Private Bedroom and Bathroom
We understand that people do want to walk the Camino, but would rather not sleep in albergues, the communal dormitories available along the trail. Some pilgrims enjoy having their own bedrooms with a door, an en-suite bathroom, and plenty of hot water!
Freedom From Your Bags
Our self-guided clients do not want or cannot carry all their belongings with them. In fact, they enjoy being able to add some extra weight to their load and have some creature comforts, such as that iPad!
A Live Person to Help
Are you nervous and scared! Coming to a foreign country to walk for a couple of weeks is daunting no matter how many books and web forums you've read. You want more than just an Orientation Packet sent to you in the mail - you want a LIVE person to answer your questions and help you take those first steps on your journey.
Meals with Friends
Independence can be great when traveling, but it is also nice to have some occasional companions to share those tales from the trail and a meal or two!
We welcome the group in the afternoon in Porto, which sits on the banks of the “River of Gold", the Rio Douro. Your Fresco Tours representative will hand out your Orientation Packets and review all the materials to get you ready for your Pilgrimage on the Coastal Camino Portugués! Afterwards, we'll take you to get your first stamp in your Pilgrim's Passport before enjoying a traditional Portuguese meal. (D)
Porto (Matosinhos) to Vila do CondeAccommodation: Vila do Conde / Walking: 21 km or 13 miles
After breakfast, you transfer to Matosinhos, where you begin the Coastal Camino Portugués. You embark on the coastal trail along roads and wooden boardwalks, that take you through sandy beaches and quaint fishing villages. You end the day in the resort town of Vila do Conde, historically known for ship building and fishing. (B)
Vila do Conde to EsposendeAccommodation: Esposende / Walking: 25 km or 15 miles
This morning you continue along the coast, passing sand dunes and fields of flowers. You arrive to Esposende, further inland, and near the Cávado estuary. End the day with a traditional dish of the area, polve de Esposende, a stew made with octopus, cabbage and potatoes. Bom proveito! (B)
Esposende to Viana do CasteloAccommodation: Viana do Castelo / Walking: 24 km or 14 mi
Today you leave the coast behind and pass through several villages and forests. The long Eiffel bridge into Viana do Castelo, a lovely town known for its combination of old and contemporary architecture, also gives us a wonderful view over the Lima valley. (B)
Viana do Castelo to Vila Praia de AncoraAccommodation: Vila Praia de Ancora / Walking: 20 km or 12 mi
The walk today is mainly inland, with some coastal views from small villages. You make your way through a eucalyptus forest as you continue uphill before your descent into the beachside resort town of Vila Praia de Âncora. (B)
Vila Praia de Ancora to A GuardaAccommodation: A Guarda / Walking: 14 km or 9 mi
A coastal path connects Âncora with Moleda and then takes you to the quaint town of Caminha. If you have time, take a detour through the pine forest along the beach before catching the ferry across the River Minho to the quiet fishing town of A Guarda in Spain. (B)
A Guarda to OiaAccommodation: Oia / Walking: 14 km or 9 mi
If you can, visit the Santa Tegra Celtic settlement before leaving A Guarda – the views are stunning! Continue along the Camino through the center of town and out towards the rugged coastline. Walking along coastal and wooded paths, as well as asphalt roads, you reach the beachfront village of Oia, whose 12th century monastery is worth visiting. (B)
Oia to BaionaAccommodation: Baiona / Walking: 18 km or 11 mi
This morning you pass small fields, a few villages and some scattered houses along the coast before the scenery and terrain change and you cut across the mountains. Today you have a final descent into the medieval center of Baiona, where you can visit the Museum of the Pinta, one of the three ships that sailed to America on Columbus’ expedition. (B)
Baiona to VigoAccommodation: Vigo / Walking: 26 km or 16 miles
Leaving Baiona, you are once again surrounded by the countryside, with its small villages and forests. After a brief section along the road, you return to small hamlets before entering Vigo, considered the largest city in Galicia. (B)
Vigo to ArcadeAccommodation: Arcade / 22 km or 14 mi
This morning you walk along the main shopping street in Vigo and then out into the countryside along a long road that connects several peaceful hillside villages with views across the city and port. Before reaching the beachside town of Arcade, you will walk through the fascinating town of Redondela with its two 19th century rail viaducts that cross the town’s sky. Finish the day with the local specialties of oysters and mussels that are farmed along the estuary and a glass of Albariño white wine. (B)
Arcade to PontevedraAccommodation: Pontevedra / Walking: 13 km or 8 miles
Following the Camino, you cross the bridge of Ponte Sampaio, where a group of locals defeated Napoleon’s troops in 1809. You then cross one last hill with views of the Vigo Estuary before descending into Pontevedra. The town is best known for being the home to the Church of La Peregrina (The Lady Pilgrim) with its iconic scallop shell floor plan shape. La Peregrina is also the patron saint of the Portuguese Camino and is devoutly venerated by locals and foreigners alike. Today’s stage is shorter than the rest allowing you time to explore Pontevedra at your leisure. (B)
Pontevedra to Caldas de ReisAccommodation: Caldas de Reis / Walking: 22 km or 14 mi
The Camino takes you out of town and before you realize it, into the quiet forested countryside, along trails and small country lanes all the way to Caldas de Reis. You can even make a short detour and admire some spectacular waterfalls halfway through the stage. Your stage ends in Caldas de Reis, which roughly translates as the kings’ thermal waters, and like a king or queen you will feel when you dip your tired feet into the soothing natural thermal springs in town. (B)
Caldas de Reis to PadrónAccommodation: Padrón / Walking: 19 km or 12 mi
The day starts with an enticing walk through wooded vales, vineyards and small villages before you gain the last major hill on your Camino. The descent takes you into the Ulla River valley that separates the province of Pontevedra from the province of A Coruña, where Santiago de Compostela is. The stage ends in the historic town of Padrón (or pedrón – Galician for big stone), which pays homage to the famous rock where the boat that contained Saint James was moored to upon its arrival from Jerusalem after he had been martyred. Or in other words, this is where the Santiago story began and where you will literally be walking in the footsteps of the apostle! Padrón is also famous in culinary circles for its little green peppers, some which are hot and others that are not. (B)
Padrón to SantiagoAccommodation: Santiago / Walking: 23 km or 14 miles
14 days, 260 kilometers, and you have arrived to Santiago de Compostela. Congratulations! Head to the Pilgrims’ Office for your last stamp in your Passport and request that well-deserved certificate, the Compostela, for having walked to Santiago. You are going to love this magical city filled with fantastic monuments and a lively buzz from the international pilgrims and university students that fill its medieval streets. (B)
Santiago de CompostelaItinerary Ends
After breakfast, our local historian gives you a closer look at the amazing Cathedral that has seen so many transformations since the original chapel built in the 9th century. Its age seems almost impossible when looking at the Baroque façade that graces the entryway. Afterwards, make sure you give your well-earned hug to St. James! Alas, your itinerary has come to a finish. (B)
* Due to the limited availability and selection of accommodations on the Portugues route, a short shuttle from the Camino may be necessary to ensure the quality of your hotel.
A Fresco Tours representative will hand deliver your Orientation Packet and give you a detailed meeting on the first night in Porto. Your Welcome Packet is filled with all the materials you’ll need to transform into a pilgrim: Your credencial (Pilgrim’s Passport), a scallop shell, a guide book with maps and historical information of the towns that you will pass through, and a few other goodies for the trail! We'll answer any questions that you have before starting your journey to Santiago.
14 nights in a combination of 2, 3 & 4-star hotels, restored manor homes, and small pensions / inns located on the Camino. All rooms have their own bathrooms. We’ve chosen places for their hospitality, comfort, and location. *Keep in mind that as you will be walking through rural countryside, the availability of 3 & 4-star hotels all along the route is not possible.
All breakfasts are included with your hotels. We have arranged for them to be supplemented from the standard Spanish breakfast of coffee & toast. The first night of the itinerary, our guide will take you for dinner at one of our favorite places in Porto - wine or beer included. Afterwards, we will provide you with indications along the Camino for finding places to eat or have a cup of coffee. Let us know if you have any dietary restrictions and we can ask our hotels to accommodate for those as well!
Limited Group Size
Although this tour is Self-Guided, we’ve limited the size of each departure to 15 passengers. Availability is on a first come, first serve basis.
We will arrange for the transfer of 1 suitcase / piece of luggage (20 kg / 45 lbs MAX) per person between your hotels on your walk along the Camino. If the weight of your bag exceeds the limit, you will need to divide it into 2 pieces. Please contact us for details for rates for extra bags.
In Santiago, our local art historian will provide you with a guided visit of the Cathedral and the surrounding squares. A minimum of 5 people is necessary for this service to be provided.
Pre / During / Post Service:
We are here to help! Need assistance with hotels prior to or after your trip? Train tickets? Returning from Santiago? Questions about what to wear? Need a taxi while on the trail? Based in Spain, we are here to make sure that your trip runs smooth as can be – please don't hesitate to ask for our help!
On the Road
What is the weather like on the A Fresco Start Coastal Camino Portugués Tour?
Fresco Tours' A Fresco Start Coastal Camino Portugués Tour covers about 260 kilometers of the Camino in the Northwest region between Portugal & Galicia. Here we enjoy a more temperate climate than other parts of the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
For average monthly temperatures and rainfall of Porto and Santiago de Compostela, please click below:
What is the terrain like on A Fresco Start Coastal Camino Portugués Tour?
In Portugal & Galicia, the regions where we walk, the terrain is green rolling hills - there are neither steep climbs nor treacherous descents. The trail itself is a combination of very well-maintained compact dirt and stone footpaths and small country roads, as well as wooden boardwalks along the coast.
What is the change in elevation on A Fresco Start Coastal Camino Portugués Tour?
You will be walking from Matosinhos to Santiago de Compostela, about 260 km of the Camino de Santiago. For more information on the distances between towns along the Camino and their respective altitudes, please click here.
How many kilometers are walked each day on A Fresco Start Coastal Camino Portugués Tour?
The amount of km's scheduled for each day varies on average from 13 km to 26 km. You will walk approximately 260 km to Santiago, which is over the minimum requirement by the Pilgrims' Office in Santiago if you are going to ask for the Compostela Certificate.
What if I am unable to walk the scheduled daily kilometers?
We will provide you with detailed documentation of your walk. This information will include the elevation gain and loss along the stage, the address of where your hotel is located, as well as a list of taxi phone numbers in case you need a lift.
Will I have access to WiFi?
Yes, but you will be walking in one of the most rural parts of Portugal and Spain so the service may be a bit difficult or slow in certain locations. Nonetheless, many cafes along the way also offer Wi-Fi so you'll have several opportunities to be online. Finally, remember that one of the greatest joys of the Camino is cultivating the ability to disconnect and enjoy your immediate surroundings!
Getting There & Back
How do I get to A Fresco Start Coastal Camino Portugués Tour starting point?
To facilitate your travel for the start of your walk, we will meet the group in Porto, which has airline connections from around the world! Your guide will meet you at a central hotel for your first day's transfer. If you need assistance with hotel arrangements, we will be happy to help.
How do I get from Santiago de Compostela to Porto and other cities?
There are buses that will get you from Santiago to Porto. If you are looking to fly, there are excellent internal flights that fly Santiago to Porto.
If traveling home via Madrid, there are now RENFE trains that will get you from Santiago to Madrid in less than 6 hours. While routes and availability may vary upon time of booking, there are several daily trains from Santiago to Madrid. The direct trains are listed as Alvia. If you are looking to fly, there are excellent internal flights that fly Santiago to Madrid.
Can you help with purchasing online train tickets?
Unfortunately, the RENFE website can be a bit temperamental and is not very user friendly. However, all is not lost! If you are having difficulties, we like the Rail Europe website for purchasing tickets. Keep in mind that train tickets cannot be purchased until 60 days prior to departure. Routes and availability are subject to vary based on maintenance needs.
How do I get to and from the Airport?
The national organization of airports in Portugal (ANA) has a great website that explains how to get to and from the major city for your airport of choice. It also has information regarding the routes serviced, the corresponding airlines, terminal information, transportation options and more.
If you are flying into Madrid and need to get to Porto, please see Spain's (AENA) website for information on destinations and routes serviced, the corresponding airlines, and much more. You may have to re-click the "English" tab at the top once you have chosen your airport.
The national organization of airports in Spain (AENA) has a great website that explains how to get to and from the major city for your airport of choice. It also has information regarding the routes serviced, the corresponding airlines, terminal information, and much more. You may have to re-click the "English" tab at the top once you have chosen your airport.
Before You Go / Preparing
What type of boots do I need for A Fresco Start Coastal Camino Portugués Tour?
Footwear is a very personal question - depending on how active you are and how much support you will need. Since we will be walking on a daily basis on the Camino de Santiago, I believe that comfort is key - you do not want to get blisters. You probably won't need a full high boot that covers your ankle (unless you need this support), but rather light trail walkers or even running shoes if you are used to walking. In the spring, there may be mud and water along the trail, so keep that in mind. Most important: Make sure that they are well broken in!
What sort of conditioning do I need to undertake A Fresco Start Coastal Camino Portugués Tour?
We encourage you to walk before and be prepared for your own enjoyment. As you will be walking from inn to inn, you should be prepared to cover the day's full stage. They say your Camino begins once you decide to do it, so enjoy your "training" walks and get those km's in before your arrive to Spain! As a bit of insurance, we will also provide you will with a list of taxi phone numbers... just in case.
How do I purchase travel insurance?
If you are interested in travel insurance, we like TravelInsurance.com, which allows you to compare various policies across the top Insurance Providers. With the current situation, make sure to review their section regarding "Coronavirus Information" to select a policy that fits your needs.
Where do Fresco Tour clients come from?
We are very fortunate to have had clients join us from around the world giving us a wonderful mix of diversity. The internet allows us access to the world, and since 2006 we have had travelers from the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, the United Kingdom (England & Scotland), Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, China, India, South Africa, Namibia and even Egypt! It truly is a small world after all!
When do most people walk the Camino de Santiago?
According to the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago de Compostela, in 2019, 33.4% of all pilgrims who requested the Compostela arrived in July and August. This makes sense since many Europeans and students have their vacation time in the summer. Whenever you decide to walk, you will always be able to find that "quiet time" for yourself along the trail. In addition, walking with Fresco Tours means that you won't have to worry about your meals, your pack, where you'll sleep, or anything else. You do the walking and leave everything else up to us!