Walking Portugal’s Coast and Beaches
Go beyond developed Algarve and explore Portugal’s most pristine coastal trails
Reviews 0 Reviews0/5
Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Leisurely / Moderate
Group Size Small Group
Boasting one of the most beautiful and well-preserved coastlines of Europe, blessed with wild pristine beaches, towering cliffs, great biodiversity, remote whitewashed traditional villages and a temperate climate, Portugal’s Rota Vicentina is the ultimate hikers and ramblers’ paradise. We have hand-picked the very best walks from the 125km selection of coastal trails that span the tranquil Portuguese region of Alentejo and along the few remaining undeveloped shores of the Algarve. Starting from the picturesque town of Vila Nova de Milfontes, we walk on quiet breath-taking cliff trails used by locals to get to the beaches and hot fishing spots, and end in the famous town of Sagres. We stay overnight in three different villages strategically located to provide easy access to/from the trails each day. Always in close contact with refreshing ocean winds, rugged coastal scenery and wild and powerful natural landscape, walking in this remote corner of Europe will be truly reinvigorating.
* All breakfasts and 5 picnic lunches
* 7 nights 2 and 3-star hotels, all rooms en suite
* Tour leader throughout. Group normally 5 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
* Airport transfers (at designated times)
- Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)
- Dramatic cliffs, forgotten sandy beaches and quiet trails
- Excellent bird watching opportunities and mild year-round climate
- Stay overnight in authentic whitewashed villages including Sagres
- Reach Cape of St Vincent, Europe’s most south western point
- Not suitable for severe vertigo sufferers
Start in the charming seaside town of Vila Nova de Milfontes
This trip starts in the seaside town of Vila Nova de Milfontes, located in the heart of the beautiful Alentejo coastline approx 2 hrs from Faro and 2.5 hrs from Lisbon. Still largely undiscovered by foreign visitors, the town is delightfully Portuguese, filled with cobbled streets, whitewashed houses and scenic views across the Mira River. It is also the start point of incredible coastal trails leading to vast stretches of wild and deserted beaches. Despite its remote location, it has an extensive selection of restaurants, and a lively nightlife making it a perfect base for the first three days of the tour.
Rewarding coastal walk to Almograve; transfer back to Vila Nova de Milfontes.
We start the week with a relatively short coastal hike offering superb views throughout. Leaving from the hotel, we cross the bridge in Vila Nova de Milfontes and admire the views of the River Mira meeting the ocean, with the small whitwashed town and lush hillsides in the background. There are stretches along today’s trail where native vegetation displays all its diversity and other areas where it has been wiped out by a most aggressive exotic plant – the Acacia. At times farmlands stretches right down to the ocean, but you can also enjoy other traces of human presence such as local, non-commercial, fishing or small stone-age quarries hidden amongst the dunes, a reminder that man has lived in this remote corner of the world since ancient times. Between March and October you’ll be able to spot many swifts since Alpine, Pallid and Common Swift all nest along this coast. Interestingly, swifts spend over 90% of their life in the air as they feed, mate and sleep in flight – they are so well adapted to flying that landing on the ground may be fatal. The walk ends in the peaceful town of Almograve, perfect for an unhurried, afternoon stroll or break before we return by private transfer to Vila Nova de Milfontes.
Walk from Cabo Sardão to Zambujeira do Mar along dramatic high cliffs, nesting spot of more than twenty species of birds.
Small fishing harbours, sand dunes, the scent of pine tree forests and the sight, seen nowhere else in the world, of storks nesting on the cliffs make this today’s walk truly special. We start with a short transfer (approx. 20mins) to Cabo Sardão lighthouse which was pecularly built the wrong way round. The entry door is facing the ocean and the lighthouse is facing inland! This is the start of today’s trail which follows the high cliffs exposed to the constant salty ocean waves and winds, and favourite nesting spot for over twenty species of birds! These include Jackdaw, Shag, Common Kestrel, White Stork, and the Peregrine Falcon, the fastest recorded animal in the world. When they dive in flight they can reach speeds of up to 300 km/h! We will have time to stop and watch these birds, especially during spring, when it is possible to quietly observe their mating rituals and the careful building of their nests. We pass Lapa das Pombas, a picturesque tiny non-commercial fishing harbour, before concluding the walk in the sleepy seaside village of Zambujeira do Mar and its wondeful beach. In the afternoon we return to Vila Nova de Milfontes by transfer (approx. 30mins).
Coastal walk to Odeceixe; admire breath-taking rock, cliff formations and some of Portugal’s best beaches; transfer to Vale da Telha.
This morning we transfer (approx. 40 mins) to Carvalhal beach, the start of today’s walk. Along this stretch of coast it is interesting to take a close look at the cliffs’ rocks composed of schist and greywacke, resulting from the consolidation of sand, clay and volcanic ashes accumulated on the bottom of an ancient ocean over 300 million years ago. This whole coastal region has a very special energy and it was here that the Fado diva Amália Rodrigues seeked refuge and inspiration for her songs. Along the walk we may also spot traces of nocturnal mammals include Egyptian Mongoose (locally known as “Escalabardo”), Weasel, Beech Marten (also known as “Papalvo”), Badger, Genet and rabbits. Before reaching Odeceixe, we will take a break in Ponta em Branco (white summit) so named for the colour of the sediments that form its summit, marking the border between the Alentejo and the Algarve regions. This is considered one of the the most scenic points in the entire region thanks to the breathtking views over Odeceixe beach, with the mountain top of Fóia and Monchique as a backdrop. We transfer to the cosy hotel near Arrifana beach, and enjoy a refreshing dip in the swimming pool or a drink on the sunny terrace before dinner.
Free day; enjoy an optional circular walk to Arrifana beach or other activities such as surfing and horse riding.
Today is free to choose from the many optional activities available in the area. You may decide to go on a self-guided circular walk passing the beaches of Monte Clérigo, Pontal da Atalaia, as well as the famous surfing beach of Arrifana. Alternatively you may book a surfing class or a horse riding excursion along the spectacular coastline. We also suggest a visit to the small market town of Aljezur, famous for its whitewashed houses and cobbled streets and dominated by the ruins of a tenth century Moorish castle.
Circular walk around Carrapateira; enjoy stunning ocean views and the sandy beaches of Bordeira and Amado; transfer to Sagres.
Today we travel further south and transfer (approx. 30 mins) to the village of Carrapateira, the start of today’s short circular walk. Along the circuit we will come across various viewpoints, with superb views of the sandy beaches of Bordeira and Amado and also the ruins of an ancient Islamic fishermen’s settlement. On the first part of the trail we will walk through undulating dunes carpeted by lush vegetation and aromatic wild plants including thyme, yellow amaranths, rosemary, lavender, crowberries, blue pimpernel, sea lavender. We then walk along the limestone cliffs for most of the trail and may get the opportunity to spot the cormorant, a wintering bird which is an expert angler, consuming almost 1 kg of fish per day! In the afternoon we transfer (approx. 20 mins) to the village of Sagres, at the extreme western tip of the Algarve. Although primarily known as a surfing destination, Sagres has a lot more to offer. You may decide to spend the rest of the day in one of the sheltered pristine beaches, or book an optional dophin watching excursion along the coast (weather and season dependent).
Final cliff walk to Cape St. Vincent, the south-westernmost point in continental Europe; afternoon optional visit to Sagres fort.
Surrounded by foaming Atlantic breakers, Cabo de Sao Vicente marks the most south-westerly point of Europe. The final walk from Sagres out to the edge of the continent should prove to be one of the highlights of the week! Surrounded by amazing coastal scenery, we will walk across a wild trail that follows sandy paths and gorse-strewn meadows to the very edge of the Iberian Peninsula. Setting off from our hotel, we start walking on monumental cliffs and ravines covered with native vegetation passing first by the golden beach of Beliche, and, then after a short section inland, Telheiro beach, a place of extraordinary geological interest. The last section of the path continues along the cliff top before a memorable arrival to Cape St. Vincent where we find a lighthouse, museum and small bar, offering wonderful photo opportunities. It’s only a short transfer (5 mins) back to Sagres where we can choose to visit the imposing sea fortress at sunset or relax with a cold drink on the waterfront, watching fishermen mending their nets.
This trip ends in Sagres in the morning of Day 8.
Comfortable 2 and 3-star hotels
On this trip we will use three different 2 and 3-star hotels. All rooms are en suite and all hotels have a swimming pool.
Hotels normally used:
Vila Nova de Milfontes (3 nights): Hotel HS Milfontes Beach ***
Located on the main beach avenue in Vila Nova de Milfontes, it enjoys the most amazing views of the Mira river bay. It also offers an outdoor pool and gym.
Vale da Telha (Aljezur) (2 nights): Hotel Vale Da Telha **
Simple but cosy hotel, offering a very relaxed and peaceful atmosphere as well as an outdoor pool with a spacious sun deck.
Sagres (2 nights): Aparthotel Navigator ***
Overlooking Mareta Beach, this hotel offers spacious apartments with balcony and an outdoor pool. The Fortress of Sagresand town’s centre are within walking distance.
All breakfasts and 5 picnic lunches
The picnic lunches will include a mix of sandwiches, cheeses, cured meats and fruit.
During the week we will get the opportunity to sample other delicacies and traditional dishes of this region which will include some of the freshest seafood and fish. The local specialty from the sea is the Barnacle Perceve, this is not taken from the bottom of boats but the bottom of submerged local cliffs, it is harvested by hand using a dangerous and traditional method, which involves one of the two collectors dangling by a rope from the top of the cliffs! Away from the sea the dried hams, salamis and cheese are excellent. Good quality meat is also always on the menu. Vegetables are plentiful and although vegetarian dishes in traditional restaurants are available, the choice may be limited.
Grade: 2 (Leisurely/Moderate) 5 days guided walking with low altitude throughout.
Portugal’s Rota Vicentina is home to some of the best coastal walks in Europe. The remote quiet trails and temperate climate make this a heaven for hikers and ramblers. The average walking distance each day is approx. 13 km and the pace of the walks allows time to rest and enjoy the views. The walks are mostly undulating and do not include any long challenging climbs however the terrain can make the walking quite exerting at times as we will be walking mostly on sandy trails as beaches well as rugged clifftop paths. For this reason and due to the exposed nature of the trails, the route is not recommended for those with a fear of heights or vertigo.
Walks usually take between 4 and 6 hours including lunch stops (depending on the pace of your group) and require a good level of fitness.