Considered one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, southwest Portugal was a well-kept secret for many years. Though not a secret anymore, it is still managed as one.
A Silent Wild Region
In 2013, southwest Portugal was barely known for its sandy beaches, steep cliffs, and secluded, traditional villages. The area was still a territory of fishermen and farmers, where the land and the sea would determine the time and the weekend was just another work day.
There was some tourism present, but it was low and exclusive to the summer. For the rest of the year, the region was amazingly beautiful, wild, and silent. Local businesses were kept alive mainly by fierce dedication of their owners and, sometimes, against all odds.
The non-profit organization Rota Vicentina was launched in 2013, opening two long-distance hiking trails that ran through the regions of Alentejo and Algarve. The Fishermen’s Trail followed the coastline and the steps of the locals to get to the beaches and hot fishing spots, whereas the Historical Way was located more inland and crossed villages, farms, and locals’ backyards.
Rota Vicentina started with a total of 450 km available for walking. And so the walkers came.
Six years have passed. Today, there is more tourism present, more small businesses run by local families, more people who have chosen to live and work in this region.
Yet, no crowds. Southwest Portugal is still wild and silent.
The hikers never choose the summer to visit the region. They come during the shoulder seasons and support local businesses throughout the year.
In addition, they support Rota Vicentina’s mission to invest in the protection of this territory while offering sustainable tourism.
From the very beginning, Rota Vicentina developed several studies to control its impact in the region.
In 2017, Rota Vicentina welcomed 24,000 hikers, generating a gross added value of €8 million, with a direct impact on the local economy of €5 million. This market allowed for the creation of 1,400 jobs.
Since September 2018, Rota Vicentina has also been working with eight regional schools to promote entrepreneurship in the region.
Thus, this project of sustainable and respectful tourism has also helped with fighting the exclusion of the elderly and more geographically isolated populations as well as opened more job and entrepreneurship opportunities for the local youth.
How We Do It
We Embrace the Community.
We Protect the Environment.
We Support the Local Economy.
We Promote Responsible Travel.
Learn more on how we do it, step by step.
Join This Mission
The efforts in preserving and maintaining this region, as well as the sustainability this tourism offers, are not exclusive of Rota Vicentina. This project is supported by a network of 200 business partners, both local and foreign, but mostly small family businesses that work in this region and foster the local economy.
Whether you are a travel agency or a tour operator, your contribution to this project as a member of the network is proof of a collective commitment to sustainable and responsible tourism. Alternatively, you can choose our member incoming agencies to support the goals of the project.
More Nature, More Authenticity, More Rota Vicentina
This spring, Rota Vicentina is expanding with new walking trails, a mountain bike network system, and nature, culture, and wellness activities.
In May, an even wider trail network was launched in the region with a total of 740 km of hiking routes, including a selection of 24 circular routes and an extension of the Fishermen’s Trail to Lagos — a popular village located in the Algarve region.
For Marta Cabral, Rota Vicentina Association’s president, this project is a concept of local development and geographic unity. This is why Rota Vicentina’s experience will extend to mountain biking in 2019, with an offer of more than 1,000 km of trails revealing the most secret inland routes of southwest Portugal.
Rota Vicentina’s business partners will also step up in the project, offering bike-friendly services throughout the trail network, and mountain bikers will be able to rely on an mountain bike center and several bike stations.
Finally, the project, with the help of its partners, will set up nature, culture, and wellness activities programs to explore the local richness even more. Created and guided by the locals, these activities will allow visitors to experience the best this region has to offer in a very genuine and traditional way.
About Rota Vicentina
Rota Vicentina is a non-profit organization created in July 2013 to manage, maintain, integrate, develop, and promote the tourism product that the Rota Vicentina represents.