Our trip begins in Porto, Portugal with a 9am group rendezvous. We begin our journey on the Portuguese Central Camino at the monastery of São Pedro de Rates. In the 1st Century, Saint Peter of Rates was ordered here to preach the Christian faith by Saint James the Great. As a result, Rates is traditionally one of the starting points of the pilgrimage. We hike through the countryside on rural lanes up to Santuário da Senhora da Franqueira, one of northern Portugal’s pilgrimage centers. After a picnic lunch we transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Guimarães, recognized for being “a well preserved and authentic example of the evolution of a medieval settlement into a modern town.” Walking the medieval streets, we pass by the 10th-century Guimarães Castle and visit the restored Dukes of Bragança Palace, built in the style of a French chateau. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: 7 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1509'/-708'
Today we hike a portion of the Portuguese Central Way from the Chapel of Senhora das Neves in Seara, through Ponte de Lima to the doorstep of Paco de Calheiros, our home for the next two evenings in Calheiros. This family-run 17th-century manor house is one of the many baroque manors dotting the countryside of Ponte de Lima. After lunch we have time to explore the manor house and the beautiful surrounding grounds. Later, we transfer to Ponte de Lima and stroll through the old quarters of this 12th-century village before our dinner together. Ponte de Lima is the oldest village in Portugal and was historically significant as a Roman settlement along the road from Braga to Santiago de Compostela and Lugo. Ponte de Lima is also known for its refreshing and fruity vinho verde wines. All meals included.Hiking: 8.1 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1162'/-624'; Optional hike: 4.9 miles
From the mountain village of Arga de Cima we follow the historic footsteps of Queen Isabel of Portugal, who took this trail to Santiago de Compostela in the 13th Century. The highland trail takes us through the small villages of Serra D’Árga, passing by granite houses and corn stacks. We witness traditional agricultural practices and share the lane with goats, sheep and crossing chickens. We end at a 13th century monastery for a picnic lunch with views overlooking the valley and the Minho River. After a transfer, the remainder of the afternoon is free to enjoy the grounds of our manor or head back into Ponte de Lima for further exploration and shopping. Dinner on our own this evening in Ponte de Lima. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 8 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1917'/-1766'
We begin our day on the Portuguese Central Camino with a rewarding climb of 1,705' and 1,843' descent in just over a mile, through eucalyptus woodlands of Labruja Mountain. Continue along the Roman Way to the town of Rubiães with its ancient Roman stone bridge over the River Pedreira. Next, we transfer to the fortified town of Valença do Minho for lunch and explore along the walls of the fortress. We enter Spain as we cross the International Bridge over the Minho River and continue to our hotel in Tui. The afternoon is free to relax at the hotel or stroll along the river into town to visit the cathedral of Tui and its medieval center. Breakfast and dinner included.
Hiking: 8.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1705'/-1843'; Optional 2.5 mile hike, minimal elevation gain/loss
Our hike starts at Castro de Santa Trega, a Galician fort sitting at 1,118' above sea level, strategically overlooking the mouth of the Miño River. We explore well preserved ruins of early Roman settlements. Next, we make our way down to the coast following the Portuguese Coastal Camino, ending at the old Cetárea where fisherman store lobster after its catch. Our next stop is the coastal village of Baiona in the province of Pontevedra, Galicia, for a seafood lunch and a stroll around the Gondomar Castle. We have the option of transferring to Santiago by van or hiking the western Camino of Finisterra through old agricultural gardens and manor houses. We get our first views over the city and the towers of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, then arrive in the Plaza Obradoiro, Santiago's grandiose square. Dinner is on our own tonight. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 6 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +825'/-1512'; Optional 3 mile walk, minimal elevation gain/loss; Transfer: 1.5 hours
Today provides the opportunity to explore Santiago on our own or hike on the Finisterra Camino. Our hike begins in the town of Oliveira and leads us through eucalyptus and pine forest overlooking the valley of the Xallas River. We reach the town of Hospital, owing its name to a 12th-century pilgrim hospital, and end our hike with a picnic lunch at the church of Nossa Senhora das Neves. We transfer to Cape Finisterra, the final destination for many pilgrims who walked the Camino de Santiago. The Cape is also the historical "Land’s End" reached by pilgrimages predating Christianity. We marvel at the spectacular views of the Costa da Morte, translated as Coast of Death, so named for the innumerable shipwrecks over the centuries. This evening we meet for a celebratory farewell dinner. All meals included (lunch not included for free day in Santiago).
Hiking: 9 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1039'/-1023'
After breakfast, transfer on your own to Santiago’s airport or continue your explorations of this marvelous region of Spain. We also have the option to return to Porto with our guides. Breakfast included.