Medieval treasures, seafood, and Atlantic landscapes
Porto-Caminha-Baiona-Pontevedra-Cambados-Carril-Santiago de Compostela
Portugal and Spain, this tour allows you to see two beautiful countries at once. You will explore the enchanting Atlantic Coast from Porto, Unesco world heritage site, to Santiago de Compostela in Spain by bike: you will go past traditional fishing ports where you will stop and taste the finest fish and shellfish in Europe. Portugal will be a pleasant surprise; the beautiful itineraries chosen for you will take you through coastal villages, along sandy beaches, and to countryside paths, through vineyards and medieval towns not only rich in Romanesque, but also in Baroque and Neoclassical architecture.
This route is a variation of the traditional Portuguese Route to Santiago, which has only recently been approved as an official Camino de Santiago, although it might be the oldest of all the pilgrimage routes that led to the holy place where there are the remains of the apostle St. James, carried there from Jerusalem.
It is possible to include delicious seafood dinners, delightful wine-tastings both in Portugal and Spain. Accommodation is always in charming and conveniently located hotels or you can choose to sleep in boutique historic and luxury hotels…the typical Paradores: located in castles, manor houses, and stately homes. The Paradores are famous for the high standards of their hospitality and for their excellent traditional cuisine.
Whether you are religious or not, this journey will inspire you, fascinates you and surely you will remain touched by the strong emotions that, for centuries, pilgrims have travelled this route, in spite of the many challenges they found along the way. However, your journey will be intense and pleasant. Your cycling will begin in Porto where you will spend the first night. Then you will cycle about 40 kilometres per day, following the famous Camino de Santiago, past landmarks such as Viana do Castelo and Caminha in Portugal, Baiona, Pontevedra, Cambados and Arousa in Spain.
In the end, while approaching Santiago de Compostela, one of the milestones of Christianity, you will have a sensation of fulfilment, excitement and real joy. A beautiful visit of the magnificent cathedral, a place full of history, faith and hope, will be the final highlight of this striking cycling tour.
The daily program of the 8-day tour
Your journey starts in Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage City, world-famous for its wine, the Porto. Today you will have time to tour the city, visit one of the historic Port Wine lodges and discover the many food specialties the town has to offer. Stroll through the historic centre in the Ribeira medieval riverside neighbourhood; see the Dom Luis Bridge, with the traditional Rabelo boats moored in the Douro River. The town is full of monuments and landmarks, a real jewel!
If you choose the optional Wine Experiences Package, you have a guided visit and wine tasting to one of the historic Port Wine lodges included.
Overnight with breakfast in Porto.
After a short transfer to the starting point, you leave Porto and will cycle most of the day along the Atlantic Ocean to your destination, the ancient picturesque town of Caminha, through the famous Vinho Verde Winemaking Region full of vineyards that produce a well-known dry white. Cycling along the Atlantic Ocean is an extraordinary experience; you will ride past lovely traditional fishing villages. Once in Viana do Castelo, the peace and quiet of your ride will be replaced by the sounds of this lively city at the estuary of the Lima River. Dating back to Roman times, Viana was later the principal port for the north of Iberia, a very important spot during the Portuguese discoveries of the 16th century.
The route continue along Afife beach, one of the most famous surfing beaches in the north of Portugal and go past the historic Montedor lighthouse that watches over all sailors. Next, Vila Praia de Ancora, a fishing village located on the Ancora River, delights visitors with its great natural beauty. Tonight, you will stay in Caminha, an elegant medieval town strategically located at the estuary of the Minho River, whose history dates back to pre-Roman times.
Overnight stay with breakfast in Caminha.
Distance: 47,9 km / 29,7 mi
Altitude: min. 0/ max. 107 m.
Ascent: + 332m
Paved 99% / Dirt road 1%
Today you leave Portugal and enter Spain.
You can choose to start your trip by taking the ferry across the Minho River, from Caminha to Spain, or by transferring to Vila Nova de Cerveira and cycling across on the Bridge of Friendship that links the two countries. Once in Galicia, you will cycle along the Atlantic coast, at the foot of the Sierra de Argalo and Sierra de la Grova mountains, you will go past the charming and lively harbour town of Baiona, famous for its fresh fish and seafood. Once you have arrived in Baiona, you can walk around the harbour or along the walls of the impressive Monterreal Fort or just relax and enjoy a magnificent sunset with a drink and some tapas at one of the several terraced cafés on the waterfront.
The optional Wine & Dine Package includes a delicious Parrillada de Marisco, a tasty selection of 7 different types of seafood, accompanied by the local Galician crisp white wine.
Overnight stay with breakfast in Baiona.
Distance: 37,4 km / 23,2 mi
Altitude: min. 0/ max. 64 m.
Ascent: + 305m
Paved: 90% / dirt road 10%
A very beautiful stage awaits you today: you will cycle through the lush green inland waterways of the Rias Bajas. Cycle northwards along the valley of the Louro River, through thick pine forests and the magical environment of the Galician hills. Along the way, as you cycle further north towards Vilaboa, you will have wonderful views of the Ocean. You will go past the fishing village of Arcade, known as the oyster capital of Galicia. Next, you will get to the ancient town of Pontevedra, today’s destination. Pontevedra is picturesquely located on the Lerez River and is absolutely worth a visit.
You can buy some local cheese at the farmers’ market, it’s absolutely delicious.
Overnight stay in Pontevedra.
Distance: 32 km / 19,9 mi
Altitude: min. 0/ max. 311 m.
Paved: 70% / dirt road 30%
Today you will enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, then you will cycle through forests and past the wide vineyards in the Rias Baixas, the wine region where the Albariño, one of the best white wines in the world is being produced.
This is an excellent destination thanks to the green of forests and vineyards, the sparkling blue waters of the Arousa waterway, quality wines and least but not last, delicious shellfish and seafood. Cambados is today’s end of the stage: it is located near the mouth of the Arousa estuary and Albariño Wine Capital and is one of the most attractive and appealing Galician towns. The peculiar architecture of the Santo Tomé fishermen’s quarter is well worth a visit, especially the houses whose façades are covered with scallop shells.
Also in Cambados (on request), you may choose a seafood fishing experience with a local family of artisan fisherfolk, who follow the traditional fishing method of gathering cockles and mussels from the sandbanks by hand.
Here you have some options you may choose from: a Wine Tasting Package includes a guided visit and wine tasting at a prize-winning traditional winery. The optional Wine & Dine Package includes a wonderful seafood dinner at a very popular local restaurant accompanied by Albariño wine. The chef will delight you with novel, modern ways of preparing a variety of seafood, that will tickle your palate.
Overnight stay with breakfast in Cambados.
Distance: 30,2 km / 18,8 mi
Altitude: min. 1/ max. 202 m.
Ascent: + 277m
Paved: 85% / dirt road 15%
Your beautiful panoramic route continues within the maritime and natural environment of the Arousa estuary. You will leave Cambados and cycle past seawater mills until you come to a bridge that leads to Illa de Arousa, an enchanting peninsula with fishing villages surrounded by beautiful beaches and the Carreirón Nature Park, a bird reserve.
Today’s destination is the fishing village of Carril, famous for its mussels and many restaurants serving delicious seafood. If you wish, you have time to bathe and lay at one of the pristine white sand beaches around the town or hire a kayak or a boat to tiny Cortegada island, in front of Carril (not included), famous for the largest forest of laurel trees in Europe, centuries-old trees that attracts specialists from all over the world.
As an alternative, you could go on a one hour-long boat cruise on the Arousa estuary where you will see the floating wooden platforms used to cultivate mussels. A mussel tasting with white wine on board is included. This cruise operates from June to mid-October and leaves Vilanova port daily at 12h30 and 17h00. Today is full of options but…whatever you choose, don’t forget your camera, there is a lot to see and to photograph!
Overnight with breakfast in Carril.
Distance: 46,9 km / 29,1 mi
Altitude: min. 0/ max. 38 m.
Ascent: + 305m
Paved: 73% / dirt road 27%
Today is the day you reach your final destination, Santiago de Compostela, one of the most important Christianity’s holy cities, said to be the resting place of the relics of the Apostle Saint James, Patron Saint of Spain. You leave Carril and cycle through a green landscape rich in forests and wetlands. You will cycle past Padrón, a lovely town on the banks of the Sar River. According to legend, the body of St. James was transported here by boat from Jerusalem. It was only late in the 9th century that the local Bishop claimed to have discovered the burying place of this saint, in a place named Compostela, which quickly became a place of religious pilgrimage. As you enter Santiago, you will be touched by sense of excitement and fervour that all pilgrims feel as they approach the magnificent cathedral that houses the holy relics of Saint James. You can start your visit of this ancient, historic town with the magnificent cathedral and its impressive Pórtica de la Gloria. Note the beauty of the different architectural styles of the buildings that feature the medieval cobbled streets and the Obradoiro, Quintana and O Toural squares. Tourists and visitors enjoy this lively university town, you can stop for a break or a meal at one of the many delightful restaurants and bars.
Overnight in Santiago de Compostela
Distance: 46,2 km / 28,7 mi
Altitude: min. 0/ max. 263 m.
Ascent: + 517m
Paved: 95% / dirt road 5%
After breakfast end this stunning tour through Portugal and Spain. Transfer back to Porto.
Impressions of Portugal & Spain
The first stages of this tour are easy and mostly flat. Then you cycle in slightly hilly countryside with some short, not too heavy climbs. On day 4 there is a stretch with a steep climb along a rocky trail and you will have to push up your bike (more a level 3). The daily distances are short and therefore you will have time to stop for a rest at interesting points along the route and to enjoy Portugal’s fantastic coast or countryside, or taking some time off to explore Portuguese & Spanish towns and discover local culture and fine food.
You will cycle an average of 40 Km/day, with a few gentle kilometres up hillsides and small to medium slopes. Some cycle experience is needed.
Daily Km: min. 30,2 km / 18,7 mi – max. 47,9 km / 29,7 mi
Total km: 240,6 km / 150 miles
Every Monday from 1st March to 30th November 2024. Upon request and with supplement (minimum 2-3 people) it is possible to start on another day.
2 or more people (solo traveller upon request)
START / FINISH:
Porto / Santiago de Compostela