The Camino Portugues is one of the easiest routes on the Camino de Santiago. In Portugal, two routes of the Camino de Santiago are possible: The Central Camino Portugues and the Camino Portugues Coastal route.
Both are equally simple, they run at low altitude and start on mainly flat roads. Therefore, the itineraries of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago are the most recommended routes for cycling or for people who are not so physically fit.
In this article of our blog on the Camino de Santiago, we want to provide all the information on the Camino Portugues, both on the route that runs through the centre of Portugal and on the path along the coast. The two routes are interesting and if you have time, it is possible to start on the Central Camino and then deviate along the Coastal Camino.
The Central Camino Portugues to Santiago
The Central Camino Portugues as its name indicates is the itinerary that crosses the interior of Portugal, starting from Lisbon. This route goes into Spain through the town of Tui and from there, continues to Santiago de Compostela.
Among the pilgrim itineraries, the Central Camino Portugues is the second most popular pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, after the Camino Frances. Last year, 21% of the people who arrived at the tomb of the Apostle did so following this route.
This fact is surprising, given that the Camino de Santiago Portuguese is one of the last pilgrim path to be consolidated and also one of the last to be recovered. If you want to know more about the history of the Camino Portugues you can check our article on the origin and evolution of the pilgrim routes.
Stages on the Central Camino de Santiago Portugues
In total, the Central Camino de Santiago Portugues is 618.9 kilometres in length. It can be divided into 28 stages. However, given that some of these stages do not reach 20 kilometres and that the route lacks slopes, those pilgrims who are in good physical shape could reach Compostela in 22 days.
This Jacobean path crosses 8 districts of Portugal and 3 Galician provinces. During the tour, the Pilgrims traverse spectacular forests, archaeological sites and have the opportunity to visit medieval cities and rich architectural heritage.
Like other pilgrim routes, the Camino de Santiago Portugues is wrapped in legends and miracles. One of the best-known miracles is the legend of the Barcelos Rooster, a town that we cross on stage 19 of the route. Another story that accompanies the Pilgrim in his journey through Portugal is that of Queen Isabel, known as the Holy Queen.
From where to start the Central Camino Portugues
The official Portuguese route begins at Lisbon Cathedral. However, some pilgrims who have time begin their journey in Faro, in the south of Portugal, through this way, going along all the Atlantic side of the Iberian Peninsula, to Santiago de Compostela.
Since there are few pilgrims who have so much time, most decide to start from localities closer to the Cathedral of Compostela: Santarém, Coimbra, Oporto or Tui. In our article on how long do you need to do Camino de Santiago, you can get more information about the number of days you need to complete the Camino Portugues from these locations.
The most popular section of the Camino de Santiago in Portugal is the last 100 kilometres of the route. The route that goes from Tui to Santiago de Compostela. In this publication of our blog, we will tell you all the details about the last 100 kilometres of the Portuguese route.
Hostels and hotels on the Central Camino Portuges
The network of accommodation on the Camino Central Portugues is considerably less developed than the Camino Frances. In fact, on the stages that separate Lisbon from Oporto, there are no shelters like those that can be found in other routes of the Camino de Santiago.
Until reaching Oporto, you can stay in hotels, cottages or in fire barracks, parish houses or youth inns. From Oporto, the lodging network improves considerably.
Signalling on the Central Camino Portugues
Signalling, as is the case with accommodation, is somewhat more deficient in the early stages and improves from Oporto. However, it is not until your arrival in Tui, at the entrance to Galicia, when the first stone markers begin to appear indicating the distance to Santiago de Compostela.
Other services on the route
One of the advantages of the Central Camino Portugues is that it constantly crosses towns with a wide range of services: local groceries, supermarkets, bars, restaurants, etc. There are very few desolate stages in which the pilgrim has to carry food in his backpack to cope with the route.
Inconveniences on the Central Camino Portugues to Santiago
The main drawback of this route on the Camino de Santiago Portugues is the constant presence of asphalt on the route. Many kilometres are made over asphalt, mostly on secondary roads without a hard shoulder.
It is therefore important to pay attention to traffic during travel to avoid accidents. In Portugal, however, it is quite common for older people to also use the roadside to walk from one locality to another, so Portuguese drivers tend to circulate with caution.
At the end of the tour is the national N-550 road that links La Coruña and Vigo. This road crosses the Camino de Santiago constantly, forcing the pilgrims to cross it on several occasions in the same stage.
To this, it is necessary to add that much of the route is carried out in parallel to the railway tracks and on several occasions crosses them. On these crossings, you also have to be cautious, as many of them do not have barriers.
What to see on the Central Camino Portugues
The Central Camino Portugues, like all the routes of the Camino de Santiago, has many wonders along its route. Here are some of the points of interest you will find on this route:
- Cities of interest: the romantic Lisbon (stage 1), the gothic Santarém (stage 4), the student city of Coímbra (stage 10), Oporto, the city of bridges (stage 16), Pontevedra (stage 26) y Santiago de Compostela (stage 28).
- Charming places: Golegã, the birthplace of José Saramago (stage 5), the temple city of Tomar (stage 6), the Roman town of Rabaçal (stage 9), the beautiful San Pedro de Rates (stage 19), the magical Barcelos (stage 19) or the historic Tui (stage 22) and Padrón, where its famous peppers await you (stage 26).
- The ruins of Conímbriga (stage 9).
- Bridges and roman roads.
- Leafy forests.
- The views over the Galician estuaries.
Camino Portugues coastal route
The Camino Portugues coastal route to Santiago is the route that starts in Oporto and goes to Compostela bordering the Portuguese coast. This itinerary enters Spain by A Guarda and merges with the Central route in Redondela.
Of all the pilgrim itineraries, the Camino de Santiago that follows the Portuguese coast is one of the least popular. Last year, less than 5% of the pilgrims who arrived in Compostela did so following this route.
Stages on the Camino de Santiago Portugues coastal route
The Portuguese route along the coast consists of 265 kilometres if you take the Metro to Matosinhos to avoid the cumbersome departure from Oporto. Or 280 km If you start walking from the Cathedral of Oporto.
The route can be divided into 12 stages of approximately 20 kilometres each. The ease of the route allows merging some stages so that people who have good physical condition could complete the coastal route in 10 days or less. Below we provide a stage plan of the Camino Portugues coastal route:
- Stage 1: from Oporto to Póvoa de Varzim (30,6 km.)
- Stage 2: from Póvoa de Varzim to Esposende (20,2 km.)
- Stage 3: from Esposende to Viana do Castelo (25,1 km.)
- Stage 4: from Viana do Castelo to Ancora (18,3 km.)
- Stage 5: from Ancora to Guarda (12,8 km.)
- Stage 6: from Guarda to Baiona (30,7 km.)
- Stage 7: from Baiona to Vigo (25,3 km.)
- Stage 8: from Vigo to Redondela (16 km.)
- Stage 9 (Camino Portugues Central): from Redondela to Pontevedra (19,2 km.)
- Stage 10 (Camino Portugues Central): from Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis (23 km.)
- Stage 11 (Camino Portugues Central): from Caldas de Reis to Padrón (18,6 km.)
- Stage 12 (Camino Portugues Central): from Padrón to Santiago de Compostela (25,2 km.)
The marvels of the Portuguese coastal route
This route on the Camino de Santiago crosses three districts of Portugal and two Galician provinces. The pilgrimage on this itinerary is carried out surrounded by an extraordinary environment, accompanied by the beauty of the northern Portuguese Coast and its magnificent cliffs.
This route also features enigmatic monasteries and amazing legends. And, like the Camino Central Portugues, it ends with magnificent views over the Galician estuary. In this article on the routes on the Camino de Santiago along the coast we give you more details about the wonders that this route hides.
Accommodation on the Camino Portugues coastal route
The network of accommodation on the Camino Portugues coastal route is pretty good. The difficulty of this route lies in deciding whether to stay in the hostels on the Camino de Santiago, usually somewhat farther away from the coast or to be seduced by the accommodation of the charming seaside villages that cross this road.
Signalling on the Camino Portugues coastal route to Santiago
Signposting on the Camino de Santiago on the Portuguese coastal route is more than good enough. Even if the path does not have any type of signalling, it would be impossible to get lost following this route, as it runs all the time bordering the coast.
Other services on the coastal route
The coast of Portugal is quite touristy and since this Camino de Santiago runs parallel to it, the pilgrim will go through a succession of seafaring villas, some with a traditional air and others with a much more touristy air, but all of them with a wide range of services.
Inconveniences on the Camino Portugues coastal route
There are few drawbacks that the pilgrims will find on this route. The only drawback is perhaps the low influx of pilgrims who travel on this Camino. Therefore, those people who go looking for the liveliness of the Camino Frances could be disappointed, because they will find many fewer travelling companions.
What to see on the Camino Portugues coastal route
If you follow the Camino Portugues coastal route, you can enjoy the following places of interest:
- Cities of interest: Oporto and its bridges (stage 1), Vigo (stage 7), Pontevedra (stage 10) y Santiago de Compostela (stage 12).
- The ruins of Castro Sao Paio (stage 1).
- The Bird Reserve in Mindelo (stage 1).
- Numerous sandbanks and beaches.
- Places with historic interest: Castelo do Neiva (stage 3), Viana do Castelo (stage 3), the popular Baiona (stage 6) o Padrón (stage 11).
- The ferry crossing to Galicia, reaching A Guarda (stage 5).
- The Monastery of Santa María de Oia (stage 7).
- The views of the Cíes Islands (stage 7).
Why choose the Portuguese Camino de Santiago?
Of course, as we always tell you, all the routes on the Camino de Santiago have their wonders. Some of the reasons why the pilgrims decide to do the Portuguese Camino de Santiago, instead of taking another of the routes that run through the Iberian Peninsula are:
- This pilgrimage route allows you to discover both Portugal and northern Spain. Two countries on one tour.
- Crossing a border on foot or by bicycle is always interesting. However, if you do the Camino Frances from Saint Jean de Port You can also enjoy that experience.
- Portugal is far cheaper than Spain.
- The Camino Central crosses the main cities of Portugal.
- The two routes of the Camino de Santiago in Portugal are very simple and are especially advised to those who wish to go on a bicycle journey.
- They are interesting routes for those people who want to avoid the overcrowding on the final stages of the Camino Frances. Since the roads of Portugal, unlike those that run along the Iberian Peninsula, do not converge on the Camino Frances.
- The Camino Portugues coastal route is ideal for those who wish to enjoy walking by the sea, but who do not feel prepared to cope with the difficulty of Camino del Norte.
Encourage yourself to do the Camino de Santiago Portugues
These are some of the reasons why you choose one of the routes of the Camino de Santiago in Portugal. However, if you still have doubts about whether or not to embark on the adventure of doing the Camino de Santiago Portugues or any other route on the Camino de Santiago we recommend that you read our article about why you should go on a pilgrimage.
Remember that if you want to use a travel agency specializing in the Camino de Santiago, to accompany you on your pilgrimage, in Santiago Ways, we will be happy to help you. Call us or leave a comment.