The Portuguese Camino route is in fact two different Caminos: the trail known as Central and the Coastal variant, which has gained popularity in recent years.
Today we introduce you to these two great Camino de Santiago routes in Portugal and all you need to know about them to plan an unforgettable trip:
Camino Portugues Central or Coastal?
The Portuguese Camino routes are the most popular trails to Santiago, after the Camino Frances; with over 20% opting for the Central route and nearly 7% choosing the Coastal trail.
The Camino Portugues Central is the classic route from Portugal to Santiago, starting in Lisbon, approximately 620kms away; while The Camino Portugues from Porto is approximately 230kms long.
From Lisbon, the Central route takes in interesting little villages and towns, such as historic gems like Santarem, Tomar and Coimbra. The landscape changes as you head North, with the open landscapes giving way to more forest tracks as you get closer to Galicia.
The Coastal Camino Portugues starts in Porto and takes pilgrims on a trail along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, passing beaches and lovely coastal towns.
It is also possible to combine both routes, for instance, starting your Camino journey on the Camino Portugues Central and once reaching Porto, continuing on the Coastal route.
How long does it take to walk the Portuguese Camino?
It takes approximately 25 days to walk the full Camino Portugues Central from Lisbon, although rest days are highly recommended and some stages can be shortened depending on accommodation availability.
It takes 12 walking days to complete the Coastal Camino Portugues from Porto, but it is also possible to shorten certain stages to make the walking days a bit easier and to allow pilgrims to enjoy some time in the towns and villages along the way.
What is the weather like on the Portuguese Camino?
In general these Camino de Santiago routes are best enjoyed from Spring to Autumn or Fall, avoiding the sections south of Porto in the hot Summer months.
Similarly to other Camino routes, winter months on the Portuguese Camino routes can be rainy and accommodation options scarce, so if you are planning a winter Camino, we recommend planning and booking in advance.
Are they difficult trails?
They are not difficult trails but they are long distance trails so require a certain level of endurance and fitness. There are no major hills or mountainous terrain, and particularly on the coastal trail elevation is minimal. However, some of the walking stages can be a bit long.
In some areas, depending on accommodation, it might be possible to split the day in two. Talk to the JWT Camino travel experts for advice and suggestions.
What we like best about walking the Portuguese Camino routes
HISTORIC TOWNS AND CITIES
Whether you pick the classic central route or the Coastal variant, the Poruguese Camino routes are dotted with wonderful hamlets, villages, towns and cities
Besides the superb Santiago, Porto and Lisbon, there are a myriad of beautiful historic cities and towns including Coimbra with its Old University, Viana do Castelo, Valenca do Minho, Barcelos, Pontevedra or Tui.
Medieval bridges, Roman ruins, Romanesque monasteries and tile-clad Baroque churches are witness to the ancient history of these Camino routes, trodden by pilgrims for many centuries, on their way to pay their respects to St James the Great.
SUPERB UNESCO HERITAGE
There are four UNESCO World Heritage sites on the Camino Portugues: Porto old town, Santiago de Compostela old town, Coimbra University one of the oldest in Europe and 12th century Knights Templar Castle in Tomar.
They are both great routes but their scenery is quite different.
The coastal trails along the Atlantic Ocean connect coastal towns and fishing villages and they are fabulous, taking pilgrims across Natural parks and beach boardwalks.
The central trail offers its own kind of beauty and charm, definitely with a more rural and old world feel. If you are more of a mountain and forest kind of pilgrim, this is the one for you.
You shouldn’t come back from any trip to Portugal without having tried at least one of the many traditional ‘bacalhau’ salt cod dishes, which is served across the country in many different shapes, sizes and combinations. Apparently there is one bacalhau recipe for each day of the year, so you will have plenty of choice.
Another unmissable Portuguese classic are the scrumptious Pasteis de Nata and Pasteis de Belem custard tarts.
Seafood and Albariño white wine should also be added to the must-taste trip list, while on the Atlantic shores of Northern Portugal and the Rias Baixas of Southern Galicia.
For more advice about the Portuguese Camino routes or to request an itinerary for your trip, contact our JWT Camino travel experts.Contact Us