Camino Portuguese Central Route: Guide, Stages, and Map
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When walking the Camino Portugués, or Portuguese Way of the Camino de Santiago, you’ll need to choose between taking the central route or the coastal route from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. The central route is considered the “traditional” option, and it’s more popular with pilgrims. You’ll pass through one charming town after another and walk across medieval bridges that have been there for hundreds of years. The central and coastal routes run parallel to each other until Redondela, where they merge into one route that brings you to Santiago de Compostela.
If you’ve chosen to walk the central route, this is your complete guide to all the stages, the best places to stay (especially if you’re on a budget), and what to expect. Below, you’ll also see a map of the route with markers for each stage and the accommodations, restaurants, and cafés that I recommend.
- Overview of the Camino Portugués central route
- How long is the central route?
- When is the best time of year to walk the central route?
- Day 1: Porto to Vilarinho (26.95 km)
- Day 2: Vilarinho to Barcelos (28.09 km)
- Day 3: Barcelos to Ponte de Lima (33.66 km)
- Day 4: Ponte de Lima to Rubiães (17.90 km)
- Day 5: Rubiães to Tui (19.98 km)
- Day 6: Tui to Redondela (32.69 km)
- Day 7: Redondela to Pontevedra (19.64 km)
- Day 8: Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis (21.04 km)
- Day 9: Caldas de Reis to Padrón (19.20 km)
- Day 10: Padrón to Santiago de Compostela (24.48 km)
- Additional resources for the Camino Portugués
Overview of the Camino Portugués central route
- Distance: 242 km or 150 miles
- Number of days to complete: 10 to 12 days
- Starting point: Porto, Portugal
- End point: Santiago de Compostela, Spain
- Terrain: Mountains, forest trails, farmland, roads, cobblestone
- Accommodation: Public and private albergues, hostels, guesthouses, and hotels
How long is the central route?
The Camino Portugués central route is 242 km or 150 miles long, and it takes 10 to 12 days to complete. If you decide to cut over to the coastal route at any point or take the Variante Espiritual (spiritual variant), your distance will be more. It will also likely take you one to three additional days to reach Santiago de Compostela, depending on how much distance you walk each day.
I’ve broken up the central route into 10 stages here, which requires a couple of days where you’ll walk more than 30 km. If you prefer to not do that, I’ve noted how you can break up day 3 and day 6. I’ve also broken up the final stage, day 10, into two stages if you’d like to have a short final walk into Santiago de Compostela.
When is the best time of year to walk the central route?
The best time to walk the central route of the Portuguese Camino is April and October. The shoulder seasons of spring and fall give you the optimal combination of mild, comfortable weather and fewer pilgrims. You’ll have cool mornings and evenings, warm days, and a bit of rain. However, you’ll be able to experience the Camino before it reaches peak busyness during May, June, and September.
You might think that the summer would be a great time to walk the central route. While July and August are the driest months, temperatures can reach the low 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). Unlike the coastal route, which gets a nice cooling breeze from the ocean, the central route is less forgiving. It’s still possible to go during the summer though – just start early in the morning so that you reach your destination before the temperature reaches its high in the afternoon.
Day 1: Porto to Vilarinho (26.95 km)
|Padrão de Légua
|Ponte de Moreira
|Moreira da Maia
|Vilar do Pinheiro
|Vilar (Vila do Conde)
|Monasterio de Vairão
Getting out of Porto is a lovely walk through cobblestone streets (the views are lovely, not the cobblestones). However, I recommend leaving early so you don’t have to weave through tourists. After about 4 km, you’ll eventually be out of the city center and in the suburbs surrounding Porto. If you started walking before sunrise, it would be a good idea to stop around this point and get breakfast. One of the best bakeries I stopped at on the Portuguese Camino is Molete Bread & Breakfast. Grab coffee and some of their delicious pastries.
Your first day on the central route is all roads and cobblestones. Aside from that, the walk is okay, although not particularly interesting. You’ll pass through a lot of towns, but there aren’t any standout sites.
Where to stay in Vilarinho
- Casa da Laura (hostel) – Laura and Carlos, the owners of Casa da Laura, have created a welcoming, clean place for pilgrims to rest. They provide port wine, sweet treats, and a peaceful garden to lounge in. The hostel is just off of the main road (Rua Nova), where there’s a supermarket, pharmacy, cafés, and restaurants. They do take reservations – you can find their phone number and email address on their Facebook page.
- Casa Família Vidal Vilarinho (hostel) – Having a pool is a luxury on the Camino. So although Casa Família Vidal Vilarinho is a hostel, it doesn’t feel like a hostel due to its pool and outdoor space. The hosts are friendly, the accommodations are clean, and you’re a short walk from multiple markets and places to grab food.
Day 2: Vilarinho to Barcelos (28.09 km)
|São Miguel de Arcos
|São Pedro de Rates
Strap in for more cobblestones and roads today, although the gorgeous views of the Portuguese countryside make it a little less painful. Once you reach Rates (São Pedro de Rates), you’ll finally switch over to a dirt road that takes you through trees and fields. Enjoy it while it lasts though, because you guessed it – you’ll soon be back on roads and cobblestones.
Where to stay in Barcelos
- Albergue Cidade de Barcelos (public albergue) – Being donation-based, Albergue Cidade de Barcelos is the cheapest place to stay in Barcelos. They have a small kitchen, a few drying lines to hang your clothes, and a small courtyard.
- In Barcelos Hostel & Guest House (hostel) – The In Barcelos Hostel & Guest House is a beautifully designed and modern hostel with both dorm and private rooms. A dorm bed is between 29 – 35€, which makes it an expensive option when compared to other accommodations on the Camino. You can make a reservation on their website or on Booking.com.
- Residencial Kuarenta&Um (hotel) – For the same price as a dorm room at In Barcelos Hostel & Guest House, you can get your own room at Residencial Kuarenta&Um. A double room starts at 33€ per night on Booking.com.
- Residencial Solar da Estação (hotel) – Residencial Solar da Estação offers private rooms starting at 35€ on Booking.com. However, it’s next to the Barcelos train station, so it might not be the best option for light sleepers.
Day 3: Barcelos to Ponte de Lima (33.66 km)
|Portela de Tamel
|Ponte das Tábuas
|Alto de Albergaria
|Ponte de Lima
Given how much distance you’ll be walking today, it’s best to get an early start. A lot of the route isn’t shaded, so if you’re walking during the summer, that’s another reason to set off before sunrise.
Ponte de Lima is the oldest town in Portugal, and it’s named after the bridge (ponte) and the river that runs next to it. As you approach Ponte de Lima, make sure to look toward your left at the Lima River (known as Limia in Spanish). You’ll have a wonderful view of the bridge with its five arches and the church that stands across the river. Make sure you also see the bridge lit up at night.
How to break up day 3 into two stages
Since day 3 is over 30 km and has two steep climbs, you might want to split this stage into two. One option is to stay in Corgo after 19.64 km. There’s an amazingly hospitable private albergue called Albergue De Peregrinos Casa Da Fernanda, which offers pilgrims a warm dinner and breakfast. Then, you’ll have 14.02 km to Ponte de Lima tomorrow.
An alternative is to walk 21.86 km to Igreja and stay at Casa Sagres, which would make your next day an easy 11.8 km to Ponte de Lima.
Where to stay in Ponte de Lima
- Albergue de Peregrinos de Ponte de Lima (public albergue) – For only 5€, you’ll get a basic bed at Ponte de Lima’s public albergue. Although they don’t take reservations, the albergue is quite large – it can accommodate 60 pilgrims. Expect to share a large room with a lot of other people.
- Pousada de Juventude de Ponte de Lima (hostel) – Although it’s not as cheap as the public albergue, Pousada de Juventude de Ponte de Lima is another budget-friendly option. While you get bed sheets and you’ll share a room with fewer pilgrims, the accommodation is otherwise kind of bleek with its bare concrete walls. It’s also outside of the city center where restaurants and shops are, so it might not be worth the higher price. Make a reservation here.
- Residencial Retiro Senhora da Luz (guesthouse) – This guesthouse exudes cozy vibes and is very affordably priced, with private rooms starting at 18€ per night. However, the location isn’t the best, as it’s about a 15 to 20-minute walk to the historic center of Ponte de Lima. Book here.
- Oldvillage Hostel (hostel) – Oldvillage Hostel’s interior features earth tones that create a homey feel. Unlike typical hostels where shared rooms are made up of dorm beds, Oldvillage’s rooms have a mix of single, double, and dorm beds. Shared rooms start at 30€ on Booking.com.
Day 4: Ponte de Lima to Rubiães (17.90 km)
|Álém da Ponte
|Alto da Portela Grande
It’s a beautiful walk from Ponte de Lima to Rubiães – one filled with vineyards, lush greenery, and dirt roads. You’ll even come across a waterfall.
However, this is also the most challenging stage on the Camino Portugués central route because of the 400 m climb up Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja. Take a break at the top and take in sweeping views of the Portuguese hills.
Where to stay in Rubiães
- Albergue de Peregrinos de S. Pedro de Rubiães (public albergue) – The public albergue in Rubiães costs 8€ and has a small garden with lounge chairs and tables. It sleeps up to 34 people and the beds are a bit tightly packed together. Although there is a café next door (Café São Sebastião), you’ll have to walk seven to 13 minutes to reach the nearest supermarket and two restaurants.
- NINHO – The Pilgrim Nest (private albergue) – You can have a more comfortable and cozy stay for a just a few more euros than what you pay for the public albergue. NINHO, which is run by a sweet woman named Marlene, feels like staying with a relative or friend. They do take reservations – their contact info is listed on their Instagram and Facebook page.
- Casa de São Sebastião (private albergue) – Casa de São Sebastião has the ultimate amenity on the Camino – a pool. You’ll want to stay here just for that, but there’s also plenty of other things that make this albergue an amazing choice. Sonia is a very friendly host, and her albergue offers comfortable beds, laundry, a beautiful garden, and breakfast. You’re also next to Café São Sebastião, where you can get food and drinks. Reservations are accepted. You can find their email address and WhatsApp phone number on their Facebook page.
Day 5: Rubiães to Tui (19.98 km)
|Ponte Nova (Cossourado)
|São Bento da Porta Aberta
|Valença do Minho
Today is your last day in Portugal, which means you’ll finally be crossing over to Spain! It’s a lovely final walk that’s mostly downhill and along tree-lined roads. Before you walk over the Minho River and into Tui, you’ll experience the unique walled town of Valença.
After walking through the fortress, you’ll arrive at Ponte Rodo-Ferroviária de Valença, the international bridge connecting Portugal and Spain. You can cross on both the left and right sides of the bridge, but I recommend going on the right for more scenic views. Also look out for the marking in the middle of the bridge that indicates the border between the two countries, so you can stand with one foot in Portugal and another foot in Spain.
Where to stay in Tui
- Albergue de Peregrinos de Tui (public albergue) – Although it’s cheap (8€ per person) and next to the historic Tui Cathedral, the public albergue isn’t my first choice for where to stay. There’s a 10 PM curfew, so you’ll need to be in the albergue by then or you’ll get locked out. In my opinion, there are nicer public albergues along the Camino, so it’s worth it to spend a little bit more in Tui for a more comfortable place to stay.
- Albergue Pallanes (private albergue) – Staying at Albergue Pallanes feels like staying in a large European estate, making it the best albergue that I stayed at while walking the central route. Its gated entrance, large backyard, and airy kitchen create a grandiose yet comfortable atmosphere. A dorm bed is 15€ and private rooms start at 24€ – secure your bed here.
- Ideas Peregrinas (hostel) – Being right in the center of Tui and in front of the Camino, Ideas Peregrinas is an ideal place to stay. Shared rooms are available for 16€, and there are also private rooms with shared and private bathrooms. Everything you need is here, including a kitchen, a café downstairs, and a small shop with supplies and souvenirs. Make a reservation here.
- A Troita Hostel (hostel) – A Troita Hostel is a 10-minute walk to the center of Tui. If you don’t mind being away from all the restaurants, you’ll have an amazing stay here. The hostel opened in the summer of 2023 with modern and beautiful facilities, including spacious bathrooms, lockers, and lots of common areas. Contact them directly to make a reservation.
- Jacob’s Hostel Tui (hostel) – Jacob’s Hostel is another centrally located option. They only have shared beds, which cost 15€. The biggest downside to this hostel is that there’s only one toilet and shower for males and one for females. Reserve your spot here.
- Hotel A Torre do Xudeu (hotel) – Since Tui is the starting point for the last 100 km of the Camino Portugués, there are lots of accommodations to choose from. Hotel A Torre do Xudeu is one of the best hotels that you can get at a reasonable price. Its location, right off of the Minho River, can’t be beat. The historic stone building has a lot of medieval charm, and breakfast is included. You can make a reservation here.
Day 6: Tui to Redondela (32.69 km)
|San Bartolomé de Rebordans
|Virxe do Camiño
|Ribadelouro (A Magdalena)
|A Rúa (Mos)
|Santiaguiño de Antas
Tui marks the last 100 km of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago. Since this is the least amount of distance that pilgrims need to do in order to receive the Compostela (the certificate of completion), you’ll notice an increase in pilgrims from here on out.
I found the route between Tui and Redondela to be largely uninteresting. The exception is when you’re about 3 to 4 km away from Redondela. As you start a steep descent, you’re met with breathtaking views of Galicia’s hilly landscape, dotted with orange-roofed houses. You’ll also eventually come across a life-size pilgrim cutout that makes a memorable photo opp.
How to break up day 6 into two stages
To split this day into two stages, stop at O Porriño. Then, go from O Porriño to Redondela the next day. This divides the distance into 17.35 km and 15.34 km.
Where to stay in Redondela
- Albergue de Peregrinos Casa da Torre (public albergue) – The historic Casa da Torre houses a nicely renovated public albergue. Although you still have the metal bunk beds and plastic mattresses with disposable covers, the bathrooms are clean and modern. Because it only sleeps 34 people, it can fill up quickly, so it’s best to get there by the early to mid-afternoon in order to guarantee yourself a bed. As with most public albergues, it costs 8€.
- Albergue Parroquial Santiago Apostol de Redondela (private albergue) – This parish-run albergue is a bit more expensive than a public albergue. For 12€, you get pretty much the same type of facilities as you would at a public albergue. This makes it less appealing, since you can stay at a nicer private albergue for roughly the same price. However, the biggest perk of staying here is they provide a free washing machine. You can book directly on their website.
- Albergue A Conserveira (private albergue) – Although Albergue A Conserveira has one huge room that sleeps up to 40 people, I didn’t mind at all because they’ve created makeshift rooms with two to four beds in each. Each “room” has curtains at the entrance that you can close for some privacy. There’s also a large laundry room with plenty of drying racks, multiple washing machines, and a small kitchen and dining area. While you aren’t able to book a specific “room” in advance, you should still book a bed. When I arrived in the afternoon, there were plenty of empty compartments to choose from. The group that I walked with was able to get our own “room.”
- Albergue A Rotonda (hostel) – Albergue A Rotonda is a fantastic family-run hostel. If you’re tired of climbing bunk bed ladders, you’ll be happy to know that they don’t have bunk beds. Everyone gets a single bed with a nightstand, outlet, and lots of hangers. It’s a small place with only 10 beds, so make sure you contact them to reserve a place in advance.
Day 7: Redondela to Pontevedra (19.64 km)
|Ganderón Santa Marta
The way to Pontevedra had a few surprises that made it one of the more pleasant segments of the Portuguese Camino. There are a few collections of Camino shells that have been left by pilgrims and vendors selling snacks, drinks, and Camino knick-knacks. My favorite find though was the adorable parish of Ponte Sampaio, which has a bridge from the Middle Ages and narrow, winding streets.
Pontevedra was also one of my favorite stops on the Camino. Its old town, one of the largest and most elegant historic quarters in the whole of Galicia, has been well preserved and is pedestrian-only.
Where to stay in Pontevedra
- Albergue de Peregrinos Virgen Peregrina (public albergue) – After going through a renovation in the summer of 2023, Albergue Virgen Peregrina now offers modern bathrooms and a fairly large kitchen. It’s a large albergue, accommodating up to 56 pilgrims, so it does get crowded during the busy season. The location of the albergue isn’t great though, as it’s a 20-minute walk to the center of Pontevedra.
- Nacama Hostel (hostel) – I had an extremely comfortable stay at Nacama Hostel for 20€. The reception staff were friendly, the beds had privacy curtains, the bathrooms were clean, and there’s a large common area where you can get ready in the morning. Note that while they have a kitchen, there is no stove. You can make a reservation here.
- dpaso Urban Hostel (hostel) – dpaso is another fantastic option priced at 20€. Between the curtain and the enclosed design, the beds provide a lot of privacy. You’re in for a good night’s rest, so book your bed now.
- Acolá Hostel (hostel) – For 21€, you can stay at Acolá Hostel, which is on the north end of Pontevedra. It’s a small hostel, with only 16 beds and one toilet and shower each for males and females. However, every bed is equipped with a privacy curtain, light, and outlet. You also get a locker and a small kitchen with free coffee, tea, fruit, and pastries. Reserve your spot here.
Day 8: Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis (21.04 km)
|San Antoñino (Barro)
|Caldas de Reis
If you can time it right, I recommend walking out of Pontevedra as the sun rises. Crossing the bridge Ponte do Burgo, you’ll see the colors of the sky reflected in the Lérez River.
About 3 km from Pontevedra, you’ll see where the spiritual variant diverts from the central route. If you want to take the spiritual variant, follow the sign to turn left.
On this day, you’ll experience a bit of everything: dirt trails through ivy-covered forests, roads that run next to corn fields, and paths that bring you underneath grape vines.
Where to stay in Caldas de Reis
- Albergue GBC Caldas – Celenis (private albergue) – With its large garden and indoor pool, Albergue GBC Caldas – Celenis feels like a pilgrim’s oasis. It costs 18€, and if you’d like to use the pool, it’s an additional 5€. The one downside is that it’s a bit off of the Camino path. Reserve here.
- Albergue Agarimo (hostel) – Albergue Agarimo is a quaint hostel with shared and private rooms. A shared room costs 15€ and private rooms start at 20€, so it may be worth treating yourself to a bit of privacy for one night. Even if you choose a shared room, you’ll get a single bed and only have to share the room with two other people. Grab your spot here.
- Apartamento Terra de Augas (apartment) – If you’re traveling with a group, Apartamento Terra de Augas could be a better option than staying at an albergue or hostel. The apartment has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and can fit up to six people. You also get a fully-equipped kitchen, a terrace, and a TV. Book the apartment here.
Day 9: Caldas de Reis to Padrón (19.20 km)
|Aldea de O Pino (Lugar de Magariños)
|San Miguel de Valga
It’s a relatively short walk on roads and next to fields today. About 11 km from Caldas de Reis, you’ll come across a beautiful old Catholic church and cemetery. At this point, it’d be a good idea to take a break since there are two cafés/restaurants: Buen Camino and Café Bar San Miguel.
When you reach Padrón, you must visit Dulcinea Repostería Artesanal. This small café and bakery serves the best breakfast I had on the entire Camino and a tempting selection of cakes.
Where to stay in Padrón
- Albergue de Peregrinos de Padrón (public albergue) – Expect close quarters at this public albergue, which sleeps 46 people and costs 8€. You may also need to wait for the bathroom here because there are only two showers and one toilet for males and females each.
- Albergue Corredoiras (private albergue) – Albergue Corredoiras is a superb accommodation with a well-stocked kitchen that includes complimentary tea, coffee, and milk. Best of all, they wash and dry your clothes for free – a rarity on the Camino. At 17€ on Booking.com, it’s priced around the same as other private albergues.
- Albergue Camiño do Sar (private albergue) – Albergue Camiño do Sar is located at the entrance of Padrón, which means it’ll take you a bit longer to get out of the town tomorrow. But if you don’t mind that, it’s another clean, well-run private albergue. By being outside of the town, it’s also quieter. You can book here.
- Albergue & Rooms Murgadán (hostel) – This centrally located hostel has shared rooms and private rooms at affordable prices. It’s clean, the bunk beds have curtains, and Raul, the host, is attentive and welcoming. Make a reservation here.
Day 10: Padrón to Santiago de Compostela (24.48 km)
|Angueira de Suso
|Rúa de Francos
|Lugar de Pedreira
|Porto de Conxo
|A Rocha Vella
|Santiago de Compostela
Congratulations, you’ve reached the end of the Camino Portugués! On your last day, you’ll mostly stay in rural areas and small towns, but once you reach O Milladoiro, the landscape shifts significantly. It becomes more urban and you’ll be walking on roads and sidewalks for the rest of the way.
Soon you’ll reach Santiago de Compostela and enter its Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll know it by the maze of narrow stone streets. In the Old Town, the yellow arrows fade away. Don’t worry. Your final destination is the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, so just follow the streets until you’re there and then celebrate the fact that you’ve made it!
How to break up day 10 into two stages
Although this isn’t a long day distance-wise, walking 24 km means you’ll arrive in Santiago in the afternoon. This is when most people arrive, so there may be a long line to receive your Compostela and the plaza in front of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela will be filled with pilgrims and tourists.
To arrive earlier in the day, I recommend breaking up this last stage into two days. From Padrón, walk to O Milladoiro and stay the night. You’ll cover 17.24 km and only need to walk 7.21 km from O Milladoiro to Santiago de Compostela. You can enjoy your final walk on the Camino and arrive in Santiago in the morning.
However, if you don’t want to add an extra day to your schedule, here’s what I did. Instead of stopping in Padrón on day 9, continue past it until you reach Ameneiro, which is a very small town before Raíces. I stayed at Albergue Casa Aldea da Pedreira, a gorgeous private albergue with an on-site coffee truck and large backyard. This means you’ll walk about 33 km on day 9, leaving you with roughly 11 km to Santiago de Compostela on day 10.
Where to stay in Santiago de Compostela
Aside from drawing all the people who are doing the Camino de Santiago, Santiago de Compostela is also a popular tourist destination. Between the spring and fall, accommodations get filled quickly, so I recommend figuring out which day you’ll arrive and making a reservation at least one week in advance.
Private albergues and hostels
- Albergue SIXTOs no Caminho
- Albergue The Last Stamp
- Albergue Linares
- Albergue Turistico la Credencial
- Albergue SCQ
- Albergue Porta Real
- Dream in Santiago
Hotels and guesthouses
Additional resources for the Camino Portugués
- Camino Portuguese Coastal vs Central Route: How to Choose
- Best Albergues on the Camino Portuguese
- Complete Camino de Santiago Packing List for Women
- Food on the Camino de Santiago: What and Where to Eat
- Buen Camino app (Android and iOS)