Day 1 - to Vila Nova de Milfontes on the Rota Vicentina

If the whole of the Fisherman's Trail is as good as Day 1 then we are in for a real treat, it's been a fantastic introduction to walking in Portugal.
Kick off at Porto Covo
Today's walk started at Porto Covo, a pretty village with lots of accommodation. We arrived by taxi after spending our first Portuguese night in Sines, the birthplace of Vasco de Gama, a cliff top town neatly surrounded by a massive oil refinery and container terminal.  It's not nearly as bad as it sounds, but we might have been better off staying at Porto Covo.

Keeping out the English Pirates

The walk followed a fairly level cliff top path and was a lot tougher than the 19km suggests. Soft, dry sand made for slow going, but the scenery was a great compensation for the hard work. We were particularly lucky with the weather with sun, blue skies and a blustery wind providing perfect visibility.

Especially surprising was the wonderful range of colour from flowers that, even in March, provided a real show. Apparently the displays continue to improve for the next 10 weeks or so, but they were already pretty impressive.  

Great flowers but..

Rubbish at the high water mark

Also impressive were the birds.  We saw storks nesting on top of huge rock stacks, sand pipers playing in the surf and cormorants flying in formation above the waves.
A pebbly beach
Generally speaking the path was well defined and clearly marked with distinct blue and green waymarks. The easier going on the wet sand on the wide open beaches providing a tempting alternative route on the first part of the route, although it is possible to get stuck below the cliffs as the route heads inland.  Although hardly needed the GPS trail provided the route website was occasionally helpful.
Multi-coloured rocks

The scenery was wonderful from start to finish, but got better as the route progressed south and the cliffs got higher.  It's a classic coastal walk with every headland passed generating new views and new photo opportunities.

An early highlight was the 16th Century Pesseguerio Fortress built to an Italian design to keep English pirates at bay.  After the fort, reached after 7 km there is nowhere to stop for refreshments until just a couple of kilometres before the final destination.
A classic B & B landlady

Vila Nova de Milfontes is a substantial little town with a big choice of accommodation and places to eat.  We had reserved accommodation at a bed and breakfast, the Caso do Adro, but we could have easily found somewhere without booking.  

For more information follow the link


  1. Many thanks for sharing your experiences, and photos, John. My wife and I are currently walking the Rota Vicentina (we started at Santiago do Cacem nine days ago, took the Fisherman's Trail option from Cercal, and are currently in Carrapateira) and have found your descriptions and comments interesting and informative.
    Like you, we stayed at the Caso do Adro - where we experienced great hostility, including a lovely breakfast and a picnic lunch for the following day.
    I hope you don't mind my adding some pointers on this se tigon, for those who follow in our footsteps. Generally, the trail is very well marked. However (and as the official website states), for this section there were a few bits which weren't marked. About 1.5 km after passing a sign stating that the next sign would be in 3 km, we came to a five-way junction: we opted for the second right, and that brought us back to the dunes (and, so far as we could tell, the trail) after about 0.5 km. Elsewhere, wherever the markings weren't clear, we defaulted to a track which headed towards the dunes and found that this option brought us to a trail sign before too long: one example was a large car park which we encountered - heading to the right brought us to a boardwalk, where we were able to pick up the trail signs.

  2. I want to walk the Rota Vicentina in December, January and February; is this possible given the weather and housing?

    1. Hi Marian

      The Rota Vicentina promote the walk as a winter walk but I would leave it to late Feb if you can. The first part, the Fisherman's Trail is the best part. The only problem you might have is finding accommodation in the winter, try and book it advance to see if it's open.

      Best of luck


  3. Great walk along a wonderful coast. Wear sneakers or flexible /comfortable shoes as this trail is entirely sandy. The path does not lead onto beaches,but there are several possibilities to descend onto a beach

  4. Hi Shaun, we are going to the fisherman's trail this April. We will start from Porto Covo for four days hiking. Can you please tell where exactly the five-way junction? I am worried to be lost on the trail. Thanks for your reply.