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Cycling the Camino Portugues Central Way: Porto to Santiago

Overview

Pedalling through the regions of Minho (in Portugal) and Galicia (in Spain), you will discover rivers, valleys, vineyards, fields and traditional villages with their characterful architecture and century-old rural farming practices, as well as meet people sharing your passion for adventure and exploration.

Starting your journey in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Porto, you will occasionally ride on an ancient Roman road, and cross many Roman Bridges. You’ll also discover towns and cities with stunning ancient architecture and fascinating history. Once you cross the Minho river, you will discover the stunning Tui Cathedral and Redondela’s viaducts and the medieval centre of Pontevedra. Riverside Caldas de Reis is famous for its soothing thermal waters while Padrón lays claim to St. James’ first burial spot. His remains have since been relocated to what is now a monumental cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, where you will celebrate the end of your trip. To keep your energy levels up along the Way, tuck into Portuguese and Spanish cheeses, local meats, the freshest of fish and seafood and vinho verde wines. 

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival Porto

Once you arrive, our local representative will meet you at the hotel, and provide a full briefing on the tour and all the documentation you’ll need.

Day 2: Porto to Barcelos | 54 km

After breakfast a car transfer will take you to Mosteiró, where you will start your journey on the Portuguese Camino, avoiding the busy, noisy roads through the urban areas of Porto and its suburbs. You will then cycle along cobbled lanes and dirt tracks through a series of villages, surrounded by fields and patches of forest. You’ll go over several impressive  Romanesque bridges today, including the one in Barcelinhos, where pilgrims used to bathe before entering historical Barcelos. Spend some time exploring the medieval streets and squares of this charming small city.

Day 3: Barcelos to Ponte de Lima | 33 km

Leave Barcelos to enter a more rural and picturesque landscape, punctuated with small villages where you can find some traditional agricultural practices. The 12th century Ponte das Tábuas offers an attractive rest spot, although you have plenty of lovely places to choose from as you make your way through the vineyards, forests, orchards and fields of the Minho. On the approach to the pretty town of Ponte de Lima, you’ll see the Padela, Nora and d’Arga mountains, as well as the more distant Corno do Bico.

Day 4: Ponte de Lima to Valença | 35 km

Today’s ride is filled with even more of the beautiful countryside with ancient bridges, hamlets and woodland waterfalls. You do have a steep mountain to climb, but the views are well worth the effort. See the Romanesque church and Roman milestones at Rubiães then cross an ancient stone bridge over the River Pedreira before heading to Cossourado. From here, it’s downhill, through several small villages and a patch of attractive forest, to the fortress town of Valença.

  • Cycling for the day: 35 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel Lara or similar

Day 5: Valença to Pontevedra | 56 km

The International Bridge takes you across the River Minho into Spain to the town of Tui with its fortified cathedral. Once past the rather industrial town of O Porriño, cycle through a series of villages and the Chan das Pipas pine forest. The downhill approach to Redondela offers glimpses of the Ria de Vigo estuary. Merge with the Central Camino de Santiago in the centre of Redondela and head through the riverside town of Arcade, stopping for fresh oysters. An ancient stone road takes you up through the forest before you hit tarmac again as you ride into the centre of Pontevedra. Choose from the many bustling squares and tuck into tasty tapas and local wines.

Day 6: Pontevedra to Padron  | 41 km

The ride to Caldas to Reis is mostly through the countryside including a pleasant patch of forest. Follow the pilgrim tradition of bathing your feet in the hot springs at Caldas de Reis. Continue gently uphill through a string of tiny villages and the forest at Valga. Take some time to explore Padrón’s strong connection with St. James and its medieval centre before cycling the last few kilometres to your hotel.

Day 7: Padron to Santiago | 25 km

The final stage of your Camino takes you through a series of Galician hamlets with traditional cottages and barns as well as the imposing sanctuary of Nossa Señora da Escravitute. Enjoy the forest trail then head up to Milladoiro for your first glimpse of Santiago and the cathedral towers. Descend to the valley to cross the River Sar then one last ascent will bring you into the city centre and the medieval streets to the cathedral to end your journey.

Day 8: Departure

Return home or individual stay extension.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is on a bed and breakfast basis using nice, mainly 3-star hotels. All of them 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.

Click to view our default hotels for this trip

Hotels are subject to availability. In case a hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a property of equal standard. We will provide full accommodation details upon booking confirmation.

Meals

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

Difficulty & terrain

We rate the difficulty level as easy to moderate, with daily distances ranging between 25 and 55 km, going on quiet paths with a few occasional climbs (read more about difficulty grades). 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 March until end of October. 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. The weather is most pleasant between June and mid-September. There is a higher chance for rain in the spring and autumn months, but the temperatures are cooler (nicer for cycling), and there are generally fewer people on the paths.

Compostela/Pilgrims Passport

You can obtain one at the start of your route 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 tour in Santiago de Compostela, you can obtain your Compostela Certificate (only if you have cycled the last 200 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!

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice, here for Portugal and here for Spain

Click to view travel options and route planner

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Porto.

By train or bus

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 overnights with breakfast as detailed in the itinerary
  • 6 days bike rental, with pannier bags and helmet
  • Luggage transfer when changing hotels (one piece of luggage per person, max 15 kg)
  • Telephone support for emergencies
  • Pilgrim passport
  • Detailed route notes (1 x per room)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as included in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Single room supplement for members of a group (or solo travellers)
  • Half board meal plan (including 5 dinners)
  • Additional nights along the route
  • E-bike upgrade
  • Private airport transfers

Complimentary bike rental

We offer complimentary standard 29″ hard-tail mountain bikes that are most suitable for the paths you will be riding on. The bikes come with pannier bags and helmet, and you can order additional handlebar bag, gel pad for the saddle, and GPS device with the route (upon request). The bike you will receive is regularly checked; still, basic knowledge on bike maintenance is highly recommended, as you will be cycling by yourself. E-bikes are also available at an extra charge.

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