The Camino de Santiago routes in Portugal are known as the Camino Portugues or Camino Portuguese Way of St James, (the Portugues and English). They are not one route but three routes through Portugal into Spain finishing in Santiago de Compostela.
The main starting points for the Camino Portugues are:
- Lisbon – 612km
- Porto – 240km
- Tui – 115km – about half of all pilgrims start at this point
You can though start your Camino at any point along the route, bear in mind to have your Pilgrim’s Passport, which is required to stay in the pilgrim’s hostels and to be awarded your Compostela when you arrive in Santiago de Compostela. Normally you only need one stamp per day in your pilgrim’s passport, unless you start at Tui – in that case you need two stamps per day to be eligible for the Compostela.
The Way of St James in Portugal is quieter than the Camino Frances, thought it is the second most popular Camino route. Along with the Camino del Norte, they are the only two long Caminos on the Iberian peninsular where you can walk alongside the sea at various stages.
Camino Way Marking
The whole Camino Portugues route is now way marked from Lisbon, follow the yellow arrows – not to be confused with the blue arrows that lead to Fatima. As with the other main Camino routes you will not need a map to find your way. Maps are useful for knowing where the next town or villages is and where and how far is your over night stop.
Between Lisbon and Porto there is one route, now fully marked and easy to follow starting at Lisbon Cathedral. There can be some longer stages between hostels, up to 30km or more at some points, though this is changing quickly due to the popularity of the Camino de Santiago. Private albergues open and close each year, therefore having an up to date list or up to date guidebook will be helpful. However some albergues on this route provide a pick up and drop off service – they collect and return you to the same point the next morning. For more information see this page – look down the page for the heading “Camino Portuguese Lisbon to Porto short stages”.
This first section of the route, about 380 km from Lisbon to Porto, is the least popular part of the Camino Portugues. The path is about 70% road walking, beside main roads or walking along quiet country roads.
From Porto to Tui / Valenca and Redondela there are two routes.
The first route travels directly north from Porto; this is the continuation of the central route.
The second route is called the Coastal Route. As the name suggests it travels along the western coast of Portugal heading north. The coastal route only starts at Porto. There is the option of joining the central route again at Valenca / Tui or staying on the coast and joining at Redondela.
The Camino Portugues Interior, Caminho Interior, starts at Viseu and joins the central Portuguese route at Ponte de Lima or alternatively heads east and joins the Camino Sanabres at Verin. Currently this route is not well marked and has few pilgrims’ hostels, though the marking is getting better each year.
The Camino routes in Portugal have not developed as quickly as the routes in Spain to accommodate the many pilgrims hiking each year. This can make some of the hostels a little bit more expensive than Spain and less frequent. However Portugal is racing to catch up and the Portuguese Association Via Lusitana are making tremendous improvements every year.