Original Fisherman’s Trail Hike Alentejo, Portugal

The following travel guide was written after I completed the original Fisherman’s trail and I hope it can help you make the best out of this breathtaking hiking route in Portugal.

If you’re new here, welcome to Soi 55 Travel by Candy. I’m a independent travel planner living in Portugal (since 2016). I help people plan their trips to Portugal, Spain and Italy. I’ve written tonnes of travel guides from my own personal experience to help you plan your next adventure. I also offer travel planning calls and one of a kind custom itineraries which will help you get the best out of your time.

What is the Original Fisherman’s Trail in Portugal?

The original fisherman’s trail is a 76 km section of the Rota Vicentina hiking trail that follows the wild Alentejo coastline from Porto Covo to Odeceixe. The trail is named the Fisherman’s Trail because it follows the same route local Portuguese fishermen use.

New Official Fisherman’s Trail Route

Thanks to the popularity of the original trail the hiking route has now been extended to start 10 km north of Porto Covo and runs right down to Lagos in Algarve; a huge 230km. The newest route takes 12-13 days to complete. I’ve explored much of the Costa Vicentina, in Algarve ( including much of this trail) but I have yet to complete the full trail. This travel guide is for the original Fisherman’s trail route which I recently completed. There is lots of great information on the full trail here.

The original Fisherman's Trail Hike Portugal

Photography : All photos in this travel guide are taken by me. I spend a huge amount of time photographing, editing and uploading all the photos on this website. Please do not reuse them without credit and a backlink to this page. Thank you.

My Fisherman’s Trail Hike Story

I hiked this trail solo in June 2024. I’ve been living full time in Portugal since 2016 and this was one of my favourite experiences to date. I am amazed (and a bit annoyed with myself) that it took until now to do this hike because it really showcases some of the best beaches in the country. I’ve dedicated almost 8 years to exploring Portugal and spent much of that time beach hopping; yet somehow many of these beaches were completely new to me. Alentejo is my favourite region in Portugal for many reasons, but mostly because it still feels very ‘undiscovered’, and this trail is further proof of that.

Alentejo 10-day Itinerary

Baixo Alentejo Travel Guide

Solo Travel Fisherman’s Trail

Although, I started this hike solo I met other solo travellers along the way and by the end of the 4 days left with new friends. The trails were not at all busy but I was really surprised and pleased bout how many solo female hikers there were. I hope this encourages anyone thinking of doing the trail alone to go for it. 

Best & Worst Bits

My favourite part of the 4 days, aside from discovering so many remote beach gems, was the afternoon I spent at Almograve beach bar, hiking day 3 with 5 other solo women and eating fresh fish by the ocean. My least favourite part was slogging through the soft sand in the hot midday sun at the end of day two, and discovering I had burns from giant hogweed – more below.

I have no intention of scaring or putting anyone off doing this hike. I am sharing this because it happened to me and I want to share my whole experience. I didn’t see or hear of anyone else who had this problem so it is likely I was just very unlucky. However, I would hate to think this of this happening to anyone else because they didn’t have the information.

Giant Hogweed Burn

WARNING : Somewhere along the ‘overgrown trail’ at the start of day two (the 15 km route without the boat crossing)  I came in contact with a poisonous plant (suspected giant hogweed). What I thought was a nettle sting turned out to be something more sinister and suffered a serious burn reaction on my legs 48 hours later. Prevention is key: I recommend wearing long pants and sleeves for this section.

What is giant hogweed?

Giant Hogweed is a tall flowering plant that looks similar to Cow Parsley. It is covered in a poisonous sap that reacts to sunlight. If you get this on your skin and expose the skin to sunlight you can suffer serious burns that require medical attention. 

What to do if you come into contact with giant hogweed or other poisonous plant.

Wash the area of skin and hands with water and soap immediately. Do not touch your face or eyes. If you rub your eyes, rinse with water thoroughly and seek medical attention. Wash any clothing or items that came in contact with the plant. Cover your skin from sunlight for at least 48 hours. Do not try to remove the plant. Warn fellow hikers and report to authorities if possible. If you suffer burns that blister or turn dark seek medical attention.


Hiking trail sign Portugal

What to pack for the Fisherman’s Trail

If you’re doing a multi-day hike, packing light is essential, but there are some things you should definitely make sure you have with you.

  • Walking Shoes/Sandals/Boots – These should be designed for walking/hiking. Flip flops are not going to cut it.
  • Water bottle – At least 1.5/2 litres per person each day.
  • Sun gear – including sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and lightweight cover for your shoulders – Whatever time of year you hike the Fisherman’s Trail you’re likely to get sun exposure.
  • Swimwear & beach towel – For any sea dips along the way.
  • A warm layer – This stretch of coast can get windy so make sure you have a warm cover up for the windy days and the evenings.
  • Change of clothes – Something comfortable to change into for the evenings once the hiking is done. I packed a light pair of flip flops so that I could air my feet out after a long day on the trail. 
  • Bag for rubbish – Hopefully this goes without saying but in places where there are no rubbish bins, take your litter with you. 
  • Cash & cards – While some places accept cards and there are ATMs in the main towns it’s recommended to bring a little bit of cash for coffees and snacks. If you’re coming from outside the EU I recommend getting a free WISE card to avoid terrible conversion rates from your home bank.
Fishermans Trail Alentejo Portugal Hike

How long does the Original Fisherman’s Trail take?

The 76 km Fisherman’s Trail takes 4 days to complete, hiking an average of 20 km per day. Typically people do the trail from Porto Covo >> Odeceixe but you could easily do it the other direction. Most people stay in Porto Covo the night before and Odeceixe the last night.

Fisherman's Trail Alentejo Portugal hiking trail

The Fisherman’s Trail Hike Logistics

I was surprised at how easy it was to organise this hike. A few options:

  • Take a bus from Lisbon to Porto Covo the day before you start and take a bus from Odeceixe to Lisbon the day after you finish. This is what most people do.

Alternatively, if you have a car you have two options.

  • Drive to Porto Covo and leave your car there. At the end of the hike, stay in Odeceixe and take the bus from Odeceixe back to Porto Covo the next day. This is what I did. 
  • Or drive straight to Odeceixe, leave your car there and take a bus to Porto Covo for the start of the hike. Your car will be waiting for your arrival in Odeceixe. 

If you’re looking at hiring a car I highly recommend the broker Zest. I have used them all over Portugal, Spain and Italy because they have great insurance included and the website has no hidden surprises.

HOW TO HIRE A CAR IN PORTUGAL

Where to stay on The Fisherman’s Trail

There is a selection of different accommodation options available depending on your style, preferences and budget. Lots of people choose to stay in hostels for a cheap, cheerful and social experience. There are also budget private rooms, campsites, hotels, and farm stays along the trail. Aim to pick a place close to the trail as possible to avoid adding on any km’s each day. If you want to make the most of the agriturism in the area you can reach out to them to see if it is possible for a transfer between the hotel and the trail.

When searching for accommodation, double check the location before booking. Some places, (particularly rural stays) are 5km or more away from the trail. If you’re using BookingCom or Airbnb you can zoom in on the map to check. Aim to book in the centre of each of the towns.

 

Of the 5 stops (including Porto Covo the night before starting the trail) Zambujeira do Mar and Odeceixe were the most expensive. Zambuheira has the least options, Vila Nova has the most. I noticed that many of the rooms were sold out by a week or two before I started so definitely consider booking as soon as you have dates. Most, but not all, have free cancellation until a week or less before.

I used a mix of BookingCom and Airbnb to book my stays. There are campsites at each location but again these can get busy/full. If you decide to wild camp please do so in a safe location as to not disturb local wildlife and of course do not leave any trace behind. Wild camping is illegal in mainland Portugal so bear that in mind.

Porto Covo cliffs

Tips for the Fisherman’s Trail

Take supplies with you each day

There are very few cafes, restaurants and shops on the trail so make sure you bring enough water and snacks for the day. There are supermarkets (small ones), restaurants and banks/ATMs at all the overnight towns so you can stock up as you go.

Start hiking early in the day

This is especially true if you are hiking in the warmer months because there is little shade and a fair amount of walking over soft sand. I hiked in early June. I started between 7-8am most days and arrived at the final destination by 1pm. If you’re hiking in the winter you have the freedom to start a bit later but expect the sun to still be hot in the middle of the day.

Prepare for all weather

Sun gear (hat, sunglasses, skin cover), waterproofs for sea mist or rain, thin but warm layers in case of strong sea breeze or wind.

Book accommodation in advance

If you have the ability to book accommodation in advance I recommend doing that. Especially for Zambujeira do Mar which has few options and can get fully booked easily.

Pay attention to trail signs

The trail is really well-marked but it is still possible to take a wrong turn if you don’t pay attention to the signs. The Fisherman’s trail is marked by blue and green lines but since some sections also correlate with the Rota Vicentina so you’ll sometimes see red and yellow lines too. Always follow the blue and green lines.  

The two perpendicular blue and green lines indicate to go straight ahead. The two blue & green crossed lines indicate closed or non-accessible trails. 

4 Day Fisherman’s Trail Hiking Route

The night before the starting of the hike, spend the night in Porto Covo.

Porto Covo

Is a pretty and mostly seasonal coastal fishing village full of white and blue buildings.

Where to stay in Porto Covo?

Camping >> Parque Campismo Porto Covo

Hostel >> Mute, Ahoy Porto Covo

Hotel / Apartment >> Porto Covo Hotel & Spa, Zé Inácio

Where to Eat & Drink in Porto Covo?
  • Zé Inácio Traditional style restaurant, loved by locals. Lots of seafood. Book in advance.
  • Lamelas  Slightly more expensive than other restaurants but mentioned in the Michelin Guide so attracts many visitors. Book in advance.

PORTO COVO TRAVEL GUIDE

Fishermen’s Trail Day 1 : Porto Covo >> Vila Nova de Milfontes 20km

The start of this trail takes you along the cliffs for a few km before reaching a large stretch of beach to walk you past the gorgeous Ilha do Pessegueiro. You’ll continue to follow the trail along the coast and reach a long section of soft sand before making it back on hard ground for the final few km. There is one small cafe/restaurant on the trail just outside of Porto Covo but this may not be open in the winter season or at certain times of day.

Vila Nova de Milfontes

The biggest and busiest town on the trail. VNDM has one of the most unique beaches in Portugal thanks to the river estuary.

Vila Nova de Milfontes Fisherman's Trail
Where to stay in Vila Nova de Milfontes?

Camping >> Camping Milfontes

Hotel / Guesthouse >> Raminhos Guesthouse , Duna Parque Beach Club

Where to Eat & Drink in Vila Nova de Milfontes?
  • A Choupana Wooden stilted restaurant on the sand serving fresh seafood. Privileged sunset location. Book in advance.
  • Tasca do Celso  Most popular restaurant in VNDM with a high reputation. Typical dishes from Alentejo. Book in advance via Fork or direct.
  • Bar Cá P’Ramim Good value and well made dishes on the main tourist square. Great for afternoon sun.

VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES TRAVEL GUIDE

Fisherman’s Trail Day 2 : Vila Nova de Milfontes >> Almograve 11 km/15 km 

For this day you have two options. The first and shortest option is to take the boat across the river from Vila nova de Milfontes here (€5) to Praia das Furnas. The second option is the longest (15 km) and the official route. This will take you out of town, over the bridge and back to the coast through an overgrown trail.The shortest of all the days but one of the hardest thanks to a large section of soft sand at the end of the trail. There are no cafes or shops on this trail.

Almograve

Small unassuming village home to rural workers. The beautiful beach and beach bar is a welcome surprise at the end of the wooden boardwalk.

Where to stay in Almograve?

Hostel >> Almograve Beach hostel

Hotel >> Fisherman’s House , Vicentina Rooms

Where to Eat & Drink in Almograve?

Almograve Beach Bar One of the best beach bars in Portugal which is surprising since the town itself has nothing else going on. Lots of seating all with sea views. Sunset DJ. Snacks, meals, drinks and cocktails.

Fisherman’s Trail Day 3 : Almograve >> Zambujeira do Mar 22 km

You’ll walk down the boardwalk and along the cliffs at Almograve before cutting in to a shaded forested area for a period of time. You’ll walk into a small village where this is a local cafe to stop for coffee and snacks. You’ll then go back to the coast through farmland. You’ll follow the sand dunes all the way to Porta das Barcas before hitting the road to Zambujeira.

Zambujeira do Mar

Small, seasonal seaside town. The beach here was one of my favourites and I could easily have spent a few days relaxing here.

Where to stay in Zambujeira do Mar?

Camping >> Camping Villa Park

Hostel >> Hakuna Matata

Hotel >> Alojamento Sudoeste

Where to Eat & Drink in Zambujeira do Mar?

Sunset Cafe Really reasonable prices and a wide variety of snacks, meals and drinks. Great sea view. 

Day 4: Zambujeira >> Odeceixe 19 km

The final day takes you south from Odeceixe to some of the most remote beaches in Portugal. This part of the trail has the most ups and downs of the entire 4 days and also the most wild feeling areas. There are two cafe/restaurants on route.

Odeceixe

The hike finishes in the ‘main’ town which has a ramble of white buildings, some great restaurants and a windmill. A few km away from the main town is the beach area of town with a few more restaurants and accommodation options. Odeceixe sits on a windy river and has a stunningly white sand beach.

Where to stay in Odeceixe?

Camping >> Campismo São Miguel (not central)

Hostel >> Hostel Seixe

Hotels/ Apartments >> Casas do Moinho , SulSeixe Guesthouse, Odeceixe Verde

Where to Eat & Drink in Odeceixe?
  • Restaurante Chaparro Great typical restaurant with good prices. Hello €8 for a litre of wine.
  • Ao Largo Breakfast, lunch and snack spot with a sunny area. Lots of healthy choices too.
Beaches Fisherman's Trail Portugal

What is the best section of the Fisherman’s trail hike?

This will be different for everyone. Every day offers something unique and memorable but my favourite day was the 4th day. The stretch of coast south of Zambujeira do Mar offers the wildest and most remote feeling section of the trail. The beaches here are completely unspoilt and I’m already planning a return to this section of trail. The first day between Porto Covo and Via Nova de Milfontes is also very pretty and this day is a great introduction to Alentejo. If you only have one day I would be tempted to do day 1 because both towns are worthy of a stay over. The third day takes you on a very varied trail and this day was where I felt like I was most on an actual fisherman’s trail (Porta das Barcas). 

So there we have it a travel guide for the Original Fisherman’s hiking trail in Alentejo, Portugal. I am confident this will not be the last time I hike this trail so I’ll be sure to update the guide regularly. Happy hiking!

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