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Lisbon & Porto before or after Camino walk?

I am walking the Camino Portugues for 6 days from Oia to Santiago. I would like to spend some days in both Lisbon and Porto before heading home. I have 14 days with weekends for the trip.

First. I am seeking feedback to see what other travelers think about the pros and cons of visiting the cities before the walk or after.

Second, I have a long flight from WA state to Santiago (19 hours!) so am thinking of breaking this journey up with another city visit. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

Posted by
17165 posts

What time of year is your trip?

There's definitely enough to keep you busy in Santiago de Compostela for a solid day of sightseeing. The historic area is quite large, so a second day wouldn't be wasted if you enjoy just wandering around.

You might check to see whether you can get a better connection into Vigo. It's about my least favorite city/town in Galicia (not bad, but really paled in comparison to every other place I visited), but it's not far from Santiago de Compostela.

If not (and I didn't see anything great after a quick check on Google Flights for a randomly-chosen date in May), I see that--for at least some months of the year--there are cheap non-stops into Vigo from Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao and Lisbon. This would probably end up being a separately-ticketed flight, so it would be prudent to plan at least a one-night stopover in the transfer city so you don't need to worry about missing the connecting flight if you have a transatlantic delay. With only a day or two to play with, I'd probably choose Bilbao, since you can actually see a good bit of what it has to offer in 24 or 48 hours--which cannot be said of Madrid or Barcelona. (But again, the time of year matters.) I'd suggest two nights there since your arrival day will probably be a jetlagged fog.

Additional places to see in Galicia: A Coruna (tends to be warmer and sunnier), Pontevedra, the medium-sized town of Betanzos up near A Coruna, and the small towns of Cambados, Combarro and Tui. The latter is on the Spanish border. My guess is that Cambados and Combarro would be dead off-season.

Additional places to see in northern Portugal (these are just the places I've been--not saying they are "the best"): Barcelos, Guimaraes, Viseu. There's also the Douro Valley, especially if you like wine.

In a case like this, with limited time, I'd get Spanish and Portuguese guide books out of my library, make a list of places that sounded interesting, then make a selection based on public-transportation schedules. There's no sense in twisting yourself into knots, trying to get somewhere that takes 4 hours, when there are other charming places only an hour or two away. But do try to hit a weekly market day somewhere; those are fun.

Lisbon and Porto both will benefit from multiple days, so you don't really have that much extra time to fill.

Keep in mind that transportation across the Spanish/Portuguese border is infrequent, so figure out what your options are sooner rather than later. You may find that Sunday is a day to be avoided.

Posted by
7700 posts

I am doing the Portuguese Camino in April, starting in Porto. We are planning on just taking a bus from Santiago to Porto at the end of our walk to catch our flight home. The last time I did the Camino Frances, I took a train from Santiago to Madrid for my flight home.
See which airport works best for you to fly in an out of and if you can get an open jaw flight perhaps.

You will want to have at least 2 days in Santiago. There are also all day bus tours that go to Finesterra and Muxia that are really good. You get to see the beautiful coastline, the end of the world, huge waterfall, and have lunch at a nice seafood restaurant. It cost 39€.

Buen Camino!

Posted by
1075 posts

We just did the Camino Portugues going from Tui to Santiago. We spent 2 days in Porto prior to taking the bus from Porto to Valenca, walking the Camino(with great help from CaminoWays.com) and then returning to Lisbon via Vigo for 3 more days. Returning, we took the train to Vigo for €11 and then flew for €55(including bags) to Lisbon. We were told that it was important to get acclimated before walking which is why we spent the time prior to beginning in Porto, which has now became one of my favorite cities in the EU.
Bon Camino!

Posted by
68 posts

Thinking about my own experience walking the Camino Frances in 2014, I'd prefer to walk first and visit afterwards. There's something about preparing, packing, and traveling to walk the Camino, momentum builds, and once I arrived, I just wanted to start walking! If you walk first, there's also the added benefit of more flexibility: those visiting days could turn into additional walking days if you want or need them to be. And saving the visiting and touring for afterwards is a nice celebration of completing your walk. Whatever you decide, I'm thrilled that you're going and wish you a Buen Camino!

Posted by
244 posts

I have a friend who just did 500 miles of the Camino.
She rewarded herself after with time in both Porto and Lisboa.