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The 3 routes of the Portuguese Camino from Porto

The Portuguese Camino from Porto has different routes; the Central Route, the Coastal Route, and the Litoral Way. All routes start at Se Cathedral in Porto. All three routes merge in Redondela, Spain, 85 km before Santiago de Compostela. It’s possible to combine all three routes or choose one and walk it from the start to the end. In this post, I describe the first stage of each of the three Camino de Santiago routes from Porto.

For many pilgrims, the Portuguese Camino starts in Porto. In fact, the route is much longer because it starts in Lisbon. The Lisbon to Porto part of the Camino is not a very popular route.

Se Cathedral in Porto
Se Cathedral in Porto is where all three Portuguese Camino routes start

How many routes are on the Portuguese Camino from Porto?

There are 3 routes on the Portuguese Camino de Santiago from Porto; the Central Route, the Coastal Route, and the Litoral Way or Senda Litoral. The Litoral Way is the one that goes along the coast from Porto. The Central and the Coastal routes go inland. 

I walked out of Porto for 3 consecutive days following the 3 different routes of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago. The Litoral Way is by far my favorite as it goes along the coast and offers spectacular scenery. The Coastal Route from Porto is my least favorite because it goes through some industrial areas and past the airport. I wouldn’t say the walk on the Coastal Route was ugly or unpleasant it was ok I just liked it the least, especially the middle part where you walk through the industrial area and next to the airport. Besides the first stage, the Coastal Route is one of our favorite Camino de Santiago routes.

A fantastic coastal scenery on the Litoral Camino from Porto
The scenery on the Litoral Way of the Portuguese Camino from Porto is by far my favorite

The map of the three Camino routes from Porto

Portuguese Camino de Santiago; Senda Litoral, Coastal Route and Central Route from Porto
Different routes of walking out of Porto; Senda Litoral, Coastal Route, and Central Route of the Portuguese Camino

Best places to stay in Porto before the Camino

The best is to stay near the Cathedral so on your first day on the Camino you can start the walk right from your hotel and don’t have to take the metro or a bus to get to the Cathedral first.

Albergue de Peregrinos de Porto is 3 km away from the Cathedral on the Central/Coastal Camino routes. If you want to stay there you can do the first 3 km from Se Cathedral to Albergue the day before you start your walk so on the day you can walk out of the Albergue and continue on the Camino. If you’re going to walk the Litoral Way then you’ll have to get from the albergue to the Cathedral by public transport or taxi and then start walking.

Which Camino route from Porto is the best to walk?

It depends on which route of the Portuguese Camino you want to walk. If you plan to walk the Central Route I’d suggest following it from the start. You can also walk out of Porto following the Senda Litoral, but in that case, you’ll have to switch to the Central Route in Vila do Conde which adds one extra day to your itinerary. 

If you want to walk the Coastal Route of the Portuguese Camino I’d suggest walking out of Porto following the Litoral Way. In my opinion, it’s a more beautiful route and it makes more sense to walk along the coast since that is what you want to do. The Litoral Way and the Coastal Route join in Vila do Conde. From there they follow more or less the same trajectory. The Litoral Way sticks more to the beach while the Coastal Route sometimes goes through towns and villages. 

The walk from Porto to Vila do Conde on the Litoral Way is 4 km longer than on the Coastal Route; 33 km vs 29 km. You don’t have to walk it in one day. Even 29 km in my opinion is too much for the first day on the Camino. 

As an option, you can combine all three routes. Walk out of Porto following the Litoral Way, then continue on the Coastal Route from Vila do Conde to Caminha from there walk to Valença and continue on the Central Route to Santiago de Compostela. You can add to your itinerary the Spiritual Variant of the Portuguese Camino from Pontevedra to Padrón.

What is the most scenic route of the Portuguese Camino from Porto?

The Senda Litoray (Litoral Way) is in my opinion the most scenic route of the first stage of the Portuguese Camino from Porto. The Coastal and the Central routes have beautiful parts as well but it’s not as impressive as the Litoral Way. I especially enjoyed the last 10 km to Vila Cha which were along the coast past several beautiful beaches. There are some amazing towns to visit on all 3 Camino routes.

The coastal scenery along the boardwalk on the Litoral Way from Porto
It’s difficult to argue that the coastal scenery on the Litoral Way from Porto is spectacular

Comparing the 3 routes; Central Route vs Coastal Route vs Litoral Way

Walking surface

On both the Central and Coastal routes, you walk only on hard surfaces with almost half of the route being on cobbled stones which are known to be tough on your feet. 

On the Litoral Way, half of the route goes on boardwalks which are easier on your feet. There are no cobbled stones on the route.

Walking on or along busy roads

Again, the Litoral Way is the winner. You don’t walk on the road at all, not even 100 m. On the Central and Coastal routes you do walk on the road and next to busy roads with a lot of traffic.

Boardwalks on the Litoral Way of the Portuguese Camino from Porto
Wooden boardwalks along the coast that you get to walk a lot on the Litoral Way from Porto

Easy to navigate

Despite the Litoral Way not being marked for the first 10 km in my opinion it is the easiest route to walk out of Porto. It’s very straightforward. You don’t need a map, signs, or GPX. 

On the other hand, the Central and the Coastal routes are marked but the first two kilometers through the historical center are confusing due to too many distractions around you it’s difficult to spot Camino signs. After the first 2 km, both routes are quite easy to follow.

Scenery

For me, the Litoral Way is by far the most scenic route of the Portuguese Camino out of Porto. Sandy beaches, blue sea, fishermen’s villages, and wildflowers in spring months are the perfect scenery to start the Camino with. 

The first 2 km on the Central and the Coastal routes through the historical center of Porto is quite impressive. You get to see some of the highlights of the city. On the Central Route, I enjoyed the last 5 km through a quiet rural area and the forest. The Coastal Route has its beauty too; you can see some countryside and forest. 

How busy are the routes?

I’d say to me it looked like the Litoral Way was the busiest route out of Porto. I walked all three routes in July so I believe that time of the year people prefer walking along the coast. The Central Route had a decent amount of pilgrims too. On the Coastal Route out of Porto, there were very few pilgrims. Mind, that July overall is a less busy month than May or September. I walked some parts of the Portuguese Camino in May and there were a lot more people than in July. Owners of albergues and hotels along the Camino route confirmed the same.

A view of the Douro River and the center of Porto from Se Cathedral
Before you start walking the chosen route of the Portuguese Camino make sure to enjoy the stunning views of the city from the lookout points at the Cathedral

When is the best time for walking?

When is the best time to walk the Camino will depend on several factors. I walked the Portuguese Camino from Porto in May, June, and July. For me even in July on the Central Route, it wasn’t extremely hot. I’d say from the weather point of view the spring/summer months between May and mid-October are the best time for walking.

July and August are the busiest holiday months in Portugal and Spain but the Portuguese Camino route on the contrary not as busy as in May, June, and September. July and August might be a good time to walk the Central Route if you want to escape the crowd on the Camino. There are many festivals and celebrations throughout Portugal in July and August. It’s very likely you will get to witness some of them if you walk the Portuguese Camino in one of these months.

It’s better not to walk the Coastal or the Litoral Way in July and August if you want to stay in private rooms because most places by the sea are fully-booked and the accommodation prices increase a lot during these peak months. If you’re planning on staying in albergues it shouldn’t be a problem. It might even be easier to find a dorm bed in July and August than in May and September.

One of the streets in the old town of Vila do Conde, Portugal
The historical center of Vila do Conde where the Coastal Route and the Litoral Way join

Where in Porto do the Camino routes start?

All 3 routes start at Se Cathedral in the historical center of Porto. To be honest I find route marking from the Cathedral confusing and not very clear.

The Central and the Coastal Route

The Central and Coastal Routes start at the stairs (Calçada de Don Pedro Pitões) across the square from the main entrance to the Cathedral. There is an official sign and a couple of yellow arrows pointing down. There is a tourist information office down the stairs on the right where you can get a map of Porto and inquire about the Camino route.

A map of the Portuguese Camino route through the historical center of Porto
A map of the first 800 m from the Cathedral on the Central and Coastal Routes. You can see it’s quite tricky with many turns. Basically from the Cathedral get down to R. das Flores and take the first left. From there it’s easier to follow the route.

Once down the stairs keep left you’ll see two yellow arrows painted at the bottom of the wall pointing in opposite directions. I took the right route but I believe both routes end up at the same place R. das Flores, a pedestrian street. Once there it’s very tempting to follow this street but you have to take the first left turn to Rua do Ferraz. From there it’s a bit easier to follow the arrows.

If at some stage you lose the route the best will be to find Igreja do Carmo on Google. Maps and walk there. From the church (Igreja do Carmo) the route is easy to follow. You can find a yellow arrow on the wall on the right side of the church (facing it).

Note!!! There are a couple of more metal planks with arrows pointing right I tried to follow them but they don’t go any further than the square.

The Central Route and the Coastal Route are the same for the first 7 km from the Cathedral. At 7 km (in Padrão da Légua) they split; the Central Route goes right and the Coastal Route goes left towards the coast but it gets there only in Vila do Conde.

A split on the Portuguese Camino in Padrão da Légua, Porto
The split on the Portuguese Camino from Porto, in Padrão da Légua, 7 km from the Cathedral. The Central Route goes straight, the Coastal Route goes left.

The Litoral Way

The Litoral Way from the Cathedral goes along the river out of Porto to Matosinhos and from there continues along the coast. The easiest way of finding the route is to walk from Se Cathedral down to the river and continue along it. The route is not marked and if you try to follow yellow arrows they might lead you towards the Central/Coastal Route.

Are the routes well-marked?

All three routes are marked with traditional yellow arrows painted on the ground, walls, poles, etc. From time to time you see official route marking such as wooden or stone signs, and metal plaques on the ground. 

The Coastal and the Central Routes (the first 7 km it’s the same route) are marked quite well starting from the Cathedral. The first 2 kilometers through the historical center of Porto are a bit confusing because there are many ads, cars, people, etc. You have to look careful not to miss a yellow arrow. 

The first 10 km of the Litoral Way are not marked. The route marking starts at the information office in Matosinhos. From there on you can follow traditional Camino signs. Despite not being marked the Litoral Way is the easiest route to walk out of Porto. From the Cathedral you go down to the Douro River and follow it and then the coast for 10 km. It’s a very straightforward route.

Bright and colorful fishermen's houses north of Porto on the Litoral Way
These colorful fishermen’s houses for me were one of the highlights of the Litoral Way

The Central Route – Porto to Vilarinho, 27 km/16,7 mi

  • Distance – 27 km/16,7 mi
  • Time – 6 hours
  • Ascent – 336 m
  • Descent – 355 m
  • Walking surface – 14,5 km/9 mi – tar road and asphalt, 12 km/7,4 mi – cobblestones, 500 m/0,3 mi – footpath

The first 7 km/4,3 mi the Central and the Coastal route are on the same trail. 

For the first 15 km/9,3 mi, there are many restaurants, cafes, and shops to stop for breakfast or coffee. After then there are places to stop but not as many as in the first half.

The Central Route from Porto GPX files

To make your walk easier you can download our GPX files. The files are our courtesy and for private use only. No unauthorized public or commercial use is allowed.

The Central Route description

The first 2 km/1,2 mi are through the historical center of Porto from Se Cathedral to Igreja (church) do Carmo. It is the most difficult part to navigate especially the first 700 m from the Cathedral. If you lose the trail find Igreja do Carmo on Google Maps and walk there. From the church follow Rua de Cedofeida (the street on the right facing the church). From there the Camino route is quite easy to follow it basically goes straight all the way to Vilarinho.

Between 2 km/1,2 mi and 5 km/3,1 mi, you walk through the residential area of Porto.

2,8 km/1,7 miAlbergue de Peregrinos de Porto. If you’re going to stay in the Albergue and planning to walk the Central or the Coastal Route you can walk the part from the Cathedral to the Albergue a day before so in the morning you can walk out of the Albergue and continue on the Camino. Otherwise, you have to take the metro to go to the Cathedral and then walk past the Albergue.

Between 5 km/3,1 mi and 11 km/6,8 mi, the route goes through quiet neighborhoods.

6 km/3,7 mi – a couple of big supermarkets (LIDL, Continente) where you can get a well-priced meal.

7 km/4,3 mi – the split (on the left side of the street) in Padrão da Légua at the intersection of R. Nova do Seixo and R. Fonte Velha.

8,4 km/5,2 mi – a supermarket (ALDI)

11 km/6,8 mi – 12 km/7,4 mi – along the road (sidewalk) through the forest

12 km/7,4 mi – 14,5 km/9 mi – through towns along the busy roads

14,5 km/9 mi – a couple of big supermarkets (LIDL, Pingo Doce)

15 km/9,3 mi – 16 km – industrial area but not a very busy one

16 km – 16,4 km/10 mi – on a road

17 km/10,5 mi – a shop and a bar

A small town north of Porto with beautiful old houses
One of the small towns on the Central Route between Porto and Vilarinho

18,5 km/11,4 mi – Mosteiro, a small town with a cafe

20 km/12,4 mi – Vila, a small town with a cafe and a shop

21 km/13 mi – 21,5 km/13,4 mi – on the road

21,5 km/13,4 mi – Gião, a small town with a restaurant. You can stamp your Pilgrim’s Passport at a stand with a stamp on the left side of the street.

22,4 km/14 mi – a small supermarket

23 km/14,2 mi – at the Doce Giao cafe there is a route split. I’d recommend following the alternative route that turns right and goes through a quiet area. The left route is on a busy narrow road it’s not a safe walking option. There is a very nice guesthouse Casa Mindela, 800 m from the Camino route. You can stop there instead of walking all the way to Vilarinho. We stayed there for a couple of days and we really liked it.

24 km/15 mi – a bar and a shop

25 km/15,5 mi – an ATM and a cafe

26 km/16,1 mi – Municipal Albergue do Mosteiro do Veirão.

26,5 km/16,4 mi – 27 km/16,7 mi – a footpath through the forest

27 km/16,7 mi – Vilarinho, a small town with a shop, a cafe, and a private albergue/guest house.

Places to stay in Vilarinho

Forest scenery on the Portuguese Camino just before Vilarinho
The forest on the last 500 m on the Central Route from Porto

The Coastal Route – Porto to Vila do Conde, 29 km/18 mi

  • Distance – 29 km/18 mi
  • Time – 6-7 hours
  • Ascent – 255 m
  • Descent – 320 m
  • Walking surface – 17 km/10,5 mi – asphalt or tar road and 12 km/7,4 mi – cobblestones

The Coastal Route from Porto GPX files

You can use our GPX files on your device to make your walk out of Porot easier. The files are for private use only.

The Coastal Route description

The first 7 km/4,3 mi on the Coastal Route from Porto is the same as on the Central Route. For more info on that part check the section above.

Between 7 km/4,3 mi and 9 km/5,6 mi, you walk through a very quiet neighborhood of Porto with small houses lined up along the street. 

The countryside scenery outside of Porto on the Camino route
Walking through the countryside was the best part of the Coastal Route from Porto

9 km/5,6 mi – 11 km/6,8 mi – the Camino route goes through a rural area.

11 km/6,8 mi – 12 km/7,4 mi – through an industrial area with many trucks. I walked it on Sunday so it was quiet I think that on weekdays it is busy.

13 km/8 mi – a shop and a cafe

13,5 km/8,3 mi – a town with an ATM, cafe, and shop. The next place to stop for food will be at 22 km.

15,8/9,8 mi – 17,5 km/10,8 mi – walking next to Porto Airport

21 km/13 mi – 22 km/13,6 mi – a quiet road through the forest

22 km/13,6 mi – a big shopping mall (Vila do Conde Porto Fashion Outlet)

24 km/15 mi – Mindelo, a small town with a shop and a cafe

26 km/16 mi – a shop, a cafe, and a bar

29 km/18 mi – Vila do Conde

Places to stay in Vila do Conde

One of the narrow cobbled streets of Vila do Conde, Portugal
The historical center of Vila do Conde for me was the highlight of the Coastal Route from Porto

The Litoral Way (Senda Litoral) – Porto to Vila Cha, 29 km/16 mi

  • Distance – 26 km/16 mi
  • Time – 5-6 hours
  • Ascent – 242 m
  • Descent – 273 m
  • Walking surface – 15 km/9,3 mi – asphalt, 10 km/6,2 mi – boardwalks, 1 km/0,6 mi – cobbled

The Litoral Way from Porto GPX files

You can download our GPX files and use them on your device to make navigation easier. The files are our courtesy. No unauthorized public or commercial use is allowed.

The first 10 km/6,2 mi on the Litoral Way from the Cathedral in Porto to Matosinhos are not marked. It doesn’t mean it’s difficult to find the route in fact the Senda Litoral is the easiest route to follow out of Porto. From Se Cathedral get down to the Douro River and follow it till you are out of the city.

The route from the Cathedral to the river described in Brierley’s guidebook is the shortest way but you don’t have to follow any trail just walk to the river and continue along it towards Ponte da Arrabita (Arrabita Bridge) and the Atlantic Ocean. Mind, the guidebook says to follow orange arrows but, there are no arrows maybe there were in the past. 

As an option, for the first 5,5 km/3,4 mi, you can take the famous yellow tram (#1 and #18). It pretty much follows the same route as the Camino. Passeio Alegre is the name of the tram stop where you get off.

For the entire 26 km/16 mi, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to stop at.

Traditional metal poles with a yellow arrow that are used to marked the Portuguese Camino route from Porto
From the information office in Matosinhos, the Litoral Way of the Portuguese Camino is well-marked

The Litoral Way route description

For most of the first 6 km/3,7 mi, you walk next to the Douro River except for a short part just before Jardim do Passeio Alegre. You don’t have to worry about finding the way just follow the same street and it will take you back to the river.

6 km/3,7 mi – São João Baptista da Foz Fortress and Barra do Douro Lighthouse

A beautiful promenade (esplanada) on the Senda Litoral north of Porto
The beautiful promenade on the Litoral Way between Porto and Matosinhos

10,5 km/6,5 mi – Tourist Information Office in Matosinhos. From there the Litoral Way is well-marked with traditional yellow arrows and official Camino signs. Some pilgrims take a bus/metro train from Porto to Matosinhos and start walking from there. Bus #500 and metro line A go from Porto to Matosinhos.  

10,5 km/6,5 mi – 13 km/8 mi – the Camino goes through the city (Matosinhos). It is the only part of the Litoral Way where you have to pay attention to the Camino signs. 

11,7 km/7,2 mi – go over the bridge Ponte móvel de Leça to the other side of the river. From there walk back to the coast.

13 km/8 mi – the information office where you can get a stamp. They told me there that you can buy a Credential (Pilgrim’s Passport) at one of the newspaper (tabaco) kiosks nearby. If you still don’t have it you can inquire there and buy your Credential on the way.

From 13 km/8 mi you walk along the coast all the way to Vila Cha. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants and some supermarkets along the way.

15 km/9,3 mi – the beginning of the boardwalks. From there on you walk almost entirely on boardwalks.

20 km/12,4 mi – a big supermarket (ALDI, 400 m away from the boardwalks)

24 km/15 mi – Labruge. There is a private albergue 900 m away from the Camino route.

26 km/16 mi – Vila Cha. The municipal albergue in Vila Cha is about 800 m away from the coast and the Camino route. 

Places to stay in Vila Cha

A view of Vila Cha and its beach from the Litoral Way of the Camino
Vila Cha is a beautiful small beach town with a public albergue, a perfect place to stop on the first day of the Portuguese Camino

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Eddy Spofford

Friday 23rd of February 2024

Hi there, I’m about to start the Camino (starting with SL route) from the Porto (late Feb) and am deciding which option would be best:

- go to Vila de Conde and swap to central - go to Caminha and head to Valença - Stay on the SL/Coastal route (this was the initial plan though I’ve been advised against it due to the weather

Also, just out of interest if the weather was nice for both routes which route would you say is the nicest / most interesting in terms of location/scenery/terrain? Thanks! Eddy

Stingy Nomads

Saturday 24th of February 2024

Hello Eddy. Thank you for the comment. I'd suggest walking on the Coastal Route to Caminha and from there switching to the Central Route. This way you get the best of both; the coastal scenery in the first half and nice historical towns in the second half. I'd say it's my favorite combination. Giving the time of the year it might be better to decide which route to choose and where to switch once you're on the route. If it's cold and windy then rather take the Central Route. If the weather is nice then the Coastal trail. Buen Camino

Akvile

Sunday 18th of February 2024

Hallo! if I wanted to go along the senda litoral way, how much longer is it then the costal way? Is it possible to make it in 10-12 days?

Stingy Nomads

Monday 19th of February 2024

Hello Akvile. Thank you for the comment. The number of walking stages on the Coastal Route and the Litoral Way is the same. The stages start and end in the same places. The only difference is that the Litoral Ways goes along or on the beach when the Coastal Route sometimes goes through towns. You need about 12 days to complete it if you stick to the standard itinerary. Buen Camino

Nancy

Tuesday 6th of February 2024

Hi, I'm planning to walk the central route from Porto, and I like your central route stages via the litoral route. You mentioned this more scenic. I'm worried about Day 2 - Labruge to Sao Pedro de Rates. Is this stage back to the central route well marked? I believe you mention to stay near the river. Could you put my mind at ease with this portion? Thanks

Stingy Nomads

Thursday 8th of February 2024

Hello Nancy. Thank you for the comment. There are two connecting routes from Vila do Conde to Rates. I walked both of them. You can find detailed information on the routes in this post https://stingynomads.com/vila-do-conde-to-rates-routes/ Buen Camino

Helen

Wednesday 17th of January 2024

Hi! Thank you for all this information. I’m planning to go solo from Porto on late April. But as much I read info, as much I get stressed and afraid to miss something. Do you think it is a good idea not to create the map before, but just go forward using the signs and hope not to get lost? Also not to choose the rout before and decide which way to go already on the way? As much I read as much I’m afraid to get lost.

Stingy Nomads

Wednesday 17th of January 2024

Hello Helen. Thank you for the comment. We have never used any maps or navigation for walking the Portuguese Camino. Both routes the Central and the Coastal are well-marked and easy to follow. April is the beginning of the season I don't think you need to book accommodation in advance which means you can be quite flexible with your itinerary and routes. There will be other pilgrims on the Portuguese Camino just not as many as in the peak season. Buen Camino

Rowena

Sunday 7th of January 2024

Hi, I am planning to do just a short section of the Coastal Route in May from Porto - maybe 3-4 days and your site is really an excellent resource on the route itself ! However once we finish we will need to get back then to Porto airport - do you have any information on public transport or transfer options once we finish walking - do you know if there are there easy bus/train connections ?

Rowena

Wednesday 17th of January 2024

@Stingy Nomads, thanks 😊

Stingy Nomads

Wednesday 10th of January 2024

Hello Rowena. Thank you for the comment. If you walk 3-4 day on the Coastal Route from Porto you'll end up in Viana do Castelo which is a big town. From there you can take a direct train to Porto. The travel time is between 1 and 2 hours depending on the train. There are several daily departures. Buen Camino

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