A fresh breeze welcomed us on the Fishermen’s Trail, as we hit the Portuguese coast on our second day hiking the Rota Vicentina. I had convinced my girlfriend Wing to join me on a hike, with two conditions: no steep mountains and a friendly climate. We found exactly such a trail in the Rota Vicentina, which consists of the Historical Way, following green trails in the Portuguese agricultural countryside, and the Fishermen’s Trail, which turned out to be a stunningly beautiful track skirting the seaside cliffs.
We combined the two trails into a 6 day hike with campsites along the way. We started in S. Teotinio, walking over green hills to reach a campsite at Odeceixe. From here, we followed the coastal trail north to Porto Covo, followed by one last day inland to Cercal Do Alentejo. Both the start and end-point of our route could be reached by a direct and comfortable bus from Lisbon (tickets can be booked online).
Halfway through the second day, we followed a small river from Odexeice and hit the magnificent Portugese coast. Further inland it can be a little hot for hiking in early June already, but at the coast we were greeted by a pleasant breeze that tried to trick us into thinking we didn’t need sunscreen. Right from the start, the views were stunning, with cliffs and turquoise waters on our left and far green views on our right.
After two days, we were ‘forced’ to stay in a a Bed & Breakfast, as there was no campsite at our third destination (Almograve) and wild camping is not allowed in the national park. The B&B was a bit off-route however, so after enjoying a real bed for a night, we had a long hike ahead of us. Moreover, we lost our route as we walked back to the trail from the country-side. This turned out for the better however, as it took us past a group of farmers harvesting fresh raspberries, who were tricked by Wing into giving her a handful.
The route to Milfontes was again a treat for the eye, offering views of the coast in all its shapes and colors. After a long hike, we arrived at the banks of the Mira river, as it reaches the sea. The route makes a large detour here via a highway bridge, but we chose to cross the river to reach Milfontes via a small ferry-cab, which can be ordered by phone on the spot. At Milfontes, the river-water meets the Atlantic, resulting in a combination of white sandy beaches and a somewhat brakish water with a mild current, which is ideal for a swim. We decided to take a break from the hike and stayed another day to enjoy the beach and some well-deserved local food (by now you probably figured out this was not the most hardcore hiking experience).
After looking at the same sea-view for 4 full days in a row, we expected to get bored with it. However, our last stretch of ocean view still managed to impress, offering views of surreal little beaches between the cliffs and crude rocky outcrops in the sea, which serve as the perfect base for Stork nests. Our 5-hour hike turned into 8 hours, as we took plenty of breaks to enjoy the scenery and to get rid of the sand which inevitably filled our shoes on the dry trail.
We ended our trip the same way we started: walking a green stretch of the Historical Way from Porto Covo to Cercal Do Alentejo. From here, a comfortable bus took us straight back to Lisbon, where we enjoyed three days of sun, culture and an unlimited supply of Pastel de Nata before heading back home.
For more information about the route, visit rotavicentina.com, which provides a great overview of each section, complete with maps, GPS downloads and tips for food and accomodation.