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2019 Camino Guides

Camino Portugues vs Camino del Norte: who's done both and can advise?

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Dear fellow pilgrims,

A year after our first camino (frances), my partner and I are dreaming about our next camino :)

I have searched the forum and seen there are two separate categories on the camino portugues and the camino del norte, however I didn't find a thread discussing highs and lows / pros and cons of each in comparison.

I know any evaluation and experience is by nature subjective, however I'd love to hear from someone who has done both to understand what the attraction/challenge is with each of them.

We are planning to start the camino around mid September. We are both reasonably fit and strong.

Any additional reading/resources you may know of on either one, very welcome!

Thank you, compañeros!


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
done both, they are very different indeed. The Portuguese barely has any mountains, it is a pleasant walk, while de Norte is more hilly, more challenging in distances, and of a more varied landscape, no so many albergues.
Camino(s) past & future
Finished: See post signature.
Upcoming: ?+VdlP (Sept 2018)
Agrees with @amancio here. CP (I walked central not costal) is an easy walk but it was fun to discover Portugal. I really loved some of the towns I passed and the architecture. It wasn’t as scenic as CF.

CN was nice with all hills and walking on the beach or on cliffs above beaches. But I found CN to be more touristic, people were on a hike not a pilgrimage. Lots of “party pilgrims” in the albergues touristico. Lots of closed churches. But as a hike it was nice and some places will forever be in my heart.

My absolute favorite camino so far has been San Salvador + Primitivo. As I love to be alone in beautiful settings.
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2014,2016),Primitivo (2015), San Salvador (2017), Norte (2018), Ingles (2018)
I will just agree with the above. Norte is tough going. long distances per day, and always up or down hill. But it has it's rewards - the beaches are fantastic, as were all the people I met (but that can be true of any camino). The portuguese is easier going - shorter stages, and a lot flatter. I have done the central and the litoral and that applies to them both. Litoral is great for the beaches and the boardwalks. The other consideration is the temperature. Norte is on the north coast so is a lot cooler. Portuguese route could see 40 degrees C even in September. I will say I enjoyed them all about equally, just for different reasons.

MKalcolm M

Solvitur ambulando - It is solved by walking
Camino(s) past & future
north route spring 2013
I've walked both, I started the Norte in Irun, and the Portugese at Porto and walked the inland route. The Portugese is an easier walk, much less hard uphill and downhill and more stopping point for a coffee along the way. The Norte is stunningly beautiful, very varied with wonderful beaches, cliff views, mountains, valleys, little towns and big cities. The Portugese has obvious stopping points, where as the Norte often represented a choice eg walking say 18 or 26kms in a day. I loved the Portugese, but the Norte really would be my choice if I had to do one again.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais 2013 Finnestere, Muxia 2013, 2017
Norte 2014, Francais, 2015, 2016, VDLP 2017
No comparison, the Portuguese has it good points but mostly cobblestones and flat. The Coastal Portuguese is the nicest. I started in Lisbon.
The Norte is stunning with some oh so cute towns along the way. I started in Irun it is like a saw up and down with a very steep climb into Gijon. My favourite Camino is by far the Norte. Buen Camino......
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Thank you so much for all your super helpful replies, pilgrims!

After reading your comments other threads, I have two concerns about the Camino del Norte:

1. Is it an affordable camino? Let me explain: I have read that albergues are more scarce on del Norte and that this camino is not particularly pilgrim friendly in but rather tourist friendly. Does this mean that the albergues do not offer pilgrim prices? Or that I may end up in a town/village where the only available option is a guesthouse at EUR 30? Affordability is important since it's a long camino. Any thoughts here? I also read that facilities are basic borderline unacceptable (rats etc.), but I am ok with basic (although of course who wants to sleep with rats???)

2. What I enjoyed most about the Camino Frances is the variety of the landscape and of the walk. Sometimes you climb, sometimes you go flat, sometimes it's in nature, sometimes it's through towns. I don't mind going up and down hill, but I also really enjoyed walking flat and crossing 5 villages a day (the Basque portion of the camino comes to mind). With del Norte my concern is that is will *only* be up and down every day, multiple times a day. So that will become more of a "climbing camino" so to speak. Any thoughts here?

Many, many thanks in advance for anything you may want to share to help me make an informed decision!

MKalcolm M

Solvitur ambulando - It is solved by walking
Camino(s) past & future
north route spring 2013
There are plenty of alberges to stay in, I walked the whole route staying in them every night, starting in mid-May. In the high season of July/August there are many tourists about, and the coastal towns tend to be busy, but that does not preclude pilgrims. Rats? Never saw any. Alberges varied from very simple municipal ones to some lovely private ones.
If you liked the variety of the Frances, then you will love the Norte, it is much more varied. It is not all up and down, there are some beautiful stretches along 5km of beach. It is through foot hills, not mountains like the Primitivo.
If you have half as much fun as I did on the Norte then you will have a great walk.

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