Camino Itinerary: Portugal Coastal Route in 13 Days

This year I ticked off a massive bucket list item: hiking the Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James. I never liked hiking as a child, but I fell in love with it as an adult. For European hikers, the Camino is the king of all hikes. This old pilgrim route can be started pretty much anywhere in Europe and leads to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

The most popular route is the French Way, but I decided to do the Portuguese Coastal Way instead. I first read about it in the Lonely Planet Epic Hikes of Europe, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Walking along the Portuguese and Galician coast for two weeks sounded like a dream. Of course, I knew it would be challenging, but I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

It was an incredible adventure, and I’ll write several blog posts containing tips and experiences. All to help you make the most of your Camino. This post outlines my itinerary as I walked it from Porto to Santiago de Compostela.

Portugues Camino de la Costa

The Portuguese Camino dates way back to the Middle Ages, but as a modern hiking route, it became popular in the early 90s. Most people start their walk in Porto, although you can also start all the way in Lisbon. Once you reach the Spanish border, you can go inland or continue along the Galician Coast. I wanted to visit friends in Vigo, so I picked the second option. In total, this added up to 280 km from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, which I finished in 13 days, walking roughly 20 km a day.

Setting up a Camino itinerary for the Portuguese Coastal Route

Before I started, I drew up a rough Camino itinerary based on the location of hostels and distances between towns. I found this post by the Stingy Nomads to be very helpful! This allowed me to estimate how long it would take me to complete the Camino, so I could book my flights. Because pilgrim hostels do not require or even allow advance booking, I knew I was completely flexible in my itinerary.

I immediately veered off my original Camino itinerary on the first day when I realized I slightly overestimated my physical fitness. I also didn’t end up taking any of my planned rest days, but did shorten or lengthen a few stretches. This freedom and flexibility were great, as it allowed me to adjust for weather and injuries as needed. My biggest tip would be to give yourself enough wiggle room to get to Santiago at your own pace!

Starting in Porto

Porto Cathedral pilgrim passport

If you’re starting your Camino in Porto, I highly recommend taking a day or two to explore the city. Porto is a vibrant place full of history and culture.

Admire the beautiful architecture, drink some delicious port wine, and take in the atmosphere of one of the most popular cities in Europe. All the uphill walking will also prepare you for the pain of the hiking to come.

Not sure how to fill your days in Porto? Here are my top tips

You will also need to get your pilgrim passport from the Cathedral in Porto. This is super quick and only costs €2. For €3 more, you can view the Cathedral and climb up the bell tower for a beautiful view.

Day 1 of the Camino itinerary: Porto to Vila do Conde

Portuguese Coastal Way Camino girl hiking by the beach selfie

Distance: 25 km from Matosinhos

Time: 7.5 hours with breaks

Terrain: sidewalk and boardwalk

I cheated a little on my first day. Instead of walking from the center of Porto, I took the metro to the suburb Matosinhos. It’s a popular hack to save you a good 5 km of hiking through the city.

From here, you start your hike along the coast. The wooden boulevard takes you through the dunes and along beautiful beaches. The little fishermen’s villages are a great place to stop for a drink or a snack until you arrive in Vila do Conde. That first day showed me how under-prepared and over-packed I was, so I ended up taking a lot of breaks.

There’s a pilgrim hostel, and local restaurants offer pilgrim menus at a good price. I didn’t have any energy after the first day to explore the town or see the monastery, but maybe you will.

Day 2 of the Camino itinerary: Vila do Conde to Ofir

Camino de Santiago Portugal h

Distance: 25 km

Time: 7 with breaks

Terrain: sidewalk, boardwalk, and dirt roads

The route on the second day is quite similar to the first. As you leave town and walk into Povoa de Varzim, you’ll have the chance to do some sightseeing. From there, the wooden boardwalks take you further along the coast and through farmland. You might spot some wild herbs to snack on!

Stop in Apuglia for lunch before walking on through the woods to Ofir. Originally, I had planned to walk to Esposende, but I was tempted by the pool at The Spot hostel to cut my route a little short.

Not sure what to bring for your Camino? Here’s my packing guide

Day 3 of the Camino itinerary: Ofir to Praia Da Amarosa

Distance: 20 km

Time: 7 hours with breaks

Terrain: boardwalk, asphalt, sidewalk, dirt roads, sand dunes

The day started with a long walk through Esposende and its boardwalk, followed by more boardwalks along the coast.

Originally, I was supposed to walk to Anha or Viane do Castello today. But I got a little off course following the wrong arrows, and after trekking through sand dunes all day, I didn’t feel like walking all the way back up the hill. So instead, I got a cheap hotel in a tiny beach town and enjoyed some time to myself.

These apps will help you plan your own Camino itinerary, so you don’t get lost

Luckily, I had budgeted for a few rest days, so it wasn’t an issue to split this stretch in two and only do 9km the next day. It was really nice to have a bit more luxury and a short day ahead to give my legs some rest. Especially since days 3 and 4 are usually the hardest in terms of muscle ache.

Of course, if you stick to the right Camino trail, you can merge my days 3 and 4 into a big 30 km day.

Day 4 of the Camino itinerary: Praia Da Amarosa to Viane do Castelo

Distance: 9 km

Time: 4 hours with breaks

Terrain: beach, dirt road, sidewalk

Because I had deviated from the real trail the day before, I had to find my own way to Viane do Castelo. This included hiking a good time across the beach as there weren’t any more boardwalks through the dunes. At least I only had 9 km to go that day.

As you cross the big bridge into Viane do Castelo, the pilgrim hostel is located right by the bridge in a former monastery. It fills up early, though, so you may have to make do with the HI hostel down the road if you’re not there by 13:00 like me.

My short hike left me with a lot of time to explore Viane do Castelo, which was great as it is an incredibly charming town. I could easily see myself spending a vacation there enjoying the architecture, atmosphere, and cheap wine. While you can merge days 3 and 4 into one big hike, you would miss out on falling in love with Viane do Castelo.

Day 5 of the Camino itinerary: Viane do Castelo to Caminha

Bom Caminho sign trail marker Portugal Camino

Distance: 25 km

Time: 8 hours with breaks

Terrain: cobblestone and asphalt

Another long day ahead and the last one in Portugal. You’re going to have to climb through the hillside villages to get from Viane do Castello to Praia de Ancora. Once there, you can have lunch by the beach and cool your feet in the water before braving the last 9 km to Caminha.

Although you’re walking along the coast, it is all sidewalk and asphalt here. The last part going into Caminha is particularly lackluster and brutal. See if you can secure a bed at Bom Caminha hostel, so you don’t have to walk across town to the pilgrim hostel.

Bom Caminha was one of my favorite accommodations along the Portuguese Camino!

Caminha is a lovely coastal town with beautiful architecture and a great atmosphere. Be sure to go out for a nice dinner and a drink in one of the many bars.

Day 6 of the Camino itinerary: Caminha to Oia

A Guarda Spain Galicia

Distance: 18 km

Time: 6 hours with breaks

Terrain: asphalt and dirt roads

Day 6 has a fun start: you’ll have to cross the border to Spain by boat. The ferry rarely runs, so get a water taxi instead (€6). They’ll drop you on the beach near A Guarda.

From A Guarda, a rocky path takes you along the rugged Galician coast. You’ll immediately notice a change in architecture and landscape.

Several times, the trail will lead you along the main road. There is plenty of space to safely walk, but it’s not the most comfortable (or fun). You’ll arrive in Oia, and if you’re smart, you’ve already reserved a bed at La Cala – Pilgrim Inn. Take a stroll through this charming little town with a beautiful monastery.

Day 7 of the Camino itinerary: Oia to Ramallosa

Portuguese Camino trail marker

Distance: 25 km

Time: 8 hours with breaks

Terrain: asphalt and dirt road

Day 7 shows you the difference between hiking in Portugal and in Galicia. No more flat boardwalks along the beach; it’s time to head up into the hills!

At the start of your day, be sure to stop by the little souvenir shop in Pedra Rubia for a stamp and a chat. You’ll know it when you see it. And O Silleiro is your last chance to have a coffee and use the restroom for a while.

From there, we go up into the woods, crossing the hills to Baiona. It’s a fun trail with beautiful views. Once you get to Baiona, you can stay there and take some time to explore the pretty port town. Or you can do what I did and hike to Ramallosa to stay in the beautiful former monastery, El Pazo Pias.

Day 8 of the Camino itinerary: Ramallosa to Vigo

100 km marker Camino Portugues

Distance: 18 km

Time: 6.5 hours with breaks

Terrain: dirt roads, asphalt, and sidewalks.

I’ll be honest, this was one of my least favorite days. Mostly because of the rain, but also because of the amount of hiking on asphalt. It started nice enough, hiking through villages and woods.

A highlight was passing the “100 km to Santiago” marker. That felt like a massive achievement. I didn’t take many pictures, as there wasn’t much to see. As a fitting ending to this mediocre day, you’ll find Vigo quite the departure from your other destinations. It’s a big, modern city, almost entirely devoid of charm.

Day 9 of the Camino itinerary: Vigo to Redondela

view point baiona spain camino

Distance: 15 km

Time: 5.5 hours with breaks

Terrain: dirt roads and asphalt

You’ll probably be eager to leave Vigo, so let’s start early. The trail vastly improves as soon as you’re out of the city. You’ll climb through the hilly suburbs, offering beautiful views of the port of Vigo.

The dirt roads wind through the hills, and the views only improve. You might even spot a waterfall or two.

This is a short day, so you might still have some energy when you reach Redondela. Use it to walk around the old part of town, checking out some traditional architecture. The pilgrim hostel is sparse in terms of facilities, but it is located in a Medieval watch tower, which is pretty cool.

Day 10 of the Camino itinerary: Redondela to Pontevedra

Distance: 19 km

Time: 7 hours with breaks

Terrain: asphalt and dirt roads

As you leave Redondela, you’ll have to contend with a lot of asphalt. There is a particularly bad stretch along the main road, where you might fear for your life. But this is all worth it once you reach the gorgeous Roman bridge at A Rabaleira.

From there, you start heading back into the hills, where you might come across some friendly goats and vendors selling snacks and souvenirs.

Once you’re near Pontevedra, you have the option of a little detour. Take it! This muddy path along the river gives some serious fairy tale vibes.

In Pontevedra, you can either stay at the modest pilgrim hostel or walk a bit further into town for a regular hostel. Since Pontevedra is a big city with a lot to see and do, I think it’s worth being a bit more centrally located. Take the opportunity to explore the historic city center; it’s absolutely beautiful.

Day 11 of the Camino itinerary: Pontevedra to Calda de Reis

Pontevedra Spain

Distance: 22 km

Time: 8 hours with breaks

Terrain: asphalt and dirt roads

As you start today, the trail leads you through the heart of the historic centre of Pontevedra, which will be quiet at that time of day. During this day, you’ll have the option to veer off onto the spiritual trail, which I didn’t do.

Once you’ve made the long trek through the suburbs, you’ll walk through woods and along vineyards to Calda de Reis. The town itself has some charm and is worth a little look around.

I stayed at the Albergue Peregrinos Caldas de Reis, but I can’t really recommend it.

Day 12of the Camino itinerary: Calda de Reis to Padron

Distance: 17 km

Time: 6 hours with breaks

Terrain: dirt roads and asphalt

From Calda de Reis it’ll be a lot of walking through the woods and hills before you reach the first café: Buen Camino. Stop here for a drink and delicious pastry.

Cobblestone roads take you through the villages and vineyards until you get to Ponte do Peregrino, which I mistakenly thought was already Padron. A big letdown.

Instead, keep walking down the road to Padron. If you have time and energy, look around. Otherwise, continue to Albergue Cruces de Iria.

If you’re an idiot like me, keep walking a few kilometers further. It will be hell to drag yourself along the asphalt roads and through the villages to O Lagar de Jesus, but it will be worth it! Treat yourself to a dip in the pool, a delicious dinner, and a soft bed. It is your last night on the trail, after all.

Day 13 of the Camino itinerary: Padron to Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela Camino finish girl in front of Cathedral

Distance: 25 km

Time: 8.5 with breaks

Terrain: mostly asphalt

If you stayed at O Largo de Jesus, your last day will be about 3 km shorter. Which doesn’t seem like much, but it makes a huge difference. Because the last day is definitely the hardest.

It starts off nice enough, with the trail leading you through villages and even a bit of wood. But the closer you get to Santiago, the more industrial it becomes. But with very few opportunities to stop for a snack or a drink. When you reach O Milladoiro, you’ll be desperate for a coffee and a bathroom. Luckily, there are a few cafes here to choose from.

From there, you’ll have to brave even more asphalt and even a highway to reach Santiago de Compostela. Trust me, those last 5 km are the absolute worst. I probably took 10 breaks as my feet were killing me.

Once you reach the old city center of Santiago, you suddenly find yourself between hundreds of tourists. Quite a jarring experience. Make your way to the Cathedral for a picture (and possibly a cry) and go to the Pilgrim Office to pick up your Compostela certificate. This takes a long time! You probably won’t be on time for the noon pilgrim mass in the Cathedral, but you might make the 19:30 edition. This is definitely worth it!

There are plenty of hostels in Santiago, but they fill up quick with pilgrims coming from all directions, so book yours in advance. Enjoy your rest as you’ve just completed a 280 km hike!

Finishing in Santiago de Compostela

Arriving in Santiago at the end of your Camino can be quite an emotional experience. Even more so if you have to immediately rush home without time to decompress, process, and celebrate your massive achievement!

So plan at least a full day off in Santiago at the end of your trip. It’s a beautiful city with a lot to see and do. If you have time, you can even take a tour to Finestera to see the 0 km marker at the end of the world.

Rest days

This Camino itinerary doesn’t contain any rest days, since I didn’t end up taking any. In my initial plan, I did leave space for two. If you choose to take any, my personal recommendation would be to do so in Viane do Castello and Pontevedra. Those were my favorite towns; both have quite a bit to do and see.

Accounting for one or two rest days also allows you to amend your Camino itinerary as you go. Mine changed quite a bit from my original plan. You never know if you will have any injuries, bad weather, or just don’t feel like walking that much.

You could, for instance, plan a couple of shorter days and hit the beach in Portugal. The one at Praia de Ancora looked particularly tempting. I’m saying, leave room for spontaneity; that’s where the best adventures come from.

There’s no doubt that the Portuguese Camino kicked my ass. Sometimes I was giddy with joy. Sometimes, I was close to tears. But I loved it. It was an incredibly beautiful walk, full of amazing views, powerful moments, and interesting people. I now absolutely understand why people tend to walk multiple different Caminos.

I think this one was perfect for me in terms of length, terrain, and experiences. Quiet enough to be relaxing but popular enough to be fun. The Portuguese Camino de la Costa also made me love the Northern Portuguese Coast. It was more sunny, wild, and colorful than I could have imagined.

If you’re planning to hike the Portuguese Camino de Santiago yourself, you can use this post as a way to build your own Camino itinerary, just don’t over plan it!

Have you hiked the Portuguese Coastal Way or another Camino? What did your Camino itinerary look like? Let’s chat in the comments.

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10 thoughts on “Camino Itinerary: Portugal Coastal Route in 13 Days

  1. A brilliant review of the Camino de Portugues. I am planning to walk it this year. Which month did you go and how much money did you spend over the two weeks?

    1. Hi Simon, thank you! I went in early June of 2022. For the whole two weeks of hiking, I spent about €300-400. That is excluding flights and a few days in Porto at the start and a few days in Santiago at the end of the trip. You can bring that cost down even further, but a budget of 25-30 € a day will get you a pretty nice trip.

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