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
The recommended period to walk the Rota Vicentina is from September till June. The Sw of Portugal has a Mediterranean climate with a strong Atlantic influence, guaranteeing mild temperatures throughout the year.
The autumn months are generally quite mild, with the ocean waters reaching pleasant temperatures and the winds dying down.
In winter, temperatures do not fall below 11ºC during the day and this is normally the rainiest period of the year.
From March on, sunny days alternate with rainy days and temperatures start to rise. The reborn landscape and the intensity of the colours and aromas make spring one of the best seasons to visit the area.
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
This is the most environmentally friendly, efficient and comfortable way to arrive in the Southwest; however, it will take you a bit away from the coast. Enjoy a night or two at Santa Clara and start your journey from a less explored part of this region!
The train departs from Lisboa-Entrecampos or Lisboa-Oriente to Ermidas-Sado (+/- 1h 30m), Funcheira (+/- 1h 50m), São Martinho das Amoreiras (+/- 2h 00m), Santa Clara-Sabóia (+/- 2h 15m) 3 times a day, between 10 am and 5 pm. You can check the schedule here.
The trains from Faro to Lagos (+/- 1h 45m) depart 9 times a day, between 7 am and 8 pm. You can check the schedule here. From Lagos, you should take a bus to your chosen destination.
From Faro, it is also possible to reach Santa Clara-Sabóia (+/- 1h 00m), São Martinho das Amoreiras (+/- 1h 30m), Funcheira (+/- 1h 45m) and Ermidas-Sado (+/- 2h 00m); the trains depart 4 times a day, between 7:00 am and 5:40 pm. Check the schedule here.
Arriving at the Coast
Ermidas-Sado train station is located 30 km from Santiago do Cacém. From Funcheira to Odemira, it is 36 km and to São Martinho das Amoreiras – 31 km. Santa Clara-Sabóia is located 27 km away from São Teotónio. You can see the table of distances in the region here.
To reach the coastline, you can choose one of our partner taxi companies (+/- 1 € / km) or the transfer service provided by your accommodation. During the weekdays, from Monday to Friday, there are also buses operated by Rodoviária do Alentejo. See the schedules from Santa Clara-a-Velha / Sabóia to Odemira and from Ermidas to Santiago do Cacém.
This is the most direct way to reach Rota Vicentina. Rede Expressos operates comfortable buses with free wi-fi; the only drawback is that routes occasionally follow winding roads and the journey time can be 1-2 hours longer than by car.
The buses depart from Sete Rios to all of the main localities of the region (Santiago do Cacém – 2h 20m; Porto Covo – 3h 00m; S. Teotónio – 4h 20m; Aljezur – 5h 00m). There are several routes and departure times to choose from, and all busses stop in the largest towns of the Southwest Portugal, including Santiago do Cacém, where the Historical Way begins. Plan your trip and check the schedules here.
There are several buses to Lagos (2h 10m) by EVA Transportes, departing daily between 8:00 am and 5:25 pm. From Lagos, there are national bus routes operated by Rede Expressos as well as the regional ones operated by EVA Transportes to Cabo de S. Vicente, Sagres and Vila do Bispo, Aljezur, Rogil, and Odeceixe. You can view the schedules here.
In the Region
The most efficient way to travel or to transfer baggage between airport and your chosen Rota Vicentina destination is to contact our partner taxi companies. You can have a look at the table of distances in the region to estimate the costs as well as contact our partner taxi companies directly.
Rodoviária do Alentejo provides bus services between Odeceixe and Santiago do Cacém; and EVA Transportes has routes between Lagos and Odeceixe. Alternatively, you can also choose Rede Expressos for long-distance trips.
Some useful links:
Rodoviária do Alentejo
Route 8923: Odeceixe – Santiago do Cacém
Route 8942: Odeceixe – Santiago do Cacém
Route 8077: Cercal do Alentejo – Sines
Route 8214: Sines – Vila Nova de Milfontes
Route8928: Santa Clara-a-Velha/Sabóia – Odemira
Please, note that some of these routes operate during the weekdays only.