The Portuguese Way or Caminho Portugués is a fantastic route for pilgrims looking for a more rural experience on the Camino de Santiago.
It starts in Lisbon, Portugal’s dazzling capital and home of several UNESCO sites, and takes pilgrims along stunning countryside, villages and towns such as Santarém, one of the last Moorish bastions in Portugal; Coimbra, famous for its UNESCO 13th century university; and gorgeous Porto with its colourful riverfront and home of Port wine. On the Portuguese Way route of the Camino de Santiago you will walk past terraced fields, lush forests vineyards and peaceful sleepy villages.
The last 100km of the Camino Portugués is the most popular section, starting in Tui, Galicia, just across the river from Portugal. Explore Tui’s beautiful old town, visit the hilltop cathedral and, if you have time before heading to Santiago, walk across the 19th century International Bridge to Valença do Minho, its Portuguese ‘twin’ town. Read more Portuguese Way Camino articles on our blog.
|Santa Iria de Azoia||26||The Portuguese Way starts in Lisbon, Portugal’s chic and buzzing capital on the Atlantic, also home to several UNESCO sites. Heading North towards Santarém, this first stage quickly leaves the urban landscape behind and enters the quiet farmland area known as ‘the Garden of Portugal’. You will be travelling along the Tejo river valley along a trail that also doubles as the Caminho de Fátima. The final point is Santarém, one of the last Moorish bastions in Portugal, sitting on a hillside over the Tejo valley.|
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|Golega||30||From Santarém, the Portuguese Way continues along the Tejo River, heading North-West towards Coimbra heading inland. This stretch of the trail passes beautiful little villages, farmland and olive groves in the heart of Portugal, across woodland and forests before reaching the city of Coimbra, once the capital of Portugal. Coimbra, with its impressive 13th century university (one of the oldest in the world), is the destination for this section.|
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|Mealhada||23||From Coimbra, the Portuguese route of the Camino de Santiago heads back towards the Atlantic coast with Porto as a destination. This section of the trail will take you across vineyards, valleys, woodlands and a stretch of Roman road to finish in the centre of Porto, where you can explore its UNESCO World Heritage city centre, stroll along the Riveira (riverfront) and taste some of the local delicacies, not forgetting about the city’s famous port wine.|
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|Fajozes||23||The fourth stage begins in beautiful Porto and finishes in the border town of Tui, in Galicia. This section of the Camino passes very different landscapes, leaving the Atlantic coast and heading to Santiago across the green countryside of northern Portugal. In this section you will also walk by many lovely little villages with magnificent chapels and churches and some Roman bridges. At the end of your trail, you will reach the Miño river and cross into Galicia to stop at Tui.|
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|O Porriño||16||The last 100km section of the Portuguese Way starts in the border town of Tui, with its pretty historic centre and fortress facing its counter-part in Portugal on the other side of the Miño river. This last section of the Portuguese Way to Santiago takes walkers across many wooded areas and small villages, but also reaches the coast in Arcade, famous for its oyster festival. Make sure you sample the Rías Baixas famous Albariño white wine. Another stop includes Padrón, home town of Galicia’s most famous poet: Rosalía de Castro.|
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The Camino Portugués, or Portuguese Way to Santiago, is a great option for pilgrims looking for a more rural walking experience on the Camino de Santiago, as it is not as busy or popular as the French Way. This route to Santiago has been traditionally the route chosen by pilgrims coming from Portugal, particularly from Lisbon and Porto, as those two cities are two of the main stages of the trail.
This trail takes walkers along old roads across forests, fields, villages, towns and historical cities on its wandering way heading North to Santiago de Compostela. The roads cross rivers and streams over beautiful medieval bridges. Along the way, you will pass countless signs of the Camino’s history, such as shrines, churches, convents and stone crosses, where the comforting image of Saint James is often present accompanying the pilgrim. The small roads along the Portuguese Way make it one the best Camino routes for cycling.
Although the pilgrimage from Portugal to Santiago is assumed to have already been in existence in the Late Middle Ages, it became even more popular after the country gained its independence in the mid-12th century. From that time on, the veneration of Saint James and the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, considered to be one of the hallmarks of identity of European culture, had far-reaching effects in Lusitanian lands. For centuries, the Portuguese people participated enthusiastically in this collective experience, and they had the good fortune to be consistently supported by monarchs, members of the nobility and the high clergy. From the 12th century up until the present day, much of Portugal’s road network has seen the comings and goings of pilgrims heading from towns and cities all over the country -Lisbon, Santarém, Coimbra, Porto, Braga, Chaves… to Santiago de Compostela. Their motives were strictly religious, yet thanks to this steady flow of movement between Portugal and Galicia, cultural, economic and intellectual exchange has also flourished.
The Portuguese Way in Galicia passes many historic spots: bridges, country chapels, sanctuaries, wayside crosses, manor houses and historic cities dot the route, starting on the banks of the Minho river, in the city of Tui, and ending at the tomb of Saint James. Although this surge of pilgrimages did not lead to the design and creation of a set of monuments all corresponding to a specific period -Romanesque or Baroque- in an integrated artistic space, the Portuguese Way in Galicia is rich in cultural heritage, extending beyond architecture and museums to become a privileged route with some of Galicia’s finest examples of art.
The Portuguese Way gently winds its way northwards, along ancient tracks and paths, through woodlands, farmlands, villages, towns and historic cities. The path crosses rivers and pretty bridges, some of Roman origin. The route is enriched by the presence of chapels, churches, convents, ‘petos de ánimas’ (stone altars usually found at crossroads) and ‘cruceiros’ (wayside crosses), where the comforting image of Santiago the Pilgrim is ever-present, to accompany and encourage pilgrims on their journey. One of the hallmarks of the pilgrimage to Santiago is the warm reception given to the pilgrim along the way. This practice was started in the Middle Ages by monks and clergymen serving the hospitals founded by monarchs and the nobility. This welcoming lay tradition is kept alive today by the inhabitants of the towns scattered along the Way and pilgrim hostels. Inhabitants of the towns and villages along the Portuguese Way feel a special devotion to Saint James and offer encouragement to those travelling to Compostela along the old paths of this pilgrimage route. This route is the direct descendent of the major Roman roads that formed the backbone of the Roman Gallaecia and continued to be in use for many centuries, such as Via XIX. Built in the 1st century AD under the Emperor Augustus, it was known in classical works as the Itinerary of Antonino, established at the beginning of the 3rd century AD during Caracalla’s time. This ancient testimony is proof of the vitality of this via from very early times. Since the Middle Ages, the Portuguese Way has maintained the tradition of exchange between neighbours that began during the days of the Roman Empire.
Despite its unquestionable historical background, today our modern road network has affected the Portuguese Way. At times, pilgrims must forget the dirt paths and stone-paved ways to walk along the verge of the N-550 road between Vigo and A Coruña. The road follows the Portuguese Way to Santiago part of the way, something of a drawback for those seeking to recapture the essence of the original pilgrims’ way. However, new alternative routes are being created by pilgrim associations and community groups. This shortcomings are fully compensated for when the pilgrim finishes the different legs of the journey. This route of devotion, art and culture, offers an undisputed wealth of monumental and natural heritage.