Portugal Way holidays guide

Fitting conveniently into a two-week holiday, the Portugal Way is among the most sought after Camino de Santiago routes, and it’s not difficult to see why. It’s more easygoing than the classic, mountainous French Way, with arresting scenery whether you take the coastal or the inland path; historic cities and villages that mean taking a rest day is very tempting; and wonderful cuisine all the way from Lisbon to Galicia.
Many Portugal Way pilgrims, on reaching Santiago de Compostela, turn around and walk right back again. And who could blame them?
This is a route charged with history, and walked by royalty. You can pass the place where Columbus arrived with news of the West Indies, make a detour to Fátima, explore beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and reward your efforts with fresh seafood in coastal communities, and superb local wines. Go in peace and, with this guide to the Portugal Way, go in confidence, too.

Our top Portugal Way Holiday

Porto to Santiago De Compostela walking holiday

Porto to Santiago De Compostela walking holiday

14 days pilgrimage through Northern Portugal and Spain

From €1125 14 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Hello. If you'd like to chat about Portugal Way or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

The route explained

The Portugal Way is generally considered to begin in Porto, around 230km from Santiago de Compostela and takes around two weeks to walk. Some choose to begin over the Spanish border in Tui, which at 115km from Santiago de Compostela is the last place you can start if you want to get your official ‘Camino Certificate’ (you need to walk at least 100km). You can also walk from Lisbon, increasing the distance substantially to over 600km. Some long stages over hard surfaces are involved, but by doing so you visit several key destinations such as Santarém (with the optional detour to Fátima), the Rates Monastery and Coimbra.
On reaching Porto, you can take either a coastal or an inland route, with the latter typically the most popular. It’s well marked, with good pilgrim facilities, and perfect for wine lovers as there are many vineyards along the way. You spend a lot of time in attractive rural countryside – farmland, woods and villages – and not so much time in cities.
The coastal route through northern Portugal opens up wildly beautiful Atlantic scenery, and is typically quieter, cooler and with fewer accommodation options than the inland route, although that’s improving. When it comes to crossing the border you either take a ferry from Caminha, or add on an extra day’s walking to Valença, (a good idea as the later stretch between Tui and Redondenla is one of the most attractive). You pass countless small fishing communities where you can enjoy many Portuguese seafood specialties from bacalhau (cod) to polvo (octopus), before rejoining the inland route in Redondenla.
There are also a couple of lesser known alternatives, the Litoral and the Camino de Braga, which weave between inland and coastal stretches.

The Portugal Way practicalities

Fitness & preparation

With a tailor made trip you can shorten or lengthen the stages as you please, but expect to be walking anywhere up to 24km every day. In contrast to the French Way, the terrain on the Portugal Way is generally quite flat, with a lot of walking on roads and cobblestones, which can be uneven in places. While you don’t need to be in Olympian shape for this walk, you will want to be in decent physical shape, having done at least some regular road walking in the months leading up to departure. Good quality walking boots or shoes, fully broken in, are strongly recommended.

Accommodation

Naturally, this being the second busiest Camino de Santiago route, there are plenty of accommodation options on both the coastal and the inland trails. From Lisbon to Porto there is less choice available but that is improving. Typical accommodations range from large hotels in cities and towns to quaint guesthouses and casas Rurales in villages. You might also stay in a historic building such as a castle or monastery. Because of the length of the walk you can expect to stay in a variety of properties, but they will all be well set up for pilgrims and their requirements, with bedding and towels provided as standard.

Support on the Portuguese Way

Worried about the organisation involved when taking on a walk of this length? Don’t be. Tailor made trips ensure that your accommodation is booked in advance all the way, and that it’s to a standard you’re comfortable with. You have complete flexibility with your departure date, and you can shorten individual stages or build in the odd rest day too. You will be provided with a detailed information pack that beside comprehensive directions can include (personalised) recommendations on places to eat and things to see along the way. You can opt to have your luggage transferred between accommodations so that you need only carry a daypack, and, of course, you can rely on 24/7 support.

Oh and one last thing…

Remember the time difference when you cross the border: Spain is an hour ahead of Portugal.

Best time to walk the Portugal Way

As with all Camino de Santiago routes you can walk the Portugal Way at any time, though most people opt for the longer, warmer days from April to October.
Tailor made tours are available should you want you want to walk during the winter, when there are fewer people around but the weather is correspondingly worse. Most people approach the Portugal Way in summer, and this is a popular route so you can expect to encounter many other walkers along the way. It can also be very hot during July and August, and many local people head for the coast in these months, so popular locations such as Vigo get very busy. To avoid the crowds and the worst of the heat then, late spring and early autumn are the best time to walk the Portuguese Way.

Portugal Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
8
15
109
FEB
9
16
110
MAR
10
18
68
APR
11
19
64
MAY
13
22
39
JUN
16
25
21
JUL
18
28
4
AUG
18
28
5
SEP
17
27
26
OCT
15
23
80
NOV
11
18
111
DEC
9
15
106

The Portuguese Way, month by month

In July, August and September the resorts along the coast, and the scenery of course, are at their very finest. However you can expect to find large crowds, especially as many places in Spain and Portugal also celebrate fiestas in summer – the Feiras Novas in Ponte de Lima, in early September, being a good example. Sunny, warm weather especially in Portugal can be expected, but it will get cooler and rainier as you enter Galicia. October is a good month to consider, still warm with long hours of sunlight, but typically less busy. Winter begins in late November, continuing through December, January and February. As the Portugal Way is generally quite flat you can walk in winter, as long as you are prepared for the cold and rain. It gets colder and wetter the further north you get, with muddy sections especially in the countryside. Late March, through April, May and June, is probably the best time to walk the Portugal Way. The landscapes are lovely in spring, and by May onwards the weather is warming up delightfully. This also avoids peak season, so while you’ll definitely meet many other walkers, the paths are nowhere near as busy now.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Fresco Tours] [Porto rooftops: Ricardo Resende] [Camino Portugese duo: José Antonio Gil Martínez] [Caminha: Pirineista]
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