Also known as the ‘Trail of Tides’, this walk spans a pretty headland on the Vicentine Coast with sombre escarpments and gorgeous coastal scenery. Here, the Jurassic limestone cliffs have been carved into layered shapes of white, ochre, and gray containing numerous inlets, offshore stacks, and jagged islands. For what it lacks in dramatic force, it makes up for in beauty and richness. A bit away from the coast, visitors will also find a rural setting composed of sheltered valleys and hillsides that sustain a varied fauna and flora.


Location: Carrapateira (Bordeira parish); Aljezur municipality; GPS Coordinates : 37º 11’ 31,846’’ N, 8º 54’ 01,015’’ W (start); Grade: moderate; Type: circular; asphalt and dirt tracks; this trail is not entirely signposted; Lenght: 19000 meters/ 11.8 miles (longer walk); Average Completion Time: up to 7 hours; Best Time to Visit: all year round; may not be advisable on hot days; Activities: nature walks and hikes; birdwatching; swimming in summer

The trail starts off near the mouth of the Ribeira da Carrapateira, a small stream where little fish grow larger before facing the huge ocean. Visitors can choose between a short walk down the coast or a much longer walk that takes them further inland. The Pontal da Carrapateira Trail offers a rich assortment of coastal scenery: to the north, it is bounded by the huge beach and the pristine dunes of Praia da Bordeira, and to the south it is limited by the striking Praia do Amado (meaning ‘Beach of the Loved One’), which is a popular surfing spot. Contrasting with the seascape, the countryside is typified by rounded schist hills mottled with dense thickets of brush.

Along the coastal side there are boardwalks leading up and down to the cliffs. Here, visitors can witness how the local fishermen – perched confidently on the vertiginous cliffs’ edges – probe with their fishing rods these bountiful waters. A series of wooden platforms also allows visitors to contemplate the ocean and the marine birds battling the powerful waves down below. Carrapateira lies just a bit to the north of Sagres Peninsula, which is a prime habitat for resident birds and a springboard for migrant species. This nearness means that there is a good chance of observing several interesting bird species throughout the walk. Depending on the season and the area within the headland, it is possible to observe (among many others) Kentish Plover, Azure-winged Magpie, Grey Heron, Peregrine Falcon, Raven, Blue Rock Thrush, Red-legged Partridge, Kestrel, Sardinian Warbler, European Shag, Spotless Starling, Pallid Swift, Thekla Lark, Short-toed Eagle, Buzzard and Bee-eater.

Topographic-Profile-Pontal-da-Carrapateira-TrailThe walk turns inland near Amado beach. At the next crossroads, the track then veers to the right and continues until it meets again the asphalt road heading for Vilarinha; there, it goes down into a valley and turns left along Ribeira da Carrapateira. Rush beds and alder groves line the sides of the small river, and there are pastures, scrubland, and wooded patches further afield. This ecological mosaic creates a suitable habitat for hare, rabbit, hedgehog, fox, and wild boar.

On a clear day, when the atmosphere is infused with marine and floral fragrances, Carrapateira really is a source of enchantment for all kinds of visitors. It is also a great spot to witness the sheer force of the ocean on stormy days (as long as you keep a very safe distance: the wave’s height and reach can be misleading). On the hotter summer days, take your shoes off, then walk through the shallow and pleasant Ribeira de Bordeira to explore the lush dunes and the lovely, spacious Bordeira beach. You’ll certainly enjoy it.

Pontal da Carrapateira Trail – Walking Route Map: check markers to get directions or open with Google Maps

Further Tips

Carrapateira is just 13 km from Vila do Bispo along the N268 road leading to Aljezur. The trail starts in the vicinity of the ‘O Sítio do Rio’ restaurant and proceeds up the asphalt road towards the coast and across the coastal plateau (please see map above). Please note that the area is very popular with families during weekends (mainly in summer) – you’d better avoid these days when possible if you want quietness while enjoying the wild beauty of this place. Also during summer, try to start off early so that you do not have to fight the full heat of the day during your journey. Please remember to keep a safe distance from the edge when exploring the cliffs. The trail goes over asphalt and dirt tracks, and can be very windy in winter, and somewhat dusty in summer. The inland portion of the trail crosses hunting reserves – take care during autumn and winter, particularly on Thursdays, public holidays and weekends. There are cafés and bars near Amado Beach and Bordeira Beach. At Amado Beach, you’ll find another great trail, with distinct beaches, wildlife and landscapes. However, bars can be closed during low season. Enjoy!