Sudoeste de Portugal
110 kms of wild coastline
All in all, it’s 110 kms of wild coastline and 75 thousand hectares of protected area within Sw Alentejo and Vicentina Coast Natural Park, comprising diverse habitats, some of them still quite unchanged and untouched, where you will find several species of endemic plants as well as a large number of animal species, particularly amphibians, birds and sea fauna.
United by two outstandingly beautiful Portuguese regions, this coastal area combines Alentejo’s tranquility and romance with the only coastal stretch of Algarve that is truly genuine and wild. Nature, authentic rural life and a very mild climate, pampered by over 300 days of sunshine per year, make this region an unmissable destination for lovers of nature tourism.
Anyone who comes to the Sw of Portugal by sea finds high cliffs of very old dark rock on the coast of the Alentejo (schist and graywacke sandstone) and light rock on the Algarve coast (limestone). On this rock on the coastal plateau, lies a thin layer of sedi- ment, full of unique habitats and species.
The rivers and streams have split this pla- teau creating deep valleys, the slopes of which are covered in an almost untouched Mediterranean undergrowth. Continuing inland, you come to the mountain ridges formed by continental collisions. Forests of oaks and pines and rocky outcrops domi- nate the hills, populated by large birds of prey and nocturnal carnivores.
The Sw of Portugal has one of the best climates in the world, and for thousands of years this has been the case … proof of this is the fact that this region was a haven for many species of flora and fauna, during the last ice age. Many of these species are still here today, the nearest populations be- ing hundreds of km away. Also found in Sw Portugal are many endemic species, i.e., those that are not found anywhere else in the world.
Winters are short and are never very cold, but offer enough rain to fertilize the soil for the nine months when the sun is king. The harmony in which man and nature have lived since prehistoric times is reflected in habitats full of diversity. You can explore the rocks exposed at low tide (with star- fish, sea urchins, barnacles and whelks …), Alentejo’s dark cliffs (where storks, falcons, swifts, jays and black redstarts nest…), Algarve’s white cliffs (where you can find dinosaur footprints, coral fossils, and dark caves home to amazing organisms) the dunes (with rare and endemic plants, others which are aromatic and medicinal …), the mouths of the rivers and streams (where fish, molluscs and crus- taceans breed), the coastal plains (where you can watch the migration of thousands of birds in autumn including great soar- ing birds), the temporary ponds (where prehistoric crustaceans and almost all the amphibians that are found in Portugal live), confined valleys (with Portuguese oak, lia- nas and shrubs of colourful berries), clear water rivers (where the otter is queen), pine forests and cork (where wild boar abound and you can pick wild mushrooms and as- paragus), but also the environments modi- fied by man where the biodiversity is re- markable – oak woods, meadows, orchards, olive groves…
In the small towns, hospitable locals maintain cultural traditions, for example those related to cork, wine, honey, olive oil, tapestry, pottery and fishing.
In Rota Vicentina, the greatest monuments are the natural ones. But the history of humanity can be found within many archeological traces, such as sacred places full of mystery, fortresses which once fought against pirates, and even ancient writing that is still indecipherable to this day, found on stone slabs over 2,500 years old!
When to come
A época recomendada para percorrer a Rota Vicentina é entre Setembro e Junho. O Sudoeste de Portugal conta com um Verão muito quente, com temperaturas a subir acima dos 30º.
Os meses de Outono são geralmente mais amenos, com agradáveis temperaturas no mar e uma diminuição drástica na intensidade do vento.
No Inverno as temperaturas não descem abaixo dos 11º C durante o dia, sendo geralmente o período mais chuvoso do ano.
A partir de Março os dias solarengos intercalam com dias de aguaceiros e as temperaturas começam a subir. A paisagem renascida e a intensidade das cores e dos aromas, fazem da Primavera uma das melhores épocas do ano para visitar a região!
How to get there
The region is situated between Lisbon and the Algarve and is served by Lisbon and Faro airports. You can get to the main lo- cations of the Sw by car, bus and train.
If you want to do away with the car while walking the Rota Vicentina, you can get there by train or bus and you can count on the taxi or shuttle services guaranteed by some tourist companies.
If you prefer to combine days of walking with others on which you intend to travel greater distances in autonomy, we suggest that you come by car or opt for a rental car through Europcar, a leading company in Europe in the field of car hire and one of the principal players in the mobility sector, partner and sponsor of the Rota Vicentina.
The region is served by Lisbon and Faro airports. Lisbon Airport is ideal for getting to the northern part of the region and Faro Airport is ideal for the southern area. However the transportation options and the accessibility from Lisbon are more flexible and comprehensive. It is possible to fly to Lisbon and Faro from the major European capitals.
Madrid – Faro: 1h00 London – Faro: 2h30 Berlin – Lisbon: 3h25 Copenhagen – Lisbon: 3h45
From Lisbon, take the A2/A12 or IC1 in the direction “Sul/Algarve”. There are several alternatives, but none of them really compare in terms of distance or time of journey. Choose between:
At km 104 of the A2 join the IP8 in the direction of Sines. On the IC1 in Grândola, take the same turn off. Follow in the direction of Odemira and Porto Covo. This will be a good option for getting to Santiago do Cacém, Sines, Porto Covo and Milfontes.
From the A2, take the exit “Beja/Ferreira”, at around km 119 on the A2, joining the IC1, on the direction “Algarve/Ourique”. . Once on the IC1, you have the option of turning off in the direction of ”Santiago do Cacém/Sines”, taking the exit “Alvalade / Cercal / Lagos”, ideal if you want to go to Cercal, S. Luís and Vila Nova de Milfontes, or exit “Odemira / OESTE”. As you arrive in Odemira you will be on N120, which goes through all the places of the Sw through which the Rota Vicentina passes: Cercal, S. Luís, Odemira, S. Teotónio, Odeceixe, Aljezur, etc.
Go on the A22 or N125 as far as Lagos/Bensafrim.
At the turning for Lagos/Bensafrim, join the N120 with links to Aljezur, Odeceixe, S. Teotónio, Odemira, S. Luís, Cercal and Santiago do Cacém. In Odemira take the turn off at Portas de Transval – towards Almogarve, Vila Nova de Milfontes and Porto Covo.
Sagres/Vila do Bispo/Carrapateira
From Lagos continue on the N125 as far as Vila do Bispo, from where you can head south towards Sagres and Cape St. Vincent, or northwards, towards Bordeira, Carrapateira and Aljezur
Lisbon – Sines: 165 km
Lisbon – Odemira: 202 km
Porto – Odemira: 478 km
Faro – Odemira: 149 km
Lisbon – Aljezur: 244 km
Faro – Aljezur: 108 km
It is unquestionably the most ecological, efficient and comfortable way to get to the region. Departures are from Lisbon and Faro in the direction of Ermida-Sado, Funcheira, Santa Clara-Sabóia or Lagos. Ermida-Sado train station is 28 km from Santiago do Cacém. From Odemira, the distance is 35km to Funcheira train station and 31 km to São Martinho das Amoreiras. Santa Clara-Sabóia train station 27 km from S. Teotónio and Lagos train station 25 km from Vila do Bispo.
From Lisbon airport take the aero bus, subway or a taxi to “Lisboa-Entrecampos” or “Lisboa-Oriente” train stations. From any of them, departures in the direction of “Ermidas-Sado” (+/- 1h30m), ”Funcheira” (+/-1h40), São Martinho das Amoreiras (+/- 2h00m) or “Santa Clara-Sabóia” (+/-2h15) train stations, 3 times a day between 10 am and 5pm. See timetables.
From Faro airport take a taxi or bus to Faro train station. Departures from Faro in the direction of Lagos (+/-1h45), 9 times a day between 7 am and 8 pm, from where you must catch a bus to the chosen destination. See timetables.
Faro departures towards Santa Clara-Sabóia (+/-1h), São Martinho das Amoreiras (+/- 1h30m) or Funcheira (+/-1h45) and Ermidas-sado (+/- 2h), 4 times a day between the 7 am and 5 pm. See timetables.
From the train station to the coast
Ermidas-Sado train station is 30 km from Santiago do Cacém, Funcheira station is 36 km from Odemira and the Santa Clara-Sabóia station is 27 km from S. Teotónio. (See distance table in the region)
To get to the coast you can choose one of our taxi partners (+/-1 €/km), shuttle service provided by your chosen accommodation, or the Rodoviária do Alentejo bus service, during the week, from Monday to Friday (see timetables between Santa Clara-a-Velha/Sabóia and Odemira and between Ermidas and Santiago do Cacém).
This is the most direct way to get to any point on the Rota Vicentina. The Rede de Expressos bus company has comfortable buses with free wi-fi, the only downside being the journey along kilometers of windy roads and spending 1-2 hours more than in your own car.
From Lisbon airport take the aero bus, subway or a taxi to Sete Rios Bus terminal. Buses leave in the direction of any of the villages of the region (Santiago do Cacém – 2h20; Porto Covo – 3h; S. Teotónio – 4h20 or Aljezur – 5h). Depending on the chosen destination there are several timetables available and all the itineraries have stops at key locations in the Sw, starting with Santiago do Cacém, where the Historical Way begins, or Porto Covo, where the Fishermen’s Trail starts – from north. Choose your departure point and your destination and plan your trip. See timetables.
From Faro airport take a taxi or bus to Faro Bus terminal. Buses leave between 8 am and the 17:25 pm to Lagos (2h10), with EVA Transportes. From Lagos there are longer connections (Rede Expressos) and local connections (EVA Transportes) to Cape St. Vincent, Sagres, Vila do Bispo, Aljezur, Odeceixe and Rogil. See timetables.
The most efficient way to make any needed passenger or luggage transfer, including from the airport to any village within the Rota Vicentina is through our partner taxis. Check the Rota Vicentina Distance Table to get an estimation of the expected cost of the service and reach our partner taxis directly, as there is no central transfer service.
The Rodoviária do Alentejo bus service offers connections between Odeceixe and Santiago do Cacém and EVA Transportes between Lagos and Odeceixe. As an alternative, count on Rede Expressos, that makes long distance connections, which you can use to move between two local towns.
Some useful connections:
Rodoviária do Alentejo
Linha 8923: Odeceixe – Santiago do Cacém
Linha 8942: Odeceixe – Santiago do Cacém
Linha 8077: Cercal do Alentejo – Sines
Linha 8214: Sines – Vila Nova de Milfontes
Linha 8928: Santa Clara-a-Velha/Sabóia – Odemira
Odeceixe – Lagos
Lagos – Sagres
Sagres – Cabo de S. Vicente
Note: some of these connections are only available during week days.