Located in Southwestern Portugal, the Fishermen’s Trail is rated one of the best coastal walks in the world. It spans 226.5km spread between Portugal’s Western Alentejo and Algarve regions. This lengthy hike is typically divided into 13 sections, beginning in São Torpes and ending in Lagos.
The most frequented part of this hike is a 75km section between the towns of Porto Covo and Odeceixe. For the average hiker, it’s a 4-day trek passing through remote wild beaches, jagged coastal cliffs and quaint seaside towns.
Navigation on the Fishermen’s Trail is clear, and signage is consistent throughout the entire route. There are points where multiple routes overlap; with The Historical Way marked with red/white signage and Circular Routes marked with red/yellow signage.
Green/blue signage indicates The Fishermen’s Trail, and these markers can be found on posts, rocks, fences and trees. There are several deviations away from the main trail meant to navigate around areas at high risk of landslides. All detours are clearly marked and resume the main trail without much interruption.
Route: Porto Covo to Nova de Milfontes
Departing Porto Covo, the trail hugs the wild, exposed coastline for most of the day. There are 2 points where the path deviates from the coast and turns inland and runs behind the sand dunes and explores shallow forests.
There are over 10 remote beaches which can be accessed on this trail, breaking up the long hot days if needed. The walk today is through sand and over deserted beaches, making for difficult traction. If you aren’t acclimatized to walking on sand, you should expect a long, strenuous day.
Route: Nova de Milfontes to Almograve
Distance: 15km or 11km (with ferry)
There are two options to start the day:
- Cross the Mira River by ferry
- Walk along the N393 bridge
The ferry crossing is around 10 minutes and costs 5 euros. Using the ferry will cut out 4km from the journey of the day. The hike today ditches the coast in the first few kilometres and turns inland. Passing through fields and forests, it’s a nice change from the exposed rough coast. Before long, the crashing waves return and so do the gorgeous beaches. Praia do Brejo Largo is particularly noteworthy and worth the detour.
Route: Almograve to Zambujeira do Mar
Today’s path zigzags back and forth from inland to coast. Trekking on sand makes the first half of the trail difficult and tiring. Once you reach the forests, the terrain hardens and becomes more enjoyable.
The path will take you through some beautiful forests which provide shelter from the heat and brightness of the sun. Today is the first time you will encounter multiple picturesque towns along the journey. The final route to Zambujeira do Mar is however long and not very scenic, as it’s along a somewhat busy roadway.
Route: Zambujeira to Odeceixe
The final day of the hike departs from Praia da Zambujeira do Mar and continues south, before turning east towards Odeceixe. The route has many exposed ridges and some areas with jagged rocks.
Do not be surprised if several detours lead you away from the coast. The potential for landslides is present in the area, especially during the rainy season.
There is one small town you can pass through and make a pit stop for snacks along the way (Azenha do Mar).
The final 4km of the trail is along a small road into the heart of Odeceixe. This town is distinctly different from the other towns, as it is further inland and lacks the charm and feel of a coastal village.
Need to Know
Route: Porto Covo to Odeciexe
When to Visit: Spring (Mar-May) or Fall (Sept-Nov)
How Many Days: 4 days (traditional), 13 days (extended)
Type of Hike: Point to point going either direction (North↔South)
Facilities on Route: none, some bathrooms in towns
Accommodations: No wild camping on the traditional route. Hostels and guest houses available.
Fitness Level: Moderate
Permits: None required.
Guides: Can be done independently.
Luggage Transfer: If you are travelling with oversized luggage or can’t be bothered to carry anything bigger than a day pack during the trek, Vicentina Transfers can help. They can offer a luggage transfer for each stage along the Rota Vicentina.
Getting to Trailhead: If departing from Lisbon, the easiest way to get to Porto Covo is by bus. This 170km journey heads south and takes around 2.5 hours. Rede Expressos buses depart Sete.
Have you hiked the Fishermen’s Trail? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.