Stages of the Portuguese Coastal Way

Explore the Portuguese Coastal Way. Prepare for your pilgrimage with essential information on distances, landscapes, and points of interest on this unique journey.

3/29/20243 min read

The Portuguese Coastal Way offers pilgrims an alternative route filled with maritime landscapes, tranquil beaches, and charming villages. Starting in the vibrant city of Porto, this path follows the Atlantic coast northward to Santiago de Compostela, providing a unique experience marked by natural beauty and local hospitality.

From Porto to Vila do Conde (25 km)

The journey begins at Porto Cathedral, where pilgrims head north along the Douro River until reaching the Atlantic. The path continues along the coast through Matosinhos, where the blend of urban life and coastal beauty can be observed. It then traverses the coastal area of Labruge, characterized by its extensive beaches and wooden walkways that ease the passage through the dunes. The stage concludes in Vila do Conde, a town known for its architectural heritage and serene beaches.

From Vila do Conde to Esposende (22.5 km)

This stage follows the coastline passing through Póvoa de Varzim, a small seaside resort with a relaxed atmosphere and a wide gastronomic offer. The path then enters the protected area of the Northern Litoral Natural Park, a region of special ecological interest due to its fauna and flora. The route offers landscapes of dunes and marshes until reaching Esposende, a destination known for its natural surroundings and tranquility.

From Esposende to Viana do Castelo (25 km)

Leaving Esposende, the path takes a more inland route through small villages and agricultural fields before returning to the coast. This section provides a mix of natural and rural environments, allowing pilgrims to enjoy the tranquility of the Portuguese countryside. As they approach Viana do Castelo, pilgrims are greeted by impressive views of the Atlantic and the iconic Eiffel Bridge. Viana, located on the banks of the Lima River, offers rich history and culture with its traditional festivals and distinctive architecture.

From Viana do Castelo to Caminha (28 km)

This stretch is one of the most beautiful on the way, following the coast with continuous ocean views. Pilgrims pass by small beaches and coastal villages until reaching Ancora and then Moledo. This area is known for its idyllic and less crowded beaches, ideal for those seeking a moment of peace and contemplation. Finally, the path reaches Caminha, a town located at the mouth of the Miño River, where the view of the water and the mountains of Spain on the other side is spectacular.

From Caminha to A Guarda (7 km)

From Caminha, pilgrims have the option to take a short ferry ride across the Miño River to reach A Guarda in Spain. This small stage is significant for marking the change of country and the continuation of the way to Santiago de Compostela. A Guarda is famous for its historical heritage and seafood, offering a warm welcome to pilgrims entering Galicia.

From A Guarda to Oia (13 km)

After crossing into Spain, pilgrims leave A Guarda and head north along the coast. The path offers stunning ocean views and passes through areas of great natural beauty until reaching Oia, known for its impressive monastery by the sea.

From Oia to Baiona (17 km)

This stage continues along the coastline, offering magnificent views of the Atlantic and passing by tranquil beaches and cliffs. Before reaching Baiona, pilgrims enjoy a more relaxed environment and natural landscapes. Baiona is a vibrant town with significant historical heritage, including the replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship, La Pinta.

From Baiona to Vigo (25 km)

The path from Baiona to Vigo occasionally moves away from the coast, crossing forests and urban areas before reaching the city of Vigo, the largest urban center in Galicia. Vigo offers all the amenities of a large city along with interesting historical sites and parks.

From Vigo to Redondela (16 km)

This stage marks the point where the Portuguese Coastal Way joins the central Portuguese Way. From Vigo, the path ascends inland through residential areas and parks before reaching Redondela, where pilgrims encounter signs of other converging pilgrimage routes.

From Redondela to Pontevedra (20 km)

The path continues through forests and quiet villages, offering a more traditional Galician landscape. The arrival in Pontevedra is notable for its well-preserved old town and friendly pilgrim atmosphere.

From Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis (23 km)

Departing from Pontevedra, the path takes pilgrims through vineyards and forests, following rivers and crossing medieval bridges until reaching Caldas de Reis, a town known for its thermal waters.

From Caldas de Reis to Padrón (19 km)

This stage is more relaxed, passing through fields and small villages until reaching Padrón, famous for being the place where, according to legend, the boat carrying the remains of the Apostle James was found.

From Padrón to Santiago de Compostela (25 km)

The final stage of the Portuguese Coastal Way leads pilgrims through rural and suburban landscapes to the triumphant entry into Santiago de Compostela, culminating at the Cathedral of Santiago, where pilgrims can participate in the Pilgrim's Mass and receive the Compostela.

This comprehensive itinerary provides a detailed description of each stage of the Portuguese Coastal Way, from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, allowing pilgrims to adequately prepare for each segment of the journey and enjoy the rich diversity of landscapes and cultures along the way.