Self-guided Camino de Santiago cycling tour in Spain and Portugal is a challenging ride from Porto, in Portugal to Compostela, in Spain
Pilgrim’s way from Porto to Santiago de Compostela
Whether you are religious or not, following the St. James Way feels special. Possibly because you are so aware that this has been a pilgrim’s route for centuries. So many have travelled along these tracks, spurred by a great devotion. It is a route that impresses all who follow it with it challenges, delights, and lifelong lessons.
The Self-guided Camino de Santiago cycling tour in Spain and Portugal is a pleasant bike ride, starting from Porto where you will spend the night after your arrival. You will cycle around 60 kilometres per day, following the medieval pilgrims’ way from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. You will go past famous Camino de Santiago landmarks such as Barcelos, on the Cavado River, and Ponte de Lima with its world famous arched bridge. In Valença, you will cross the River Minho on the remarkable bridge built in 1885 by Eiffel, to Tui in Spain. All along the way you will have a chance to speak to the friendly local inhabitants who are always ready to welcome all who come to visit their region.
Sense the excitement that all pilgrims feel as they approach Santiago de Compostela. The air thrills with their enthusiasm and it is clear that this is one of Christianity’s greatest holy cities, a beautiful city to which so many people throughout the ages travelled. By all means, do visit the cathedral to Saint James. It is a place of history, devotion and hope. A lovely town to end your biking journey.
Itinerary for Self-guided Camino de Santiago cycling tour in Spain and Portugal
Day 1- Porto
Standard starting day: Monday*
Porto, a World Heritage City, has a historic centre with over 150 listed monuments. Biking alongside the Douro River is sufficient to make you aware of what this beautiful, lively city has to offer visitors: the Bolsa Palace housing the Stock Exchange, the monumental Clérigos church and tower and the Cathedral are just some of the highlights. The historic Lello bookshop, considered a pearl of Art Nouveau neogothic architecture, is also not to be missed as it may well contain the most beautiful staircase in Europe.
Day 2 - Stage 1 - Porto to Barcelos
Whether you are religious or not, following the medieval Portuguese route to Santiago de Compostela is a special experience. Possibly because you will be so aware that this has been a pilgrims’ way for centuries and that so many have trod these paths with such fervour and dedication. Barcelos, on the River Cavado, is known for its pottery industry, and is also of religious importance. You should visit the 13th century Mother Church. Every hour on the hour, you will hear the pealing of the church bells of the many parishes for which the city is famous.
Day 3 - Stage 2 – Barcelos to Ponte de Lima
Queen Isabel of Portugal (1271 - 1336) followed the medieval pilgrims’ way you will follow, as she made at least one pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. On this second stage, you will arrive in Ponte de Lima, the oldest village in Portugal, famous for its beautiful 24-arch Roman bridge of immense. In the morning, spread your toast with the finest honey from the bees on the estate. Take your time enjoying a delightful breakfast.
Day 4 - Stage 3 – Ponte de Lima to Valença
Leaving Ponte de Lima, you will enter a magical landscape of mountains, forest and valleys. A land of flowers and silence. Valença, the fortified town you will spend the night in, rises from the banks of the River Minho, on the Spanish border. An awe-inspiring location, partly due to the 17th century double-moated fortifications that surround it, it offers breath-taking views over the River Minho and the cathedral town of Tui, in Spain.
Day 5 - Stage 4 – Valença to Pontevedra
After crossing the border to Spain over the bridge built by Eiffel in 1885, you will cycle northwards along the valley of the River Louro, through thick pine forests and enjoy the magical landscapes of the valleys of Galicia. At Redondela, as you cycle further north towards Vilaboa, you will have captivating views of an Atlantic waterway where the ocean streams inland. You are back to the land of fishermen. Pontevedra, picturesquely located on the River Lerez, deserves some time spent in the well-preserved ancient city centre. Be sure to visit the farmers’ market and buy some of the delicious local cheese for tomorrow.
Day 6 - Stage 5 – Pontevedra to Padrón
Today you leave the Atlantic Ocean, travelling inland through majestic forests and across the picturesque Valley of the River Gandra to Caldas de Reis, a nice little town and a welcoming place for a coffee or lunch stop. The approximately 15 kilometres ride to Padrón takes you past the church of Santa Maria de Carracedo, again through a fascinating landscape, gently cycling with views of the banks of the River Valga. Legend has it that Saint James often preached in the mountains above Padrón, at a place called Santiaguino del Monte. Another legend is that the saint, striking a rock with his staff, released a spring of fresh water that still flows to this day.
Day 7- Stage 6 – Padrón to Santiago de Compostela
The last stage is a little exciting for most people, as today you will indeed reach Santiago de Compostela. As you arrive in Compostela, you will sense the thrill in the air that all pilgrims feel as they approach the medieval sanctuary to Saint James. Clearly, that this is one of Christianity’s greatest holy cities, a beautiful destination for so many people throughout the ages. By all means, do visit the cathedral. It is a place of history, devotion and hope. A lovely town in which to end your biking journey.
Day 8 - Santiago de Compostela to Porto
Transfer to Porto airport.
End of the Self-guided Camino de Santiago cycling tour in Spain and Portugal.
*For 2-3 people, to start in a different day of the week, a supplement fee applies. This fee isn't applicable to 4 or more persons