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Central vs Coastal

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Martin O

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Portugues
Camino Primitivo
Short answer: central. It’s more historic/traditional and feels like more of a camino. If you are really drawn to the ocean, then the coastal has its appeal, but if not, I think the central has more to offer.

Thanks for advice!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Of course, many pilgrims do a combination, starting out on the coast and then switching to the central. There are several places where you can do this, so you can choose how many days you want to spend on the coastal.
 

Martin O

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Portugues
Camino Primitivo
Of course, many pilgrims do a combination, starting out on the coast and then switching to the central. There are several placese you can do this, so you can choose how many days you want to spend on the coastal.
I've heard that first few stages from Porto is better to take coastal route!? Where would You recomend me to walk after I have reacehed Santiago - to Fisterra or Muxia, because I don't think I will be able to visit them both because of time lack!?
 
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Eric Reed

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
(2017)
I have to agree, not based on walking the central but just the coastal. Until we got into Spain the coastal route feels nothing like the Camino. The Portugal segment was filled with high traffic street with no sidewalks. While I loved the time walking near the ocean, I found instead of churches and coffee stops all I found were closed ice cream stands. While in Portugal I did not hear one Bon Camino from a local. As soon as we crossed the border to Spain, locals were chatting us up in broken English and my bad Spanish.
 

Anthony Rocco

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portugues, Primitivo, Ignaziano, Salvador, 4 other
Hi! I wanted to ask to those who have walked both routes ! Which one did you like more?
We just got back a few days ago. We walked the central from Porto to Tui, then walked down the Minho River to A Guarda, walking from there along the coastal to Redondela. Conclusions: We have walked many camino routes, and rank the central route from Porto to Ponte de Lima dead last by a long shot. Soooo much on road walking, few fountains...it was miserable. Ponte de Lima onward was delightful, and both Ponte and Valenca/Tui are not to be missed. The walk along the Minho and then on the coast to Redondela was a joy. There aren't that many coastal walks, so if you like being next to the sea, as we did, this is not to be missed. I can't speak to the coastal walk from Porto to A Guarda, so I defer to others.
Hi! I wanted to ask to those who have walked both routes ! Which one did you like more?We j
 

musicman

Ensuitepilgrim
Time of past OR future Camino
2004, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
I’ve walked both and they are both rewarding in their own different ways. A combination is a good idea if you want an ocean experience - I started from Matasinhos on the coastal- taking the Metro to Matasinhos Mercardo. Great place for things fishy! I would recommend crossing to the central at the river border to enjoy the central.
 

Jo H

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
I have to agree, not based on walking the central but just the coastal. Until we got into Spain the coastal route feels nothing like the Camino. The Portugal segment was filled with high traffic street with no sidewalks. While I loved the time walking near the ocean, I found instead of churches and coffee stops all I found were closed ice cream stands. While in Portugal I did not hear one Bon Camino from a local. As soon as we crossed the border to Spain, locals were chatting us up in broken English and my bad Spanish.
Wow. I had so many greetings from Portuguese locals on the coastal route and loved it. I loved all the forest and village walking inland parallel to the coast on the coastal route as well as along the Atlantic coast.
 
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Karlgrino

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 Portuguese coastal
2017 Frances
2018 Norte
2019 Portuguese inland
2020 La Plata
Wow. I had so many greetings from Portuguese locals on the coastal route and loved it. I loved all the forest and village walking inland parallel to the coast on the coastal route as well as along the Atlantic coast.
Ditto! I also walked both and each has its beauty. Combination is not a bad idea. I walked the last time from Lisbon via Fatima to Porto, than along the coast. In Pontevedra i took the Variante Espiritual, one of my favorite stretch of all 7 Caminos i walked, to Padron, than the traditional Camino to Santiago. Magnificent!!

As far as Muxia or Finistera my feeling is that in Finistera I had a real sense of being at the end. But Muxia is also very nice and I have done both directions. For me ending in Finistera felt more completed. It only takes one day and if possible i would highly recommend. Also there are more bus options going back to Santiago.
Bon Camino
 

Anthony Rocco

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portugues, Primitivo, Ignaziano, Salvador, 4 other
We just got back a few days ago. We walked the central from Porto to Tui, then walked down the Minho River to A Guarda, walking from there along the coastal to Redondela. Conclusions: We have walked many camino routes, and rank the central route from Porto to Ponte de Lima dead last by a long shot. Soooo much on road walking, few fountains...it was miserable. Ponte de Lima onward was delightful, and both Ponte and Valenca/Tui are not to be missed. The walk along the Minho and then on the coast to Redondela was a joy. There aren't that many coastal walks, so if you like being next to the sea, as we did, this is not to be missed. I can't speak to the coastal walk from Porto to A Guarda, so I defer to others.
We liked the central part from Ponte de Lima and the coastal from A Guarda. I can't see not doing some of both. You would miss some important cities if you only do coastal while there is a beauty of the coastal that is so different from the central.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2014
Hi! I wanted to ask to those who have walked both routes ! Which one did you like more?
Just finished the Central from Porto. I can’t recommend the first 2 days of the Central due to all the road walking. After that it was good, especially from Ponte de Lima northward. Perhaps the coast from Porto for a couple of days is the better option but we have never done that.
 

Walton

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
We did the coastal route in 2017 from Porto to Santiago. Having walked from Lisbon to Porto via the central route and seeing as we live a couple of hours drive hours away from the sea, we thought the coastal would be ideal for us from Porto. And it was.
The only downside was that quite often, in anticipation of a croissant and coffee, we disappointingly learned that you cannot guarantee whether or not cafes and the like are open. We think they make their money in the busy summer time and close for Spring, Autumn and Winter.
Never mind, we loved the kilometres of boardwalks, the views and the sound of sea gulls and the sea.

Whichever route you choose, it is your Camino and enjoy it!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Where would You recomend me to walk after I have reacehed Santiago - to Fisterra or Muxia
I've described Finisterre as a busy beach town and Muxia as a quiet seaside village. When adding these towns unto a long camino to SdC you should carefully consider how to end your journey, with contemplation or with a fun celebration. If your camino is just a short one from one of these towns to the other and then unto Santiago then the order is not as important ...

EXCEPT, the bus service is best between Finisterre and Santiago. :)
 
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happymarkos

HappyMark
Time of past OR future Camino
2023. Finish the VDLP. Zamora to Santiago.
Hi! I wanted to ask to those who have walked both routes ! Which one did you like more?
I have walked the Central and the Atlantico or Seaside route which is different to the Coastal route.
I found parts off the Central really unpleasant due to walking for hours on broken cobble stones, let alone some of the rough hill tracks. The Seaside one was a totally different experience walking on boardwalk, sand etc and passing piles of seaweed gathered by farmers for their fields, old fishing traps as well as the variety of scenery. Agree the Spiritual Variation is a must. If you want a tough one try the Inland Route in Portugal.
 

JulieJH

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
W Highland WayVia Francigena
Offa's Dyke
Portugues
I walked the central route from Azambuja, outside of Lisbon to SdC, but took the Senda Littoral for just one day, out of Porto to Vila do Conde - a beautiful path on boardwalks through small fishing villages. Next day followed an old aqueduct out of Vila do Conde to rejoin the central route in Rates. You can also take the metro a few miles out of Porto to Matsohinos (stop Mercado) and start walking along the beaches there. Enjoy!
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
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Central is not always pretty, but it's a historic Camino.
Coastal is a new invention, made to suit modern tastes for scenery and comfort.
hmmmmm, there's probably something both true and false in that.

Certainly the current route is a modern one, but there's also very likely a historic route more or less following the coast, albeit that the boardwalks clearly did not exist in the Middle Ages, as did not some of the highly engineered coastal tarmac.

I followed the central from near Fátima to Porto, then north from Redondela, and the coastal between the two, and apart from other considerations, the coastal is much more expensive. It is however very beautiful indeed.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
I walked from Porto to Matsohinos and Vila de Condo then turned inland at Rates to the Central route to get more of a "Frances" feel. I'd just walked Portugal's Fisherman's Trail where the beautiful cliff ocean views/bays are unrivaled, so no need to continue on the mostly flat coastal route. I really enjoyed Pontevedra, Ponte de Lima, the Spiritual Variant, and the ferry ride on a lively day.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
I'd just walked Portugal's Fisherman's Trail where the beautiful cliff ocean views/bays are unrivaled, so no need to continue on the mostly flat coastal route.
Quoted for truth. In terms of scenery, the CP Coastal can’t hold a candle to the Fisherman’s Trail / Rota Vicentina.
 

Jo H

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
I walked from Porto to Matsohinos and Vila de Condo then turned inland at Rates to the Central route to get more of a "Frances" feel. I'd just walked Portugal's Fisherman's Trail where the beautiful cliff ocean views/bays are unrivaled, so no need to continue on the mostly flat coastal route. I really enjoyed Pontevedra, Ponte de Lima, the Spiritual Variant, and the ferry ride on a lively day.
Is there lots of accommodation and bars on the Fishermans Trail to support 15-20 km stages?
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Is there lots of accommodation and bars on the Fishermans Trail to support 15-20 km stages?
I would venture to say that there are, but I did not "wing it" in 2019, so am unsure, although my daily stages were similar to what you inquire about.
I'd read that much of the lodging is booked by surfers, so I chose to use booking.com ahead of time to secure my places to stay in mid April for peace of mind.
@jungleboy may have more up to date information as he walked it this year.
 

Jo H

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte
I would venture to say that there are, but I did not "wing it" in 2019, so am unsure, although my daily stages were similar to what you inquire about.
I'd read that much of the lodging is booked by surfers, so I chose to use booking.com ahead of time to secure my places to stay in mid April for peace of mind.
@jungleboy may have more up to date information as he walked it this year.
Thank you. I read more about it. The sand walking sounds tough on the legs for me but it looks spectacular.
 
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debstruzyna

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Portugal
Wow. I had so many greetings from Portuguese locals on the coastal route and loved it. I loved all the forest and village walking inland parallel to the coast on the coastal route as well as along the Atlantic coast.
Same for our coastal from Porto to Caminha: absolutely loved the ocean, ancient villages, small pine forests. And we had lots of Bom Caminhos, waves and chatty locals. AMAZING food, too. 😁
 

Davo

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
St Jean - Burgos Oct 16
Sarria - Murcia Sep 17
I've heard that first few stages from Porto is better to take coastal route!? Where would You recomend me to walk after I have reacehed Santiago - to Fisterra or Muxia, because I don't think I will be able to visit them both because of time lack!?
Just back from completing this Camino. Started in Porto, walked along Douro, then coast to V de Conde, then transferred to central route. Worked for us, best of both worlds, and lots of Bom Caminhos in Portugal. So,…do whatever you feel led to do!
 

Davybhoy

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019 Frances
08/22 CP from Lisbon via Fatima
Ditto! I also walked both and each has its beauty. Combination is not a bad idea. I walked the last time from Lisbon via Fatima to Porto, than along the coast. In Pontevedra i took the Variante Espiritual, one of my favorite stretch of all 7 Caminos i walked, to Padron, than the traditional Camino to Santiago. Magnificent!!
We finished that exact route just 3 weeks ago,except that after Fatima we walked east to Tomar ( then north west to Ansiao) rather than immediately north to Ansiao.

I agree with you, the variant Espiritual is among the very best walks of the Caminos we have done. Combarro, the ruta de piedra de agua, the monastery at armenteira and even the boat ride to Pontecesures remain highlights for us.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
We finished that exact route just 3 weeks ago,except that after Fatima we walked east to Tomar ( then north west to Ansiao) rather than immediately north to Ansiao.

I agree with you, the variant Espiritual is among the very best walks of the Caminos we have done. Combarro, the ruta de piedra de agua, the monastery at armenteira and even the boat ride to Pontecesures remain highlights for us.
I'm coming into this dialogue without information. I'd like to do the Portuguese Camino @ March 22, 2023. I see/read that the variant Espiritual is among the best walks. I've just ordered Bierly's book on Portuguese Camino. That said, is there a forum on this website and/or information anyone can share [specifics] regarding the Espiritual Portuguese Camino. I'm very unaquainted with this trek [where begins/ends] so any info is appreciated.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
1989
I'm coming into this dialogue without information. I'd like to do the Portuguese Camino @ March 22, 2023. I see/read that the variant Espiritual is among the best walks. I've just ordered Bierly's book on Portuguese Camino. That said, is there a forum on this website and/or information anyone can share [specifics] regarding the Espiritual Portuguese Camino. I'm very unaquainted with this trek [where begins/ends] so any info is appreciated.
You can find the forum devoted to the Spiritual Variant here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/forums/caminho-variante-espiritual-from-pontevedra.165/
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
I'm coming into this dialogue without information. I'd like to do the Portuguese Camino @ March 22, 2023. I see/read that the variant Espiritual is among the best walks. I've just ordered Bierly's book on Portuguese Camino. That said, is there a forum on this website and/or information anyone can share [specifics] regarding the Espiritual Portuguese Camino. I'm very unaquainted with this trek [where begins/ends] so any info is appreciated.
The Variante Espiritual is towards the end of the camino, starting shortly after Pontevedra and finishing with a boat trip that takes you to Pontecesures, just 2km from Padron and about a day's walk from Santiago. If you choose the coastal route, it joins up with the central route before Pontevedra so you can do the VE regardless of whether you choose the Portuguese coastal or central.

My content specifically on the VE:

Variante Espiritual Highlights
Podcast - Variante Espiritual (Episode 1.5)
 

Davybhoy

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019 Frances
08/22 CP from Lisbon via Fatima
That said, is there a forum on this website and/or information anyone can share [specifics] regarding the Espiritual Portuguese Camino. I'm very unaquainted with this trek [where begins/ends] so any info is appreciated.
The Espiritual starts about 3-4km north of Pontevedra. There is a clearly marked turn off at a T intersection, from memory, where the Espiritual goes left and the central goes to the right, just before Pontecabras. Almost immediately the Espiritual starts uphill through small villages and vineyards. It then heads towards Combarro, via the Poio Monastery. The albergue we stayed at in Combarro is about 1 km before the town. Combarro is a great seaside village and fantastic to walk through.

Then it is up into the hills again with some great views, past the monastery in Armenteira and along the Ruta de Pedra e da agua for 7km. It then carries on up to Vilanova de Arousa and from there it is a 27km boat ride down tbe River de Arousa to Pontecesures,where it rejoins the Central route. I believe it takes a day longer than staying on the Central but it is absolutely worth it if you have the time.
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
The Espiritual starts about 3-4km north of Pontevedra. There is a clearly marked turn off at a T intersection, from memory, where the Espiritual goes left and the central goes to the right, just before Pontecabras. Almost immediately the Espiritual starts uphill through small villages and vineyards. It then heads towards Combarro, via the Poio Monastery. The albergue we stayed at in Combarro is about 1 km before the town. Combarro is a great seaside village and fantastic to walk through.

Then it is up into the hills again with some great views, past the monastery in Armenteira and along the Ruta de Pedra e da agua for 7km. It then carries on up to Vilanova de Arousa and from there it is a 27km boat ride down tbe River de Arousa to Pontecesures,where it rejoins the Central route. I believe it takes a day longer than staying on the Central but it is absolutely worth it if you have the time.
Sounds fabulous and I’m hoping to do this in late March 2023.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
May 2022
I’m not sure, sorry, as I haven’t walked it and have heard that it’s not a great walk.
Oh bummer. I feel a little uncertain about taking a boat since I figured I would be walking the whole way. I loved the physical effort of walking 25ish kms a day on the Frances earlier this year.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
Oh bummer. I feel a little uncertain about taking a boat since I figured I would be walking the whole way.
That's a valid concern but I think most pilgrims really like the boat trip in the end. I don't take land transport while on camino but I feel that this is different - the trip is in the wake of the posthumous journey of Santiago, past the world's only maritime Via Crucis, so it is in the spirit of the pilgrimage.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
May 2022
That's a valid concern but I think most pilgrims really like the boat trip in the end. I don't take land transport while on camino but I feel that this is different - the trip is in the wake of the posthumous journey of Santiago, past the world's only maritime Via Crucis, so it is in the spirit of the pilgrimage.
I didn’t know about the Stations of the Cross on the river. I think I’ll make a “game-day decision” when I get there in May. Thanks for the extra info!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
That's a valid concern but I think most pilgrims really like the boat trip in the end. I don't take land transport while on camino but I feel that this is different - the trip is in the wake of the posthumous journey of Santiago, past the world's only maritime Via Crucis, so it is in the spirit of the pilgrimage.
I loved taking the boat ride on the beautiful river and considered it a special bonus of the pilgrimage.
I too, had heard walking that stretch left a lot to be desired so didn't feel I'd missed out.
 
The Way: Through a Field of Stars (audiobook)
A great book to listen to while training for the Camino or to relive the experience!

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
1989
That's a valid concern but I think most pilgrims really like the boat trip in the end. I don't take land transport while on camino but I feel that this is different - the trip is in the wake of the posthumous journey of Santiago, past the world's only maritime Via Crucis, so it is in the spirit of the pilgrimage.
Obviously the thing to do as a proper pilgrim is row up the estuary. ;-)
 

Jennifer B

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Oct/Nov 2022
Portuguese
I just did the Variante Espiritual from the cut off past Pontevedra, and really enjoyed it quite a lot. I thought about taking the boat but like you Sarahchicago, I wanted to walk the whole way. That being said, the segment which is the last stage of that route on which most people do the boat is really not marked well at all. And Brierly’s book on that section I found lacking, not clear and a bit confusing. I got off the track several times and somehow found myself back on it by sheer luck. Overall the spiritual variant has some very, very nice sections, and some that were tedious, etc., just like the rest of the Camino Portuguese options, in my opinion.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I just did the Variante Espiritual from the cut off past Pontevedra, and really enjoyed it quite a lot. I thought about taking the boat but like you Sarahchicago, I wanted to walk the whole way. That being said, the segment which is the last stage of that route on which most people do the boat is really not marked well at all. And Brierly’s book on that section I found lacking, not clear and a bit confusing. I got off the track several times and somehow found myself back on it by sheer luck. Overall the spiritual variant has some very, very nice sections, and some that were tedious, etc., just like the rest of the Camino Portuguese options, in my opinion.
Where did you start?
 

Davybhoy

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019 Frances
08/22 CP from Lisbon via Fatima
I just did the Variante Espiritual from the cut off past Pontevedra, and really enjoyed it quite a lot. I thought about taking the boat but like you Sarahchicago, I wanted to walk the whole way.
As I said earlier, the boat trip was fantastic, but I did have the feeling that it was cheating a bit. I recall sitting on the boat wondering how this was any different to catching a bus or a taxi elsewhere, and said so on the blog I wrote for home.

It was good though seeing all the crosses dotted along the ride.
 

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