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How to Trek the Fisherman’s Trail in Portugal

The Fisherman’s Trail is a 4-day coastal trek in Portugal. The trail stretches from the coastal town of Porto Covo in Alentejo to the inland town of Odeceixe in Algarve.

The Fisherman’s Trail is part of the Rota Vicentina trail network and is thus often called the Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail.

Hugging the undeveloped Vicentina Coast of Portugal, this outstanding trek grants hikers access to Portugal’s most wild and remote coastal areas.

Scenically, the Vicentina Coast is defined by steep, sheer cliffs and golden sandy beaches. Picture ice-plant-carpeted schist and greywacke cliffs slicing the Atlantic Ocean unmercifully. And just offshore, rocky basalt outcrops jut out of the water. It’s splendidly rugged.

The Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail follows the footpaths used by locals to access prime fishing spots. During the trek, you’ll see fishermen perched on cliffs patiently waiting for their catch.

Aside from the occasional fishing village, there’s absolutely no development along the coast.

The entire trail is located within the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park, which is a protected area, stretching for 150 kilometers along Portugal’s southwest coastline.

Though mostly flat, the trail isn’t an easy one. You’ll be hiking in sand for hours, which is physically demanding.

Vicentine Coast, Portugal

Fisherman’s Trail Hiking Map


Trailhead: Porto Covo

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

Stage 4

Where to Stay

Fisherman’s Trail Hiking Itinerary

Original Fisherman’s Trail Route

The official Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail was created in 2013 to promote sustainable tourism along the Vicentina Coast.

The original trail was four stages, starting in Porto Covo and ending in Odeceixe. This is the itinerary we followed.

Day 1 | Porto Covo to Vila Nova de Milfontes (20 km, 6:30 hrs)

Day 2 | Vila Nova de Milfontes to Almograve (15 km, 5:30 hrs)

Day 3 | Almograve to Zambujeira do Mar (22 km, 6 hrs)

Day 4 | Zambujeira do Mar to Odeceixe (18 km, 5:30 hrs)

Extended Fisherman’s Trail Route

In 2020, the Rota Vicentina Association extended the Fisherman’s Trail to 13 stages. Though stages 6 to 9 look similar to the Historical Way stages, there are significant differences.

Stage 1 | São Torpes to Porto Covo (10 km, 3 hours)

Stage 2 | Porto Covo to Vila Nova de Milfontes (20 km, 6:30 hrs)

Stage 3 | Vila Nova de Milfontes to Almograve (15 km, 5:30 hrs)

Stage 4 | Almograve to Zambujeira do Mar (22 km, 6 hrs)

Stage 5 | Zambujeira do Mar to Odeceixe (18 km, 5:30 hrs)

Stage 6 | Odeceixe to Aljezur (22.5 km, 7 hours)

Stage 7 | Aljezur to Arrifana (17.5 km, 6 hours)

Stage 8 | Arrifana to Carrapateira (21.5 km, 6 hours)

Stage 9 | Carrapateira to Vila do Bispo (16 km, 6 hours)

Stage 10 | Vila do Bispo to Sagres (20.5 km, 7 hours)

Stage 11 | Sagres to Salema (19.5 km, 7:30 hours)

Stage 12 | Salema to Luz (12 km, 4:30 hours)

Stage 13 | Luz to Lagos (11 km, 4 hours)

Fisherman’s Trail Direction

You can hike the trail in both directions. However, most people hike North to South.

The main reason is that most hikers arrive in Lisbon, and so it’s easier to start the trail in Porto Covo.

Additionally, the Rota Vicentina Association decided to base their communication in one direction, and they chose North to South.

Vicentine Coast, Portugal

When to Hike the Fisherman’s Trail in Portugal

October to May.

September to June is the official Fisherman’s Trail hiking season.

Fall (mid-September – mid-November) and Spring (mid March – early June) are the best times to hike.

It’s way too hot to hike the Fisherman’s Trail in summer (July, August, early September). In winter, rain is very probable.

We hiked Rota Vicentina in early November. It’s a very peaceful time to hike the trail because there are very few people on the route. The temperature was perfect (not too hot, not too cold).

However, it was very humid and the weather was moody. We experienced short and sporadic rain showers once in a while. Also, some restaurants and bars were already closed for the holidays.

Fisherman’s Trail Difficulty 

The Fisherman’s Trail is an easy-moderate hike. However, the sandy terrain makes this hike more challenging than you might anticipate. 

It’s imperative to take care of your feet during this coastal trek. Never walk with sand in your shoes in order to avoid getting blisters. The best way to prevent sand from getting in your shoes is to wear long hiking pants with elastic ankles, paired with high-cut hiking boots.

The Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail is marked with teal and green blazes. The trail is easy to follow and well-signed.

It’s essential to pack lunch, snacks, and sufficient water (2 liters per person per day), as there are very few lunch options along the route. You can purchase supplies in each village.

Fisherman's Trail Coastal Trail in Portugal

How to Book the Fisherman’s Trail

Fisherman’s Trail Accommodations

Each stage ends in a village with a myriad of accommodation options. It’s easy to book this trail independently. 

Book all your accommodation before you start the trek. We saw people struggling to find places to stay when they arrived in town.

Day 0 – Arrival Day in Porto Covo | MUTE (budget), Ahoy Porto Covo Hostel (budget), Calmaria Guest House (midrange), Porto Covo Praia Hotel & SPA (luxury). Look for accommodation in Porto Covo.

Day 1 – Stay in Vila Nova de Milfontes | Raminhos Guest House (budget), Sol da Vila (budget), VILLA EIRA Boutique Houses (midrange), Casa Do Adro (midrange), or Guarda Rios (luxury). Look for accommodation in Vila Nova de Milfontes.

Day 2 –  Stay in Almograve | Almograve Beach Hostel (budget), AL Casa das Andorinhas (budget), Al Casa Paquito (budget), or Casa Azul (midrange). Look for accommodation in Almograve.

Day 3 – Stay in  Zambujeira do Mar | Hakuna Matata Hostel (budget), Hostel Nature (budget), Azul Guest House (midrange), Breathe In (midrange), Monte das Alpenduradas (midrange), or Alojamento White Rose Boutique (luxury). Look for accommodation in Zambujeira do Mar.

Day 4 – Stay in  Odeceixe | Bohemian Antique Guesthouse (budget), Casa Morais (budget), Casa Luar (budget), Monte do Cardal (midrange-luxury), AL-Odeceixe Verde (midrange), Casas Do Moinho (luxury), or Altinho B&B (luxury). Look for accommodation in Odeceixe.

Fisherman’s Trail Luggage Transfer

Vicentina Transfers is an excellent and trustworthy luggage transfer service.

It’s really easy to book this service online. You simply fill out your itinerary (where you’re staying) and pay.

Vicentina Transfers picks up your luggage directly at your accommodation and then drops your baggage at your next accommodation along the route. Our luggage was always waiting for us when we arrived.

It costs 15 EUR for a single transfer for one bag. If you book 4 or more transfers, it’s 15 EUR for a single transfer for two bags.

This is a great option for anyone who is planning an extended trip to Portugal, or Europe, and has extra luggage. After hiking the first stage with our heavy packs (laptops, multiple shoes, etc…), we decided to book it. It made the rest of our trek so much more enjoyable. 

Porto Covo, Fisherman's Trail Starting Point, Portugal

Arrival Day in Porto Covo

How to Get to Porto Covo from Lisbon

From Lisbon, the easiest way to get to Porto Covo is with the Rede Expressos shuttle bus.

We recommend booking your ticket online in advance (1-2 days before departure). The bus wasn’t completely full, but the ticket line at the terminal was extremely long.

The bus departs from Lisbon Sete Rios Bus Terminal. To get to the bus terminal, use Uber/Bolt.

A one-way bus ticket to Porto Covo costs 16.50 EUR. Depending on which time you depart, the journey either takes 2 hr 10 min or 3 hr and 10 min. We took the longer route because the time was more optimal.

The bus made a single 10 minute stop in the town of Santiago do Cacém.

Across from the bus terminal, there’s a small café (O Pão Quente) that serves the freshly baked cake. Definitely grab a slice of cake and coffee here, before returning to the bus. 

The bus stop in Porto Covo is very central, a mere 4-minute walk to the center of the seaside village.

Where to Stay in Porto Covo

Budget | MUTE

Budget | Ahoy Porto Covo Hostel is a centrally located hostel directly on the Fisherman’s Trail. Its close proximity to grocery stores and restaurants is a huge plus. The hostel offers both dormitory rooms and private rooms. We slept in the private room, which was clean and perfectly nice, but it was directly next to the living room and entrance (so you could hear everyone’s conversations).

Midrange | Calmaria Guest House is a new, modern guesthouse in Porto Covo offering clean and comfortable rooms (with private bathrooms) and a friendly atmosphere.

Luxury | Porto Covo Praia Hotel & SPA

Look for accommodation in Porto Covo.

Fisherman’s Trail Stage 1: Porto Covo to Vila Nova Mifontes 

Fisherman’s Trail Stage 1: Porto Covo to Vila Nova Mifontes 

Stage 1 Trail Stats

Distance | 20 km

Time Needed | 6:30 hours with breaks

Elevation Gain | 200 meters

Elevation Loss | 180 meters

Difficulty | Moderately Difficult

Route | Porto Covo – Praia da Ilha do Pessegueiro –  Ilha do Pessegueiro Fortress – Malhão Beach – Vila Nova de Milfontes

Lunch Option |  There are two restaurants along the route: A Ilha do Pessegueiro (next to the Fort) and Porto das Barcas. We recommend packing a snack with you today because both of these restaurants aren’t located at an ideal mid-point location. It takes 1 hour to get to A Ilha from Porto Covo. And Porto das Barcas is located about 35 minutes away from Vila Nova de Milfontes.

Porto Covo to Vila Nova Mifontes (6:30 hours)

Stage 1 of the Fisherman’s Trail is said to be the most difficult. You’ll spend the whole day walking either on sand dunes, or on the beach.

We read that a lot of people struggle with this stage because they get blisters from the sand in their shoes. If you want to avoid getting sand in your shoes, wear long hiking pants with elastic ankles over high-cut hiking boots. That’s what we did, and we had zero problems with sand.

Hugging the coast almost the entire day, stage 1 of the Fisherman’s Trail begins brilliantly. Breath in the salty herbaceous air and follow the green and blue waymarks south.

Initially, you’ll walk on sand dunes. Then a sign will direct you to walk along the beach Praia da Ilha do Pessegueiro until you get to the Fort. It takes 1 hour to get from Porto Covo to the Ilha do Pessegueiro Fortress.

The trail continues on sand dunes for some time. You’ll see a pod of surfers floating just off of Praia dos Aivados, which is a long beach lined with a train of pebbles. 

Eventually, you’ll descend to Malhão Beach. It’s far easier to walk on the beach than on the dunes.

From Malhão Beach, the trail leads up to a parking lot. You can take a number of boardwalks and pathways to various lookout points.

From the boardwalk above Malhão Beach, the Fisherman’s Trail continues on a sandy road along the coast and then back onto a narrow sandy trail. From here, it’s a good 3 hours to Vila Nova. This section of trail is breathtaking. It looks like the coast is actively tumbling into the sea.

About 16.5 km into today’s hike, you’ll arrive at Porto das Barcas restaurant. From here, follow the paved road for a few minutes until you see a trail marker pointing right and signed 3.5 km to Vila Nova de Milfontes. You’ll see a small harbor and several fishing huts off to the right.

Stay in Vila Nova de Milfontes

VILLA EIRA Boutique Houses breakfast, Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal

If you want a really delicious dinner, make a dinner reservation at Tasca do Celso before you arrive in Vila Nova de Milfontes. This traditional Alentejo restaurant makes a godly Carne de Porco Alentejana (regional pork and clams dish) and seared Sarrajão (bonito fish). 

Budget | Raminhos Guest House

Bugget | Sol da Vila

Midrange | VILLA EIRA Boutique Houses – ex Casa da Eira is the best place to stay in Vila Nova de Milfontes. Managed by the kindest and most helpful people in the world, Casa da Eira feels like a home away from home. The staff really goes out of the way to make sure you’re comfortable and that all your questions are answered.

Midrange | Casa Do Adro

Luxury | Guarda Rios

Look for accommodation in Vila Nova de Milfontes.

Fisherman’s Trail Stage 2: Vila Nova de Milfontes - Almograve, Portugal

Fisherman’s Trail Stage 2: Vila Nova de Milfontes – Almograve

Stage 2 Trail Stats

Distance | 15.5 km

Time Needed | 5:30 hours

Elevation Gain | 150 meters

Elevation Loss | 130 meters

Difficulty | Moderate

Route | Vila Nova de Milfontes – Forte de São Clemente – Almograve

Lunch Option | There are no places to eat along the route.

Vila Nova de Milfontes – Forte de São Clemente – Almograve (5:30 hours)

Vila Nova de Milfontes is located on the river Rio Mira. There are two ways to cross the river: (1) by ferry, or (2) by bridge.

The official Fisherman’s Trail takes you inland and over the bridge. However, no one recommends doing that. Instead, shave off those unnecessary kilometers and take the small ferry across the river.

From the middle of Vila Nova de Milfontes, head to Forte de São Clemente. This fortress was built in 1602, to protect the village from pirate attacks, which were commonplace in the 1500s.

Take the stairs down to the river. Here, you’ll see a small dock and a number of cats waiting for breakfast. This is where the ferry departs. It costs 5 EUR per person (one-way). To find out the ferry schedule, ask your guesthouse in Vila Nova.

After crossing the river, follow the footpath across the dunes.

Today, spectacular ocher and brick-red colors dominate the coastal landscapes. You’ll see some exquisite rock formations and fossilized sand dunes along the trail.

The Fisherman’s trail abandons the coast a few times today. You’ll hike through some thick bush. Some sections are very tight.

Stay in Almograve

Almograve Beach Hostel, Almograve, Portugal
Almograve Beach Hostel

We recommend watching the sunset at Praia Grande de Almograve beach and grab a cocktail at the beach bar. You’ll see fishermen off in the distance fishing off the cliffs at Ponta da Ilha. We ate dinner at Café Restaurante O Lavrador. This no-frills local restaurant serves grilled fish. It’s good, but not outstanding.

Budget | Almograve Beach Hostel is a lovely accommodation with three private rooms and one dormitory room. With their whimsical bed boards, each bedroom is extremely charming. Guests have access to a well-equipped shared kitchen, a living room with a fireplace, and an outdoor patio.

Budget | AL Casa das Andorinhas

Budget | Al Casa Paquito 

Midrange | Casa Azul 

Look for accommodation in Almograve.

Almograve, Portugal

Fisherman’s Trail Stage 3: Almograve – Zambujeira do Mar

Stage 3 Trail Stats

Distance | 22 km

Time Needed | 6:30 meters

Elevation Gain | 200 meters

Elevation Loss | 200 meters

Difficulty | Moderately Difficult

Route | Almograve – Cavaleiro –  Entrada da Barca – Zambujeira do Mar

Lunch Option | There is a snack bar in Cavaleiro. The service was excruciatingly slow (we ended up leaving before placing an order). Definitely pack a lunch today. Towards to end of the trek, you’ll pass Restaurante O Sacas.

Almograve – Cavaleiro –  Entrada da Barca – Zambujeira do Mar (6 hours)

From the center of town, head directly to Praia Grande de Almograve. You’ll follow a flat path along the coast all the way to Porto das Lapas das Pombas, a tiny port with fishing huts.

The first stretch of the Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail hugs the coast. You’ll eventually leave the coast and venture 1 km inland to the small (unremarkable) hamlet of Cavaleiro. From here, the trail heads back to the coast to Cabo Sardao, marked by a lighthouse.

Keep your eyes out for white storks. There is an impressive stork’s nest crowning a pillar of stone in the sea somewhere between Cabo Sardao and Entrada da Barca.

This is the only place in the world where white storks nest in the cliffs by the sea.

The trail ends at the tiny fishing hamlet of Entrada da Barca. Here, you’ll find Restaurante O Sacas – a fish restaurant that is supposed to be excellent. Unfortunately, it was closed (for the holidays) when we arrived.

From Entrada da Barca, you’ll follow the inland road to Zambujeira do Mar. This part is really boring. Someone ought to start a shuttle service into town.

As you shuffle along this long boring road, know that all your efforts will be rewarded. Zambujeira do Mar is the most scenic village along Costa Vicentina.

The road takes you directly into town. But, don’t miss the path that wraps around the headlands close to Zambujeira do Mar. The views are outstanding.

Stay in Zambujeira do Mar

Budget | Hostel Nature is a top-rated, clean, and inexpensive accommodation directly in the center of Zambujeira do Mar, very close to the beach. You can choose between staying in a double room, or a dormitory room. Guests have access to a communal kitchen and a washing machine.

Budget | Hakuna Matata Hostel 

Midrange | Azul Guest House is a modern and immaculately clean bed and breakfast in Zambujeira do Mar, one block from the beach. This lovely guesthouse was recently renovated and features 8 rooms. Expect a full breakfast with eggs, homemade bread, fruit and yogurt, and french press coffee.

Midrange | Breathe In 

Luxury | Alojamento White Rose Boutique

Look for accommodation in Zambujeira do Mar.

Fisherman's Trail Zambujeira do Mar to Odeceixe, Portugal

Fisherman’s Trail Stage 4: Zambujeira do Mar – Odeceixe

Stage 4 Trail Stats

Distance | 18.5 km

Time Needed | 5:30 hours

Elevation Gain | 300 meters

Elevation Loss | 300 meters

Difficulty | Moderate

Route | Zambujeira do Mar – Praia do Carvalhal – Wildlife Park – Azenha do Mar – Odeceixe

Lunch Option | There are two restaurants in Azenha do Mar: A Azenha do Mar and Bar Palhinhas.

Zambujeira do Mar – Azenha do Mar – Odeceixe (5:30 hours)

The final stage of the Fisherman’s Trail takes you to the town of Odeceixe in Algarve. Compared to the other stages, stage 4 has the most noticeable ascents and descents.

As you head out of town, don’t forget to look back at picture-perfect Zambujeira do Mar.

The Rota Vicentina continues south to Praia do Carvalhal, a beautiful sandy beach. After descending the steep path to the beach, cross the rock bridge and head to the snack bar. From here, the trail continues uphill on the other side of the beach.

Next, you’ll hike inland along a fenced enclosure of a wildlife park. We saw zebras and ostriches. This part of the trail gets narrow at times and is badly in need of some upkeep.

You’ll return to the coast and hike to Azenha do Mar, a tiny fishing hamlet with two restaurants. Stop here for lunch.

From Azenha do Mar, the trail continues along the coast all the way to a lookout point of Rio Seixe and Praia de Odeceixe -Mar.

The inland journey to your final destination begins. Once you descend to the river level, it’s 4 km of flat trail to Odeceixe. This felt longer than 4 km, and we were relieved when we saw the bridge to town.

Stay in Odeceixe

Odeceixe Windmill, Algarve, Portugal

Celebrate the end of the trek with a bottle of wine and tapas at Altinho. The food is excellent, albeit a bit overpriced.

Walk up to the windmill “Moinho de Odeceixe” for sunset views.

Budget | Bohemian Antique Guesthouse is a charming accommodation in Odeceixe with lovely furnishings and decorative accents. This centrally-located guesthouse has double rooms as well as a dormitory. The communal living space and kitchen are a bonus.

Midrange-Luxury | Monte do Cardal is the best accommodation in Odeceixe (if you’re traveling by car). Set in a gorgeous location, surrounded by beautiful views, Monte do Cardal is a hidden oasis in Algarve. This Odeceixe hotel features a year-round outdoor pool, excellent breakfast, and exceedingly comfortable beds. Note: Monte do Cardal is an 8-minute drive to the town center and a 13-minute drive to Praia de Odeceixe Mar. 

Midrange | The welcoming AL-Odeceixe Verde is a lovingly-renovated B&B in Odeceixe. 

Luxury | Casas Do Moinho is a comfortable bed and breakfast with a swimming pool, situated just steps away from the Odeceixe windmill and Altinho restaurant.

More Odeceixe Accommodations | SulSeixe Guesthouse (budget), Casa Morais (budget), Casa Luar (budget), and Altinho B&B (luxury)

Look for accommodation in Odeceixe.

Almograve Beach, Vicentine Coast, Portugal

Travel Onwards

Odeceixe to Lagos

There is a local EVA bus from Odeceixe to Lagos, a popular destination in the Algarve. Check the bus schedule here.

Plan your trip to Algarve:

Odeceixe to Lisbon

There’s a direct bus to Lisbon operated by Rede Expressos. Check the schedule here.

More Treks in Europe





Fisherman's Trail Trek, Vicentine Coast, Portugal

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Moon & Honey Travel is an independent blog created by two passionate hikers. We are able to provide free content to you, because of ads and affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Happy travels and happy trails, Sabrina and Kati

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