The Rota Vicentina comprises two walking trails – one coastal and one inland – and runs along the southwest coast to Cabo de São Vincente. The coastal walk (referred to as ‘the fishermen’s trail’) begins in Porto Côvo. It uses paths forged by beachgoers and fisherfolk and passes through some of the harsher, yet stunning, coastal scenery and wilderness. The inland route (dubbed the ‘historical way’) is equally appealing. It runs through the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, plus rural towns and villages, cork-tree forests and valleys.
Both trails are made up of sections, and it’s never more than 25km between villages, where you can lodge for the night (thus no need to bring camping gear). The Fishermen’s Trail has four sections, totalling 120km, and the walk is slightly more difficult with some passages on dunes and thigh-tiring sands. At times it runs along the cliffs, mostly single track, and only walkers are allowed. The longer Historical Way has 12 sections totalling 230km. Trails are wider and generally the walk is easier; mountain bikes are permitted.
Private companies have cottoned on to the route, providing luggage transfer between each night’s lodging, but there’s nothing to stop you from doing it alone, if you’re prepared to carry your things. Numerous accommodation options are along both routes. For further information see www.rotavicentina.com.
Caminho de Santiago Alentejo e Ribatejo
Long-distance walkers and cyclists will soon have a new way of reaching the famed Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The well-known pilgrimage route (aka the Camino de Santiago de Compostela) traditionally crosses northern Spain, but in centuries past there were many routes to the Galician city. In 2018 and early 2019, the Alentejo Ribatejo Regional Tourism Agency were in the process of creating two new routes (totalling over 800km) that will run up through Portugal. Both the Caminho Nascente (Rising Path) and the Caminho Central (Central Path) will pass through the Alentejo, along a well-marked route with lodging available every 20km to 25km.
For more information visit www.caminhosdesantiago.pt.