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Written by
Ewan
Ewan

Walk of the Week: Camino Portugués

Probably the least explored country of western Europe, Portugal still hides its radiant light under a bushel.  While the Algarve gets all the plaudits and tourism, the rest of the country keeps itself to itself, with the grandeur of Spain always casting its shadow on its skinny cousin.   However, this just means that there is much more to explore in Portugal, much more hidden depth and by far the best way to discover this is by walking the Camino Portugués. [caption id="attachment_15860" align="aligncenter" width="275"] Soaking in the History.[/caption]

  In a Nutshell

  • Distance: 611 km for the full trip from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela, however, we offer this split up into sections to allow you to discover smaller areas in less time.
  • Grading: Moderate. While it is predominantly flat, the route does have some longer days in it, so we have graded it at moderate.

Where is it?

The walk takes you from the Capital of Portugal, Lisbon, right up the western side of Portugal, taking in some of the finest, but mainly ignored cities in Europe.  Lisbon and Porto are the big ones, though relatively touristy, but you are passing through Tomar, a city founded by the Knights Templar, and the ancient university city of Coimbra. The landscapes differ dramatically as you make the pilgrimage from south to north as you would imagine on a walk of this length.  You are experiencing everything from arable land and suburb, to wild coast, deep forest and wide plain.

Why walk it?

The main and obvious reason to walk it is that it is a pilgrimage.  Though not as well known as the Camino Frances, it is still a recognised route to Santiago that gets the same Compostela certificate upon completion.  It passes through towns and cities of great religious significance, which of course brings with it a wealth of art and architecture that will make the jaw drop. [caption id="attachment_15863" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Lisbon's old town. Lisbon's old town.[/caption] However, as I alluded to in the opening paragraph, the main reason, for me, to walk the Camino Portugués is to discover.   The culture, gastronomy and people of Portugal are an absolute wonder and each day on this trip will bring you experiences that you did not expect.  I have yet to encounter friendlier locals, having been invited in by people that don't speak a word of English, to sample the wine that they have grown in their back garden (and left with a bottle thrust into my hands.  And lovely wine it was too!)  The food is exceptional, honest, locally sourced and many dishes have a rich history associated with them. [caption id="attachment_15861" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Pilgrims on the route. Pilgrims on the route.[/caption] A morning coffee and cake in Coimbra is an experience not to be missed.  Though you might be a little delayed as you choose between the multitude of pastry goods, you will likely walk a bit faster as you burn off the sugar!  These little experiences, coupled with the unique history and culture of the country makes this Camino a wonderful experience.  

Planning to walk the Camino Portugués

It is simple enough to get to the start points of any of the sections on the Camino Portugués being that Lisbon, Porto and Santiago form relatively equidistant points along the route and there are great transport links to all three.  There is also an amazing bus and train service in Portugal that will help you get to any of the start points. While the final section from Tui to Santiago is exclusively in Spain, it is the most popular as you still get your Compostela for walking this section, but I would urge you to delve deeper and start way down in the heart of Portugal, to enrich your holiday experience. You can contact Macs Adventure on info@macsadventure.com for advice or reservation enquiries, or browse macsadventure.com for more trips to inspire adventure on foot.
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