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Coastal or central route?

LynneR

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF in 2016
CF in 2018
Planning a CP for June 2019
Hello,
I had planned to do CP coastal route, but now I'm reading more about the central route and I'm not sure which to choose. Can any of you who are familiar with both give me an idea of the scenery and terrain?
I have read some older posts, but for some reason I still can't get a clear picture of the central route. Is it through more towns or more trail hiking?
I have walked CF and loved the nature and wilderness of it. The elevated sections were a difficult, and I cursed my way through them a few times, but I loved the challenge and accomplishment! I also love the smaller towns and the chance to meet pilgrims since I will be alone.
Beaches are beautiful, but I wonder if there is any other benefit of the coastal walk?
Any input for a comparison would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks so much!
Lynne
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2017, 2018 (2)
CP 2018
VDLP (mar-apr 2019)
I walked the Coastal only two days out of Porto then switched to Central. We wanted to check out the beaches which were lovely, a nice change after having completed at full CF five days earlier. Then happily returned to central for more serious walking. This was in mid-November so did keep an eye on weather. We found many of the coastal cafes closed for the season. Understandable and expected. I’d take the same route in future walks, maybe a bit earlier but weather is always fickle. Be prepared. It was a great walk.
 

LynneR

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF in 2016
CF in 2018
Planning a CP for June 2019
I walked the Coastal only two days out of Porto then switched to Central. We wanted to check out the beaches which were lovely, a nice change after having completed at full CF five days earlier. Then happily returned to central for more serious walking. This was in mid-November so did keep an eye on weather. We found many of the coastal cafes closed for the season. Understandable and expected. I’d take the same route in future walks, maybe a bit earlier but weather is always fickle. Be prepared. It was a great walk.
Thanks for your reply. Do you remember from which town you made the switch to the central route?
Also, how was the terrain on the central?
Thanks again!
 

zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
I can't speak to the coastal route having not walked it. I walked the central route from Porto and enjoyed it with the exception of the first day out of Porto. There was a fair amount of road walking including a fairly long stretch on the shoulder of the busy N 306.
If I was to walk again, I would take the coastal out of Porto to Vila do Conde and then cross inland and rejoining the central route just before Arcos.
I guess my reasoning for the central over the coastal was the central was the more 'traditional' route to take. Other than day one, the rest of days were interesting and varied.
 

zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
Cobblestones are very tough on joints and feet. CP has lots of cobblestone.
Yes you are certainly right on this. Cobblestones, but also the granite sett blocks were even worse. The first time I ever appreciated the chance to walk asphalt roads as a 'break' from the cobblestones. After a couple of days we were referring to the cobblestones as 'hobblestones!'5215952161
 

andycohn

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2012,13,15); Finisterre / Muxia (15); Portugeuse (17); Primitivo (17); Norte (18); Ingles (18)
Thanks for your reply. Do you remember from which town you made the switch to the central route?
Also, how was the terrain on the central?
Thanks again!
You can switch over to the Central route at Vila do Conde (1-2 days out of Porto). The cross-over is described in Brierley.

Or you can walk a further day on the Coastal route up to Esposende. From there, there are frequent local buses to Barcelos on the Central. The bus company is Trasdev. It’s about 1/2 hour ride.

The terrain on the central is not unlike Galicia on the Frances. It’s green, some woods, pasture-land, pretty flat in the Portuguese section with the exception of one short steep section after Ponte de Lima, and then gently rolling after you cross into Spain at Tui.
 

Camino Chris

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I can't speak to the coastal route having not walked it. I walked the central route from Porto and enjoyed it with the exception of the first day out of Porto. There was a fair amount of road walking including a fairly long stretch on the shoulder of the busy N 306.
If I was to walk again, I would take the coastal out of Porto to Vila do Conde and then cross inland and rejoining the central route just before Arcos.
I guess my reasoning for the central over the coastal was the central was the more 'traditional' route to take. Other than day one, the rest of days were interesting and varied.
This is my plan, too, when I walk it in April!
 

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.
You can switch over to the Central route at Vila do Conde (1-2 days out of Porto). The cross-over is described in Brierley.

Or you can walk a further day on the Coastal route up to Esposende. From there, there are frequent local buses to Barcelos on the Central. The bus company is Trasdev. It’s about 1/2 hour ride.

The terrain on the central is not unlike Galicia on the Frances. It’s green, some woods, pasture-land, pretty flat in the Portuguese section with the exception of one short steep section after Ponte de Lima, and then gently rolling after you cross into Spain at Tui.
You even can walk further and jump over at Viana do Castelo where you'll find the bus to Balugães or the train to Barosellos (not Barcelos !) or one station further, Tamel (the train from Viana to Porto !) and walk about 8 kms either from Barosellos on the N308 to the N 204 in Balugães. Or on the waymarked path from Tamel via Balugães to Vitorino dos Piães where you'll find the famous place to stay, casa da Fernanda .in Tamel you'll find the waymarkers directly near the trainstation. If coming from the trainstation of Barroselas you are following the N308 and the N204 . as soon as you arrive at the crossing of the N308 and N204 direction Ponte de Lima walk about 2 kms direction PdL untill you see a busstop at your right side. Just 5 meters before the busstop is a small road to the right. That is the waymarked route to Santiago. After 2 kms then you'll arrive at casa da Fernanda.do'nt miss it. It is great experience to stay in her place . Give her a call before arriving .it can be busy.

I walked the coastal and the central route several times . I like both.
Because my friendship with Fernanda and her husband Jacinto and when I walk the coastal , I allways jump over to them from Viana do Castelo, stay a couple of days with them and return back to Viana to continue the coastal.
April next a friend of mine and I fly to Porto and travel directly to Fernanda by train (to Tamel as decribed above) stay a couple of days and take the train to Viana and on to Valença do Minho where we start to walk to Santiago.
 
Last edited:

he.panpub

Member
Camino(s) past & future
18 Sagrès-Santiago;17 Camino Torrès,Primitivo; 16 C Portugues ;15 CFrancès; 14 Via Podensis
If you want to have a look of Coastal route, see my youtube channel : he.panpub and especialy video 8 (Porto-A Guarda), 9 (A Guarda-Pontevedra) and 10 (Pontevedra-Santiago) of my Camino 2018 (from Sagrès to Santiago)
Also on my channel, for Central Camino, see video 5 for the Camino Torrès (2017) from Tui to Santiago, but 3 km after Pontevedra, I turned left and hiked the "Variante Espiritual"
In 2016, I walked on Central Camino from Lisbon to Santiago.
It's difficult for me to tell take this one rather this another one : I enjoined all of them ; so make your own choice as you feel it.
Regards,
Henri
 
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria to Santiago 2014
Pamplona to Santiago 2017
Norte. 2018
Yes you are certainly right on this. Cobblestones, but also the granite sett blocks were even worse. The first time I ever appreciated the chance to walk asphalt roads as a 'break' from the cobblestones. After a couple of days we were referring to the cobblestones as 'hobblestones!'View attachment 52159View attachment 52161
I call these “trip and fall “ paths 😒
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Camino(s) past & future
Inglés, '14 '17 Finisterre, '14 '17 '18 Primitivo, '15 '18 Portuguese, '17, '18 San Salvador, '18
@LynneR the two Caminos I felt were very different walks. The Central is more historic and in my opinion, more difficult. The Coastal is on so many lovely boardwalks and wide open beaches. If you want to see lots of photos of the two, so you can make your own choice, my website had lots of info and photos. Click the Many Ways on the Camino Portugues. Happy choosing!
 

caminoagogo

http://camino-a-go-go.blogspot.com/
Camino(s) past & future
Francés from Leon(2014)
Frances & Sanabres from Ourense (2018)
Portugués (2020)
Maybe you could do the Senda Litoral for a bit of beach exposure and then switch to the Central route further along. The Variante Espiritual is a nice little add on too as you get to go out on the water by ferry for one leg of it. I plan on doing just that next year. I outline my hows and whys here: and my stages here: . I hope this helps somewhat. Buen Camino :)
 

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.
Maybe you could do the Senda Litoral for a bit of beach exposure and then switch to the Central route further along. The Variante Espiritual is a nice little add on too as you get to go out on the water by ferry for one leg of it. I plan on doing just that next year. I outline my hows and whys here: and my stages here: . I hope this helps somewhat. Buen Camino :)
I would not call it "a ferry". It is a one way journey, anyway for the "passengers"
The boat sails empty back directly after arriving and "desembarking " at Pontecessures.
It is a fast rescueboat , with a "capitano " and a max of 6 "passengers"sitting on hard planks , exposed to the seasons, tides and the sometimes bumpy waves . Not very comfortable but spectactular. Like a roller coaster !
You get a kind of impression how the peregrinos in the old days suffered to get to the "Field of the Stars"
I wouldn't have missed this ride into the direction of the holy tomb but one time it was enough. I know more comfortable ferrys to sail with..with your permission !

Pega bem e bom caminho
 

Michael; Camino-addicted

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few Caminos
Next plan - Camino Vasco interior
Last year, we started by the sea and the plan was, to switch to the inland from Vila do Conde, as I did in 2016.

But alone at the campsite in Lavra slept nearly 40 pilgrims that night, and almost all wanted to switch to the interior. In addition, in the later course, there are still the pilgrims who have not started at the coast and often want to spend the night also in Rates.

The Hospitalero then suggested to stay at the coast and we did that.

The path was in principle very nice, but often it was also asphalt. Fortunately, it was not very windy, because we saw us already sandblasted and breaded like a Schnitzel (Yes, I´m German😜) It was very sunny and shade is sown on the coastal path. If it is rainy on the other hand, the water at the coast comes from all sides due to the wind, which certainly will not be a pleasure.

The second night we stayed at an Angeiras campsite again, but there, as well as in the next night, we were the only pilgrims, almost the only guests. We were missing the connection to the pilgrim world.
Suddenly in Caminha, it was quite full in the Albergue, which has, to say it with respect "room for improvement". From there we went with a very long stage to Valenca. About the rest of the coasal route I can not say anything.

If I had the choice again, and "should" not stay at the coast because of pilgrim masses, I would start again on the coast, but then switch to the interior. The area is more varied, there are very nice Albergues (Fernanda, Ninjo in Rubiaes), the landscape is very nice, for example the stage from Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes is fantastically beautiful and, what we really missed, you get much more in contact with other pilgrims.

If the journey from the cathedral to the first night is too long for you, you can easily take the undergound to Matosinhos to the market hall at the big bridge and start there.

All the best for you

Michael
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I love them both. I think the time of the year is important. There are lots of tourists on the beaches during the summer so finding a place to stay becomes an issue.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I walked the coastal route (actually, mostly the senda litoral, to be accurate) to Vila do Conde and then switched to the central, so I mostly have experience of the central. My time on the senda was mostly on the seashore and boardwalks - very pretty and very different from the CF. My time on the central was more walking through woods and country roads by farms, through villages and small towns of a size that would be familiar from CF. So if you are looking for an experience that brings back much of what you will remember from the Camino Frances, but with a bit of the flavour of a different country and a different culture, then I think the central is probably better for you. If you are looking for a more different experience, with a very different landscape, then you can try the coastal or the senda. From what I've read and what I heard from some pilgrims who had walked the coastal and I met after the routes joined in Redondela, you will find more pilgrims for companionship on the central, although the coastal is gaining in popularity.

One difference you will notice when comparing the CP with the CF. The CF enters Galicia from the west through cattle country. The CP enters Galicia from the south through wine country.
 
Hello,
A different view. I walked the interior in 2016, and the coastal last year, both times in Sept. Both had wonderful moments. Maybe it’s living on the prairie, but the chance to walk along the sea was my preferred route , and heading inland at Vigo still gave lots of time inland. From Redondela we were overwhelmed by the number on the trail, Coastal is a much quieter experience.
 

Paintboy2

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portuguese Coastal Route(2016), Del Norte (2017) Camino Portuguese Litoral Senda (2018)
There is a lovely crossover, well marked, between Caminha and Valenca. This follows the river Minha on the boarder of Spain and Portugal. Valenca is on the Portuguese side opposite Tui.
 

Camino Chris

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I will be in Portugal mid-April thru mid-May. I chose the central route after Vila de Conde, mainly because I will be walking the Via Vicentina Fisherman's Trail, first. It follows the sandy, high cliffs along Portugal's southern coast to Sagres. I think I will have had enough of the ocean views when that route is completed. I hope the Portuguese central will give me a feel for the Camino Frances, which I loved!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF April 4- May 12, 2018
CP April 2019
@LynneR the two Caminos I felt were very different walks. The Central is more historic and in my opinion, more difficult. The Coastal is on so many lovely boardwalks and wide open beaches. If you want to see lots of photos of the two, so you can make your own choice, my website had lots of info and photos. Click the Many Ways on the Camino Portugues. Happy choosing!
Elle thank you for such an informative post, it answered many of the questions I had about the CP. I am planning my Sept. walk and your website will be a big help.
 

he.panpub

Member
Camino(s) past & future
18 Sagrès-Santiago;17 Camino Torrès,Primitivo; 16 C Portugues ;15 CFrancès; 14 Via Podensis
To Camino Chris,
Hello,
In 2018 (06/12 to 07/21), I hiked from Cabo de Sao Vicente to Santiago. I tried to walk as close as possible from the coast ; I had never been tired of seeing the sea : from places to places, it's quite different. If you want to have an idea of my Camino, go to my youtube channel : he.panpub. Anyway, it's your own choice and I don't want to influence you
 

Camino Chris

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
To Camino Chris,
Hello,
In 2018 (06/12 to 07/21), I hiked from Cabo de Sao Vicente to Santiago. I tried to walk as close as possible from the coast ; I had never been tired of seeing the sea : from places to places, it's quite different. If you want to have an idea of my Camino, go to my youtube channel : he.panpub. Anyway, it's your own choice and I don't want to influence you
I will take a look. Thanks!
 

John Briscoe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais 2014
Camino Portuguese 2016
I can't speak to the coastal route having not walked it. I walked the central route from Porto and enjoyed it with the exception of the first day out of Porto. There was a fair amount of road walking including a fairly long stretch on the shoulder of the busy N 306.
If I was to walk again, I would take the coastal out of Porto to Vila do Conde and then cross inland and rejoining the central route just before Arcos.
I guess my reasoning for the central over the coastal was the central was the more 'traditional' route to take. Other than day one, the rest of days were interesting and varied.
We did exactly that in 2016. Enjoyed the coast but headed inland at Vila de Conde to Arcos and really enjoyed it. We also took a bus ride back down to the coast from Tui to A Garda for a day trip and a promised lobster lunch.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
There is a lovely crossover, well marked, between Caminha and Valenca. This follows the river Minha on the boarder of Spain and Portugal. Valenca is on the Portuguese side opposite Tui.
I was reading on another forum someone describing following the same start as I did (Senda Litoral to VIla do Conde, and then over to the Central) but then in Valenca taking that crossover you describe along the river in reverse and walking the Coastal from Caminha to Redondela. He said that part of the Coastal was more beautiful and less "touristy holidaymakers" than the Portuguese part of the coastal. I was thinking that choice might be something to try for a future Camino Portugues.
 

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