Southwest Portugal Coastal Hiking: Overview

In March 2017, we hiked the Rota Vicentina along the southwestern Portugal coast from Porto Covo to Carrapateira, via sections of the Fisherman’s Trail and Historical Way. This series of posts covers our travel and explorations between the starting point of Lisbon, and our endpoint of Lagos. The Rota Vicentina is a network of official trails that connect the historic fishing villages of the southwest Alentejo region and Vicentina Coast Natural Park.

This post covers the resources we found helpful for trip planning, while subsequent posts describe our travels.

Resources we found helpful for planning our trip

The Rota Vicentina official website should be your foremost planning reference. It includes thorough descriptions of the entire route, detailed maps, GPS traces, and recommendations for accommodations and restaurants along the way.

John Hayes’s posts about walking the Rota Vicentina also helped us plan our trip. They helped us get a sense of each day’s distance, terrain, and scenery, and to figure out where to stop.

Using the GPS traces from the Rota Vicentina website as a starting point, I mapped our daily segments (with modifications) on Google Maps. If you are interested in following along any of our modified routes, check out this copy of my planning map.

Where we stayed

  • Tryp Lisboa Airport (Booking.com): Convenient hotel a five-minute walk from the airport. We had early flights out, and we wanted somewhere we could leave some luggage after arriving. Tryp proved very convenient for these reasons. The hotel restaurant offered an adequate dinner in a large, mostly empty dining room. The breakfast spread and atmosphere were much more lively despite the early hour. We filled up on tasty food before the five minute walk to the airport.
  • SANA Reno Hotel, Lisbon (Booking.com): We booked the SANA Reno for convenience to the metro and a good price when combined with our flights. The hotel was convenient and the room was comfortable, though we were so tired that I am not sure we would have noticed if it were not. We also somehow ended up with the “romantic package” as part of our booking, which meant we had a nice platter of fruit and tolerable bottle of sparkling wine.

On the Rota Vicentina

  • Adro da Igreja, Vila Nova de Milfontes (Booking.com): This was probably our favorite stay of the trip. We were warmly greeted with fresh orange juice and homemade cake, and the hospitality carried over to a stocked refrigerator with soda, water, and beer and nightcaps. In the morning, we woke up to a sprawling breakfast with plates of ham and cheeses and a tower of fresh fruit. The hotel is also right in the center of town, just a hundred yards or so off the Rota Vicentina. When it was time to go, the owners sent us on our way with more cake and oranges. Just wonderful.
  • Cavaleiro: We stayed at a four room house (living room/kitchen, two bedrooms, and a bathroom). To get in, we had to give a local connection a call. That made us apprehensive about logistics, but everything worked out fine. The house also had many items we could borrow to explore for a longer stay, but we did not get to take advantage of it. This was one of our more remote accommodations, about a 10 minute walk from town. At night, we had views of the lighthouse and stars. We also enjoyed use of the fireplace.
  • Hotel Ondazul, Zambujeira do Mar (Booking.com): This was a sleepy hotel, at least during shoulder season. Our room had a nice balcony that overlooked the town and a comfortable bed. The breakfast was also pretty limited — not bad, just limited.
  • Casa Morais, Odeceixe: A small, cute hotel. We had the top floor apartment, which gave us space to spread out, laundry, and a balcony with good views of the town. Breakfast here was also limited, but featured delicious homemade bread.
  •  Vicentina Hotel, Aljezur (Booking.com): This hotel was in a convenient location and had a spacious room. Arriving tired and soaked, we dried off, got dinner in town, and went to bed so we do not remember a lot about the hotel. Breakfast was more diverse than the previous two days, which helped us get a good start to the next night. If you were there on a warm day, the pool would also be a plus.
  • Falésias da Arrifana, Praia da Arrifana (Booking.com): Beautiful hotel with a large, spacious, recently rennovated room. The pool also looked appealing. A cold rain arrived shortly after we did, though, and that kept us from trying it. The excellent breakfast here included fresh cooked eggs, a diverse collection of meats, cheeses, breads, fruits, and spreads, and real espresso.
  • Casa Da Estela, Carrapateira (Booking.com): We arrived at Casa Da Estrela in the middle of an emergency for the owner. She went out of her way to make us feel welcome and comfortable, despite all that was going on and our protests that we did not need anything.

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