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Coastal Route in Winter

2020 Camino Guides

Arthurvs

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - May/2018
Hey peregrinos! It is really nice to be posting here again after 20 months (when I walked the Camino Frances)! I decided to do the Camino again and this time the Portuguese one going along the coast, starting at Porto. The thing is, I decided to do it in the middle of January/2020, less than a month from now. I have all the gear and I’m physically prepared for it. However, I have two questions:
1. Are the albergues open during this time of the year? I know this is the least popular time.
2. Weather can be bad this time of the year. Anyone that have done it could tell me how was it weather wise?
Thank you all so much!!!
Buen camino!
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, Soulac, Norte, Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés
1. Are the albergues open during this time of the year? I know this is the least popular time.
2. Weather can be bad this time of the year. Anyone that have done it could tell me how was it weather wise?
Yes, the albergues are open, and a few budget hotels as well, but don’t expect them all to be heated, so carry a warm sleeping bag.

Yes, the weather can be bad, so prepare for the worst and hope for the best. At the end of February one year, the rain and wind was hitting me, horizontally, at such force, with no respite forecast, that I took the bus from Esposende to Viana do Castelo, and continued on the central route where the weather was calmer.

Bom caminho!
 

surya8

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues Central and Coastal 2017 & 2019; Portugues Interior, Sanabres, Fisterra & Muxia 2018
I decided to do the Camino again and this time the Portuguese one going along the coast, starting at Porto.
1. Are the albergues open during this time of the year? I know this is the least popular time.
2. Weather can be bad this time of the year. Anyone that have done it could tell me how was it weather wise?
I walked the Coastal + Variante Espiritual in Jan this year. Enjoyed it a lot! Will be walking in winter again if there is a chance! The route is popular, the infrastructure is good after Porto, the albergues are open, and even out of season there will be people on the way. Some of the places might be closed for the winter so if you see an open bar and you are hungry then take your opportunity. I posted about my walk here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/flowers-on-a-winter-camino-good-news-for-those-who-consider-walking-in-winter.65099/ Make sure to take wanterproofs and also smth warm to chance into in the albergues as there heating might be tricky. Regular sleeping bag might be handy if you are staying in municipal albergues.
If you are planning to walk Espiritual, then there is a boat/last day walking situation to consder. I posted about it here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/espiritual-in-winter-walking-to-pontecesures-instead-of-boat-my-fav-day-in-pics.65113/ Bom Camino! :)
 

Arthurvs

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - May/2018
Yes, the albergues are open, and a few budget hotels as well, but don’t expect them all to be heated, so carry a warm sleeping bag.

Yes, the weather can be bad, so prepare for the worst and hope for the best. At the end of February one year, the rain and wind was hitting me, horizontally, at such force, with no respite forecast, that I took the bus from Esposende to Viana do Castelo, and continued on the central route where the weather was calmer.

Bom caminho!
Thank you Jill!! I have a really good sleeping bag so that won’t be a problem!

Let me ask you, how did you decide between the Coastal and Central route? Do you recommend one over the other?
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, Soulac, Norte, Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés
Let me ask you, how did you decide between the Coastal and Central route? Do you recommend one over the other?
I’ve walked both, several times – I just love the Portuguese people! I wouldn’t recommend one over the other as they are different – the Central is more historical and pilgrim-orientated – the Coastal is a relatively new route, so it’s more of a nice walk beside the sea, with rather more holiday makers than pilgrims.

In January you will meet more pilgrims on the Central route. On the Coastal route you’ll meet more joggers and dog-walkers than pilgrims.
 

Arthurvs

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - May/2018
I walked the Coastal + Variante Espiritual in Jan this year. Enjoyed it a lot! Will be walking in winter again if there is a chance! The route is popular, the infrastructure is good after Porto, the albergues are open, and even out of season there will be people on the way. Some of the places might be closed for the winter so if you see an open bar and you are hungry then take your opportunity. I posted about my walk here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/flowers-on-a-winter-camino-good-news-for-those-who-consider-walking-in-winter.65099/ Make sure to take wanterproofs and also smth warm to chance into in the albergues as there heating might be tricky. Regular sleeping bag might be handy if you are staying in municipal albergues.
If you are planning to walk Espiritual, then there is a boat/last day walking situation to consder. I posted about it here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/espiritual-in-winter-walking-to-pontecesures-instead-of-boat-my-fav-day-in-pics.65113/ Bom Camino! :)
Thanks Surya! It is in my mind to do the spiritual as well, so I will read you post. And by the way, why did you choose the Coastal rather than the Central camino? I’m considering both, but I’m pending to the Coastal due to the landscape.
 

surya8

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues Central and Coastal 2017 & 2019; Portugues Interior, Sanabres, Fisterra & Muxia 2018
Thanks Surya! It is in my mind to do the spiritual as well, so I will read you post. And by the way, why did you choose the Coastal rather than the Central camino? I’m considering both, but I’m pending to the Coastal due to the landscape.
I'd already walked the Central from Porto as my first Camino, also walked between Lisbon and Porto on the Central and Portugues Interior from Viseu, so that time walking the Coastal seemed like a logical thing :) All of them were quite different and memorable in their own ways. So listen to your heart there!
 

Loco in Motion

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2009) + Fisterra; Caminho Português and the Via de la Plata (Jan-Mar 2020).
Hello all! Former peregrino but new to the forum. I'm looking to walk the caminho português to Santiago, then on to Fisterra. I'll be in Lisbon in a week. Haven't decided yet if I will start in Lisbon or Porto. I have plenty of time for Lisbon. Seems services and infrastructure are more sparse on the Lisbon to Porto section, even more so in winter. But still doable from what I've read here. Nor have I decided on which route to take from Porto. The central route appeals to my appreciation of history and architecture. On the other hand, coastal walking sounds blissful. Maybe weather will be more precarious along the coast, though. This must be the central dilemma on this route.

As an aside, from Santiago I thought it might be interesting to walk the Via de la Plata in reverse, to Sevilla.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
@Elle Bieling on this forum has a very comprehensive guide online (I think it may also be available as an ebook) that could be of help. Now that I've tagged her, she can pop in and provide the correct link. :)
 

Quadragesima

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2020)
Currently walking the CP central, after doing the first day and a half out of Porto on the coast (came across from Vila do Conde to Rates). If you want to meet other pilgrims, definitely do the coastal—I met five pilgrims at the albergue in Labruge the first night, and then no more till Rubiães on the central. On the other hand, the albergues are generally nicer on the central. Public albergues are all open—in Portugal they mostly don’t have heating, but you can have all the blankets you want to make up for it. Spanish public albergues have heating but no blankets. Ponte de Lima has neither heating nor blankets, so be prepared! The weather has been very nice for walking overall—I had only one rainy day in Portugal, but now that I’m in Galicia, there’s more rain on the way. The mornings are chilly, so you will want a cap and gloves. I am mostly walking in a short-sleeve tech shirt plus a medium-weight fleece, with a lightweight rain jacket over it on chilly mornings. I did pack long underwear for walking, but haven’t needed it so far (though I have worn it to bed in unheated albergues!)
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
If you want to meet other pilgrims, definitely do the coastal—I met five pilgrims at the albergue in Labruge the first night, and then no more till Rubiães on the central.
That's interesting. I was hearing the exact opposite when I did the Camino Portugues in October 2018. The albergue filled up in Rates, at Casa da Fernanda (of course) and in Ponte de Lima, all before Rubiães. On the other hand we met a pilgrim in Redondela who joined from the coastal route and who said that she hadn't been sing other pilgrims until she joined the central. Maybe different years are different, or different times of year.
 

Quadragesima

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2020)
I met a Dutch pilgrim in Pontevedra who had just come from the coast, and she also said she had hardly met anyone on the way. So perhaps it is not so much that there are more pilgrims on the coast in winter, as that there are fewer on the central. I was the only pilgrim at all three of the albergues you mentioned above, and Fernanda said she had had only one the night before me as well. It seems like, my first night in Labruge notwithstanding, that there is usually only one pilgrim “unit” on any stage of the CP, whether central or coastal, in January. (By unit I mean people who are traveling together—I saw a few days with more than one person ahead of me in some of the pilgrim registers, but they appeared to be people who set out to walk together.)
 

Quadragesima

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2020)
Met a Hungarian pilgrim in Padrón who did the coastal route plus the spiritual variant from Pontevedra. She said none of the albergues were open on the spiritual variant, so she stayed once at a hotel, and once she called the albergue and got them to open just for her. The boat for the last part does not operate until March, so she walked the whole thing—45 km today! Along the coastal Camino, she said some of the albergues were closed, so she always called ahead to find out where she could stay next. Her daily walk ranged from 22-45 km between open albergues. So the coastal route in winter is probably best for people who are prepared to walk long (and after dark, since the days are short).
 

surya8

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues Central and Coastal 2017 & 2019; Portugues Interior, Sanabres, Fisterra & Muxia 2018
Met a Hungarian pilgrim in Padrón who did the coastal route plus the spiritual variant from Pontevedra. She said none of the albergues were open on the spiritual variant, so she stayed once at a hotel, and once she called the albergue and got them to open just for her. The boat for the last part does not operate until March, so she walked the whole thing—45 km today! Along the coastal Camino, she said some of the albergues were closed, so she always called ahead to find out where she could stay next. Her daily walk ranged from 22-45 km between open albergues. So the coastal route in winter is probably best for people who are prepared to walk long (and after dark, since the days are short).
Hm, we had a totally different experience there last year. When we walked there in Jan 2019 all the albergues were open on the Espiritual, at least the municipal ones where we stayed, and they were of excellent quality. The one in Vilanova de Arousa was definitely year-around, it had a very dedicated elderly hospitaliero there, and it was the hottest on the whole Coastal way! In Armenteira we had to call for it to be open, there was a phone on the door of the albergue, the woman with the key came quickly.
Re the boat: it did operate throughout the winter months but the price was very high out of season, it was quated at 150 euros for a boat, there were 3 of us there at the time but as we walked on a budget that wasn't an option for us. For others it might be though. So we walked to Pontecesures instead, that's 32km, there is an excellent municipal albergue there so was no need to be walking thurther 4kms to Padron.
Regarding all the reast of the albergues on the Coastal: all the municipal ones were open a year ago and we stayed mosly in them adding 1 provate in Mougas. We have never called ahead and never booked anything. We mostly followed the Brierley's stages and the longest we did was 37kms once as other options felt too short. We came before dark then, so never had a problem of walking a Camino in darkness. Actually most of the stages on this winter Camino felt a bit too short for me.
We met 2 other pilgrims on the Coastal way, one in Vila do Conde, another one in Marinhas, they were not a part of a group, walked separately, but we managed to form a Camino family there and walked with them for several days. It definitely proves to me that we all have our own unique experiences on the way!
 

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