This is a fabulous trail that connects two beautiful Alentejo coastal villages through beaches, cliffs, dunes, forests, and even agricultural areas. Despite being part of the much longer fishermen’s trail, it’s perfectly possible to only hike this stage.
The fishermen’s trail on the Rota Vicentina is one of the most beautiful in Portugal, with about 230km of footpaths that go from São Torpes to Lagos, or vice versa. The trails are almost always by the sea and can be done in full, partially, or just one day.
The third stage of the fishermen’s trail goes from Vila Nova de Milfontes to Almograve. This is one of the shortest and easiest days on the Vincentian route, but that doesn’t mean it is less interesting and rewarding. The route between Milfontes and Almograve is officially 15.5km but can still be reduced to around 12km, as we will explain below.
In this article, we’ll explore this trail that connects two beautiful Alentejo coastal towns, explaining all the logistics, covering where to stay, where to eat, what to take and what to expect when the hiking trail. For those who don’t have much time, or don’t want, or can’t walk too long, this is the trail to take.
Fishermen trail – Vila Nova de Milfontes to Almograve
- Name: Step 3 of the fishermen’s trail
- Start: Vila Nova de MilFontes
- Finish: Almograve
- Distance; 15.5 km
- Time needed: 5-6 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate, due to sand
- Max/min altitude: Almost always at sea level
- Altitude gain: 150 meters
- Type – linear
- Signage (1-5) – 5, excellent
- Highlights: Vila Nova de Mil Fontes, Praia das Furnas, Praia do Brejo Largo, Almograve
- Cyclable: No
Our experience on the trail
This trail starts in Vila Nova de Milfontes, but it starts with a problem… crossing the Mira river. Officially, we should exit Milfontes towards the national road, turn to the bridge, cross it, and turn right at a gate after a few minutes. We need to open the gate (don’t forget to close it back) and continue the trail through fields and wooded areas that will once again lead to the Rio Mira, now on the south bank. This entire section is 3 to 3.5km long…
Unofficially, we have another alternative, perhaps a lot more interesting. Catch the ferry, enjoy a nice boat trip to start the day, and in a few minutes, be on the other side, ready to go! Whether or not you should take this shortcut is up to you, but we think the ferry is definitely the best option. In addition to being always a fun activity and less tiring, the path across the bridge adds very little to the walking experience as it is always by the side of the road and without any point of interest, except maybe the view from the top of the bridge.
Now on the south bank of the mouth of the Mira river, we will continue to the south, but first, we have to go to Praia das Furnas, considered one of the best beaches in Alentejo and in Portugal. It even won the beach edition of the competition of the seven wonders in Portugal. In practice, Praia das Furnas faces both the sea and the Mira River, and the influence of both is what makes it so special.
During these trails on Rota Vicentina, we almost always advise you to start early, before the heat peaks. So going to the beach right at the start might not be a good idea, but given that the walk is much shorter, and this is a famous beach, maybe you can take advantage of it. Note however that in our opinion this is not even the best beach on this trail.
After Furnas beach, we’ll need to climb to the top of the cliffs and walk through this area. At this stage, we have huge cultivated fields, and the views vary between dunes, forest areas, rural and agricultural fields. The route is like this for about 7-8 km, without major difficulties, undulating, and little to no sand.
There are areas where the native vegetation shows all its diversity, but in others, intensive agriculture almost reaches the sea. It’s a little strange because we’re in a natural park, but it’s still interesting.
You will eventually reach a crossroads, where the fishermen’s trail joins one of the circular short-route tracks. From here, the landscape changes a little, and we enter a very sandy part of the trail by the sea. Fortunately, almost immediately, you reach the highest point of this trail, the Brejo Largo beach.
Brejo Largo beach is a paradise. The difficulty of access means that no tourist structure has been developed, but the fine golden sand and the crystal clear sea are absolutely breathtaking. Naturally, there is practically no one there. Access to the beach is at least curious, as it has to be done with a rope on the cliff that has some stairs dug out.
Even if you don’t want to or can’t go to the beach, this is the place to stop, have a snack, and get some rest. From here, the route is harder because it is much more sandy. There are other beaches, but none of them are as good as Brejo Largo.
After Brejo Largo, we are coming close to Almograve. It’s only about 3 km, but they are rough due to the fine and loose sand. Though, it can be done in about an hour. When you reach the beach at Foz dos Ouriços, the circular trail separates from the fishermen’s trail again, but the curious thing is that both will lead to Almograve.
Even more curious is that if you follow the circular trail is much faster, as it goes straight to Almograve, while the fishermen’s trail goes inland and enters Almograve from the “other side.” You can save almost another km here if you want, as this interior area does not add anything to this trail. On the contrary, the circular trail passes close to Almograve beach, another wonderful beach in Southeast Alentejo.
Anyway, Almograve is in sight, so the trail is practically finished. See below for more information about Almograve and VN de Milfontes.
About Vila Nova de Milfontes
This trail starts in Vila Nova de Milfontes, perhaps the most beautiful coastal village in Alentejo, known as the “Princess of Alentejo”. Located at the mouth of the Mira River, Milfontes is an excellent beach and water sports destination, including SUP, windsurfing, or canoeing. Naturally, Milfontes has lots of restaurants, bars, cafes, mini markets and supermarkets, hostels, apartments, and hotels. There are options for all tastes here.
If you are hiking the fishermen’s trail, Milfontes is ideal for taking a rest day. The village is big enough, with a lot of things to do, and the previous stage is very tough.
Where to stay in Milfontes?
When we hiked 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. See here.
Where to Eat in Milfontes?
As mentioned above Milfontes is a very popular 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, next to the port, and Choupana in Farol beach. À Fateixa surprised us with its quality and affordable prices. It is also known for its snails, for those who like it…
In addition to this trail, there are several others. Almograve is a small village that becomes very popular in summer due to its fabulous beach. It is an excellent option for those who enjoy beach holidays and relaxing for a few days, but also for those who enjoy hiking. In recent years, Almograve (and other villages in the region) have been receiving huge numbers of Nepalese and Indian immigrants to work on the many farms and greenhouses of the region. So don’t be surprised if you see them in the early morning and late afternoon going for a walk or on their way to work.
Yet, Almograve is much smaller than VN Milfontes and even Zambujeira do Mar. However, it has several restaurants, cafes, and mini markets where you can get supplies. As the village is small, they are very easy to find. Another positive thing is that the mini-markets also work with cafes and open very early at 6:00 am, so you can have breakfast and get supplies for the trail at once.
Where to stay at Almograve?
Due to its popularity, there are several accommodation options, so you should have no trouble finding a place to stay. When we hiked this trail, we stayed at Casa das Andorinhas, and we found it to be a good low-cost option, but with plenty of comforts. It is in the center of Almograve and close to everything you need. Click here to see more information.
Where to Eat at Almograve?
There are several restaurants in Almograve, so you’ll have no problem finding where to eat. The best known restaurants are perhaps Torralta and Lavrador, where you can enjoy typical Portuguese and Alentejo dishes.
However, when we hiked the trail, we decided to go to Mar Azul, a Nepalese/Indian restaurant taking advantage of the new reality of this region. As we enjoy this kind of cuisine a lot, but we had never tasted Nepali food, it was delightful, and its quality is outstanding.
Best time of year to take the fishermen’s trail
The best time of year to walk the fishermen’s trail is spring, particularly April/May. Alternatively, the end of summer and the beginning of autumn will also be excellent, especially as the sea will have much more pleasant temperatures and this stage has at least three very inviting beaches.
However, between spring and autumn, we prefer spring mainly because the vegetation is at its prettiest, with wildflowers everywhere. In both periods, the days will be long and with more pleasant temperatures for long walks.
In summer we have a heat problem, and it really is a problem. Note that 90% of the trail is hiked in the sun, with no shadows along the way or great chances of escaping the sun as the vegetation is mostly undergrowth. On the other hand, we have the advantage that the seawater being also warmer.
During winter, the cold, the rain, and the wind can make the trail very rough and unpleasant. However, we never actually hike here at this time of the year.
Who can hike the trail?
This is a trail for people with stamina and without any mobility problems. Though, it’s not technical. Age should not be a factor, but physical ability should be. We advise against doing it with small children, as it could be a little bit, but teenagers and maybe pre-teens used to exercise can do this step.
Note that sometimes the route goes beside cliffs and canyons, so people afraid of heights or with vertigo may have problems in certain parts.
What to bring?
This trail is one of the stages of a larger trail, the fishermen’s trail. Therefore, it is important to differentiate whether you will trek only this stage or for several days. The general rule of thumb is never to hike with more than 10% of our weight, but if you’re making a journey of several days, we need to pay special attention to what to take as the less weight, the better.
If you decide to hike for several days, we advise you to check out this article about the fishermen’s trail. On the other hand, if you are doing only this stage between Porto Covo and Vila Nova de Milfontes, we suggest you take:
- Lots of water (minimum 2l per person) – bring water for the whole day as it is very likely that you will not have the opportunity to buy anything along the way.
- Snacks to eat during the day. There are no restaurants along the route.
- Comfortable walking shoes – hike in walking or running shoes. We wear running shoes, but some people suggest walking shoes. Sneakers have the disadvantage of having to remove the sand regularly, but the advantage of being much cooler; In any case, don’t wear your slippers for this trek, it’s a long time and it will become uncomfortable.
- Light and comfortable clothing;
- Don’t forget to bring at least a warm jacket or hoodie because in the morning it can be much colder than you expect, especially outside of summer.
- Swimwear, sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen, for obvious reasons
- Camera and mobile phone as there are many opportunities to take beautiful photos. The mobile phone to be used as GPS too.
- 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 is important to note that there are transfer companies that 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?
The trails start in the center of the villages, so it’s very simple to get there by car. Parking won’t be a problem either.
Both Vila Nova de Milfontes and Almograve even have express buses to/from Lisbon and Lagos, so if you don’t want to use a car it will be very simple. If you want, you can go back to the beginning using a taxi, or one of the many transfer services that exist on the fishermen’s trail.