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The Portuguese Way is an ideal route for all those who want to live the experience of discovering the Portuguese and Galician cultures. The starting point is the capital of Portugal - Lisbon. On the way you will pass through many beautiful cities and rural areas that you will not forget.
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The Portuguese Way is a completely unique path. Here you won't find hardly any ups and downs or uneven surfaces, like in the French Way. But like other ways, it is loaded with a millenary history, and it runs through natural landscapes, forests, paths, medieval bridges, crossroads, rivers, oak groves, etc. In the past, this Way was an important commercial and cultural route. As you will see when you walk it, social, economic and cultural relations were the main motivation for pilgrims to take this Way, apart from devotion.
Are you considering doing the Portuguese Way? Then you are at the right place. Here we offer you a detailed guide to do the de Way of Saint James via the Portuguese Way.
The Portuguese Way is the second most popular route on the Camino de Santiago, only after the Camino Frances. It ranks higher than other important paths, sush as the Camino del Norte, the Via de la Plata or the Camino Primitivo.
The Portuguese Way starts from Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, and runs from south to north throughout Portuguese and Galician cities and towns, such as Coimbra, Porto, Ponte de Lima, Pontevedra, Caldas de Reis or Padron. It has a length of 385 miles in total, and consists of 25 stages, between 8 and 21 miles each.
When the Portuguese Way enters Galicia, two different routes emerge from it, but the best route starts from Tui, in the province of Pontevedra, and ends in Santiago de Compostela. This route has 73 miles that can be done comfortably in 5 or 6 days.
If you walk the Portuguese Way, you can go through the 239 miles (385 km) in 25 stages. If you choose to do the Camino by bike, the stages will be 5 in total.
You are going to leave the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, the city of light. You can enjoy its beautiful sunrise over the Tejo and then start walking towards Alhandra through the Caminho do Tejo, a spiritual journey towards Fatima. If you have time, you may spend the day touring Lisbon and tasting the wonders of Portuguese cuisine, such as the green sauce, the feijoadas or the famous and delicious pastries of Belém or the natas.
We continue towards Azambuja, which is 11 miles away from Alhandra, walking a road that follows the rain tracks. In Azambuja, the hightlights are the Pelourinho de Manique do Intendente (in the village of the same name), and the Church of la Asunción. At this stage, you can try the delicious enguias fritas, the ensopado de enguias, the lamprey rice or queijadinhas for dessert.
Following the path we will arrive to Santarém, following the river Tagus. This is the capital of Gothic art in Portugal. Its churches are woth visiting, especially the Church of Graça or the Cathedral. Don't miss the Castel of Amourol, located in an island in the middle of river Tagus. Speaking of the Tagus, in these lands you can taste the fish, eels and lampreys (when in season). The Portuguese broths of this area are quite famous, and there is a recognized wine route.
We start from Santarém, following the course of the Tagus, passing through Pombalinho to Golegã. In this area there is also the town of Azinhaga, birthplace of the Literature Nobel Laureate José Saramago. Golegã is also famous for the Horse Fair, which is held in the month of November. In this stage you will have to make space in your backpack for extra provisions before leaving Santarém, since you won't find too many public services in the intermediate locations. When you get to Golegã you can try some of their famous soups or cod alapardana, with cabbage and bread from Broa.
You will arrive to Tomar after walking 13 miles. This was the former seat of the Order of Solomon's Temple, and a city with great charm, full of history and artistic and cultural wealth. It is worth taking a moment to visit the Convent of Christ, one of the most important Renaissance works in Portugal, or the vestiges of the Temple, as the castle of the 12th century. Every 4 years at the beginning of July they celebrate the Festa dos Tabuleiros, one of the oldest festivals in Portugal that has its origin in the celebrations of the harvest to the Roman goddess Ceres.
You will walk millenarian roads in this stage, and you will find vestiges of other times, such as the bridge with Gothic arches of Peniche, which was part of a very old way of communication between the cities of Tomar and Coimbra. In Tomar you can visit the Templar Castle or the Convent of Christ, as well as other monumental churches, and try the migas de feijão or the feijões with salsa. You can finish your meal with the famous faticas de Tomar.
We continue along the old Roman road, stopping halfway in Ansião, a town famous for the monumental castle of Santiago da Guarda. Arriving at Rabaçal, you can take the opportunity to visit the castle of Germanelo or the Villa Romana, discovered in the 80s and with a magnificent set of mosaics. The town of Rabaçal is also famous for its cheese. The Região Centro de Portugal (Central Portugal) also offers some of its own dishes such as migas with morcela or the soup à lavrador or feijão verde.
If you have reached Rabaçal and you have well recovered, you can walk 8 miles to Cernache. This is a midway point, since Coimbra is another 8 miles away from here. Before reaching this beautiful city, a World Heritage Site, you can stop at the ancient Roman city of Conímbriga, located in the town of Condeixa a Velha. After continuing on the road you will reach the beautiful city of Coimbra, the old capital of Portugal and home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, founded in 1290. Its cathedral and churches, parks and university buildings, and the promenades along the Mondego river deserve to be visited. At lunch or dinner time, you can ask for the famous roasts, such as cabrito em forno de lenha o el leitão assado à moda da Bairrada, for instance. For dessert: a shot of jeropinga, much appreciated by the students, sweet rice or Coimbra cakes.
Following the course of the Mondego River you will arrive at Mealhada. On its gates there is a Milliarium, from the 1st century, that indicates the 12th mile on the Roman Via de Olissipo, a road leading to Cale (Vila Nova de Gaia). And, if you want to stop midway, go visit Mata do Bussaco, a unique architectural, botanical and landscape complex. In its center, you will find the Palácio Real, considered the last legacy of the Kings of Portugal, now converted into a beautiful hotel.
Following the IC2 highway, you will pass through Aguim, Anadia and Avelas do Caminho to reach Águeda. The river of Águeda forms the largest lake in the entire peninsula - Pateira de Fermentelos. In Águeda you can try the goat meat, mutton, rabbit or leitão (pork) roasted with different side dishes. For dessert, the famous pasteis of Santa Águeda, shaped like female breasts and filled with cream and fruit are a reminiscent of the martyrdom of this saint, Saint Agatha.
This is a transition stage that will take you to Algergaria A Velha, in the Aveiro Region. Here you can visit some heritage icons, such as the pelourinhos of Frossos and Açores, the mámoas do Taco or their churches and chapels. If you are going to do the Camino in the hottest months, remember to protect yourself from the sun, using sunscreen and filling your canteen whenever you can. In the villages you can stop to take provisions and taste the dishes of the region.
This is another transition stage that crosses the old medieval road to Albergaria A Nova, Bemposta. After crossing the bridge of Senhor da Pedra, you will reach Oliveira de Azeméis. In this village it is worth visiting the romantic Sanctuary and Park of Nossa Senhora de La Salette, a historical and natural monument.
This is a longer stage. Here you can't miss the Monastery of São Martinho de Cucujães, in the municipality of Oliveira de Azeméis. Oliveira has a varied hotel and tourist offer, and a unique cuisine. Some examples are the São Miguel potatoes, a pork stock marinated in red wine and, for dessert, the beijinhos de Azeméis or the zamacóis. After leaving Azeméis behind, we can choose between finishing the stage in Arrifama, Lourosa or continuing to Grijó, the parish of Vila Nova de Gaia, and close to Porto.
This is one of the most emblematic stages of the Portuguese Way. You will arrive at Porto, the second most important city of Portugal and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, named a World Heritage Site. It will be worth taking the next day to get lost in its neighborhoods and alleys, and descend to the Ribeira, to see the barges of the Douro river. On the other side of the river there is Gaia, with its wineries of Porto wine. For lunch or dinner, you can opt for a fast traditional mean like the francesinhas. Other more elaborate typical dishes are the tripas à moda do Porto, linguiça or octopus dishes. For dessert you can opt for a glass of Porto wine or any typical sweet.
In this stage you can opt for following the traditional Portuguese Way or deviate to the Coastal Portuguese Way.
This stage is one of the longest ones, so you can walk it until the end or spend the night in an intermediate point, like Maia - 8 miles away from Porto.
You can walk without haste between Vilarinho and Barcelos, and finally get to the city of the famous rooster and capital of handicrafts in Portugal. Some must-see monuments: the Church Matriz, the medieval bridge, the Paço dos Condes de Barcelos and the Porta Nova Tower in its old town. If you want to buy a souvenir, you can walking through the old town of Barcelos and get a clay figure or the famous Barcelos rooster, the symbol of the Portuguese nation.
You are close to the border with Galicia. In this stage, you will start walking towards Ponte de Lima. This town is known fro being the oldest town in Portugal - it was established as a town in 1125. It is next to the Lima River, and it has an interesting medieval monumental area. In addition, it is mandatory to stop and taste its exquisite cuisine. Some dishes include lamprey (prepared in many ways), rice sarrabulho or rojões de porco. As this is a long stage, you can divide it in two, spending the night in Vitorino dos Piães, where you can visit its church or some of its many forts.
At this point you should make an intermediate stop in Rubiães, since Ponte de Lima and the border town of Valença do Minho are separated by almost 40 miles. You will walk following the Labruja River, surrounded by mountains and forests. The only issue in this stage is the climb to the top of A Portela Grande, the highest hill on the Portuguese Way. If you travel by bike, you may have to carry it on the rocky stretches. Or you can take the M-552 road to take N-201 road then. Also people with reduced mobility can take this detour.
If you have decided to spend the night in Rubiães, today's stage will be short and will present two new options. You can sleep in the beautiful village of Valença do Minho, or cross the bridge over the Miño river, enter Galicia and spend the night in Tui. If you stay in Valença, you must visit its fortress on the river Miño and the churches of Santa Maria dos Anjos and Santo Esteve. In Valença you can also taste the Portuguese cuisine, which you will soon leave behind. Some recommendable dishes are the bacalhau de São Teotónio, the "cabrito à Sanfins", the anho no forno or the green broth.
You are already in Galicia, closer and closer to Santiago. This is an itinerary with smooth and well-marked paths. It is worthwhile to stop as long as needed in the village of Tui. Go visit its extensive cultural heritage, and taste the delicacies of Southern Galician gastronomy. You are now 71 miles from Santiago and your road runs parallel to the river Miño, to then goe into forests and vineyards. An important part of this route continues on pavement road, so you must walk with caution, and pay attention to your own visibility. If you wish, you can avoid the not too pleasant section, which runs through the O Porriño industrial area.
This is another smooth stage, without large differences in level. The only exception is the area that connects the Albergue de Mos with the Santiaguiño chapel. This area is famous for the chocos, a type of cephalopod of high quality in these waters. You can eat choco in many ways, but the most traditional ones are with rice, in ink or in an empanada.
This is a short stage, with small uneven areas. It runs close to the beautiful Ría de Vigo. It is worth stopping to visit the heritage treasures of Rendondela, such as the Castle of Soutomaior or the Roman bridge of Pontesampaio. The most reasonable thing is to finish the stage in Pontevedra, because the city has a great historical heritage. Its old town has a great atmosphere, and you can have a snack or a drink here. Do not forget to visit the sanctuary of the Virgen Peregrina, a symbol of the city and a monument specifically dedicated to pilgrims. The traditional products of the city are seafood, fish (especially oysters, mussels, clams and zamburiñas). And for dessert, puff pastry stuffed with almonds.
This section of the road crosses paths and villages, with the characteristic beautiful rural aspect of the Galician countryside. The road will cross several points along a national road (the N-550 road, which connects Pontevedra and Santiago de Compostela) to zigzag through fields and villages towards Caldas. This city has a millenary history and, as its name suggests, it is well-known for its many thermal springs. Try the empanada: with lamprey, cockles, sardines or meat. You will find real delicacies all along the Portuguese Way.
In this area, you will switch the province of Pontevedra by A Coruña. You will arrive at Padrón, where the current parish of Iria Flavia is located. The ancient Roman town had the same name and it has a great port. According to the legend, Iria Flavia was the place where the Saint James the Greater started preaching. This would also be the place where his disciples (Theodore and Athanasius) landed, navigating in the stone boat with the remains of Santiago from Jerusalem. You are very close to the finish line. In addition, Padrón is also the birthplace of the most international Galician poetess: Rosalía de Castro. In this village you can visit her house: Casa da Matanza. In Padrón, you have to taste the famous peppers, Padrón or Herbón peppers, with tortilla, raxo, or just the peppers. Whatever you choose, they taste delicious.
In this last step, you will follow the footsteps of Teodoro and Atanasio, the disciples of James the Greater. They secretly collected his remains and crossed the sea in a stone boat towards Iria Flavia. According to legend, Bishop Teodomiro discovered the remains of the apostle, and took them to Compostela. You will walk the same itinerary during this last stage, walking through villages and neighborhoods until you reach the capital and the most monumental city of Galicia: Santiago de Compostela.
The Portuguese Way by the Coast begins in Porto, goes along the Atlantic Coast, and passes through towns such as Póvoa de Varzim, Viana do Castelo, Caminha, A Guarda, Baiona, Vigo and Redondela. Here, it joins the traditional Portuguese Way again.
For many years, the best option to enter Galicia was to deviate towards the interior, passing by Tui and then arriving at Compostela. However, you can now make your decision when arriving at the Miño river, which is right between Portugal and Galicia. You can choose bewteen the path that goes througout the interior or the coastal path. If you choose the coastal path, you can enter Galicia by boat, taking it in Caminha and disembarking in A Guarda.
The tour continues parallel to the Atlantic Ocean, through the coastal municipalities of Oia, Baiona and Nigrán. It reaches the largest city in Galicia, Vigo. From here it continues towards Redondela, and this is where the pilgrims from the traditional Portuguese Way and the coastal Portuguese Way reunite again.
This is a little known route, because it had not been recognized as a Jacobean route until recently, although it is as historical as the traditional Portuguese Way. It consists of 173.9 miles, separating the largest city of northern Portugal (Porto) from Santiago de Compostela. It is divided into 9 stages that run very close to the sea.
In addition to its centuries of antiquity and its flux of pilgrims walking from Portugal, the Portuguese Way along the coast was also a route for pilgrims from overseas who arrived in Portuguese ports to undertake the march towards Santiago de Compostela.
The coastal route is also known as the monastic road, because of the numerous monasteries present on the road. One of them is the monastery of Santa María de Oia, built by the Cistercian order in the 12th century. It is declared a good of cultural interest at the beginning of the 20th century.
There are 9 stages on foot with a total of 121.78 miles, and 4 stages by bike with 166.5 miles
The good thing about this route is that you do not have to super fit because it's a relatively comfortable and easy route. It's a long way, but with a little planning and time, you can travel serenely enjoying not only beautiful scenery, but also fantastic Portuguese and Galician cuisine.
In addition, if you decide to walk the full journey from Lisbon, you can visit some of the most beautiful World Heritage cities in the world and explore an almost unknown part of the wonderful country of Portugal. And if you choose the Portuguese Way along the coast, the offer of gastronomic specialties increases, especially in Rías Baixas, an authentic paradise of flavors and colors.
Remember that you can always adapt to the path and walk it according to your needs and how you feel at each stage. Before you start the Camino, it is advisable to take go for some walks for some weeks to check your physical condition and especially to get used to the shoes you will wear on the Way. The most common issues on the Camino are foot pain and backache, caused by by overloaded backpacks.
The important thing about the Camino Portugués (and all other routes) is to follow your own pace and adapt to your own strength to reach the final stage. This way you will enjoy the many cultural, gastronomic, religious and leisure activities present all along the Way of Saint James.
Get a comfortable backpack, anatomically adapted and with reinforcements in the straps and support straps in the hip and chest. It should have a size that you can handle and it should be waterproof. If is not, get a waterproof cover to put on it. When packing, it is important that you put the heaviest items (shoes, pants, warm clothes, books), near the back and place the sleeping bag in the back to cushion. Place the clothes and objects in your backpack in a balanced way, and try not to take anything superfluous. It is recommendable that you take:
It's convenient to bring three sets of clothes: in summer, shorts and long pants. In winter, appropiate clothing for harsh weather.
Personal hygiene products, a small first aid kit (including anti-inflammatory, band-aids, and dressings for blisters and small wounds), sunscreen and after sun cream, a lantern, a canteen, a Swiss army knife. Also bring trekking shoes (already adapted to your feet), and an extra pair of shoes to visit the cities.
The Compostela is just a complement to the amazing experience of walking the Camino. Nevertheless, it is also an incredible souvenir that proves that you have actually completed it. You can only get the Compostela if you have walked at least 62.13 miles / 100 km (124.27 miles / 200 km if you have traveled by bike). In order to get it, you must carry the pilgrim's credential with you and have it sealed in establishments throughout every stage. If you do so, the Compostela will be awarded once you arrive to Santiago de Compostela.
Some of the places where you can get or seal the pilgrim's credential along the Portuguese Way:
In Tui, you will find the chapel of Rebordán, with the Virgen del Camino, a miraculous image carved in a magic stone. It is said that this stone, located now in the chapel, would leave its original place, even though the neighbours would threw it every day into the Miño river.
Continuing north, in the municipality of Mos (near the church of Santiaguiño de Antas) you will discover a Roman Milliarium on the Via XIX: the 11th chapter, from the 2nd century, which marked 18,000 steps from Tui to this place. Many years ago, when people wanted to take it to Pontevedra to keep it in a museum, the neighbors opposed because they thought the stone provided them fertility and good luck.
A little further north, in the urban center of Arcade, the Camino will take you across a medieval bridge, Ponte Sampaio. This was the scenario of an important battle between the inhabitants of the town and the Napoleonic troops. On this bridge there was a rite, the "anticipated baptism", by which the belly of a pregnant woman was anointed with river water to guarantee a birth without problems.
Before arriving to Santiago, in Padrón, take the opportunity to stop at the Church of Santiago, built on the left bank of the River Sar by order of the famous Archbishop Gelmírez in 1133. On the main altar you will find the Pedrón: a dedicated Roman stone altar to the god Neptune. This god was reinterpreted as a Jacobean symbol. It is said that this stone was moored to the boat that carried the remains of Saint James.
If you are thinking of living the experience of the Camino de Santiago, we help you plan your trip. Send us your doubts and we will contact you as soon as possible.
The Camino Frances is the most popular one, but there are may other ways you should know.