As life gets busier, gone are the days I could afford to sit at the same spot for 3 to 4 weeks. I would love to go to more exotic places but sometimes logistics would not allow it. In my last minute effort to plan a trip with some elements of “backpacking”, limited by the conditions that the destinations must be accessible by public transportation, my search landed me in Portugal.

 

The Atlantic coast of Portugal south of Lisboa could be a very busy place in summer. Small villages and towns in the coastal area are dotted by hotels, eateries and services. On the other hand, if you go at the right time, you can pretty much have the whole place to yourself!

 

While the locals consider 16 degree C as “cool” or even “cold”, to those who suffer -10 degree C on a daily basis, it is “short sleeve and shorts “ weather. The March weather south of Lisboa is sunny and 16 degree C all the time. Businesses just open up again after the winter break. The area has few foreign tourists and none of the local tourists are present. The area is also very well served by buses from Lisboa. Tickets can be bought at the station or online here. The bus station at Lisboa is also easily accessible by subway: http://www.rede-expressos.pt

The best thing about this area, the trip planning is pretty much done for you already. You just have to download it at www.rotavicentina.com! The entire Fisherman Trail is panned out for you in 9 pdf files. You just need to figure out how to get there and book the accommodations.

 

Day One

Porto Covo is the official starting point of the Fisherman Trail. The only downside is that the bus from lisboa only departs for Porto Covo in late afternoon and arrives in the evening. To use Porto Covo as the starting point, most likley you will need to spend the night at Porto Covo. Alternatively, you may take the morning bus to Vila Nova de Milfontes and explore the trail north of the town in the afternoon. The most spectacular area in this portion of the trail is south of Praia do Malhão anyways, so not much is lost by skipping out Porto Covo. While the trail runs along the crests of a series of rock cliffs, a fair portion of the trail is on soft sand. If you are not physically fit, budget in extra effort and time. Do spend time on exploring the many side trails. They will bring you to spectacular views.

 

Day Two

The walk from Vila Nova de Milfontes to Almograve is fairly short. Because it is only 15 km, I slept in and took my sweet time to have breakfast. I followed the trail at first, but then I figured out I would be walking on a dirt road on the side of some farm lands. Since there is only one direction to go, there isn’t really a need to straightly follow the marked trail as long as you know which side you are on the sea. Just find a single track trail and head south. Do spare the time and take the stairway down to Praia do Brejo Largo.

 

Almograve is a fairly small village and the International Hostel is the best stay. The best bet for the rest of the evening is to buy some beers at the corner store and take out some chicken from the one and only local Churrasco.

 

Day Three

The walk to Zambujeira do Mar is 22km long but it is not a difficult walk. The first half of the trail cuts through desert like terrain. Cavaleiro is more or less a half way point because the shoreline is cut off by a valley. Once passed Caveleiro, the marked trail turned into a dirt road that lasts all the way to Zambujeira. There are many side trails that run along the crest line, if you are inclined to deviate from the main road.

 

My journey had to stop at Zambujeira. This is because there is not a bus stop at Odeceix, so I would not be able to add another day to the trip without essentially back tracking.

 

Overall

The fisherman trail is a relatively easy trail to get to and complete. The trail has few people in March and the effort to scenery payoff ratio is high. Along the way there are many affordable accommodations and food to choose from. If you are heading to Lisboa and want to have a get away to the nature for a few days, this trail is a low hanging fruit that you can do with relatively little effort in planning.

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