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Walking the Camino Portugues from Lisbon


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An earlier post from flecher about where to get the credencial here in Lisbon got me thinking about the Camino from Lisbon. I've decided I'm going to do as many stages as I can by taking public transportation out and back to the starting and ending points. I'm using the Gallego Association's printed guide (it's on line in both Castillian and Gallego). So I will add to this thread as I do the stages.

Day 1 -- A couple of days ago, I walked the first 7.5 km, from the Cathedral out to the Parque das Nacoes, which was the place developed especially for Lisbon's "Expo" ('96?). It's a nice riverside site, with lots of paths, the aquarium, a science museum, restaurants, a performing arts center, etc. I won't say those km were the nicest I ever walked, but compared to what I walked today, they were heavenly.

Day 2 -- Parque das Nacoes to Alhandra (about 25 km). The first 3 kms along the Tejo River were nice. From Sacavem onward, though, the path went through one of two environments -- Lisbon's choice illegal dumping sites or industrial areas. I take that back -- there were also a few km on the busy national highway. There were a few km through what were described as old salt flats, but there was a lot of garbage/old tires/broken tiles to remind you that you weren't too far from humanity. It's amazing what pigs we human beings are. The only saving grace for this stage was that except for about 3 or 4 km on the national highway, all the rest was either off road or on very minor roads. The town of Alhandra is on a commuter rail line into Lisbon, and the Camino goes right to the station. The 20 minute ride back to Oriente cost 1.7 E.

If you're following the arrows and using the Galician friends guide like I was, there's a bit of a mix-up right before Povoa de Santa Iria. The arrows now take you under the A-1 at a different place than what the guide describes, and that means that you should ignore the last paragraph of the first column of p.12. Instead, when you come out of the tunnel going under the A-1, keep going straight. At the next intersection, take a hard left, stay on the main road till you see the steps leading up to the elevated National Highway (the N-10). Take a left and walk along the N-10 (there are sidewalks). Very shortly you'll see a bridge over the RR tracks. Take it and you're back on the Camino, and back at the top of the second column of p. 12 of the guide, ready to start walking through the "zona industrial." (To confirm that you have taken the correct bridge over the RR tracks, if you keep walking past the bridge and turn around, you will see the yellow arrows telling you to turn onto the bridge, meaning that I got out onto the the N-10 at a different spot than where I should have. If this is confusing, PM me and I'll try to be clearer).

I'm going to walk Alhandra to Azambuja (24 km) next week, I hope, and I'll let you know if things improve. As it stands right now, though, I'd recommend walking from the cathedral out to Parque Nacoes, getting on the commuter train right there (Parque Nacoes is at the Oriente train station) and going at least as far as Alhandra. Here's hoping things pick up after Alhandra.

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Hi Laurie
As you go could you make some general comment on accommodation possibilities at the end of each stage.
I believe that there is at least a hostal at the end of each of the stages in the Gallegos assoc. guide.

Hi, Flecher,

I will keep a look out for accommodations. if you look at the very back of the Gallego guide, you'll see that the accommodation they are referring to is most frequently at the "bombeiros voluntarios" (volunteer firefighters). I have no idea what those places will be like. If you prefer private accommodations, I don't think you'll have any problem in the more touristy places, but I'd be surprised to find much in a place like Alhandra.

I found this one online: Pensao Residencial Ribatejana, Rua Praia 2-A, 2600 Alhandra. Phone 263 272 991

I've used this website a lot, it has all ranges of hotels, pensiones, etc.

but, I will jot down names if I see things as I walk. Laurie
Day 3 – Alhandra to Azambuja (about 24 km). Alhandra has a typical Portuguese old center, a church on a hill, and a wonderful 3-4 km river walk from Alhandra to Vila Franca de Xira. This river walk opened recently (late 2008), and the yellow arrows do not take you there since they were painted earlier. The arrows take you to the highway, which is where you’ll spend most of this stage anyway. So avoiding a few km of highway is highly recommended. This river walk is paved, used heavily by old and young alike. Sello available in the Associaçao de Vela (Sailing Association) right at the beginning of the walk.

As you are coming to the end of the river walk in Vila Franca de Xira, you have two different ways to hook back up with the arrows. If you don’t want to stop in town, you can continue to hug the river, past the docks, and through the municipal gardens, where you will see the arrows. If you want to go into town, you should take the pedestrian bridge over the train tracks right before the bull ring. The yellow arrows are there, they take you into the center and then out again to the municipal gardens along the river. You can get a sello at the main municipal building, right on the main square across from the tourist office.

Accommodations in Vila Nova de Xira – Leziria Parque Hotel (67 rooms), or at Residencial Flora, (20 rooms). Lots of restaurants, shops, cafes.

When you get to the end of the municipal gardens, take a right, then a quick left. This will take you to the exit from the town, and you have to get on the N-1 (national highway, not too awfully busy) in the direction of Carregado. This is all extremely well marked, at the Lidl store you turn right and enter an industrial park that goes on for kms and kms. The only good thing is that there’s not much traffic. Once you pass under the superhighway (A-10) the scenery gets a little less industrial, but soon you are back on the N-1 all the way into Azambuja. You pass through or near the towns of Castanheira do Ribatejo and Vila Nova da Rainha. It is not pleasant, but not dangerous, the shoulders are extremely wide.

Azambuja has several options for spending the night. I visited the Bombeiros Voluntarios (Volunteer Firefighters) and learned that, yes indeed, pilgrims can stay at this place in many towns along the way. All sleep in one big room, no beds, no mattresses, but they do let you take a shower. No charge, but they ask for a donativo. Private accommodations: Residencial Flor da Primavera, Rua Conselheiro Arouca, 21. Tel. 263-403-263 (the map shows several others, but I didn’t see them). Sello is available at the Junta da Freguesia (these are everywhere in Portugal, they are little neighborhood offices of the municipality, and they all seem to have stamps). Free internet in the Espaco Internet, run by the municipality on the second floor of the small “centro comercial” in the center of town.

Azambuja is about ½ hour by train from Lisbon, trains run frequently and cost less than 2E.
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peregrina2000 said:
I visited the Bombeiros Voluntarios (Volunteer Firefighters) and learned that, yes indeed, pilgrims can stay at this place in many towns along the way. All sleep in one big room, no beds, no mattresses, but they do let you take a shower. No charge, but they ask for a donativo. 2E.

WOW..I did not know that this was another option along the way! At one point last year, trekking thru the industrial zone...and in most desperate need of a bathroom...we stopped at the fire station as we passed and were delighted by the friendly help. I truly don't know what I would have done if they hadn't been there and been so nice! Definitly one of the "only on Camino" moments

To volunteer fire fighters every hat's off to you! and the Portuguese & Spanish ones especially!

karin :arrow:
Day 4 -- Azambuja to Santarem (32 km)

FINALLY, the Caminho leaves industry behind. Going over the train tracks in Azambuja was like someone turned a switch. The town was on one side of the station, and rural Portugal was on the other. Though I wouldn't say the scenery was spectacular nor the towns particularly charming, it was pleasant and mostly off-road. There's a segment on the Roman Road, and if the stones I walked on were the original Roman Road, it's one of the best preserved segments I've seen. I'll post the pictures today and maybe someone with more expertise could hazard a guess as to whether these stones were really Roman, or whether I was just going over the same route the Romans travelled.

Signage is very good, except for one part about 4 km outside of Azambuja after you have gotten on a paved road where a road sign points you to Valada (the other way points back to Azambuja). A couple hundred of meters up it looks to me that there's a dispute over whether walkers can go through a private farm. There's a big mojon pointing you off road, but he arrows are crossed out, repainted and crossed out, etc. But if you just stay on the paved road at that part, you'll be fine. (I took a few km detour through the farm area but found no more markers, so I went back to the paved road).

You go through several towns (Reguengo, Valada and Porto Mugue, all of which have at least one bar), and this part is very nice because you can actually walk on the top of the dyke that has been built between the towns and the Tejo River, it runs for at least 5 km. Then after Porto Mugue there's a 12 km stretch through agricultural lands with no facilities at all. Most of what I passed on this stretch were vineyards or horse farms. At the end of the 12 km, you're in a small town down at the bottom of Santarem called Omnias. Two km up and you're in the town of Santarem itself. Pleasant enough, lots of accommodation options and all the commercial services you'd need.

A few general comments -- from Lisbon to Santarem, I'd say the Camino path is completely suitable for cyclists and walkers.

Two things are noticeably absent -- shade and elevation gain. It's pleasant enough in March (temps around 20 celsius yesterday), but in summer it will likely be pretty brutal.

Hope to walk Santarem to Golega later this week or early next.

Day 5 -- Santarem to Golega (30 km)

This stage goes through the center of Portugal's horse breeding country. Lots of vineyards and agricultural land, too. Very flat, little shade, just like previous stages.

The distances between towns seemed a bit greater than previously -- 8 to Vale de Figueira all off road through ag lands. In Vale de Figueira there are cafes and bars, bread store, and a mini-market. (Carimbo in the Junta de Freguesia).

Then it was 12 to Azinhaga, cafe, stores, pharmacy, an old pilgrim's hospital and albergue from XVI century. Surprise of the day was to walk past a small house with a plaque outside saying: "Jose Saramago, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature, was born in this house in 1922."

Azinhaga to Golega, 8 or 9 km on the side of the paved road between the two towns. Golega is the horse capital of Portugal, annual horse fairs fill up the place, I was told, and many of the farms are open to visitors, as are the vineyards/wineries. Golega has a very pretty church with a manueline doorway and georgeous tiles inside. Nice plaza with cafes, two very fancy hotels, and I was told there is one residencial but I didn't see it. Carimbo in Junta da Freguesia again, which is next to a beautiful old home that has been turned into a museum.

It's getting trickier to get in and out of Lisbon easily, and I do miss being able to relax and wind down in the town where I stop walking. Today taking the train into Santarem, I passed the first pilgrim I have seen so far!

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Day 6 -- Golega to Tomar (24 km)

Another typical day of virtually no elevation gain (except for a couple of short ups and downs through a eucalyptus forest) and lots of sun. The path pretty much stays off the main roads, though, which is nice -- nearly all on dirt agricultural tracks or very minor roads.

Before leaving Golega, I checked in with the turismo office, and was told that in addition to the fancy hotels, there are nice rooms available for rent at the campgrounds. Reasonable prices, she said.

About 3 km outside Golega, in the middle of nowhere, is the Quinta da Cardiga. Castle tower from XIII century, royal palace, from XVI, huge estate with many buildings, horse barns, etc. Next to a river with a medieval bridge -- all completely abandoned. There was wisteria (I think) growing all over the crumbling walls, lots of huge trees, it was quite a place to see. There are pictures on my picasa site. Locals tell me the government is considering the place as a pousada (the Portuguese equivalent of the paradores), but it would be an enormous project.

For the next 4 or 5 km, the caminho goes around the edges of several small towns, through the newer "suburban" developments so to speak. In Atalaia (one of about 50 towns in Portugal with that name, I was told, just like Atalaya in Spain) there is a nice turismo rural, Casa do Patriarca.

The 5 km after Atalaia is through a eucalyptus forest. All went well till I crossed the superhighway, went up a hill, and lost the arrows. After about 1/2 hour going in several directions from the last spot I was sure about, magic happened. A small car with two men drove up on one of the logging roads. These were the only human beings I saw over this 5 km stretch. I was able to tell them only that my next destination was the town of Grou -- they pointed out the hamlet about 3km away, down below, and we agreed that following the high voltage transmission lines was the surest way to get there. About 1/2 hour on pretty rocky and unpleasant paths, I came to a dump, and VOILA! The arrows appeared again. It never ceases to amaze me, that no matter how remote, when I get lost, someone always shows up to help me out. I remember a couple of times on the norte, once on the primitivo.... my husband thinks it's dumb luck, I think it's the Camino.

The rest of the day goes through several more small towns, with a long 5 km stretch on a pleasant path above the water channel that takes you almost into Tomar. The last km or two is on the N-110 into Tomar.

I have been to Tomar before, it is a nice town and worth a visit. The Convento do Cristo up above the town was headquarters of the Templars (later changed in Portugal to Ordem do Cristo) is about a 15 minute walk up from town. Founded in XII century and has many additions beginning with the end of the Reconquest. There's a manueline (Portuguese barroque) window that gets tons of Michelin stars.

In the town itself there are nice churches , squares, and even a synagogue from the XV century, which is now a museum. Plenty of places to stay, eat, shop, etc.

By the way, I am keeping much more detailed notes on the specifics of the walk and hope to get them into something usable by others, but if you are going to do this walk from Lisbon soon, I'd be happy to send you what I've got so far.

Looks like my options for taking day trips from Lisbon has now run out -- the train back from Tomar was over 2 hours. I hope to take a 3 day Tomar to Coimbra jaunt soon, and then a little longer to walk Coimbra to Porto before I leave Portugal.

But my overall opinion is that though the distances between accommodations are sometimes longer than the typical Camino stage, the lack of elevation gain makes it do-able. No albergues till north of Porto, so costs will be higher as well.

Hi Laurie
I have been watching your postings with great interest and have noted your route corrections/amendments. I will be starting from Lisbon on 21st May so I hope there will be more pilgrims around by then. I have the Gallego Association's guide translated from the Castillian along with John Brierley's new book which covers the whole camino from Lisbon.
Can you reconfirm that I can be sure of getting a credencial from the Igreja dos Martires or else I will need to get one from CSJ in London just to be sure of having one with me.
I am also a bit concerned that I will have dificulty (with enough Spanish but no Portuguese) in finding these places you mention to get sellos each day. I think my first night will be at Verdella de Baixo, (Alojamentos Particulares on the Estrada de Alfarrobeira and noisy) which is 0.8km off route and then on to Azambuja for day 2.
You say that you will be compiling detailed notes of each of your days walking. I would be glad to receive a copy after you finish especially if you can include your best details of sellos locations.

So “may the road rise up before you and the wind be always on your back”, etc.

Hi, flecher,

You were the one who got me motivated to start walking this route, so I have you to thank! I wouldn't worry at all about finding carimbos. I posted a list earlier of places where I've been finding them, but the most reliable bet, I think is the Junta da Freguesia. I have found the offices in all sorts of tiny towns and in big towns as well. They always have stamps (not for pilgrims, but for official business), and they also always have information about places to stay and eat. And the people are usually very nice and helpful as well. And if all else fails, you can always get any business stamp -- pharmacies all have them, post offices, nearly any commercial enterprise has some kind of stamp for invoices, etc. I really don't think you'll have any problem at all.

How in the world did you find a place to stay in Verdelha de Baixo? I can't even find it on the map!

About the credencial -- I got mine in the Igreja dos Martires, they're sold in a little office where lots of other parish business is conducted. I would just make sure to go on a weekday and give yourself some wiggle room. If a church service is going on, for example,the office will close during the service and then open up again.

On the 21st of May I hope to be nearing Santiago on the Via de la Plata, so I'm afraid our paths won't cross in Lisbon. I'll work on my notes and get something to you before I leave in april for the Vdlp. Laurie
Hi Laurie
Thanks for all so far. I know that I will have plenty of carimbos from Oporto onwards to get the Compostella but I just like to have a full record. The first night's accommodation is suggested in "A Pilgrims Guide to the Camino Portugues" by John Brierley, a second edition just published by Findhorn Press and now containing information on the whole camino from Lisbon. I can't find Verdelha de Baixo on Google Maps either but I can see the Estrada de Alfarrobeira. I believe Alojamentos Particulares is right at the major road intersection there.
Thanks again for info re the credencial, I can rest easy now.
Are you starting Vdlp from Seville? That's a lot of walking after the PC. I walked the Vdlp 2 years ago over six weeks with a day off in Salamanca. I started in late March to miss the heat later on and saw very few other pilgrims.
I look forward to your postings and to the notes later on.
Hi, Robert,

The one part that gave me some trouble was the eucalyptus forest between Atalaia and Grou. Eucalyptus forests are not good places for permanent markers since all the trees are periodically chopped down. If you are adept at google earth or whatever program it is that shows you the actual places, I'd take a look. Here are my notes -- if those two men in a car hadn't shown up, I might still be walking around looking for arrows. Let me know if these notes make any sense. Does the Brierley guide say anything about this stretch?

Leave Atalaia, KSO past church. Soon after the church, turn off on right onto dirt road leading through eucalyptus forest. The eucalyptus forest is long (almost 5km) and not well marked. KSO, through several intersections. You will come to an abandoned house on the left and a bridge over the superhighway. Cross the superhighway, turn L and about 100 m later, turn R up a hill. Careful here, this turn is not the first road on the right after the bridge, and it is hard to see the arrows, in fact I didn’t see one indicating the turn itself. The first one I saw was up the hill after the turn about 30m on the left on a pine tree. The road goes up and down over a hill or two, and in a clearing with three high voltage transmission lines there are two roads ahead in a Y. The branch on the left is marked with a yellow X, so take the one on the right. Soon after, at a T junction, I lost the arrows. Turn right at the T, about 50 m ahead you can see Grou (your next destination) down to the left, about 3 km away. Follow the large high voltage transmission poles and lines. The road down from the first transmitter is very steep, at the bottom it goes up again, and straight ahead you can see a sole farm that appears to be enclosed. You want to get on the road on the far side of the farm, so take a left and then a right on the next path, and you come to a dump – and the arrows! Turn right, you are now on the other side of the farm, you pass it on your right, and the road takes you into Grou.
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Hi Laurie

Neither the new Brierley book nor the Gallego guide give as much detail as your posting on that section. I will cut and paste and take all useful detail with me.


Just back from a three day "warm up" for the Vdlp next week. I walked these stages:

Tomar - Alvaiazere (32 km)
Alvaizere - Rabacal (33 km)
Rabacal - Coimbra (32 km)

I took detailed notes and am happy to share them once I get them once they are typed up, especially if you will try to correct and update them for eventual posting on the CSJ site.

These three stages are very pleasant, mainly rural roads and off-road tracks. True to form, I got lost in the eucalyptus forest on the Tomar - Alvaizere section and added a few kms on the highway to my day.

These stages go through tons of small hamlets (with mostly abandoned houses or houses renovated and closed up, probably summer homes) and agricultural lands. The towns of Tomar, Alvaiazere, Rabacal, and Coimbra all have reasonably priced private accommodation (under 20 E in Alvaizere and Rabacal). There is a Roman villa a few km outside Rabacal and a small in-town museum. Definitely worth a visit. This villa is a community labor of love, every July, young and old help the archaeologists with excavations. In fact my guide was once a 15 year old helper who then went on to study archaeology at the university in Coimbra and is now on the staff of the museum. There are some beautiful mosaics there (museum entry and visit to the villa 1.5 euros). The cheese from Rabacal is well known throughout Portugal and very tasty (mixture of sheep and goat, comes soft and runny as well as in harder, more cured forms).

Conimbriga is also on the Caminho, which is the biggest Roman site in Portugal. Lots of walking on the Roman Road, which isn't always so kind to tender feet, but does fill you with a sense of connectivity to the ages.

And Coimbra is a very nice place to visit as well. Portugal's oldest university is there, there's an old section with narrow cobbled streets up to the cathedral, a newer lively center with lots of nice old buildings, a XIII century Santiago church.

Waymarking is very good outside the eucalyptus portions and the scenery is very pleasant. Adding the visits to the Roman ruins made these stages downright interesting!

I have just completed the Lisboa to Porto stretch of the Caminho Portugues, with a five day walk from Coimbra to Porto.

Nearly all of the walk is on asphalt. Usually it's a secondary road, or a sidewalk along a major road, or a road through rural residential development, but it's all asphalt. I frequently could find some type of dirt shoulder, but not always. I took to icing my shins every night as a preventive measure, as well as my feet.

There are several parts that go through eucalyptus forests, but miraculously I didn't get lost in any of them (unlike the Lisbon to Coimbra section where I got lost twice). There are also several short walks over incredibly well preserved sections of the Roman road. Hard on the feet, but a wonder to behold.

I have to say this is not the most beautiful stretch I've ever walked. You are rarely "away from it all" and the scenery is pretty much all the same. Some of the towns are pleasant (Oliveira de Azemeis was the nicest, I thought,but I didn't spend the night there), but many are pretty charm-free.

From Lisbon to Porto, I did not meet one other walker. The woman in a pension a day out of Porto told me that April and May are the "high periods" and that she occasionally had two or three walkers at a time.

I am compiling detailed route instructions to help people through the places where construction has obscured the arrows, where the arrows are missing (or at least i couldn't find them), and to find accommodation along the way. I will make it all available when it's ready.

Happy to answer questions from anyone walking from Lisbon, and my pictures are now complete from Lisbon to Porto: ... Dxipep3Vo#

Thanks a lot for all the effort you have put into keeping us informed Laurie. I am sure this will all help when we set off in August. Congratulations on finally making it to Santiago!

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