There’s a lot of things to consider when planning your Senda Litoral Route walk of the Caminho Português. There really are no Shoulds or Shouldn’ts. I debated calling this Dos and Don’ts. In the end, this is just some advice you can either take or not take. Always remember… Your Camino, Your way!
But there are things to consider…
One of the very first is: Should I walk out of Porto on foot or should I take the street car?
I can only offer my own personal take on this, as I only walked once and we chose to walk the entire way out of the city… from the famous Dom Luís I bridge all the way to the lighthouses at the mouth of the River Douro where it meets the Atlantic Ocean.
There is nothing wrong with taking the streetcar along this portion of the route. Many, many pilgrims do it for various reasons. The streetcar travels alongside the river and takes you to the mouth. It will save you a few kms on your first day and it’s YOUR Camino/YOUR choice.
We walked and really enjoyed the views.
Once you pass under the Arrábida Bridge, the River Douro opens up and you’re well on your way to the lighthouses and the Atlantic Ocean.
There’s a lot to look at along the way. The walk up to the lighthouses, though, is the crown of the journey. It’s spectacular to see the waves crashing against the catwalks…and you can walk out on those catwalks and get some great shots, too!
So, to answer the first question… my answer would be YES. Take the walk out of the city. It’s spectacular. Again, though, it’s your walk. If you know this first day is going to be super long and you need to somehow shorten it, taking the streetcar out of town is how pilgrims have been doing so. YOUR Camino.
Should I stay in HI Vila do Conde – Pousada de Juventude in Vila do Conde?
Obviously, I cannot recommend albergues we haven’t stayed at. But I can suggest ones we stayed at that were amazing. And, depending on how you organize your daily walks you may not even find yourself staying in the same towns that we stayed in. With our crazy 10-day schedule, your trip may not align with ours at all.
I can highly recommend the first albergue we stayed in during our September 2022 Camino. Our day one brought us to Vila do Conde. Pousada de Juventude translates from Portuguese to YOUTH HOSTEL. On the surface, this gave me cause for pause. But trust me, it’s gorgeous. And they offer a great breakfast too. If you come to Vila do Conde–on your first or second or third day–you couldn’t go wrong staying at HI Vila do Conde – Pousada de Juventude. My suggestion is YES. Do it. Click this link.
Excuse the backpack explosion in this shot. This is what the rooms look like in this youth hostel. They’re clean and super cute. They have singles and, for our purposes, 3-bed rooms. Worked out perfectly. Nice first day ending.
Should I stop at the Caminho Beach Bar?
This is NOT a bad idea. We thought there would be more options on the route. We ended up leaving the route for a few hundred feet when we spotted a place later and worried there was nothing else coming. So, when you see this sign…
…take it as a sign. Unless you’re okay with leaving the boardwalk and walking a few hundred feet into a small town further along. We had a great pit stop, don’t get me wrong. But if you don’t want to leave the path, this bar is the place for you. If you keep walking, keep an eye out for the place in the next photo. It’s a little town a little ways away from the Caminho Beach Bar…on your right-hand side. Looks like a parking lot that opens to a small town. There is also a very tiny grocers, should you need supplies.
Should I enter this ocean-side haunted house prior to Esposende?
Should I stay at the Esposende Guesthouse?
This may have been one of my favourite albergues on the Caminho Português. The level of trusted hospitality here reminded me of the Camino Frances. A woman greeted us for check-in and gave us the lay of the land. Once all were checked in, she left for the night and the pilgrims were on our own.
I don’t know why I fell hard for this one, but I did. It was cute. Click here.
There was a cash jar on the kitchen counter, beer in the fridge, wine on the counter. It was all honor system and prices were marked.
There was a kitchen, if you wanted to save a bit on costs and make your own meal. Everything you need is there. The town filled with restaurants is just outside your door, too, should you decide to taste the local fare.
The rooms were clean and cute, and the bathroom was a dream. Towels on the beds. It was an amazing place to end the day!
There were communal crash places aplenty, either indoor or out!
Should I stop to look out across the ocean and snap a selfie after the rain?
An emphatic YES. Stop and smell the roses. You are walking alongside an immeasurable vastness. Take it in. Immerse yourself in it!
Should I stay in HI Viana do Castelo – Pousada de Juventude in Viana do Castelo?
There are options in this bigger town. We chose the first ‘albergue’ once you cross the bridge into town. Should you stay there? That’s entirely up to you. This one lives up to the name of YOUTH HOSTEL. Click Here. The rooms were clean. It had breakfast on offer. It had a large communal room where you could eat an evening meal, should you bring one in. We got a pizza from a local pizzeria…using UberEats to get it delivered.
It was one of those ‘what-you-need’ places, whereas the Esposende Guesthouse was a ‘what-you-want’ place. This place had everything we needed and it was cheap and just inside town. Should you stay here? Entirely up to you and your expectations. WiFi was great, no issues. I believe their pilgrim offer was 14,00€. Link above.
I really wish I could recommend our next stay! It was in Caminha and it was an apartment and it was BEAUTIFUL! Sadly, I noticed that it is no longer on offer. It was a definite SHOULD. Very close to the town circle where the restaurants were and only two minutes from the boat launch in the morning. I would live there if I could.
Should I use Xacobeo Transfer to get from Caminha, Portugal to A Guarda, Spain?
Yes. Absolutely. It was a breeze to book the evening before. The boat met us and the driver had a manifest of passengers and consulted the manifest for our names. We didn’t even have to show a ticket on our phones or anything. Just get on the boat and get off at the other side. It was a quick 5-8 minute ride.
Here’s the link to their website: Xacobeo Transfer.
Tip to remember if your phone doesn’t automatically change, or if you don’t use a phone: A Guarda is ONE HOUR AHEAD of Caminha. So, though the ride takes a few minutes, you lose an hour. A Guarda is the beginning of Spain and they are an hour ahead of Portugal.
This ends Part One. Click here to JUMP TO PART TWO.
If you want to see our 10 day journey in full, here is the link to DAY ONE. At the end of every day, you will find a link to the next day. After those, you will also find a couple of posts on what to do in Porto before and after the Caminho.
I’m also an author. One of my novels, a young adult story, is set on the Camino Frances route of the Camino de Santiago. THE CAMINO CLUB. It follows six teens on their journey from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela. The teens walk with court appointed counselors in a juvenile delinquent program that will see them free of their records once they make the journey to Santiago…a clean slate. Think of a more diverse The Breakfast Club, but on the Camino de Santiago over two weeks instead of in a school library on a Saturday. Give it a look! It’s available wherever books are sold. Here’s the Amazon USA link.