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Coastal or Inland Portugese Route?

Camino(s) past & future
CF (SJPdP to Santiago) March 15, 2018
#1
I have the Camino bug I did my first Camino from SJPdP to Santiago March 15-April 19, 2018 and I want to keep on walking and have pretty much decided that the Portuguese will be my next one with my husband. I love the ocean so my heart is leaning towards the Coastal but my husband is feeling that the inland will have more amenities and people (which was a huge aspect of the CF for him). I am just wondering what people have felt was the preferred route to do. Regardless of the route we are planning on starting from Lisbon.
 

andycohn

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2012,13,15); Finisterre / Muxia (15); Portugeuse (17); Primitivo (17); Norte (18); Ingles (18)
#2
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. 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.
 

Neely

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Coastal/Central (2019)
#3
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. 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.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply, I am not the original poster but I appreciate your advice. I have chosen to do my first Camino from Porto, and I am fairly confident I want to do the Coastal route but I think it's a good idea to have some back up research should I chose to do what you did. I am going end of April/Early May and I was in Porto last ~early April and there was quite a bit of rain. I don't mind the rain at all, I guess just still wondering which route is "best". Thanks again!
 
#4
Having done both in the last 2 years we preferred the coastal., but then we live on the prairie so the ocean was a delight. There was plenty of infrastructure, wonderful food. And going inland at Vigo gave lots of opportunities to connect with other pilgrims
 

robproct

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Lisbon
#6
I just completed The Camino from Lisbon and walked the Central from Porto. This was the best walking since leaving Lisbon apart from the first section leaving Porto. The best would be to avoid that and do the first day on the coastal and then switch over to the central. I spoke to several people who did the coastal all the way to Redondela and did not enjoy it. The central has great countryside and some stiff climbs particularly out of Pont de Lima.
 

robproct

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Lisbon
#7
I just completed The Camino from Lisbon and walked the Central from Porto. This was the best walking since leaving Lisbon apart from the first section leaving Porto. The best would be to avoid that and do the first day on the coastal and then switch over to the central. I spoke to several people who did the coastal all the way to Redondela and did not enjoy it. The central has great countryside and some stiff climbs particularly out of Pont de Lima.
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
#8
Hi,
if you do start from Lisbon, you will not meet many other pilgrims until Coimbra or even Porto. The Central from Lisbon to Porto has some wonderful historic cities (Santarém, Tomar; Coimbra), Roman sites (Rabacal and Conigimbra) and beautiful countryside (Golega and after Tomar). After Porto, the Central is more filled than the Coastal but also offers more opportunities for accomodation. Especially in Summer it may be difficult, to find accomodation on the Coastal as hostels are also booked for holidays. In winter the Coastal will not offer much places to stay, as many hostels will be closed outside the summer season.
A good choice is to do the first few kilometres out of Porto on the Coastal and then - reaching Vila do Conde - to decide wether to continue along the coast or turn left after crossing the river and got to the central route. If you follow the river, you will soon find waymarks leading you to Rates on the Central.

BC
Alexandra
 
Camino(s) past & future
April 2017 or Sept 2017
#9
I just completed The Camino from Lisbon and walked the Central from Porto. This was the best walking since leaving Lisbon apart from the first section leaving Porto. The best would be to avoid that and do the first day on the coastal and then switch over to the central. I spoke to several people who did the coastal all the way to Redondela and did not enjoy it. The central has great countryside and some stiff climbs particularly out of Pont de Lima.
Is the Coastal flatter? I don’t want stiff climbs.
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
#10
There is not much klimbing on the central, nothing compared to the Camino Francés. The highest hill is after Ponte de Lima, it is 400 m. I can also remember that getting into Santarém was a short but steep road and that the Cathedral in Coimbra is on the mountain.

In my memory the worst ups and downs were around redondela, where the coastal route hits the central. So you can not really expect the coastal route to be flat. There may be many short ups and downs.

BC
Alexandra
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF (SJPdP to Santiago) March 15, 2018
#11
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 ocean whipping your face on the coastal route, while on the central route you’ll be more sheltered.
Thank you this helps, I live on Coastal British Columbia and I love the concept that you can switch routes pretty much anywhere.
 

TSchulen

A Work in Progress
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-Santiago (Sep/Oct 2018)
#12
There is not much klimbing on the central, nothing compared to the Camino Francés. The highest hill is after Ponte de Lima, it is 400 m. I can also remember that getting into Santarém was a short but steep road and that the Cathedral in Coimbra is on the mountain.
How are the down hills compared to the Camino Francés (Zubiri, Alto de Perdon, Cruz de Ferro...)? I'm more concerned about the quality of the trail on the descent than the steepness of the climb.

Great discussion - thanks to all who commented
 

robproct

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Lisbon
#13
After the steep rocky climb from Ponte de Lima there is a short very rocky descent but the rest is quite mild.
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
#14
Yes, as far as I can remember, there is only this section between the Frenchmen´s Cross and Rubiaes. It is similar to walking down from the Alto de Perdón. A pole will be helpful but is not necessary.
Going down to Redondela was the other major descent , but that is on the road.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Porto (2018 - planned)
#15
How are the down hills compared to the Camino Francés (Zubiri, Alto de Perdon, Cruz de Ferro...)? I'm more concerned about the quality of the trail on the descent than the steepness of the climb.

Great discussion - thanks to all who commented
I shot my knees doing the CF in 2016 and, in addition to the poles I picked up in Viana, I needed to wear a knee brace and take ibuprofen every day to get through the Camino. Two years later I did the CP from Porto mostly in the Central route (like many have suggested, I walked along the coast to Vila do Conde and switched there). I took my poles but left the knee brace and painkillers behind and had no knee problems.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino Portugues (June-2018)
#18
we walked the coastal last June and LOVED it! Some mild ups and downs but the views were awesome and we live in San Francisco. Yes, fewer people and amenities but good planning resolves all of that. The people and food was amazing! Natas are a must!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Via De La Plata
#19
I have the Camino bug I did my first Camino from SJPdP to Santiago March 15-April 19, 2018 and I want to keep on walking and have pretty much decided that the Portuguese will be my next one with my husband. I love the ocean so my heart is leaning towards the Coastal but my husband is feeling that the inland will have more amenities and people (which was a huge aspect of the CF for him). I am just wondering what people have felt was the preferred route to do. Regardless of the route we are planning on starting from Lisbon.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Via De La Plata
#20
If you do choose the Central route out of Porto, I stayed at 2 albergues that were really great. Casa de Lara and later on Casa de Fernanda.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Porto (2018 - planned)
#21
If you do choose the Central route out of Porto, I stayed at 2L bear gays that were really great. Casa de Lara and later on Casa de Fernanda.
I've got to say that in my city two large bear gays are very different from two albergues.
See: https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bear_(gay_slang)

That said, I don't know about Casa de Lara, but Casa da Fernanda will probably require a reservation a few days in advance.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues March 2019
#22
Thank you for your thoughtful reply, I am not the original poster but I appreciate your advice. I have chosen to do my first Camino from Porto, and I am fairly confident I want to do the Coastal route but I think it's a good idea to have some back up research should I chose to do what you did. I am going end of April/Early May and I was in Porto last ~early April and there was quite a bit of rain. I don't mind the rain at all, I guess just still wondering which route is "best". Thanks again!
My husband and I have decided to start on the Coastal from Porto (in March) and just decide on the way when we want to cross over to the Central. As they said above, there are several spots you can turn and head to Barcelos for example. Our decision on exactly when to turn to the Central will be the weather. If it's extremely rainy and with a cold wind, we will turn at Vila do Conde, but if it's still nice, we will go to either Esposende or Povea de Varzim and then turn. We think a little of both trails will make it the most interesting and enjoyable. We aren't even planning on reserving places along the way as March is early with few travelers. A day in advance should be sufficient. Good luck!
 

KariC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho portugûes (2016)
#23
Thank you for your thoughtful reply, I am not the original poster but I appreciate your advice. I have chosen to do my first Camino from Porto, and I am fairly confident I want to do the Coastal route but I think it's a good idea to have some back up research should I chose to do what you did. I am going end of April/Early May and I was in Porto last ~early April and there was quite a bit of rain. I don't mind the rain at all, I guess just still wondering which route is "best". Thanks again!
No "best." And starting that early, you don't need to commit - start along the coast if you thing that interests you, and you can move inland to the Central at several spots if you want to try that.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Via De La Plata
#24
Albergue de San Antonio de Hebron

An amazing spiritual and religious experience. Note that the religious part is for those who chose to participate. No obligation to do so.

The pilgrim's mass ended with a pilgrims blessing. We all came forward and in our own languages read a special motivational reading about our journey. I was moved deeply.

The volunteers were so friendly. The homemade meal was delicious. The tour and history of the Convent is fascinating.

This wonderful place is 3 km off the Camino, but you can make it up the next morning. There is a bypass back to Hebron. The trail there is beautiful and well-marked.

This albergue is closed thru the months of Nov to March. Not to miss albergue.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Coastal/Central (2019)
#25
More input from my blog. I did both and I loved both, but they are indeed quite different. Lots of photos on my site to help you choose! Many Ways on the Camino Portugues.
Thank you for sharing your incredible blog! The pictures you have of the walk from Porto to Vila de Conde really helped me to feel confident that I will get beautiful seaside views on the boardwalk before I cut inland to join the Central after Vila de Conde. I also have to agree with you about not taking the Metro to Matosinhos! I am very much looking forward to that walk -- I was in Porto for a week last spring and I had planned to rent a bike and ride to Matosinhos, but another traveler I met convinced me to change my plans and take the metro instead. I don't regret the day I spent in Matosinhos with that traveler, it was very lovely, but I am very much looking forward to returning and doing it "my way"! Albeit, this time on foot! :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues 2019 , Primitivo 2020 , Frances 2021
#26
For me the Central is more special, has do two best albuergues on the Camino Portugues- Casa Fernanda and Tamel - Casa da Recoleta, and has this amazing pilgrim atmosphere , and for me has a special connection with St.James.
Thats so much to see in Barcelos, Ponte de Lima, Valença, Tui , that i cannot wait to see waht the Central way has to provide to you! Im Portuguese, and i live very close to Barcelos, I.m a Pilgrim so if you have any questions on it dont hesitate to ask me and BUEN CAMINO.
 

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