The Camino Portugues
The Camino Portugues, or Portuguese Camino, is a stunning alternative to the Camino Frances, for pilgrims looking for a more rural experience on the Camino de Santiago. From Porto, the Camino Portugues follows the coast all the way to Santiago.
This route was traditionally taken by pilgrims coming from Portugal, mainly from Lisbon and Porto. Those two dazzling UNESCO World Heritage cities still remain two of the main starting points on the Camino Portugues, although you can start your journey at any point along the way.
Pilgrims pass beautiful towns, villages and scenic countryside and coastal views. Some key locations include Santarém, Coimbra, Porto city (Home of Port wine), Viana do Castelo, Vigo, Pontevedra and finally Santiago de Compostela.
Highlights Of The Camino Portugues
We have compiled some of the must-sees of the Route, please note that you can also combine and start in Lisbon if you wish to:
- Mark 3 UNESCO WH sites off your list, by visiting Lisbon, Porto and Santiago
- Follow the rugged coast of Portugal and Galicia
- Discover the true hinterlands of Portugal and Spain in unspoilt traditional villages
- Lounge or and take the sunset, on the terraces of the coastal villages.
- Eat wonderful seafood, shellfish and drink Albarino
- Rediscover Moorish and Christian medieval heritage in Santarem, Tomar and Santiago.
Camino Portugues Route Description
Leaving Lisbon Capital, The Camino Portugues brings you along a deep rural landscape dotted with ancient Moorish castles and horse studs. After a week, you will reach Santarem city walls with its beautiful Gardens of the gate of the sun (Jardim das Portas do Sol). Continuing along green and hilly landscapes, we will reach Coimbre and its 16th-century university. Another quiet week (Only a handful of pilgrims start before Porto) will see you coming to Unesco World Heritage Porto.
Keeping the Atlantic Ocean as your companion, this Camino route starts in the gorgeous UNESCO-listed city of Porto. It will take you to charming seaside towns and villages in Northern Portugal, such as Viana do Castelo and Vila Praia de Ancora, before crossing the River Minho by ferry to A Guarda in Galicia.
Once you enter Galicia in Spain, the Camino Portugues takes you past terraced fields, lush forests, vineyards, sleepy Galician villages, old Roman roads, medieval bridges, dense forests, sleepy villages, vibrant towns and historical cities as it heads North towards Santiago de Compostela. It is home to the famous Albariño white wine.
From Baiona and Vigo, you will enjoy beautiful views of the bay and the magical Cies Islands. We recommend you take a rest day in Vigo and take the opportunity to visit this paradise, just off the coast of the city and a short ferry journey away.
The small roads along the Camino Portugues also make it one of the best Camino routes for cycling.
The history and heritage of the Camino are very much present along the way, and you will encounter many churches, chapels, way crosses and shrines, where the image of Saint James often offers comfort to pilgrims on their journey.
As you reach the town of Redondela and head inland, you will join another branch of the Camino Portugues and start meeting other pilgrims on their way to Santiago.
You can walk the Full Camino Portugues Coastal Route in under two weeks or one week if you are cycling from Porto. If you wish to walk it and have only one week, you can do the last 100km of the Portuguese coastal. You can also choose to do a section of the route and pick your starting point.
You will discover the wild Atlantic beauty and sandy beaches of Northern Portugal and Galicia, taste delicious seafood and wine, stay in fishing villages, and feel refreshed by the coastal feel of this scenic Camino de Santiago trail.
Compostela Certificate on The Camino Portugues
Camino Ways Route Planner
For over 1000 years, pilgrims from all over the world have walked the Camino Ways across Europe in their quest for spirituality. Making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, they encountered a variety of people, cultures and beliefs, leading to friendship and new experiences. This continues today with the Camino de Santiago being the most well known and well-loved walk in the world. More than just a walk, the Camino de Santiago is an unforgettable and unique journey for the body, mind and soul.
When To Go On The Camino Portugues
The Camino Portugues crosses almost the entire length of Portugal and enters Spain in Galicia. Although this Camino can be walked year-round without major issues, we can divide it into two parts:
- The Camino from Lisbon to Porto can be hot in summer (30s degrees Celcius), and it is relatively dry in winter.
- The Camino from Porto is mild in summer (average 25 deg centigrade), but wet in winter.
Both are ideal for walking or cycling in spring and autumn.
The Terrain On The Camino Portugues
The trail is very well marked and the paths are decent so there’s no need for heavy hiking books. The Camino Portuguese coastal is 50% on footpaths and 50% on quiet laneways. But don’t worry, there’s no busy traffic.
The Sections Of The Camino Portugues
This Camino takes pilgrims along old roads, across forests, fields, over medieval bridges, quaint villages, towns, and historic cities, bearing north to Santiago de Compostela.
Along the way, you will pass countless reminders of the Camino history such as shrines, churches, convents, and stone crosses, and ‘Petos de animas‘, where the comforting image of Saint James is often present to guide pilgrims.
Camino Portugues From Lisbon
Lisbon is the starting point of the Camino Portugues, over 600kms from Santiago de Compostela. Portugal’s chic and buzzing capital on the shores of the Atlantic is home to several impressive UNESCO sites and its fascinating history makes it a must-visit.
Heading North towards Santarem, the first stage of the Camino route quickly leaves the city landscape behind for the quiet farmland of the area known as ‘the Garden of Portugal’. Pilgrims travel along the Tejo river valley along a trail that is also the Caminho de Fatima. The town of Santarem, sitting on a hillside over the Tejo Valley, was one of the last Moorish bastions in Portugal.
From Santarem, the Caminho Portugues continues along the Tejo River, heading inland towards Coimbra, which was once the capital of Portugal and is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities dating back to the 13th century.
This stretch of the Camino passes by beautiful little villages, farmland, forests, and olive groves in the heart of Portugal.
Camino Portugues From Coimbra
From Coimbra, the Camino then 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 stunning Porto, where you will marvel at its UNESCO World Heritage city centre, stroll along the Riviera (riverfront) and taste some of the local delicacies, with a drop of the city’s famous port wine.
To start in Coimbra, select the Camino Portugues full route and customise your starting point.
Camino Portugues From Porto
This is the start of the coastal section with gorgeous seaside towns dotted along the route.
Camino Portugues From Vigo
The start of the last 100km. From here you have another 3 days, along the coast. Superb views and the Spanish experience all the way to Santiago de Compostela.
History Of The Camino Portugues
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 the identity of European culture, had gained great popularity in Lusitanian lands.
For centuries, the Portuguese participated enthusiastically in this collective Camino experience, with the support of monarchs, nobility, and 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.
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 Emperor Augustus, it was known in classical works as the Itinerary of Antonino, established at the beginning of the 3rd century AD. This is proof of the vitality of this route from very early times.
Today’s Camino Portugues
Today’s modern road network has affected the Portuguese Camino. 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. However, new alternative routes are being created by devoted pilgrim associations and local community groups. Despite this drawback, the Portuguese Camino offers an undisputed wealth of monumental and natural heritage.
One of the hallmarks of the pilgrimage to Santiago is the warm reception given to pilgrims along the way and the Portuguese Camino is no exception. 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 locals along the way. Bon Caminho! is often heard and wished to Camino pilgrims across Portugal.
Read more on our Camino Portugues articles on our blog.