The Portuguese Coastal Camino

The Portuguese Coastal Camino or Caminho da Costa is a stunning alternative route to the traditional Portuguese Camino. Starting from colourful Porto, 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.

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 in Galicia, you will be walking in the heart of the Rías Baixas, the lower bays, home of 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.

As you reach the town of Redondela and head inland, you will be joining the classic Camino Portugues trail and start meeting many other pilgrims on their way to Santiago. You can walk the Full Camino Portuguese Coastal in just under 2 weeks, or 1 week if you are cycling. You can also choose to do a section of the route and pick your starting point.

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 Baiona) or cycle at least the last 200kms of the route (we suggest you start in Porto). Read more Portuguese Coastal Camino articles on our Camino blog.

Portuguese Coastal Camino History

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 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.