Portuguese Coastal Camino
Date: May 10-27. 2025
Portugal is well known as a popular vacation destination for its natural beauty, delicious food and wine, and charming ancient towns. There are thousands of people each year who also visit Portugal to begin a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, which is called a Camino. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Camino de Santiago is a historical voyage, a cultural adventure, and a global gathering all rolled into one. This bike tour will combine some of the best vacation sights of Portugal with completing your own personal Camino as you collect stamps on your Credencial along the route and earn your Camino Certificate when you arrive in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. (Learn more HERE.)
You will see much of the natural beauty of Portugal. From the geographically fascinating remnants of ancient volcanic activity, rugged rock formations, and cliff faces to beautifully tended olive groves and cork plantations. Since we stay close to the coast for much of the tour, you’ll bike along sandy beaches which sprawl for miles on end on the fringes of the Atlantic Ocean. Cyclists have the opportunity to experience the rich history and beautiful architecture while enjoying lovely sunshine and moderate temperatures. The Portuguese are also well known for their great food, warmth, hospitality, and vibrant culture.
This is an 18-day tour. There are 10 required ride days with an average of 45 miles and 2,000 feet of climbing. There are 4 “choice” days along the route where we stay for 2 nights which allows you to visit the many sites, take an optional loop ride, or just relax. There are two “acclimatization” days in Lisbon upon arrival and two days at the end of the tour in Santiago, Spain.
Beginning in the capital city of Lisbon at the picturesque and historic Castelo de Sao Jorge, our direction gradually bears somewhat northeast as we leave the exciting capital city and begin riding on quiet rural roads and pass through small towns. We’ll have our first “choice day” in Tomar where we’ll spend an extra night to allow you to explore one of Portugal's historical jewels and the last Templar town to be commissioned for construction in the 13th century.
Then we’ll head northeast until we reach the coastal town of Figueira Da Foz for 2 days of beautifully flat, coastal riding. After enjoying cycling on some quiet roads, we’ll come into the city of Aveiro, which is a maritime city on the shore of a large lagoon. You’ll have an extra day to enjoy this city which is crisscrossed by canals that you can navigate on painted gondola-style boats known as moliceiros. Upon departing Aveiro we will use a small ferry to link up with some delightful cycle paths that hug the ocean.
Then we’ll arrive in Porto, Portugal's 2nd largest city and our opportunity to enjoy another choice day. Porto is a coastal city known for its stately bridges and port wine production. In the medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants’ houses and cafes. São Francisco Church is known for its lavish baroque interior with ornate gilded carvings.
Leaving Porto our cycling changes as we spend the next 2 days riding in the stunning hills of northern Portugal before using a ferry to cross the Minho River into Spain. We’ll take our last choice day in the oceanside city of Vigo, an authentic Galician old town, known for its extensive fishing ports, ancient Roman ruins and neoclassical churches. You may wish to spend your choice day with a boat trip to the nature rich Cíes Islands. Declared a natural park in 1980, these islands are the crown jewels of the Atlantic Islands in Galicia National Park whose beaches that have been voted “Best Beach in the World”.
Upon leaving Vigo, we’ll have one more ferry crossing as we make our way towards Santiago de Compostela. On your ride you will now see more and more “pilgrims”. More than 300,000 pilgrims complete the journey to Santiago each year, mostly on foot, but a growing number by bike. In places we share our route with the walkers, but in order to retain good paved cycling surfaces, we pick our way between villages on a mix of quiet country roads.
As a bicigrino, or Camino cyclist, any journey of more than 200km ending at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela constitutes a ‘Camino’ (or pilgrimage). Regardless of your faith or religious convictions be sure to obtain and carry your Credencial and get it stamped at each stopping point along the way in order to receive your Compostela (certificate of completion) in Santiago. All are invited to attend the daily evening service in the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, a moving experience and a fitting end to an epic journey!