The Portuguese Way is the second most popular pilgrimage route today. It is an exciting journey from the capital of Portugal to the lands of Compostela, which currently has two different itineraries to choose from. Whether you love the coasts or prefer the quiet rural interiors, the Portuguese route is perfect for you.
In the following lines we tell you everything you need to know about the Portuguese route. If you are thinking of embarking on the adventure this coming year, don’t miss out on everything we have to tell you.
History of the Portuguese Way
The history of the Portuguese route goes back to the Middle Ages, when pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela from different places in Europe began to take shape.
In the 12th century, after Lisbon recovered from Arab rule, pilgrimages on the Portuguese Way were consolidated. This route took advantage of many parts of Roman roads, where milestones from Roman times are still preserved. Many were the historical figures who walked these paths, from monarchs such as Alfonso II or Sancho II, to noblemen as important in history as Cosimo III de Medici.
Itinerary of the Portuguese Way
Approximately 600 kilometres separate Lisbon from Compostela. The primary route is the one that runs through the interior variant of the road. It consists of 26 stages, of which more than half are through Portuguese territory. This route passes through such outstanding places in the geography of the Iberian Peninsula as Lisbon, Coimbra, Porto, Barcelos, Tui and Pontevedra.
Nowadays, the most common thing is to start the pilgrimage from Porto or Tui.
On the other hand, the coastal route is carried out from Porto in 9 stages. This variant passes through coastal environments of incalculable beauty and natural value. It also passes through mythical villages on the Atlantic coast such as Viana do Castelo, Caminha, A Guarda or Oia. It is a highly recommended variant if you like to feel the bravura of the Atlantic Ocean.
What is the most common division into sections like?
As with the French route, the entire route is many kilometres long, so we would need many days available to complete it in one go. For this reason, it is usual to divide the stages into sections and complete the route little by little. The usual sections are from Lisbon to Coimbra, from Coimbra to Porto, from Porto to Tui and from Tui to Santiago de Compostela.
Is this Jacobean route difficult?
Not at all. The Portuguese Way is one of the most accessible routes for everyone. This is due to the fact that its route is practically flat along the whole length of the route. It is a perfect way to start cycling.
When is the best time of year to do it?
Any time of the year is good for doing the Portuguese Way. As there are no high points or mountain passes along the route, there is no section of the route that becomes impracticable in winter. However, it is true that as it is the second busiest pilgrimage route to Santiago, doing it in summer is not recommended if you are looking for some privacy.
As always, we stay with our favourite seasons, spring and autumn, because we consider them to be the times of year when nature is at its most beautiful.
What are the infrastructures and signalling like?
Like the French route, the Portuguese route is perfectly signposted. You will not find any problems when following the stages. Perhaps the only point that can be a bit tricky is the exit from Porto, so pay special attention on that stretch.
As far as infrastructure is concerned, it should be noted that accommodation is available all along the route. Perhaps, in the interior variant, some sections through rural areas when passing through Barcelos, leave the pilgrim more deprived during the stage, the services being concentrated at the start and end points of the stage.
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