Adventure of the Week: Camino Portugués: The Coastal Way
The Camino Portugués has been gaining in popularity for the last decade. Many people who walk the Camino Frances are looking for a 'what next' and walking from Lisbon, up to Santiago seems like the logical solution. A fantastic walk through the heart of Portugal, meeting its friendly people, eating the hearty food and drinking the little known, but exceptional wine. It was all going great, until after Porto, some people seemed to feel that the route fell flat. The final stretch to Santiago on the Camino Frances is delightful, which made the last couple of weeks from Porto a bit of an anti-climax by comparison. However, at Macs Adventure we always want the best for our customers, so we have dedicated the time to solving this minor disappointment and have come away with the stunning Camino Portugués: The Coastal Way
In a nutshell
Going from Porto to Santiago, via the coast, rather than the more traditional inland route. It is a quieter, more beautiful route, along the wild Atlantic coast of northern Portugal. It takes in stunning little fishing villages and towns where you feel you would love to live all climaxing with that final walk into Santiago de Compostela, to finish your pilgrimage in style. Distance: 265km. However, we split the trip into two sections so that you can split it up or just walk one or the other. Porto to A Guarda, just over the border in Spain, is 102km, over six days walking. From A Guarda to Santiago is 157km over nine days walking. Of course, if you are walking the full Camino from Lisbon, you can add this alternative route from Porto rather than the more traditional one. Grade: Moderate. The walking is on a mix of coastal path, small quiet roads, forest track and concrete path, with some undulation along the coast as you might expect. With days of around 20km, the walking is perfectly achievable for someone with a reasonable level of fitness.
Porto is Portugal's great northern city. Its city centre has been named a UNESCO world heritage site and for good reason. It is one of the most progressive, forward-thinking cities regarding urban design and ownership and is well worth spending a bit of time there. The walk then takes you out along the coast, heading towards Santiago de Compostela, the end point of so many different Pilgrimage routes from across Europe.
Why Walk Here?
Despite seeming to be otherwise, Portugal is one of Europe's hidden gems. While holidaymakers visit here in their droves, over a third of them only visit the Algarve, the rest focusing on Lisbon and Porto. Outside of these pockets of loveliness lies a very beautiful country, steeped in warm tradition, just waiting to be discovered. The people of Portugal are intensely friendly, hugely welcoming and always happy to help. I have been invited in for a glass of local wine on more than one occasion in rural Portugal, and the Portuguese people make visiting their country a great pleasure. Vigo, one of Spain's best-kept secrets[/caption] This trip offers a chance to explore a part of Portugal and Galicia (in Spain) that many people would never even think to visit. It is an entirely immersive cultural experience all with the added reverence of being on a pilgrimage, which the local people take very seriously. The rugged coastline of northern Portugal and Galicia is a treasure trove of outstanding vistas and breathtaking coastal path. Porto itself is a significant draw and arguably one of the best cities in Europe to disappear into for a few days. Its city centre is dripping with old world charm. There has been a significant push in the last decade to avoid gentrification from the outside, so living in the redeveloped city centre has become cheaper for those who have always lived there. This has inspired a host of bars, restaurants and local shops, all run by local people, giving it a fantastic communal atmosphere. There is also the hidden gem of a city that is Vigo. Your coastal walk takes you through this Galician wonder, a small, cosy city, full of vibrance and life. Being on the coast, the seafood is a real highlight here and nowhere is this showcased better than on the Rúa de Pescadería, where fresh oysters are shucked every day between 8.30 and 3.30. The city is bursting with restaurants, bars and friendly people who don't see many tourists.
Planning and preparation
You can take the Camino Portugués: Coastal Way anytime between March and October. While in many parts of southern Europe, summer is unbearably hot, here it is not too bad, so even in the warmer months of July and August, you can walk comfortably on this route. There are many direct flights into Porto and away from Santiago, so travelling to and from the route is a piece of cake, and again, if you want to combine this with the full Camino Portugués, that is no problem at all. Our D&A Specialists know the area inside out and can give you all the advice you will need about the trip, so don't hesitate to get in touch with them by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org