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Advice for three nice walking days in Portugal, please!

Jmhilde

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
June 2015, Kumano Kodo 2016 (Dual Pilgrim)
We are a group of eight who are hoping to find a nice three-day walk while we are visiting Portugal this summer. In 2015 we walked from Sarria to Santiago and all agreed it was amazing! This visit we sadly have only three days to walk but would love to replicate what we so enjoyed back then: quiet country roads and forest paths, small villages and historic sites, nature, great food and good company. We have no need to reach Santiago this time (we'll leave that for a future walk!) We will stay in private lodgings due to the size of our group.

We'll start our walk the second week of July. We're looking at somewhere between Porto and Vigo. (We've already hiked in the Douro Valley so would choose somewhere different this time.) We'd prefer shade to hot sun, not too much elevation gain, days of 20km or less (due to various health issues) AND... we need to walk from north to south!

We're looking at Valenca/Caminha/Ancora/Viana do Castelo or Valenca/Ponte de Lima/Balugaes/Barcelos but we'd love to hear other suggested routes! We would like to avoid long monotonous stretches (especially in glaring sun) so we're uncertain about the River Minho ecovia between Valenca and Caminha based on pics we've seen online. Although we'd prefer to avoid it, we're open to taking land transport if necessary.

This may be far more information than necessary but we're hoping someone can solve this puzzle for us!

Muito obrigada!
 
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I'm out of breath just reading your exhaustive list of requirements. What about engaging a travel agent to help you plan a suitable itinerary for your three day walking holiday?
 
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Tagging @jungleboy

Read some of @jungleboy 's walks over towards Braga and Guimaraes with a finish in Porto. There are rail links out towards there going north east from Porto that might suit. But there will be some hills.
 
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No pressure though! 🤣

@Jmhilde, this is quite a difficult request and I'm not sure there's a one-size-fits-all answer. Firstly as you would know from your previous camino, not every day/stage is necessarily a fantastic walk in and of itself. The magic of the camino is usually to be found in the shared daily experience that accumulates over a longer period of time and somehow becomes more than the sum of the parts of the walk.

You have already hit on your two main choices given your limitations, i.e. three days of the coastal or central backwards to Porto. The coastal (especially if taking the Senda Litoral options) is not very shady, and the other things you mentioned wanting to see/experience are more conducive to the central, so I would focus here. The last stage walking south into Porto is not great due to a lot of road walking and spending one of your three days entering a city is not ideal so I would avoid this stage and do three stages before it. This is my suggestion:

Day 1: Ponte de Lima - Casa da Fernanda (13.9km)
Day 2: Casa da Fernanda - Barcelos (19.3km)
Day 3: Barcelos - São Pedro de Rates (16.2km)

Then take whatever transport you can find back to Porto.

I think this gets you the best of the CP insofar as is possible in a three-day span: two interesting historic towns (Ponte de Lima and Barcelos), nice countryside including vineyards (especially on the first day), a great communal camino experience (Casa da Fernanda) and a historic church (the 'most Romanesque church in Portugal') at Rates.

One potential problem is that because you are a group of eight it might be hard to get into Casa da Fernanda, as her capacity is about 10-12, and I'm not sure what other accommodation options there are nearby (basically, the reason people stop there is specifically to stay at Casa da Fernanda, not because of the surrounding area, it's a suburban-type place). But if you know your exact dates well in advance, and it sounds like you do, you could contact her and try to book.

Read some of @jungleboy 's walks over towards Braga and Guimaraes with a finish in Porto. There are rail links out towards there going north east from Porto that might suit. But there will be some hills.
This part of the Torres has a lot of asphalt so I wouldn't recommend it in this case.
 
Nick, aka jungleboy, told me about a route along the southern Portuguese coast named the Rota Vincentina, The Fisherman's Trail. St. Vincent is the patron saint of fishermen and this trail is four days along the Algarve coast. I had to do some quick research to refresh my memory and found several other Portuguese hikes mentioned on a site called Moon & Honey Travel..
 
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Because you are not looking to do a traditional pilgrimage ending in Santiago, I would suggest doing an online search for hiking in Portugal. There are plenty of companies out there that you can see where they go. Unless you are set on carrying a pack on a hike through, you may be able to find hikes you can do that allow you to return to the same lodging every night.
 
Thank you, jungleboy, your suggested route sounds perfect for my group, yay! :)

I had to chuckle at the comments about my "exhaustive" list of requirements! After spending hours reading through this forum, I didn't find what I was looking for. I did, however, see MANY responses to other posters saying "We cannot help you if you don't tell us exactly what you want." Hoping to not be similarly chastised, I did as requested and said exactly what I want... only to be chastised for saying too much, LoL!

Bom caminho!
 
Because you are not looking to do a traditional pilgrimage ending in Santiago, I would suggest doing an online search for hiking in Portugal. There are plenty of companies out there that you can see where they go. Unless you are set on carrying a pack on a hike through, you may be able to find hikes you can do that allow you to return to the same lodging every night.
Thanks, Steven. We are in fact working with a local walking tour company, the same folks we did our Douro self-guided tour with (and liked very much!) However, I was finding that the info they are giving me was frequently contradicted by reports here on this forum. Confused by this, I thought the best thing to do was to just ask y'all. :)
 
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Nick, aka jungleboy, told me about a route along the southern Portuguese coast named the Rota Vincentina, The Fisherman's Trail. St. Vincent is the patron saint of fishermen and this trail is four days along the Algarve coast. I had to do some quick research to refresh my memory and found several other Portuguese hikes mentioned on a site called Moon & Honey Travel..
Thanks! We'll be in the Algarve earlier in our trip and will definitely be hiking there. :)
 
I had to chuckle at the comments about my "exhaustive" list of requirements!
Please, it wasn't intended as a chastisement, but as an acknowledgement that IMO it's not really a camino and certainly not a pilgrimage in the traditional sense that you seem to be planning with such an exhaustive list of very detailed requirements:

quiet country roads and forest paths, small villages and historic sites, nature, great food and good company, we'd prefer shade to hot sun, not too much elevation gain, days 20km or less AND... we need to walk from north to south, we would like to avoid long monotonous stretches (especially in glaring sun), we're open to taking land transport if necessary etc...

Forgive me, who am I to judge, but I chuckled too..

Edit:
FWIW, Steven Dwyer' s suggestion about finding a single lodging place seems to make good sense logistics-wise, given the size of your group and the extremely limited window you have for walking.
 
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The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Please, it wasn't intended as a chastisement, but as an acknowledgement that IMO it's not really a camino and certainly not a pilgrimage in the traditional sense that you seem to be planning with such an exhaustive list of very detailed requirements:

quiet country roads and forest paths, small villages and historic sites, nature, great food and good company, we'd prefer shade to hot sun, not too much elevation gain, days 20km or less AND... we need to walk from north to south, we would like to avoid long monotonous stretches (especially in glaring sun), we're open to taking land transport if necessary etc...

Forgive me, who am I to judge, but I chuckled too..

Edit:
FWIW, Steven Dwyer' s suggestion about finding a single lodging place seems to make good sense logistics-wise, given the size of your group and the extremely limited window you have for walking.
Part of what we loved about our first Camino experience was the walking from place to place, the ephemeral arriving-and-leaving, if you will.

The first time we traveled as a group back in 2007 (not a Camino but a tour of rural Dordogne) there were 17 of us. Having a homebase for part of the trip was a saving grace, no doubt about it! But with just eight of us this time and for just three nights (and with five months' lead time) I think we'll be OK. :)
 
Bon courage! I have only gone the Camino solo, other than picking up a few strays along the way. I can't imagine dealing with 17 folks at 6am, much less myself after a night of vino tinto..
 
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In reading about jungleboy's proposed three-day route, specifically Barcelos to São Pedro de Rates (recall we are walking backwards), I'm seeing some busy road-walking, including along the N306. However, I also see a detour uphill (and away from the hiway), the Variante da Franqueira. Any advice from those who've walked this way?
 
There seems to be a new route (it sounds like it's a rerouting of the camino rather than the variant you mentioned?) that avoids at least some of the road. Here are two recent comments on the Wise Pilgrim app (keeping in mind that this is south to north):

IMG_1926.jpg
 
Thank you, jungleboy! LoL, I have the Wise Pilgrim app, it didn't even occur to me to look there. I appreciate the info AND the reminder! :)
 
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There seems to be a new route (it sounds like it's a rerouting of the camino rather than the variant you mentioned?) that avoids at least some of the road. Here are two recent comments on the Wise Pilgrim app (keeping in mind that this is south to north):

View attachment 142004
Thanks for this tip! I’ll be walking the central in mid-April. I’m tagging @wisepilgrim so Michael will take a look at the comments in this part of his app and perhaps update the map.
 

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