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Best Sightseeing Coastal and Central

NicoleB83

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portuguese Coastal April/May 2019
I will be starting in Porto mid-March, and will probably do a combination of the Coastal and Central routes. Does anyone have recommendations for the best sightseeing along the way - particularly towns that would be lovely to spend an extra day in? Thanks in advance!
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
Just walked this a few months ago. Obviously, spend some time in Porto. I'd second Baiona. It's really a very nice town. March is probably too early, but there is a very nice National Park just off the coast (easy ferry ride to get there) with some nice walking trails. I only walked the coastal route and most of the other towns are nice but not exceptional (I know I'll incur the wrath of some on that comment :) ). They are very nice just not all that unique.

If you get to Porto early, you could go south. Lisbon is always great if you haven't been there. I also liked Coimbra and Tomar. Tomar particularly has a very nice town center and a great castle and monastery to visit. And there always is Lourdes (more for its unique nature than its architecture or town). The walk from Lisbon to Porto is not the most scenic, has the most road walking but also has some interesting towns (Coimbra, Tomar, Santarim, Agueda (just for the umbrella town square), Lourdes). But the walk itself is less grand :)

I don't know if you've been to Portugal but you will find it different, less touristy, and perhaps nicer than the Camino Frances. Scenery is not as nice, smaller numbers walking (both pro and con on that one), a little more diverse food (more fish - if that's possible). I would think that March would be very quiet. Along the coast many of the shore side bars might be closed.

The other item that was a pleasant surprise was the number of people who spoke some English. Didn't get much of a chance to practice my meager Portuguese at all. Apparently, Portugal has one of the highest percentages of people who can speak some English in all of Europe.

Enjoy the walk. Bon Caminho
 

jungleboy

Nick
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (Spring '17)
Primitivo (Spring '18)
Madrid (April '19)
The other item that was a pleasant surprise was the number of people who spoke some English. Didn't get much of a chance to practice my meager Portuguese at all. Apparently, Portugal has one of the highest percentages of people who can speak some English in all of Europe.
Yes, the Portuguese level of English is quite high, at least in cities. I live in Lisbon and have about a B1 level of Portuguese but I am often spoken back to in English (which is kind of annoying on the one hand, but also shows me that I need to improve, and that the other person's English is indeed better than my Portuguese).

I read once that foreign films used to be dubbed in Portugal but in the 1970s this decision was reversed with the intention of making foreign (i.e. English language) films incomprehensible to Portuguese people, which would thus incentivise the Portuguese film industry to make more Portuguese language movies. The actual result was that the Portuguese began speaking better English. Whether this whole story is true or not, there's certainly a correlation between dubbing vs subtitles and the resulting English levels in European countries.
 

David Manzo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugese (2018)
I would spend an extra day in Tui. You have two interesting towns that straddle the border between Portugal and Spain. The Cathedral, although not grand by many European standards is a gem.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I can't speak too much to the coastal, since I barely touched that route, walking mostly on the Central with the first day on the Senda Litoral. On the Central, there were a number of nice towns. Valenca/Tui and Pontevedra would be great places to spend a day sightseeing, and Barcelos and Ponte de Lima were lovely little towns. Or some like to spend a day relaxing in the spas at Caldas de Reis. If I had to pick one, however, it would be Valenca/Tui. Walk to Valenca in Portugal one day. Walk to Tui in Spain the next. Walk on from Tui after that, on a somewhat more crowded camino.
 

Macman

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy - Pamplona (2017)
Camino Portugues (2017)
Camino del Norte (2018)
Pamplona - Muxia April 2019
I will be starting in Porto mid-March, and will probably do a combination of the Coastal and Central routes. Does anyone have recommendations for the best sightseeing along the way - particularly towns that would be lovely to spend an extra day in? Thanks in advance!
Did the same walk a bit later in the year in 2017. The southern part on the Portuguese coast is mainly through seaside areas, with quite a lot of board walking.
If you want to avoid the industrial north west outskirts of Porto, catch the light rail to the sea side village of Povoa Varzim and start walking from there.
When you are approaching the border and the crossing of the Minho, going to A Guarda, check the ferry times and if it is running, as it had broken down the day I crossed. If it is out of action, the alternatives are a LONG walk inland or crossing on a SMALL boat from Pombal - OK in smooth weather, but not much freeboard!
All the best with your walk - I enjoyed it greatly.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
Lisbon of course, if you are starting there (it is worth a couple of days exploring), Coimbra for the Joannina library, said to be the most beautiful in the world (visits are allocated - maximum 25 people at a time), Tomar for the castle of Henry the Navigator, and a lovely town, Porto is fabulous, and Baiona I did enjoy although did not stay there. I missed Tui (I was on the coastal route at that stage) so can't give an opinion on it. Sounds like I might have to walk the Portuguese again - if I can face those hard stone sets!
 

jungleboy

Nick
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (Spring '17)
Primitivo (Spring '18)
Madrid (April '19)
Lisbon of course, if you are starting there (it is worth a couple of days exploring), Coimbra for the Joannina library, said to be the most beautiful in the world (visits are allocated - maximum 25 people at a time), Tomar for the castle of Henry the Navigator, and a lovely town, Porto is fabulous, and Baiona I did enjoy although did not stay there.
That's an interesting way to refer to the Convent of Christ! :)
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment" Amazon/Kindle books authored
"Slow Camino"
I did the entire Portuguese Route in the winter (FEB and March) of 2017 and I saw only one French Pilgrim couple (for three weeks) until I got to Porto. The highlight of that section had to be Templar Castle in Tomar followed up by the old section of Coimbra. I stayed at the Poet's Inn in Porto (Very Cool Place with dorm and private rooms and directly on the Camino route for three nights so as to take in Porto. Aside from the Se Cathedral with the cloisters and museum where you will likely start, the two best things in Porto were the Igreja da Misericordia and a wonderful museum mostly of religious artifacts and a stunning small chapel and then the National Soares de Rei Museum with a terrific collection of Portuguese Art - The art all so Portuguese in subject matter. This is from the book I just completed. (Go for lunch at Adega Tipica just 100 meters from the museum for authentic food.)
"The Soares dos Reis National Museum was founded in 1833 by King Peter IV, who took the throne from King Miguel I. Despised as an autocratic dictator, King Miguel I was later stripped of his wealth, including his private art collection. That art, along with art taken from convents and monasteries, became the foundation of the museum’s collection. While there was some art from the last one hundred years, much of the collection was from 1820–1920, including works that fall into the Mannerist, Expressionist, and Impressionist schools. I loved how quintessentially Portuguese the art was. Unlike American and English portraiture, in which the subjects were all fair haired and rosy cheeked, these Portuguese subjects were olive skinned and had the blackest hair, moustaches, and beards. The paintings showed daily life: women harvesting grapes, men fishing, matadors taunting bulls, shepherds tending sheep, and guitarists playing fado music."
I stayed at some high end Quintas and also the Paradore in Tui.
I recommend Quinta Sao Miguel - 40 Euros- in Arcos (1km off Camino)
Best Albergue was O Ninho-15 Euros- in Rubiaes
Great Hotel with panoramic view of the Rias Vigo was Hotel Santo Apostelo in Cesantes (1km off Camino) and terrific seafood restaurant.
The Portuguese route was flatter than the French Route, the people were warmer and the food was exponentially better -and it was way less crowed. Nobody does seafood like the Portuguese! Terence Callery
 

Albertinho

ninguém disse que era fácil !
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Lisboa - Sant.
2014 Ferrol -Sant.
2015 Porto -Sant.
2018 Porto -Valença
2019 Valença -Sant.
I will be starting in Porto mid-March, and will probably do a combination of the Coastal and Central routes. Does anyone have recommendations for the best sightseeing along the way - particularly towns that would be lovely to spend an extra day in? Thanks in advance!
Do not know which part of the coastal you will walk ? Most do the first day from Porto to Vila do Conde and then head inland to the central route.
But when you continue along the coast , you will like Viana do Castelo and Caminha.
From Caminha you could follow the Minho river on the Ecovia along the river bank to Valença do Minho which is worthwhile to visit. From there you will cross the river to Galicia Spain and are on the central route.
I aggree with @MyDestinationGalicia that Baiona is a beautiful place to stay and I personally like the big town of Vigo too . Have been there several times over the years.at Caminha take the ferry to A Guarda in that case instead of following the Minho river.

On the central route ,if you walk to Vila do Conde ,I advice you to stay in Barcelos and stay overnight for a second night and take the bus or train to Braga. My alltime favorite Portugese town . The famous world heritage sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte is a must to visit in Braga .
And do not forget to stay with my friends at casa da Fernanda between Barcelos and Ponte de Lima, the best Portuguese caminho experience between Porto and the Spanish northern border.

Feliz ano novo 2019 and bom caminho
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
If you want to avoid the industrial north west outskirts of Porto, catch the light rail to the sea side village of Povoa Varzim and start walking from there.
Alternatively, you can start at the Cathedral in Porto, walk down to the river, along the river to the ocean, and then north along the ocean along the Senda Litoral. If you intend to walk the Coastal route, this will connect with it. If you intend to walk the Central route, you can cross over to it when you get to Vila de Conde. It is a very nice walk, gets you a taste of the ocean if you intend to walk the Central, completely avoids industrial sections, and gave me a starting place for my Camino I preferred to a random village along the coast.
 

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