The Portuguese Camino de Santiago – detailed guide & itinerary

The Portuguese Camino de Santiago – detailed guide & itinerary


Camino Portugues is one of the spiritual routes to Santiago de CompostelaThe Camino Portugues is the second most popular Camino de Santiago after the French Way, about 19% of all pilgrims or 52 200 people walked this Camino in 2017. The total distance of the Camino from Porto to Santiago depends on the route you choose; the Coastal Route – 280km, the Central Route – 260km. Another option is to start walking from Lisbon then the total distance to Santiago is about 620km.

In this post, we’ll discuss different route options and the advantages and disadvantages or every route. In the second part of the post, you’ll find a detailed itinerary for the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino from Porto to Santiago de Compostela.

The Portuguese Camino route overview

  • Distance – 260 km (Central Route), 280 km (Coastal Route)
  • Number of days – 12-14 days
  • Starting point – Sé Cathedral, Porto, Portugal
  • Finishing point – Obradoiro Square, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • Walking ground – asphalt, cobblestone, wooden boardwalks
  • Average cost – 25-30 Euro pp. per day
  • Accommodation – albergues, hotels, guesthouses
  • Route marking – yellow shells and arrows

Different route options of the Camino Portuguese

I know how it’s when you want to do a walk and realize that there are several routes that end at the same places. Which one to choose? – was our question when we were planning our Portuguese Camino walk. 

First, you have two options to start the walk in Lisbon or in Porto. We started in Lisbon there were some things that we really liked and some not that much on the route.

If you start the Camino in Lisbon then the total distance to Santiago is 616km. It’s possible to do a detour and walk through Fatima, it adds about 25km to the route. The main difficulty we faced there is lack of infrastructure for pilgrims, sometimes it was difficult to find accommodation, once in Caxarias, we were offered to sleep in church storage on the floor because all rooms in the town were occupied.

I must say the walk from Lisbon is beautiful but if you prefer to have a comfortable and easy walk we’d suggest starting in Porto. If you feel like walking more you can do one of the other Camino de Santiago routes e.g. Camino Primitivo, Camino Ingles, or Camino Finisterre. If you like a challenge and prefer to go off the beaten track then start the Camino in Lisbon. 

Where to star the Portuguese Camino and which route to walk?
Different route options of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago

The Portuguese Camino from Porto – route options

Second, decide which route you want to take from Porto; there are three different route options;

Caminho Central (Central Route) – 260km from Porto to Santiago, goes inland all the way.

Caminho da Costa (Coastal Route) – 280km from Porto to Santiago, follows the coast (except the first day from Porto) till Redondela where joins the Central Way.

Senda Litoral (Litoral Trail) – distance is more or less the same as the Coastal Route. From Porto, it follows the coast till Vila do Conde after goes the same way as the Coastal Route with the main difference the Litoral literally sticks to the coast. It merges with the Central Route at Redondela.

A graph with 3 different routes of the Portuguese Camino and places where they connect
Routes of the Portuguese Camino and how to switch between them

Which route to follow from Porto?

The Central Route 

Advantages; 1. it has a better infrastructure; more albergues, more towns, more restaurants, and shops. 2. If you’re more into history and architecture you’ll enjoy the Central Route there are more old towns and cities on the way. 3. It’s shorter (not sure if everybody will consider it as an advantage), you’ll need less time to complete it. 4. It’s a better option to walk in bad weather conditions e.g. strong wind, heavy rain. 5. For those who are going to use a backpack shuttle service, it is cheaper by 1 or 2 Euro per stage to transfer backpacks on the Central Route.

Disadvantages; 1. This is the busiest route, 70% of pilgrims on the Camino Portuguese walk this route. 2. The area it goes through is more developed and touristy. 

The Coastal Route

Advantages; 1. Walking along the coast is always an advantage (at least we think so). 2. Only 30% of all pilgrims take this route. 3. Better chances to see a more authentic non-touristy part of Portugal.

Disadvantages; 1. If it’s very windy and rainy it’ll be an unpleasant route to walk. 2. Less infrastructure, I mainly refer to albergues though for us it was a problem only once in Vigo where there are no albergues only hotels/hostels.

If you decide to walk this route check our detailed post The Coastal Route walking stages.

The Litoral Way (Senda Litoral)

First of all most pilgrims leave Porto following this Route, it’s the best way to walk out of the city and skip walking along the busy highway leading to the airport. You can read in some guidebooks that it’s better to skip the first stage from Porto because you walk through industrial areas, they refer to walking out of the city following the Central Camino or Coastal Route, not the Litoral. On the first day no need to make a decision which way to choose you can start along the coast and see how much you like it.

All the advantages and disadvantages are the same as for the Coastal Route. Only one extra thing this route is not marked very well (except for the first day) but it’s easy to walk you just go along the coast/beach.  

Download Camino Portuguese Walking Routes map

A route map with four different trails from Porto to Santiago de Compostela
Different routes of Camino Portuguese; Coastal Route, Central Route, Senda Litoral, and Spiritual Way (from Pontevedra)

A great option is to combine the Coastal route with rural areas and even add to this some mountain scenery. Start in Porto following the Coastal Route and continue on it till Caminha (the end of the Portuguese part) from there walk to Valença to get to the Central Route. Then take the Variante Espiritual, an optional route from Pontevedra that goes over the mountains and joins the Central route in Padrón. This way you combine all possible routes of the Camino Portugues and walk through areas with different scenery; sea, fields, and mountains. Plus you skip the Spanish part of the Coastal route that has a lack of albergues, particularly in A Ramallosa and Vigo.

Travel insurance for the Camino Portuguese

Walking like any other outdoor activity involves a risk of getting an injury or losing some of the gear. It’s always recommended to have travel insurance when you go away. The Portuguese Camino de Santiago is not an exclusion. It’s not a high altitude wild hike through remote areas it’s still a physically challenging experience that involves a long walking distance, carrying a heavy backpack, walking asphalt, and cobblestone it’s not rare for pilgrims to get injuries from small blister problems to bigger knee or shin splints issues.

Make sure you will be able to get medical assistance any time you need it. It’s quite handy to have insurance in case of a gear or device break/loss you can always claim it back. It makes the walk less stressful when you know you’re covered in case of any unpredictable emergencies.

Note! If you have European Health Insurance Card you don’t need any extra medical insurance for Spain.

Best months for walking the Portuguese Camino

If you want to skip crowds and have good weather May and September will be your best options. If you rather want to walk alone go off-season, April and October are good months, you can be lucky with the weather and there will be very few people. Winter months are not the best it gets cold and rainy, some albergues are closed. June is the beginning of the high season for this Camino but it’s still not too busy yet and already nice and warm. July and August are the most popular and the hottest months, it’s important to start walking early to skip the heat of the day.

A temperature graph for the Camino Portuguese throughout the year
Average temperature on the Camino Portuguese throughout the year
Average rainfalls in Northern Portugal throughout the year
Average rainfalls and numbers of rainy days for every month on the Portuguese Camino

Accommodation on the Camino route

Hostels for pilgrims on Caminos de Santiago are called “albergues”.

Albergue is a kind of hostel, don’t expect any luxury, the only difference only pilgrims are allowed to stay here.

To prove you’re a pilgrim you need to show your Credential, you get a stamp at every albergue you stay.

There two types of albergues; municipal, run by the government, cheaper, can’t be booked ahead, price between 5-6 Euro pp. Private albergues – belong to a person or company, more expensive, between 10-12 Euro pp, usually with better facilities, can be booked in advance over the phone or online booking services.

Each albergue has dormitories with bunk beds, shared bathroom/toilet, kitchen, some have washing machine and wi-fi.  

Municipal albergues accept only cash.

Bed bugs problem – after completing two Caminos we didn’t have bedbugs once. It’s an advantage of walking the Camino at the beginning of the season, most albergues do “big cleaning” before the season starts. We saw some pilgrims using bedbug spray we’ve never tried it but looks like it works.

Some people asking if it’s worth carrying a tent with I’d say “No“. You can stay in albergues for 5-6 Euro most campsites will charge you the same or even more for camping (wild camping is illegal in Spain), plus you have to carry so much extra luggage; a tent, mattress, cooking stuff, etc.

Practical info for the Portuguese Way of St.James

For this Camino we used Camino Portugues guide book by John Brierley, it contains all the necessary information and maps, small, light, and easy to use. 

Every pilgrim needs a Credential – a small book with your name that gets stamped at every albergue you stay. The credential is a pilgrim’s ID. You can buy it from the official Credential distribution office in your country or in Se Cathedral in Porto. 

For the last 100 km to Santiago de Compostela, you need two stamps a day in order to get the Compostela at the Pilgrim’s Office, we were there in June 2019 and they confirmed this information.

There is an hour difference between Portuguese (GMT+1) and Spanish time (GMT+2), Spain is one hour ahead. When you cross to Spain don’t forget to change the time. 

Both countries use the same power outlets – Europlug. You might need an adapter

Tap water in Portugal is very good, locals are proud of the water quality. In Spain, in the beginning, we bought bottled water but later were told that tap water is fine here as well. Though sometimes you could taste strong chlorine, try first if it’s not good then buy bottled water.

We were surprised how many people in Portugal speak good English compared to Spain but there is always somebody who can translate or explain.

In Spain, many supermarkets and shops are closed on Sundays, public holidays and in the afternoon.

In both countries, you can buy medicine with a prescription in English from your doctor back home even if it’s just an email, not the original.

Buy local SIM card, both Portugal and Spain have similar packages from Vodafone valid for 30 days; Portugal – 3Gb data, 300 minutes local phone calls, plus SMS – 15 Euro. Spain – 2Gb data, 200 minutes local phone calls, SMS – 15 Euro (when we ran out of data we still could use it for FB and Twitter). Both worked great, we used it a lot for uploading photos and video, Whats-app, etc. and it was more than enough. Plus it’s very handy if you want to phone and book an albergue.

The route marking is very good, it’s always easy to follow, there are yellow arrows every 100m or so.

Bring a pouch or a foldable backpack to carry valuables (money, passport) with when leaving an albergue, usually, there are no lockers.

Health tips for walking the Camino

Walking the Camino is a physical challenge don’t push yourself trying to follow guide book or somebody’s itinerary, take your time, move your pace.

If you feel very tired or unwell take a day off or at least walk shorter distances you want to arrive in Santiago healthy. We heard some stories of people pushing themselves for the whole Camino and once they reached Santiago they got terribly sick so take care of yourself.

Many pilgrims on the Camino have problems with their feet, mainly blisters.

To prevent blisters

  • pack 2 or 3 pairs of merino wool socks, they are the best for hiking.
  • during the walk every time your feet get wet from sweating take off a wet pair and put on dry socks. You can hang wet socks from your backpack to let them dry meanwhile.
  • you know your feet and where you usually get blisters, plaster these areas before you get one.

Social life on the Portuguese route

You meet people all the time there are many pilgrims who walk alone some of them don’t really want the company but many will be happy to find somebody to walk with. Albergues have a very social vibe especially in the evening, people cook and eat together, make friends, give tips, show photos, etc. There are people from all over the world; Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa you’ll be able to find somebody who speaks your language, belongs to the same age group or have similar interests. If you can’t find a walking buddy go and walk the Camino alone you’ll see how many great people you’ll meet on the way.

Luggage delivery service on the Camino Portuguese

If you want to make your walk easier or have some back issues and can’t carry a heavy bag every day you can use a backpack delivery service. There are several companies that can deliver your backpack or suitcase for every stage between your accommodation. Check Pilbeo (the Central Route), Way to Santiago (both Central and Coastal Routes) and Correos (the Central Route from Tui) they do luggage transfer on the Portuguese Camino. You can use the delivery for the entire route or for some stages. One stage costs 5 Euro per backpack.

It’s important to remember that usually it’s not allowed to deliver luggage to public albergues on the Camino. These albergues can’t be booked in advance and they won’t keep a bed for you even if your backpack is delivered there. Private albergues and hotels along the route have no problem with luggage delivery.

Red roofs of houses in the historical center of Porto, view from Se Cathedral.
View of Porto from Se Cathedral, the beginning of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago

Portuguese Camino cost

Portugal is a bit cheaper than Spain but in general prices in both countries are similar. Accommodation and shopping will cost more or less the same. Public transport, especially trains are cheaper in Portugal, e.g. a train ride (normal train, economy class) from Lisbon to Porto, 310km, will cost you from 25 Euro. In Spain, for the same distance, you pay from 30 Euro.

Eating out is cheaper in Portugal, a set menu in a local restaurant will cost you 8 Euro when in Spain it is from 10 Euro up. Our main disappointment when we crossed to Spain was coffee, in Portugal, you pay 0,60 Euro for Americano, in Spain, it’s double, between 1-1,20 Euro. Probably the only thing is more expensive in the Portuguese part is backpack transfer service, 2 Euro more per stage than in Spain.

Average for both countries if you stay in albergues and buy food in supermarkets your budget will be between 15-20 Euro per person per day. If you stay in albergues and eat in a restaurant at least once a day, go out for a beer or stop a couple of times for coffee be ready to spend between 25-30 Euro daily pp. If you prefer to stay in hotels rather than albergues add to it 10-15 Euro pp.

Portugal

  • Accommodation – municipal albergues – 5-6 Euro per person, private albergues – 10-12 Euro pp. Hotels from 15 Euro pp.
  • Eating out – Menu do Dia, a set lunch that includes a starter, main dish with sides, drink and coffee or dessert – from 7 Euro pp.
  • Food shopping – 6-8 Euro pp per day
  • A cup of coffee (Americano) – 0,60 Euro
  • A beer in a bar – 1 Euro.
  • Laundry – washing 2 Euro per load.
  • Backpack delivery service (optional) – 6-7 Euro per backpack per stage.

Spain

  • Accommodation – municipal albergues – 5-6 Euro per person, private albergues – 10-12 Euro pp. Hotels from 20 Euro pp
  • Eating out – Menu del Dia; starter, main dish, drink (usually house wine), coffee or dessert – 10 Euro.
  • Food shopping – 6-8 Euro pp per day
  • A cup of coffee (Americano) – 1-1,2 Euro
  • A beer in a bar – 1-1,2 Euro
  • Laundry – washing – 3 Euro per load, drying – 1,5-3 Euro per load.
  • Backpack delivery service (optional) – from 5 Euro depending on a stage and route you take.

Our YouTube video on what you can get on 20, 30 and 40+ Euro on the Camino

What to pack for the Camino?

Make sure not to pack too much and bring only necessary stuff. We’ve met many people who had to reconsider their backpack content after the first day on the Camino. You really don’t need much and you always can buy anything you need way there are shops, supermarkets, and pharmacies along the way. If you’re planning on using luggage delivery service then it doesn’t matter you can pack as much as you want.

We have a detailed post Camino de Santiago packing list where you can find our recommendations on what to pack for the Camino for men and women for different seasons.

Books to read on the Camino

What can be better than after a long day of walking climb in bed and read your favorite book!? We’d definitely recommend picking the one you’ll definitely have time for reading. Here are our top picks books for the Camino Portugues;

Useful apps for walking the Camino Portuguese

  • Portuguese Way Premium. Cost US$4, available for Android and Apple.
  • Camino Assist Pilgrim Santiago. Free download, available for Android and Apple.
  • Buen Camino de Santiago. Free download, available for Android and Apple.
  • Wisely + Camino Portugues; a Wise Pilgrim guide. Cost US$6, available for Android and Apple. We haven’t used it but I saw many unhappy users complaining about the app, I’d recommend reading the reviews before buying it.

The Central Route of the Portuguese Camino – walking stages

Our main tip for the Camino don’t underestimate it, you might be a fit person but walking long hours in the heat with a heavy backpack is different from running or training in the gym. Start slower, don’t walk long distances in the beginning and you’ll be fine. Plus when you walk too fast or too far you don’t have enough time to stop, take photos, enjoy a cup of coffee with a beautiful view.

Porto, the beginning of the walk

Porto is an amazing city I’d definitely recommend to stay here for a couple of days before or after the Camino. Walk around its narrow cobblestone streets climbing up and down the hills, try famous wine, take a boat ride along the Douro River and enjoy the local cuisine. Porto is one of my favorite European cities since the first time I came here.  

Tours and activities in Porto

If you have a couple of extra days in Porto before starting the Camino walk there are many activities and tours you can do here to explore the city and its surroundings.

Places to stay in Porto

There are several albergues/hostels in the city including one municipal albergue N.S. do Rosario de Vilar 7,5 Euro pp. We stayed at private Albergue de Peregrinos do Porto, for donations, a nice, clean, and very social place close to the metro station. Facilities; hot water shower, wi-fi, kitchen, washing machine. Located quite far from the cathedral, to get there you have to use the metro.

If you rather prefer to stay your first night in a more comfortable place there are many options in Porto for different budgets, but my advice is to stay walking distance from the center. 

Day 1. Se Cathedral, Porto – Labruge, 23km

Se Cathedral – Foz do Douro – Matosinhos – Lavra – Labruge

As I mentioned before most people who start walking from Porto regardless of which route they walk on the first day following the Senda Litoral (Litoral Way) to get out of the city. It means on the first day instead of following the Central Route that goes through the industrial area and outskirts of Porto following busy roads you walk along the coast, past beaches and small seaside villages. This way is a bit longer than just following the Central Route from Porto but is much nicer and beautiful. It will add about 7km to your total distance, no worries our itinerary doesn’t have very long walking days. We really enjoyed this part, it felt more like a beach than a walking holiday.

Some people prefer to take a tram to get from Se Cathedral to Foz do Douro the beginning of the promenade. We walked from the cathedral we went down to the Douro river and followed it. On the first day most of the time you walk on wooden boardwalks which is much better than asphalt or cobblestones. There are many restaurants and cafés on the way where you can enjoy breakfast or lunch with a sea view.

Portuguese Camino de Santiago; Senda Litoral, Coastal Route and Central Route from Porto
Different routes of walking out of Porto; Senda Litoral, Coastal Route and Central Route of the Portuguese Camino

Labruge

We’d suggest stopping here, and not to make your first day too long like a guide book suggest to walk 33km all the way to Vila do Conde. No need to punish yourself and destroy your feet especially if you walk in mid-summer when it’s hot. The town itself is 1km inland from the coast. There is a sign on the trail pointing to the albergue.

  • Municipal albergue – yes, for donation. Albergue Santiago Labruge – 3 rooms, 24 beds, kitchen, cold water shower, wi-fi.
  • Private albergue  – no
  • Hotel, guest house – yes
  • ATM – yes
  • Restaurant, café – yes
  • Shop – yes
  • Pharmacy – yes

Places to stay in Labruge

*Many people asked us about alternative accommodation options (private rooms with facilities) we decided to add accommodations options along the route that are available in the booking system it might be useful for some of you for planning the walk.

Boardwalks along the beach on the way from Porto to Labruge
Senda Litoral the best way of walking out of Porto on the Portuguese Camino

Day 2. Labruge – Rates, 23km

Labruge – Vila Chã – Vila do Conde – Arcos – Rates

The first part of the day a beautiful walk along the coast till Vila do Conde from where you turn off the Coastal Route and follow a trail that goes inland and joins with the Central Route at Arcos. Walking by the sea on the first day gives you an idea about the Coastal route and if you like it you can stick to it instead of going to the Central Way. Vila do Conde is a very nice and beautiful town with charming narrow cobblestone streets, the cathedral and impressive aqueduct de Santa Clara it’s on the way to Arcos.

Rates

A beautiful medieval town that grew around the monastery with interesting historical part; Monastery of Rates, the main square, a couple of churches and chapels, a clock tower.

  • Municipal albergue – yes, for donation. Albergue de Peregrinos – 30 beds, hot water shower, kitchen.
  • Private albergue  – no
  • Hotel, guest house – yes
  • ATM – no
  • Restaurant, café – yes
  • Supermarket – yes
  • Pharmacy – yes

Day 3. Rates – Barcelos, 16km/Tamel, 25km

Rates – Pedra Furada – Pereira – Bacelinhos – Barcelos or Tamel (San Pedro de Fins)

After joining the Central Route you’ll start seeing more pilgrims on the Camino. You can make this day short, stay in Barcelos and do some sightseeing around or walk 9km further to Tamel to make your next walking day to Ponte de Lima shorter. It might sound better to stay in Barcelos but be ready to walk the next day 34km all the way to Ponte de Lima as there are not many accommodation options before.

Barcelos

Barcelos – a beautiful city, originally a Roman settlement that expanded a lot in the 15th century. There are some very interesting sights to see here; Ponte de Barcelos – 14th-century bridge, Tower of Barcelos, a church of Senhor da Cruz, church Matriz de Barcelos. The city is well-known for its pottery it’s the home of famous Galo de Barcelos (Rooster or Barcelos) or Portuguese Rooster – one of the most popular symbols of Portugal.

  • Municipal albergue – no
  • Private albergue  – yes, only 26 beds, donation. Albergue de Barcelos – 3 rooms, kitchen (stove, microwave, fridge), hot shower, wi-fi.
  • Hotel, guest house – yes
  • ATM – yes
  • Restaurant, café – yes
  • Supermarket – yes
  • Pharmacy – yes

Places to stay in Barceloc

Tamel (San Pedro de Fins)

Note! there is nothing here except an albergue bring food with you. Albergue Casa da Recoleta, municipal, price 5 Euro pp. Facilities; kitchen, hot shower, wi-fi, 4 dormitories, 41 beds.

Day 4. Barcelos/Tamel – Ponte de Lima, 34km/25km

Barcelos/Tamel – Balugães/Cossourado – Vitorino dos Piães – Facha – Ponte de Lima

If you start in Barcelos and go all the way to Ponte de Lima it’ll be a long walking day but you can split it into two and walk to Vitorino dos Piães, 16km, there is a private albergue and a couple of hotels (check below for booking) or Facha, 23km, there are a couple of hotels there (none is in booking).

Ponte de Lima

A nice and relatively small place compare to Barcelos though it has a long history, the oldest town in Portugal by the way, and some interesting sights to see; Ponte Romano (The Roman bridge over the Lima river) that gave the name to the town, Old Chain Tower, Matriz church, Botanical garden Paço do Marques, church of Santo Antonio da Torre Velha. There are many accommodation options in the town.

  • Municipal albergue – yes, 5 Euro. Casa do Arnado – 60 beds, kitchen, wi-fi, opens late between 4-5pm.
  • Private albergue  – yes
  • Hotel, guest house – yes
  • ATM – yes
  • Restaurant, café – yes
  • Supermarket – yes
  • Pharmacy – yes

Places to stay in Ponte de Lima

Old bridge and a church, Ponte de Lima, Central Route, Portugal
Ponte de Lima a beautiful small town on the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino

Day 5. Ponte de Lima – Rubiães, 20km

A nice and short day of walking mostly through the forest with a long uphill stretch that starts at 10km, from 100m to 400m over 4km, make sure to have enough water with. There is a café at Revolta before the climb where you can have lunch and fill your water bottle.

Rubiães

A very small cozy town with quite a lot of infrastructure for pilgrims.

  • Municipal albergue – yes, 5 Euro. Escola – 34 beds, hot shower, kitchen, wi-fi, opens at 1.30 pm.
  • Private albergue  – yes
  • Hotel, guest house – yes
  • ATM – no
  • Restaurant, café – yes
  • Shop – yes
  • Pharmacy – no

Places to stay in Rubiães

Day 6. Rubiães – Valença/Tui, 20km

Rubiães  – Cossourado – Pedreira – Valença – Tui

Today it’s mostly down-hill walking in the first half of the day till the Roman bridge (Ponte Romano) and then quite flat all the way to Valença/Tui there you can decide to stay the night in Portugal (Valença) or to cross the bridge over the Minho river and stay in Spain (Tui). Crossing the river don’t forget to change the time, Spain is 1 hour ahead of Portugal. There is no official border crossing, both countries are members of the EU.

In Valença/Tui you might see more pilgrims than before on the Camino. Many people start walking the Portuguese Camino from here because both towns are just over 100 km from Santiago. The last 100 km is the required walking minimum on the Camino for getting the Compostela.

Valença

Both cities have good infrastructure for pilgrims, many accommodation options, restaurants, etc. There are some interesting sights to see. Valença has beautiful medieval fortress Fortaleza de Valença, the old town is located behind the walls. Both have cathedrals, churches, chapels, and museums. 

  • Municipal albergue – yes, 5 Euro. Sao Teotonio – 84 beds, 4 rooms, hot shower, kitchen, opens at 1.30pm.
  • Private albergue  – no
  • Hotel, guest house – yes
  • ATM – yes
  • Restaurant, café – yes
  • Supermarket – yes
  • Pharmacy – yes

Places to stay in Valença

Tui

  • Municipal albergue – yes, 6 Euro. Albergue de Peregrinos – 36 beds, hot shower, opens at 1 pm.
  • Private albergue  – yes, many
  • Hotel, guest house – yes
  • ATM – yes
  • Restaurant, café – yes
  • Supermarket – yes
  • Pharmacy – yes

Places to stay in Tui

A pretty cobblestone street of a small town in Portugal
Cobble stone streets, cozy towns, inviting cafés all these you will see a lot on the Portuguese Camino

Day 7. Valença/Tui – Porriño, 19km

A short and easy walking with not many places to stop for coffee or lunch, the first place will be after 10km at Orbenlle, it’ll be a short detour as the new alternative trail turns right just before it. We’d recommend to follow it, it goes left about 300m after a stone Camino sign that marks 106km to Santiago. The old route goes through Poligono Industrial (Industrial area), the new trail completely skips it and goes through the forest. At about 3km before the town there is one more split, go left following the river the right trail goes along the road.

Porriño

A small industrial town with a nice historical center.

  • Municipal albergue – yes, 6 Euro. Albergue de Peregrinos – 50 beds, hot shower, kitchen, opens at 1 pm.
  • Private albergue  – no
  • Hotel, pension – yes
  • ATM – yes
  • Restaurant, café – yes
  • Supermarket – yes
  • Pharmacy – yes

Places to stay in Porriño

Day 8. Porriño – Redondela, 17km

Porriño – Torroso – Redondela

A short day of walking with a hill to climb, Conte Cornedo, about 200m but over more than 5km. After that down to Redondela. There are a couple of bars/restaurants on the way where you can have lunch. At Redondela both Central and Coastal Routes join you might see slightly more pilgrims.

Redondela

  • Municipal albergue – yes, 6 Euro. Casa de Torre – 44 beds, hot shower, kitchen, washing and drying machine, opens at 1 pm.
  • Private albergue  – yes
  • Hotel, pension – yes
  • ATM – yes
  • Restaurant, café – yes
  • Supermarket – yes
  • Pharmacy – yes

Places to stay in Redondela

Fields covered in red poppies, Portugal countryside, Camino Portugues
Spring is our favorite time for walking in Portugal.

Day 9. Redondela – Pontevedra, 20km

Redondela – Cesantes – Arcade – Pontevedra.

Some uphill but it is over a long distance so the incline is not a very steep climb. There are several bars on the way where you can refill water and have lunch. This day offers quite a bit of road walking but the roads were not very busy. A couple of kilometers before Pontevedra on the right side of the road there will be sign River Trail, follow it, the distance is the same as walking along the road and it’s nicer for walking.

Pontevedra

A very nice town with a beautiful historical center, amazing cathedral, cobblestone streets, churches, many bars, and restaurants. A nice town for chilling and going out.

  • Municipal albergue – yes, 6 Euro. La Virgen Peregrina – 56 beds, hot shower, kitchen, washing and drying machine, opens at 1 pm.
  • Private albergue  – yes
  • Hotel, pension – yes
  • ATM – yes
  • Restaurant, café – yes
  • Supermarket – yes
  • Pharmacy – yes

Places to stay in Pontevedra

Beautiful Baroque Cathedral of Pontevedra, Spain
The historical canter and the Cathedral of Pontevedra

Day 10. Pontevedra – Caldas de Reis, 23km

After Redondela the Camino splits again you can follow the main route to Caldas de Reis or take Variante Espiritual (Spiritual Way) and go over the mountains to Armenteira. Check for more details and stages for Spiritual Route. Both routes join again in Padrón.

Caldas de Reis

A nice small town with hot springs, churches and old Roman ruins. If you have a chance we’d suggest to visit one of the balnearios (spa centers) and relax in the springs, e.g. El Acuña or el Dávila.

  • Municipal albergue – yes, 6 Euro. Posada Dona Urraca – 5o beds, hot shower, wi-fi, opens at 1 pm.
  • Private albergue  – yes
  • Hotel, pension – yes
  • ATM – yes
  • Restaurant, café – yes
  • Supermarket – yes
  • Pharmacy – yes

Places to stay in Caldas de Reis

Day 11. Caldas de Reis – Padrón, 20km

A nice and easy walk past a couple of smallish towns with several bars on the way. Some people prefer to walk further this day in order to make the last day to Santiago shorter. There are many albergues and hotels on the stretch between Padrón and Santiago it won’t be difficult to find accommodation.

Padrón

Padrón is not a big but nice town. The highlight of the town is the beautiful square in front of the cathedral with trees plated on both sides of it, their branches forming almost a tunnel above the square.

  • Municipal albergue – yes, 6 Euro. Albergue de Peregrinos – 46 beds, hot shower, wi-fi, opens at 1 pm.
  • Private albergue  – yes
  • Hotel, pension – yes
  • ATM – yes
  • Restaurant, café – yes
  • Supermarket – yes
  • Pharmacy – yes

Places to stay in Padrón

Day 12. Padrón to Santiago de Compostela, 25km

Some people from our albergue started walking that day at 5 am to be able to attend the Pilgrim’s Mass in the cathedral at 12 am. The first part of the day it’s flat mostly through the forest, the second part has a couple of hills to conquer, but all this is nothing compared to the excitement and happiness you experience approaching the Cathedral. If it’s your first Camino you’ll see how thrilled you’ll be when you put down your backpack at the Obradoiro Square in front of the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela.

We’d suggest booking accommodation in advance especially in months of July and August, the peak season for the Camino.  There are many albergues, hostels, hotels, and apartments in Santiago for any budget.

If you have time and strength you can continue walking from Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre or Muxía – a beautiful 3-4 day walk with beautiful forest and sea scenery. If you don’t have time to walk to Finisterre you can do a day bus tour from Santiago to Finisterre and Muxía.

Accommodation on the route

Narrow streets of Santiago de Compostela on the way to the Cathedral
On the streets of Santiago de Compostela, approaching the Cathedral, the end of the Camino Portugues

Santiago de Compostela, the end of the Portuguese Camino

Now it’s time to relax after a couple of tough walking weeks and spoil yourself staying in a nice place, you deserved it after sleeping in dozens of albergues with shared everything! There are many options in Santiago the most difficult is to choose the right one for you. In the peak season, I’d recommend booking your accommodation in Santiago in advance the best and the most central places might be fully booked.

There is one special place in the city for pilgrims – Hospedaria San Marín Pinário Seminario Mayor. The place has been hosting pilgrims since the 16th century. Nowadays it’s an expensive hotel but they have special budget rooms for pilgrims. These rooms are quite small and modest but they’re private and have an attached bathroom. The location of the place is amazing, right next to the Cathedral. A single room costs 25 Euro, a double room 35 Euro. You have to book it at least a couple of weeks in advance. You can do it via e-mail. They reply quickly. As an option you can stay in one of the renovated rooms, it’s more expensive but more comfortable, these rooms can be booked online.

Places to stay in Santiago

Tours and activities in Santiago de Compostela

If you have a couple of days before your return flight you can explore Santiago de Compostela and its surroundings, there are many tours and activities in the city.

Getting the Compostela in Santiago

Every pilgrim that walked 100km or more to Santiago can get a Compostela – an accreditation of pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Jacob. During the Pilgrim’s Mass, they mention in the prayer the pilgrims that arrived that day in Santiago and registered at the office for their Compostelas according to their country of origin e.g. 50 pilgrims from Spain, 30 pilgrims from the US, 10 from Australia, etc.

To get the Compostela;

  • go with your Credential to the Pilgrim Office in Santiago.
  • wait in the queue, it can take anything between 30min. and 3 hours depending on the number of pilgrims.

At the Pilgrims’ Office you can get the Certificate of Distance as well it’s similar to the Compostela paper but it includes more details; the name of the Camino you walked, when and where you started and total distance walked. The Certificate costs 3 Euro. You can buy a Tubo (cardboard tube) to put your Credential and Certificate in to make sure they won’t tear or get dirty.

Botafumeiro ceremony in the Cathedral de Santiago

Unfortunately, it takes place only on special religious occasions, here is the complete list of the celebrations. Apparently, Botafumeiro is an expensive ceremony and the cathedral can’t afford to do it every day or even once a week. It’s possible to arrange it for 400 Euro. It doesn’t matter how many people pay for it only you or a group of 50 the ceremony will take place during the Pilgrim’s Mass and will be public. So if you’re 10 or more people it’s not that expensive. You have to book it beforehand for a specific day when you’re planning to be in Santiago.

I’ve seen Botafumeiro once and it’s something to experience especially if you just completed your pilgrimage! Important! No photo or video footage is allowed during the Mass even if you pay for Botafumeiro you can’t take photos. To make a booking write to [email protected].

Portuguese Camino final thoughts

It was our first Camino de Santiago though we’d done many hikes before the Camino is a completely different experience. It was our longest uninterrupted hike and we didn’t know what to expect. The great thing about any Camino is that anybody can do it no matter how fit or unfit you’re, just choose your pace and daily distance and you’ll be able to reach Santiago, it might take you one or three weeks but who cares!

People walk the Camino with different intentions and reasons; for some, it’s a pilgrimage with a religious background, some want to have some time to think, some people like us just like hiking, for others it’s a great and budget way to see a country and hundreds of other reasons.

Regarding our Camino choice; first of all, we didn’t want to walk a very crowded way so not the French Way; second, we started in mid-May which is a good time for walking in this region it was already warm but not too hot. Third, the Portuguese route goes through the parts of Spain and Portugal that we haven’t been to. We did like this walk and it inspired us to do more Caminos de Santiago in the nearest future. Buen Camino!

Camino Portuguese planning resources

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