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Portugal Walking Holidays, camino portugues inland way

Camino Portugues: Central Way

Overview

Starting in beautiful Porto, you will follow the ancient pilgrim trails to Santiago de Compostela for a unique experience you’ll treasure forever. The central Camino Portugués route is relatively flat and easy to navigate, and it is a great alternative to the French Camino. Spend unforgettable two weeks walking through stunning Portuguese and Galician countryside and villages and exploring fascinating historical towns and cities between the UNESCO World Heritage cities of Porto and Santiago de Compostela.

Highlights

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Porto

Arrive in Porto and make sure you have set aside time to explore this beautiful city (extra nights can be booked on request). A member of our team will meet you at the hotel to welcome you and provide a detailed briefing and all the documentation you will need.

Day 2: Vilar do Pinheiro – Arcos | 17 km

In the early morning, you will have a short car transfer to Vilar do Pinheiro to avoid Porto’s urban sprawl and begin your first walking stage of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago. Notice the progressive transition from urban to rural areas as you walk this first stage. You will go through Vilarinho and cross the medieval bridge over the Ave before reaching the village of Arcos, where the walk ends.

Day 3: Arcos – Barcelos | 20 km

Start walking from Arcos towards the ancient village of Rates and its imposing Romanesque church. Pass the villages of Courel, and Pedra Furada, then follow rural roads winding through eucalyptus and pine woods until you reach the market town of Barcelos.

  • Walking for the day: 20 km, 4-5 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Bagoeira or similar

Day 4: Barcelos – Balugães | 15 km

Set off from Barcelos along minor roads, which will take you to a more rural area. Walk through the small villages of Vila Boa, Tamel and Aborim towards the River Neiva. End the day in the village of Balugães.

Day 5: Balugães – Ponte de Lima | 18 km

This is a day of rural roads and magnificent countryside until your entrance into the picturesque medieval town of Ponte de Lima. Time your walk so that you have ample opportunity to enjoy the historical centre and gardens or just sit by the river for a while. Choose from a range of restaurants in Ponte de Lima where you can try traditional dishes like polvo à lagareiro (baked octopus) or bacalhau assado com broa (baked cod with cornbread) and some fine Loureiro white wine.

Day 6: Ponte de Lima – Cossourado | 22 km

Leave the medieval town of Ponte de Lima and return to the rural world. In the middle of this stage, you will reach Labruja mountain. The two kilometres uphill are the most demanding of the whole Portuguese Way of St James, but the views are well worth the effort. Once you are over the hill, it’s an easy walk down the Coura valley to complete this stage.

  • Walking for the day: 22 km, 5-6 hours
  • Accommodation: Casa da Capela or similar

Day 7: Cossourado – Valença | 14 km

This day starts by leaving the valley of the River Coura and climbing gently to São Bento da Porta Aberta. Continue to Fontoura through fields and brushwood until you reach the fortress town of Valença (you can cross the river to enter the Spanish town of Tui). Dine at one of Valença’s or Tui’s many restaurants.

  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 4-5 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Lara or similar

Day 8: Valença – O Porriño | 20 km

Today you’ll say goodbye to Portugal as you cross the metal bridge over the River Minho and enter Tui. Take your time to visit the magnificent cathedral. From Tui, you’ll follow the Louro valley, walk along a forest track and across a stone slab bridge into a wetland area where you should spot plenty of birdlife. Reach the city of O Porriño with its magnificent Gothic town hall building.

  • Walking for the day: 20 km, 4-5 hours
  • Accommodation: Hostal Expo or similar

Day 9: O Porriño – Arcade | 22 km

Leave O Porriño and make your way through the forest of Chan das Pipas. A short, steep climb up the Road of the Knights is rewarded with amazing seascapes. You will reach Redondela, where the central route and the coastal route merge. Finish this stage in the coastal town of Arcade, a small town renowned for its oysters.

  • Walking for the day: 22 km, 5-6 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Duarte or similar

Day 10: Arcade – Pontevedra | 13 km

This stage is one of the shortest and most beautiful of the Camino Portugues. Climb the ancient stone paths of the Verea Vella da Canicouva and explore the 13th-century church. When you arrive at Pontevedra, don’t miss the historic city centre and its numerous tapas bars.

  • Walking for the day: 13 km, 3-4 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Avenida or similar

Day 11: Pontevedra – Caldas de Reis | 22 km

Leave Pontevedra through pleasant countryside. This stage to Caldas de Reis is fairly long but not demanding, and you will have the opportunity to rest your tired feet in Caldas de Reis’ thermal springs.

  • Walking for the day: 22 km, 5-6 hours
  • Accommodation: Balneario Acuna or similar

Day 12: Caldas de Reis – Padrón | 19 km

Today’s route leaves Caldas de Reis and takes you on a soft climb to the charming woodlands of Valga. You’ll see many churches and stone crosses on the way to Padrón and take in the Bermana and Valga river valleys. Padrón is the place where St James remains were brought to following his martyrdom in Jerusalem.

Day 13: Padrón – Santiago de Compostela | 25 km

Your final stage! You will walk mostly through rural settings, but there are still pleasant sections through oak, pine and eucalyptus woodland. Enter the ancient city of Santiago de Compostela and relish the end of your journey at the Cathedral.

Day 14: Departure

Arrange extra nights in Santiago or enjoy breakfast, then make your way to Santiago Airport. If you have time, explore the old city of Santiago de Compostela before you leave.

 

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in nice 2-star and 3-star hotels and guesthouses. They all have private en-suite rooms and offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour. Please note that many rooms with en-suite/private facilities have a shower rather than a bath, usually because of limited space.

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Sample hotels*: Hotel Moov Porto Centro, Quinta de Sao Miguel, Hotel Bagoeira, Quinta da Cancela, Mercearia da Vila, Casa da Capela, Hotel Lara, Hostal Expo, Hotel DuarteHotel Avenida, Balneario Acuna, Casa Antiga do Monte, Hotel Lux Santiago

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included (usually buffet breakfast/coffee and toast/bread/croissant). When no restaurant location is available en route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. Dinner is available at the restaurant of your accommodation or the towns where you overnight.

Difficulty & terrain

This walk is graded moderate and includes daily walks of 12-22 km (19 km per day on average); the terrain is mostly flat (read more about difficulty grades). You will follow a mixture of dirt roads, woodland paths, minor roads (1/3 of the route) and some busier roads close to the bigger towns and cities. The routes are well waymarked, and in general, the itinerary is very easy to follow. However, please be careful at intersections where there may be a choice of several different alternative routes. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from mid-March until the end of October. The best months to visit are April – June and September – October as in summer months it may become too hot. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice about Portugal and Spain

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By plane

Our recommended arrival airport for this tour is Porto. The best departure airport is Santiago de Compostela.

By train or bus

From Porto Airport you can use metro, bus, shuttle or taxi to reach Porto’s centre. You can check the various options here. There are regular shuttle buses from Santiago centre to Santiago Airport.

Inclusions

Included

  • Arrival meeting with a member of our team
  • 13 nights in hotels in private en-suite rooms
  • 13 breakfasts
  • Pilgrim Kit: Credencial (passport) and Vieira (shell)
  • Roadbook explaining the highlights of the Camino de Santiago
  • Detailed journey documentation and practical information
  • Short car transfer on Day 2 to the start of the walk to avoid the urban maze of Porto
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (up to 15 kg per person)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches and dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Local tourist tax & entrance fees (payable on the spot)
  • Personal expenses
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘Included’ in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Private transfer Porto Airport – hotel in Porto
  • Extra nights

Compostela/Pilgrims Passport

You can obtain one at the start of your walk in the pilgrim’s office or the local church in town. You need to get the passport stamped in churches, restaurants or hotels along the way. At the end of the walk in Santiago de Compostela, you can obtain your Compostela Certificate (only if you have walked the last 100 km, finishing in Santiago).

Important: Due to the large influx of pilgrims during summer, and to avoid long waiting times, the Pilgrim Office in Santiago has installed a numbered ticket system for issuing pilgrim certificates (the Compostela). This new system allows pilgrims to collect their ticket and, using a QR Code, to check the status of the queue and estimated waiting time to obtain the Compostela. However, the number of tickets per day is limited, so on days with high numbers of pilgrims arriving, there is a possibility that not all pilgrims will be able to collect their certificate on the day of arrival and will have to return for it on the following morning.

Therefore, if obtaining a pilgrim certificate is important to you, and if you plan to undertake the Camino between April 15th and October 15th, we recommend that you arrange the return travel in such a way that you will be in Santiago de Compostela during the morning after your arrival. Better still, we encourage you to book a second night in Santiago so that you can collect the certificate without rush and enjoy the charms of the city!

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Reviews

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Rating

     

Average rating:  5 stars  from 2 reviews

Andrew H5 stars

Excellent service which started with Jose meeting us at our hotel in Porto. All accommodation was good, some excellent. All hosts very friendly and helpful. Due to COVID two hotels did not offer evening meals, but we were forewarned and had a picnic dinner. Route notes comprehensive, but following the yellow arrows, almost made them redundant.
Very little walking on roads. We preferred the days in open countryside to the days walking on cobbles through the small villages, but that was personal preference. Good guidance on availability of cafes and mini mercados

Anonymous5 stars


You certainly delivered, considering we booked and made payments on faith, via the internet. Thank you for being trustworthy.