Even though in the Portuguese Central Camino there are more ups and downs requiring an extra effort from your legs, the truth is the Portuguese Coastal Camino offers less shades and it is possible you’ll catch cold winds from the north / northwest.
This means it is crucial to know which cities you want to use for rest days so you can manage your energy in the best possible way.
We suggest you have rest days on the Coastal Camino in Viana do Castelo, Baiona, Vigo or Pontevedra. These cities will give you the perfect combination of seaside landscapes, tradition and history. Shall we put our hiking boots on?
Viana do Castelo, located in the Portuguese region of Minho at the mouth of the river Lima, offers a lovely unspoilt coastline. You can take some time to explore the central Praça da República and admire the fountain and old town hall, both from the 16th century, as well as the Misericórdia Hospital, built in Mannerist style. Known as “princess of the Minho”, Viana do Castelo is famous for its colourful traditional costumes and filigree jewellery that you can learn more about by visiting the Museu do Traje (Costume Museum). Also worth a visit are the Museu de Artes Decorativas (Decorative Arts Museum), with its amazing collection of 18th century azulejos (ceramic tiles) and the unique Gil Eannes hospital ship. A visit to the Santa Luzia Basilica is absolutely mandatory – it was built on top of a hill, and features a mix of architectural styles and breathtaking views over the city and the surrounding area. Viana do Castelo has plenty of fish and shellfish dishes to offer, with a special focus on salted cod (bacalhau). But you also don’t want to miss the traditional caldo verde (a thick soup made with potatoes and cabbage), the local vinho verde and the sweet leite creme.
The next cities suggested as ideal for rest days (Baiona, Vigo and Pontevedra) give you a hearty welcome to the Spanish region of Galicia. In common they have century old monuments, plenty of history and delectable cuisine. From the rich caldo gallego to the numerous tapas, empanadas, fresh seafood and the sweet tarta de Santiago, we assure you there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to wash it all down with some local Albariño wine!
At first sight, Baiona may look like just a small city without much to offer. But look closely and you’ll distinguish an inviting fishing port, several beaches and a charming old town. Here, you can also visit the impressive Monterreal Fortress, on the Monte Boi peninsula, where for more than 2000 years there has always been a fortification of some sort. The 15 meters tall granite statue of Our Lady of the Rock and the Caravel Pinta Museum, an exact replica of one of the caravels that Columbus took on his first voyage to America (and the first to arrive in Monterreal) shouldn’t be missed either.
Next stopover is Vigo: a mix of history and industry, this Galician coastal town, famous for its proximity to the stunning Cies Islands, is a wonderful choice for a rest day. Wander around in the casco vello, the old part of town that’s perfect for some tapas, and visit Vigo’s cathedral, known as La Colegiata: built in 1811, in neoclassical style, it’s considered one of the finest examples of religious architecture in the city. Stop by at the 17th century Castro Fortress with its beautiful gardens and astonishing views over the estuary or go to the Nosa Señora das Neves hermitage for a pleasant walk with the sea as your background soundtrack.
Last but not least is Pontevedra. A completely pedestrian historical centre and a good deal of history-rich religious buildings (with the Convent of San Francisco, the Church of San Bartolome and the Basilica of Santa María a Maior among the masterpieces not to be missed) make this city a gem just waiting to be discovered. Stop for tapas and drinks in one of its lively plazas and head over to the unique Pontevedra Museum, composed of several buildings. The vibrant Pontevedra market and the old Roman bridge are the cherry on top of the cake that make this city another great option for a rest day when walking the Coastal Camino.
Head over to our Camino page and choose one of our options to ensure you have the best possible experience walking the Camino de Santiago. Check out our options in https://waytosantiago.com/
Our tireless team is available to help all those who wish to discover the Camino de Santiago in a calm and comfortable way.