Camino with a Difference Tour PB 2017

Conducted in conjunction with Aurora Travel Pty. Ltd.

Sunday 28 May – Sunday 11 June (15 days/15 nights)
Northern Portugal and Galicia, Spain
Total maximum walking distance 150km. Options to walk less and non-walking days
3,285 Euros p/p twin share, 325 Euros single supplement

Walking the Camino: A Mirror Image of Tui

Walking the Camino: A Mirror Image of Tui

We commence our journey in the UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Oporto and finish in Santiago de Compostela. Our path through Portugal takes us along the Camino Portugues via forest tracks, vineyards and picturesque valleys.  There is plenty of time to enjoy the ambience of daily life in colourful small towns such as Barcelos and Ponte de Lima.  Crossing into Spain we visit the fortified medieval border town of Tui; an ancient spa centre once frequented by nobility, Caldas de Rei; and Padron, where St James the Apostle commenced his ministry in the province of Galicia.  Before reaching Santiago we travel to Finisterre (once thought to be ‘the end of the earth’) and walk through remote villages beside the picturesque and wind-swept Atlantic coast.  Two side trips are included to nearby scenic and historic sites.  Tour ends in Santiago de Compostela.

Day 1: Tour commences in Oporto (Sunday 28 May) (No long distance walking)
Participants meet at 6.00pm in our hotel in Oporto.  This small city situated on the River Douro is recognised as one of the most important cultural centres in Europe.  It once played a significant role leading maritime discovery voyages to the ‘New World’.  After discussing tour logistics we enjoy a Welcome group dinner beside the riverfront.

Accommodation: Oporto.  Meals: D.

Day 2: Oporto (Monday 29 May) (No long distance walking)
Today we visit the old quarters of the city on foot and take a rattling tram-ride along cobbled streets to avoid a steep climb.  We stop by the famous bookshop Lello where J.K. Rowling was inspired to write the Harry Potter series.  There’s time for morning tea at a stylish café and to take in the grandeur of the architecture that surrounds Liberdade Square.  After lunch and a siesta we have our Pilgrim Passports stamped at the Cathedral and wind our way down to the river.  A relaxing one-hour cruise gives us the chance to see the city from a different angle.  Before heading off to dinner a visit to an atmospheric port wine botega is a must!

Accommodation: Oporto.  Meals: B.

Day 3: Oporto to Sao Pedro de Rates (Tuesday 30 May) (Max. walk: 11.5 km)
This morning we transfer to the small village of Vilarinho with its pleasant shaded square where we commence our Camino.  Crossing the first of many medieval bridges that we will encounter on our journey, we walk via county lanes and hamlets to the tiny Arcos with its attractive church and blue tiled façade.  Our destination is the small town of Sao Pedro de Rates where we visit the parish church that is built on the 11th C remains of ancient pilgrim temples of the pre-Roman era.  We transfer to our hotel in neighbouring Vila do Conde, a seaside town with narrow cobbled alleyways and a well-preserved fishing quarter and museum of hand made lace.

Accommodation: Vila do Conde. Meals: B.

Walking the Camino: Grapevines along The Way

Walking the Camino: Grapevines along The Way

Day 4: Sao Pedro de Rates to Barcelos (Wednesday 31 May) (Max. walk 18 km)
After transferring back to Sao Pedro de Rates we walk via sheltered woodland paths to Pedra Furada with its welcoming café.  Here we can ‘put our feet up’ and enjoy some of the local delicacies prepared by the friendly proprietor, Antonio and his staff.  In the afternoon we travel on, past vineyards and farmlets to the charming small town of Barcelos, the origins of which date from Roman times.  It is better known today as the home of the legendary cockerel that has become a national symbol and is host to one of the liveliest markets in Portugal.  After settling into our hotel there is time to wander the delightful streets and to visit places of interest such as the alfresco archaeological museum.

Accommodation: Barcelos.  Meals: B.

Day 5: Barcelos to Ponte de Lima (Thursday 1 June) (Max. walk: 12 km)
After visiting the famous weekly market our Camino takes us through the Neiva and Lima valleys to Ponte de Lima.  This is one of the most beautiful stages of the Camino with 50% on forest tracks and via vineyards.  We break our journey after lunch at a small café beside the photo perfect single spired church of Vitorino dos Piaes.  From here we transfer to Ponte de Lima a picturesque medieval town with narrow cobbled streets and a historic Roman bridge.  Before dinner there is time to explore the ancient streetscapes and sample local produce sold by friendly shop vendors.

Accommodation: Ponte de Lima.  Meals: B.

Day 6: Ponte de Lima to Viana do Castelo (Friday 2 June) (No long distance walking)
Today we take a half day trip to visit nearby port town of Viana do Castelo that played an important role in maritime exploration and trade.  We enjoy free time to wander the medieval boulevards and narrow winding lanes.  Ornate palaces and manors remind us of the splendour of days gone by.  Some might decide to climb or take the restored funicular to the top of Monte de Santa Luzia for a magnificent view along the coastline.  Other attractions include a visit to the neo-Byzantine Templo do Sagrado Coração de Jesus and a stroll on a boardwalk through the ruins of a 4th C. fortified Celtic village called Cidade Velha.

 Accommodation: Ponte de Lima.  Meals: B.

Walking the Camino: Tui in the Mist

Walking the Camino: Tui in the Mist

Day 7: Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes (Saturday 3 June) (Max. walk: 13km)
After a slow breakfast we backtrack by vehicle to Vitorino dos Piaes to complete the second stage of our walk into Ponte de Lima.  We travel via woodland paths and cobbled lanes, arriving by foot under a shady canopy of trees beside the river – a most memorable experience!  After lunch we avoid a very steep climb up a rugged mountain ridge by transferring to our family run guesthouse in the small hamlet of Rubaies.  Here we can relax by the pool knowing that our washing has been taken care of and that a sumptuous dinner is being prepared by our host family.

Accommodation: Rubiaes.  Meals: B. D.

Day 8: Rubiaes to Tui (Sunday 4 June) (Max. walk: 18km)
We begin our walk today with an easy climb to Alto San Bento da Porta Aberta with its breathtaking views over the Minho valley.  The next stretch is mostly downhill via natural pathways and quiet country roads through forests of eucalyptus oak and pine trees.  As we cross the border into Spain the river is renamed ‘Mino’ and we readjust our watches one hour.  Before crossing the bridge we visit an imposing 13th C. fortress in Valenca from which Portuguese soldiers once fought off Spanish invaders.  Those with a sweet tooth might be keen to purchase a final Portuguese custard tart!

Accommodation: Tui.  Meals: B.

Day 9: Tui to Pontevedra (Monday 5 June) (No distance walking)
Today we have a break from the Camino.  We travel beside the river to A Guarda a pretty harbour village on the Atlantic coast where we visit the remains of an Iron Age Celtic settlement.  We follow the coast to tiny Oia to the magnificently situated Cistercian monastery before arriving in the seaside town of Baiona.  It was here in 1493 that a ship in Columbus’ small fleet anchored for repairs and the ‘discovery of the Americas’ was announced.  We explore the spectacular seaside fortress before lunching on local delicacies. From here we transfer to the coastal Pontevedra in readiness for tomorrow’s walk.

Accommodation: Pontevedra. Meals: B. L.

Day 10: Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis (Tuesday 6 June) (Max. walk: 22km)
After breakfast we follow the Camino across Ponte do Burgo beside the remains of an original Roman bridge to the village of San Caetano.  The pathway meanders via the peaceful hamlets and steams finally reaching the small town of Caldas de Reis (which translated means ‘Hot waters of the Kings’) situated between the Rios Umia and Bermana.  This historic spa town with its thermal springs and botanic gardens was once occupied by the Celts.  Here we can to enjoy a well-deserved spa, foot or back massage or simply to relax by the river and partake in a selection of local tapas and sangria.

Accommodation: Caldas de Reis.  Meals: B.

Day 11: Caldas de Reis to Padron (Wednesday 7 June) (Max. walk: 18km)
This morning we follow the Camino via woodlands and country roads beside the Valga river to San Miguel.  We travel onward beside the banks of the Rio Sar enjoying the ever-changing rural landscape to the delightful town of Padron where legend has it that St James the Apostle commenced his ministry in the first century A.D.  Here we can sample the spicy Pementos de Padron that are so highly prized in this region, hoping to avoid choosing the rare one that is extremely hot!  Before heading to dinner we have our photo taken beside a bronze statue of a pilgrim heading to Santiago, now only 25km away.

Accommodation: Padron.  Meals: B.

Walking the Camino: Travel Enriched tour group with a fellow Pilgrim in Padron

Walking the Camino: Travel Enriched tour group with a fellow Pilgrim in Padron

Day 12: Padron to Finisterre (Thursday 8 June) (5kms)
But before entering this historic city we divert from the Camino Portugues to spend some time walking on the Camino Finisterre.  It was here, at what was formerly known as ‘the end of the earth’, that the relics of St James were brought first for burial.  The rugged surrounding peninsula shelters many protected species of birds and distinctive vegetation.  We visit the famous lighthouse in Finisterre beside the often-turbulent Atlantic Ocean, then walk down hill to the harbour before returning to our hotel.  Fantastic photo opportunities await those who want to record their visit to this spectacular site.  There is plenty of time to relax, take a short seaside stroll, have a swim or observe daily life in this pretty fishing town.

Accommodation: Finisterre.  Meals: B.

Day 13: Finisterre to Muxia (Friday 9 June) (Max. walk: 14kms)
For many today’s walk will be a highlight of their Camino experience! We take forest paths and farming tracks to the attractive village of Lires.  This is a largely undiscovered route with the azure blue waters often visible in the background.  After an exhilarating, scenic walk we transfer to the lively fishing port of Muxia with its weathered headland on which a 12th century Romanesque church is situated.  We are further rewarded with a chance to observe women engaged in the ancient craft of lace making.

Accommodation: Finisterre.  Meals: B.

Day 14: Finisterre to Santiago de Compostela (Saturday 10 June) (Max. walk: 18kms)
In the morning we transfer to Ponte Maceira, reputed to be the best-preserved hamlet in all Galicia.  Before commencing our final stretch along the Camino we cross the magnificent medieval bridge over the river Tambre.  Much of our journey today takes us through shady pine and eucalyptus forests and there is a spring in our step as we approach our final destination.  At long last we see the spires of the magnificent 11th Cathedral and enter the UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Santiago de Compostela.  Before visiting the Cathedral we toast our arrival with a celebratory glass of vino!

Accommodation: Santiago de Compostela. Meals: B.

Walking the Camino: The Lighthouse at Finisterre

Walking the Camino: The Lighthouse at Finisterre

Day 15: Santiago de Compostela (Sunday 11 June) (No distance walking)
Now at our journey’s end we can relax, experience and enjoy just being in this ancient pilgrimage site.  Some may choose to attend the mid-day Pilgrim Mass in the hope of witnessing the giant swinging Botafumeiro that sprays incense on the congregation.  Legend has it that this was originally used to fumigate sweaty pilgrims and rid them of disease!  There’s plenty of time to explore the colourful streets, visit other historic places of interest and simply to mingle with travellers from many different parts of the world.  A group dinner complements this wonderful day.

Accommodation: Santiago de Compostela. Meals: B.D.  Tour ends.

What costs are covered?

  • Services of two Australian tour guides (one of whom also speaks Spanish)
  • Accommodation in comfortable hotels and guesthouses with private ensuites
  • Continental breakfast daily
  • Transfers: 2 daytrips, long distance buses on Finisterre peninsula
  • Up to 10kms daily taxi transfers where required
  • Transport of 1 medium sized piece of luggage eg. 210 deep, 640 high and 380 wide
  • Three (3) group dinners (Days 1, 7 & 15) and one (1) lunch (Day 9)
  • Tips and Gratuities throughout except at meals not included in the itinerary

What is not included in the cost?

  • International air flights and taxes
  • Visas (not required for Australian passport holders)
  • Airport transfers, taxes and excess baggage
  • Meals other than those specified in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses eg. laundry, telephone calls
  • Excess personal (more than 10kms per day) and luggage transfers (more than 1 medium sized piece of luggage).
  • Travel Insurance: Unlimited medical, additional and evacuation insurance is compulsory.

Please Note: Walking distances included in this itinerary are the maximum number of kilometres planned on any given day.  Each day shorter walking options will be offered.  On average shorter distances will be between 8-14 kms.  Some days those keen to walk longer distances may be supported by a guide.  Participants also have the option not to walk at all on some days.  In such cases transport will be arranged to the next accommodation.

For all bookings and further information contact:

Penny Broome, Aurora Travel
(T) +61 3 9682 2000


Diane McDonald, Travel Enriched
(M) +61 (0) 404 417 485

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