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Your impressions on the walk from Lisbon?

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Sep/Oct 2018)
Camino Portugues (May 2021)
For those who walked from Lisbon, what was your impression? I'm planning to do the Portuguese route next year, but starting in Porto would seem to be a quick trip. How long does it take to get out of the city / industrial areas and on to quieter paths if I start in Lisbon?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
The caminho in Lisbon starts at the Cathedral and winds through the old moorish section, the Alfama, along the old port, through some commercial areas, then to the River Expo site at Parque de Naçoes. Then, in Sacavém, it goes along an old canal. There are more industrial sites after Alpriate, near Alhandra for instance, and you will find varying opinions on the route.

Do some searching, using the search function up at top right, and you will get lots of opinions.

Here are some to get you started

 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
If I'm honest. I'm not really a fan of the Portuguese Camino. I could never imagine doing it again, unlike my other Camino experiences.

I started at the cathedral in Lisbon, and picked up the waymarking from there. Things do become more rural on the first day, but generally I think the Portuguese isnt very inspiring in terms of scenery. A lot of flat and fairly dull landscapes. If I look at my photos from the French or the Norte, I find many beautiful places ... not so on the Portugues.

It was also my loneliest. I had a day in the first week when I didnt see a another pilgrim all day, was in that nights albergue on my own, and didnt meet anyone until lunch the next day. This was in May 2018.

The waymarking was good ... but generally I didnt find that Portugal was very welcoming to pilgrims, and wasnt really set up for pilgrims. I went into a few small cafes in remote, small towns ... and felt like I was in inconvenience to the owners ... the business model was clearly there serving the local people rather than pilgrims passing through.

I had already walking the Frances, and I wanted the challenge of another long distance Camino. Of course it ticks that box, I took 28 days to complete the 620+km distance. But this is a Camino route I find hard to recommend truth be told and I wouldnt return to it.
 

Red Rose

redrose
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis September/October 2015
Camino Portuguese Lisbon to Santiago March/April 2019
If I'm honest. I'm not really a fan of the Portuguese Camino. I could never imagine doing it again, unlike my other Camino experiences.

I started at the cathedral in Lisbon, and picked up the waymarking from there. Things do become more rural on the first day, but generally I think the Portuguese isnt very inspiring in terms of scenery. A lot of flat and fairly dull landscapes. If I look at my photos from the French or the Norte, I find many beautiful places ... not so on the Portugues.

It was also my loneliest. I had a day in the first week when I didnt see a another pilgrim all day, was in that nights albergue on my own, and didnt meet anyone until lunch the next day. This was in May 2018.

The waymarking was good ... but generally I didnt find that Portugal was very welcoming to pilgrims, and wasnt really set up for pilgrims. I went into a few small cafes in remote, small towns ... and felt like I was in inconvenience to the owners ... the business model was clearly there serving the local people rather than pilgrims passing through.

I had already walking the Frances, and I wanted the challenge of another long distance Camino. Of course it ticks that box, I took 28 days to complete the 620+km distance. But this is a Camino route I find hard to recommend truth be told and I wouldnt return to it.
nickpellatt I walked from Lisbon to Santiago March to April this year and I experienced the same attitude that you did. I felt that I was treated like a bum and they followed me in stores and didn't want me there. I talked to other pilgrims who also had the same experience. The closer I got to Coimbra the attitude was much better. I walked alone for most of the camino, but met some of the same people each night.

I talked to a family for a short time in a town not too far from Lisbon and their comment was that the residents do not care to have the camino go through their town because they do not want the problems that go with it.

For the most part, Lisbon to Porto is a quiet camino with plenty of time for meditation if that is what you enjoy, because once you get to Porto it is very crowded and there is a bed race. If I do the Portuguese again I will do the coastal route starting in Porto and finishing the spiritual route.
 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
I walked from Lisbon to Santiago March to April this year and I experienced the same attitude that you did.

If I do the Portuguese again I will do the coastal route starting in Porto.
Kinda happy to hear I wasnt the only one, but sad at the same time to hear you shared my not-so-great Camino experience. I felt a bit too negative after re-reading my post, but it is an accurate reflection of my experience.

I didnt really have the bed race thing ... but I did find myself without a place to stay one night, and had to sleep in a deserted building! That's the only time I've had such a problem in over 100 days on the Camino.

I'm not convinced by the coastal route, on my camino I met a friend in Porto, with a view to meeting again in Tui as he wanted to walk the coastal. He lasted 3 days ... got lost a lot and didnt enjoy the experience at all. He came inland and walked the rest with me.
 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
All of the above comments are eye opening for me, who is/was considering the Portuguese next year. Any "positives" to be had about this route?????

Thanks !
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
All of the above comments are eye opening for me, who is/was considering the Portuguese next year. Any "positives" to be had about this route?????

Thanks !
Look at the two threads I linked to in my response. Maggie's blog will also give you a different impression.

 

RobinAll

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Sep 2018, Portugués May 2019
I started in Coimbra this past May since I heard there were more pilgrims starting from there than Lisbon and I started (but didn't end!) alone. It was still quieter out of Coimbra --great city -- and the walk goes through a lot of Portuguese suburbs/pavement before Porto (after, too, come to think of it!) which are different than the kind on the Frances. I felt the Portuguese were lovely to me for the most part! They went out of their way to help me. I walked the coast for a couple days after Porto before going back inland and also chose the Espiritual Variente outside of Pontevedra. I loved both my Caminos in different ways. It looks like these detailed blogs could help with any decision. Bom Caminho, whatever you decide!
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
It's a pity the Lisbon leg gets a bad rep, but it guess we all experience things differently. I remember the thrill of finding the splash of yellow paint by the cathedral after our first visit to Lisbon. We'd just finished our first Camino and we're doing a spot of pastry sampling and dicussing other routes to try. I did eventually return with my daughter when we made Lisbon our destination in a reverse Camino. I found the walk along the river lovely, and after weeks of mud on a winter walk it was great to have firm ground and a beautiful city to welcome us. No long queues to get our final stamp and while the guy giving it was very apologetic about not have a scroll for us it was just as a rewarding end as other caminos . There may be many sections of this route that were less then ideal, but that's life on the road.
 

Judit

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CP Lisbon to Porto Jun/Jul 2018. CP Porto to SdC (Coastal and Spiritual Variant) Jun/Jul 2019
I did the Lisbon to Porto section of the Portugues in June/July 2018. It was my first Camino and I loved it. I had the opportunity to walk through towns, villages and scenery that were so very different from home (which is the UK). I took some time out to explore the beautiful cities and Santarem, Tomar, Coimbra - and Lisbon and Porto of course. I got my wish of being able to walk in solitude, but also met other pilgrims, many of whom I'll always remember. I was so very impressed with the friendliness and helpfulness of the Portuguese people, business owners and others, I met along the way, and I certainly never felt in any way unwelcome, or that they would prefer me not to be there. Before I went I heard that some people didn't like the Lisbon-Porto stretch because of the long stages and the road walking - but there are a reasonable amount of opportunities to break it down into shorter stages if that's what you prefer. As to the amount of road walking, having done the Portugues Coastal and Spiritual Variant from Porto to Santiago this year, I thought the amount of road walking was pretty similar to the Lisbon/Porto stretch. And in answer to your original question, you'll be out of Lisbon and onto the banks of the River Tagus in less then two hours, though there are a couple of later stages which are a bit dull and suburb-y (Vilafranca de Xira to Azambuja and the outskirts of Agueda being the ones that stick in my mind).
 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
All of the above comments are eye opening for me, who is/was considering the Portuguese next year. Any "positives" to be had about this route?????

Thanks !
Sorry Bob :( I keep coming back to this thread trying to be more positive, but from looking at other threads the negatives kinda remain (long stages / industrial areas / walking on main roads).

Some of the experience may depend on the type of Camino you walk though perhaps. I met someone on the Norte who disagreed with my Portuguese experience, but he was staying in pensions and hotels the whole way. My Camino's are on a budget and that leads to a different experience. I still can't get past some of the very poor service though ... on a few occasions I entered 'the last cafe / shop before a 15km stretch / a large hill', and found them ill-prepared for pilgrims with no food other than crisps and chocolate bars. The polar opposite to Spain where enterprising individuals set up at the roadside for pilgrims.

A positive could be in the nature of some of the towns though, Tomar etc ... I'm not one for really exploring towns though ... It's all about the walk for me.
 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
@peregrina2000 - Thank you for directing me to this incredibly detailed blog. I will read through it when I can keep my eyes open (Almost 11:00 P.M. here) and hopefully make an informed decision in the next few months
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I have to agree that my favourite Camino is not the first section from Lisbon to Coimbra. I love Lisbon but I’m not tempted to walk to Coimbra again.
 

Raymond Malpas

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
This is my First beggining 26/9
@peregrina2000 - Thank you for directing me to this incredibly detailed blog. I will read through it when I can keep my eyes open (Almost 11:00 P.M. here) and hopefully make an informed decision in the next few months
I walked from Lisbon last November and while the initial few days are not ideal walking, (a lot of run down industrial areas) I have to say two town that really are must-visit places to me and I enjoyed them incredibly, Santarem and Tomar. I don't regret walking the Portuguese route and am glad I didn't start in Porto although by far the majority of people do walk the Portuguese from Porto I think whether or not you enjoy the walk from Lisbon depends on what you are looking for and what your expectations are. I certainly felt welcomed everywhere although there were very few almost NO other pilgrims.
 

HeidiL

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2004-), Portugués, Madrid, 4/5 Plata, 1/8 Levante, 1/8 Lana, Augusta, hospitalera Grado.
I very much enjoyed walking from Lisbon, but I did the "short stages" thing for two weekends and took the train back to Lisbon on Sunday evening - and yes, there aren't many other pilgrims, but I found the locals treated me very well.

I know I posted here just about every day, I'll close this message now and come back with a link.

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...d-back-to-lisbon-sept-2016.43010/#post-486349 The beginning.

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...shing-our-camino-portogues.52864/#post-584926 The end.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I still can't get past some of the very poor service though ... on a few occasions I entered 'the last cafe / shop before a 15km stretch / a large hill', and found them ill-prepared for pilgrims with no food other than crisps and chocolate bars.
I think that anyone who walks a camino that is not brimming with peregrinos has to accept the reality that the businesses along the route are not catering to pilgrims. They do their ordering and make their decisions about food based on what they can sell to their customers. Fresh food has a short shelf life, and if there is only a handful of peregrinos walking by, it may not be worth the investment. The locals probably go there mainly for drinks.

I remember the last time I walked through Triacastela about four years ago and was totally shocked to see a number of bars and cafes open early in the morning. The last time I had been through, at least 12 years earlier, the one or two bars in town were closed up tight. Who wants to open a bar early in the morning when four or five people are walking by? Different story today, but I don’t think it has anything to do with attitudes, just dollars and cents, supply and demand.

And comparing the services on the Lisbon-Porto route from 2008 when I first walked, there has been a huge increase, so these things do change!
 

Ungawawa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 Francés, Le Puy / Francés (parts), 2018 Norte (Biarritz), Francés, 2019 Portuguese (Lisbon)
Just walked from Lisbon this June. What can I say about the Lisbon to Porto stretch? ...

Well, I think it was worth doing, but unlike other Caminos, I don't see myself ever wanting to redo it. Out of about 14 stages, I would say much less than half of them had picturesque scenery or a historically interesting town at the end of them, so if you're doing it expecting to enjoy the nature or towns, I think you might be a little disappointed.

That's not not so say that places like Tomar or Santarem aren't lovely in their own right, but all the nice places on this stretch are spread out days apart, so there's no real way of saying "I'll start further on and miss out the ugly bits". The ugly bits are evenly distributed across the whole two weeks.

There's also a lot of road walking, and this really got to me. After Coimbra there were several days where my feet felt only cobbles and tarmac and this was causing me feet problems that I've never had before on any of my four other caminos.

It was also a bit lonely, yeah. There were always people in the albergue with me, but often the social aspect just didn't "click" for me. Quite a few times on this Camino I wondered just why I was doing it as I thought I wasn't getting much out of it - socially, spiritually, physically. But maybe I was just unlucky. I did meet others who loved this stretch, though equally some had enough and quit. They say the camino gives you what you need, and maybe I just needed to learn to be more independent and resilient.

Oh and weather-wise... I had 37-38 degrees for several days at the beginning of June, so don't forget that you are significantly further south than all other Caminos other than the VdlP. You will feel it in the sun. It was punishing.

I never felt less than welcome as a Pilgrim in Portugal and found the people even friendlier than the Spanish.
 
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nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
I think that anyone who walks a camino that is not brimming with peregrinos has to accept the reality that the businesses along the route are not catering to pilgrims. They do their ordering and make their decisions about food based on what they can sell to their customers. Fresh food has a short shelf life, and if there is only a handful of peregrinos walking by, it may not be worth the investment. The locals probably go there mainly for drinks.

And comparing the services on the Lisbon-Porto route from 2008 when I first walked, there has been a huge increase, so these things do change!
Two instances spring to mind ... I don't have my Brierly guide to hand so can't remember the names of the places, but I remember his recommendation that one bar / cafe was the last place to stop for some distance (like 12km or so) , and so I went in there to buy a lunch to eat en-route. All I could get was Coke and Doritos :p This was fairly early on in the Camino.

Later I was with a friend, this would have been after Porto, and there was a 'last cafe before a big hill'. There must have been 15 pilgrims there, being served by one old lady with minimal stock. When I was there she had a fresh delivery of cakes. And all 6 of them were purchased instantly. Her business clearly did just cater for locals, my friend and I both remarked on the fact she must have been missing a trick there.

Such a contrast when we then crossed into Spain. On our first day there was someone with a trailer and a generator catering for pilgrims, and a person on the road selling painted stones with yellow arrows on.

I dont actually regret my Camino there. I went alone and walked 600+km so I regard it as an achievement. And an experience of course, but I wouldnt want to walk it again. I'd open an albergue or cafe there though as I think the pigrim potential is quite high in many places.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Two instances spring to mind ... I don't have my Brierly guide to hand so can't remember the names of the places, but I remember his recommendation that one bar / cafe was the last place to stop for some distance (like 12km or so) , and so I went in there to buy a lunch to eat en-route. All I could get was Coke and Doritos :p This was fairly early on in the Camino.

Later I was with a friend, this would have been after Porto, and there was a 'last cafe before a big hill'. There must have been 15 pilgrims there, being served by one old lady with minimal stock. When I was there she had a fresh delivery of cakes. And all 6 of them were purchased instantly. Her business clearly did just cater for locals, my friend and I both remarked on the fact she must have been missing a trick there.
I don’t doubt your descriptions for a minute. But if I were an entrepreneur, the pilgrims office statistics would give me great pause in deciding just how great a business opportunity it would be. In 2018, about 2500 started in Lisbon, 26,800 started in Porto. And 30,000 started in Tui or Valenca. That’s a ratio of 25 to 1.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I don’t doubt your descriptions for a minute. But if I were an entrepreneur, the pilgrims office statistics would give me great pause in deciding just how great a business opportunity it would be. In 2018, about 2500 started in Lisbon, 26,800 started in Porto. And 30,000 started in Tui or Valenca. That’s a ratio of 25 to 1.
The polar opposite to Spain where enterprising individuals set up at the roadside for pilgrims.
I'm with @peregrina2000 on this. I haven't walked that many different Caminos, but I've only seen these kind of entrepreneurs on the Frances where the number of pilgrims can support such an endeavor. Nothing like this on the Norte and certainly not on the Salvador where I had to be satisfied with a large package of peanut M&Ms until around 1:00 on my first day.
 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
WOW! The more I am reading, the easier my decision is becoming. Most times I don't let others words or feelings sway me, but given the numbers quoted by Peregrina2000 I understand business and know that numbers do not lie. (Only people do!)

Thanks............
 

Phil71

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2014,2016),Primitivo (2015), San Salvador (2017), Norte (2018), Ingles (2018)
I guess business is business so there won't be the same infrastructure or possibly the desire to cater for pilgrims. I've walked from Porto twice so although I cannot add to the answers to the original question I just want to say I've always been blown away by the welcome i have received from the Portuguese. I find them to be such friendly and helpful people. I remember one day on the litoral we weren't quite sure of the route so asked a 20 something local for advice. He walked with us (with his bike) for about 2 miles to make sure we were going right. One day I think I will walk from Lisbon, but I do like the lonelier routes.
 

peregrino_tom

Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
Ah, Lisbon-Porto..
Hard to believe I was on it nearly 7 years ago. I had mixed feelings about it then, but overall was very positive. For reference, here's the thread I opened on my return
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/lisbon-to-porto-–-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly.15771/ - Now, like an earlier archeological era, it sits underneath 20 more recent pages on the Portugues section of the forum.
Thinking about it all these years later, my lasting impression is still of the openness and kindness of the Portuguese people I met along the way. It was the first camino where I really stopped to think about the role of people who live along the route (as opposed to just other pilgrims) and how they can give you freely so much that enriches your journey.
Maybe in 7 years the world has changed? or maybe pilgrims' expectations of what should be provided on a camino have changed. Hard to say.
Actually it's a camino I would happily do again.
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
I also love walking in Portugal because of the kind people. You never know what to expect when you arrive somewhere in Portugal. Everywhere could be closed up, so you have to sit in a bus shelter and pull out a few old biscuits, or you come across the most amazing restaurant with the best lunch ever. It makes the walk so much more challenging than the predictable Camino Francés. And then there are the lovely people . . .
 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
IMG_7144.JPGIMG_7144.JPG

It's amazing how experiences can vary so much. I made a number of videos during my Portugese Camino and I've gone back and reviewed them ... something I commented on was that it felt like I was on the set of 'The Walking Dead', as I just didnt see people. By this, I mean local people ... I walked through a lot of deserted towns.

Anyway, I couldnt upload the video for some reason, it wouldnt let me do it, but this is where I had to stay one night, partly because I couldnt find anyone to help me! I had to stay in an abandoned building as the guidebook listed an albergue, that didnt exist. I'd walked over 35km that day .... and was stuck.

So, not my favourite Camino (for me, that would be the Norte).
 

Rosemaryk1

Active Member
Just walked from Lisbon this June. What can I say about the Lisbon to Porto stretch? ...

Well, I think it was worth doing, but unlike other Caminos, I don't see myself ever wanting to redo it. Out of about 14 stages, I would say much less than half of them had picturesque scenery or a historically interesting town at the end of them, so if you're doing it expecting to enjoy the nature or towns, I think you might be a little disappointed.

That's not not so say that places like Tomar or Santarem aren't lovely in their own right, but all the nice places on this stretch are spread out days apart, so there's no real way of saying "I'll start further on and miss out the ugly bits". The ugly bits are evenly distributed across the whole two weeks.

There's also a lot of road walking, and this really got to me. After Coimbra there were several days where my feet felt only cobbles and tarmac and this was causing me feet problems that I've never had before on any of my four other caminos.

It was also a bit lonely, yeah. There were always people in the albergue with me, but often the social aspect just didn't "click" for me. Quite a few times on this Camino I wondered just why I was doing it as I thought I wasn't getting much out of it - socially, spiritually, physically. But maybe I was just unlucky. I did meet others who loved this stretch, though equally some had enough and quit. They say the camino gives you what you need, and maybe I just needed to learn to be more independent and resilient.

Oh and weather-wise... I had 37-38 degrees for several days at the beginning of June, so don't forget that you are significantly further south than all other Caminos other than the VdlP. You will feel it in the sun. It was punishing.

I never felt less than welcome as a Pilgrim in Portugal and found the people even friendlier than the Spanish.
I agree with you. I found the Portugués people very lovely! I never felt out of place. Yes, I had lots of time to myself, but I loved it. It is different from the CF, but I knew that going in and adjusted mentally prior to starting. Buen Camino to the OP, whatever you choose!
Rosemary
 

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