As everybody knows there are plenty of Caminos which end in Santiago de Compostela. Which one is the Camino Portugues?
This Camino starts in Lisbon, Portuguese capital city, and it ends in Santiago. The journey of 383 miles (616km) through stunning unspoiled Portuguese and Galician countryside. Alternatively, lots of pilgrims prefer to start their journey from the medieval heart of Porto, which is 149 miles (240km). if you choice is this second route Porto–Santiago, you can walk the Camino Portugues in two stages. The first stage from Porto to Tui (a town located on the border between Portugal and Spain).This stage´s duration is 7 days. The second stage will be also 7 days and you will be trekking the Southern part of Galicia (Spain).
Why should we choose the Camino Portugues?
There are several reasons why plenty of pilgrims have chosen this route and we are going to analyze them:
This is the second most popular Camino. However, it´s much less crowded than the Camino Frances. According to statistics from the Pilgrims office in Santiago, over 70% of those receiving the Compostela certificate walk the Camino Frances. The Camino Portugues is only a 14%. So if you are thinking in walking the Camino in summer this is the best option since “albergues” in the Camino Frances are usually over-crowded in summer season. Furthermore, the Camino Portugues offers you a great range of accommodation. Since 4 or 5 stars hotels and Paradores to Rustic Guesthouses (casas rurales) and popular “albergues”.
- A quiet route
There are thousands of kilometers of Camino trails across Spain and Portugal so there are many options for those looking for a quieter route. If you are looking to escape the heat of summer and the crowds, be able to dip into the Ocean after a day´s walk, walk your Camino on your own for days without meeting other pilgrims… this is your Camino. Pilgrim traffic is usually low. There is no need to rush to the next town to get a place to stay. There is no sense of urgency or worries about finding accommodation. However, there are some stretches which are not so quiet and some pilgrims complain about sections of the Camino which are walked on annoying traffic road. There are often alternative routes, for instance: some pilgrims are nervous about the walk out of Porto and the traffic problems but there is a safer alternative detour out of Porto to Matosinhos and on to Vila do Conde and so on to Sao Pedro de Rates where you pick up the interior route and avoid the stressful walk on busy roads north of Porto. You always can find information about this in forums, agencies or asking some locals.
- Enough time to walk the Camino
If walking Camino Francés, you don´t have to start your Camino walk in Saint Jean Pied de Port, you can start at any stage of the way and create an itinerary adapted to the time you have available. In the same way, you don´t have to start your Camino in Lisbon walking the Camino Portuguese; Tui and Porto are among the top camino starting points. Also, it is one of the routes which allows you to obtain the Compostela certificate when you walk at least from Tui to Santiago (7days).
- Local culture, gastronomy and landscape
The Portuguese Camino gently winds its way northwards along ancient tracks and paths through woodland, farmland, villages, towns and historic cities.
One of Europe’s oldest routes, the Camino Portugues is actually a direct descendent of the major Roman roads that formed the backbone of the Roman Empire. The Via XIX, built in the 1st century AD under the Emperor Augustus, continued to be in use until recent times and has seen the comings and goings of soldiers, travelers and pilgrims proceeding from towns and cities all over the country.
Cathedrals soar skywards, in Porto, Tui and Santiago; churches litter the route, with important ones at Rates, Ponte de Lima, Redondela, Pontevedra and Padron. Even along the most remote farm-tracks stand wayside crosses dedicated to St. James. At Barcelos, the granite cross recording the miracle of the Barcelos cockerel in the towns large, renaissance square.
Pine and eucalyptus forest offer yet more tranquility, an enclosed, secure incarnation of Portugals wide-open serenity. Elsewhere the landscape is slow, bucolic idyll, or open estuary.
With an abundance of small inns along the way, pilgrims walking the Camino Portugues have enjoyed the local food and wine for over a thousand years.
The entire old city of Porto was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1996 and there is plenty to do and see here. Set on the bank of the Douro River and near the Atlantic Ocean, the city is also internationally known for its famous Port wine. And there are plenty of terraces and restaurants in Porto to enjoy it.
Every village and town in the Camino has a variety of bars and restaurants, so there will be plenty of opportunities for you to enjoy the delicious gastronomy and the variety of world-famous Portuguese and Spanish wines. Many food and wine festivals take place through the year and you may be lucky enough to encounter one on your Way.
- A coastal route
The Portuguese coastal route starts in Porto and follows the Atlantic coastline to Baiona in the first week, then continues along the seaside villages and towns of the Rias Baixas until Pontevedra. You could also connect with the Finisterre and Muxía way, the only route starting in Santiago to discover the fantastic Costa da Morte with its pristine villages. If following the coastline, one can be completely sure to feel the marine breeze on their face. Some people love to walk in slightly windy conditions. Those with different inclinations should leave the Atlantic and take the way across the mountains of Argallo and Groba instead, where the landscape is completely different and essentially rough and rocky, inhabited by wild horses which turn away whenever they see someone approach them from afar.
You can also tell us your experience on Camino Portuguese.
Bom caminho, amigos!