Here’s Your Complete Week-Long Camino De Santiago Itinerary In Spain
Walking the Camino de Santiago? Here’s your complete, editor-proof itinerary to your pilgrimage and reflection retreat in Spain.
Thousands of people commit themselves to walking the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) every year. The pilgrimage is defined by different routes spanning the whole of Europe, but all of them converging at the tomb of St. James at Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
The Camino started way back during the later Middle Ages as a popular Christian pilgrimage, following the legend that St. James’ remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain. Now, it is a popular form of retreat for meditation and spiritual growth
There are many ways and routes when walking the Camino, depending on how much time you have to spare and how many kilometers are you willing to walk. The Portuguese Way is one of the most popular routes of the Camino, where the pilgrim starts in Portugal before crossing to Spain.
Our EIC On the Move, Raul Manzano, walked a shorter version of the traditional Portuguese Way in a special 2-part episode, where you walk a total of 125 km stretched into 7 to 8 days. It’s a more scenic route because it follows the coast, and gives a glimpse of both the rural and urban landscapes of Spain. Here’s his complete itinerary if you’re planning to do the same.
The Portuguese Way starts in either Lisbon or Porto. But a shorter route starts from the northernmost border of Portugal and Spain, at the fortress town of Valença. Cross the bridge over the Miño River, which separates Portugal and Spain. The walk crossing this border can take up to 3 hours.
As you cross into Spain, the first town you’ll arrive at is Tui. Try to enjoy Tui before heading into the countryside part of the Camino. The highlight of the Old Town is the fortress-like Catedral de Santa Maria, which showcases the Romanesque design and flair of its history. There is an available multilingual audio guide or a tour guide if you want to tour the inside of the cathedral.
Stop by for a meal at this restaurant, one of Raul’s favorite during the trip. Arrayal 39 showcases the best of Galicia and pays homage to the produce of the region, since it uses and offers seasonal produce throughout the year. The ambiance is also spectacular since Arrayal 39 is located inside a farm in Tui.
Bodegas Terras Gauda
Since you’re already in Spain, why not take the time to visit some of the more interesting spots surrounding the Camino route? Bodegas Terras Gauda at O Rosa is one of the biggest cellars in Spain, with three huge wineries across Ponte Verde.
A visit to Terras Gauda is a delight for both the wine aficionado and the wine newbie. They have informative wine tastings that can engage your mind and your senses, and a variety of wines to choose from and taste.
Baiona is a popular tourist town because of its medieval center and destinations. When you’re at Baiona, you can drop by the Caravel Pinta Museum, where you can check out and go inside a replica of the Caravel La Pinta—one of the ships from Christopher Columbus’ expedition that first informed Europe about the discover of America.
If you’re spending the night, might as well do it here in Baiona at the Parador de Baiona, a beautiful fortress-like hotel with beautiful views of the bay and the sea. Medieval elegance is perhaps the team of the Parador, with landscaped lawns for strolling and interior that whisks you back to the olden times of kings and queens.
Albergues are one of the more popular accommodation of pilgrims where you can sleep in dormitory-style hostels for very cheap. Albergues also differ depends on who manages the property, from municipal albergues sponsored by the local government to fancier private albergues, which are run by private groups or individuals and offer more services like meals, washer and dryer, and even wifi.
When in Redondela, check out the Casa de Torre Albergue, an exclusive public hostel for pilgrims who have the official Pilgrim’s Credential, which acts like a passport of sorts obtained by pilgrims from authorized institutions of the Santiago Cathedral. This albergue is on the fancier spectrum, complete with laundry and dryer, showers, hot water, and even coffee machines.
Quiñones de León Museum
Vigo is one of the more vibrant parts of the route, its metropolitan area one of Galicia’s primary economic drivers. The Ria de Vigo is famous for its rumored sunken treasures and shipwrecks. It was an inspiration for Jules Verne’s novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
When in Vigo, visit the Quiñones de León Museum, heart of the Galician art of the 20th century. There are 29 permanent exhibition halls to check out, showcasing European paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries, with pieces from the Prado Museum and the former National Museum of Modern Art.
The Samil beach is Vigo’s most popular beach, because it’s the liveliest all-year-round with facilities like swimming pools, basketball courts, and even a skating rink!
In the middle of the capital city of Pontevedra stands the Capela da Virxe Peregrina or the Chapel of the Pilgrims, a fusion of baroque detailing and neo-classical design elements, shaped like St. James’ scallop shell. The chapel is deemed a fixture in the Portuguese Way, where pilgrims stop to pray.
Ponte Maceira is home to a beautiful bridge built in the 8th to 9th century, which has been a key passage for pilgrims across the Tambre river. You can also drop by the Chapel of San Brais for a quick visit.
While some people culminate their journey at the Santiago de Compostela, some take the extended route and head to the Atlantic coast to get to Finisterre.
On the way to Finisterre, you can drop by Restaurante Tira do Cordel, one of Raul’s favorite restaurants along the Camino. The Tira do Cordel is home to some of the freshest seafood and amazing views on the way to Finisterre.
Back in the olden times, Galicia was considered the end of the old world. Cape Finisterre was the very edge of that since all that lays ahead is the great Atlantic Ocean. In fact, Finisterre comes from the term “Finis Terrae” which literally means “end of the world.”
It has become a tradition for pilgrims who go the extra mile to Finisterre to place stones on top of the final kilometer marker. Some even burn their clothes and boots to signify the end of their pilgrimage.
Santiago de Compostela
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Like Raul, you can circle back to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela to officially end your journey. This is where you can get your certificate and complete your passport stamps. A magnificent structure housing the relics of St. James the Apostle, the Cathedral towers over the Praza do Obradoiro square with its Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque elements.
A mass is held for pilgrims inside the Cathedral as a culmination of their days-long Camino de Santiago journey.
Raul’s Pilgrim Tips
Walking the Camino de Santiago can be a bit taxing and tiring, even for the physically fit. Raul, himself, who religiously completes his 10-km run every morning, lost some weight when he did the Portuguese Way. Here are some of his tips for the aspiring pilgrims:
- Wear the proper shoes – boots or sneakers are not the proper shoes for walking the Camino. Even though you’re taking the shorter route, you will be met with hilly paths and gravel roads. So wear hiking shoes.
- Bring walking sticks – walking sticks will help you conquer inclined roads, going up the hill or stopping yourself when walking downhill.
- Hydrate – the Coastal Route of the Portuguese Way may not be as hot or sunny, but that doesn’t mean your body does not need the extra hydration. Bring lots of water.
- Brings snacks – Pack healthy snacks like trail mixes and power bars because sometimes, the walk from town to town may be long and you won’t be able to find stops or restaurants where you can eat in between.
Join Raul as he walks and completes the Camino de Santiago on EIC on the Move, airing Sundays, 8:30 p.m. on Metro Channel, channel 52 on Sky Cable and channel 174 on HD. Catch a replay of this 2-part Camino de Santiago special on July 21 and 28, or watch it now on demand on iWant.