About the Camino Portugues
The Camino Portugues, as its name suggests, is the pilgrim path that runs through Portugal from south to north, from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela. A total of 620 kilometres divided into 25 stages that vary from 15 to 32 kilometres in length.
Like most of the itineraries on the Camino de Santiago, the final destination is clear, the tomb of Santiago located in the heart of Galicia. However, the start can be made from any place on the Camino Portugues. Each pilgrim chooses from where to begin their pilgrimage, depending on the section they wish to visit, as well as their available time.
Lisbon is the official start of this itinerary towards Santiago de Compostela. However, Santarem, Coimbra, Oporto and Braga are also common starting points on the route, among the pilgrims who choose this path to travel the Camino de Santiago.
The old town of Tui, the gateway to Spain from Portugal, is another of the most common starting points. Given its proximity to the capital of Compostela, it is one of the favourite starting points among those who have a few days (a long weekend, for example), but wish to complete the tour visiting the tomb of the Apostle.
Between the two routes that cross through Portugal to reach Galicia, this is the most well-known and crowded. One could say that the Camino Portugues is the official route of the nation, the backbone of the network of Pilgrim’s paths in Portugal. The other great alternative is known as the coastal Camino Portugues, and this enters Galician territory at A Guarda.
The Camino Portugues is one of the most popular alternatives among all the options that the Camino de Santiago offers us in general. It is for several reasons that are precisely what we want to explain in this article. Above all, we want to give you the opportunity to know that, surely, the route from Portugal can be one of the best alternatives if you what you want is to enjoy an unforgettable experience in a privileged environment.
Why choose the Camino Portugues?
1.-The Camino de Santiago Portugues is the second most chosen by pilgrims. However, it is not a road that is very crowded, although it is possible to make new friends and enjoy great experiences with new people. So then, this Portuguese route has a perfect balance between the number of pilgrims who travel and the conditions it possesses.
2.-The Camino Portugues to Santiago de Compostela begins its journey in Lisbon normally. However, there is another alternative to complete the Camino along the coast. This increases our chances of experiencing our pilgrimage the way we would like it.
3.- It is blessed with a magnificent infrastructure. In fact, practically throughout the whole year, it has accommodation and services available, so it is very easy to organize the journey and complete with the best possible guarantees. This infrastructure is well-developed, especially in the Spanish part of the route.
4.-The Camino Portugues to Santiago is one of the alternatives within the Camino de Santiago that has fewer slopes. Therefore, it is an excellent alternative for beginners as well as for those people who require a less physically demanding route. We could say that the difficulty of the Camino Portugues is low.
5.-The landscapes of the Camino Portugues to Santiago are spectacular. It is one of the roads that has the greenest areas and that crosses more forests. If you are a nature lover it is, without doubt, your ideal route.
Information about the Camino Portugues
In this guide for the Camino Portugues, we should start by saying that this route is one of those that have experienced the greatest growth in recent years.
In addition to the reasons that we have previously shown, there are others that have to do with the exquisite gastronomy that is found along the route, as well as the historical enclaves that are encountered along the way.
In general, we could say that the Camino de Santiago Portugues has a special charm that comes from its past legend. The total road distance from Santiago from Portugal is 620 kilometres. They are distributed in 25 stages in the case of the pilgrims who decide to go on foot.
It is a route of medieval origin that accessed Galicia from Portugal. A part of its route is made on the banks of the River Miño amidst some places of remarkable beauty.
On its route, there are monuments that date back to Roman and medieval times (such as those of Sampaio, chapels, roads, etc.) and other historical evidence of more recent times that give us an idea of the authentic nature of this route.
The quietest routes on the Camino Portugues
Among the options available on the Camino Portugues to Santiago we want to talk about are the quietest routes. These routes are so successful that they have several of the reasons that we have commented on previously before and can be the beginning of points of special interest for many pilgrims.
At the same time, they are an easier option, and the best way to allow us to enjoy a full experience from start to finish.
The Camino Portugues route
On its complete route, The Camino Portugues crosses both Portuguese and Galician (Spanish) towns. In Portugal, it crosses 8 districts: Lisbon, Santarem, Leiria, Coimbra, Avero, Oporto, Braga and Viana do Castelo. In Spain, it crosses 3 Galician provinces: Pontevedra, A Coruña and Orense.
The Camino Portuguese is a different route in relation to the classic Camino Frances. On this route, the pilgrim does not have to cope with high altitudes, nor deal with complicated slopes as happens on The Camino Frances and on other itineraries that cross the Iberian Peninsula.
In the gentle run of The Camino Portugues, the pilgrim crosses spectacular forests across magical trails. You will find the ancient crossings that evoke the songs of the medieval troubadours and you will have as a travelling companion, countless churches and convents.
Several charming locations, such as Coimbra, Portugal, or Pontevedra, in Spain, will appear during the Pilgrim’s journey. Historic monuments and beautiful Roman or medieval-style bridges, such as Ponte Sampaio, complement the spectacular nature of the tour.
Map of the Camino Portugues to Santiago de Compostela
Next, we attach the map of the route from Portugal to Santiago so that you have all the information you need for your own use.
Profile of The Camino Portugues
As we have previously said, the Camino Portugues to Santiago is one of the easiest to do. The profile of the stages of the Camino Portugues to Santiago is fairly flat.
In its high altitude stretch, it does not reach above 500 metres. This means that it is a route especially suitable for those who want to start in the adventure and passion of the Camino de Santiago.
It is also a route especially suitable for elderly people or those who simply want to enjoy the scenery without worrying about the severity of the road. This is also true for those who travel by bicycle: It has no mountain passes and the slopes are never too inclined.
Some of the stretches are made in the midst of nature, although there are also urban sections where there are places of unparalleled beauty like Iria Flavia or Pontevedra.
As we have already pointed out, throughout its profile we will find good infrastructure and all the necessary equipment to be able to carry out our pilgrimage in perfect conditions related to safety and manoeuvrability.
The accommodation infrastructure and signage on the Camino Portugues is adequate, especially from Oporto. Given the variety of pilgrimage routes that were used throughout the centuries of consolidation of the Camino Portugues, the network of hostels is much less developed than in other itineraries, such as the Camino Frances.
The weak network of hostels is more evident in the stretch between Lisbon and Oporto. Nevertheless, this fact should not discourage the pilgrim to take this route, since both in this section and along the whole Camino Portugues, the path crosses very populated urban centres that guarantee the existence of lodgings and services to the walkers.
To this end, it must be added that since the Camino Portugues is much less crowded than other routes, such as the Camino Frances, the pressure on the network of accommodation is lower. The Pilgrim can enjoy the tour without needing an unnecessary race for their accommodation.
However, if you do not want to worry about this type of detail, please contact us and we will take care of the whole organization for you.
With regard to signs, as is the case with the hostel network, this improves from Oporto. In the Galician section, it is even better, where continuous pillars placed by the Xunta de Galicia indicate distances.
In the signalling of the Camino Portugues, the performance of associations such as Friends of the Camino de Santiago, both Portuguese and Galician, have been decisive to ensure a well-signposted main route.
A negative element of this route is that, at present, the road linking Vigo and A Coruña (N-550), imposes upon the route constantly and interferes on the Camino Portugues. This fact is compensated by the magnificent views over the Ria de Vigo.
To this end, it is necessary to mention the existence of several level crossings on the railway tracks that do not have barriers. The pilgrim should be extremely cautious around these points.
Stages of The Camino Portugues
Next, we detail what are the stages of the route from Portugal. With it, we hope you can get an idea of the great adventure that awaits you and how it will be organized.
How long will the Camino Portugues to Santiago take?
As we have indicated, the Camino Portugues to Santiago has 25 stages for those who do it walking, and 5 stages for those who do it on a bicycle.
It has a length of 620km that can be divided into several days. It depends on the route we choose from among the possibilities of the Camino Portugues to Santiago, so this route will vary in its duration.
In particular, the length of the Camino Portugues to Santiago from Lisbon lasts 5 nights and 6 days. The Camino Portugues from Santarem lasts 7 days and 8 nights.
The best time of the year to complete the Camino Portugues to Santiago de Compostela
First of all, it must be said that when it comes to doing the Camino Portugues to Santiago, there is no better time than another. However, there are differences between doing it, for example, in winter and doing it in summer. This is precisely what we want to talk to you about.
We also want to remind you that, thanks to Santiago Ways, it is possible to live your dream and have an unforgettable adventure at any time of the year.
Spring is a time of year where the most important handicap can be the weather. You also have to take into account possible allergies. In fact, the weather may be more unstable, although the entire Camino Portugues is well-conditioned for any eventuality.
On the other hand, one of the advantages of doing the Camino Portugues to Santiago at this time is that there will not be so many people and it will be easier to find accommodation.
In the whole of Spain, and also in the north, the summer weather usually is very stable. While in the rest of the country doing any trekking is crazy in summer, in the Portuguese and Galician area the temperatures will be milder in comparison. That will allow us to complete the Camino Portugues in a very easy way.
And while this is the time with the greatest number of pilgrims, remember that the Camino Portugues to Santiago is not crowded and during this time we will not have problems to find accommodation.
Autumn has a great advantage over the rest of the seasons: the enormous beauty of the landscapes of the Camino Portugues to Santiago during this time. However, climate instability will be greater than in summer. In spite of this, it is also a good time for completing the Camino Portugues to Santiago.
Winter can also be very beautiful in terms of the landscapes that we can find in Portugal and Galicia. The cold and the rain can be a problem, but either way, they will be part of the adventure and the charm of the Camino de Santiago Portugues.
Guide to the places that you cannot miss on the Camino Portugues to Santiago
On the Camino Portugues to Santiago, there are many places with a special charm. We want to reveal to you below some of the main ones, especially those that you cannot miss along your route.
Places of interest
The Cathedral of Santa Maria de Tui
To begin with, we must talk about the Cathedral of St. Maria de Tui. It is an imposing 12th-century construction that mixes the best of Romanesque and Gothic styles. To reach it you will have no problem because it is located at the highest point of the municipality of Tui.
The island of San Simon
It is on the island belonging to the Ria of Vigo and it was declared a site of cultural interest. It is a historical enclave that, during the Middle Ages, was a religious centre. Highlights include its connecting bridge and the chapel of San Pedro.
The river and garden of Caldas de Reyes
It is one of the most important sites of interest. It is a beautiful botanical garden on the banks of the River Umia.
The town of Padron is one of the most important points of this Camino Portugues to Santiago. In fact, this town has become famous especially for its peppers that, of course, we can taste and savour.
However, it has other charms that we cannot overlook and that have to do with its history, its culture and especially its great beauty.
Where to sleep – The best lodgings
Thanks to Santiago Ways you can have peace of mind in that you will be staying in hostels, hotels and rural houses with all the charm and the pampering that you deserve.
We take care of the smallest detail both in service quality and in other important aspects such as the surroundings of the chosen sites.
Where to eat – The best restaurants
Since it is also very important to eat well along the whole route we would like to provide a list of the best restaurants where you can taste some of the specialities of each site and each stage.
A mesa da Pedro: Located in Monteverdi, in this inn we will be able to taste the best specialities of the whole region with products of great quality.
El Argentina: In Cabamelas, we want to present this restaurant where we can recover strength with some of the most typical dishes and preparations from Galicia such as a good pot of Galician stew.
Finally, in Santiago de Compostela we recommend you visit the restaurant A Barrola, full of specialities prepared with ancient tradition and with the aim of honouring you when you arrive finally at your destination: Santiago de Compostela.
History of the Camino Portugues
The origin of the Camino Portugues, like other routes of the Camino de Santiago, goes back to the discovery of the remains of the Apostle James the Greater, in the year 813. While during the Middle Ages other routes, such as the Camino Frances, lived their moment of splendour, the Camino Portugues had a more hesitant start.
After the discovery of the remains by Bishop Teodomiro, from the Diocese of Iria Flavia, King Alfonso II ordered the construction of a church on the site where the discovery was made, where the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is erected today.
From that moment, many Christians from Europe and Portugal began their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Although the Camino Portugues was not the busiest road at that time since the 10th century some of the most devout parishioners began their journey along the Portuguese paths to reach Galician lands.
As in other routes of the Camino to Santiago, the route of the Camino Portugues was formed from ancient routes and paths that had been inherited from the Romanesque period. An example is the Via XIX, created in the 1st century A.D. to unite Braga and Astorga, and known as the itinerary of Antonio.
Origin of the Camino Portugues
This route began to be important in the 12th century. As we always remember, the different routes of the Camino de Santiago are not just pilgrimage routes. They were also important commercial routes that connected points of special vitality for trade and medieval production.
In this way, they also served to establish cultural exchanges between Portugal and Galicia after independence.
King Don Manuel I of Portugal was one of those who completed the Camino Portugues from Lisbon. In particular, he did it at the beginning of the 16th century.
Other historical figures were also added later and contributed to making this route one of the most important to understand the history of Europe. A route that, because of its charm, its gastronomy and the points of interest that it possesses you cannot afford to miss.
Consolidation of the Camino Portugues
The importance of the Camino Portugues becomes latent from the 12th century, after the independence of Portugal led by King Alfonso I. From that moment, a dense flow of people to the city of Compostela was established, without it being affected by the reforms and counter-reforms that crossed the country.
During the 12th and 13th centuries, the pilgrims who crossed the Portuguese lands to the north of the Iberian Peninsula did so for various reasons, beyond the religious ones. The geographical proximity between two neighbouring territories that belonged to different countries, one of them recently independent, generated economic and cultural links that increased the route’s importance.
It was in the 13th century that Afonso II (1186-1223), King of Portugal, completed this historic journey to Santiago de Compostela. The monarch was known as “The Fat One” because of a disease he suffered.
The Pilgrimage of Queen Elisabeth of Portugal in the 14th century is the milestone that just consolidated the Jacobean tradition in the Portuguese country. This visit and the pilgrimages of numerous other personages of the nobility, kings and clerics are those that allow us, at present, to have many documented reports of the history of the Camino Portugues.
The Pilgrimage of Saint Elisabeth of Portugal
In the year 1325, Saint Isabel of Portugal, wife of King Don Dinis, began her first journey to Santiago. The story tells that she stayed in Rua a Raina, in Lisbon, in a simple and popular hospital for pilgrims. Upon arrival in Compostela, the Queen offered before the altar of the Apostle James the Elder, her crown of Empress of the Holy Roman Empire.
A decade later, Queen Isabel of Portugal repeated the experience and began a second pilgrimage to Galician lands. On this occasion, when she arrived in Santiago de Compostela she stayed in modest accommodation in the old town. At present, the street where this lodging was located, bears her name.
Queen Elizabeth passed into history being known as the “Holy Queen”. His remains are to be found in Coimbra next to a pilgrim’s refrain, just as she had written before her death.
Other illustrious characters of the Camino Portugues
Another illustrious character who toured Portuguese lands to reach the heart of Galicia and which shows the country’s strong commitment to the Camino de Santiago was King Don Manuel I of Portugal, known as “The Lucky One”.
The monarch began his pilgrimage from Lisbon in the year 1502. It was this lucky king who ordered the installation of a lamp in the Cathedral of Santiago to light up both day and night.
Throughout the 16th century, other relevant personalities were also motivated to undertake the route to the tomb of the Apostle. Among them, the Jesuit Fathers, in the year 1543, who departed from Coimbra, or the painter and Portuguese architect Francisco de Holanda, in 1549.
In this century, the Camino Portugues welcomed one of the visits that would contribute most to the documentation of the route of the Camino de Santiago by Portuguese lands, the pilgrimage of Juan Bautista Confalonieri.
This Italian priest toured the route from Lisbon to Santiago on horseback, in the year 1594. His stories about the tour have been one of the most outstanding when it comes to documenting and elaborating guides on the Camino Portugues. Today, his text is preserved in the Vatican Library.
The 17th century saw other relevant clerics crossing the Portuguese causeway, such as the Bishop of Tui in 1604. The visit of Ponte de Lima in the year 1610, constitutes the testimony of the presence of the nobility on the Camino Portugues during this century.
The stories collected through the pilgrimages of monarchs, clergymen, nobles, as well as other relevant society figures of the time, constitute the proof of the long tradition that the Camino Portugues has. As living proof of its importance, the numerous chapels in the north of Portugal are conserved which honour the Apostle James the Elder.
Likewise, the numerous carvings, coats of arms and symbols that dot the Portuguese territory on their way to Galician lands are preserved, Coimbra being their most significant point.
The apparition of the Virgin of Fatima and its impact on the Camino de Santiago
The appearance of the Virgin of Fatima to three pastors in the 20th century had an important impact on the importance that was given in Portugal to the Camino de Santiago.
After the apparition of the Virgin, the Sanctuary is built in its homage. The prominence that the sanctuary of the Virgin of Fatima acquired in the nation was to the detriment of the tradition of walking to Santiago de Compostela. However, the flow to Santiago of Portuguese parishioners never ceased.
At present, and after the boom experienced by the Camino de Santiago from the 20th century, and with the declaration of the Camino Frances as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Camino Portugues has experienced its second moment of splendour. It is currently the second most travelled route of the Camino de Santiago.
The route has gained in international recognition. Today, it is frequented by both Portuguese and other pilgrims who travel from different parts of the world to visit it.
The legend of the Barcelos Rooster
The tradition of the Camino Portugues as a route to Santiago de Compostela is not only collected through stories of illustrious and architectural expressions or ornamentation. The legends and traditions associated with this route also attest to its importance in the development of the Jacobean culture.
An episode popularly is known as the case of the miracle of the Barcelos Rooster The legend takes place in Barcelos, a locality of the north of Portugal. Although on the Camino Frances, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, is the scene of the same legend.
According to popular testimonies, a Galician pilgrim embarked on the Camino de Santiago from Barcelos, a locality belonging to the Braga district. There he was accused of stealing money from a landowner and condemned to the gallows.
Before he was hanged, the Pilgrim asked as his last wish, to be brought before the judge. Upon the arrival of the pilgrim in front of the judge, he was eating a roast chicken (or rooster). The Galician pilgrim told the judge that he was innocent and that as proof of it, the rooster which he was eating would arise and sing.
The judge ignored the Pilgrim’s words and threw the dish aside. However, at the very moment, the defendant of the robbery was being hanged, the judge saw the rooster on his plate, stand up and sing.
Astonished and aware of his mistake, the judge ran to the gallows to try to make amends. When he got to the gallows, he discovered that the pilgrim was still alive thanks to a poorly made knot.
Legend has it that years after being saved from the gallows, the Galician pilgrim returned to Barcelos to spit on the cross of the Lord of the Rooster, which is currently preserved in the Archaeological Museum.
This legend has endowed the country with one of its most popular symbols, the Barcelos Rooster. This symbol is depicted in brightly coloured ceramic pieces in the very form of a rooster.
The Camino Portugues with Santiago Ways
Book with Santiago Ways for your next route. We take care of organizing all the details of the Camino. Accommodation in hotels, rural houses, stately homes and charming hostels.
In addition, we move your baggage between the different stages of the Camino Portugues. We also have a 24-hour hotline and emergency vehicle in case of an emergency.
You can read more information about the Camino Portugues here.
Ideal footwear for the Camino Portugues
Sections of the Camino Portugues
Opinions from users of the Camino Portugues
Here you can find the opinion of users who have completed the Camino de Santiago from Portugal with us and have fulfilled one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives.
Photos and videos of the Camino Portugues
The Camino de Santiago with Santiago Ways
Other Caminos de Santiago
- Camino de Santiago Frances
- Camino de Santiago Portugues
- Camino de Santiago Portugues coastal route
- Camino de Santiago del Norte
- Camino de Santiago de Finisterre
- Camino de Santiago Ingles
- Camino de Santiago Primitivo
- Camino Lebaniego
- The Way of Lighthouses
- The Via de la Plata
Here you can see all the stages of the Camino de Santiago.
In Santiago Ways, we will advise you on which route of the Camino de Santiago is the best fit for you.
Other ways to complete the Camino de Santiago
- The Camino de Santiago in an organized group
- The Camino de Santiago with a dog
- The Camino de Santiago on bike
- The Camino de Santiago as a couple
- The Camino de Santiago at Easter