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Camino Portugues (Valenca/Tui – Santiago de Compostela)
April 5 - April 14€495
1.) Summary | Contribution
Camino Portugues 2-week (Porto) and 1 week (Tui) options | A non-refundable deposit of €145 is requested to reserve your place. Thank you.
For those travelling from Malta, the suggested flight connections are:
- Malta – Porto: 5th April 2023 on FR1509 from 07:00 – 09:20 (arrival in Porto)
- Porto – Malta: 14th April 2023 on FR1510 from 16:50 – 20:55
XirCammini will organise the land transport from / to airport in Portugal/Spain. The road transfer from Santiago de Compostela to Porto Airport is just under 3 hours.
Please follow this link to apply for the 2-week Camino from Porto to Santiago de Compostela.
2.) Important Notes
XirCammini is not a tour operator or travel agent. We are a not-for-profits, membership-based association registered in Malta with the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations (VO: 1646). This explains why our pricing is some 15% – 30% lower than that of other organisations and generally offers more, i.e. our walks are not self-guided (although one can walk part or all of the way on their own). We set off as a group with a group leader from among our members who is an experienced Camino afficionado. This means that, at all times, you have someone to assist and, if required, trouble-shoot. Even with very well planned an executed itineraries, occasionally there could be a last minute issue with, say, accommodation or land transport, a mis-directed baggage that does not arrive at a particular accommodation, an injury etc. So, having the support of a group and a group leader can be a relief. In terms of accommodation we tend to choose varied accommodation (i.e. a monastery, a hotel, pension and where available, a casa rural etc.) almost without exception on a twin room basis. From the baggage that arrives at our daily destination we can also safely assume that our accommodation is generally the same as the ones used by more established Camino tour operators. What we try to achieve is that pilgrims travelling with us have all the essentials catered for while in Spain, leaving you to concentrate on the spiritual journey, social interaction and camaraderie. Being in a group also means that you will make new friends from different walks of life but who share the same passion for the Camino.
Since we are a membership-based association, people travelling with us would need to be members of XirCammini. apply for membership by following this link.
4.) Camino Portugues: Introduction |Length | Terrain Combined Information for a Porto or Valenca/Tui Start
The Camino Portugues is one of the most popular Caminos after the Camino Frances, starting from as far as Lisbon or Porto or anywhere in between, it has a number of variations the most prevalent of which being the Coastal and the Central routes. Many walk only the last 120km or so from Valenca/Tui to Santiago de Compostela, making it eligible for the Compostela for walking pilgrims from the Pilgrim’s Office once you reach Santiago. The Via de la Plata currently attracts around 10% to 15% of all Camino Pilgrims applying for the Compostela in the Pilgrim Office in Santiago. Most of these would also only be walking the last 5 days from Valenca/Tui (6 days if pilgrims break the distance between Padron and Santiago de Compostela in 2 etapas).
The Camino is a scenic one which means, there will be some elevations and distances may vary on a daily basis due to ruta complementarias. You will be crossing 2 countries (the North of Portugal and the Province of Galicia) in 5 days of walking even if you start in Valenca/Tui. Some of you will be starting in arguably the 2nd most important city in Portugal, Porto, adding another 5 days in Portugal before reaching Galicia, Spain. Between Portugal and Spain you will also be in different time zones (1 hour difference).
Below are our indications of km and elevations. In terms of terrain this is generally mixed, i.e. urban/paved roads and country/forest paths and soil/gravel paths. None of the days are particularly taxing for a seasoned hiker. Of all, Day 1 is the most arduous both in terms of length and elevation. The rest then all seem to be more palatable after walking the first day:
- Porto to Giao/Fajozes: 22 – 25km with balanced number of ascents and descents reaching a high of 112m above sea level and low of 28m above sea level. The starting point is at the Cathedral of Porto close to the main train station and the scenic King Luis Bridge above the Douro River. You will be stopping in a village surrounded by fields mainly of corn. The area is also renown for its Douro wine. A visit to the train station before starting off would be worth your while.
- Giao/Fajozes – Barcelo: 30 – 33km. Although a slightly longer day, ascents and descents are also relatively gentle with the highest ascent at 142m above sea level and descending lower than the previous day, close to Calvado River at 9 m above sea level, The area is renown for its Calvado wine. River banks in the region generally mean very good wine! Barcelos is a lovely town with a grand bridge over the river from where you will enter barcelos and also a magnificent medieval cathedral.
- Barcelo – Ponte de Lima: 30km – 35km. Compared to the previous day this etapa would be a little bit more taxing since it is a slightly longer walking day with at least 2 ascents that are relatively higher than experienced on the previous days. Still, compared to other Caminos. ascents on the Portugues are relatively gentle. This route peaks at 184m above sea level and descends to 10m above sea level. Ponte de Lima is a very scenic town overlooking the river and the historic Ponte de Lima Bridge.
- Ponte de Lima – Rubias: This is an 18km – 20km and, in general, will feel gentler than the previous day because it is a considerably shorter walking day. However it does have a steep ascent towards the middle of the walking day. This is where a fierce battle took place during the Iberian (Peninsular) Wars and a momument to the massacred retreating French troops still stands eerily in the hills after leaving Ponte de Lima. the ascent is almost double that of the previous day rising to over 320m above sea level but after a gentle descent the last 1/4 of the way is more or less a plateau. Rubias is a sparsely inhabited hamlet with a few pilgrim accommodation buildings and a general store. It is advisable that you stock up on certain essentials the day before in case you become peakish before dinner.
- Rubias to Valenca: This is a 18km – 20km gradual descent being at < 275m above sea level at the highest peak and dropping to >20m above sea level towards the end of the walking day. Dedicate time to exploring Forteleza 9the fortified Portuguese citadel overlooking the River Mino, acting as a natural border between Portugal and Spain.
- Valenca/Tui to O Porrino: 18km – 20km characterised by short and sharp ascents and descents during this relatively short day of walking. The highest elevation is still on of the lowest for the whole Camino at 46m above sea level and the lowest point for this day will be at 15m above sea level. Do not rush through Tui. The Cathedral of Tui and the old quarter is worth a walk through before proceeding on your way to O Porrino. You will hit beautiful Galician countryside as soon as you exit Tui.
- O Porrino – Arcade: 22km – 24km. For those of you brave to swim (or wet their feet) in the Atlantic, Arcade offers a beautiful beach where the estuary meets the sea. The walking day is not particulatly taxing since there is plateau.#/gentle ascent for the first half of the walk, continuing with a descent to sea level.
- Arcade – Pontevedra: 12km – 15km. Crossing the old bridge as you exit Arcade, this day is characterised with one short sharp ascent (relatively low at 56m above sea level) before descening again to 7m above sea level, In Pontevedra, if you make it in time before noon (it is suggested that you leave earlier from Arcade), you may be lucky enough to find a seat in the municipal market and order resh fish from the market to be cooked for oyur there. Pontevdra is the provincial capital and is a bustling town with its quaint old quarter and more modern streets and shops.
- Pontevedra to Caldas de Rei: This is an 22km – 25km with an ascent in the first 1/3rd of the walk followed more or less a descent to 0m at sea level at Caldas de Rei. Caldes de Rei, as the name suggests, has thermal waters which can be experienced even in public water sources in the town’s plazas. This was historically a spa town for royalty. It’s worth carrying a small quick-dry towel with you and wetting your feet with hot and cold water at the end of the walking day before going to your appointed accommodation. It is a relatviely ‘sleepy’ town with a lovely public garden and wooden sculptures along the river.
- Caldas del Rei to Padron: This is a 18km – 20km relatively easy day, reaching the town of Padron, famous for the savoury Pementos Padron which one generally washes down with some Tinto. It is also the seat of the Roman town of Illiria Flavia and believed to be the place where St James evangelised. There is a steep hill worth climbing with the cross that is the recognised symbol of the Camino Portugues. The cross is erected where is is believed that St James preached during the Roman period. If you present your Credencial for stamping the Church of St James, you can then collect the Pedronia (Pilgrim Certificate) across the bridge at the pilgrim albergue.
- Padron to Santiago de Compostela: This is a 20km -22km walking day. although not a longer than average walking day, it is characterised by one ascent from start to finish as one climbs from practically sea level to > 250m above sea level. While the initial part offers some countryside settings the latter part is mainly through greater Santiago de Compostela area until reaching the old Santiago quarters and the Cathedral.
5.) What to see on the way?
The following are some sights worth including on the way:
- This Camino has an abundance of rivers and bridges. Most of the bridges (Porto, Ponte de Lima, Barcelos, Arcade etc.) are historic bridges.
- It also has a number of magnificent cathedrals and churches, notably in Porto, Valenca, Tui, Padron and Santiago.
- Thermal waters in Caldas de Rei.
- The hill and cross in Illiria Flavia (Padron) where St James is believed to have preached.
- When in Padron make sure to sample the Pemento Padron.
- North Portugal is renown for its wine (Ribiero del Douro and Calvado) as well as port. in Galicia, closer to Santiago, the region is also known for the Ribiera Sacra.
6.) Some other practical matters
For members joining us from overseas (any one interested in membership please follow this link), the Malta group will probably fly into Porto (Portugal) and we organise a coach from there to the starting point. You can either meet us at the airport or we can agree to meet at the first accommodation in either Porto or Valenca the evening before we start walking.
Well before the Camino we also set up a WhatApp group for the pilgrims on the Camino so that you start interacting beforehand with questions, practical advice, food or medicine intolerances etc