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What are the differences between Frances Camino(Spain) vs. Portuguese Camino?

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Young

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
New to the Camino
Hello Ladies and Gentlemen of the Camino Community,
I was recently freed from shackles of slavery (aka, a day job) so I am contemplating a trip.
I have done a beach trip to near Cancun (Isla de Mujeres) in Spring this year but it seems I came back mostly an alcoholic as we lay in the beach and sucked on Margaritas all day long and swam a bit.

I am in my late 40’s, and the most strenuous hiking I have done lately is 30 KM (19 miles) hiking in Olympic National Park in the state of Washington (west coast in the US), with 4,000 feet incline (1200 meters) in one day.
I think I can do 20-30 KM per day, and hike up 3,000 feet (about 900 meters).

I did sections of Spain tour (Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, Seville) 2 years ago in the fall (Oct-Nov), and I came away thinking that I am not a city girl and I actually hate the hordes of crowds…
I am able to speak Spanish like a babbling 3-4 year old so I won’t be completely lost.

Finally, my questions to you good folks are below;
For those who have completed Caminos both Camino De Santiago in Northern Spain and the ones in Portugal, can you please help address below questions?

I see that it’s pretty safe for a female to travel alone in Spain, do you feel the same way for Portugal?
I am running away from Wet/Dark weather of Nov from state of Washington so I am seeking Sunny/warmer weather (Cold is OK but Wet 3-4 days a week is a problem).
For this reason, I am contemplating Portugal Camino (from North to South, chasing after Sun) over Spanish Camino, however as fewer people seem to be doing Portugal way, I am concerned for a Lone Female’s safety.
Taking the weather out, what are the main differences between Spain vs. Portugal Camino?
Your responses are much appreciated!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues May 2019
I am a 62 year old woman who did the Camino Portugues from Porto to Santiago alone in May of this year. I had absolutely no problems. I felt safe at all times and had nothing but kindness from all that I met. Many times I was walking alone along the Camino but never felt anxious about that. On this forum there have been some reports of harassment of women walking alone along the camino north of Lisbon. I am not sure how many pilgrims will be walking in November especially north to south, however, the pilgrimage to Fatima follows the Camino from north to south so you may meet up with pilgrims doing that route. In May the number of Fatima pilgrims were far less than the Camino Portugues pilgrims.
 

Young

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
New to the Camino
I am a 62 year old woman who did the Camino Portugues from Porto to Santiago alone in May of this year. I had absolutely no problems. I felt safe at all times and had nothing but kindness from all that I met. Many times I was walking alone along the Camino but never felt anxious about that. On this forum there have been some reports of harassment of women walking alone along the camino north of Lisbon. I am not sure how many pilgrims will be walking in November especially north to south, however, the pilgrimage to Fatima follows the Camino from north to south so you may meet up with pilgrims doing that route. In May the number of Fatima pilgrims were far less than the Camino Portugues pilgrims.
Thank you Morning for the info! Good to know that it's safe out there in Portugal as well.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
For this reason, I am contemplating Portugal Camino (from North to South, chasing after Sun)
I would discourage you from doing the Camino "against the flow". For me, the friendships that I make along the Camino are a large part of its magic. If you are going the opposite way of most pilgrims, you won't have a chance to get to know people. If that's not important to you though, go for it.
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012)
CP(2015)
St Olavs Way Norway(2016)
88 Temples Japan(2017)
PWC & VF(2019)
Israel (2020)
Hello Ladies and Gentlemen of the Camino Community,
I was recently freed from shackles of slavery (aka, a day job) so I am contemplating a trip.
I have done a beach trip to near Cancun (Isla de Mujeres) in Spring this year but it seems I came back mostly an alcoholic as we lay in the beach and sucked on Margaritas all day long and swam a bit.

I am in my late 40’s, and the most strenuous hiking I have done lately is 30 KM (19 miles) hiking in Olympic National Park in the state of Washington (west coast in the US), with 4,000 feet incline (1200 meters) in one day.
I think I can do 20-30 KM per day, and hike up 3,000 feet (about 900 meters).

I did sections of Spain tour (Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, Seville) 2 years ago in the fall (Oct-Nov), and I came away thinking that I am not a city girl and I actually hate the hordes of crowds…
I am able to speak Spanish like a babbling 3-4 year old so I won’t be completely lost.

Finally, my questions to you good folks are below;
For those who have completed Caminos both Camino De Santiago in Northern Spain and the ones in Portugal, can you please help address below questions?

I see that it’s pretty safe for a female to travel alone in Spain, do you feel the same way for Portugal?
I am running away from Wet/Dark weather of Nov from state of Washington so I am seeking Sunny/warmer weather (Cold is OK but Wet 3-4 days a week is a problem).
For this reason, I am contemplating Portugal Camino (from North to South, chasing after Sun) over Spanish Camino, however as fewer people seem to be doing Portugal way, I am concerned for a Lone Female’s safety.
Taking the weather out, what are the main differences between Spain vs. Portugal Camino?
Your responses are much appreciated!
I walked the CP from Lisbon to SdC as a solo female in 2015...I'd echo the response of @Morning Waters ...absolutely no issues at all. Standard precautions should suffice. I still rank the CP as one of my favourite walks even over the CF.
I'll just add one thing re language; Spanish & Portuguese are not as similar as you might expect! Yes, some aspects are but others are poles apart. I ignorantly thought I'd get away with just Spanish...but no! 😄 Having said that, I had no problems with language after a hasty re-education in the early days of my walk. Many people speak at least some English (especially the younger generation) so you're unlikely to be linguistically stranded but a little Portuguese helps in rural areas, in restaurants & with reading signs, etc.
Happy planning!
👣 🌏
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
I did the CP from Porto heading north a few years back - you get to walk by the sea! Great in summer not so good in winter - like Washington it's on the west coast and that's where the wind (and rain) comes from.
The Portuguese we met were incredibly friendly - one driver stopped and turned around to tell us we'd missed our turning as he proudly displayed his Camino wristband.
The food is good and even cheaper than Spain.
Portugal has a long history of trading with England and I was amazed (and ashamed) at how well English was spoken by all generations. Learn your pleases and thank yous!
Portuguese driving tends to leave a lot to be desired.
Whenever you walk "against the flow" you need to be careful about spotting the waymarks - don't forget they'll be set for people heading north. There were a couple of places where the signage was "iffy" not the least because some of the arrows were coloured green (not great if you're colourblind - yellow arrows FTW!)
If I'm ever able to do another Camino it'll be the Portuguese.
Best wishes!

Edit: The thought occurs that "back in the day" (as my millennial offspring say) you would have had to have walked the route in reverse to go home anyway 🥾🥾
 
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Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
Hi, Your reference to hiking and suggestion of a reverse itinerary spurs me to gently point-out that the CP is a pilgrim route. It's not a hiking trail, although there is nothing to stop you treating it as such. I expect there are other designated 'hiking' routes in Europe that will afford a warm late-Autumn constitutional, but if you additionally seek a spiritual dimension (a very broad church, I admit) during your journey, then I offer that walking southward from Santiago may be disappointing in that respect. My first walk on the Frances years ago and subsequent caminos thereafter have never changed my opinion that it is the people I meet and thereafter get to know during the journey that provide the greatest gratification. If you are walking in the opposite direction to other pilgrims then you are quite limited in forming a sense of community and common purpose, no matter how loose. Maybe you are happy to forgo that, but something to think about, anyway.

Otherwise, I walked Porto-Santiago in September 2017, and thought it very pleasant indeed. Nothing strenuous about the route at all, save some early sections with hard surfaces.

Have fun whatever you decide.
 

Isca-camigo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Various ones.
Hi Young I'm going to suggest an alternative, walk from Almeria to Merida on the Camino Mozraabe, it's around 600 to 650km, the 1st part to Granada 8-10 days is now well walked and has adequate infrastructure, there is a few ascents and descents but not out of your range. You will be roughly going East to West, and Andulusia where the majority of the walk takes place is the most southerly mainland part of Spain. Almeria isn't too hard to get to from the main airports for the start, Renfe the national train provider go there from Madrid. Merida the end point has good connections as well.

Buen Camino
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
I think it would be hard to find the waymarkers at times, they are usually placed to catch the eye of people walking towards Santiago.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
Hi @Young and welcome to the forum.

Perhaps it would help if you didn't think of your choice as versus, which implies a competition or even a pugilistic combat between Caminos. Having walked a number of routes I can attest that each offers something different, perhaps the biggest difference howeve is in the attitude of those walking at the time.

Most people start off with the French route as this is the Camino that tends to get the most press, there are various places you can start on the French route, in France, at the border or somewhere along the way. It's a well serviced route and can offer a range of distance and accomdation options, it's also the one you are most likely to meet people on... Some like that, others not so much.

I walked the Portuguse route North to South as you suggest in your post, this backward walking is known as a Reverso and no it doesn't mean you walk facing in reverse but rather you travel against the normal flow of pilgrims to Santiago. We chose to start in Ferrol and walk the shorter English Way to Santiago and then keep heading south to Lisbon. We did so as my daughter had to wait for her university term to end so we started in November and thought if we walked south we would keep ahead of winter rolling down from the north. It didn't work and we spent weeks walking in the rain and mud. The other issue was even as pretty experienced hikers following a track in reverse is pretty damn hard as the markings are all set up to be seen from the other way. There are of course apps and electronic way markers these days which makes it pretty fool proof, but I'm old school and prefer a map and a trusty yellow arrow. For all that, we had a great adventure, got cold, lost and grumpy, contemplated sleeping in a Christmas manger scene when there was no room at the inn and had a great welcome at Lisbon. Both my daughter and I have traveled and hiked on our own all over the world without many issues, common sence and practical clothing help.

Other then enjoying the Iberian peninsular you don't really say why you want to walk a Camino. Sometimes it can help to know a little of why you want to go which will help decide which route you take. Personally I am a bit of a history nut and like to travel in the footsteps of others, but the more caminos I have undertaken the more the emotional and contemplative pull they have for me... But that's another story. Hope you have a rewarding experience whichever route you take.

Post script, if it's sun and adventure you are after its worth noting that November is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, so why not come down to NZ and tramp one of our great walks, not a pilgramage its not called Godzone for nothing.
 
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andywild

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
april '2018'
I walked CF and CP last year.. I preferred the CF. I wouldn't walk against the flow either as I enjoy meeting and walking with people and seeing them a few days later waving bottles of wine in some random village.. For me that is a huge part of the experience... and the coffee seems much nicer in Spain!!
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
If you are worried about hordes of people then do not worry if you are walking in November/December. You can never tell what the weather will be in the future. You could have no snow at the start of the CF and in Galicia or lots of snow, who knows? You could have crisp sunny days or rain in Portugal too. As a new pilgrim I would say that walking in reverse could be very challenging to say the least. You will always be alone during the day. You will have way more open albergues on the CF than on the CP. The Portuguese people in general speak alot more English and are the warmest nicest people I have ever met in all my travels. The food is very good and cheaper in Portugal. There have been a few reported cases of flashers on the CP. It seems, and this is a generalization from just my observations here, that there are more of them in Portugal than in Spain but it is not a big issue. Unless of course it is you. Make sure you have at least one app or guidebook to check on accommodations. As well as Gronze.com. In fact you could download both the Buen Camino and the Wise Pilgrim app. I think they are both free. At the time of year you are walking you will have more sources to find open albergues, hostels etc. Open Gronze in Google Chrome and it will translate automatically and you can see reviews of albergues. If you start in Lisbon or finish in Lisbon the further south you are from Porto the less pilgrims there will be. At the time of the year you are going there really will not be alot. I checked the Pilgrim stats and only 87 pilgrims left from Lisbon and arrived in Santiago the whole month of November. That number is misleading as some start but do not finish so there are definitely more leaving from Lisbon but who knows how many more. More road walking on the CP. Check out the coastal route after Porto. But who knows how much rain you may receive. Buen Camoni
I did the CP from Porto heading north a few years back - you get to walk by the sea! Great in summer not so good in winter - like Washington it's on the west coast and that's where the wind (and rain) comes from.
The Portuguese we met were incredibly friendly - one driver stopped and turned around to tell us we'd missed our turning as he proudly displayed his Camino wristband.
The food is good and even cheaper than Spain.
Portugal has a long history of trading with England and I was amazed (and ashamed) at how well English was spoken by all generations. Learn your pleases and thank yous!
Portuguese driving tends to leave a lot to be desired.
Whenever you walk "against the flow" you need to be careful about spotting the waymarks - don't forget they'll be set for people heading north. There were a couple of places where the signage was "iffy" not the least because some of the arrows were coloured green (not great if you're colourblind - yellow arrows FTW!)
If I'm ever able to do another Camino it'll be the Portuguese.
Best wishes!

Edit: The thought occurs that "back in the day" (as my millennial offspring say) you would have had to have walked the route in reverse to go home anyway 🥾🥾
When it comes to the generosity, kindness and warmth, the Portuguese people can't be beat. I don't need to waste space with my stories of my meetings with local people. Suffice to say they are the BEST!!!!!
 

Young

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
New to the Camino
I would discourage you from doing the Camino "against the flow". For me, the friendships that I make along the Camino are a large part of its magic. If you are going the opposite way of most pilgrims, you won't have a chance to get to know people. If that's not important to you though, go for it.
Thank you Trecile for your response! That totally makes sense.
 

Young

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
New to the Camino
I walked the CP from Lisbon to SdC as a solo female in 2015...I'd echo the response of @Morning Waters ...absolutely no issues at all. Standard precautions should suffice. I still rank the CP as one of my favourite walks even over the CF.
I'll just add one thing re language; Spanish & Portuguese are not as similar as you might expect! Yes, some aspects are but others are poles apart. I ignorantly thought I'd get away with just Spanish...but no! 😄 Having said that, I had no problems with language after a hasty re-education in the early days of my walk. Many people speak at least some English (especially the younger generation) so you're unlikely to be linguistically stranded but a little Portuguese helps in rural areas, in restaurants & with reading signs, etc.
Happy planning!
👣 🌏
Thank you Kazrobbo for your response. I do plan on studying some Portuguese if I am heading out that way. It would be rude to the people of Portuguese not to speak some rudimentary phrases but my aging brain is revolting..LOL. Can you please advise why you liked CP over CF? Thank you again.
 

Young

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
New to the Camino
I did the CP from Porto heading north a few years back - you get to walk by the sea! Great in summer not so good in winter - like Washington it's on the west coast and that's where the wind (and rain) comes from.
The Portuguese we met were incredibly friendly - one driver stopped and turned around to tell us we'd missed our turning as he proudly displayed his Camino wristband.
The food is good and even cheaper than Spain.
Portugal has a long history of trading with England and I was amazed (and ashamed) at how well English was spoken by all generations. Learn your pleases and thank yous!
Portuguese driving tends to leave a lot to be desired.
Whenever you walk "against the flow" you need to be careful about spotting the waymarks - don't forget they'll be set for people heading north. There were a couple of places where the signage was "iffy" not the least because some of the arrows were coloured green (not great if you're colourblind - yellow arrows FTW!)
If I'm ever able to do another Camino it'll be the Portuguese.
Best wishes!

Edit: The thought occurs that "back in the day" (as my millennial offspring say) you would have had to have walked the route in reverse to go home anyway 🥾🥾
Thank you Jeff for your response! Ha, yes that totally makes sense that it would be rainy during Winter months near the ocean...Have you done any walks South of Lisbon such as Lagos & Faro? Are there no established routes down South of Portugal? Thank you again.
 

Young

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
New to the Camino
Hi @Young and welcome to the forum.

Perhaps it would help if you didn't think of your choice as versus, which implies a competition or even a pugilistic combat between Caminos. Having walked a number of routes I can attest that each offers something different, perhaps the biggest difference howeve is in the attitude of those walking at the time.

Most people start off with the French route as this is the Camino that tends to get the most press, there are various places you can start on the French route, in France, at the border or somewhere along the way. It's a well serviced route and can offer a range of distance and accomdation options, it's also the one you are most likely to meet people on... Some like that, others not so much.

I walked the Portuguse route North to South as you suggest in your post, this backward walking is known as a Reverso and no it doesn't mean you walk facing in reverse but rather you travel against the normal flow of pilgrims to Santiago. We chose to start in Ferrol and walk the shorter English Way to Santiago and then keep heading south to Lisbon. We did so as my daughter had to wait for her university term to end so we started in November and thought if we walked south we would keep ahead of winter rolling down from the north. It didn't work and we spent weeks walking in the rain and mud. The other issue was even as pretty experienced hikers following a track in reverse is pretty damn hard as the markings are all set up to be seen from the other way. There are of course apps and electronic way markers these days which makes it pretty fool proof, but I'm old school and prefer a map and a trusty yellow arrow. For all that, we had a great adventure, got cold, lost and grumpy, contemplated sleeping in a Christmas manger scene when there was no room at the inn and had a great welcome at Lisbon. Both my daughter and I have traveled and hiked on our own all over the world without many issues, common sence and practical clothing help.

Other then enjoying the Iberian peninsular you don't really say why you want to walk a Camino. Sometimes it can help to know a little of why you want to go which will help decide which route you take. Personally I am a bit of a history nut and like to travel in the footsteps of others, but the more caminos I have undertaken the more the emotional and contemplative pull they have for me... But that's another story. Hope you have a rewarding experience whichever route you take.

Post script, if it's sun and adventure you are after its worth noting that November is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, so why not come down to NZ and tramp one of our great walks, not a pilgramage its not called Godzone for nothing.
Thank you Hel and Scott for your Detailed response! I have a friend who has been hiking for over 25 years and he says that too, to go New Zealand! I do plan on going there during the deep depth of Winter from our timezone in Feb'20 (starting March, it only rains 4 days a week here, so it's somewhat bearable...LOL!). My hubby is still working full time so unfortunately he can't get away to make a such a long trip...One thing that has been making me reluctant to go there is the question of safety for a female traveler in NZ, especially in the wild of hiking, etc? Can you please advise? Thank you again!
P.S. How nice to be the chosen children of Gods! :)
(I am not religious BTW....so hopefully no misunderstanding from other readers on this comment...)
 

Young

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
New to the Camino
Hi Young I'm going to suggest an alternative, walk from Almeria to Merida on the Camino Mozraabe, it's around 600 to 650km, the 1st part to Granada 8-10 days is now well walked and has adequate infrastructure, there is a few ascents and descents but not out of your range. You will be roughly going East to West, and Andulusia where the majority of the walk takes place is the most southerly mainland part of Spain. Almeria isn't too hard to get to from the main airports for the start, Renfe the national train provider go there from Madrid. Merida the end point has good connections as well.

Buen Camino
Thank you Isca for your suggestion! This might be what I am looking for! I will research this option. I spent one week alone during mid-Nov in Granada & Seville and I was amazed how warm the region was, I recall high 70's in Seville. Thank you again!
 

Young

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
New to the Camino
If you are worried about hordes of people then do not worry if you are walking in November/December. You can never tell what the weather will be in the future. You could have no snow at the start of the CF and in Galicia or lots of snow, who knows? You could have crisp sunny days or rain in Portugal too. As a new pilgrim I would say that walking in reverse could be very challenging to say the least. You will always be alone during the day. You will have way more open albergues on the CF than on the CP. The Portuguese people in general speak alot more English and are the warmest nicest people I have ever met in all my travels. The food is very good and cheaper in Portugal. There have been a few reported cases of flashers on the CP. It seems, and this is a generalization from just my observations here, that there are more of them in Portugal than in Spain but it is not a big issue. Unless of course it is you. Make sure you have at least one app or guidebook to check on accommodations. As well as Gronze.com. In fact you could download both the Buen Camino and the Wise Pilgrim app. I think they are both free. At the time of year you are walking you will have more sources to find open albergues, hostels etc. Open Gronze in Google Chrome and it will translate automatically and you can see reviews of albergues. If you start in Lisbon or finish in Lisbon the further south you are from Porto the less pilgrims there will be. At the time of the year you are going there really will not be alot. I checked the Pilgrim stats and only 87 pilgrims left from Lisbon and arrived in Santiago the whole month of November. That number is misleading as some start but do not finish so there are definitely more leaving from Lisbon but who knows how many more. More road walking on the CP. Check out the coastal route after Porto. But who knows how much rain you may receive. Buen Camoni

When it comes to the generosity, kindness and warmth, the Portuguese people can't be beat. I don't need to waste space with my stories of my meetings with local people. Suffice to say they are the BEST!!!!!
Thank you It56ny for your thoughtful and detailed response! It paints very realistic picture of what could be the adventure in Nov. :) And Thank you for the suggestions on the Apps and other resources. May I ask how long it took you to finish each of the CF and CP? I plan on spending 30 days out there and come back before Thanksgiving in the US, otherwise, my hubby might divorce me...LOL. Thank you again!
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
.One thing that has been making me reluctant to go there is the question of safety for a female traveler in NZ, especially in the wild of hiking, etc? Can you please advise? Thank you again!
P.S. How nice to be the chosen children of Gods! :)
(I am not religious BTW....so hopefully no misunderstanding from other readers on this comment...)
Much of the tramping in NZ is remote, mountainous and requires you to pack in everything you need so I wouldn't recommend it for solo walking. I spent a lot of summers hiking around the top of the South Island which is beautiful, but the two routes I'd recommend for solo hike would be the Hilary Trail in the ranges outside Auckland lush bush intersected by wild black sand beaches, The other is the Otago Rail Trail which is probably the closest we get to a Camino experience, it's more commonly a cycle trail so it's easy graded walking over a 150km former rail line, tunnels, bridges, small towns with accomodation scattered along the way. I walked it with my Dad when he was 75. You'll meet a lot of people enjoying the stunning landscape.

Ps. Not offended at all, I'm pagan and there are plenty of gods to go around. May the goddess smile on you which ever part of Mother Earth you chose to spend time with,
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
Hello Ladies and Gentlemen of the Camino Community,
I was recently freed from shackles of slavery (aka, a day job) so I am contemplating a trip.
I have done a beach trip to near Cancun (Isla de Mujeres) in Spring this year but it seems I came back mostly an alcoholic as we lay in the beach and sucked on Margaritas all day long and swam a bit.

I am in my late 40’s, and the most strenuous hiking I have done lately is 30 KM (19 miles) hiking in Olympic National Park in the state of Washington (west coast in the US), with 4,000 feet incline (1200 meters) in one day.
I think I can do 20-30 KM per day, and hike up 3,000 feet (about 900 meters).

I did sections of Spain tour (Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, Seville) 2 years ago in the fall (Oct-Nov), and I came away thinking that I am not a city girl and I actually hate the hordes of crowds…
I am able to speak Spanish like a babbling 3-4 year old so I won’t be completely lost.

Finally, my questions to you good folks are below;
For those who have completed Caminos both Camino De Santiago in Northern Spain and the ones in Portugal, can you please help address below questions?

I see that it’s pretty safe for a female to travel alone in Spain, do you feel the same way for Portugal?
I am running away from Wet/Dark weather of Nov from state of Washington so I am seeking Sunny/warmer weather (Cold is OK but Wet 3-4 days a week is a problem).
For this reason, I am contemplating Portugal Camino (from North to South, chasing after Sun) over Spanish Camino, however as fewer people seem to be doing Portugal way, I am concerned for a Lone Female’s safety.
Taking the weather out, what are the main differences between Spain vs. Portugal Camino?
Your responses are much appreciated!
There seems to be more reports of men exposing themselves on the P. It is also a much tougher terrain, 82% hard surface.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Thank you It56ny for your thoughtful and detailed response! It paints very realistic picture of what could be the adventure in Nov. :) And Thank you for the suggestions on the Apps and other resources. May I ask how long it took you to finish each of the CF and CP? I plan on spending 30 days out there and come back before Thanksgiving in the US, otherwise, my hubby might divorce me...LOL. Thank you again!
[/QUOTE
I haven't walked the CF since 2014 and I think it took me about 38 days both times as I took a few rest days and both times I had a sick day or two. When I walked the CP it took me right around 30 days with a few rest days also. It all depends on how far you want to walk each day and you never know what weather or blisters or illness may befall you. I have met people that walk as much as 40K a day and others who barely break 20. I am now 65 and like to keep my days between about 22-25k but you never know what will happen each day. You really just have to listen to your body and walk when your body tells you to walk and stop when it tells you to stop. Do not let others dictate your camino. It is your personal journey. If you can not walk more than 30 days and you decide to do the CF you need to decide if you want to start in SJPP or if it is important to you to get to Santiago. Also you need to decide for yourself if you want to walk without taking busses or taxis or not. If you want to arrive in Santiago on the CF maybe you should think about starting in Logrono. That would give you plenty of time to get to Santiago. If you still have time when you arrive you can always walk to Finisterre. It is your Camino, you decide. Have fun and if you are doing the CF this November maybe I will run into you. I am the guy that lives in Mexico. I used to live in Oregon. You will know me when you hear someone bitching to himself all the way when walking steep uphill climbs.
 

Young

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
New to the Camino
There seems to be more reports of men exposing themselves on the P. It is also a much tougher terrain, 82% hard surface.
Oh that's good to know....I don't enjoy that much walking on the Hard Surface...I would like unpaved roads & forest trails...I know I am being picky...but if I can choose one over the other, I will go for unpaved & forest roads. Thank you for the info!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Del Estrecho, Ruta Fray Leopoldo,
Vía Serrana, Camino Francés
would like unpaved roads & forest trails...I know I am being picky...but if I can choose one over the other, I will go for unpaved & forest roads.
As mentioned above, the Camino Mozarabe in Southern Spain often has less rain than Northern Spain or Portugal in November. If you don't mind whether you are on a trail or a camino, other walks in the southern Iberian Peninsula you could consider are the Rota Vicentina (450 km) in Southern Portugal, the GR 7 (especially nice in the Alpujarra on sunny winter days), the Coast-to-Coast walk (sunny for us in Dec. & Jan.) in Andalucia, or the Genal Valley, also in Andalucia. The fall foliage there is supposed to be spectacular and we found it to be very safe for female walkers. Wikiloc also shows thousands of trails in Spain and Portugal to choose from.
As fellow Washingtonians, we sympathize with your search for sunny weather in November. But in spite of the odds for rainy weather, we'll be on the Camino Frances in November this year - trying out our new hiking umbrellas. If you choose that route, we'll hope to see you there!
 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
I've walked both the French from St Jean, and the Portugese from LIsbon. The former took me 32 days (30 days walking) and the latter 28 (26 days walking).

I would say the differences lie in the French being a much more social experience, with the vast majority of the route geared towards pilgrims in terms of amenities and conveniences. It's a lot busier too, with large numbers of pilgrims walking this route. Because it's a little touristy, its perhaps a little more expensive in terms of food and drink costs. I found it much friendlier, with the Spanish people being far more welcoming than the Portugese ... I put this down to the fact that the infrastructure that exists on the French route, is specifically for the pilgrims on the route.

The french was more beautiful too, I walked the central route, avoiding the coast, and when I look back at my photos, the trip in Portugal lacks the beauty and scenery.

I'd walk the french again, the portugese, not.
 

Young

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
New to the Camino
I've walked both the French from St Jean, and the Portugese from LIsbon. The former took me 32 days (30 days walking) and the latter 28 (26 days walking).

I would say the differences lie in the French being a much more social experience, with the vast majority of the route geared towards pilgrims in terms of amenities and conveniences. It's a lot busier too, with large numbers of pilgrims walking this route. Because it's a little touristy, its perhaps a little more expensive in terms of food and drink costs. I found it much friendlier, with the Spanish people being far more welcoming than the Portugese ... I put this down to the fact that the infrastructure that exists on the French route, is specifically for the pilgrims on the route.

The french was more beautiful too, I walked the central route, avoiding the coast, and when I look back at my photos, the trip in Portugal lacks the beauty and scenery.

I'd walk the french again, the portugese, not.
Thank you very much for your detailed response. Greatly appreciate it!
 

Young

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
New to the Camino
As mentioned above, the Camino Mozarabe in Southern Spain often has less rain than Northern Spain or Portugal in November. If you don't mind whether you are on a trail or a camino, other walks in the southern Iberian Peninsula you could consider are the Rota Vicentina (450 km) in Southern Portugal, the GR 7 (especially nice in the Alpujarra on sunny winter days), the Coast-to-Coast walk (sunny for us in Dec. & Jan.) in Andalucia, or the Genal Valley, also in Andalucia. The fall foliage there is supposed to be spectacular and we found it to be very safe for female walkers. Wikiloc also shows thousands of trails in Spain and Portugal to choose from.
As fellow Washingtonians, we sympathize with your search for sunny weather in November. But in spite of the odds for rainy weather, we'll be on the Camino Frances in November this year - trying out our new hiking umbrellas. If you choose that route, we'll hope to see you there!
Thank you So Much for the various hiking route suggestions! You cracked me up with your comments on trying out your new umbrella in Nov in CF. Hope you are enjoying beautiful Summer in WA. Sending you hugs.
 

Yumadons

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Aug 1, 2019)
Important info.

I am going to cycle the Portuguese Camino backwards from Santiago to Lisbon starting Sept 16. I don’t expect it to be the greatest; not looking forward to being by myself and getting lost for lack of markers. But I’m finishing up walking the Camino Frances and my flight home is from Lisbon.

Anyway, a guy just told me that you must say you are on pilgrimage to Fatima or they won’t let you stay in alburgues (since you are not walking to Santiago).
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Hello Ladies and Gentlemen of the Camino Community,
I was recently freed from shackles of slavery (aka, a day job) so I am contemplating a trip.
I have done a beach trip to near Cancun (Isla de Mujeres) in Spring this year but it seems I came back mostly an alcoholic as we lay in the beach and sucked on Margaritas all day long and swam a bit.

I am in my late 40’s, and the most strenuous hiking I have done lately is 30 KM (19 miles) hiking in Olympic National Park in the state of Washington (west coast in the US), with 4,000 feet incline (1200 meters) in one day.
I think I can do 20-30 KM per day, and hike up 3,000 feet (about 900 meters).

I did sections of Spain tour (Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, Seville) 2 years ago in the fall (Oct-Nov), and I came away thinking that I am not a city girl and I actually hate the hordes of crowds…
I am able to speak Spanish like a babbling 3-4 year old so I won’t be completely lost.

Finally, my questions to you good folks are below;
For those who have completed Caminos both Camino De Santiago in Northern Spain and the ones in Portugal, can you please help address below questions?

I see that it’s pretty safe for a female to travel alone in Spain, do you feel the same way for Portugal?
I am running away from Wet/Dark weather of Nov from state of Washington so I am seeking Sunny/warmer weather (Cold is OK but Wet 3-4 days a week is a problem).
For this reason, I am contemplating Portugal Camino (from North to South, chasing after Sun) over Spanish Camino, however as fewer people seem to be doing Portugal way, I am concerned for a Lone Female’s safety.
Taking the weather out, what are the main differences between Spain vs. Portugal Camino?
Your responses are much appreciated!
I have done both routes.

As to the safety of one over the other for a lone woman, speaking as a man I'm not in a position to judge from lived experience. From what I've read on these forums, the potential dangers are not significantly different. Both have had people describe incidents. The general consensus for both seems to be that walking either camino is safer than most parts of the world.

In terms of weather, I don't think the Portuguese is likely to be significantly warmer than the Frances, especially across the meseta :))). In either case, the cooler and wetter weather is likely to hit when you enter the Spanish province of Galicia, which you can hardly avoid because that is where Santiago de Compostela is located.

Here are what I think of as the differences between the two routes:
  • The Frances is more historic. You are walking in the footsteps of millions from across Europe. The Portugues is also certainly historic, dating from the middle ages as well. But it also certainly didn't get the traffic that the Frances did -and still doesn't.
  • On that note, the Frances is more popular, with better infrastructure. Some people (especially those who have walked other routes, or walked the Frances first a while ago) consider the Frances (especially after Sarria) crowded. The Portugues is not a lonely route (especially the Central route from Porto, although the Portugues Coastal is one of the fastest growing routes in terms of popularity). But it doesn't have as many people or as much infrastructure as the Frances. I didn't find myself lonely there, or that the infrastructure was lacking, though.
  • Generally speaking, the Portugues is a shorter route - although of course either route can be longer or shorter depending on where you start. If you are just going to walk the last 100 km (from Sarria or Valenca/Tui) as most people do, this isn't a difference. But many people walk the Frances from Saint Jean Pied de Port (probably the second most popular place to start on the Frances), which is more like 800 km. On the Portugues, the second most popular place to start is probably Porto, which is 246-280 km (depending on which route you take, central or coastal). Even if you walked from Lisbon, it is still only 626-667 km, noticeably less than the Frances. I walked the Portugues from Porto after having walked the Frances from Roncesvalles to Finisterre, and it felt like I got to Santiago de Compostela just when I was getting started. On the other hand, for many the sorter length makes it a good introduction to camino walking.
  • By the same token, the increased length of the Frances, leads to a more diverse landscape, through several sets of mountain ranges, through plains, vineyards and cattle country, etc. There seemed less diversity on the Portugues (although you do get the coastal walking).
  • The Frances will give you the "archetypical" Camino experience. If your introduction to the Camino has been through books or movies, chances are those books and movies were about people walking the Frances rather than the Portugues. You will recognize the landmarks and landscapes. By the same token, once you have walked the Frances, you will be able to watch the movies and read the books and bring to mind when you were there.
  • The Portugues will give you the experience of more than one country. (Yes, I know that for many the Frances starts in France. But you are less than 25 km from the border. You don't get to experience a lot of France.) This is especially true if you start in Porto or Lisbon and not at all true if you start in Tui.
  • I found the Portugues to be significantly less physically challenging than the Frances. There weren't the mountain ranges that one tends to find on the Frances.
  • One final difference. When walking the Frances, one enters Galicia from the east and walks westward through cattle country towards Santiago. On the Portugues, one enters Galicia from the south and walks northward through wine country towards Santiago. Your nose will notice the difference.
I would also advise against walking North to South. The relationships you form over time with fellow pilgrims are one of the best things about a camino (if not the best thing) and it will be difficult to do so if walking in the opposite direction. I won't say there will be no one. You can follow the blue arrows towards Fatima and you might meet one or two others doing so. But we didn't meet such southward heading pilgrims every day so there is a decent chance you won't. And you'd be missing a lot for weather that isn't really that different.

I hope that this helps.
 
Last edited:

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I think it would be hard to find the waymarkers at times, they are usually placed to catch the eye of people walking towards Santiago.
Not as much of a problem as you would think. Follow the blue arrows from Santiago towards Fatima and you will be heading south on the Camino Portugues.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Thank you Jeff for your response! Ha, yes that totally makes sense that it would be rainy during Winter months near the ocean...Have you done any walks South of Lisbon such as Lagos & Faro? Are there no established routes down South of Portugal? Thank you again.
There are routes in the south of Portugal, but they are much less established, with sparser infrastructure and probably longer day's walks than north of Lisbon. If the goal is warmth rather than reaching Santiago and you want to walk on a pilgrim route, I would echo Isca-camigo above and suggest the Mozarabe or the Via de la Plata in the south of Spain which are somewhat better established.
 

bobbogram

Member
Camino(s) past & future
El Norte San Sebastián to Santiago; Portuguese Lisbon to Porto; Porto to Santiago; Geneva west
Taking the weather out, what are the main differences between Spain vs. Portugal Camino?
Your responses are much appreciated!
[/QUOTE]

Good Morning,

Just back from three weeks in England and France, two weeks on the Via Francigena starting in Canterbury which I’m completing piecemeal.

I’ve completed Portuguese Camino in two visits, Lisbon to Porto and Porto to Santiago. Earlier I completed Camino El Norte in one six week effort. I’ve also completed the shorter Cape-to Cape walk on the west coast of Australia, four days on the French Camino going West out of Geneva, and a disappointing aborted hike down the Aosta Valley into Italy from the Swiss border due to an injury. I haven’t tried the classic Camino route much like I don’t drive during rush hour.

My favorite so far was El Norte due to my preference for the shoreline views and changing terrain. My second choice would be Lisbon to Porto, both great cities to explore on their own, But Fatima, the Knights Templar Castle, and other experiences added to the experience. Whichever trek you choose, research with this website, the Internet, and published books will improve your trek.

Have a great hike.

Grisly 0AF04483-C6CA-454D-B9D6-EB29F8059FBE.jpeg
 

mirinco

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2018
i did camino frances last year, camino nord 2019 june/july and oct/nov 2019 i'll walk camino portuguese, my favorit it's nord and i'll hope do it againt next year, but now my mind is in small villigaes in portugal
 

MJB

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (in sections 2004, 2012, 2015); Portugues (from Oporto 2013); Primitivo (from Castroverde) 2012; Invierno (2016)
For weather, note that outside of June-September the coastal or central variants of the Camino Portuguese, being near the coast, can can be really rainy. Walking from Oporto to Santiago we had heavy rain on 8 of 11 days in October a few years back. Not so different from the Pacific Northwest. The Frances (and pretty much all caminos will have the same concern while in Galicia, but less so further inland.)

The Spanish meterorological service, aemet.es, has profile tables of many, many cities and towns which you can download to get very good comparative statistics for days of rainfall per month, monthly precipitation, temperature, etc. Go this way through the site:

InicioServicios climáticosDatos climatológicosValores normales

You can do a much rougher estimation by looking at past years' history on wunderground.com.

Good luck!
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012)
CP(2015)
St Olavs Way Norway(2016)
88 Temples Japan(2017)
PWC & VF(2019)
Israel (2020)
Thank you Kazrobbo for your response. Can you please advise why you liked CP over CF? Thank you again.
Hmm..good question @Young ...& one I'm still pondering! Not as simple to answer as it may first seem.
Obviously the CF has a special place in most of our hearts particularly if it was the walk that 'started it all'.
I think I preferred the CP because it still requires (well, did in 2015 anyway) some figuring out for yourself. All the kinks have been well & truly ironed out of the CF...you can turn up with no planning, no plan & no map or guide of any sort, its virtually impossible to get lost & there's always a place to stay around the bend or over the next rise. The CP didn't/doesn't have the same infrastructure.
I also liked that part of the walk is coastal if you choose that option.
Less people (especially on the Lisbon to Porto section) meant it felt more relaxed (no bed race), different architecture, food, language & culture in general. It's maybe a tad rough around the edges but it's also a diamond in the rough...it gets under your skin without you realising it.
I love Spain & always will...but Portugal offers another layer. I will say I think it's a pity more people don't walk from Lisbon. I understand time constraints but it offers its own rewards.
Good luck with deciding your path...& thanks for asking the question which has made me look back on it again! 🤗
👣 🌏
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
For weather, note that outside of June-September the coastal or central variants of the Camino Portuguese, being near the coast, can can be really rainy. Walking from Oporto to Santiago we had heavy rain on 8 of 11 days in October a few years back. Not so different from the Pacific Northwest. The Frances (and pretty much all caminos will have the same concern while in Galicia, but less so further inland.)

The Spanish meterorological service, aemet.es, has profile tables of many, many cities and towns which you can download to get very good comparative statistics for days of rainfall per month, monthly precipitation, temperature, etc. Go this way through the site:

InicioServicios climáticosDatos climatológicosValores normales

You can do a much rougher estimation by looking at past years' history on wunderground.com.

Good luck!
Interesting. When I walked from Porto last October, it rained one day out of thirteen (the twelfth day into Padron).
 

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