• For 2024 Pilgrims: €50,- donation = 1 year with no ads on the forum + 90% off any 2024 Guide. More here.
    (Discount code sent to you by Private Message after your donation)
  • ⚠️ Emergency contact in Spain - Dial 112 and AlertCops app. More on this here.

Search 69,459 Camino Questions

Camino Portugues Central difficulty

IzzyCamino

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
May 2023
Hi all! I'm preparing for my first camino this may. I'm trying to figure out whether I should take the central route or the coastal route. I'm hoping to start on the coastal one and then switch to the central route, for the atmosphere and social aspects. But:

I'm wondering about the difficulty level of the central route, particularly the Barcelos - Ponte de Lima - Rubiaes section and the Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja. How difficult are the hilly sections and the declines? How steep are they? Are the paths in good condition, or are they very rocky and slippery? Importantly, time is not an issue, so I could walk it at a slow pace (as long as there is enough accomodation).

If necessary: Is there a way to combine both but excluding the more difficult parts of the central route?

Note: I have a disability and am not good with (very) steep climbs and especially declines, nor with slippery paths (like gravel).

Thanks a lot!
 
Ideal pocket guides for during and after your Camino. Each weighs just 40g (1.4 oz).
Definitely the Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes section was the most challenging section. There is a largish hill, but it isn't like the mountains you find in some sections of the Frances. It is trail walking and there are some rocky parts, and it could be slippery in rain, I expect. Here's a photo from that day:
20181006_103716.jpg
 
My recollection of that leg is similar to @David Tallan's. Leaving Ponte de Lima there is a mix of track and quiet road leading up into the forest area surrounding the Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja. I recall the section in David's photo being quite challenging, but that particular section was only 100 m or so in length. Once through it, the CP follows forestry management tracks and other roads into Rubiaes.
 
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.
Because the climbing of the Alto da Portela grande is an off road path there is a road around the mountain but that is rather dangerous for hikers because it is a winding road and cars drive very fast .and because the road leads through a forest is pretty dark.
your connection from the Coastal to the Central you could do more to the north
follow the coast to Caminha and from there follo the Minho river along the Portuguese Spanish border and hit the Central route in Valença do Minho. So you avoid the Labruja mountain

by the way following the Central from O Porriño to Redondela you will meet a very steep slope , downwards bearby Arcade so maybe it is an alternative to follow the entire coast to Vigo and then you will miss this slope too but this idea alters your complete perception of a mix of both caminhos
 
Last edited:
Hi all! I'm preparing for my first camino this may. I'm trying to figure out whether I should take the central route or the coastal route. I'm hoping to start on the coastal one and then switch to the central route, for the atmosphere and social aspects. But:

I'm wondering about the difficulty level of the central route, particularly the Barcelos - Ponte de Lima - Rubiaes section and the Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja. How difficult are the hilly sections and the declines? How steep are they? Are the paths in good condition, or are they very rocky and slippery? Importantly, time is not an issue, so I could walk it at a slow pace (as long as there is enough accomodation).

If necessary: Is there a way to combine both but excluding the more difficult parts of the central route?

Note: I have a disability and am not good with (very) steep climbs and especially declines, nor with slippery paths (like gravel).

Thanks a lot!
These are steep climbs. If wet, even worse. We did these on very dry days and we have no disabilities, so we were OK. We truly enjoyed the Ponte de Lima-Rubaies stretch, especially after making the mistake of walking out of Porto on the Central. You are wise to start with the Coastal, but you may want to stick with it. Your alternative is to bus or taxi the challenging stages. Your safety must come first. Keep in mind that you only have to walk the last 100kms (from Valenca/Tui) to have walked a full camino and earn your compostela, if that matters to you. Stay safe, peregrino.
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
Thanks for this question -Also following. I will start to Portuguese Camino April 15 and am finding it a bit complicated to follow Brierly and decide where to switch inland from Porto. Following
 
Indeed it is steep and rocky on the old Roman. We met many bikers who were carrying their bikes on their shoulders! We call this hike-a-bike! You can see this day, on my website from Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes, for more complete info and lots of photos. Happy planning!
Elle: I hadn't seen anything by you in years. My bad. I just wanted you to know that some years ago we followed your guidance every day on the Primitivo. And you are such an entertaining writer. You made it real. I will always blame you for our abandoning our tough it out approach to caminos, occasionally staying in a double room at a hotel. What a joy after a long day. No snoring, wheezing, coughing nearby. And not much more than an albergue. We have ever since alternated between albergues and modest hotels. We will forever be grateful to you for your candid, delightful guidance.
 
Definitely the Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes section was the most challenging section. There is a largish hill, but it isn't like the mountains you find in some sections of the Frances. It is trail walking and there are some rocky parts, and it could be slippery in rain, I expect. Here's a photo from that day:
View attachment 142314

On that very spot, on a rainy day last June, one of my walking companions slipped, fell, and hit her head on a rock... she should have gotten stitches probably, and had a slight concussion. :(

However... this was also the most beautiful part of that route.
 
New Original Camino Gear Designed Especially with The Modern Peregrino In Mind!
My recollection of that leg is similar to @David Tallan's. Leaving Ponte de Lima there is a mix of track and quiet road leading up into the forest area surrounding the Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja. I recall the section in David's photo being quite challenging, but that particular section was only 100 m or so in length. Once through it, the CP follows forestry management tracks and other roads into Rubiaes.
I think my recollection is the same as both you and David's too. Remember there are lots of cobblestone on the central route also. This may also affect you adversely. I would also recommend getting in touch with @jungleboy. He and his wife have live in Portugal and write and podcast about the many different caminos in Portugal. He is a wonderful and generous member of our community and if you PM him with your concerns and your challenges he may be an invaluable resource to help guide you.
 
I will always blame you for our abandoning our tough it out approach to caminos, occasionally staying in a double room at a hotel. What a joy after a long day. No snoring, wheezing, coughing nearby. And not much more than an albergue. We have ever since alternated between albergues and modest hotels. We will forever be grateful to you for your candid, delightful guidance.
Ha ha, Anthony, I most certainly have an "albergue tolerance rate." I wanted to start a thread on this topic, but I was a bit afraid that I would not be seen as a "real" pilgrim. We did actually get the label of "high end pilgrims" on several Caminos because we didn't race everyday to get the cheapest bed possible. We just laughed at that and allowed those who really needed the price break a chance at the albergues. But I do really enjoy the community of the albergues and stay in them about 1/2 to 2/3rds of the time. But as I get older....
 
@Elle, I also am one who really enjoys your website with interesting details, the help you offer, and the maps showing your route. I too, devoured your Primitivo information when I was preparing to go a few years ago. I am one who has been using upgraded lodging more and more, too, so I get where you are coming from.
Hope you will be enjoying another Camino soon with hubby; wherever your feet take you! 😀
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
Being “of a certain age (and fitness level)” I struggle with tough or slippery descents. For example, after last year i decided never again to walk the section between Cruce de Ferro and Molinaseca on Camino Frances. It’s just too much for me. On Camino Portuguese I walked that steep section after Ponte de Lima and while it was a very steep climb I just took it slowly (no choice really), took breaks (duh) and made it to the top.,The descent wasn’t too bad compared to some of the others on the Caminos. I might jump ahead by cab if it was raining through that section though. After that, on a different stage, there is another long steep descent that I was quite worried about, can’t remember the name of the town, but the whole thing was paved. I just zigzagged my way down without trouble. Oh, and there is a very steep part of the spiritual variant, both up and down. Best of luck with your decision. Bom Caminho
 

Most read last week in this forum

OK, so as someone who has a walked a few caminos already, some that tested me physically and mentally, I’ve tended to write off the Portuguese coastal as something of a camino lite for the...
I am planning a walk starting in A Guarda and following the Portugues Coastal but getting to A Guarda does not look easy. I will be flying out from the UK which gives me options of flying into...

❓How to ask a question

How to post a new question on the Camino Forum.

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Updates on YouTube

Camino Conversations

Most downloaded Resources

This site is run by Ivar at

in Santiago de Compostela.
This site participates in the Amazon Affiliate program, designed to provide a means for Ivar to earn fees by linking to Amazon
Official Camino Passport (Credential) | 2024 Camino Guides
Back
Top