Richard Hammond describes this 7-night, self-guided hotel-to-hotel walking holiday where you can stop to enjoy delicious seafood in quaint fishing villages set against a stunning coastal backdrop before staying in charming local accommodation.
In a nutshell:
A moderate walking holiday in Costa Vicentina - Europe's largest coastal natural park - located on Portugal’s beautiful south-western coast. Admire wild coastal landscapes, virgin beaches and stark cliff sides before settling down to enjoy simmering sunsets over the turquoise waters of the Atlantic. Revel in the characteristically slow pace of life on offer in the sleepy fishing villages or linger on the beaches in the hope of spotting egrets and turtles. For a chance to see Europe's only marine stork colony’s nesting season head over in late spring.
Price: £835 per person (not including train travel to Portugal or transfers)
What's included: 7 nights (three rural hotels, three guesthouses); luggage transported; transfers on days 2 & 6; 7 breakfasts; 5 picnics; 5 dinners.
Departures: March, April, May, June, September, October, November.
Nearest station to start/end of trip: Funcheira
How to travel by train to Funcheira: It is possibly to travel from the UK to the Costa Vicentina without flying. Take the Eurostar to Paris then change stations in Paris from Gare du Nord to Gare Montparnasse for the connecting train to Irun on the French/Spanish border where you take the overnight sleeper train to Lisbon then in the morning take the train to Estação do Oriente and the final train to Funcheira. The total journey time from London to Funcheira is about 30 hours. The transfer in Paris can take 20-30 minutes on the Paris metro (9 stops), but we recommend you leave at least 50 minutes for the entire transfer (see our guide to How to transfer between train stations across Paris) depending on where you stay overnight. For more details on the train journey from London to Lisbon, including some suggestions for where to stay near the train stations if you want to break up the journey and spend more time in Paris or Lisbon, see our flight-free journey planner: Train from London to Lisbon.
Optional extra: Spend an extra two nights in Lisbon (from £156pp) or Faro (from £88pp).
What's the trip like:
Day 1 offers a beautiful 13.5km (4.5hrs) walk through quiet lanes before reaching the glimmering coast and Praia de Odeceixe (beach). Continue to the small town associated with it where you can take a relaxing pit stop before taking a canal path back to your hotel.
Day 2 involves a relatively long (15.5km, 5hrs) walk along the coast, taking in the estuary, clifftops, sea stacks, viewpoints and the traditional fishing hamlet of Azenha do Mar. Consider stopping for some delicious local cuisine before continuing to the Praia da Amália then head inland to Brejão and the Cerca do Sul.
On Day 3 you will walk 17km (6.5hrs), initially retracing your steps back to Praia da Amália before the trail takes you though woodland and coastal paths to the beach resort of Zambujeira do Mar ahead of the final stretch to the Herdade do Touril. The following day (Day 4) you will make your way from here to Longueira (21km, 6.5hrs; shorter option finishing by taxi: 19km, 6hrs) passing a section of coast famed for the storks which nest along the cliffs. Walk on to the lighthouse at Cabo Sardão through coastal paths, pine woodland and rolling sand dunes to reach the beach of Almograve from which you can take a taxi, or continue your walk to the Monte Novo da Longueira in the Portuguese hamlet of Longueira.
On Day 5 (Longueira to Vila Nova, via bridge: 17.5km, 5.5hrs; shorter option, taking ferry: 13km, 4hrs) cross pastureland to make it to the scenic coastal track before considering a worthwhile detour to the golden beach of Praia do Brejo Largo before finishing in Vila Nova de Milfontes and Casa do Adro.
Your final walk (Day 6) is 20km (6hrs) along clifftops and sand dunes to the fishing harbour at Porto Covo, with chance to relax on the three-kilometre-long beach of Malhão. Stop by the fortress at Pessegueiro, which overlooks Peachtree Island, before arriving in Porto Covo for a well earned drink. Take a short taxi ride to Tres Marias, to spend your final night getting acquainted with the owner's pet ostrich and donkeys before rounding off your trip looking out to the Alentejo's coastline.
How to enquire/book this holiday:
This holiday is provided by Inntravel, one of the founding tour operator members of Green Traveller. One of the great things about this holiday is its flexibility: you have a choice of start/end dates and you can add additional nights on to the itinerary. If you'd like to know more about this holiday, please see more details on the relevant page given below and if you'd like to book it, do contact them directly or complete their booking form and a member of their team will be in touch with you: