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Cycling the Camino Portugues - Notes & Observations

Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
Having just returned from cycling this Camino Portugues, I felt that I should share our experiences on this blog since I had found it quite difficult to find information which is specific to cyclists.


I must start by saying that this is a very beautiful and varied route. One cycles on all types of surfaces and through very different types of habitats. We stuck to the walkers' route most of the way and, I feel, some notes could help some cyclists who might prefer to take an alternative route around some of the rougher stints to avoid pushing the bike.


We cycled 707 kms in 12 days (according to mapmyride!) which is why I was a bit peeved when only 575 kms was written as the official distance on my compostela certificate! J Anyway, what’s in a number! We did the coastal route from Porto to Camiha, at which point we turned inland towards Valenca/Tui to rejoin the central route.


This was our itinerary.

DAY TO - FROM KMS
1 LISBON TO VILA FRANCA 44
2 VILLA FRANCA TO SANTAREM 54
3 SANTAREM - TOMAR 70
4 TOMAR - ANSIAO 54
5 ANSIAO - COIMBRA (via Chão de Couce) 63
6 COIMBRA - AGUEDA 55
7 AGUEDA - PORTO 85
8 PORTO - VIANA DO CASTELO 91
9 VIANA DO CASTELO - TUI 63
10 TUI - PONTEVEDRA 56
11 PONTEVEDRA - PADRON 42
12 PADRON - SDC 30


If you are flying in with your bike to Lisbon airport, the bike will emerge from carousel 13 and not the one marked for that flight. All odd-shaped luggage is routed through this belt so head straight there. Every carousel will direct you to no. 13 for the odd-shaped luggage. By chance, a bubbly attendant at the airport, who did not speak a word of English, instructed us to assemble the bikes by this carousel, and to leave the boxes there wasn’t a problem. Being able to just leave from here was great as this was our first potential headache. We decided to cycle from Lisbon airport to central Lisbon since it’s only about 8 kms and very manageable. We used Sygic, a navigator app on my iPhone to find the way, but we had done some homework of this route at home on google maps.

In Lisbon we stayed in a small B&B very close to the Se cathedral since we knew that this was the starting point of our journey and the place to buy a credencial if you don’t already have one. Do plan for an extra day or two to explore Lisbon. It is a beautiful city. We also stopped for an extra day in Porto as we felt we wanted to explore this city too, which was also a very good idea.

Way markings

I had read a lot of mixed opinions about the quality of the way-marking so I planned for the worst. I kept the Brierley guide at hand and bought the Camino Portugues app by Tania Gomes de Costa, which has one drawback…every morning you will have to download the map of the area you’ll be covering in the cache as it doesn’t have the feature to download the maps to your phone. I also downloaded the route maps from the Caminoways website onto the Ridewithgps app which, most of the time, seemed to veer away from the way-marked route. There is no way I was going to get lost!

The way-marking turned out to be better than I expected, all the way from Lisbon to Santiago. The arrows in Lisbon started out as small stickers on lamp posts but soon evolved into the normal freehand painted yellow arrow. You’ll soon get used to where to look for them. There were times we weren’t sure and had to stop to retrace our steps and now I realise that this was mainly because there are very few other pilgrims on the trail so you can’t just follow people dogmatically as you do on the Frances. But all in all I would say the marking is good. Having said that, I recommend having a back-up of some sort. I would also learn some basic Portuguese to ask directions as neither English nor Spanish is that widely spoken.


Bike Maintenance

Another thing to keep in mind is that we didn’t come across many bike shops, maybe since we were cycling through very small villages most of the time. Do be prepared to change a puncture and to do basic maintenance. I had to change my tyre and was directed to a lovely man, in the next town off the camino, who sold me a new tyre, switched tyres around and set the gears again all for Eur10! No common language between us, communication was very animated, but he did an excellent job and I was relieved to get my confidence in the bike back. It wouldn’t hurt to pack a spare tyre I guess although to be fair the damage on mine was not due to the camino even though parts of it are quite rough and it’s easy to cause some damage. The other thing is that mud is common (remember we cycled the camino last week of May, first week June); we power-washed and re-oiled the bikes when we got the chance.

The Route

As I said earlier, the terrain is very varied and there are some rough stints…and oh yes…those cobbled roman roads will not do your backside any favours. Maybe a gel seat would come in handy in the Portuguese part of this Camino. We jotted down these next notes only when we felt things were not so straight forward. We consider ourselves of average fitness, we love cycling and cycle most weekends. We definitely don’t describe ourselves as super-fit and we didn’t train that much, except for a few spinning classes in the run-up.

Day 3: Santarem to Tomar: We found some steep hills on rough terrain between Atalaia and Grou. You can opt to stay on the N10 especially if you’re tired by then.

Day 4: Tomar to Ansiao: The exit out of Tomar, along the river, is not recommended if it’s raining or has been raining. However, we found it beautiful, like being in the Amazon forest. Paths are narrow so wear full leggings to avoid scratches. Also, be careful at Ponte Ceras as you can easily stray into the woods and find yourself pushing the bike up a hellish trail, I would suggest to stay on the same road and skip that little bit of path between Ponte de Ceras and Portela de Vila Verde.

Day 5: Ansiao to Coimbra: Due to bike problems we had to cycle to Chau de Cause from Ansiao. We then took the road to make up for lost time and rejoined the trail at Zambujal. We can’t really comment on the trail between Ansiao and Zambujal!

Day 6 : Coimbra to Agueda: Leaving Coimbra, as in all cases of entering and leaving a big city, we do recommend riding on the pavement ie as if you were a walker, as the markings are for walkers and you might not be able to see them from the opposite side of the road. Pavements are usually wide and pedestrians are OK with it as long as you are courteous and always give them right of way.

Day 7 – Agueda to Porto: Path is fine up to Grijo. Then it turns into a lot of steep uphill roman roads

and, later from Peonzhino, muddy uphill trails. This was a long day and we were tired by this time. Could have done with finding an alternate route…but still it’s doable if you don’t mind pushing the bike. To cycle into Porto follow closely the walkers’ route, which means riding on pavements. Riding over the top of Pont Luis was a highlight.

Day 8 – Porto to Viana do Castelo: If at Esponsende you are tired, stick to the coast and don’t follow the yellow arrows inland as the trail gets a bit steep and rugged, beautiful though!

Day 9 – Viana do Castelo to Tui: The crossing over on the bridge from Valenca to Tui is just spectacular.

Day 10 – Tui to Pontededra: After Ponte Sampiano there is a steep and very rugged hill where you have no choice but to push the bike. If you don’t feel like pushing take the road to Figuerrido.

The other days not mentioned above were pretty straightforward for us.

Accommodation & Food.

From Lisbon to Porto we stayed mainly in small B&Bs. There are some cheap beautiful places, especially if you are sharing. Albergues are more common from Porto onwards and we stayed in them. There is more of a camino feel when you’re in Albergues somehow. We had decided not to carry a sleeping bag and I’m glad we didn’t as all places had blankets and clean bedding. We just used our silk liner every now and then.

Cafes are not that frequent on this route as they are on the Frances so do stop for your coffee and pastei de nata breaks when you get the chance, the next one available might be many kilometres ahead.

There is a good company in Santiago to pack your bikes at the end for a mere Eur21.... http://www.elvelocipedo.com/Velocipedo/Ingles/Velo_EmbalajeI.html. they did a fantastic job.


We prepared a 20 minute video of the journey which might give you a glimpse of what to expect.

Feel free to ask any questions, I will be happy to help where I can.

 
Last edited:

Ajrk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016
Having just returned from cycling this Camino Portugues, I felt that I should share our experiences on this blog since I had found it quite difficult to find information which is specific to cyclists.


I must start by saying that this is a very beautiful and varied route. One cycles on all types of surfaces and through very different types of habitats. We stuck to the walkers' route most of the way and, I feel, some notes could help some cyclists who might prefer to take an alternative route around some of the rougher stints to avoid pushing the bike.


We cycled 707 kms in 12 days (according to mapmyride!) which is why I was a bit peeved when only 575 kms was written as the official distance on my compostela certificate! J Anyway, what’s in a number! We did the coastal route from Porto to Camiha, at which point we turned inland towards Valenca/Tui to rejoin the central route.


This was our itinerary.

DAY TO - FROM KMS
1 LISBON TO VILA FRANCA 44
2 VILLA FRANCA TO SANTAREM 54
3 SANTAREM - TOMAR 70
4 TOMAR - ANSIAO 54
5 ANSIAO - COIMBRA (via Chão de Couce) 63
6 COIMBRA - AGUEDA 55
7 AGUEDA - PORTO 85
8 PORTO - VIANA DO CASTELO 91
9 VIANA DO CASTELO - TUI 63
10 TUI - PONTEVEDRA 56
11 PONTEVEDRA - PADRON 42
12 PADRON - SDC 30


If you are flying in with your bike to Lisbon airport, the bike will emerge from carousel 13 and not the one marked for that flight. All odd-shaped luggage is routed through this belt so head straight there. Every carousel will direct you to no. 13 for the odd-shaped luggage. By chance, a bubbly attendant at the airport, who did not speak a word of English, instructed us to assemble the bikes by this carousel, and to leave the boxes there wasn’t a problem. Being able to just leave from here was great as this was our first potential headache. We decided to cycle from Lisbon airport to central Lisbon since it’s only about 8 kms and very manageable. We used Sygic, a navigator app on my iPhone to find the way, but we had done some homework of this route at home on google maps.

In Lisbon we stayed in a small B&B very close to the Se cathedral since we knew that this was the starting point of our journey and the place to buy a credencial if you don’t already have one. Do plan for an extra day or two to explore Lisbon. It is a beautiful city. We also stopped for an extra day in Porto as we felt we wanted to explore this city too, which was also a very good idea.

Way markings

I had read a lot of mixed opinions about the quality of the way-marking so I planned for the worst. I kept the Brierley guide at hand and bought the Camino Portugues app by Tania Gomes de Costa, which has one drawback…every morning you will have to download the map of the area you’ll be covering in the cache as it doesn’t have the feature to download the maps to your phone. I also downloaded the route maps from the Caminoways website onto the Ridewithgps app which, most of the time, seemed to veer away from the way-marked route. There is no way I was going to get lost!

The way-marking turned out to be better than I expected, all the way from Lisbon to Santiago. The arrows in Lisbon started out as small stickers on lamp posts but soon evolved into the normal freehand painted yellow arrow. You’ll soon get used to where to look for them. There were times we weren’t sure and had to stop to retrace our steps and now I realise that this was mainly because there are very few other pilgrims on the trail so you can’t just follow people dogmatically as you do on the Frances. But all in all I would say the marking is good. Having said that, I recommend having a back-up of some sort. I would also learn some basic Portuguese to ask directions as neither English nor Spanish is that widely spoken.


Bike Maintenance

Another thing to keep in mind is that we didn’t come across many bike shops, maybe since we were cycling through very small villages most of the time. Do be prepared to change a puncture and to do basic maintenance. I had to change my tyre and was directed to a lovely man, in the next town off the camino, who sold me a new tyre, switched tyres around and set the gears again all for Eur10! No common language between us, communication was very animated, but he did an excellent job and I was relieved to get my confidence in the bike back. It wouldn’t hurt to pack a spare tyre I guess although to be fair the damage on mine was not due to the camino even though parts of it are quite rough and it’s easy to cause some damage. The other thing is that mud is common (remember we cycled the camino last week of May, first week June); we power-washed and re-oiled the bikes when we got the chance.

The Route

As I said earlier, the terrain is very varied and there are some rough stints…and oh yes…those cobbled roman roads will not do your backside any favours. Maybe a gel seat would come in handy in the Portuguese part of this Camino. We jotted down these next notes only when we felt things were not so straight forward. We consider ourselves of average fitness, we love cycling and cycle most weekends. We definitely don’t describe ourselves as super-fit and we didn’t train that much, except for a few spinning classes in the run-up.

Day 3: Santarem to Tomar: We found some steep hills on rough terrain between Atalaia and Grou. You can opt to stay on the N10 especially if you’re tired by then.

Day 4: Tomar to Ansiao: The exit out of Tomar, along the river, is not recommended if it’s raining or has been raining. However, we found it beautiful, like being in the Amazon forest. Paths are narrow so wear full leggings to avoid scratches. Also, be careful at Ponte Ceras as you can easily stray into the woods and find yourself pushing the bike up a hellish trail, I would suggest to stay on the same road and skip that little bit of path between Ponte de Ceras and Portela de Vila Verde.

Day 5: Ansiao to Coimbra: Due to bike problems we had to cycle to Chau de Cause from Ansiao. We then took the road to make up for lost time and rejoined the trail at Zambujal. We can’t really comment on the trail between Ansiao and Zambujal!

Day 6 : Coimbra to Agueda: Leaving Coimbra, as in all cases of entering and leaving a big city, we do recommend riding on the pavement ie as if you were a walker, as the markings are for walkers and you might not be able to see them from the opposite side of the road. Pavements are usually wide and pedestrians are OK with it as long as you are courteous and always give them right of way.

Day 7 – Agueda to Porto: Path is fine up to Grijo. Then it turns into a lot of steep uphill roman roads

and, later from Peonzhino, muddy uphill trails. This was a long day and we were tired by this time. Could have done with finding an alternate route…but still it’s doable if you don’t mind pushing the bike. To cycle into Porto follow closely the walkers’ route, which means riding on pavements. Riding over the top of Pont Luis was a highlight.

Day 8 – Porto to Viana do Castelo: If at Esponsende you are tired, stick to the coast and don’t follow the yellow arrows inland as the trail gets a bit steep and rugged, beautiful though!

Day 9 – Viana do Castelo to Tui: The crossing over on the bridge from Valenca to Tui is just spectacular.

Day 10 – Tui to Pontededra: After Ponte Sampiano there is a steep and very rugged hill where you have no choice but to push the bike. If you don’t feel like pushing take the road to Figuerrido.

The other days not mentioned above were pretty straightforward for us.

Accommodation & Food.

From Lisbon to Porto we stayed mainly in small B&Bs. There are some cheap beautiful places, especially if you are sharing. Albergues are more common from Porto onwards and we stayed in them. There is more of a camino feel when you’re in Albergues somehow. We had decided not to carry a sleeping bag and I’m glad we didn’t as all places had blankets and clean bedding. We just used our silk liner every now and then.

Cafes are not that frequent on this route as they are on the Frances so do stop for your coffee and pastei de nata breaks when you get the chance, the next one available might be many kilometres ahead.


We prepared a 20 minute video of the journey which might give you a glimpse of what to expect.

Feel free to ask any questions, I will be happy to help where I can.

What a great post, and full of useful information, and I really enjoyed the video well done on your daily distances as I cycled the Francis last month and could only manage an average of 30 to 40k a day on the walkers route But in fairness I was pushing the bike uphill a lot of the time.Thank you for sharing your experience
Alan
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
Glad you liked it. I'm hoping it would be of some use to those cycling this route. We did the Frances two years ago which we also loved.
 

Edward1

Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Lyon
Le Puy to SJPP
Porto to Santiago.
Santiago to Finnistre and Muxia
Good information and Nice video, We will be cycling from Porto to Finistere next week, What did you do with the Boxes at the Airport after assembling the bikes.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
Good information and Nice video, We will be cycling from Porto to Finistere next week, What did you do with the Boxes at the Airport after assembling the bikes.

Thanks! A cleaner told us to leave them by the carousel and they would be cleared. We were very grateful. It looked like they get a lot of cyclists and this is what normally happens. Enjoy your Camino. It's a great cycling trip.
 

aitken brown

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
considering cycling camino portugues
Hi Michelle thanks for a great post. I might probably end up asking a few questions
- where you fit enough to do the daily distances quite easily?
- would you do this on your own?
- i see you used bike panners - was there anything that you took that was not used?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
Hi Aitken
glad you like the post and please feel free to ask as many questions as you like....I did the same when I was planning my Camino!
1. Re fitness, I think we were fit enough. Thankfully we both have the same level of fitness so our pace was compatible. The first 2 days were fairly easy, but then the path became rougher and slower but we were OK. there were days when we couldn't wait to get to our destination and relax but nothing major and we're hardly the most avid cyclists!
2. I would not do it on my own for the sole reason that I am not one to enjoy my own company, but in terms of safety there is really no problem whatsoever.
3. Yes, def go for panniers. I like to be free when cycling. The only thing we did not use was our bikini! We had every intention to jump in the ocean when we reached the beautiful beaches from Porto onwards but then we asked a local what the temperature of the water was (13 deg) and we quickly changed our minds :) Also, I'm glad we did not take a sleeping bag as we did not need it at all.
Hope this helps you in some way.
Bom Caminho.
Michelle
 

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.
Thanks for sharing ! Loved your (Gopro ?) vid.
Many happy memories !

Bom caminho
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
you're welcome! Yes GoPro!
Michelle
 

Nic88P

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese
Hi Michelle, thanks very much for the really useful information you have posted. My friend and I are cycling from Porto-SDC in mid September. We are just wondering whether the terrain is suitable for our normal 'touring' bikes... As from looking at cycling holiday websites they seem to only rent out mountain bikes. Did you guys go on mountain bikes or touring bikes? If we bring our touring bikes, do you think it will be possible for us to find suitable routes/terrains that don't need mountain bikes?
Thanks in advance!
N
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
Hi Nic
If you're planning to do the marked walkers route than I highly recommend a mountain bike. You will have to stick to the road and find an alternate route if you're not on a mountain bike which is a pity considering the navigation has been prepared for you! I found the terrain quite varied but quite rugged at times. You'll need the gears too!
Michelle
 
D

Deleted member 43780

Guest
Great information and wonderful video. Thanks !

Did you secure the GoPro to handle bar or helmet?

I want to do the Portuguese this fall. Around mid October.

Haven't made up my mind yet to bike or walk it.

Again, thanks for a wonderful blog and video!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
Thanks. Yes most of the time the GoPro is on the handlebar. There are times we just hold and point it whilst riding.

Hope you'll enjoy it., it's a great ride.

Michelle
 

Bertus Swart

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 by bicycle
Thanks for the great info. Can you recommend a company to rent a bike in Lisbon and return in Santiago. We are planning a trip for about 10 people in Oct 2017 and I need to start my planning / costing.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
Hi Bertus

Unfortunately I cannot be of much help here. Since we took our own bikes there was no need to look into bike rentals. However, I knew a group who had got the bikes through Bike Iberia and they were quite pleased.
Sorry I can't be of much help.
Michelle
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Hi Bertus

Unfortunately I cannot be of much help here. Since we took our own bikes there was no need to look into bike rentals. However, I knew a group who had got the bikes through Bike Iberia and they were quite pleased.
Sorry I can't be of much help.
Michelle

Here is the web for BikeIberia which is based in Lisbon.
http://www.bikeiberia.com/
 

jonnyboy9

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2018 October?
Hi Michelle,

If you used disposable packaging on the outbound flight, what did you use for the inbound flight?

Jon
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
There is a place in Santiago who offers bike packing. We ride straight to them. They pack the bikes and arrange a taxi to the airport on the day we travel. Excellent service. This is the link. They are in the heart of the town. I updated my original post to include this info. Thanks

http://www.elvelocipedo.com/Velocipedo/Ingles/indexI.html
 
Last edited:

Dynosirfon

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais
Thank you so much for sharing your very informative video Have just arrived in Santarém having cycled from Tarifa in southern Spain and now doing the Camino I don’t have a mountain bike so will have to stick on asphalt roads !! Thanks again Owen
 

truthi

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Way/Cycle/Sept 18-Oct 10, 2018
Thank you so much for sharing your very informative video Have just arrived in Santarém having cycled from Tarifa in southern Spain and now doing the Camino I don’t have a mountain bike so will have to stick on asphalt roads !! Thanks again Owen
Hi Owen,
Just curious, did you keep a gps tracking of your route on asphalt? I’ll be biking in Sept this year. I have a solid touring bike with large gravel tires. I will be able to handle most trails I think. When I keep low air pressure, my tires seem to handle off road fairly well. However, I would like to have better knowledge of a paved non-traditional Camino path route.

What gps tracking system did you use to find your way?
Thanks so much!
Ruth
 

truthi

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Way/Cycle/Sept 18-Oct 10, 2018
Having just returned from cycling this Camino Portugues, I felt that I should share our experiences on this blog since I had found it quite difficult to find information which is specific to cyclists.


I must start by saying that this is a very beautiful and varied route. One cycles on all types of surfaces and through very different types of habitats. We stuck to the walkers' route most of the way and, I feel, some notes could help some cyclists who might prefer to take an alternative route around some of the rougher stints to avoid pushing the bike.


We cycled 707 kms in 12 days (according to mapmyride!) which is why I was a bit peeved when only 575 kms was written as the official distance on my compostela certificate! J Anyway, what’s in a number! We did the coastal route from Porto to Camiha, at which point we turned inland towards Valenca/Tui to rejoin the central route.


This was our itinerary.

DAY TO - FROM KMS
1 LISBON TO VILA FRANCA 44
2 VILLA FRANCA TO SANTAREM 54
3 SANTAREM - TOMAR 70
4 TOMAR - ANSIAO 54
5 ANSIAO - COIMBRA (via Chão de Couce) 63
6 COIMBRA - AGUEDA 55
7 AGUEDA - PORTO 85
8 PORTO - VIANA DO CASTELO 91
9 VIANA DO CASTELO - TUI 63
10 TUI - PONTEVEDRA 56
11 PONTEVEDRA - PADRON 42
12 PADRON - SDC 30


If you are flying in with your bike to Lisbon airport, the bike will emerge from carousel 13 and not the one marked for that flight. All odd-shaped luggage is routed through this belt so head straight there. Every carousel will direct you to no. 13 for the odd-shaped luggage. By chance, a bubbly attendant at the airport, who did not speak a word of English, instructed us to assemble the bikes by this carousel, and to leave the boxes there wasn’t a problem. Being able to just leave from here was great as this was our first potential headache. We decided to cycle from Lisbon airport to central Lisbon since it’s only about 8 kms and very manageable. We used Sygic, a navigator app on my iPhone to find the way, but we had done some homework of this route at home on google maps.

In Lisbon we stayed in a small B&B very close to the Se cathedral since we knew that this was the starting point of our journey and the place to buy a credencial if you don’t already have one. Do plan for an extra day or two to explore Lisbon. It is a beautiful city. We also stopped for an extra day in Porto as we felt we wanted to explore this city too, which was also a very good idea.

Way markings

I had read a lot of mixed opinions about the quality of the way-marking so I planned for the worst. I kept the Brierley guide at hand and bought the Camino Portugues app by Tania Gomes de Costa, which has one drawback…every morning you will have to download the map of the area you’ll be covering in the cache as it doesn’t have the feature to download the maps to your phone. I also downloaded the route maps from the Caminoways website onto the Ridewithgps app which, most of the time, seemed to veer away from the way-marked route. There is no way I was going to get lost!

The way-marking turned out to be better than I expected, all the way from Lisbon to Santiago. The arrows in Lisbon started out as small stickers on lamp posts but soon evolved into the normal freehand painted yellow arrow. You’ll soon get used to where to look for them. There were times we weren’t sure and had to stop to retrace our steps and now I realise that this was mainly because there are very few other pilgrims on the trail so you can’t just follow people dogmatically as you do on the Frances. But all in all I would say the marking is good. Having said that, I recommend having a back-up of some sort. I would also learn some basic Portuguese to ask directions as neither English nor Spanish is that widely spoken.


Bike Maintenance

Another thing to keep in mind is that we didn’t come across many bike shops, maybe since we were cycling through very small villages most of the time. Do be prepared to change a puncture and to do basic maintenance. I had to change my tyre and was directed to a lovely man, in the next town off the camino, who sold me a new tyre, switched tyres around and set the gears again all for Eur10! No common language between us, communication was very animated, but he did an excellent job and I was relieved to get my confidence in the bike back. It wouldn’t hurt to pack a spare tyre I guess although to be fair the damage on mine was not due to the camino even though parts of it are quite rough and it’s easy to cause some damage. The other thing is that mud is common (remember we cycled the camino last week of May, first week June); we power-washed and re-oiled the bikes when we got the chance.

The Route

As I said earlier, the terrain is very varied and there are some rough stints…and oh yes…those cobbled roman roads will not do your backside any favours. Maybe a gel seat would come in handy in the Portuguese part of this Camino. We jotted down these next notes only when we felt things were not so straight forward. We consider ourselves of average fitness, we love cycling and cycle most weekends. We definitely don’t describe ourselves as super-fit and we didn’t train that much, except for a few spinning classes in the run-up.

Day 3: Santarem to Tomar: We found some steep hills on rough terrain between Atalaia and Grou. You can opt to stay on the N10 especially if you’re tired by then.

Day 4: Tomar to Ansiao: The exit out of Tomar, along the river, is not recommended if it’s raining or has been raining. However, we found it beautiful, like being in the Amazon forest. Paths are narrow so wear full leggings to avoid scratches. Also, be careful at Ponte Ceras as you can easily stray into the woods and find yourself pushing the bike up a hellish trail, I would suggest to stay on the same road and skip that little bit of path between Ponte de Ceras and Portela de Vila Verde.

Day 5: Ansiao to Coimbra: Due to bike problems we had to cycle to Chau de Cause from Ansiao. We then took the road to make up for lost time and rejoined the trail at Zambujal. We can’t really comment on the trail between Ansiao and Zambujal!

Day 6 : Coimbra to Agueda: Leaving Coimbra, as in all cases of entering and leaving a big city, we do recommend riding on the pavement ie as if you were a walker, as the markings are for walkers and you might not be able to see them from the opposite side of the road. Pavements are usually wide and pedestrians are OK with it as long as you are courteous and always give them right of way.

Day 7 – Agueda to Porto: Path is fine up to Grijo. Then it turns into a lot of steep uphill roman roads

and, later from Peonzhino, muddy uphill trails. This was a long day and we were tired by this time. Could have done with finding an alternate route…but still it’s doable if you don’t mind pushing the bike. To cycle into Porto follow closely the walkers’ route, which means riding on pavements. Riding over the top of Pont Luis was a highlight.

Day 8 – Porto to Viana do Castelo: If at Esponsende you are tired, stick to the coast and don’t follow the yellow arrows inland as the trail gets a bit steep and rugged, beautiful though!

Day 9 – Viana do Castelo to Tui: The crossing over on the bridge from Valenca to Tui is just spectacular.

Day 10 – Tui to Pontededra: After Ponte Sampiano there is a steep and very rugged hill where you have no choice but to push the bike. If you don’t feel like pushing take the road to Figuerrido.

The other days not mentioned above were pretty straightforward for us.

Accommodation & Food.

From Lisbon to Porto we stayed mainly in small B&Bs. There are some cheap beautiful places, especially if you are sharing. Albergues are more common from Porto onwards and we stayed in them. There is more of a camino feel when you’re in Albergues somehow. We had decided not to carry a sleeping bag and I’m glad we didn’t as all places had blankets and clean bedding. We just used our silk liner every now and then.

Cafes are not that frequent on this route as they are on the Frances so do stop for your coffee and pastei de nata breaks when you get the chance, the next one available might be many kilometres ahead.

There is a good company in Santiago to pack your bikes at the end for a mere Eur21.... http://www.elvelocipedo.com/Velocipedo/Ingles/Velo_EmbalajeI.html. they did a fantastic job.


We prepared a 20 minute video of the journey which might give you a glimpse of what to expect.

Feel free to ask any questions, I will be happy to help where I can.

Hi Michelle,
Thank you for this wonderful post. I’ll be touring Sept/Oct this year and it will be a solo tour. I’m definitely wanting to be prepared with my maps/directions, as I am on my own.

When I try to use google maps, they don’t offer bike routes for the areas. Did you use MapMyRide to get yourself from place to place? How did you set up your phone in order to have data/cell to be able to access your routes and info? (Meaning, what phone service did you use) Or, did you use a gps system like a Garmand?
Your post has been very helpful! Thank you so much!!
I’ll probably have more questions.

Ruth
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
Hi Michelle,
Thank you for this wonderful post. I’ll be touring Sept/Oct this year and it will be a solo tour. I’m definitely wanting to be prepared with my maps/directions, as I am on my own.

When I try to use google maps, they don’t offer bike routes for the areas. Did you use MapMyRide to get yourself from place to place? How did you set up your phone in order to have data/cell to be able to access your routes and info? (Meaning, what phone service did you use) Or, did you use a gps system like a Garmand?
Your post has been very helpful! Thank you so much!!
I’ll probably have more questions.

Ruth


I had lots of options. The Caminoways route downloaded to the Ride with GPS app. I upgraded to the paying version for a month to get it available offline. I also bought another app called Camino PT from which I downloaded the section I was going when I had WiFi available and I had the Brierly book. However the simplest way is to follow the yellow arrows and keep these as backups when you get lost or want to go on the road for a while.
 

truthi

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Way/Cycle/Sept 18-Oct 10, 2018
Thanks for this. It’s helpful. The Caminoways especially is helpful. Such a relief!

I’m looking forward to watching your video.
All the best,
Ruth
 

Dynosirfon

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais
Hi Owen,
Just curious, did you keep a gps tracking of your route on asphalt? I’ll be biking in Sept this year. I have a solid touring bike with large gravel tires. I will be able to handle most trails I think. When I keep low air pressure, my tires seem to handle off road fairly well. However, I would like to have better knowledge of a paved non-traditional Camino path route.

What gps tracking system did you use to find your way?
Thanks so much!
Ruth
Hello I used the app Gronze.com and then used my navigation app Komoot which would take me on my route I’d usually two walking stages On the whole it did not take me on tracks but very occasionally on the same route as the walkers From Santiago I did the Primitivo absolutely stunning scenery and as much of the Camino experience you can get on a bike hours of cycling in forests not seeing anybody just you and nature Currently I’m on the Camino Norte in the Basque Country heading for Irún then will do the Piamonte back to Narbonne then flight back to Manchester The Norte has lovely coastal scenes but you are never far from a lot of people Have a lovely trip Owen27110193-8BD1-47D1-BA5A-18FCEFBA66AC.jpeg27110193-8BD1-47D1-BA5A-18FCEFBA66AC.jpeg32B2FCF9-11B3-4C65-BE57-39F2C40D0571.jpeg8540CCA3-41A9-4F30-99F6-FA30CAACD1E4.jpeg9D387F35-64EF-475A-8851-CC4CFD89FC9D.jpeg825F4679-5ABD-40DB-8E20-1B881D66AEC7.jpeg89EE9DBE-4125-42AE-A219-F34804B492D5.jpegDC30CD1E-DAAA-4E4F-979E-797AD69662CF.jpeg32614B80-B881-4555-8D29-CE2B205504CF.jpegE8B4F76B-8F25-42E7-9A25-4E89FB25137D.jpeg37D56C5E-5D65-4262-A756-EC53F7C9DB02.jpeg
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
Hi Owen #
I'm planning to do the Norte next year...it's a very loose plan so far. How does it compare to the Portuguese and Francaise as I heard it's a tough one plus it rains a lot, is that the case for you?
Would appreciate your views on this route...did you plan the stops or are you one of those who just stops whenever you feel like? I like having a bit of an outline plan but can't find the popular stops. I like a bit of activity in the evenings so usually look for popular towns/villages to stop.
Thanks
Michelle
 

Dynosirfon

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais
Hello there’s much more climbing on the Norte route It passes some touristy areas It rains quite a bit in this part of Spain but I have had no rainy days A girl walking said they were drenched when arrived in SAN Sebastian I cycle two stages but don’t go out at night I use Gronze website owen
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
Thanks. Looks like a great website. Are you sticking to the walkers’ route or going on the road?
 

Dynosirfon

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais
I’m going on the road I use Komoot or google maps for navigation bike touring option When it says turn left to hiking road alarm bells ring A girl told me a guy had to carry his bike on walkers route for an hour and the consensus I get that some of it is just not suitable for touring bikesI did not attempt the track in first picture and changed from Komoot to google maps bike option Buen Camino 0410FD6E-D5E1-413E-A6A5-ECC7AF3F017F.jpeg1A03257C-DB8D-4C40-AD33-1A812518F2F9.jpeg80BF03AD-560A-46D3-8B47-52CCDB387773.jpegC19BDA76-9DC1-4481-A07B-58E7EA1B6677.jpeg4A1BD45F-D30C-4FC5-9B66-1216F9E1368A.jpeg0410FD6E-D5E1-413E-A6A5-ECC7AF3F017F.jpeg1A03257C-DB8D-4C40-AD33-1A812518F2F9.jpeg80BF03AD-560A-46D3-8B47-52CCDB387773.jpegC19BDA76-9DC1-4481-A07B-58E7EA1B6677.jpeg4A1BD45F-D30C-4FC5-9B66-1216F9E1368A.jpeg0410FD6E-D5E1-413E-A6A5-ECC7AF3F017F.jpeg1A03257C-DB8D-4C40-AD33-1A812518F2F9.jpeg80BF03AD-560A-46D3-8B47-52CCDB387773.jpegC19BDA76-9DC1-4481-A07B-58E7EA1B6677.jpeg4A1BD45F-D30C-4FC5-9B66-1216F9E1368A.jpeg0410FD6E-D5E1-413E-A6A5-ECC7AF3F017F.jpeg1A03257C-DB8D-4C40-AD33-1A812518F2F9.jpeg80BF03AD-560A-46D3-8B47-52CCDB387773.jpegC19BDA76-9DC1-4481-A07B-58E7EA1B6677.jpeg4A1BD45F-D30C-4FC5-9B66-1216F9E1368A.jpeg0410FD6E-D5E1-413E-A6A5-ECC7AF3F017F.jpeg1A03257C-DB8D-4C40-AD33-1A812518F2F9.jpeg80BF03AD-560A-46D3-8B47-52CCDB387773.jpegC19BDA76-9DC1-4481-A07B-58E7EA1B6677.jpeg4A1BD45F-D30C-4FC5-9B66-1216F9E1368A.jpeg0410FD6E-D5E1-413E-A6A5-ECC7AF3F017F.jpeg0410FD6E-D5E1-413E-A6A5-ECC7AF3F017F.jpeg1A03257C-DB8D-4C40-AD33-1A812518F2F9.jpeg80BF03AD-560A-46D3-8B47-52CCDB387773.jpegC19BDA76-9DC1-4481-A07B-58E7EA1B6677.jpeg4A1BD45F-D30C-4FC5-9B66-1216F9E1368A.jpeg0410FD6E-D5E1-413E-A6A5-ECC7AF3F017F.jpeg1A03257C-DB8D-4C40-AD33-1A812518F2F9.jpeg80BF03AD-560A-46D3-8B47-52CCDB387773.jpegC19BDA76-9DC1-4481-A07B-58E7EA1B6677.jpeg4A1BD45F-D30C-4FC5-9B66-1216F9E1368A.jpeg0410FD6E-D5E1-413E-A6A5-ECC7AF3F017F.jpeg1A03257C-DB8D-4C40-AD33-1A812518F2F9.jpeg0410FD6E-D5E1-413E-A6A5-ECC7AF3F017F.jpeg1A03257C-DB8D-4C40-AD33-1A812518F2F9.jpeg80BF03AD-560A-46D3-8B47-52CCDB387773.jpegC19BDA76-9DC1-4481-A07B-58E7EA1B6677.jpeg4A1BD45F-D30C-4FC5-9B66-1216F9E1368A.jpeg0410FD6E-D5E1-413E-A6A5-ECC7AF3F017F.jpeg1A03257C-DB8D-4C40-AD33-1A812518F2F9.jpeg80BF03AD-560A-46D3-8B47-52CCDB387773.jpegC19BDA76-9DC1-4481-A07B-58E7EA1B6677.jpeg4A1BD45F-D30C-4FC5-9B66-1216F9E1368A.jpeg
 

john sommo

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning on doing the Camino Frances April/May. I would like to walk but foot problems may require using a bike. If that is the case, then I would like to extend my camino so I could ride for 6-8 weeks.
What a great post, and full of useful information, and I really enjoyed the video well done on your daily distances as I cycled the Francis last month and could only manage an average of 30 to 40k a day on the walkers route But in fairness I was pushing the bike uphill a lot of the time.Thank you for sharing your experience
Alan
Would you know if this Camino matches Eurovelo 1? I'm planning on riding Camino Portuguese in March backwards and then the Camino Plata back to Santiago.
 

john sommo

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning on doing the Camino Frances April/May. I would like to walk but foot problems may require using a bike. If that is the case, then I would like to extend my camino so I could ride for 6-8 weeks.
Having just returned from cycling this Camino Portugues, I felt that I should share our experiences on this blog since I had found it quite difficult to find information which is specific to cyclists.


I must start by saying that this is a very beautiful and varied route. One cycles on all types of surfaces and through very different types of habitats. We stuck to the walkers' route most of the way and, I feel, some notes could help some cyclists who might prefer to take an alternative route around some of the rougher stints to avoid pushing the bike.


We cycled 707 kms in 12 days (according to mapmyride!) which is why I was a bit peeved when only 575 kms was written as the official distance on my compostela certificate! J Anyway, what’s in a number! We did the coastal route from Porto to Camiha, at which point we turned inland towards Valenca/Tui to rejoin the central route.


This was our itinerary.

DAY TO - FROM KMS
1 LISBON TO VILA FRANCA 44
2 VILLA FRANCA TO SANTAREM 54
3 SANTAREM - TOMAR 70
4 TOMAR - ANSIAO 54
5 ANSIAO - COIMBRA (via Chão de Couce) 63
6 COIMBRA - AGUEDA 55
7 AGUEDA - PORTO 85
8 PORTO - VIANA DO CASTELO 91
9 VIANA DO CASTELO - TUI 63
10 TUI - PONTEVEDRA 56
11 PONTEVEDRA - PADRON 42
12 PADRON - SDC 30


If you are flying in with your bike to Lisbon airport, the bike will emerge from carousel 13 and not the one marked for that flight. All odd-shaped luggage is routed through this belt so head straight there. Every carousel will direct you to no. 13 for the odd-shaped luggage. By chance, a bubbly attendant at the airport, who did not speak a word of English, instructed us to assemble the bikes by this carousel, and to leave the boxes there wasn’t a problem. Being able to just leave from here was great as this was our first potential headache. We decided to cycle from Lisbon airport to central Lisbon since it’s only about 8 kms and very manageable. We used Sygic, a navigator app on my iPhone to find the way, but we had done some homework of this route at home on google maps.

In Lisbon we stayed in a small B&B very close to the Se cathedral since we knew that this was the starting point of our journey and the place to buy a credencial if you don’t already have one. Do plan for an extra day or two to explore Lisbon. It is a beautiful city. We also stopped for an extra day in Porto as we felt we wanted to explore this city too, which was also a very good idea.

Way markings

I had read a lot of mixed opinions about the quality of the way-marking so I planned for the worst. I kept the Brierley guide at hand and bought the Camino Portugues app by Tania Gomes de Costa, which has one drawback…every morning you will have to download the map of the area you’ll be covering in the cache as it doesn’t have the feature to download the maps to your phone. I also downloaded the route maps from the Caminoways website onto the Ridewithgps app which, most of the time, seemed to veer away from the way-marked route. There is no way I was going to get lost!

The way-marking turned out to be better than I expected, all the way from Lisbon to Santiago. The arrows in Lisbon started out as small stickers on lamp posts but soon evolved into the normal freehand painted yellow arrow. You’ll soon get used to where to look for them. There were times we weren’t sure and had to stop to retrace our steps and now I realise that this was mainly because there are very few other pilgrims on the trail so you can’t just follow people dogmatically as you do on the Frances. But all in all I would say the marking is good. Having said that, I recommend having a back-up of some sort. I would also learn some basic Portuguese to ask directions as neither English nor Spanish is that widely spoken.


Bike Maintenance

Another thing to keep in mind is that we didn’t come across many bike shops, maybe since we were cycling through very small villages most of the time. Do be prepared to change a puncture and to do basic maintenance. I had to change my tyre and was directed to a lovely man, in the next town off the camino, who sold me a new tyre, switched tyres around and set the gears again all for Eur10! No common language between us, communication was very animated, but he did an excellent job and I was relieved to get my confidence in the bike back. It wouldn’t hurt to pack a spare tyre I guess although to be fair the damage on mine was not due to the camino even though parts of it are quite rough and it’s easy to cause some damage. The other thing is that mud is common (remember we cycled the camino last week of May, first week June); we power-washed and re-oiled the bikes when we got the chance.

The Route

As I said earlier, the terrain is very varied and there are some rough stints…and oh yes…those cobbled roman roads will not do your backside any favours. Maybe a gel seat would come in handy in the Portuguese part of this Camino. We jotted down these next notes only when we felt things were not so straight forward. We consider ourselves of average fitness, we love cycling and cycle most weekends. We definitely don’t describe ourselves as super-fit and we didn’t train that much, except for a few spinning classes in the run-up.

Day 3: Santarem to Tomar: We found some steep hills on rough terrain between Atalaia and Grou. You can opt to stay on the N10 especially if you’re tired by then.

Day 4: Tomar to Ansiao: The exit out of Tomar, along the river, is not recommended if it’s raining or has been raining. However, we found it beautiful, like being in the Amazon forest. Paths are narrow so wear full leggings to avoid scratches. Also, be careful at Ponte Ceras as you can easily stray into the woods and find yourself pushing the bike up a hellish trail, I would suggest to stay on the same road and skip that little bit of path between Ponte de Ceras and Portela de Vila Verde.

Day 5: Ansiao to Coimbra: Due to bike problems we had to cycle to Chau de Cause from Ansiao. We then took the road to make up for lost time and rejoined the trail at Zambujal. We can’t really comment on the trail between Ansiao and Zambujal!

Day 6 : Coimbra to Agueda: Leaving Coimbra, as in all cases of entering and leaving a big city, we do recommend riding on the pavement ie as if you were a walker, as the markings are for walkers and you might not be able to see them from the opposite side of the road. Pavements are usually wide and pedestrians are OK with it as long as you are courteous and always give them right of way.

Day 7 – Agueda to Porto: Path is fine up to Grijo. Then it turns into a lot of steep uphill roman roads

and, later from Peonzhino, muddy uphill trails. This was a long day and we were tired by this time. Could have done with finding an alternate route…but still it’s doable if you don’t mind pushing the bike. To cycle into Porto follow closely the walkers’ route, which means riding on pavements. Riding over the top of Pont Luis was a highlight.

Day 8 – Porto to Viana do Castelo: If at Esponsende you are tired, stick to the coast and don’t follow the yellow arrows inland as the trail gets a bit steep and rugged, beautiful though!

Day 9 – Viana do Castelo to Tui: The crossing over on the bridge from Valenca to Tui is just spectacular.

Day 10 – Tui to Pontededra: After Ponte Sampiano there is a steep and very rugged hill where you have no choice but to push the bike. If you don’t feel like pushing take the road to Figuerrido.

The other days not mentioned above were pretty straightforward for us.

Accommodation & Food.

From Lisbon to Porto we stayed mainly in small B&Bs. There are some cheap beautiful places, especially if you are sharing. Albergues are more common from Porto onwards and we stayed in them. There is more of a camino feel when you’re in Albergues somehow. We had decided not to carry a sleeping bag and I’m glad we didn’t as all places had blankets and clean bedding. We just used our silk liner every now and then.

Cafes are not that frequent on this route as they are on the Frances so do stop for your coffee and pastei de nata breaks when you get the chance, the next one available might be many kilometres ahead.

There is a good company in Santiago to pack your bikes at the end for a mere Eur21.... http://www.elvelocipedo.com/Velocipedo/Ingles/Velo_EmbalajeI.html. they did a fantastic job.


We prepared a 20 minute video of the journey which might give you a glimpse of what to expect.

Feel free to ask any questions, I will be happy to help where I can.

Would you know if this Camino matches Eurovelo 1? I'm planning on riding Camino Portuguese in March backwards and then the Camino Plata back to Santiago.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
I have no idea sorry!
 

Sirol

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Cycling the Portuguese Camino
Having just returned from cycling this Camino Portugues, I felt that I should share our experiences on this blog since I had found it quite difficult to find information which is specific to cyclists.


I must start by saying that this is a very beautiful and varied route. One cycles on all types of surfaces and through very different types of habitats. We stuck to the walkers' route most of the way and, I feel, some notes could help some cyclists who might prefer to take an alternative route around some of the rougher stints to avoid pushing the bike.


We cycled 707 kms in 12 days (according to mapmyride!) which is why I was a bit peeved when only 575 kms was written as the official distance on my compostela certificate! J Anyway, what’s in a number! We did the coastal route from Porto to Camiha, at which point we turned inland towards Valenca/Tui to rejoin the central route.


This was our itinerary.

DAY TO - FROM KMS
1 LISBON TO VILA FRANCA 44
2 VILLA FRANCA TO SANTAREM 54
3 SANTAREM - TOMAR 70
4 TOMAR - ANSIAO 54
5 ANSIAO - COIMBRA (via Chão de Couce) 63
6 COIMBRA - AGUEDA 55
7 AGUEDA - PORTO 85
8 PORTO - VIANA DO CASTELO 91
9 VIANA DO CASTELO - TUI 63
10 TUI - PONTEVEDRA 56
11 PONTEVEDRA - PADRON 42
12 PADRON - SDC 30


If you are flying in with your bike to Lisbon airport, the bike will emerge from carousel 13 and not the one marked for that flight. All odd-shaped luggage is routed through this belt so head straight there. Every carousel will direct you to no. 13 for the odd-shaped luggage. By chance, a bubbly attendant at the airport, who did not speak a word of English, instructed us to assemble the bikes by this carousel, and to leave the boxes there wasn’t a problem. Being able to just leave from here was great as this was our first potential headache. We decided to cycle from Lisbon airport to central Lisbon since it’s only about 8 kms and very manageable. We used Sygic, a navigator app on my iPhone to find the way, but we had done some homework of this route at home on google maps.

In Lisbon we stayed in a small B&B very close to the Se cathedral since we knew that this was the starting point of our journey and the place to buy a credencial if you don’t already have one. Do plan for an extra day or two to explore Lisbon. It is a beautiful city. We also stopped for an extra day in Porto as we felt we wanted to explore this city too, which was also a very good idea.

Way markings

I had read a lot of mixed opinions about the quality of the way-marking so I planned for the worst. I kept the Brierley guide at hand and bought the Camino Portugues app by Tania Gomes de Costa, which has one drawback…every morning you will have to download the map of the area you’ll be covering in the cache as it doesn’t have the feature to download the maps to your phone. I also downloaded the route maps from the Caminoways website onto the Ridewithgps app which, most of the time, seemed to veer away from the way-marked route. There is no way I was going to get lost!

The way-marking turned out to be better than I expected, all the way from Lisbon to Santiago. The arrows in Lisbon started out as small stickers on lamp posts but soon evolved into the normal freehand painted yellow arrow. You’ll soon get used to where to look for them. There were times we weren’t sure and had to stop to retrace our steps and now I realise that this was mainly because there are very few other pilgrims on the trail so you can’t just follow people dogmatically as you do on the Frances. But all in all I would say the marking is good. Having said that, I recommend having a back-up of some sort. I would also learn some basic Portuguese to ask directions as neither English nor Spanish is that widely spoken.


Bike Maintenance

Another thing to keep in mind is that we didn’t come across many bike shops, maybe since we were cycling through very small villages most of the time. Do be prepared to change a puncture and to do basic maintenance. I had to change my tyre and was directed to a lovely man, in the next town off the camino, who sold me a new tyre, switched tyres around and set the gears again all for Eur10! No common language between us, communication was very animated, but he did an excellent job and I was relieved to get my confidence in the bike back. It wouldn’t hurt to pack a spare tyre I guess although to be fair the damage on mine was not due to the camino even though parts of it are quite rough and it’s easy to cause some damage. The other thing is that mud is common (remember we cycled the camino last week of May, first week June); we power-washed and re-oiled the bikes when we got the chance.

The Route

As I said earlier, the terrain is very varied and there are some rough stints…and oh yes…those cobbled roman roads will not do your backside any favours. Maybe a gel seat would come in handy in the Portuguese part of this Camino. We jotted down these next notes only when we felt things were not so straight forward. We consider ourselves of average fitness, we love cycling and cycle most weekends. We definitely don’t describe ourselves as super-fit and we didn’t train that much, except for a few spinning classes in the run-up.

Day 3: Santarem to Tomar: We found some steep hills on rough terrain between Atalaia and Grou. You can opt to stay on the N10 especially if you’re tired by then.

Day 4: Tomar to Ansiao: The exit out of Tomar, along the river, is not recommended if it’s raining or has been raining. However, we found it beautiful, like being in the Amazon forest. Paths are narrow so wear full leggings to avoid scratches. Also, be careful at Ponte Ceras as you can easily stray into the woods and find yourself pushing the bike up a hellish trail, I would suggest to stay on the same road and skip that little bit of path between Ponte de Ceras and Portela de Vila Verde.

Day 5: Ansiao to Coimbra: Due to bike problems we had to cycle to Chau de Cause from Ansiao. We then took the road to make up for lost time and rejoined the trail at Zambujal. We can’t really comment on the trail between Ansiao and Zambujal!

Day 6 : Coimbra to Agueda: Leaving Coimbra, as in all cases of entering and leaving a big city, we do recommend riding on the pavement ie as if you were a walker, as the markings are for walkers and you might not be able to see them from the opposite side of the road. Pavements are usually wide and pedestrians are OK with it as long as you are courteous and always give them right of way.

Day 7 – Agueda to Porto: Path is fine up to Grijo. Then it turns into a lot of steep uphill roman roads

and, later from Peonzhino, muddy uphill trails. This was a long day and we were tired by this time. Could have done with finding an alternate route…but still it’s doable if you don’t mind pushing the bike. To cycle into Porto follow closely the walkers’ route, which means riding on pavements. Riding over the top of Pont Luis was a highlight.

Day 8 – Porto to Viana do Castelo: If at Esponsende you are tired, stick to the coast and don’t follow the yellow arrows inland as the trail gets a bit steep and rugged, beautiful though!

Day 9 – Viana do Castelo to Tui: The crossing over on the bridge from Valenca to Tui is just spectacular.

Day 10 – Tui to Pontededra: After Ponte Sampiano there is a steep and very rugged hill where you have no choice but to push the bike. If you don’t feel like pushing take the road to Figuerrido.

The other days not mentioned above were pretty straightforward for us.

Accommodation & Food.

From Lisbon to Porto we stayed mainly in small B&Bs. There are some cheap beautiful places, especially if you are sharing. Albergues are more common from Porto onwards and we stayed in them. There is more of a camino feel when you’re in Albergues somehow. We had decided not to carry a sleeping bag and I’m glad we didn’t as all places had blankets and clean bedding. We just used our silk liner every now and then.

Cafes are not that frequent on this route as they are on the Frances so do stop for your coffee and pastei de nata breaks when you get the chance, the next one available might be many kilometres ahead.

There is a good company in Santiago to pack your bikes at the end for a mere Eur21.... http://www.elvelocipedo.com/Velocipedo/Ingles/Velo_EmbalajeI.html. they did a fantastic job.


We prepared a 20 minute video of the journey which might give you a glimpse of what to expect.

Feel free to ask any questions, I will be happy to help where I can.

Hi your video is great. Looks like you pushed the bike a lot of the time. When at Porto did you follow the coast or inland track. Cheers sirol
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
Hi

We followed the coast and turned inland at Caminha. The stages are in the notes. Re pushing since we stick mostly to the walkers route there’s always areas where it’s too rough to cycle. All good fun :)
Michelle
 

Sirol

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Cycling the Portuguese Camino
Having just returned from cycling this Camino Portugues, I felt that I should share our experiences on this blog since I had found it quite difficult to find information which is specific to cyclists.


I must start by saying that this is a very beautiful and varied route. One cycles on all types of surfaces and through very different types of habitats. We stuck to the walkers' route most of the way and, I feel, some notes could help some cyclists who might prefer to take an alternative route around some of the rougher stints to avoid pushing the bike.


We cycled 707 kms in 12 days (according to mapmyride!) which is why I was a bit peeved when only 575 kms was written as the official distance on my compostela certificate! J Anyway, what’s in a number! We did the coastal route from Porto to Camiha, at which point we turned inland towards Valenca/Tui to rejoin the central route.


This was our itinerary.

DAY TO - FROM KMS
1 LISBON TO VILA FRANCA 44
2 VILLA FRANCA TO SANTAREM 54
3 SANTAREM - TOMAR 70
4 TOMAR - ANSIAO 54
5 ANSIAO - COIMBRA (via Chão de Couce) 63
6 COIMBRA - AGUEDA 55
7 AGUEDA - PORTO 85
8 PORTO - VIANA DO CASTELO 91
9 VIANA DO CASTELO - TUI 63
10 TUI - PONTEVEDRA 56
11 PONTEVEDRA - PADRON 42
12 PADRON - SDC 30


If you are flying in with your bike to Lisbon airport, the bike will emerge from carousel 13 and not the one marked for that flight. All odd-shaped luggage is routed through this belt so head straight there. Every carousel will direct you to no. 13 for the odd-shaped luggage. By chance, a bubbly attendant at the airport, who did not speak a word of English, instructed us to assemble the bikes by this carousel, and to leave the boxes there wasn’t a problem. Being able to just leave from here was great as this was our first potential headache. We decided to cycle from Lisbon airport to central Lisbon since it’s only about 8 kms and very manageable. We used Sygic, a navigator app on my iPhone to find the way, but we had done some homework of this route at home on google maps.

In Lisbon we stayed in a small B&B very close to the Se cathedral since we knew that this was the starting point of our journey and the place to buy a credencial if you don’t already have one. Do plan for an extra day or two to explore Lisbon. It is a beautiful city. We also stopped for an extra day in Porto as we felt we wanted to explore this city too, which was also a very good idea.

Way markings

I had read a lot of mixed opinions about the quality of the way-marking so I planned for the worst. I kept the Brierley guide at hand and bought the Camino Portugues app by Tania Gomes de Costa, which has one drawback…every morning you will have to download the map of the area you’ll be covering in the cache as it doesn’t have the feature to download the maps to your phone. I also downloaded the route maps from the Caminoways website onto the Ridewithgps app which, most of the time, seemed to veer away from the way-marked route. There is no way I was going to get lost!

The way-marking turned out to be better than I expected, all the way from Lisbon to Santiago. The arrows in Lisbon started out as small stickers on lamp posts but soon evolved into the normal freehand painted yellow arrow. You’ll soon get used to where to look for them. There were times we weren’t sure and had to stop to retrace our steps and now I realise that this was mainly because there are very few other pilgrims on the trail so you can’t just follow people dogmatically as you do on the Frances. But all in all I would say the marking is good. Having said that, I recommend having a back-up of some sort. I would also learn some basic Portuguese to ask directions as neither English nor Spanish is that widely spoken.


Bike Maintenance

Another thing to keep in mind is that we didn’t come across many bike shops, maybe since we were cycling through very small villages most of the time. Do be prepared to change a puncture and to do basic maintenance. I had to change my tyre and was directed to a lovely man, in the next town off the camino, who sold me a new tyre, switched tyres around and set the gears again all for Eur10! No common language between us, communication was very animated, but he did an excellent job and I was relieved to get my confidence in the bike back. It wouldn’t hurt to pack a spare tyre I guess although to be fair the damage on mine was not due to the camino even though parts of it are quite rough and it’s easy to cause some damage. The other thing is that mud is common (remember we cycled the camino last week of May, first week June); we power-washed and re-oiled the bikes when we got the chance.

The Route

As I said earlier, the terrain is very varied and there are some rough stints…and oh yes…those cobbled roman roads will not do your backside any favours. Maybe a gel seat would come in handy in the Portuguese part of this Camino. We jotted down these next notes only when we felt things were not so straight forward. We consider ourselves of average fitness, we love cycling and cycle most weekends. We definitely don’t describe ourselves as super-fit and we didn’t train that much, except for a few spinning classes in the run-up.

Day 3: Santarem to Tomar: We found some steep hills on rough terrain between Atalaia and Grou. You can opt to stay on the N10 especially if you’re tired by then.

Day 4: Tomar to Ansiao: The exit out of Tomar, along the river, is not recommended if it’s raining or has been raining. However, we found it beautiful, like being in the Amazon forest. Paths are narrow so wear full leggings to avoid scratches. Also, be careful at Ponte Ceras as you can easily stray into the woods and find yourself pushing the bike up a hellish trail, I would suggest to stay on the same road and skip that little bit of path between Ponte de Ceras and Portela de Vila Verde.

Day 5: Ansiao to Coimbra: Due to bike problems we had to cycle to Chau de Cause from Ansiao. We then took the road to make up for lost time and rejoined the trail at Zambujal. We can’t really comment on the trail between Ansiao and Zambujal!

Day 6 : Coimbra to Agueda: Leaving Coimbra, as in all cases of entering and leaving a big city, we do recommend riding on the pavement ie as if you were a walker, as the markings are for walkers and you might not be able to see them from the opposite side of the road. Pavements are usually wide and pedestrians are OK with it as long as you are courteous and always give them right of way.

Day 7 – Agueda to Porto: Path is fine up to Grijo. Then it turns into a lot of steep uphill roman roads

and, later from Peonzhino, muddy uphill trails. This was a long day and we were tired by this time. Could have done with finding an alternate route…but still it’s doable if you don’t mind pushing the bike. To cycle into Porto follow closely the walkers’ route, which means riding on pavements. Riding over the top of Pont Luis was a highlight.

Day 8 – Porto to Viana do Castelo: If at Esponsende you are tired, stick to the coast and don’t follow the yellow arrows inland as the trail gets a bit steep and rugged, beautiful though!

Day 9 – Viana do Castelo to Tui: The crossing over on the bridge from Valenca to Tui is just spectacular.

Day 10 – Tui to Pontededra: After Ponte Sampiano there is a steep and very rugged hill where you have no choice but to push the bike. If you don’t feel like pushing take the road to Figuerrido.

The other days not mentioned above were pretty straightforward for us.

Accommodation & Food.

From Lisbon to Porto we stayed mainly in small B&Bs. There are some cheap beautiful places, especially if you are sharing. Albergues are more common from Porto onwards and we stayed in them. There is more of a camino feel when you’re in Albergues somehow. We had decided not to carry a sleeping bag and I’m glad we didn’t as all places had blankets and clean bedding. We just used our silk liner every now and then.

Cafes are not that frequent on this route as they are on the Frances so do stop for your coffee and pastei de nata breaks when you get the chance, the next one available might be many kilometres ahead.

There is a good company in Santiago to pack your bikes at the end for a mere Eur21.... http://www.elvelocipedo.com/Velocipedo/Ingles/Velo_EmbalajeI.html. they did a fantastic job.


We prepared a 20 minute video of the journey which might give you a glimpse of what to expect.

Feel free to ask any questions, I will be happy to help where I can.

Thanks Michelle for your reply. I loved your notes on the Camino as they will be useful. I am not GPS savvy and plan to use Google maps and John Brierly book. . I hope we find our way. I loved the video. Cheers sirol
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from Astorga to SDC in May 2012.
Cycled the Frances from SJPP May 2014
Cycled the Portuguese from Lisbon May 2016
I’m sure you will....and anyway I do believe that you discover the best places when you’re lost! Bom Caminho
Michelle
 

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