The Portugués Central Route
From Porto to Santiago inland
As the name suggests, the Caminho Portugués goes to Santiago de Compostela from Portugal.
The best known route is the Central Route, which is 250km from Santiago. If you walk 25km per day on average you will need approximately 10 days to complete it.
Your starting city is Porto, home to the Port Wine, this city is full of rich history and true tradition. You will need to visit the Porto Cathedral which is a Roman Catholic church located in the historical centre of the city of Porto. It is one of the city’s oldest monuments and one of the most important local Romanesque monuments. Here you will be able to get your first stamp in your pilgrim’s passport.
From Vilarinho to Barcelos the route is mostly asphalt. Barcelos is a cute medieval town with a strong cultural identity. This comes from artisan traditions like pottery, as well as the Galo de Barcelo, the ornamental rooster that became an emblem for Portugal. A few metres from the palace ruins is Barcelos’ main church, whose style transitioned from Romanesque to Gothic in the 1200s. There’s unmistakable 18th-century decoration in the naves, which are festooned with blue and white azulejos showing historical scenes and episodes from the Bible.
When you reach Ponte de Lima take your time to enjoy a traditional meal at one of the many delightful restaurants. Ponte de Lima is also the oldest vila in Portugal. It is named after the long medieval bridge that passes over the Lima River that runs next to the town.
The stage from Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes is considerably easier than the previous one as its length is almost half of yesterday’s. You will start to climb the Alto da Portela Grande Labruja during the second half of the day where you will gain 315 meters over 4km. It is the largest climb on The Camino Portugues but it is not overly difficult. The day is a beautiful one as you will mostly walk through nature. There is a 9km long stretch between Codeçal and Rubiães where there are no facilities so make sure you have plenty of water with you. Some pilgrims consider walking 17 more kilometres to Valença do Minho. If you decide to stay in Rubiães, visit the beautiful church of São Pedro de Rubiães. The village is a small one with about 500 inhabitants and there are basic facilities for pilgrims but there is not much else to see here.
Valença, is where the Portuguese Coastal Route meets up with the Central way. Enter the fort via the crowned doorway and you are in the biggest fortification with bastions in Europe with more than 5km of wall dating back to 1770.
Tui will be the first Spanish town you will encounter after crossing the bridge over the river Minho, which serves as a natural border between both countries. Tui was a very important town in medieval times and you can still see many buildings dating back to the 15-16th centuries, including its cathedral.
Porriño is at the Centre of an important industrial area. It is one of the world’s biggest granite producers. You will pass this town on your way to Redondela.
Arcade is a small coastal town famous for its oysters. Every year, at the beginning of April, Arcade celebrates an oyster festival.
Pontevedra has one of the most important historical centres in Galicia, after Santiago de Compostela. Most of the city centre has been pedestrianised and Pontevedra has become an internationally acclaimed city.
Don’t forget to rest your feet at Caldas de Reis which is well-known for its thermal waters.
In Padrón – you will find the Church of Saint James of Padrón, where you will see a roman stone altar, a very important element in the Jacobean tradition. This is believed to be the place where the boat which carried the body of the Apostle was moored. It is also the home of the famous Padrón peppers.
The final stage to Santiago de Compostela takes you through the city. You will be approaching from Santa Susana park by Capilla Pilar and then make your way up the Porta Faxeira (traffic lights have replaced the historic south gate into the city).