Caminho de Santiago  (St James Way)


Daily distances stated in the itinerary are approximate. Please keep in mind that we have two guides. The group splits in two most days so one group walks a lesser distance at a slower pace.  The support vehicle is on call nearby for anyone who needs it.

Day 1 - Meet at the Hotel Carris Porto Ribeira at 1.00 PM.  In the afternoon we have a guided walking tour to explore the old city of Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Set on the banks of the Douro River (River of Gold) and near the Atlantic Ocean, the city is known for its port wine that has been shipped around the world for centuries. The riverside quarter of Ribeira is delightful with picturesque narrow streets. Fascinating sites include the Gothic church of St Francis. Built in 1383, its columns are lined with gilded woodwork, cherubs, rose garlands and frenzied animals dripping with gold. Other sites include the romantic "Street of Flowers" with its wrought-iron balconies, many port wine cellars and the house where Henry the Navigator (one of the great Portuguese explorers)  was born in 1394.  
We spend the night in Porto at our four star hotel in an ideal location in the old quarter of the city.  DINNER INCLUDED

Day 2 - Matsinhos to Vila do Conde    This morning our private bus takes us outside Porto to the village of Matsinhos. From here, the Caminho route heads north so the sea is always on our left.  Some of the walking is on boardwalks that run parallel to the sea and adjacent to  glorious beaches. There is little ascent or descent and occasional bars and cafes along the way for drinks and snacks.  In the afternoon we reach the town of Vila do Conde.  The old section of the town has many historic sites to explore for those who still have energy.  Winding cobblestoned streets pass traditional whitewashed houses and lead to Vasco de Gama Square. The Naval Museum has replicas of Portuguese ships from for 1600's used by the great Portuguese explorers. The 17th century Forte de Sao Joao Baptista  that once protected the town's shipyards from pirates still stands by the harbour.  But if you don't feel like exploring, the town has cafes where you can relax over a glass of vinho verde and chat with fellow walkers.     21KM  (15KM for those who want an easier day)  DINNER INCLUDED

Day 3 -
  Vila do Conde to Esposende   In the morning our bus takes us outside the town to begin our Camino walk. Today's route is a mix of boardwalks along the beach, quiet roads and paths through farmland and eucalyptus forest. Esposende is a quiet beach town where walkers can dabble their toes in the sea, stroll the lively promenade, explore some of the town's historical structures or just relax over a deliciously warm and lightly crisped Bola Berlim (donut) accompanied by a meia de leite (coffee). 20 KM (15KM for those who want an easier day)  DINNER INCLUDED
Day 4 -  Esposende to Viana do Castelo
Today the route moves inland through countryside and towns of historical interest including Castelo do Nieva. It also includes the descent to the River Nieva which is one of the most beautiful landscapes of the coastal route.  We end the day at
Viana do Castelo where we stay at the historic Pousada overlooking the sea.
Viana do Castelo enjoys a beautiful setting on the north bank of the Lima River estuary.  It was an important seaport during the Portuguese Age of Discovery and, in the days of colonial rule, goods from the Portuguese colony of Brazil arrived in this harbour. But its history goes back much further than colonial times. Legend says that when Roman legions arrived here in the first century they were so taken aback with the beauty of the landscape that they believed they were at the gates of Paradise.     18 km    DINNER INCLUDED

Day 5 Today our bus takes us a short distance inland where we return to the central Caminho route. At Sao Roque we start at the Roman bridge and continue on foot to Valenca passing along the shaded banks of the River Coura, up an easy ascent to Alto San Bento, then a pleasant descent to the Rio Pedreira and ending with a flat walk into Valenca. The Pousada Valenca is located inside the Fortalez (a medieval fortress) and tucked away in a tangle of cobblestone streets and picturesque squares. The hotel has beautiful views of the valley and river separating Portugal and Spain. It also has an inviting swimming pool, terrace and bar for those who want to relax after a day of walking.    21 km    (16KM for those who want a shorter walk)   DINNER INCLUDED

Day 6  -  This morning we cross into Spain and at Porrino we start the official 100 km Camino walk. Today's route has a steep hill up to Monte Coronedo but the reward is a lovely view of the sea in the distance (and perhaps a cold drink and a good lunch). Then it is downhill to Redondela.  At the end of the walk we take a side trip of a few km (by bus) to the coast to enjoy a night at a luxurious seaside Parador in Baiona.   16 km.     DINNER INCLUDED

Day 7  - This morning we return to the Camino and continue walking from Redondela. The trail passes through eucalyptus forest and along the way we pass a Roman milestone marking the ancient Roman road Via XIX which linked the coast to inland towns in the era of Roman occupation. We cross the Rio de Vigo to Ponte Nova and in the afternoon have a lovely rural walk to Pontevedra. This is a lively Galician provincial capital with a delightful medieval area. Overnight is at the Parador of Pontevedra which occupies a former palace in the historic centre of the city. 18 km     DINNER INCLUDED

Day 8 – Today is an easy day. The morning is free to explore the delightful old section of Pontevedra. 
Sights include the pilgrim chapel in the Praza da Peregrina, the historic Zona Monumental (old city), the Praza de Leña, the market, and the Alameda ( a promenade along the river). Or you may prefer a relaxed morning and lunch at one of the many cafes. The most famous product in the typical gastronomy of Pontevedra is shellfish which is always accompanied by the local wine, Albariño. In the afternoon we have an easy Camino walk from Pontevedra on small country roads and tracks. There is a gentle climb at San Mauro and from here we return (by bus) to Pontevedra for the night.    11 km  

Day 9  - Today we walk from San Mauro to the spa town Caldas de Reis "The Royal Spa" where medieval pilgrims and kings both enjoyed bathing their feet in a fountain fed by natural hot spring water. Caldas de Reis has been known since Celtic times for the healing properties of the thermal waters gushing from its ground.
Ancient monuments remain here and in a thermal spring we find an altar from the pre-Roman age which is dedicated to the native god Edovio. Caldas de Reis was a major spa for Romans and has an abundance of Roman remains including a Roman bridge that is still used.  In Reconquista times the town was known as Rex Calda and King Alphonso VII was born here.  Today it is considered to be the garden and health resort of Galicia and there is time to enjoy it before we move on. From Caldas de Rei we travel by bus for 20 minutes to reach our accommodation at a lovely 4 star hotel in a restored castle near the coast.  The swimming pool here has no special healing powers but it will feel good after a day of walking and the beach is nearby.  15 km

Day 10 - In the morning we return to Caldas de Reis and from here continue our Camino walk to Padron. The route is on quiet country roads and natural pathways with a few gentle climbs.  The name Padron means "mooring stone". Just up river is Iria Falvia which legend claims is where St James' body arrived in Spain two thousand years ago. Under the altar in Padron's Santiago Church one can see what is said to be the original mooring stone for St James' boat.  The legend is that St James preached the gospel in Iberia as well as in the Holy Land and that after his martyrdom his disciples carried the body by sea to Iberia where they landed at Padron and took it inland for burial. Historians agree this is quite possible.

Our accommodation tonight is the Pazo de Lestrove.  A “pazo” was a country estate of the Spanish nobility and usually consisted of a stately manor house or castle surrounded by gardens and outbuildings  This pazo was once a country escape for the bishops of Santiago and has been converted to an atmospheric country hotel which t is known for its excellent menu of local dishes.
Typical Galician cuisine includes empanadas and a cheese called "queso de tetilla" (translated "cheese breast"). The story goes that a particularly strict bishop ordered the bare breasts on a statue in the Cathedral to be covered. His parishioners obeyed but suddenly a new form of cheese appeared in all the Galician shops. It was  shaped in the form of a breast and was named "tetilla". 20 km   DINNER INCLUDED

Day 11 - Our final walk is along pretty country lanes passing through Iria Flavia as well as other small villages and hamlets before arriving at the baroque sanctuary of A Esclavitude. On a hilltop to the left stands the mysterious, abandoned ruins of the hillfort Castro Lupario and a few kilometres later we come to the oldest wayside cross in Galicia. As we near Agro dos Monteiros it is now possible to see the towers of Santiago Cathedral. Finally, the Camino passes by the ruins of a castle and enters Santiago.  It is tradition to head for the Cathedral, collect the Compostela certificate then relax and celebrate.   20 km   DINNER INCLUDED

Day 12 - Tour ends after breakfast. 
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