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Camino Portugues - most scenic route with less road walking?

2020 Camino Guides

Ian Hyndman

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugese (2020/21)
My partner and I are planning on making our first Camino in September/October 2020. We will start in Porto. Which of the routes provides the most scenic countryside and least road walking?
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Hola @Ian Hyndman . You are intending to walk the Portuguese Camino at almost the exact same time as my brother and I. We aim to start from Porto and take the coastal route. From a number of reports I have read the coastal one appears to better one; less road walking; less motor vehicle traffic than when you follow the inland route. I suggest you have a look at one of the better guide books and read what they say about each section/route. Cheers
 

happymarkos

HappyMark
Camino(s) past & future
2013 CF
2014 Le Puy-St Jean. 2014&16 Volunteer St JP
2016 Portuguese
2017 Porto-Santiago
2018
My partner and I are planning on making our first Camino in September/October 2020. We will start in Porto. Which of the routes provides the most scenic countryside and least road walking?
There are 4 routes out of Porto. I have done the central one and don’t recommend.
The seaside is my choice. Note it’s not the coastal route.
 

happymarkos

HappyMark
Camino(s) past & future
2013 CF
2014 Le Puy-St Jean. 2014&16 Volunteer St JP
2016 Portuguese
2017 Porto-Santiago
2018
I liked the seaside route as it offered long sections along the coast, sometimes on boardwalks, occasionally on a beach. It joins the Central route in Spain after Vigo at Redondela. Then you are on the most popular route. After Ponferada there is the option of the Esperitual variation to Vilanova then by boat to Padron where you rejoin the Central route.
 

andycohn

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (12-15); Muxia (15); Portuguese, Primitivo (17); Norte, Ingles, VF partial (18), Le Puy (19)
As I wrote in a previous post, there’s no riight answer and there’s tons of debate about this on this forum. Depends on what you like, and maybe on where you’re from. Far more pilgrims on the central, and more of a pilgrim “vibe”, like on the Frances. More historical towns on the central. The coastal has fewer pilgrims, and less pilgrim infrastructure, but many find it beautiful with the ocean (almost) always within sight. We’re from coastal California, and perhaps for that reason, we found the coastal route rather monotonous, with dull, touristy beach towns, and nothing but pavement or boardwalks underfoot, so 2 days north of Porto, at Esposende, we decided to switch back to the central, and continued on from there. Overall, we found the central to be green and rolling, with more variation in scenery, and although there's plenty of pavement, it was less than on the coastal route.

The good thing is you don’t have to make up your mind until you’re in Porto, and even if you start on one, you can switch over to the other easily enough, with buses or taxis linking the towns along the two routes. Weather is also a factor. If the forecast is for warm, sunny weather, it will be cooler on the coast. If the forecast is for rain, you’ll have a cold wind off the ocean whipping your face on the coastal route, while on the central route you’ll be more sheltered.

I think Happymarkos may be a bit confusing above. The "seaside" route is also known as the Senda Litoral. The differences between it and the Coastal Route are minor, and often the two routes are the same. When they differ, it's generally that the Senda Liitoral will take you right along the sand, while the Coastal Route will be along a boardwalk or road flanking the beach -- in other words, often only 100 yards part. Both go through the same places, and you can skip back and forth between the two almost at will. If you get Brierley's guidebook, the differences between all the routes will be clear.

Quote R
 
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LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
I've walked the Central and the Littoral (which hugs the beach). both times I walked in to Tui and then stayed on the same path after Tui.

I would 100% recommend the coast out of Porto... stay beside the river and walk along the beach. I felt that the central route improved after Barcelos and I really enjoyed the walk from there. Lots of history and fabulous countryside.

I'd like to walk this route again one day with my husband and I'd walk the sections I've not yet walked... including the Variente. But I would choose to walk from Barcelos to Tui again... it's a lovely walk.

Whatever you choose have a great time!
 

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 liked the seaside route as it offered long sections along the coast, sometimes on boardwalks, occasionally on a beach. It joins the Central route in Spain after Vigo at Redondela. Then you are on the most popular route. After Ponferada there is the option of the Esperitual variation to Vilanova then by boat to Padron where you rejoin the Central route.
Ponferada is on the French route. I think you meant Pontevedra.
5 kms after Oontevedra starts the Variante Espiritual.
 

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've walked the Central and the Littoral (which hugs the beach). both times I walked in to Tui and then stayed on the same path after Tui.

I would 100% recommend the coast out of Porto... stay beside the river and walk along the beach. I felt that the central route improved after Barcelos and I really enjoyed the walk from there. Lots of history and fabulous countryside.

I'd like to walk this route again one day with my husband and I'd walk the sections I've not yet walked... including the Variente. But I would choose to walk from Barcelos to Tui again... it's a lovely walk.

Whatever you choose have a great time!
After Barcelos it the Centeal Route as being called improves indeed.
18 kms after Barcelos you will encounter the best place to stay on the entire caminho Português , Casa da Fernanda . Not been at Fernanda's is haven't been on the caminho Português. Don't miss it
 

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.
As I wrote in a previous post, there’s no riight answer and there’s tons of debate about this on this forum. Depends on what you like, and maybe on where you’re from. Far more pilgrims on the central, and more of a pilgrim “vibe”, like on the Frances. More historical towns on the central. The coastal has fewer pilgrims, and less pilgrim infrastructure, but many find it beautiful with the ocean (almost) always within sight. We’re from coastal California, and perhaps for that reason, we found the coastal route rather monotonous, with dull, touristy beach towns, and nothing but pavement or boardwalks underfoot, so 2 days north of Porto, at Esposende, we decided to switch back to the central, and continued on from there. Overall, we found the central to be green and rolling, with more variation in scenery, and although there's plenty of pavement, it was less than on the coastal route.

The good thing is you don’t have to make up your mind until you’re in Porto, and even if you start on one, you can switch over to the other easily enough, with buses or taxis linking the towns along the two routes. Weather is also a factor. If the forecast is for warm, sunny weather, it will be cooler on the coast. If the forecast is for rain, you’ll have a cold wind off the ocean whipping your face on the coastal route, while on the central route you’ll be more sheltered.

I think Happymarkos may be a bit confusing above. The "seaside" route is also known as the Senda Litoral. The differences between it and the Coastal Route are minor, and often the two routes are the same. When they differ, it's generally that the Senda Liitoral will take you right along the sand, while the Coastal Route will be along a boardwalk or road flanking the beach -- in other words, often only 100 yards part. Both go through the same places, and you can skip back and forth between the two almost at will. If you get Brierley's guidebook, the differences between all the routes will be clear.

Quote R
There is a different one anyway between Viana do Castello and Caminha. It leads through the hills about 400 to 500 meters from the seaside , waymarked with yellow markers . You can see the path at the seaside from there most of the time.
But when we walked that part it was raining and the path was very slippery and dangerous so the other two times I did the coastal caminho I walked down at the seaside . Also when you make the connection between the Coastal and the Central route from Caminha to Valença do Minho and Tui you can the so called Ecovia some meters from the Minho river and about 400 meters ofc the bank of the river high in the hills Both are waymarked
 

Ian Hyndman

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugese (2020/21)
just want to thank all of the fellow pilgrims who contributed their advice - great, thank you. We are really excited and already starting to plan kit. My "other half" is gradually breaking in her new boots walking around Dubai malls!! Wish everyone a great 2020 wherever you are.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
just want to thank all of the fellow pilgrims who contributed their advice - great, thank you. We are really excited and already starting to plan kit. My "other half" is gradually breaking in her new boots walking around Dubai malls!! Wish everyone a great 2020 wherever you are.
One other piece of advice is to consider trail runners or some other form of lighter footwear than boots for your Camino Portugues. This isn't a rough trail and there isn't a lot of rock climbing, so boots aren't essential and you might find that lighter footwear makes for easier walking.

I wore Merrell Moabs on my Caminos, but were I to do the Portugues again, I would probably wear Hoka One Ones. Whether you take the Coastal or the Central you will have plenty of occasion to walk along cobblestone roads during the Portuguese portion of the Camino and the extra cushioning of the Hokas would be welcome.
 

boski

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/primitivo (15)
My partner and I are planning on making our first Camino in September/October 2020. We will start in Porto. Which of the routes provides the most scenic countryside and least road walking?
Check out the trailsmart app it shows all the routes plus "extras". I like the costal route you can follow it for quite awhile. And the spiritual variant is definitely worth doing if you have time.
 

design4life

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2014, 2015, 2018); Kumano Kodo (2019); Portugués (2020)
@David Tallan and @auburnfive, I was thinking about switching to Hoka One or other trailrunners exactly the reason you describe -- extra cushioning on cobblestone/tile roads. But I'm concerned about rain. Which would provide more traction -- Hokas or my Salomon Outlines (lighter weight / Goretex - purchased for Kumano Kodo) or my Keens (traditional hiker worn on Francés)? I also worry that trailer runners get dangerously "squishy" when soaked. Thanks!!!
 

Tony Walsh

Tony in Perth
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria last 120km 2014, Full Camino Frances 2017, Via Francigena 2018, Coast Caomino Portugues 2020
My wife and I are doing the Coastal Route in June 2020, 6 days to Baiona, then a rest day, and 6 days into Santiago de Compostela. We drove the majority of the route this year when we stayed in Ponte de Lima (a stop on the central route). Certainly in our mind the coastal route is very picturesque
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
One other piece of advice is to consider trail runners or some other form of lighter footwear than boots for your Camino Portugues. This isn't a rough trail and there isn't a lot of rock climbing, so boots aren't essential and you might find that lighter footwear makes for easier walking.

I wore Merrell Moabs on my Caminos, but were I to do the Portugues again, I would probably wear Hoka One Ones. Whether you take the Coastal or the Central you will have plenty of occasion to walk along cobblestone roads during the Portuguese portion of the Camino and the extra cushioning of the Hokas would be welcome.
I agree completely. A really good pair of trail runners will definitely do the trick. My Brooks Cascadias are light and have very good absorbtion and support no matter what surface you are on. Even black tarmac and cobblestone. Go with the trail runners especially as Dave says it is not a really difficult camino with really challenging paths to navigate.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Leon to Santiago (July 2018)
SJPdP to Leon followed by Primitivo (June 2019)
Planning next one...
After Barcelos it the Centeal Route as being called improves indeed.
18 kms after Barcelos you will encounter the best place to stay on the entire caminho Português , Casa da Fernanda . Not been at Fernanda's is haven't been on the caminho Português. Don't miss it
If I want to start in the Coastal and then switch to the Central after Barcelo or the like, where is a good point to switch if i want to walk (no busses or taxis)? Thank you kindly!
 

Island

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugués 2019
Pilgrims' Way 2020
Via Francigena 2020
Florida Trail
Appalachain Trail
I will second walking from Caminha along the Ecopista through VN Cerveira along the Minho River to Valenca. Great, great walk.
 

Salpal

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk Coastal Camino in May 2020
I will second walking from Caminha along the Ecopista through VN Cerveira along the Minho River to Valenca. Great, great walk.
Sorry for silly question but how do you know how to follow along the Minho River?
 

Island

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugués 2019
Pilgrims' Way 2020
Via Francigena 2020
Florida Trail
Appalachain Trail
Sorry for silly question but how do you know how to follow along the Minho River?
Not a silly question at all. The Camino is sign-marked from Caminha, along the river, through Vila Nova de Cerviera, and into Valenca. This route is also well-documented in the Brierly guide. You simply follow the yellow arrows! :)
 

Salpal

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk Coastal Camino in May 2020
Not a silly question at all. The Camino is sign-marked from Caminha, along the river, through Vila Nova de Cerviera, and into Valenca. This route is also well-documented in the Brierly guide. You simply follow the yellow arrows! :)
Thank you so much!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
If I want to start in the Coastal and then switch to the Central after Barcelo or the like, where is a good point to switch if i want to walk (no busses or taxis)? Thank you kindly!
Vila do Conde. The trail from there to the Central Route is marked. I also download gps tracks to keep on track.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
If I want to start in the Coastal and then switch to the Central after Barcelo or the like, where is a good point to switch if i want to walk (no busses or taxis)? Thank you kindly!
Vila do Conde. The trail from there to the Central Route is marked. I also download gps tracks to keep on track.
I was thinking of making the same reply but then I remembered that the route from Vila do Conde joins the Central almost 30 km before Barcelos. It's not a bad 30 km, though.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I was thinking of making the same reply but then I remembered that the route from Vila do Conde joins the Central almost 30 km before Barcelos. It's not a bad 30 km, though.
You're right. I missed that part about wanting to connect around or after Barcelos. I agree that it's an enjoyable walk between Arcos, where I joined the Central route, and Barcelos.
 

koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
I also worry that trailer runners get dangerously "squishy" when soaked.
They will squish --- and that is exactly what you want. As they squish, they squeeze the water out of the shoe. Unless they are Goretex or similar, which keep the water in the shoe (which you absolutely don't want, and which is one of the major problems with water-proofed shoes). Non-water-proofed trail shoes will rapidly expel the water, permitting you to dry more quickly.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Ola / Hola @David, well Just as I was getting ready to walk with autumn/fall colours my brother throws a large spanner into the works. We now depart Porto on the morning of 21 May. Doing our route stage planning next week. I had a look in Brierley last night his maps and stages or easily understood and you can break up into smaller stages if you wish.
 

FooteK

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to SdC, 2013; Lourdes to SdC, 2015; Lisbon to SdC (2020)
One other piece of advice is to consider trail runners or some other form of lighter footwear than boots for your Camino Portugues. This isn't a rough trail and there isn't a lot of rock climbing, so boots aren't essential and you might find that lighter footwear makes for easier walking.

I wore Merrell Moabs on my Caminos, but were I to do the Portugues again, I would probably wear Hoka One Ones. Whether you take the Coastal or the Central you will have plenty of occasion to walk along cobblestone roads during the Portuguese portion of the Camino and the extra cushioning of the Hokas would be welcome.
I swore by my Merrill Moab high tops for both of my previous caminos. But now I’m planning to do the Portugues from Lisbon and I’m intrigued by your recommendation. On line, hoka one ones look like they are high tops, not trail runners, which I always thought were low. Am I missing something? I have time to try out and break in new shoes for my trip (don’t tell my Merrill’s).
 

brambles

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Inca (2018)
Camino Frances (June/July 2019)
Vila do Conde. The trail from there to the Central Route is marked. I also download gps tracks to keep on track.
Hi Trecile, About how far is the walk from Vila do Conde to the Central route? How is it marked exactly and what is the road/path like? You mentioned Arcos, but I don't see that town on the map I am looking at. I am planning to walk this June and trying to decide where to join the Central. Thank you.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I swore by my Merrill Moab high tops for both of my previous caminos. But now I’m planning to do the Portugues from Lisbon and I’m intrigued by your recommendation. On line, hoka one ones look like they are high tops, not trail runners, which I always thought were low. Am I missing something? I have time to try out and break in new shoes for my trip (don’t tell my Merrill’s).
I think there are different models of Hoka one ones. The ones I have are Bondi 6.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Hi Trecile, About how far is the walk from Vila do Conde to the Central route? How is it marked exactly and what is the road/path like? You mentioned Arcos, but I don't see that town on the map I am looking at. I am planning to walk this June and trying to decide where to join the Central. Thank you.
From Vila do Conde it is about 9.7 km to Arcos and about 13.2 km to Rates, where I stayed the night. I had walked from Porto to Vila Chã, about 6.8 km before Vila do Conde so my second day was about 20 km.
 

brambles

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Inca (2018)
Camino Frances (June/July 2019)
I just discovered that there are a few other threads on the forum about this crossover also with maps where I now see Arcos. Thanks everyone!
 

John H.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF - 2017
CP Central - 2017
CP Coastal - 2018
CF - [hopefully again someday]
I've enjoyed both the Central and the full Coastal route. To do again, I would take the Central route.

The Coastal route has a beautiful ocean view 50-65% of the way on your left side. But, your right side is mostly cities, suburbs and towns with apartment buildings. You may not be walking on the road too much of the time but far too much of this walk is on concrete sidewalks beside roads and buildings. It seemed to me that there were only a few days to enjoy a few hours of rural seaside walking on the Coastal route. I would definitely use trail runners, not boots, for the Coastal route.

The Central route starts with a long city walk out of Porto on concrete sidewalks but after that it is mostly countryside. There is some road walking but not bad and it is often scenic. It seemed to me that there is less concrete and pavement walking on the Central route than on the Coastal route. Also, it was easier to find accommodations without pre-booking on the Central route.

Either direction, have fun!
 
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Dojo

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (SJDP to SDC) Aug - Oct 2019
CP (Porto to SDC) May 2021
After having completed the entire CF in 2019, I am looking at doing the CP (from Porto) in May 2021. Plan is to do coastal route out of Porto; then cut over to central route in Caminha to Tui; then in Pontevedra take the Spiritual route into Santiago. My question is what am I missing on the Central route from Vila do Conde to Tui?? Besides walking along the coast, are there any historical or significant areas to spend time? Yes, I have the Brierly and Wise Pilgrim books. This time I will be taking along a few novice walkers.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
After having completed the entire CF in 2019, I am looking at doing the CP (from Porto) in May 2021. Plan is to do coastal route out of Porto; then cut over to central route in Caminha to Tui; then in Pontevedra take the Spiritual route into Santiago. My question is what am I missing on the Central route from Vila do Conde to Tui?? Besides walking along the coast, are there any historical or significant areas to spend time? Yes, I have the Brierly and Wise Pilgrim books. This time I will be taking along a few novice walkers.
You are missing Rates (home of the oldest albergue in Portugal, they claim), Barcelos (site of the famous Barcelos rooster, one of the common symbols of Portugal and a miracle story like that you may remember from Santo Domingo, as well as the site of the largest weekly market in Portugal), Ponte de Lima (one of the oldest and most picturesque towns in Portugal), Valença (across the river from Tui on the border, with a nice little town within the fortress), as well as the delightful Casa da Fernanda albergue and some lovely walks through rural Portugal.

Another option to consider, if your mind isn't made up, is to start on the Senda Litoral from Porto to Vila do Conde and then go inland to Arcos and Rates and the Central route, then head up the Central to Valença before turning to the coast at Caminha and follow the Coastal in Spain until it joins the Central at Redondela.

This way you get half the Coastal and half the Central. You get some of the Portuguese coast with its beaches and some of the striking Spanish coast which I've heard is very beautiful. You get all of the locations I mentioned above, but miss Tui and O Porriño in Spain. You miss Povoa de Varzim, Esposende, and Viana do Castelo on the Coastal in Portugal but instead get A Guarda, Baiona, and Vigo in Spain. I am considering this for a future Camino Portugues.
 

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