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Camino Portugués - Traditional Route

Camino Portugués - Traditional Route

Second only to the iconic French Way of St James this is an increasingly popular Camino de Santiago. The Portuguese Way is an enchanting route that winds northwards from the heart of Portugal, with all the history, tradition and varied landscapes.

Overview

There are many pilgrim Ways of St James, all beating a path to the city of Santiago de Compostela. The Camino Portugues has recently experienced an upsurge in popularity and accounts for some 15% of the pilgrims who walk to the final resting place of the Apostle St James.

Camino Heritage

The Apostle James, The Greater, is thought to have landed in NW Spain and preached the message of modern christianity in what is today Galicia and Northern Portugal. Shortly after in 40 A.D. he returned to Jerusalem and was soon martyred. His loyal followers returned his body to the Iberian Peninsula for burial in Libredon. Nearly 800 years passed before the rediscovery of the tomb of Saint James. Pilgrims soon started beating a trail to Santiago de Compostela, and in time the Way from the south became known as the Camino Portugues.

Art and History on one of Europe's oldest routesCaminho Portugues - Oporto, UNESCO World Heritage CityAncient tracks and paths through woodland, farmland, villages, towns and historic cities.One of Europe's oldest routes, the Camino Portugues is actually a direct descendent of the major Roman roads that formed the backbone of the Roman Empire. The Via XIX, built in the 1st century AD under the Emperor Augustus, continued to be in use until recent times and has seen the comings and goings of soldiers, travellers and pilgrims proceeding from towns and cities all over the country.

This international route played a fundamental role in facilitating the interchange of cultural developments during the centuries. As such, the Portuguese Way has a wealth of old stone bridges, manor houses, country chapels, and historic cities dotting the route all the way to the tomb of Saint James.

The Friendly Camino

The Camino Portugues has sometimes been referred to as "The Friendly Camino". One of the hallmarks of the pilgrimage to Santiago is the warm reception given to the pilgrim, but on the Camino Portugues that hospitality is proverbial.

Since the Middle Ages the Portuguese monarchy and nobility created one of the most comprehensive network of hospitals to help all pilgrims on their way to Santiago. In the ferry over the River Miño, pilgrims were allowed to "cross without payment" after a privilege granted by Queen Theresa of Portugal in 1123.

The welcoming tradition of the Camino Portugues is still alive today thanks to the inhabitants of the towns scattered along the Way. The Portuguese people feel a special devotion to Saint James and are known for their assistance to those travelling to Santiago on this ancient pilgrimage route.

Delicious gastronomy and wines

World-famous Portuguese and Spanish wines on the Camino PortuguesWith an abundance of small inns along the way, pilgrims walking the Camino de Portugues have enjoyed the local food and wine for over a thousand years.

Every village and town in the Camino has a variety of bars and restaurants, so there will be plenty of opportunities for you to enjoy the delicious gastronomy and the variety of world-famous Portuguese and Spanish wines. Many food and wine festivals take place through the year and you may be lucky enough to encounter one on your Way.

For further details about this tour, click the tabs The Itinerary, The Accommodation, and Things To Do, or just contact us. We will be happy to create a personalised itinerary designed specifically around your needs and interests.

Itinerary

Our most popular 12-day itinerary starts at O Porto, Portugal's most charming city. We are also regularly requested to organise the popular Galician section of the route that covers the final stages of the Camino Portugues from Tui (approx. 115 kms / 71 miles), which then makes you eligible for the Compostela pilgrim's certificate. We can tailor a longer or shorter tour designed specifically to suit your time frame and walking ability.

Day 1 - Porto - Vila do Conde, 22 or 27kms

The picturesque centre overlooks the river Douro and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of course it is also renowned for its Port wine, and you won't regret taking some time to visit a nearby Port house.

We loved the coastal route over the inland start from Porto. The Atlantic air is bracing in all weathers, and you have the chance to feel the sandy beaches under your bare feet to really make this feel like a fresh start! Choose to walk from the centre of the town along the attractive historic espanade, or catch a metro to shorten the walk from the outskits of the city.

Day 2 - Vila do Conde - Pereira, 23.3kms

Turning away from the coast the route soon rejoins the main Camino Portugues at Arcos by the small medieval bridge. A mix of quiet country lanes, lead you from village to village through a mix of shaded woodland and cultivated small holdings.

Day 3 - Pereira - Balugaes, 24kms

The Portuguese Way of St James - Traditional Barcelos cockerel. Today's route takes you through the pretty town of Barcelos, famed throughout Portugal for its weekly Thursday market. The brightly coloured Barcelos cockerel often portrayed in ceramic form represents a famous Camino miracle tale! The Pilgrim's route follows a valley landscape patterned by cultivated plots, much of whose produce goes to the local market. Small stream crossings with deliciously cool tree lined arcades, help keep the walker cool.

Day 4 - Balugaes - Ponte de Lima, 17.8kms

Quiet country lanes and dusty tracks climb through a shaded native woodland to a pass which also serves as a watershed between the Cavado and Lima river valleys. The latter gives its name to the stunning town of Ponte de Lima, with its impressive Roman bridge. Your gradual quiet descent into the pretty Lima valley gives you ample time to take in the fertile grounds that produce some of the tastiest fruit as well the famed grapes for making Vinho Verde.

Day 5 - Ponte de Lima - Sao Bento da Porta Aberta, 22.6kms

A day of mixed offerings; on the one hand this is probably the day with most off road walking and plenty of shade, however that joy is tempered by the fact that you have to climb nearly 500m through the pass of Portela Grande.

Day 6 - Sao Bento - Tui, 14.3 kms

Another delightful day of quiet lanes and earthen tracks that wind gently downhill into the River Minho valley. The historic border town of Valença is well a worth a visit before crossing the mighty Miño (in Spanish) into the pretty Spanish hilltop town of Tui. Don't forget to adjust your watches by an hour!

Day 7 - Tui - Porriño, 16.2kms

The popular starting point of the Portuguese Way in Galicia, the Camino from Tui and follows woodland paths before entering the mining region of O Porriño, where colossal granite quarries are to be seen in the distance.

Day 8 - Porriño - Redondela, 14.9kms

Walking on paths which are more than two millennia old, today's Camino follows parts of the old Roman road. A day of gentle climbs and descents ends at the small town of Redondela, famous for one of Galicia's most colourful Corpus Christi festivals.

Day 9 - Redondela - Pontevedra, 18.2kms

Today's highlights include the medieval bridge of Ponte Sampaio, where Napoleon's army was ultimately defeated in Galicia, and the city of Pontevedra, home to the famous Pilgrim Virgin's church, whose floor forms the shape of a scallop shell!

Day 10 - Pontevedra - Caldas de Reis, 23.1kms

A pleasant walk through woodland and farmland finishing at the popular spa town of Caldas de Reis, where you will find the only church in Galicia consecrated to Saint Thomas of Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury and Chancellor of England in the 12th century.

Day 11 - Caldas de Reis - Padrón, 18.1 kms

Today's walk is considered by many as one of the most beautiful on the whole route. After walking the green Bermaña and Valga valleys we reach the town of Padrón, where according to tradition the Apostle St James first landed on Galician soil. The parish church has the legendary Pedrón, the stone where St James' boat was moored.

Day 12 - Padrón - Santiago, 24.9kms

The final stage of the Camino Portugues, walking through woodland before climbing to reach your destination: Santiago de Compostela, a UNESCO World Heritage city.

Highlights

Millions of people of all ages and walks of life have been walking the Camino Portugues for over 1000 years

The main highlights of our independent walk of the Camino Portugues are:

  • Walking one of Europe's oldest cultural routes
  • Delicious Portuguese and Galician gastronomy and wines
  • Santiago de Compostela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

As an addition to the tour, we would recommend you the following optional extras:

Porto

Whizz round the sights in a chauffeur driven tuk tuk and stop off to sample the famous port wines of this lovely city.

Santiago de Compostela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Galicia's capital city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, Santiago de Compostela is the destination of the Way of St James pilgrimage, one of the major themes of medieval history in Europe.

From Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, millions have walked to Santiago along many Caminos. Around the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, a masterpiece of Romanesque art, the city boasts a magnificent old town worthy of one of Christianity's greatest holy cities.

Guided Tour of Santiago de Compostela

As an optional extra, we can arrange a guided tour of the city's extraordinary ensemble of distinguished monuments grouped around the tomb of St James the Greater, the destination of all the roads of Christianity's greatest pilgrimage.

Day Excursion to Finisterre

As an add on to the tour, we can take you to Cape Finisterre in the Atlantic Coast, the final destination for many pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. We also organise four day walks on the Camino de Finisterre. A walk on the beach, searching for your own scallop shell makes for a superb ending to the whole experience.

Food & Drink

For any traveller on the Camino, nourishment and refreshment is an important part of the daily routine. There are many places to enjoy good local dishes to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. We also aim to cater for those with particular dietary needs.

Some of the walks may have few places to stop for food and drink, so check your information pack before you set out and take plenty of water and a picnic.

The local bars and cafes offer light snacks, seasonal plates of freshly prepared food, tapas and refreshments. As you pass through the regions you will encounter local specialities - often of the variety that best sustains a weary, hungry traveller.

All our itineraries are booked for Bed and Breakfast. Half board with dinner is possible too, but these set dinners can become repetitive, featuring similar dishes each night. We encourage you to eat out and try a wider range of local specialities.

Breakfast

Where available we always order a full breakfast spread for our clients. But breakfast does vary between establishments - from just a light pastry and hot drink to a full buffet spread. Whether you have a light or substantial offering, you can top up mid-morning at a cafe on the route. The Spanish habit is to have breakfast between 10 and 11 when cafes and bars fill with locals having their desayuno.

Lunch

Lunches on the Camino are often taken as picnics, and most places have local shops selling items of fresh local produce to purchased each morning before you set out on the trail. Certain lodgings will offer pre-ordered packed lunches. Or check your guide and plan to stop off in a cafe-bar or restaurant on the Way.

Dinner

Lunches on the Camino are often taken as picnics, and most places have local shops selling items of fresh local produce to purchased each morning before you set out on the trail. Certain lodgings will offer pre-ordered packed lunches. Or check your guide and plan to stop off in a cafe-bar or restaurant on the Way.

Pilgrim Menus

Many of our lodgings offer 3 course set menus with water, bread and often a glass of wine for just a few euros. These are advertised locally as "Pilgrim Menus" and available pretty much everywhere along the route. You'll notice that there are staple common dishes as well as regional recipes according to the season.

Hydration

Hydration is essential — carry between 1.5 and 3l of drinking water, depending on the season, temperatures and distance you plan to cover. Keep a sugary and salty snack handy in your pocket or daypack - this will give you that little extra burst of energy to keep you going.

Merienda

Mid morning/afternoon snacks known as "merienda" are the perfect way to sustain yourself on the Way. Especially if you are not used to the later meal times which are the norm across Spain. It is customary for Spanish people to have a mid-morning stop for breakfast and late afternoon for a bite to keep them going until the traditional late dinner.

Gastronomy

The larger towns and cities of the Camino have a variety of lively plazas with bars and restaurants, so there will be plenty of opportunities for you to enjoy a wider range of local gastronomy and a variety of local and world-famous wines.

You can choose to upgrade your accommodation standard, (available in a few selected places along the route), where you can enjoy a la carte menu and fine dining in the hotel restaurant.

Picnic Shopping

Many people enjoy shopping for lunch items and snacks in the local food shops each day. You'll find many little stores offering local produce, fruits and vegetables, cheeses and cured meats, fresh local baked goods - ideal for making your daily picnic for the daily walk. On certain days, Markets also make an appearance in most villages and towns. Some of our lodgings will provide a picnic lunch by request.

Local Wines

Both Spain & Portugal have a great wine making culture. All of the regions you cross produce their own wines (red and white), cervezas (light beer), and licores (strong spirits). For those looking for non-alcoholic drinks have plenty of choices as well.

Accommodation

Hand-picked comfortable, small establishments with high levels of personal service

We believe that our high level of personal service and customer care offers the best in the local food, culture and history.

Hand-picked and well known to us, we usually choose comfortable, small, family run establishments on the Camino. Your accommodation will include a variety of family run traditional farmhouses, historic homes, and two and three star hotels. All rooms have en-suite facilities.

If your budget allows, we can suggest some superb accommodation upgrades, as we often work with the top-end establishments on the Camino. Some of these require a short transfer off the Camino to a rural setting. We think you'll find them very charming and comfortable.

We provide fully insured and secure luggage transfers. We move your baggage from one accommodation to the next as you walk. This daily service is organised so that all you have to worry about is carrying a day sack with your essential items.

Baggage Transfers

We quote all our journeys with bag transfers as standard. We heartily recommend that you book your main piece of luggage to be transferred between accommodations. It helps your enjoyment of the Way and keeps unnecessary stress off your back and joints.

We work with dedicated professional companies who do this essential work day in, day out. The system works very well, with bags picked up between 8 and 8:30 am and delivered to the next hotel between 2 and 4 pm.

This daily service is organised so that all you have to worry about is carrying a day sack with your essential items.

If you do wish to carry your own bag that is fine with us. And you can always call us and request to add on the service if you change your mind.

Fly into Porto. Transfer by air and rail from Spain and Portugal.

Customer Reviews

Listed below are some reviews from other customers who have already undertaken this tour with Walk the Camino.

  • Review by William, Canada
    Did I enjoy my holiday? Absolutely - best ever and the organisation was very well done. The food was mostly great, a couple of places where there was only coffee and croissant for breakfast could be upped a bit ( juice, bread, something additional for calories, restaurants etc were fine and local cuisine was mostly very good - no complaints. Baggage Transfers were well done, timely, no hassles
    I’d most definitely recommend Walk the Camino - very helpful in planning the itinerary and most pleasant to deal with, made the whole experience better.
  • Review by Terence, Australia
    First Rate organisation which will be highly recommended. Great value for money The best accommodation was Mercearia de Vila at Ponte de Lima, closely followed by Casa de Capela at Balugaues. Casas do Rio where we were treated like kings and what a fantastic location. The Parador de Tui was a great spot. We enjoyed the convenience of an apartment at Apartamentos Alvear Suites. Most of the food supplied was okay and was of good quality. We were generally happy with what we were given and it fuelled us up for the days walk, The pack was well thought out - keep up the good work

  • Review by Ross, USA
    Yes, we really enjoyed our Camino, luck with the weather was with us all the way, and we arrived well prepared and well-organised thanks to Walk the Camino. A very positive experience all round for us, we felt all along the way that we were being helped by a professional team who knew their business. The peace of mind knowing we had a contact just a phone call away was very reassuring.

    Mostly very positive experiences with the accommodation, the last two night in Santiago were dreadful, the hotel sits above two or three bars that partied like the Spanish do until 5 or 6 am, with no air-con we had to try and sleep with the windows open, a terrible experience, although they did pre-pack us a takeaway breakfast which we appreciated with the early train start. Otherwise, most of the hotels were pretty comfortable.

    We really enjoyed the Casa Da Meixida hotel, despite being way out of Padron, it was friendly, clean, staffed by a lovely couple and had a big room with a spa bath attached. We also like the Inlima Hotel in Ponte De Lima, great staff, big room with a balcony and bath. At the Casa de Capela in Rubiaes, after our longest day, we arrived to find that we should have pre-booked dinner, as the rest of the guests had done, luckily the young lady working took us into town to a local restaurant, we probably would have stayed and dined at the hotel otherwise. At the Balneario Acuna in Caldas de Rei we liked the pool but the room was very poor, no air con and no window screens made for a poor nights sleep.

    We booked a bed and breakfast package. On the breakfasts, they were pretty patchy here and there, at Oia there was almost nothing, in Pontevedra they reluctantly serve up a slice of toast and a small shot glass of orange juice in the café attached to the hotel, the suites in Redondela instructed us to ask for our breakfast in a nearby café, which we never found.

    COMMENT The Redondela cafe is on the ground floor, across the road to the rear of the building. We do point out the breakfasts can vary significantly, as some places follow the Spanish tradition of stopping for breakfast mid morning.

    On the positive side, Casas do Rio was terrific, even encouraging us to take a "pilgrims" lunch from the generous buffet, much appreciated. The baggage transfer was excellent, we only had one hiccup, arriving in Vigo our bags were not at the hotel, the reception desk thought that as it was 4 pm and they had not arrived by then, they probably had gone to the wrong hotel. You responded to our mayday call immediately, tracked them down, and they arrived within 15 minutes, whether they were mislaid or just late we never knew.

    The information pack was pretty comprehensive, we were missing a coupon for a night in Santiago and one printed directions map for another hotel, an email back to the Walk the Camino company headquarters resolved that issue with them arriving by email almost instantly. We found we didn’t ever need to use the coupons, nobody ever asked for one, (maybe they are a back up in case of booking confusion). We found the guidebook pretty useless and didn’t bother carrying it on most days, we came across another guide book, " A survival guide to the Portuguese Camino in Galicia" by Jeffery Barrera, it was way better with much more interesting information about the history, culture and general information of where we were walking.

    Our couple of suggestions would be that the walk from Vila do Conde to Arcos needs some tweaking, we arrived in Arcos at 11 am. We thought that with fresh legs a longer walk, perhaps up to Rates or even further would have been better. Walking into and out of Vigo is long, hot, tiring slog so we wondered if bypassing would have been nicer.

    Yes, all in all, a very positive experience, we felt all along the way we were being helped by a professional team who knew their business. We will be asking for some information on a Japanese walk.
  • Review by Stephen, UK
    Very much enjoyed it and didn’t want it to finish so soon (or so it seemed). The Portuguese route was much more scenic than I have imagined, even after watching several YouTube clips on the route. It was a delight, and the Portuguese people were so friendly and welcoming.

    All the hotels were prepared for my arrival, without that moment when your heart is in your mouth waiting for them to find your name on their long list of guests arriving that day. The instructions on how to get to the hotel were clear and easy to follow. A very minor point: None of the hotels seemed interested in collecting your printed vouchers.

    I needed to telephone the hotel in Redondela to send for transport as the hotel was out of town. Unfortunately, the receptionist’s english was as poor as my Spanish. So I telephoned you for assistance and you responded straight away and the matter was resolved within minutes, just enough time for me to finish my can of cola. Well done, and much appreciated after a long day of hard walking and all you wanted was just to rest and soak your feet.

    The choice of hotels were mainly good and better than average apart from a couple which ’let the side down’ a bit.

    The best ones were:-
    Casa do Pinheiro (Ponte de Lima). After you discovered that the hotel frontage was just a door with a small sign over it. What a surprise inside, with the pool and garden behind it.
    Torre do Xudeo (Tui). Beautifully renovated old stone building with thick walls and charming features. Wooden staircases and rustic breakfast room.
    Casa de Capela (Cossourado Pecene, nr Rubiaes). Modern renovation with lovely lawn and pool. A most charming and delightful host. Loved it.
    Pazo Torres de Agrelo (Redondela). What a splendid country mansion that was full of character and wonderfully maintained. Polished wooden floorboards and decorative tiles on some walls.

    The least desireable ones:-
    Hotel Rey Ferdinand (Santiago de Compostela). I realise that this was a last minute change of hotels as the town was full that weekend, but really! Please keep it off your list. The only good point about this hotel was its proximity to the train station where I caught the airport bus for €3.00. I didn’t even bother to have breakfast there. THIS HOTEL IS NOT ACTUALLY ON OUR LIST - CHOICE WAS EXTREMELY LIMITED DUE TO A BIG CONFERENCE IN TOWN.

    The just acceptable:
    Hotel O Cruceiro (Caldas de Rei). The receptionist was disinterested and the room was basic. There was only one waiter for the whole of a crowded restaurant. It reflected the town which wasn’t that good either.

    My booking was B&B only. However, I must say that I had a fantastic meal in Pazo Torres de Agrelo in Redondela. I had seafood stew for starter, and Snuff(?) fish for mains. A whole bottle of red wine and water were included for €25.00. I was supposed to let the staff know by 5pm to book the dinner, but I didn’t arrive there till 5:45pm. The lady fitted me in without fuss and I was surprised by the quality of food and the wine which was included.

    Hotel Chef Rivera in Padron was another delight. The hotel owner, Chef Rivera, greeted me himself, and cooked a wonderful dinner of Mushroom Cream appetiser, followed by fish pie (empanada) for starter, and Hake for main, cooked just right. And served by the Chef’s charming wife.

    If you can suggest to your pilgrims to eat at these two hotels, or better still to prebook the dinners there, it would be wonderful.

    Other thoughts on food :
    Portuguese restaurants are slightly more pricey than in Spain possibly because of difficulties in finding the Menu for peregrinos. However, I liked their cuisine.
    I would have liked to have dined in Casa do Capela, which had limited spaces in their restaurant. As they couldn’t fit me and a few others in, the owners took about 7 of us in two cars to nearby Cossourado village, and the restaurant provided transport for us to return to Casa. The pilgrims that managed to eat at the Casa said the food was lovely.

    The John Brierley book was useful, and once again, I find his style of contents difficult to follow although the amount of information is plentiful. I realise that very few other alternatives are available for this route at present, and one other publication I bought is perhaps even less useful.

    Please warn other pilgrims of the rough cobbled paths (lots and lots of them) in Portugal, which are extremely unkind to feet. Most peregrinos I talked to agreed on this point.
  • Review by Jim & Gail, Canada
    We enjoyed the walk and had great weather. We had done several long distance walks and this was probably the easiest in terms of walking challenge.
    People were friendly and the Way was well marked. We were very happy with the organisation. The bags arrived at each location each day and all our plans worked out well. The accommodations were well located mostly in centres of towns close to restaurants and sites to see. The restaurant in Pedro Furada was interesting but noisy. Our worst accommodation was the Parque Hotel in Porrino. All the rest of the accommodations were great and very welcoming.

    The food along the way was good although one of us is a vegetarian and getting vegetarian meals with some variety is challenging in Portugal and Spain. Most of the restaurants were very good at trying to make up something when they were asked. Not much you can do for that.

    Baggage Transfers very smooth no issues what so ever. Good information pack
    Would there be any option for the customers to have choices in accommodation so that they could choose between a couple options?
  • Review by Ched, Canada
    Truly Loved the place, people, food, and the whole process of the Caminho. Great locations for the hotels we stayed in. Luggage was always at the hotels before us. Great variety of hotels. Casa del Rios was the real jewel. Beautiful spot with very gracious hosts. Loved Casa de Capela as well. The Hotel Parque Porrino was the only dog. It could have been in CSI Espana.

    COMMENT - PORRINO HAS A LIMITED CHOICE OF HOTELS. WE NOWHAVE AN OUT OF TOWN ALTERNATIVE OR WE OFFER CLIENTS THE OPTION OF 2 NIGHTS IN TUI WITH TRANSFERS DUE TO THIS.

    There was always plenty to chose from for breakfast. Coffee was always a little different in each hotel. Some were better than others, but overall we eat very well. And we are big into food. Baggage Transfers- Swiss Precision. When we left Porto we had a little apprehension, but at 08:31 the van pulled up and we saw our bags leaving before us. Never a doubt after that. Better preparation for the starting point. More maps of the day’s journey. More accurate distances between towns. Our hike from Vila da Conde to Barcelos was a real killer for day 2. Thanks for an amazing trip. We really loved it and we’re very happy with your team.
  • Review by Ross, Australia
    Camino de Santiago - Start at Cruz de Ferro. I enjoyed this holiday very much and found that everything was very well organized and there were no hiccups along the way. You did a fantastic job of organizing this trip and made appropriate recommendations where we should stay each night after consideration of the distances and difficulty of each day’s walking. I rate the organization as "Excellent".

    Our Hotels were clean and comfortable. The food was consistently excellent.
    The bag transfers went without any hitches. The Information Pack provided all the information needed, but some of the Kilometer distances may have been a bit off, however.

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WalkTheCamino.com is the Camino de Santiago website for Walk the Camino, a specialist organiser of tailor-made walks and tours on the Camino de Santiago and other parts of Spain.

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