Portugal-Camino-de-Santiago Write a review
We have been running the “classic” Leon to Santiago de Campostela Camino through Spain for many years now, and frankly, we have not been entirely happy with it. The reason being that there are too many segments where you walk along paved roads, and the countryside is not always that spectacular. One of our guides who has done the Spanish Camino did the Portugal route a few years ago and she preferred the Portugal route, by a mile. That inspired us to develop an alternative Camino tour.
We have partnered with a Portuguese kindred spirit who helped us develop the new tour for us and we can now offer wholeheartedly and without reserve what we think is the best possible Camino hiking experience available. All the criteria are fulfilled: excellent food and wine, spectacular and diverse landscapes, beautiful trails, charming accommodation, companionship, history, and culture. Some people do the Camino for all those reasons, independent of its religious connotations. Those who seek the mystic and spiritual element will not be disappointed either. Basically, this hiking tour covers the best segments of three Portuguese Camino routes: the central, the coastal and the “medieval” Camino to provide you with the most superlative Camino experience possible.
Finally, although this is a new tour for us, it has already been tried and tested. Like us, our Portuguese partners provided REI Adventures tours for many years. Like us, their guides won REI Top Guide Awards. Like us, they have a proven track record of developing and leading superlative small group tours. All elements of the tour have been part of other tours that our Portuguese partner has been running for many years. What we have done is take the top elements from several tours and put them together to create this “best of” tour.
Portugal-Camino-de-Santiago itinerary Request full itinerary
Meet your group and guides in Porto this morning. We transfer to São Pedro de Rates monastery where Saint Peter of Braga preached in the 1st Century. This makes Rates the perfect starting point for our first steps along the Central Camino trail towards Santiago de Campostela. We hike up to Santuário da Senhora da Franqueira, one of northern Portugal’s pilgrimage centers, along quaint lanes and countryside before stopping for a picnic lunch. After lunch, we transfer to Guimarães, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is a rare example of a medieval settlement exquisitely preserved within a modern town. In our exploration of the town’s medieval streets, we view 10th century Guimarães Castle and visit a site built in the style of a French chateau, called Dukes of Bragança Palace. The Hike: 7 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1509’/-708′. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and hotel included.
This morning we start hiking the “Portuguese Central Way” of the Camino. We walk through Ponte de Lima to the doorstep of Paco de Calheiros, where we stay for the next two evenings in a family-run, 17th-century manor house – just one of many baroque manors the grace Ponte de Lima’s countryside. After a midday meal followed by some free time to explore the manor house and its stunning grounds, we transfer to Ponte de Lima, the oldest village in Portugal and a historically significant Roman settlement along the road from Braga to Santiago de Compostela and Lugo. We spend the late afternoon exploring the old quarters the village, followed by dinner together. Ponte de Lima is well known for its light and fruity vinho verde wines. The Hike: 8.1 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1162’/-624′; Optional hike: 4.9 miles Breakfast, lunch, dinner and hotel included.
The friendly ghost of Queen Isabel of Portugal guides us today. She took this trail to Santiago de Compostela in the 13th Century. Starting from the mountain village of Arga de Cima the highland trail passes by granite houses and corn stacks as it leads us through the small villages of Serra D’Árga. This area still practices traditional agriculture, which means we share the lane with goats, sheep and crossing chickens. Our hike ends with a picnic lunch at a 13th century monastery, where we’re treated to views of the valley and the Minho River. We transfer to our manor and have the rest of the day free to enjoy the grounds. Some of us might head back into Ponte de Lima to shop and explore. We get dinner on our own in Ponte de Lima this evening. Breakfast and lunch included.
The Hike: 8 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1917’/-1766′ Breakfast, lunch, and hotel included. Dinner not included.
A rewarding climb starts our day, as we hike through the eucalyptus woodlands of Labruja Mountain on the Portuguese Central Camino, climbing 1,705′ and descending 1,843′ in just over a mile. We make our way to the town of Rubiães along the Roman Way, which features a 2,000 year old stone bridge which still spans the River Pedreira. Our transfer takes us to lunch in the fortified town of Valença do Minho, where we explore along the walls of the fortress. Now we are at Spain’s doorstep. We cross the International Bridge over Minho River over and settle into our hotel in Tui. For the remainder of the day, we’re free to stroll along the river into town and visit the cathedral of Tui and its medieval center, or just relax at the hotel. Breakfast and dinner included. The Hike: 8.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1705’/-1843′; Optional 2.5 mile hike, minimal elevation gain/loss. Breakfast, dinner and hotel included.
Today, we begin at the Galician fort of Castro de Santa Trega, which is strategically perched at 1,118′ above sea level overlooking the mouth of the Miño River. There, we explore the well preserved ruins of early Roman settlements. Next, we make our way to the old Cetárea – where fisherman store the lobster they have caught – via the Portuguese Coastal Camino. We enjoy a seafood lunch and a stroll around the Gondomar Castle at our next stop, the coastal village of Baiona in the province of Pontevedra, Galicia. We have the choice of either hiking the western Camino of Finisterra through old agricultural gardens and manor houses or transferring to Santiago by van. Our destination is in the Plaza Obradoiro, Santiago’s grandiose square. As we drive, the city and towers of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela come into view. Dinner is on our own tonight. Breakfast and lunch included. The Hike: 6 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +825’/-1512′; Optional 3 mile walk, minimal elevation gain/loss; Transfer: 1.5 hours. Breakfast, lunch and hotel included.
You have some choices today. For those who decide to hike the Finisterra Camino rather than explore Santiago on their own, our walk begins in the town of Oliveira. With the town of Hospital as our destination (it owes its name to a 12th-century pilgrim hospital), we wind our way through eucalyptus and pine forest overlooking the valley of the Xallas River. In Hospital, we end our hike with a picnic lunch at the church of Nossa Senhora das Neves. We transfer to Cape Finisterra, the historical “Land’s End” for pilgrimages that predate Christianity, and the final destination for many pilgrims who walk the Camino de Santiago. The spectacular Costa da Morte, translated as “Coast of Death” and named for many shipwrecks over the centuries, provides magnificent views. At day’s end, we enjoy a celebratory farewell dinner together. All meals included (lunch not included for free day in Santiago).
The Hike: 9 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1039’/-1023′. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and hotel included. (lunch not included for those who opt for the free day in Santiago).
After breakfast, we go our separate ways. Of course, you can continue to explore this exquisite region of Spain or return to Porto with our guides or transfer on your own to Santiago’s airport. Our van transfer from Santiago de Compostela arrives back at downtown Porto at around 11:30. If you wish to depart from Santiago’s de Compostela airport, it is 18 minutes from our Santiago di Compostela hotel by taxi or Uber. Breakfast included.
Our goal is to follow the schedule above. But the itinerary can change for many reasons beyond our control, such as changing weather and terrain conditions.
Activity Level 2 = Easy to Moderate:
In general: This is an Easy to Moderate tour for fit hikers, and will be do-able with some effort by less fit hikers.
Terrain: Flat to gently rolling terrain with some rocky areas. Perhaps some short, relatively steep climbs and descents, but nothing longer than 20 minutes.
Actual walking time: Between 4 - 6 hours per day, mostly in the morning but sometimes also in the afternoon
Distances: Usually 7 - 14 km (4.5 - 8 mi). Max distance is 15.5 km (9 mi) on the optional Day 6 hike.
Surfaces: Trails consist mainly of compact earth and/or gravel and sometimes gravel roads
Footing: Easy/good. Proper hiking shoes with thick soles with good treads are required. Sport sandals, running shoes and tennis shoes are not adequate.
Hiking Poles: Not required, but if you habitually use hiking poles then you will find them helpful
Compared to the Cinque Terre: This tour is significantly easier than the hikes in the Cinque Terre
Other: This tour is appropriate for fit, first-time “hikers” who enjoy walking
Easy to Moderate Tours: Puglia & Basilicata, Piedmont Walk. All of our boat–based tours in Turkey, Croatia, and Greece Dodecanese Islands would be “easy to moderate” IF you decide to skip the one or two of the more challenging hikes. Your guides of course can advise you of the difficulty level and the terrain and footing of each walk.
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