The Camino Portugues

Camino-Portugues-coastal-map

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, it reaches the coast to become the famous Portuguese Coastal Camino.

This route is the route to Santiago traditionally chosen 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 for modern-day pilgrims on the Camino Portugues although you can start your journey at any point along the way.

It takes pilgrims across stunning countryside, villages, and towns such as Santarém, one of the last Moorish bastions in Portugal; Coimbra, famous for its 13th-century university; and gorgeous Porto city with its colourful riverfront and home of Port wine.

From the City of Porto, the Camino Portugues follows the coast all the way to Santiago.

Keeping the Atlantic Ocean as your companion, this Camino route starts in the gorgeous UNESCO-listed city of Porto and 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, across medieval bridges, lush 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 to Vigo you will enjoy wonderful 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 be joining 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 just under 2 weeks, or 1 week if you are cycling from Porto. If you wish to walk it and have only 1 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

Please note, in order to get your Compostela pilgrim certificate in Santiago you will need to walk a minimum of 100kms into Santiago (we suggest you start in Vigo) or cycle at least the last 200kms of the route (we suggest you start in Porto).

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-coastal-map

Want to bring your family on the Camino Portugues. Have a look at our Camino de Santiago Family Holidays below.

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:

  • Camino from Lisbon to Porto can be hot in summer (30s deg Celcius), 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 Fall.

The Terrain

The first week, from Porto to Baiona, is mostly flat along the coast. The second week from Baiona to Santiago is a tiny bit more hilly with daily ascent and descents of 400 metres.

The trail is very well marled and the paths are good. So no need for heavy hiking books. The Camino Portuguese coastal is 50% on footpaths and 50% on the quiet laneway. But no busy traffic of any sort.

What to bring on the Portugues

The trail is not very different from the other Caminos. For more information, please download our free Camino packing guide.

Camino Portugues Route Description

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.

lisbon buildings camino de santiago camino portugues

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.

porto-the-portuguese-way-camino-de-santiago-caminoways

Camino Portugues From Porto

This is the start of the coastal section. Great seaside towns.

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.