The second stage of the fishermen’s trail offers fabulous landscapes with incredible sceneries with remarkable diversity along the route. It offers a huge diversity of colors, scents, and amazing shapes, particularly during spring when nature is at its splendor. Furthermore, both Milfontes and Porto Covo are beautiful towns and tourist attractions in their own right. If you have time, it’s worth spending a day at each one.
The fishermen’s trail is a set of walking routes from São Torpes to Lagos, totaling nearly 230 km, in 14 stages. One of the great advantages of the fishermen’s trail is that you can do it partially and only as many steps as you want. In this article, we will talk about the second stage, which connects Porto Covo and Vila Nova de Milfontes.
Although officially this is the second stage of the fishermen’s trail, most people who take this Great Route start it in Porto Covo, as stage 1 is very short and less appealing. With about 20 km connecting Porto Covo to Milfontes, the second stage runs along the coast through beaches, dunes, and cliffs.
In addition to describing the trail and everything you can expect from this stage of the Fishermen’s trail, we will also give you info about the logistics, including information on where to stay, how to get there, transfers, where to eat, etc. If you want to see general information about the fishermen’s trail, click here.
Fishermen’s Trail – Porto Covo to Milfontes – general information
- Name – Fisherman’s Trail – stage 2
- Start – Porto Covo
- End – VN Milfontes
- Distance – 20 km
- Time required – 7 hours
- Technical difficulty – Low
- Physical effort – Medium-high
- Max/min altitude: 50/0 meters
- Altitude gain: 200-180 meters
- Type – Linear
- Signaling (1- 5) – 5, nearly perfect
- Highlights: Porto Covo, Ilha do Pessegueiro Beach, Malhão Beach, VN de Mil Fontes
- Cyclable: No
Our experience on the trail
This second stage of the Fishermen’s Trail starts in Porto Covo and ends in Vila Nova de Milfontes. In total, it’s about 20 km, most of them on sand, often fine and loose. This type of soil makes the trail much harder than one might expect.
It took us almost 8 hours to hike this, with about 5 to 5:30 hours of walking, and the remaining for taking breaks to rest, eat, or simply enjoy the sights/take pictures. In addition to the difficulty caused by walking on sand, there are very few shades, so the sun can also become a tough obstacle. On the other hand, the trail is essentially flat and without technical difficulties, making life a little easier.
So, our first tip is to start the trail very early to avoid the hot hours. This is especially important if you are planning to hike in summer or on hot days.
This route is mostly hiked on cliffs, through dunes, and even along the beaches. The first part of the route goes from Porto Covo to the Pessegueiro Island beach, always following the sea and with Pessegueiro Island on sight.
When you reach the beach, you have to cross it until reaching the fort. With the fort, the beautiful beach, and the island in the background, this is perhaps the most iconic location of the hike. It is also here that you may have one last chance to buy water or snacks. However, we advise you to bring them from Porto Covo – you never know if it will be closed for some reason.
From Pessegueiro Island, you continue south, always along the coast, until reaching Praia do Queimada. Here the route has a small section that goes inwards, but it is possible to simply continue along the beach until the official route comes back to us at Aivados beach (easily recognizable as it has no sand but cobbles).
After Aivados beach, the route leaves the beach again to go to a dune area. Supposedly it would be possible to continue along the beach (it’s closer and all), but walking through the cobbles is quite difficult, and time-consuming. Worse, it’s dangerous as you can easily twist a foot. In our opinion, the best thing is to follow the route.
Following the route, you will go through dunes with loose sand and no shadows, making these kilometers very hard and probably the least beautiful on the trail. After some time, we are rewarded for these hard kilometers of sand walking when we reach the phenomenal beach of Malhão. This is one of our favorite beaches in the region and a great place to eat and get some rest.
After crossing the Malhão beach, you’ll reach some walkways, where you can finally clean off the sand from your sneakers and walk on hard ground for a change. These walkways have some wonderful viewpoints – allow some time to take pictures. Unfortunately, walking on footbridges and dirt roads is short-lived, and you’ll quickly return to the sand, but now always along the coast.
The next stop is Angra da Cerva beach. It is very easily recognizable as it forms a sandy bay in the middle of the rocky slopes. As we are walking on the cliffs, we will have to go around it completely. If you want to go to the beach, you’ll have to go down a small path and then go back up for the walk. It’s a gorgeous beach, but after so many kilometers on the sand, descending to the beach doesn’t seem all that appealing.
After Angra da Cerva Beach, you will continue along the small paths in the middle of the dunes, full of plants and flowers (in spring). The dunes, rocks, flowers, and cliffs make this whole hike a fabulous experience. Unfortunately, we continue on the sand, always on the sand for another 3 km, until reaching Porto das Barcas where there is finally a restaurant. These final 3 kilometers of sand walking, after hours of walking, are hard work. The landscape is beautiful, but we just wanted to get to Milfontes.
Arriving at Porto das Barcas, we are 1km from Milfontes, and the rest of the route is not particularly beautiful. Milfontes, on the contrary, is a very nice coastal village, with a beach vibe and good life, as we will explain below.
Finally, we must mention that the entire fishermen’s trail is marked in both directions, so if you want to go from south to north, between Vila Nova de Milfontes and Porto Covo, it’s also possible. The signaling is excellent, and we had no problem following it.
About Porto Covo
Porto Covo is a small village that during the low season is mostly dormant, but in the summer, it takes on a different life. It is surrounded by beautiful beaches, highlighting the above-mentioned Pessegueiro Island a few km to the south and Praia da Samoqueira to the north. It is a trendy village with Portuguese and foreigners, so there are plenty of accommodations, restaurants, mini markets, and cafes.
Consider staying at least an extra day to explore Porto Covo with the time it deserves.
Accommodation in Porto Covo
There are plenty of accommodations in Porto Covo, including AirBnBs and hostels. When we did the fishermen’s trail, we stayed at the Ahoy hostel, and we believe it was an excellent option. In addition to being excellent value for money, it is well located in the very center of Porto Covo, close to supermarkets, restaurants, and snack bars.
However, the big advantage is that your host knows the Fisherman’s Trail very well, and he can give you some valuable last-minute tips. For example, the idea of following the beach after the fort on the Pessegueiro island beach was his. If you want to stay at Ahoy hostel click here.
Where to eat in Porto Covo
In Porto Covo, there are several quality restaurants, but we have to mention the Zé Inácio Restaurant, where we ate excellently, particularly fish and seafood. Don’t forget to buy supplies for the trip at the mini-market or the snack bars, as there are none during the hike. Ask your hostel which cafes open early so you can have breakfast and leave early.
About Vila Nova de Milfontes
The final destination of this trail is Vila Nova de Milfontes, perhaps the most beautiful coastal town in Alentejo, and for this reason, it is called the “Princess of Alentejo.” Located at the mouth of the Mira River, Milfontes is an excellent beach and water sports destination, particularly SUP and canoeing. Naturally, Milfontes has many restaurants, bars, cafes, mini-markets and supermarkets, hostels, apartments, and hotels. There are options for all tastes.
If you are doing the fishermen’s trail, Milfontes is ideal for taking a rest day. The village is big, with a lot to do, and this stage 2 is pretty tough.
Where to stay in Milfontes?
When we took the fishermen’s trail, we stayed at the Victoria Apartments. We chose this accommodation mainly for its low price and good location. Click here to see more information.
There are, however, many options for accommodation in Milfontes, with alternatives for all types of prices and travelers. Check here.
Where to Eat in Milfontes?
As mentioned above, Milfontes is a top-rated holiday destination, and naturally, there are many quality restaurants. We suggest you enjoy fish and seafood, and of course traditional Alentejo food.
The best-known (and possibly the best) restaurant in Milfontes is Pátio Alentejano, right in the center. Good alternatives are À Fateixa, near the port, and Choupana in Praia do Farol. À Fateixa surprised us with its quality fish and seafood at affordable prices. It is also known for its snails, for those who enjoy it…
Best time of year to hike the trail
The best time to walk the fishermen’s trail is spring, namely in April/May. Alternatively, the beginning of Autumn will also be excellent, especially as the seawater will be at a much more pleasant temperature, and this trek has many inviting beaches.
However, we still prefer spring mainly because the vegetation is prettiest, with wildflowers everywhere. In both periods, the days will be long enough and with pleasant temperatures for long walks.
In summer we have the heat problem, and it really is a problem. Note that 90% of the trail is hiked under the sun, with no leftovers along the way or many chances of escaping the sun as the vegetation is mostly short. On the other hand, it has the advantage that the seawater also being warmer.
During winter, cold, rain, and wind can make the trail rough and less pleasant. However, we never did at this time of the year.
Who can hike the trail?
This is a trail for people with some physical strength, stamina and without any mobility problems. Age should not be a factor, but physical ability is. We advise against doing it with small children as it may be too hard, but teenagers and perhaps pre-teens used to exercise can do this leg of the Rota Vicentina.
Note that a good part of the route is done on cliffs and canyons, so people with fear of heights or vertigo may have problems in certain sections.
What to take to Fishermen’s trail?
This trail is one of the stages of the fishermen’s trail. We must therefore differentiate if you are going to do just this one stage or several days. The general rule of thumb is never to hike with more than 10% of your weight, but if you’re doing a journey of several days, we need to pay special attention to what to take as the less weight, the better.
If you are planning to hike for several days, we advise you to check this article. If you are going to do just this stage between Porto Covo and Vila Nova de Milfontes, we suggest you take:
- Lots of water (minimum 2l per person). Always bring water for the whole day as it is very likely that you will not have the opportunity to buy it during most of the journey.
- Snacks to eat during the day. There are no restaurants for most of the way, between the Pessegueiro island and Entrada das Barcas.
- Comfortable walking shoes – Use walking or running shoes. We wear running shoes, but some people suggest hiking shoes. Sneakers have the disadvantage of making you have to remove the sand regularly, but the advantage of being much cooler; Don’t wear your slippers for the walks, it’s too long, and it will become uncomfortable.
- Light, comfortable clothing; We take a change of clothes a day, and we take some old clothes that we throw away after wearing. Less weight for the following days;
- Don’t forget to bring at least one warmer sweater or hoodie as it can be much cooler in the morning than you expect, especially outside the summer.
- Swimwear, sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen in summer;
- Camera and mobile phone as there are many opportunities to take beautiful photos. The mobile phone can also be used as GPS.
- Backpack to carry all this;
As always, please don’t make trash. Bring everything you take with you.
For those who will be traveling for several days, it may be important to know that transfer companies take your bags to your destination. So, if you want to carry even less weight, this might be a good idea. See here.
How to get to the trail?
Porto Covo is about a 2-hour drive from Lisbon and Lagos, so it might be a good idea to go the day before to get an early start. Vila Nova de Milfontes is not very far away and therefore travel times are similar. In both villages, you can find places to park your car while you hike.
If you don’t want to take your car, you can catch a bus from Lisbon. There is also a daily express bus connecting Milfontes to Porto Covo (and vice versa), so it is possible to return to the starting point easily. Alternatively, and if the bus schedule is not convenient, taxis and transfer companies do this service.