The Camino Portugues is the second most popular pilgrimage routes known collectively as The Way of St James, the others are the Camino Norte and Camino Frances. The Portuguese Way or Camino Portugués starts in Lisbon, Portugal and stretches across the Western Coast of Spain, finishing in Santiago de Compostela.
About the Camino Frances route
The Portuguese way became more popular since the 12th century, after the Portuguese independence lead by King Alfonso I. Pilgrims who started their way in Portugal walked to the North not only motivated by spiritual reasons. It is a route full of history that brought cultural and commercial exchanges between Galicia and Portugal. There were monarchs, nobles, and clerics that walked to Santiago to show their devotion and faith to St. James. There are documentary evidence of these pilgrimages such as the Elizabeth of Portugal’s pilgrimage, who after walking through Camino to Santiago in the 14 century gave her empress Holy Roma Empire crown to Santiago’s altar; after her death she was buried in Coímbra with some pilgrim staff as she wanted.
You will find the most stunning coastal scenery along the Portuguese way. The path crosses breathtaking towns and cities of North Portugal, like Lisbon, Coimbra, Oporto, Barcelos, Ponte de Lima and Valença do Minho. From the South to the North going through many different sceneries. There lots of routes that are from the Romanesque Ages such as the route built in the 1 century AD to link Braga and Astorga.
Total distance: 620kms
This walk from the French border to Santiago de Compostela on the main routes of the Camino Frances takes about a month. Speed hikers can make it in as little as two weeks (about the time bicyclists usually require), but that requires walking 40 km or more each day.
While most of the route is fairly gentle with only a few long ascents, some days can be challenging. Over the past 20 years a great deal of effort has gone into improving the walkers' route, and most of the route is now well marked, reasonably well surfaced, and separated from the increasingly heavy traffic on Spanish highways. If one begins in France, the route passes over two major mountain chains and several smaller ones. There is a joke that the Camino never meets a mountain it doesn't cross. While that is not really true, there are many ascents and descents, and some of the latter can be quite steep.
One needs to be in reasonably good condition and to have good hiking boots. If you wish to camp, you need to carry clothing and a sleeping bag in a comfortable backpack. But you can stay in hostels (called albergues or refugios) for low cost. Unless one plans to camp in the most crowded months of the summer season, it is unnecessary to carry camping and cooking gear.
Get to the starting points
The Portuguese capital is the place chosen by many pilgrims to start their way to St. James.
Most people get there by highway AP-9 or A-1. You can also get there through A-2, A-8, A-10, A-33, A-12, A-37, A-5 or A-16. The best way of getting there is through the E-1. If you are coming from Madrid you should use the A-45 and then A-5 and EX-1 to Extremadura. Once you get there you should take EX-108 and A-23 in Castelo Blanco, where we should go through the N-239 up to the A-23. Finally, we should get out in the A-1 and then take the second exit of the E-1.
It is located on the border between Galicia and Portugal. This is why lots of pilgrims decide to start there. There are 107 kilometers (67 miles) to Santiago de Compostela, so you can get Compostela once you arrive at Santiago. The main way of getting to Tui is using the A-55 and the A-52. Then you can use AP-9, it crosses most part of Galicia. You can also use public transport. The name of the stop is Tui and get there coming from Porto and Vigo. You can also get there from Pontevedra, O Porriño, A Guarda, Vigo, Santiago and many different places in Portugal.
The Camino Portugués is the most second way for a reason. Magic paths, small villages, country houses, fortresses and medieval bridges complete the magical paths that form this popular walk.It is a different way, we won’t find plateaus, difficult elevations nor big variations in relative altitude that is what we can find in the French Way, but we can find forests and millenary stone crosses that hide troubadour’s songs from the medieval ages and also Cantigas de Amigo, Amor, and Maldecir of Martín Códax and Mendiño.
This section is an attempt to encourage sharing practical information about travelling the Camino. Peregrinos (Spanish for "pilgrim" in English or "pelerin" in French) as they are called in Spain should feel free to use the information in this section and contribute to it. Albergues, restaurants and other accomodations all change with time, and this information should be updated accordingly.
Once on the Camino, the pilgrim has three duties: to sleep, to eat, and to walk. Those duties are made less onerous by paying attention to the quality of the path, a large number of bars, restaurants, and cafes, and the albergues.
Alternatively it is possible to walk the Camino using a number of different travel companies that take all the organisational work out (including organising your luggage transfer for you) leaving you free to enjoy the Camino in style.
The Camino Francés is divided into 25 stages and 620km in length. The most important cities in this way are:
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals such as London, Paris and Rome by centuries. Julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. Ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century, it was captured by the Moors in the 8th century. In 1147, the Crusaders under Afonso Henriques reconquered the city and since then it has been a major political, economic and cultural centre of Portugal. Unlike most capital cities, Lisbon's status as the capital of Portugal has never been granted or confirmed officially – by statute or in written form. Its position as the capital has formed through constitutional convention, making its position as de facto capital a part of the Constitution of Portugal.
Since prehistory, the region of Santarém has been inhabited, first by the Lusitani people, and then by the Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and later Portuguese Christians. Of the various legends related to the foundation of Santarém, the most famous tells of the Visigoth Saint Iria (or Irene), who was martyred in Tomar (Nabantia) and whose uncorrupted body reached Santarém. In her honour, the name of the town (then known by its Latin name Scalabis) would later be changed to Sancta Irene, from which Santarém would eventually be derived.
Among the many archaeological structures dating back to the Roman era, when Coimbra was the settlement of Aeminium, are its well-preserved aqueduct and cryptoporticus. Similarly, buildings from the period when Coimbra was the capital of Portugal (from 1131 to 1255) still remain. During the Late Middle Ages, with its decline as the political centre of the Kingdom of Portugal, Coimbra began to evolve into a major cultural centre. This was in large part helped by the establishment the University of Coimbra in 1290, the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese-speaking world. Apart from attracting many European and international students, the university is visited by many tourists for its monuments and history.
Albergaria a-Velha, Portugal
In 1117, D. Teresa, Countess of Portucale, and mother of Afonso Henriques the first king of Portugal, donated to the nobleman Gonçalo Eriz the lands that constitute Albergaria-a-Velha. As part of the donation the nobleman was obligated to maintain open a hospice for poor travels. The document referred to this shelter for the travelling poor, or albergaria, and thus the area was known as Albergaria.
One of Portugal's internationally famous exports, port wine, is named after Porto, since the metropolitan area, and in particular the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia, were responsible for the packaging, transport and export of the fortified wine. In 2014 and 2017, Porto was elected The Best European Destination by the Best European Destinations Agency. Porto is on the Portuguese Way path of the Camino de Santiago.
Originally a Roman settlement, it expanded and became the seat of the First Duke of Bragança in the 15th century. The palace of the Dukes of Bragança was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755 and is now an open-air museum.
The town's famous symbol is a rooster, in Portuguese called o galo de Barcelos ("the Rooster of Barcelos"). One of the many versions of this legend goes that a rich man threw a big party. When the party was over, the rich man noticed that his sterling cutlery was stolen by a guest. He accused a pilgrim and let him go to court. He protested his innocence, but the judge didn't believe him. The judge was about to eat a roasted rooster when the pilgrim said: "If I am innocent, this rooster will crow three times." When the pilgrim was about to be lynched, the rooster crowed. The judge released the pilgrim. The story ends a few years later when the pilgrim returned and made a statue over the event. The town remains on the Portuguese Way path of the Camino de Santiago.
Its original local name, Tude, was mentioned by Pliny the Elder and by Ptolemy in the first century AD. It became an episcopal see no later than the 6th century, during the Suevic rule, when Bishop Anila went to the II Council of Braga. Later, in the Visigothic period, it briefly served as the capital of a Galician subkingdom under king Wittiza. After the campaigns of Alfonso I of Asturias (739–757) against the Moors, the town lay abandoned in the largely empty buffer zone between Moors and Christians, being later part of the "Repoblación" (repopulation) effort carried out a century later, during the reign of Ordoño I of Asturias (850–866). In the 10th century, it was raided by Vikings, being abandoned and later re-established in its current location.
Caldas de Reis, Spain
Caldas de Reis is a municipality in Galicia, Spain in the north of the province of Pontevedra. In the mid-6th century, the bishop's seat was transferred to Iria Flavia, now the Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela. Thus, no longer a residential bishopric, Caldas de Reyes is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see. The town is the second to last stop on the Portuguese Way path of the Camino de Santiago before it reaches Santiago de Compostela.
Points of Interest
The Castle of San Jorge rises on the highest hill of Lisbon, granting to the visitor a spectacular view of the city.
This Gothic monastery is an emblematic monument of Coimbra because of its complex history as well as the romantic character of its ruins.
This magical corner of the city of Porto served as the stage in the filming of the Harry Potter films.
This impressive fortress-like cathedral has its origins in the 13th century, proof of the importance of the town of Tui in the Middle Ages.