Camino Portuguese: Coastal vs Central Routes

Countryside of Portugal along the Portuguese Camino tour | Jaclyn Lofts
Countryside of Portugal along the Portuguese Camino tour | Jaclyn Lofts

Camino Portuguese: Coastal vs Central Routes

Walking the Camino Portuguese is one of the popular pilgrimage routes leading to Santiago de Compostela. Walking the Camino in Portugal is a pretty alternative to Spain and it offers a wealth of history, culture and postcard-perfect scenery.
Whether you want to walk the Portuguese Camino from Lisbon, from Porto, from Viana do Castelo, or the final stage from Tui, you'll find that all roads along the Camino lead to Santiago de Compostela.

What are the Portuguese Camino routes?

Sign on Portuguese Camino |  <i>Jaclyn Lofts</i>
There are two Camino trails in Portugal a pilgrim needs to consider: the Portuguese Coastal Way and the Portuguese Way. Note that there are other ways of saying these routes: the Portuguese Road, the Camino Portugues, the Portuguese Coastal Camino, the Camino Portugues Coastal Route. The key difference is that one path goes inland and the other is more coastal. Simple!

Portuguese Way

Exploring vineyards on the Camino Portuguese self guided walking tour
The Portuguese Way is the main Camino route and is referred to as the inland or central path, taking pilgrims over the beautiful interior of Portugal. This route starts in Lisbon and is often broken up into stages: 


Portuguese Coastal Way

Enjoying a quiet stage of the Portuguese Camino along Portugal's coast.
The Portuguese Coastal Way, as the name suggests, takes travellers on a scenic route closer to the Portuguese coast. This route starts in the town of Viana do Castelo, not far from the city of Porto, then heads north through small hamlets, past eucalyptus and pine woods, over ancient bridges and along stunning coastal scenery. This is one of the quieter Camino paths.

Which Camino Portuguese route is the best?

Looking at Tui across the Mino River at the start of your Portuguese Camino walking tour |  <i>Tatjana Hayward</i>
If you're anything like me, I'm a completionist so would need to walk the entire path from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela on the Full Portuguese Camino tour. However, this isn't always possible due to time restraints - it takes 32 days! Below are some of the reasons for walking each of the Camino Portuguese sections:
Portuguese Way: Tui to Santiago. The trail from Tui is more than 100km, meaning you will qualify for the Compostela certificate upon your arrival in Santiago. So if you wanted to do the minimum distance along the Camino Portuguese, then the Tui to Santiago tour is for you.
Portuguese Way: Porto to Santiago. This tour combines two sections of (arguably) the most fascinating stages, from Porto to Tui to Santiago. R. Revie from Canada recommends this tour. "Walking past the vineyards during the harvest, seeing the grapes being collected and talking to some of the workers were all unexpected bonuses." 

Can I cycle the Portuguese Way and the Portuguese Coastal Way?

Admiring the view on the Camino Portuguese stage between Porto and Santiago de Compostela |  <i>Pat Rochon</i>
Yes, you can. Cycling the Portuguese Coastal Way from Viana do Castelo to Santiago on a self-guided trip takes 12 days (view trip here). The central Portuguese Way can be finished in 16 days on the Full Portuguese Way Cycle, or the route can be cut in half and cycled from Porto to Santiago. There's also the opportunity to upgrade to an e-bike if you would like.

Is there a guided Portuguese Camino tour?

Porto harbour in Portugal |  <i>Jaclyn Lofts</i>
If you'd like to join a tour of like-minded travellers along the Camino in Portugal we recommend our 'Best of the Portuguese Way' trip. This covers the entire distance of the Portuguese Way in just 10 days as your professional guide will transfer you to the most interesting sections to walk. In just 10 days you'll experience the highlights of the Portugeuse Camino and stay in a parador, one of the historically significant luxury hotels along the route.

If you've walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain should you bother with the Camino Portuguese?

We'll leave this five-star review from one of our UTracks Travellers to answer this question.
Having walked the Camino a few years ago I was wondering how this would compare. There is no comparison, that would not be fair to this trail. It's quite a different experience indeed, and much quieter. The Portuguese people and culture bring this trail to life and given my interest in this topic I was pleased I chose a self guided holiday so that I could satisfy my interests without feeling guilty about holding up a group. Everything was well organised and I certainly would recommend this trip to anyone. Thank you.
K. Cross. | Armidale, NSW. Australia
Pilgrims walking the Camino in Spain |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

Which Camino route will you be walking or cycling? Let us know in the comment section below!
Camino Portuguese, Portugal, Camino, Portuguese Camino, Portuguese Way, Portuguese Coastal Way, Portuguese Road, Camino Portugues

Comments (4)

Maureen Mol

In 2018, we did the self guided coastal way cycling trip from Porto to Santiago and loved it! Some of the riding was harder than we expected but the weather was perfect, the scenery beautiful and the people so lovely. Great memories, so glad we did the trip.

last year
William from UTracks

Thanks for sharing Maureen! The Portuguese Camino is highly sought-after this year - everyone must have heard about the awesome experiences along the trail. Fingers crossed the weather is perfect for our travellers. Buen Camino!

last year
William from UTracks

That's an amazing pilgrimage Pete! If you feel like writing about your trip, we'd love to hear it. See our travel writers page for more details.


3 years ago
Pete Bradley

You should know that I walked from Lisbon to Santiago last year and can throughly recommend it

3 years ago
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