03 Aug 20

Why walk the Portuguese Coastal Camino?

Sue Chater Camino

The Portuguese Coastal Way is a stunning alternative to the traditional Camino de Santiago. It starts in the vibrant UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Porto and takes you through 265km of beautiful, diverse scenery through to Santiago De Compostela. Amazing coastal views and untouched natural beauty will create long-lasting memories for anyone who chooses this trail.

You could start your journey with a few fun-filled days in Porto. Take a visit to one of the many port cellars, explore the markets and the old town, and spend some time relaxing at one of the many cafes or wine bars sprawled along the river front. This city does not disappoint and is an exciting and memorable way to start your Camino.

The Portuguese Coastal Way meanders through stunning diverse scenery such as the wild Atlantic Ocean, forests, vineyards and farmland. There are opportunities for beach walking across many of the sandy beaches and on a hot day, you can even take a dip in the ocean and cool off so don’t forget to pack your bathers!

It passes through some gorgeous coastal villages and towns, and there are some great rest day options on this walk.

Some of our suggestions are:

  • Baiona is a charming Galician seaside village with an inviting feel as soon as you arrive. You can spend some time enjoying the comfort of the Parador De Baiona (included on RAW Travel itineraries) and also wander through the town centre and try out the local delicacies: seafood, tapas and wine.
  • Vigo is an industrial city but during the summer months, you have the option to take a ferry from Vigo for a day trip to the Cies Islands. These islands are in a beautiful protected national park and are sometimes referred to as the Caribbean of Spain. A fantastic option for those warmer summer months.
  • Redondela has very special authenticity about it which must be experienced. Upon arriving, its warmth will capture you. Spend your rest day exploring the cobbled pathways, cafes and old stone buildings.
  • Caldas De Reis is a spa town with some natural hot springs, perfect for soaking your feet after a hard day of walking, or perhaps enjoy a massage or some pampering as you take a day to relax.
A less-signed Camino

The Portuguese Coastal way is a less-signed Camino, meaning it is great for those who are seeking more of a challenge and adventure. Some sections along the coast are not very well signposted. Ensure that you have a navigation application downloaded on your phone (www.maps.me is a great navigation app, which does not require an internet connection to work). The coastal path becomes well signed later on the path when it meets with the traditional way in Redondela. Here the yellow arrows will continue to show you the way and you will also meet up with more pilgrims with whom you can continue your journey.

Keep in mind that this Camino is far less crowded than the French way. When walking on the coast from Porto through to Redondela you may not see other pilgrims for one or more days. It is a great alternative for those who are seeking a sense of solitude and want some time for reflection on their Camino.

The ‘friendly way’

You may sometimes hear this way referred to as ‘the friendly way’ because of the extreme friendliness and warmth of the locals. English is not widely spoken in the region so brushing up on some of the local languages will help you in so many ways. The locals really appreciate it and it will really help you when ordering from menus and asking questions. Check out www.duolingo.com – the world’s most popular way to learn another language. It is easy fun and free to use.

A perfect summer walk

Its proximity to the ocean ensures that this Camino is perfect for the summer months. April through to October are all good options to walk, with June to August being the ideal months for this walk. The terrain is varied with highways, coastal paths, rocky pathways and dirt tracks. It doesn’t pass through any mountain ranges and has no real elevation as such, ensuring it is moderate in difficulty.

Tasty seafood and delicious wine

The Portuguese Coastal Way is famous for its fresh seafood. There are over 300 cod recipes in Portugal, all of them incredibly tasty and the Portuguese believe that no one cooks cod as they do. Come and see for yourself! The region is also famous for its delicious Albariño wine, and on the first Sunday in August every year, the Albariño Wine Festival is held. A variety of wine also comes in fresh from the douro valley and of course port is also plentiful from the port cellars in Porto. Wine from four of the Douro’s vineyards is transported to the cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia to be fortified with aguardente (grape spirit) and aged in wooden barrels for at least three years. A must try in this part of the world.

The areas of Redondela and Pontevedra are also known for having the best oysters in Galicia. According to some statistics, about 95% of flat oysters consumed in Spain originate from the estuaries and bays around the village. They are filled with the salt of the sea and have a chewy, meaty flesh. This all of course, makes for a wonderful fresh and natural combination of seafood, native oysters and wine, a lovely reward after each day’s walk.

In addition to the above, if you complete more than 100km of this way, you will be eligible to receive your Compostela, your Certificate of Completion of the Camino De Santiago. So, if receiving your Compostela is of importance then don’t worry, as longs as you stamp your credential twice per day the certificate is all yours.

Of course, walking into Santiago De Compostela is a true highlight of the walk. Enjoy this inspirational city and take a visit to the Cathedral.

Getting there and away

Porto

  • You can choose to fly into Lisbon and take a train from there (approx. 2.5 hours ) direct to the city centre.
  • You can fly into Madrid and from there take another flight to Porto (approx. 1 hour).  To get from the airport to the city centre a taxi is approximately 50 euros. Or you can take the train to the city centre. The purple metro line (line E) has regular departures; frequency between 5 and 10 minutes approx.

Baiona

  • From Vigo you can take a bus to Baiona. There are buses every 30 minutes from Vigo on weekdays. On Saturdays and Sundays, there are buses every hour. The company providing this service is called ATSA and the buses are blue.
  • From Santiago you can take the shuttle to the bus station or the train station. From there you can catch a bus to Vigo Bus Station (about 2 hours, see www.monbus.es) or a train (1 hour and a half approximately, see: www.renfe.es). The take the bus from Vigo as per the above.
  • From Porto the best option is to get to Vigo either by train or bus. From Vigo then take a bus to Baiona

Santiago

Getting away from Santiago for onward travel is very easy. There is an airport with a great network of airlines coming in and out. A taxi from the city centre to the airport should be approximately 20 euros.

There are also buses and trains coming in and out. Please check these websites for further information.

The website www.rome2rio.com is also a great tool to use when planning your trip and is very user friendly.

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