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The Portugues Coastal Way by Bike  The Natural Adventure Company 11

Cycling the Camino Portugues Coastal Way: Porto to Santiago

Overview

The coastal version of the Portuguese Camino will take you through the north coast of Portugal, exploring charming medieval towns and villages such as Vila do Conde, Viana do Castelo and Vigo, just before you join the central route in Redondela to continue the route to Santiago. In terms of cycling difficulty, this is a less demanding tour than the classic Central Way, on which you will meet fewer people on the paths, and be accompanied by the ocean for most of the time.

Starting from Porto, you will pedal by a series of sandy beaches, villages and market gardens until you reach the resort town of Esposende, where you will get slightly inland following quiet country lanes to Caminha, passing through the small, attractive city of Viana do Castelo. A short ferry ride across the River Minho will take you into Spain, and after a spectacular stretch of rugged coastline and a small mountain, you will reach Baiona, a charming seaside town, full of history and tapas bars. You will find great oysters in Arcade, before getting on an ancient stone path taking you through the forests and villages to the city of Pontevedra, known for its authentic squares and buildings. At the end of the tour, you will be able to enjoy the thermal waters in Caldas de Reis, and the pretty Padron, before heading to your final destination of Santiago de Compostela.

Click to view map

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 Vila do Conde | 35 km

Follow the coastline on wooden boardwalks and pavements where you will encounter a series of wide sandy beaches and local fishermen at work before you reach the historical seaside town of Vila do Conde.

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

Day 3: Vila do Conde to Viana do Castelo | 49 km

Cut through the urban areas between Vila do Conde and the coastal resort town of Povoa de Varzim. Then cycle beside the coast and across beaches before heading inland through market gardens, woodland and villages. Admire the views as you cross the Cávado River to enter Esposende. This day offers a series of villages interspersed with delightful patches of forest and rivers with views of distant mountain ranges. The Eiffel bridge over the Lima River offers spectacular views along the valley and estuary and the attractive historical and contemporary architecture of Viana do Castelo.

Day 4: Viana do Castelo to Oia | 46 km

Leaving Viana do Castelo there is a steady climb up one mostly forested hill before the descent to the seaside town of Vila Praia de Âncora. Follow the coastal path between Âncora and Moledo and then continue to the pretty town of Caminha. A short, scenic ferry journey takes you across the Minho River to the fishing town of A Guarda in Spain. Then follow the Way along coastal pathways, forest tracks and tarmac roads to the small but attractive beachfront village of Oia with its 12th-century monastery.

  • Cycling for the day: 46 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel Raina or similar

Day 5: Oia to Vigo | 43 km

Continue cycling through a rural coastal landscape of small fields, scattered houses and a few villages then cut across the mountains towards Baiona. This rugged uphill section offers a change of scenery and terrain before the final descent into the pretty resort town of Baiona. The residential outskirts of Baiona gradually lead to more rural terrain and scattered villages interspersed with patches of woodland. A stint on a busy road ends with another series of villages before you reach Vigo where you will cut through Castrelos Park to skirt around the edge of the city.

Day 6: Vigo to Pontevedr | 34 km

Cycle along Vigo’s city streets as you head northeast, leaving the urban area behind. Follow the line of the Ria de Vigo estuary for views of floating mussel farms, the Cíes Islands and the city and port of Vigo as you ride between villages and through a forest.  A steep descent takes you to the town of Redondela where your Portuguese Coastal Camino merges with the Portuguese Central Camino. Pause for juicy fat oysters in the riverside town of Arcade then follow an ancient stone path uphill to the forest. You will soon be amid the lively squares of Pontevedra where you can admire the medieval architecture as you sip a beer or wine with some tapas.

  • Cycling for the day: 34 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel Avenida or similar

Day 7: Pontevedra to Padron | 41 km

The journey to Padron is relatively flat and you’ll spend the day surrounded by pleasant countryside. Bathe your feet in the hot spring in the centre of Caldas de Reis then climb gradually through a series of hamlets and a delightful stretch of woodland. Take some time to explore medieval Padrón and discover its deep connection to St. James as well as its tasty green peppers.

Day 8: 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 9: Departure

Departure on your own, or extension upon request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is on a bed and breakfast basis using nice, 1-3-star hotels and guesthouses. 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

The Coastal Camino de Santiago by bicycle programme generally uses the same route that pilgrims follow on foot, and there is no specific cycle route. The route is a combination of rural paths (asphalt, cobblestones or dirt), forest trails (dirt or gravel, uneven and sometimes rocky), secondary roads and some main roads (both on asphalt). (read more about difficulty grades). Along the journey, you may sometimes encounter some steep climbs and descents, so good physical preparation is necessary in order to do this trip. It is essential that clients have experience with mountain bikes and basic bicycle repair knowledge, especially how to change a tire, as punctures may occur during the Camino. 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.

When to go

This trip is available from March until the 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. There is a higher chance for rain in the spring and autumn months, but the temperatures are cooler (nicer for cycling).

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 your 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

  • 8 overnights with breakfast as detailed in the itinerary
  • 7 days bike rental, with pannier bags and helmet
  • Luggage transfer between accommodations (1 bag per person, up to 15kg/bag)
  • Telephone support for emergencies
  • Pilgrim passport
  • Detailed route notes (1 x per room)
  • Welcome meeting
  • 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 (supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is NOT available for solo travellers
  • Half board (including 6 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 a helmet, and you can order an 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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