Skip to Content

The 3 routes of the Portuguese Camino from Porto

The Portuguese Camino from Porto has different routes; the Central, 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.

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

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

Our YouTube video on the three routes of the Portuguese Camino from Porto

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

Find out more about the differences between the Central and the Coastal Routes.

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.

A map of 3 walking routes of the Portuguese Camino from Porto
A map of the 3 routes of the Portuguese Camino from Porto. The Litoral Way (blue) is along the coast, the Coastal Route (green) is inland till Vila do Conde, and the Central Route (red) which goes inland

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 markings 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 be 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.

PDF files of the route

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 goes straight 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 to Vilarinho. We stayed there for a couple of days and we 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.

PDF files of the route

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 Chã, 26 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

Portuguese Camino planning resources

Questions or Comments?

Got any questions or comments? We would love to help! All questions and comments will be answered by us personally in Buy Me a Coffee. Click below and ask away.

Feel free to support our site by buying us a coffee!

Please follow and like us:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Wayne

Tuesday 25th of June 2024

Hello, I am flying into Porto to start the Camino. What is the best option to get my additional luggage transferred to Santiago de Compostela?

I don't need daily transfers. I want to give my luggage to a company/someone in Porto then when I arrive at Santiago de Compostela pick up my luggage and continue on my journey across Spain.

Seems like I remember reading about a place I could mail/ship my luggage to in Santiago de Compostela but I really don't want to ship it if I don't have to.

Thanks for the help!

Stingy Nomads

Thursday 4th of July 2024

Hello Wayne. Thank you for the comment. The same companies that offer daily luggage transfer offer luggage transfer to Santiago and keep it in a storage till your arrival. I'd suggest to check with Tui Trans and Pilbeo. Buen Camino

Chris

Saturday 1st of June 2024

Great blog! I'm planning to hike from Porto at the end of June and per your post, I'm interested in the Litoral Way for the most scenic views. However, I may be limited to 10-12 days total so wondering what the reco to shave off 1-2 days - do I switch over to the Coast? Also, are there any inexpensive options to ship luggage from Porto to Santiago? Thank you!

Chris

Friday 14th of June 2024

@Stingy Nomads, Thanks for help! If the total Camino Portuguese averages 12 days then how many more days are needed to include the Spiritual Variant? Thanks again! :-)

Stingy Nomads

Saturday 8th of June 2024

Hello Chris. Thank you for the comment. Just to make it clear the Litoral Way and the Coastal Route are different only at the start from Porto to Vila do Conde. After that both routes follow pretty much the same trajectory and have the same stages. I just walk the Coastal Route again and switched between the two routes in one walking day. If you stick to the standard itinerary 12 days will be just enough to complete the route. If you have 10 days then you can skip 2 days but not on the last 100 km to Santiago (on the Coastal/Litoral Way it's from Vigo) if you want to get a Compostela certificate. You can maybe skip the stages to A Guarda to Vigo it's 2-3 walking days and then continue from Vigo to Santiago. As for luggage transfer you can use Tui Trans. They can deliver your luggage from Porto to Santiago. I believe they have a storage facility to keep it till your arrival. Buen Camino

Keala

Wednesday 29th of May 2024

Which 30km stretch of any of the Portuguese Caminos do you think is the most beautiful?

Stingy Nomads

Friday 31st of May 2024

Hello Keala. Thank you for the comment. If you want to walk only 30 km on the Portuguese Camino I'd suggest the first stage of the Litoral Way from Porto to Vila do Conde. It's about 33 km and the entire route goes along the coast. It's a beautiful trail and one of our favorite parts of the Camino. Buen Camino

Doreen Byrne

Wednesday 22nd of May 2024

Two 70 yr old females planning on walking the central route mid Sep or start the second week of Oct. Would you suggest one time vs the other? And not tied to that route, willing to walk the coast.

Stingy Nomads

Thursday 23rd of May 2024

Hello Doreen. Thank you for the comment. From our experience on the Portuguese Camino (we've done it several times) the weather is good till mid-October and then in one day it changes to rainy and cold. I'd say September is a better time to start the route from Porto. The Coastal Route is very flat with barely any ascents and descents. The Central Route has some hills. Both have beautiful scenery and interesting towns. The Central Route is a bit shorter. It takes 12 days on average to complete it. The Coastal might take a bit longer 14 days or so. We like the combination of both; start walking from Porto along the coast to Caminha and from the switch to the Central Route (walk to Tui). That way you get the best of both worlds. Buen Camino

Clive Merritt

Sunday 12th of May 2024

Thanks for a great blog, I am do the Spiritual Camino next week, is there a app or something that gives me the Camino route linked via google maps ? Regards Clive

Stingy Nomads

Monday 13th of May 2024

Hello Clive. Thank you for the comment. We have a detailed post on the Spiritual Variant where you can find GPX file for the route. You can download them and use on your phone or your watch https://stingynomads.com/spiritual-variant-portuguese-camino/. The route is well-marked even if you don't have a route map you'll easily find the way. Buen Camino

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.