Camino Portuguese

Umbrella Festival at Agudea, Portugal
Umbrella festival at Águeda, Portugal

From Lisbon to Santiago, 675 kms

Famous Last Words

When I arrived in Santiago de Compostela in Spain after having walked the Camino Frances I rang my husband at some ungodly time in the morning NZ time and told him that if I was ever thinking of doing another Camino, he was remind me of how tired I was and how I said I would never ever do another Camino …

Famous last words. Two years down the track I found myself walking the Camino Portuguese! I guess it’s a bit like childbirth. You forget the pain!

I had heard of people who have walked the Camino de Santiago many times and while I was walking it I couldn’t really understand why they would want to do that. But there’s something about the Camino. There’s something about being out on the trail and walking to your next destination. There’s such a freedom associated with having the time and space to think and walk and talk.

Many hours of planning

We didn’t want to repeat the Camino Frances (though many people do walk the same Camino year after year) so the one that we looked at was the Camino Portuguese. It’s not nearly as popular as the Camino Frances, the main reasons being there is not as much accommodation available as on the Camino Frances and there are longer distances between stops. Also, because there are less pilgrims and less demand, there are less restaurants who offer special pilgrim (aka great value) menus. This meant a lot more planning (over a glass or two of wine) was needed to work out how far we could walk each day and we went back to our old friend John Brierley and his Camino Portuguese pilgrim guide for guidance.

The Camino Portuguese is a completely different beast to the Camino Frances. I would recommend that if you hadn’t walked a Camino before, you start with the Camino Frances as it’s well set up for pilgrims with lots of accommodation options, pilgrim menus, many people to talk to along the way and a sense of community.

By contrast, there were days on the Camino Portuguese where we never saw another walker and some days when we might see 3 or 4. At one point I was going to do the walk by myself so would have found it extremely isolating.

The Scenery

Fisherman en route to Vila do Conde

The scenery along the way is beautiful and quite different to the Camino Frances. We also chose to include the Coastal Route as part of our walk. It was great to get the fresh air off the coast and a nice contrast to walking through tomato fields and corn fields.

I have many memories of the Camino Portuguese – walking through fields of crops; the cork plantations; the beautiful Portuguese tiles; the delicious pies; the small towns and villages; the interesting coastline …

Arriving in Santiago when I rang my husband this time, I never said I wouldn’t do another camino, as once you get the bug …