarve, Portugal
Stunning views on the way from Cabo de S.Vicente to Sagres, the end of the Rota Vicentina

Shopping

The cheapest food option is to buy stuff in a shop and make your own food, just make sure you stay in places with a kitchen otherwise you’ll be limited to eating sandwiches. Shopping will cost you between 5 and 7 Euro per person to buy food for dinner and breakfast.

Coffee

Portugal has great and probably the cheapest coffee in Europe; Espresso costs 0,60-0,70 Euro, coffee with milk (almost like a cappuccino) – 1-1,2 Euro. Note! If you order Americano you’ll pay about 1 Euro for it, cappuccino is quite expensive about 2 Euro average and it’s not like a normal cappuccino it’s more like Latte with chocolate in it, café com Leite (coffee with milk) is much closer to the normal cappuccino.

Transport

Buses from Lisbon to one of the starting points (Porto Covo or Santiago do Cacém) cost between 13 and 15 Euro one way. To get from Sagres (the end of the route) to Lisbon will cost you 19 Euro. Buses between the towns on the route are about 3-7 Euro depending on the distance.

Based on all these I’d suggest to budget 20-25 Euro per person per day if you’re planning to camp (when possible) and make your own food; 30-35 Euro per person if staying indoors (hostels and budget rooms) and cooking for yourself most of the time and from 40 Euro if staying indoors and eating out at least one meal a day.

Best season to walk the Rota Vicentina

As I already said summer in general  (July and August in particular) is the busiest season in this part of Portugal with the most people and the highest prices, plus it gets very hot here day temperatures go over 30°C. If you decide to walk the route in summer make sure to start early in order to be finished before it gets too hot and to book your accommodation in advance.

Border season (April-May and September-October) is a perfect time for walking the Rota Vicentina; there are significantly fewer people than in summer, it’s not too hot but warm and accommodation is cheaper. We love hiking in Portugal in spring the scenery is very beautiful this time of the year due to thousands of wildflowers everywhere.

Off-season (November-March) is great if you want to have a solitary and quiet walk with very few tourists. Weather-wise it doesn’t get really cold here, the average temperature in winter is between 12°C and 15°C but it might rain quite a bit between November and February.  As for accommodation prices, they are at their lowest (excluding Christmas holiday and New Year) so you can get a really nice place for not expensive.

Wild flowers, May, Rota Vicentina, Alentejo, Portugal
Fields of wildflowers on the Rota Vicentina – the advantage of walking the route in May

Travel insurance for the trek

Hiking like any other outdoor activity involves a risk of getting injured, sick or losing gear, etc., it’s always recommended to have travel insurance. Though the Rota Vicentina is not a high altitude wild trek through the remote areas it’s still a physically challenging experience that involves walking 20-25 km daily with a backpack. Anything from a small injury like blisters to a knee or shin split can happen along the way. Make sure you will be able to get medical assistance any time you need. It’s quite handy as well to have insurance in case of a gear or device break/loss. Let your insurance company worry about you while you enjoy the trek.

World Nomads insurance company operates all over the world, they have special packages for passionate walkers. It doesn’t matter where you live or where you are at the moment, it takes less than 2 minutes to get a quote and you can buy it online even if you are already traveling. We advise always to read the small print and be sure you buy the correct policy. 

Note! If you have a European Health Insurance card you don’t need any other medical insurance for Portugal.

The Historical Way of the Rota Vicentina

  • Distance – 229 km/142 mi
  • Time required – 11 days
  • Starting point – Santiago de Cacém
  • Finishing point – Cabo de S.Vicente
  • Total ascent (in 11 days) – 4466 m
  • Total descent (in 11 days) – 4571 m
  • Walking ground – gravel road most of the time, sometimes footpath
  • Route marking – white and red color markers
  • Average cost – 35 Euro* per person per day (including transport, accommodation, food, etc.)
  • Accommodation – camping, hostels, guesthouses
  • Food – shops, restaurants & cafes

*can be done under 30 Euro.

Route marking of the Historical Way, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Red and white route marking on the Historical Way, Rota Vicentina, Portugal

 Historical Way cost

Here is the complete breakdown of our spending on the Historical Way, 11 days, 2 people. We didn’t camp at all so accommodation was definitely our main expense. Half of the time we went out for lunch or dinner half of the time bought food in shops and supermarkets. We didn’t budget too much but tried not to spend a lot, here is what we got;

  • Accommodation – 422 Euro
  • Eating out – 151 Euro
  • Shopping – 116 Euro
  • Coffee, beer, cakes – 35 Euro
  • Transport – 68 Euro; bus Lisbon – Santiago do Cacém, 15 Euro per person, bus Sagres – Lisbon, 19 Euro pp.

Total: 792 Euro for 11 days, for 2 people or 36 Euro per person per day.

Accommodation on the route

We tried our best to put together a complete list of accommodation options on the Historical Way of Rota Vicentina, the list includes campsites, hostels, hotels, and guest houses basically all we could find online or saw on the way while walking. Some places can be booked through online booking systems, some by directly contacting the owner. The part from Santiago do Cacém to Odeceixe has limited accommodation options, the second part from Odeceixe to Cabo de S.Vicente (more touristy part) has more places to stay. 

On the stretch between Santiago do Cacém and S.Teotónio there are no places to camp only indoor accommodation options.

Alojamento Local, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Any house on the route that has this sign is a potential place to stay. Alojamento Local means “local accommodation”.

I’d like to mention our favorite places on the route;

Casinhas da Aldeia in Vale Seco – cozy and comfortable cabins on the farm, very peaceful places, spacious and comfortable rooms, great facilities and very friendly owners. Phone +351-926-135-594, +351-962-284-363 (owners Fatima or Ludgero), e-mail Fatima.Krus@gmail.com.

Hostel Carpe Diem in S.Teotónio – a very nice house with a couple of private rooms and dorms, very neat and clean, with amazing facilities (kitchen, washing machine, living room with cable TV, etc.). It feels like you’re at home here.

Daguasoul Hostel in Aljezur – a small and cozy hostel with great facilities and chilled vibe, very social place, the rooms are quite small (2 or 4 beds), people are super friendly and relaxed. We loved the terrace here a great place to enjoy an evening beer or a morning coffee.

Casa da Estela in Carrapateira – the lady that runs the place is one of the most hospitable and accommodation persons we’ve ever met, very friendly, welcomes you with a glass of home-made Porto wine, the rooms are big, clean and comfortable. You get coffee (Espresso pods), tea, yogurt, muffins, toasts, cookies, etc. as a complementary. The place has only two rooms it feels very homey here.

To be honest I could mention two or three more places on the route that we really liked but I’m afraid my list of favorites will be too long.

You can download our PDF spreadsheet that will help you to systematize your bookings on the route Rota Vicentina Historical Way accommodation.

Day 0. Santiago do Cacém

If you arrive early enough you can start walking the same day, accommodation in Santiago is quite pricey and not amazing.

Camping

No, there is a parking spot for camper-vans not suitable for tents

Middle price

Luxury

Day 1. Vale Seco

Vale Seco is not a town it’s a group of farms and a bar/shop in between, I’d strongly recommend booking accommodation here before coming there are a couple of places but most of them are quite pricey.

Camping

No campsite in the nearby but we heard it’s possible to camp at Terra Verde (check below for contact details).

Budget

Casinhas da Aldeia not in booking, no website. Can book over the phone +351-926-135-594, +351-962-284-363 (Fatima or Ludgero) or e-mail Fatima.Krus@gmail.com. It’s the only place located in Vale Seco right on the route.

Middle price

  • Moinhos do Paneiro
  • Terra Verde not in booking, no website, contact over the phone +351-965-765-233

Luxury

Accommodation in Vale Seco, Historical Way, Portugal trekking
Casihnas da Aldeia, Vale Seco – one of our favorites accommodation places on the Historical Way

Day 2. Cercal do Alentejo

Camping

No campsite in the vicinity.

Budget

Middle price

Luxury

Day 3. S.Luis

Camping

No campsite nearby.

Budget

Middle price

Luxury

Day 4. Odemira

Again no camping in the area.

Budget

Middle price

Luxury

Day 5. S.Teotónio

No camping.

Budget

Middle price

Day 6. Odeceixe

As you can see from Odeceixe there many more places to stay including campsites and hostels.

Camping

Parque do Campismo Sao Miguel (about 2 km before the town on the trail)

Budget accommodation

Middle price

Luxury

Day 6. Praia do Odeceixe

All the following accommodation options are at the beach Praia do Odeceixe but quite far from the town itself, about 4 km, there are a couple of restaurants and coffee shops around but no shops if you want to buy something do it in Odeceixe on the way or prepare yourself for paying quite a lot for food. If the next day you’re planning to walk the coastal route it’s right on the way, if you’re going to walk the central route the beach is 8 km extra to walk to and back from Odeceixe.

Middle price

Luxury

Day 7. Aljezur

Camping

Budget

Middle price

Luxury

Day 8. Arrifana

No camping nearby.

Budget

Middle price

Luxury

Day 9. Carrapateira

No campsite nearby.

Budget

Middle price

Luxury

Day 10. Vila do Bispo

No place for camping.

Budget

Middle price

Luxury

Day 11. Sagres

There is no accommodation at Cabo de S.Vicente, Sagres is the nearest to the cape town. Sagres is a very popular beach and surf destination there are many hostels, hotels and guest houses for different budget though it season everything is almost booked.

Camping

Orbitur Sagres about 2 km from the town center and the beach

Budget

Middle price

Luxury

Getting to Santiago do Cacém from Lisbon

There are several daily buses from Lisbon Sete Rios bus station to Santiago do Cacém, the journey takes 2 hours, price 13 Euro.

You can buy tickets and confirm the departure time online.

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 Historical Way detailed itinerary

Day 1. Santiago do Cacém – Vale Seco, 18,5 km

  • Time – 4h.
  • Ascent – 496 m
  • Descent – 434 m
  • Difficulty level – 3 out of 5

Note! For this day we’d highly recommend to find and book accommodation beforehand.

Historical Way Day 1 elevation profile
Elevation profile Day 1; Santiago do Cacém – Vale Seco

The trail starts at the Parish Church (Igreja Matriz) of Santiago do Cacém at the top of the hill, next to the castle, it’s about 500 m uphill from the information office. At the church, you’ll see the distance signs and route markers – red and white stripes that are painted on small wooden poles, trees and rocks all along the route. From the church, the route goes down to the valley and continues through the fields and hills with several ascents and descents in the first half of the walk, after about 7 km the route becomes flatter and easier.

Make sure to carry enough water with there will be no place along the way to get more water and with all the ups and downs you get quite thirsty.

Route map Santiago do Cacém - Vale Seco, Historical Way, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Route map Day 1 of the Historical Way of the Rota Vicentina; Santiago do Cacém – Vale Seco, 18,5 km

Highlights

  • Impressive castle and church of Santiago do Cacém crowning the top of the hill – the starting point of the route.
  • Peaceful pastoral scenery on the second half of the route.

Challenges

  • Several ascents and descents at the beginning of the day.
  • No places to stop for food or water along the way.
  • A couple of unfriendly dogs though they all were chained or behind the fence so they couldn’t do any harm to us.
Fields, Rota Vicentina, Alentejo, Portugal
Endless fields on the Historical Way of the Rota Vicentina

Vale Seco

This place was our main concern we couldn’t find much information about the area and very few accommodation options. We went to the information office in Santiago do Cacém they phoned a couple of places but everything seemed fully booked. Luckily we got a phone number of a guest house from our friend from Porto Covo.

Vale Seco is not a town or village, it’s a couple of farms and a bar/shop in the middle. At the bar you can get coffee, sandwiches, snacks, beer, the bar shop is very small with limited options; bread, cheese, ham, drinks, some vegetables, and fruit. Bring cash with you can’t draw money here or pay by card.

Casinhas da Aldeia guest house

We were lucky to find this place, our friend Nicolau (the owner of Ahoy hostel in Porto Covo) gave us contact details of this place, we booked it over the phone. It is 600 m away from the bar right on the route, you won’t miss it there are a big gate and a banner with the phone number.

We loved this place, it’s a farm with a couple of small guest houses, very tranquil and cozy. We got a double room with a bathroom, the room is spacious, clean, comfortable and has all you need. Price 40 Euro for two people. The owners Fatima & Ludgero are very nice people, super friendly and welcome. If you’re looking for a peaceful place to stay for a day or two this is a perfect option. Phone +351-926-135-594, +351-962-284-363 Fatima.Krus@gmail.com

Day 2. Vale Seco – Cercal do Alentejo, 22 km

  • Time – 4h30min.
  • Ascent – 374 m
  • Descent – 409 m
  • Difficulty level – 3 out of 5
Elevation profile Day 2 Historical Way, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Elevation profile Day 2; Vale Seco – Cercal do Alentejo, Historical Way, Rota Vicentina

It was a quiet walking day mostly through the fields, the route was well-marked and easy to follow. In fact, the day went so quick we didn’t even notice it. We stopped twice to drink coffee at Vale de Éguas and to rest at the lake.

Route map Vale Seco - Cercal do Alentejo, Historical Way, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Route map Day 2 of the Historical Way of the Rota Vicentina; Vale Seco – Cercal do Alentejo, 22 km

Highlights

Very peaceful scenery; pasture fields with cows and sheep, patches of eucalyptus forest and farms in between.

Albufeira de Campilhas – a nice and quite big lake on a nice day it’s a great spot to stop for rest.

Challenges

The walk was pretty easy our main challenge for the day was the last bit of walking to Cercal do Alentejo – hundreds of flies came from nowhere and we walked in the fly cloud for about 1 km.

Stops on the route

At 8 km a tiny village Vale de Éguas with two restaurants.

Scenery on the route, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Typical scenery on the first days on the Historical Way of the Rota Vicentina

Cercal do Alentejo

It’s quite a big and not very touristy place, there are several accommodation options, many bars and restaurants and a couple of shops. There is a self-service laundry as well but it’s quite expensive, 4,5 Euro for washing and 1,5 Euro for drying.

From Cercal do Alentejo you have two route options; go to Sao Luis (19 km) which means continuing inland on the Historical Way or go to the coast to Porto Covo (18 km) and walk the Fishermen’s Trail.

Casazul M&B Hotel – the first place on the whole route without wi-fi, they had wi-fi at the reception but not in the rooms. The place was fine; spacious rooms, good shower, nice bed, new bedding, etc. The location is good, close to the supermarket, restaurants and the trail. I’d say it was our least favorite place on the route.

Day 3. Cercal do Alentejo – S.Luis, 19 km

  • Time – 4h15min.
  • Ascent – 550 m
  • Descent – 542 m
  • Difficulty level – 3 out of 5 it was probably one of the most challenging days on the route due to many ascents and descents and no shade to hide and nowhere to stop for food or water.
Day 3 elevation profile, Rota Vicentina, Portugal hiking
Elevation profile Day 3; Cercal do Alentejo – S.Luis

The walk was quite nice, the first 8 km from Cercal were not too tiring, the scenery was beautiful; lush green hills, a little bit of forest. The second half was more challenging over the hills with many ascends and descends and stunning views over the area.

Cercal do Alentejo - S.Luis route map, Rota Vicentina, hiking in Portugal
Route map Day 3 o the Historical Way; Cercal do Alentejo – S.Luis, 19 km

Highlights

Great views in the second part of the walk from the top of the mountains you can see the sea, valleys, small villages, etc.

A viewpoint at 17 km (2 km before Sao Luis), it’s about 1,5 km extra to walk there and back and quite a lot of up and down. The view is great but not much different from what you see on the last 7 km so if you don’t feel like walking extra don’t worry about it.

Challenges

  • After first 8 km, the trail goes up and down all the way till Sao Luis
  • No place to stop for food or water

S.Luis

We arrived here on Sunday as a result shops were closed and we had to eat in a local bar. The best place we could find was Restaurante O Pinguim their omelets with French fries are quite big and filling. Unlike in other places, nobody here could speak any English it was a bit challenging to explain what we want in Spanish.

Blue Mountain Hotel. We couldn’t find it in the beginning because the place where you check-in and get the key has a different name Alves Olive, it’s on the route, past the bus stop, around the corner from café Gabriela. We got a private room with a shared bathroom, the room was nice and clean. The hotel is on the route, close to the supermarket, bars, and restaurants.

Day 4. S.Luis – Odemira, 24 km

  • Time – 5h.
  • Ascent – 379 m
  • Descent – 536 m
  • Difficulty level – 3 out of 5
Historical Way Day 4 elevation profile, Rota Vicentina
Elevation profile Day 4; S.Luis – Odemira

The whole day can be divided into two parts; the first part with a typical for the route scenery; fields and hills and the second part through the beautiful lush forest. Again very solitary walk in the whole day we saw one other hiker and not even a cyclist on the route. In May when we walked the Rota the area was covered in flowers from far it looked like a colorful carpet.

Route map S.Luis to Odemira, Historical Way, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Route map Day 4 of the Historical Way; S.Luis – Odemira, 24 km

Highlights

Beautiful forest walk in the second half of the day, after first 12 km; huge trees, lush vegetation, small rivers, many birds and butterflies around.

Lush green forest, Historical Way, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Walk through the beautiful forest in the middle of the day on the way to Odemira, Rota Vicentina

Challenges

  • No place to stop for food or water for 24 km make sure to take at least 1,5l of water per person
  • All day slight ascents and descents

Stops on the route

  • At about 14 km a picnic spot with a table and two benches but not food or water there.

Odemira

Another off the beaten path town on the route I guess people who walk the Historical Way are the only tourists here.

Hotel Residencial Rita. It was the best option we could find in the town, there are only three or four places to stay. WOW Alentejo Hostel has a cheaper room but it was fully booked. The hotel was fine, a typical not fancy hotel in the countryside. The original price was 60 Euro with breakfast but they gave us a cheaper room for 50 Euro, not sure if it’s the only room they have for this price or not. We even got a buffet breakfast which was great.

Day 5. Odemira – S.Teotónio, 19,5 km

  • Time – 4h.
  • Ascent – 437 m
  • Descent – 288 m
  • Difficulty level – 2 out of 5
Historical Way elevation profile Day 5, hiking in Portugal
Elevation profile Day 5; Odemira – S.Teotónio

The route from Odemira continues over the bridge and along the road for about 1 km and then turns into the fields offering some peaceful countryside scenery; green hills and the Eucalyptus forest. The day went quite quickly for us we saw three other hikers at the picnic spot and nobody else in the whole day.

Historical Way day 5; Odemira - S.Teotonio, Portugal
Route map Day 5 of the Historical Way; Odemira – S.Teotónio, 19,5 km

Highlights

Very quiet walking day through the fields and forest beautiful scenery

Challenges

  • A couple of steep but short ascents

Stops on the route

  • At 13 km there is a picnic spot you can get cool drinks, coffee and some snacks here (it’s more like a stall not sure if it’s always opened).

S.Teotónio

Not really a tourist destination more of a local town with not much to see or to do. The central square in front of the church is a nice place to come for beer or coffee but we stayed about 700 m away from there so we went for coffee and lunch to the nearby supermarket. There is a restaurant inside where you can get a set menu with salad, main dish, drink, bread, and coffee for 6,5 Euro, it’s a great value for money.

Hostel Carpe Diem. A great place to stay, a bit far from the route and the center of the town, about 700 m away, but close to a big supermarket and a couple of restaurants. It’s a house with several private rooms, one or two dormitories, and shared facilities. We were the only guests here which was great we had the whole house to ourselves.

Day 6. S.Teotónio – Odeceixe, 17 km

  • Time – 3h40min.
  • Ascent – 269 m
  • Descent – 420 m
  • Difficulty level – 2 out of 5, a short walking day with a couple of short ascents and descents on the way
Rota Vicentina Day 6 elevation profile
Elevation profile Day 6; S.Teotónio – Odeceixe

Today is the last day of walking inland from tomorrow on there will be route options that take hikers to the coast. At 3 km there is a split both routes go through the forest and fields to Odeceixe one is 15 km another one is 17 km. We took the 17 km route the day is pretty short anyway we didn’t feel like cutting 2 km from it but it’s totally up to you I don’t think if you take a shorter route you’ll miss out a lot.

The walk was very nice and quiet the whole day we saw only a group of cyclists and one hiking couple walking in the opposite direction.

S.Teotonio - Odeceixe, Historical Way, Rota Vicentina
Route map Day 6 of the Historical Way of the Rota Vicentina; S.Teotónio – Odeceixe, 17 km

Highlights

  • Green hills, pine forest, fields covered in wildflowers – very peaceful scenery.

Challenges

  • A steep descent at 9 km
  • No place to stop for food or water for about 15 km from S.Teotonio to S.Miguel.

Stops on the route

  • At 15 km S.Miguel – a small town with a couple of restaurants, a grocery store, and a campsite

Odeceixe

A picturesque town at the foot of the hill, surrounded by the pasture fields, about 3 km away from the beach. From Odeceixe you will start seeing more people on the trail the Historical Way and the Fishermen’s Trail join here, many people come from the Fishermen’s route and continue to Cabo de S.Vicente following the Historical Way.

If you’re planning to camp keep in mind that the nearest campsite is about 3 km before Odeceixe, in S.Miguel, don’t miss it.

If you want to stay at the beach you can walk 3 km to Praia de Odeceixe just keep in mind that accommodation options there are limited and more expensive and there is no grocery shop only two or three restaurants. The beach is on the route is you take the coastal route from Odeceixe if you continue inland than it’s completely off route.

Hospedaria Firmino Bernardino. We stayed in two different places in Odeceixe (we were here twice) Firmino Bernardino was our second time our previous place Hostal Seixe wasn’t available. This place was nice more like a guest house, the room was clean with an attached bathroom, the location was good, people were quite friendly.

Day 7. Odeceixe – Aljezur, 23 km*

  • Time – 5h30min.
  • Ascent – 288 m
  • Descent – 280 m
  • Difficulty level – 2 out of 5

*if you don’t do Odeceixe beach circuit and follow the inland route total distance is 18 km

Day 7 Historical Way elevation profile walk from Odeceixe to Aljezur
Elevation profile Day 7; Odeceixe to Aljezur

From Odeceixe you have two route options; one to continue inland, this route is 5 km shorter; another option is to walk past Odeceixe beach to the coast. This route is a bit longer but you get to see the sea and beautiful beach Praia do Odeceixe. After walking for 6 days inland I think it’s a good idea to change the scenery and to enjoy the beach and the sea. If you take the inland route – follow white and red markers (like the previous days), if you choose the coast, follow blue and green markers.

From Odeceixe on there will be several optional routes that will take you to the coast most of the time they’re marked with blue and green stripes.

Walk from Odeceixe to Aljezur, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Route map Day 7 of the Historical Way; Odeceixe – Aljezur, 23 km

Highlights

  • Incredible scenery on the coastal route. We’d highly recommend to do it it’s the first time on the Historical Way when you get to see the ocean.
Beach, Historical Route, Rota Vicentina
Finally after 6 days of walking you get to see the sea if you took the coastal route from Odeceixe

Challenges

  • Occasional walking on the road, here and there but not for long and the road is not busy at all.

Stops on the route

  • At 3,5 km Praia de Odeceixe; restaurants, hotels
  • At 14,5 km Rogil (11 km if walk inland); supermarket, restaurants, hotels, ATMs

Aljezur

A nice town, bigger than Odeceixe with several accommodation options, many restaurants, and bars, about 5 km away from the sea. If you’re planning to camp the campsite is about 3 km before the town, on the trail.

Daguasoul hostel – a great and very chilled place, quite small 4 rooms, 10 beds in total, very cozy, clean and comfortable. The location is good, a bit away from the route, about 500 m, but close to a shop and a couple of bars/restaurants.

Day 8. Aljezur – Arrifana, 19 km/12 km*

  • Time – 4h35min.
  • Ascent – 418 m
  • Descent – 362 m
  • Difficulty level – 3 out of 5 a couple of steep ups, in the beginning, 4-5 km of walking through the sand in the second half

*At 4,5 km there is a split; one route is shorter, total distance 12 km, it continues inland, another route goes to the coast, it offers great scenery but it’s longer, total distance 19 km.

Rota Vicentina Historical Way elevation profile Day 8
Elevation profile Day 8; Aljezur to Arrifana

Note! You can skip Arrifana and walk directly from Aljezur to Carrapateira but it’s about 31 km, a long walk day.

We thought it was going to be a short walking day but it wasn’t because we decided to take the coastal route which was 6 km longer but the scenery along the coast was stunning. The very beginning of the route for about 3 km after the split is not that spectacular you walk on the gravel road past houses but once you reach the coast it gets much better. If you have time go down to the beach, enjoy the swim, drink a cup of coffee and then continue. It’s the only place to stop for food or drinks on the way.

The last 3 km to Arrifana is through the pine forest on a sandy footpath the scenery is not as impressive as along the coast but still quite nice.

Walk from Aljezur to Arrifana, Historical Way, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Route map of Day 8 of the Historical Route; Aljezur – Arrifana, 19 km

Highlights

  • Praia de Monte Clerigo – a beautiful beach with a couple of restaurants and cafes
  • On the coastal route stunning views from the cliffs, rugged coastline, several pristine beaches
  • Praia da Arrifana

Challenges

  • In the beginning, a couple of steep ascents and descents
  • On the coastal route 4-5 km of walking on the sand

Stops on the route

  • At 11 km (coastal route) Praia de Monte Clerigo; restaurant, coffee shop, hotel

Arrifana

When you book a place in Arrifana make sure it’s located in the town, the place is very small, there are many accommodations around but some of them are located 3 km away from the beach and the trail. The best would be to find your accommodation on the map beforehand and make sure you don’t miss it following the route markers. We had to walk 3 km extra to get to our hotel.

Aljezur Villas – the place is really nice with a swimming pool, garden, BBQ, etc. but it’s located about 3 km from the beach and the trail so if you want to stay here be ready for that.

Day 9. Arrifana – Carrapateira, 24 km

  • Time – 5h.
  • Ascent – 555 m
  • Descent – 619 m
  • Difficulty level – 4 out of 5 relatively long walking day with several ascents and descents
Historical Way, Day 9 elevation profile
Elevation profile Day 9; Arrifana to Carrapateira, Rota Vicentina

It was a nice walking day though in the afternoon it got quite hot, make sure to refill your water at every stop and put on sunscreen you exposed to the sun for the whole day. After about 2 km you get to the coast it’s the only time today when the route comes that close to the sea till the end of the day you walk inland from time to time you can see the ocean from far.

There are two new places to stop on the way at 8 km and 9,5 km that were not mentioned in the guidebook. We really liked Nomads Surfers at 9,5 km; good food, cold drinks, great views over the area, pool – a perfect place to stop for rest in the middle of the day.

If you have time you can do a detour and walk to the beach before heading to Carrapateira, the town is about 3 km away from the sea.

Walk from Arrifana to Carrapateira, Historical Way, Rota Vicentina
Route map Day 9 of the Historical Way; Arrifana – Carrapateira, 24 km

Highlights

  • Praia do Canal, a small beach at 2 km, beautiful views from the surrounding cliffs over the area.
  • Green hills, vineyards, flowers fields for most of the day.
  • Many cork oaks along the road, this tree is Portugal‘s national tree, we did see them before on the route but not as many as here.
  • Praia da Bordeira a long sandy beach about 3 km before Carrapateira.
Coastal scenery, Odeceixe, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
A little bit of the coastal walk at the beginning of the day

Challenges

  • A couple of quite steep ascents and descents, no shade to hide if it’s hot and sunny

Stops on the route

  • At 8 km a guest house/restaurant (was closed when we were there on Saturday afternoon).
  • At 9,5 km Nomad Surfers hostel and restaurant – a great place to stop.
  • At 18 km Bordeira – a small town with a couple of guest houses and restaurants.

Carrapateira

A small town about 3 km away from the sea, there are some more expensive hotels and apartments located closer to the beach. If you want to go out for dinner there are not many options, the only place we found open after 8 pm was Restaurant Gato, about 1 km outside the town, a nice place, a chilled vibe.

Casa da Estela – an amazing homestay with a great hostess. Spacious rooms, good facilities, nice and comfortable. You get tea, coffee, toasts, cookies, cheese spreads, yogurt, muesli, fruit at your use for free in a mini kitchenette next to your room. The location is great next to the trail, close to two bars and a shop. The owners are very friendly and welcome.

Day 10. Carrapateira – Vila do Bispo, 22 km

  • Time – 4h20min.
  • Ascent – 418 m
  • Descent – 368 m
  • Difficulty level – 3 out of 5, several ascends and descends
Day 10 Historical Way elevation profile
Elevation profile Day 10; Carrapateira to Vila do Bispo

From Carrapateira the route goes inland and for the rest of the day, it meanders between the hills, fields and the forest. Today you won’t get to see the sea at all if you have time and really want to get to the beach do it in the morning from Carrapateira.

Route map walk from Carrapateira to Vila do Bispo, Rota Vicentina
Route map Day 10 of the Historical Way; Carrapateira – Vila do Bispo, 22 km

Highlights

It was quite a regular day of walking mostly through the fields, no breathtaking cliffs or sea views more of pastoral countryside scenery.

Challenges

Several steep ascents and descents if you walk it in summer make sure you have enough water it gets very hot.

Stops on the route

At 10 km Pedralva – a tiny town with a couple of restaurants and guesthouses.

Vila do Bispo

A very quiet town with many new houses, a couple of restaurants along the main street, a big supermarket, it doesn’t look like a typical holiday town.

Lilas’ private accommodation – an apartment with three rooms, shared bathroom (you can book with a private bathroom as well), big kitchen and living room. Located close to the supermarket and restaurants. A brand new place with good facilities, comfortable, clean and neat.

Day 11. Vila do Bispo – Sagres, 21 km*

  • Time – 4h50min.
  • Ascent – 282 m
  • Descent – 313 m
  • Difficulty level – 2 out of 5

*If you don’t feel like walking 6 km from Cabo to Sagres (the route ends at Cabo anyway) you can take a bus.

Day 11 elevation profile, Historical Way Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Elevation profile Day 11; Vila do Bispo – Cabo S.Vicente – Sagres

Out of Vila do Bispo the route goes past the market towards the sea, for the first 6 km you walk through the fields, at about 6 km there is a split; one route goes to the sea, another continues inland almost all the way to the cape. The coastal route marked with green and blue, the inland route marked with red and white. The distance on both routes is about the same, 14 km from Vila do Bispo to the cape. Be ready to see many tourists at Cabo San Vicente.

There is no accommodation available at the cape the nearest town Sagres is 6 km away, you can walk there, the walk is mostly along the road. You can take a bus from the cape to Sagres, there are two daily buses at 11.55 am and 3.05 pm, they run only from Monday to Friday, no buses to Sagres on weekends and public holidays.

Route map of the last day of the Historical Way from Vila do Bispo to Sagres
Route map Day 11 of the Historical Way; Vila do Bispo – Cabo de S.Vicente – Sagres, 21 km

Highlights

If you take the coastal route (the split is about 6 km from Vila do Bispo) there are some stunning views from the cliffs over the sea and the beaches.

Cabo S.Vicente – a cape with a lighthouse and a fortress, impressive scenery and the official end of the Rota Vicentina.

Lighthouse, Cabo de S.Vicente, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
The lighthouse at Cabo de S.Vicente – the end of the Rota Vicentina.

Challenges

If you decide to walk from Cabe S.Vicente to Sagres most part of 6 km the route goes along the road.

Stops on the way

At 14 km Cabo S.Vicente there are a couple of food stalls.

Sagres

A cool beach town quite small with a couple of nice beaches around, good surf spots, many hotels, and restaurants. It’s a nice place to stay for a couple of days after finishing the Rota Vicentina. We stayed here for three days and really enjoyed the place. We liked Sagres more than Lagos, Lagos is a big and very busy place.

Sagres Sunny Room – a nice place in the center of the town, comfortable room, clean and cozy. There are only two or three rooms in the season it’s usually fully booked.

Tours and activities in Algarve

If after finishing the route you still have some time to spend in the area there are some amazing places to see around Sagres and Lagos including some stunning beaches and caves. Doing a kayak or a boat tour is a great option to discover the incredible beauty of Algarve;

Getting to Lisbon from Sagres

There are direct weekend buses that go from Sagres to Lisbon, the journey takes 4h50min., price 19 Euro. Tickets can be bought ONLY online on Rede-expressos website.

To go from Sagres to Lisbon on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday first you should take a bus to Lagos and from there take a bus to Lisbon. There are several daily buses from Sagres to Lagos, the bus stop is next to the tourist information office. Tickets are bought on the bus.

From Lagos there are many buses to Lisbon (between 12 and 15 buses a day), the journey takes between 3h45min. and 5 hours depending on the bus, price 20 Euro. Tickets can be bought online or at the bus terminal. Buses arrive and leave from the same bus terminal in Lagos.

Packing list for the Rota Vicentina

Backpacka 30l backpack will be enough to pack hiking clothes 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. The lighter your backpack is the easier the walk.

Comfortable shoes – it might be a pair of light hiking shoes/men’s model, a pair of running shoes or sandals whichever you feel more comfortable in.

GoPro HERO7 – after we bought a new GoPro we never take our big DSLR camera on hikes, too heavy and too big. The footage and photos we get with our GoPro are more than good enough, all photos in this post and the video were taken with the GoPro HERO7.

Garmin Fenix 5 GPS watch – another new addition to our hiking gear, we used it to get the distances, elevation profiles, and 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 along the route you need a bigger backpack and more gear;

Path in the forest, Historical Way, Rota Vicentina, Portugal
Campbell posing for the photo somewhere on the Rota Vicentina

Rota Vicentina vs Camino de Santiago

We met people on the Camino that want to do Rota Vicentina and other way around so we decided to compare both based on our walking experience. We’ve walked 6 different routes of the Camino de Santiago; Camino Portuguese, Camino Primitivo, Camino del Norte, Vía de la Plata (only 214 km from Seville to Mérida), Camino Finisterre-Muxía and Camino Inglés and two routes of the Rota Vicentina; the Fishermen’s Trail and the Historical Way. We’re going to compare both routes according to the scenery, cost, and facilities.

Scenery

It’s a tough choice but we are both hands for the Fishermen’s Trail we both love the sea it’s not often when the entire route follows the coastline; dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, hidden bays – all these sound like a perfect holiday trail. You do get sea scenery on the Coastal route of the Portuguese Camino and on the Camino del Norte as well.

Cost

The Rota Vicentina is definitely more expensive than the Camino the main reason is accommodation there are no albergues for pilgrims on the route only hostels and hotels (some towns have campsites). You pay for accommodation between 15 and 20 Euro pp. depending on the season and type of accommodation you choose. Camping will cost you between 6 and 10 Euro pp. again the season is an important factor and you’ll have to carry camping gear with. Like any other beach holiday destination the area is more expensive than the rest of Portugal not only accommodation but food prices as well. On the Camino, you can get Menu del Dia (Menu do Dia in Portuguese) for 7-10 Euro on the Fishermen’s Trail you pay the same for one dish.  On the inland part of the Historical Way eating out is significantly cheaper you can get a menu for 6-7 Euro or a sandwich for 1-2 Euro.

Facilities

Both Rota Vicentina and Camino are well-marked you don’t really need GPS or map to follow the route. As I already mentioned there are no albergues on the Rota Vicentina but there is accommodation in every town on the route as well as ATMs, restaurants, and shops – basically all one needs to complete the route.

Walking surface

Unlike on some Camino routes on the Rota Vicentina you hardly walk on the road or asphalt, most of the time it’s a footpath or a gravel road which is much better for walking it’s not as hard on your feet as asphalt.

Final thoughts

I would say the Rota Vicentina, especially the Fishermen’s Trail is more of a holiday trek that has nothing to do with the pilgrimage. If you want to hike for a couple of days or a week and combine the walk with a beach holiday the Rota Vicentina is the perfect option. If you’re seeking a spiritual or cultural experience (architecture,  historical towns, etc.) rather walk one of the Camino routes.

Recommended books and guidebooks

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