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Alternative coastal route into Porto in three stages (Aug 2020)

Ungawawa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017-20: Francés, Norte, Francés, Portuguese Lisbon Coastal, Portuguese central
This August I completed sections of the Camino Portugues from Albergaria a Velha to Santiago. I wanted to share the route variation I took on the advice of an hospitalero, as it lets you take an alternative coastal route into Porto over three days, instead of the traditional road-based route through São João da Madeira.

I’ve not been on the official interior camino from Albergaria to Porto myself, but I did hear reports from other pilgrims on the path that it was not only ugly and unpleasant walking but also dangerous in stretches, so this route certainly offers a more pleasant and safe alternative. It’s a few kilometers more in total but is easily broken down into three short or two long days, and much of the hiking is quite beautiful. I’ve included some photos to illustrate the route, and my GPS tracks are below too in the hope they may be useful to some. You’ll see a couple of really remarkable places taking this route instead.

The path begins in Pinhiero da Bemposta. At this town you diverge from the main camino route. It’s about 11km after the common stage endpoint of Albergharia. I took the opportunity to stay at the excellent water-mill albergue here. It’s a little off the track but there are plenty of signs. One km off-track into the woods brings you to a beautiful tranquil water mill albergue Moino Garcia, run by a jolly German guy. He’s used to looking after pilgrims. If the weather is nice enough you’ll enjoy a wonderful outdoor meal in the garden at a tiled giant table and sleep in an old mill room with hoppers and grindstones and water running below the floorboards. If you’re brave you can take a dip in the waterfall there too. I was able to get a single bunk in a room with two others for 15 euro. Shared rooms were being run at half capacity because of covid.
https://www.alberguemoinhogarcia.com/

Leaving Pinhiero for Furadouro
A pleasant 20km day crossing to the coastal resort of Furadouro, where you’re able to stay in the excellent Furadouro Terrace Hostel. The first third of the journey is mostly through forest, the second third on roads - sometimes through some rather run-down but interesting towns, the final third is a long straight dual pedestrian / bike track straight to the coast.

The first couple of kilometers is a little rocky, so your hiking poles will come in useful. On the way you’ll pass by the beautiful colourful church of Valega, with its multicoloured tiled facade and stunning internal paintings. You’ll also pass through the small town of Ovar, with a pleasant town square, church and shops.

In Furadouro you’ll get your first glimpse of the ocean since Lisbon. The hostel in Furadouro I found excellent, the owner friendly and used to seeing pilgrims. I had a room to myself and a decent breakfast was included in the price. Furadouro itself seemed a little rough at the edges but I still found an excellent restaurant and accommodation there.

Furadouro to Espinho
An easy flat 19km day. The first half takes you through pine forests to Esmoriz, either on sandy trails which run in a grid through the whole forest, or following a dual road, bike / pedestrian path which winds more but is easier going. You can pick and mix between these two.

In Esmoriz there’s plenty of nice beachside restaurants to get lunch, and from there you’ll follow the coastline and boardwalk the whole way to Espinho. Espinho is a busy up-market surfers resort with lots of facilities and some nice shops. I stayed at Surf House Espinho hostel in a private room. I think normally individual bunks are available but because of covid they were renting only whole rooms, so this would be cheaper if you arranged in advance to share with someone.

Espinho to Porto
This was is a longer 23km day and no maps are really necessary as you simply follow the boardwalk and coastal paths all the way to the edge of the port of Porto and from there turn inland following the river Douro until you reach the famous Eiffel bridge where you can cross over into the main town or take the funicular up to the cathedral.

I tried at Vila Nova de Gaia to cut across diagonally to save some kilometers but regretted it as the area immediately became very hilly. I returned to the coast and just followed that, and recommend doing the same, as the easiest and most picturesque way into the city.

On route you will pass by the amazing Capela do Senhor da Pedra - Portugal’s own church by the ocean (take that Muxia!) - as well as pass through some beautiful beach and water areas.


Here are my GPS tracks, if anyone is interested. I've corrected and quantised them to be a bit neater, and removed the bits where I took wrong turns!

Stage 1: https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/spatialArtifacts.do?event=setCurrentSpatialArtifact&id=58942405
Stage 2: https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/spatialArtifacts.do?event=setCurrentSpatialArtifact&id=58942495
Stage 3: Just follow the coast all the way!
 

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Ungawawa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017-20: Francés, Norte, Francés, Portuguese Lisbon Coastal, Portuguese central
A few more pics from day 2 and 3...
 

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CaptainBonnie

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan: 2 week to arrive at Santiago de Campostela in 2 weeks. Start 12th Nov 2017
This August I completed sections of the Camino Portugues from Albergaria a Velha to Santiago. I wanted to share the route variation I took on the advice of an hospitalero, as it lets you take an alternative coastal route into Porto over three days, instead of the traditional road-based route through São João da Madeira.

I’ve not been on the official interior camino from Albergaria to Porto myself, but I did hear reports from other pilgrims on the path that it was not only ugly and unpleasant walking but also dangerous in stretches, so this route certainly offers a more pleasant and safe alternative. It’s a few kilometers more in total but is easily broken down into three short or two long days, and much of the hiking is quite beautiful. I’ve included some photos to illustrate the route, and my GPS tracks are below too in the hope they may be useful to some. You’ll see a couple of really remarkable places taking this route instead.

The path begins in Pinhiero da Bemposta. At this town you diverge from the main camino route. It’s about 11km after the common stage endpoint of Albergharia. I took the opportunity to stay at the excellent water-mill albergue here. It’s a little off the track but there are plenty of signs. One km off-track into the woods brings you to a beautiful tranquil water mill albergue Moino Garcia, run by a jolly German guy. He’s used to looking after pilgrims. If the weather is nice enough you’ll enjoy a wonderful outdoor meal in the garden at a tiled giant table and sleep in an old mill room with hoppers and grindstones and water running below the floorboards. If you’re brave you can take a dip in the waterfall there too. I was able to get a single bunk in a room with two others for 15 euro. Shared rooms were being run at half capacity because of covid.
https://www.alberguemoinhogarcia.com/

Leaving Pinhiero for Furadouro
A pleasant 20km day crossing to the coastal resort of Furadouro, where you’re able to stay in the excellent Furadouro Terrace Hostel. The first third of the journey is mostly through forest, the second third on roads - sometimes through some rather run-down but interesting towns, the final third is a long straight dual pedestrian / bike track straight to the coast.

The first couple of kilometers is a little rocky, so your hiking poles will come in useful. On the way you’ll pass by the beautiful colourful church of Valega, with its multicoloured tiled facade and stunning internal paintings. You’ll also pass through the small town of Ovar, with a pleasant town square, church and shops.

In Furadouro you’ll get your first glimpse of the ocean since Lisbon. The hostel in Furadouro I found excellent, the owner friendly and used to seeing pilgrims. I had a room to myself and a decent breakfast was included in the price. Furadouro itself seemed a little rough at the edges but I still found an excellent restaurant and accommodation there.

Furadouro to Espinho
An easy flat 19km day. The first half takes you through pine forests to Esmoriz, either on sandy trails which run in a grid through the whole forest, or following a dual road, bike / pedestrian path which winds more but is easier going. You can pick and mix between these two.

In Esmoriz there’s plenty of nice beachside restaurants to get lunch, and from there you’ll follow the coastline and boardwalk the whole way to Espinho. Espinho is a busy up-market surfers resort with lots of facilities and some nice shops. I stayed at Surf House Espinho hostel in a private room. I think normally individual bunks are available but because of covid they were renting only whole rooms, so this would be cheaper if you arranged in advance to share with someone.

Espinho to Porto
This was is a longer 23km day and no maps are really necessary as you simply follow the boardwalk and coastal paths all the way to the edge of the port of Porto and from there turn inland following the river Douro until you reach the famous Eiffel bridge where you can cross over into the main town or take the funicular up to the cathedral.

I tried at Vila Nova de Gaia to cut across diagonally to save some kilometers but regretted it as the area immediately became very hilly. I returned to the coast and just followed that, and recommend doing the same, as the easiest and most picturesque way into the city.

On route you will pass by the amazing Capela do Senhor da Pedra - Portugal’s own church by the ocean (take that Muxia!) - as well as pass through some beautiful beach and water areas.


Here are my GPS tracks, if anyone is interested. I've corrected and quantised them to be a bit neater, and removed the bits where I took wrong turns!

Stage 1: https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/spatialArtifacts.do?event=setCurrentSpatialArtifact&id=58942405
Stage 2: https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/spatialArtifacts.do?event=setCurrentSpatialArtifact&id=58942495
Stage 3: Just follow the coast all the way!
Thanks for sharing 👌this year was a complete mess up! Next year I look forward to the Camino Portuguese from Lisboa and will definitely walk your path.
Warmest Wishes & Vaya con Dios!
Capt Vivek Bhasin
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
This looks like a great alternative, thanks for all the information. The only potential downside I see is that this much nicer entrance into Porto does not take you to the high point in Gaia across the bridge, where the view of the old riverfront in Porto is a really fabulous view. Ranks right up there with walking into Toledo on the Levante, IMO. (my avatar picture was taken from there)

So to anyone who will take @Ungawawa’s very nice looking route, do yourself a favor and make sure you get back to the Jardím do Morro. Though you can’t tell from google maps, the garden is up top, with the rest of Gaia and all its port lodges steeply below, down close to the river.

It’s easy to get there, either on foot or by taking the tram across the river. If you’ve seen pictures of the bridge, you can see it has two levels — one down at river level, and one up high that roughly links the cathedral to the park. That level is open to people on foot, and the tram goes across as well. I’ve attached a screen shot of how to walk.

IMO, it would be a pity to go to Porto and not get that great view — it’s also a very nice place for a picnic.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

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Ungawawa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017-20: Francés, Norte, Francés, Portuguese Lisbon Coastal, Portuguese central
This looks like a great alternative, thanks for all the information. The only potential downside I see is that this much nicer entrance into Porto does not take you to the high point in Gaia across the bridge, where the view of the old riverfront in Porto is a really fabulous view. Ranks right up there with walking into Toledo on the Levante, IMO. (my avatar picture was taken from there)

So to anyone who will take @Ungawawa’s very nice looking route, do yourself a favor and make sure you get back to the Jardím do Morro. Though you can’t tell from google maps, the garden is up top, with the rest of Gaia and all its port lodges steeply below, down close to the river.

It’s easy to get there, either on foot or by taking the tram across the river. If you’ve seen pictures of the bridge, you can see it has two levels — one down at river level, and one up high that roughly links the cathedral to the park. That level is open to people on foot, and the tram goes across as well. I’ve attached a screen shot of how to walk.

IMO, it would be a pity to go to Porto and not get that great view — it’s also a very nice place for a picnic.

Buen camino, Laurie
That does indeed look beautiful. Good to know I still have something to look forward to when I finish these unwalked stages in the future. Thanks!
 

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