Our Camino de Santiago addiction continues with the picturesque Camino Portuguese Coastal Route from Porto to Santiago. We would highly recommend this route for anyone who wants fewer people on the road, amazing views, and almost flat terrain.
This is our third and forth Camino after our first Camino from Leon to Santiago and our second Camino Frances from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Boadilla.
Getting ready for Camino Portugues Coastal
We tend to stick to our Camino de Santiago packing list. We pack the same way – same backpacks, same light running sneakers, same 3-4 T-shirts, and so on. A big revelation of Camino Portuguеs was that using sandals actually caused me fewer issues with my feet so after day 4 I said goodbye to my sneakers and packed them deep in the bottom of my backpack. It’s definitely not super fashionable to walk with sandals and socks but that’s something I totally love.
Weather in September in Northern and coastal Portugal and in Galicia could be tricky, but we experienced heavy rain (required putting on everything water-proof we had) just once. We had a few drizzles but nothing to worry about. Most of the days were a delightful mix of sunshine with some cute clouds. Once we had a magical morning fog in the woods.
Camino Portugues is the perfect Camino de Santiago for those who are not huge fans of the uphill-downhill walking. Your knees will be so thankful to you if you choose this route. Plus the first days after Porto you can just take a dip in the ocean and freshen up. It’s as simple as that – the perks of walking along the coastline. All the major Camino de Santiago questions we summarized in a separate article.
We took the walked distances using Nace’s Garmin watch. They may vary from the standard values, but it’s a realistic insight on how much we actually walked on the Camino.
Our Camino Portuguese Coastal route stages
Day 0 Arriving in Porto
The Portuguese Camino actually starts from Lisbon. If you have two extra weeks, we suggest you start from the beginning. We received very positive feedback on the Lisbon – Porto leg of the Camino de Santiago. The route mostly goes inland the country, sometimes you walk on major roads, but the countryside is beautiful and the people that you’ll stay with are said to be super welcoming and friendly.
If you decide to start from Porto as we did, then we suggest spending a day in Porto to just walk around, absorb the atmosphere of the city and maybe indulge with a glass of Port wine and a Fado show. We decided to go for the Calem cave tour + Fado show with Port wine tasting. You can also do a day trip to Coimbra – the magical university town. We were so lucky to be there just before the university year had started – and saw tens of students dressed in a very “Harry Potter” style.
Day 1 on Camino de Santiago Portuguese Coastal: Porto – Vila do Conde 26.14 km
New Camino, new itinerary, new emotions! 🚶🏼 Bom caminho! 🚶♀️
It sounds weird but on the way out of Porto, the Coastal way passes industrial zone so we suggest sticking to the Camino Litoral way and following the coastline. The Camino Portuguese in Porto starts from the Se Cathedral in Porto where you can get a stamp or buy your credential. You can choose to walk to the coastline or take a tram to Foz do Douro or Matosinhos. We chose the latter as we visited Foz do Douro the previous day. It’s a very picturesque place where the river Douro goes into the Atlantic Ocean.
Matosinhos is a port and we waved goodbye a few huge ships sailing off. We continued along the promenades and boardwalks all the way to Vila do Conde. Albergue de peregrinos Santa Clara was so full of people that we actually manage to catch the last few spots on the floor inside the entrance hall. Wow! Hope the Camino Portugues becomes less crowded…
Day 2 on Camino de Santiago Portuguese Coastal: Vila do Conde – Fão 25.13 km
From Vila do Conde to Fão – just a ‘short’ day of 25K walking through a fog, sun and wind!
It was a foggy day on the Camino Portugues, but the views were still beautiful. We managed to chat with a few other pilgrims. Gabi (who is a Portuguese lady we became friends with) said pousada de juventude might be an affordable option for pilgrims in places that are not all about the Camino. We called in advance and reserved beds in Pousada de juventude in Fao.
Day 3 on Camino de Santiago Portuguese Coastal: Fão – Viana do Castelo 28.8 km
Day 3 or the toughest day so far – Camino Portuguese Coastal can also have some uphills and downhills too… But who wouldn’t love walking for 10 hours?
This was the longest and most tiring day of Camino Portuguese Coastal so far. In the end, we felt like we’re entering Viana do Castelo for hours… My feet started shaking, it’s great we reserved on the phone Pousada de Juventude Viana do Castelo with a pilgrim discount.
We organized a nice dinner – cooked ourselves, drank some delicious rose wine and chatted until we felt so sleepy we couldn’t stay awake anymore. My body was still in shock and shaking, but I knew I had to get myself together! That’s my pattern on the Camino – the second/third day is the worst. If I survive this, I can go on forever.
Day 4 on Camino de Santiago Portuguese Coastal: Viana do Castelo – Vila Praia de Âncora 21.33 km
Day 4 of Camino Portugues or the day we found the most amazing beach in Portugal!
For the first part of the day, we didn’t follow the coastline. We passed hilly picturesque Portuguese villages, played with a friendly cat. Then we had to cross railways, which is always cool and could be a bit of adrenaline experience. We somehow started to approach the coastline back again (after stopping for a beer in an anonymous village) and then we saw the most amazing huge beach in Portugal – the one at Vila Praia de Ancora. We knew we’re staying there! We actually stayed at Hostel D’Avenida – super amazing and comfortable place, with a view towards the ocean.
There were some surfers n the waters, and us – cooling down our sore feet. The atmosphere in Vila Praia de Ancora gave me some hope I’ll be better. From the next day, I’d take off my sneakers and try walking in sandals.
Day 5 on Camino de Santiago Portuguese Coastal: Vila Praia de Âncora – A Guarda 16.86 km
Day 5: Our last and very beautiful walk in Portugal and our first and very beautiful walk in Spain. We transition from ‘Bom Caminho’ to ‘Buen Camino’! We’re leaving the last Portuguese town Caminho to enter the Spanish A Pasaxe. Two beautiful coastal walks separated by a ferry across the bordering river – Rio Minho. Camino Portugues still continues to follow the mesmerizing Atlantic coast!
Sandals turned out to be the best idea ever so I could completely enjoy the walk. As we wanted to stay in A Guarda, we had plenty of time so we detoured to a very beautiful area. We went around the whole piece of land, locked between the Atlantic Ocean and Rio Minho and enjoyed forests, wild beaches. We ended up in A Guarda too early for the Albergue de Peregrinos de A Guarda to be open, but we managed to chat with other pilgrims. The night at the port town of A Guarda was so beautiful!
Day 6 on Camino de Santiago Portuguese Coastal: A Guarda – Mougás 20.03 km
Day 6 – a day so close to the ocean…
The little villages with old churches and windmills said ¡Hola! to us and we remained capture by the ocean until the very sunset in Mougas.
It was a cloudy day but that didn’t stop the fishermen from standup fishing in the ocean, nor the pilgrims to walk up and down on cobblestone streets, nor the beautiful Roman bridge to carry them. We took out an additional layer of clothing which is a big deal – we rarely feel cold on the Camino. We stayed at Albergue Turistico Aguncheiro.
Day 7 on Camino de Santiago Portugues Coastal: Mougás – Ramallosa 17.32 km
Day 7 – we started foggy and misty, faces-condensed. The day revealed its sunny side later when we hanged some underwear to dry over our backpacks. The night was a fusion of a visit to a small town mall and sleeping in a 17th century’s old house. What a diverse day!
The mystical fog was a highlight of this Camino. When we got to San Pedro da Ramallosa, we took advantage of the perks of a bigger city – proper laundry, food corner at the mall, things like these. The albergue part of Pazo Pias – the stone house with three chapels, was just as beautiful! We actually stayed at a tiny double room with a private bathroom! Simple pleasures of life.
Day 8 on Camino de Santiago Portuguese Coastal: Ramallosa – O Freixo 16.84 km
Día 8 – what happens when you decide to detour from the Camino and avoid a big city? Will the green arrows take us to a secluded experience in the mountain?
We really wanted to skip staying at Vigo so we found an alternative way through the mountain staying at the only albergue in O Freixo. It was such an intimate experience as the only room in it had 5 beds. It was more of a shelter for those who got lost. Still, we managed to blend in with the locals in the pub downstairs, to watch a traditional dance rehearsal and to visit a small Spanish village that we would otherwise never had visited.
Day 9 on Camino de Santiago Portugues Coastal: O Freixo – Redondela 24.2 km
Day 9 – we lost the Camino. The worst thing that can happen to a pilgrim is to lose the yellow arrows. We just spotted one right before we had to follow a highway. So we thought the Camino found us at the very right moment… BUT then the big rain started… Three hours later we got to Redondela soaking wet but in such a good mood!
Yes, we wanted to avoid Vigo, but it didn’t work out well for us. We walked through the sea-industrial part of the city and as soon as the hope appeared because we were leaving town through the villa zone, it started pouring. By the time we got to Redondela, we were soaking wet and the “aroma” in the albergue was excruciating. Redondela is not supposed to be the place where Camino Portuguese Coastal and Camino Portuguese Central join but there were definitely many more people. We stayed at A Casa da Herba, the hospitaleros were super nice!
Day 10 on Camino de Santiago Portugues Coastal: Redondela – Pontevedra 18.55 km
Día 10 – ay ay ay Camino is getting crowded! Pontevedra is the place where different Camino routes get together. So along with the nice hilly views and Galician houses we were accompanied by so many pilgrims today! Which is how we decided to explore an alternative – variante Espiritual. Stay with us to see how it goes!
More Camino vibes are what we noticed, more shells around, more pilgrims. Redondela is a picturesque town and we were lucky to find the albergue that was at the beginning of town and had space for us so we could later do some walks. Cheers to Albergue Virgen Peregrina and our lovely self-cooked dinner!
Day 11 on Camino de Santiago Portugues Coastal Espiritual: Pontevedra – Armenteira 24.44 km
Day 11 – we detoured to the so-called Variante Espiritual – Camino Portugues Spiritual. This is believed to be the way Santiago’s followers carried his remains. We don’t know about spirituality, but the first day of this route was so scenic, so colorful, so festive! We couldn’t stop taking pictures and videos! Check them out in the video below!
We stayed at Albergue De Peregrinos Armenteira which was probably the only albergue – not so many people decide to take the spiritual detour. We were laughing as we already knew pretty much all the people on our Camino route with all their specifics (i.e. who snores the most).
Day 12 on Camino de Santiago Portugues Coastal Espiritual: Armenteira – Vilanova de Arousa 24.55 km
Day 12 – the Camino Espiritual continues to give us amazing views and feelings. The vibes of this green tunnel in a forest, full of sawmills, the wine routes we followed, the river fauna, and the light rain to all those sandy beaches at low tide! The best detour we did!
The big question in Vilanova de Arousa was when would be the next boat to Pontecesures. We wanted to do the original Camino Portuguese Spiritual way. So they used a boat to carry the remains up the river Ulla. We stayed the night at Albergue De Peregrinos in Vilanova de Arousa which occupies a sports hall. We were hoping the next day will bring no rain and fog so we can actually enjoy the boat ride.
Day 13 on Camino de Santiago Portugues Coastal Espiritual: Vilanova de Arousa – Pontecesures – Teo 13.61 km
Day 13 – the last part of our spiritual detour! A very different day too! Time for the third stage of Camino Espiritual – sailing from the ocean up the river Ulla to Pontecesures where followers of Santiago himself carried his remains! Buen Camino Crucero!
Morning misty fog, mussels farms, some crosses, Viking ships, and many more interesting highlights during our sailing. We couldn’t help but walk a bit after that. And we finished the day with a dinner with pilgrim friends with homemade tortilla cooked by a local. All that in a very random place – Albergue de Peregrinos de Teo. But it was actually very nice and nobody complained about our kitchen endeavors.
Day 14 on Camino de Santiago Portugues Coastal: Arriving in Santiago de Compostela 15.71 km
Day 14 – arriving in Santiago. We were happy to come to the end in good health and sad at the same time – another wonderful Camino experience was coming to an end… Santiago was too overwhelming but we had a lovely fun night out with some pilgrim friends!
We arrived early enough but decided to skip lining up for Compostela certificates. Maybe next time… 😉
We stayed at Albergue Seminario Menor which is set in an old seminary and has huge hallways with beds but also private rooms if you decide to reward yourself for surviving Camino de Santiago.
Last night on Camino de Santiago Portuguese: The great finish – Paris Dakar (Santiago de Compostela bar hopping)
One of our Camino fellows on the road said we should do the Paris-Dakar once we get to Santiago. Paris-Dakar is a pub-crawling rally – you start in the first bar which is called Paris and are supposed to have a drink in all the bars down the street until you reach Dakar. Well, the reality was that we spent at least 30 minutes in each place so we could visit only 4-5 of the pit stops of the pilgrims’ rally. Also, there turned out to be way too many pubs and bars so nobody could handle a drink in each, anyway. It was a lovely time to remember the good not-so-old times of the Camino Portuguese Coastal, to meet up with friends we had split ways with, to get tipsy, and promise that we’ll do Paris-Dakar at the end of every Camino from then on.
Our Camino Portuguese Coastal + Spiritual detour is over! The good news is the countdown to our new Camino says we leave in just a few days! We will start another Camino Portuguese (Coastal, Central, Spiritual, or mix) with the possibility to add the Santiago – Finisterre – Muxia section by walking! Buen Camino!
Many special thanks to Christian for his document with all the places you can stay along the Camino Portuguese! It’s such a helpful resource, and it’s constantly updated! Buen Camino!