rota vicentina

Rota Vicentina Trail – A Walking Holiday with Adventurer Barbara O’Shea



Written by Geraldine

I had itchy feet and needed to step out of the dullness of Dublin in winter. So I took a cheap flight to Faro on the sunny south-west coast of Portugal. There, I walked for four glorious walking days on the Rota Vicentina trail.

Rota Vicentina is a famous walking route that stretches from Porto Covo right down to Cape St. Vincent, Sagres at the very bottom tip of Portugal.

Considering I only had four vacation days left, I wanted to cover as much as I could.

There are two routes on the Rota Vicentina: the Historical route and the Fishermen`s Trail.  I decided to walk 2 days on the old historical route and 2 on the coastal route.

It was certainly a good choice and I recommend everyone to sample a bit of both trails in Portugal. So you get to walk through naturalistic woodland and powerful coastal scenery.

Historical Way

The Historical way is the longest route that goes from Santiago do Cacen to Cape of Sao Vicente. It is a trail with 12 stages that goes into towns and villages. It can be done by foot or bike. The full way has 230 km.

The route is a few km inland through shrubbery and country trails with bits of tree forests, mountain ranges, valleys, rivers and creeks. It is a journey though centuries of history, local culture and nature trails.

Coastal Way

The Rota Vicentina coastal route is along the rugged cliffs famous to Portugal’s Atlantic coastline with golden rock formations that delight the eyes.

The way has 120 km in total, divided in 4 sections. It is a little more difficult to be done than the historical way and bikes can’t be used because of the sand and the cliffs.

It is quite a challenge; however the ocean winds, beautiful scenery and landscapes you see here is all worthwhile.

Cuisine and Accommodations

Speaking of feasts, one would assume that on a walking holiday you’d come back a size 6.  No, not me, I ate so much food I could have fed an elephant.

If like me you’re in to seafood then Portugal is foodie paradise.  Most of the little villages in Rota Vicentina are old fishing villages like Aljezur, Arrifana and Carapateira.

Some of the accommodations are so rustic and authentic. They are actually old converted fisherman’s houses. Also, the owners are so welcoming you are treated like part of the family.

The residents in the region of Alentejo try to keep their customs alive. So you will feel what is to be part of them. It is a very cosy atmosphere in their white houses and beautiful beaches.  The same will happen in Algarve, the other region that Rota Vicentina goes through.

How was the walk on Rota Vicentina?

I walked about 25 km each day.  I know, it sounds like loads but to be honest I found it so relaxing and reinvigorating.

Just putting one foot in front of the other and having all day to do nothing but ramble through nature and connect with myself  and listen to my thoughts was like chicken soup for the soul.

The only tribe who seem to have discovered the magic of the Rota Vicentina are the surfers who hang out all on the beach chilling, surfing and enjoying their lives with their cool vibes and hot looks.

Many of the beaches that surround Rota Vicentina are great for surf because the amazing Atlantic waves they can get in there.

You can also find beaches with calm waters just to relax and swim while you’re resting from the walk in Portugal. Taking the feet out of the walking boots and paddling them in the sea is I’m sure, exactly what heaven feels like.

Hikers haven’t found out about the Rota Vicentina trail yet. So, the walking tracks aren’t over packed with trekkers. I really absorbed and indulged in the peace and quiet I escaped for.

To know more about Portugal, click here.

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Originally published on 7th April 2020

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