Panorama of Porto, Portugal. Photo via Flickr:Bart Hiddink

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral on the Square of Obradoiro in Spain. Photo via Flickr:Feans
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Coastal Route to Santiago de Compostela

Portugal, Spain Bike Tours

The Way of St. James

The Portuguese Coastal Way or Caminho da Costa is a stunning easy to moderate alternative route to Santiago de Compostela. This journey of faith and hope was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times undertaken by thousands of pilgrims through the centuries. It was seen as an enactment of the spiritual journey to Christ and the hardships along the way were welcomed as tests of faith.

The legend has it that St. James traveled to Spain to spread the Good News and then returned to Jerusalem where he was martyred. His followers then carried his body to the coast, where a ship was miraculously waiting to carry the remains to northwestern Spain. The exact location of the tomb was lost in history. Through a vision, hundreds of years later, a Spanish hermit was able to point the way to the Roman-era tomb and a church was built on the spot. The town itself grew up around the church.

The Way of St. James was originally covered on foot by the devout and is still traversed today, not only on foot but also by bicycle!

This bike tour in Portugal starts in the colorful UNESCO city of Porto and will take you to charming seaside towns and villages in Northern Portugal. Always hugging the coast, the routes pass through Esposende, Caminha, Bayona, Arcade, and Caldas Dos Reis, to end in the Square of Obradoiro and the colossal baroque cathedral where the remains of the apostle Santiago lie.

Don’t forget that Tripsite provides many amazing bicycle tours in Portugal along with 100s of other bike tours in Europe.

Skill Level

This is an easy to moderate tour along the coast, a good alternative to the much more difficult pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. First three days are relatively flat, mostly on hard surfaces, but there is varied terrain. The last three days are the moderate portion of this tour, on varied terrain, with short, steep hills to contend with! Keep this in mind! It is not a tour for inexperienced cyclists, or even for inexperienced e-bike cyclists. This tour is offered as self guided, supported or fully guided. For the supported tour, there is a cycling guide but no back up vehicle. The fully guided option includes a guide and back up vehicle.

Where You’ll Stay

3 and 4 star accommodations

What’s Included

  • Self Guided:
  • 7 nights accommodations
  • Breakfast
  • Airport transfers from Oporto
  • Bike rental
  • GPS
  • Route descriptions and maps
  • Luggage transfer
  • Train ticket from Santiago to Porto or Lisbon
  • Supported
  • 7 nights accommodations
  • Breakfast
  • Airport transfers from Oporto
  • Bike rental
  • Route descriptions and maps
  • Luggage transfer
  • Train ticket from Santiago to Porto or Lisbon
  • Cycling guide
  • Personal accident insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Guided
  • 7 nights accommodations
  • Breakfast
  • Airport transfers from Oporto
  • Bike rental
  • Route descriptions and maps
  • Luggage transfer
  • Train ticket from Santiago to Porto or Lisbon
  • Support vehicle
  • Cycling guide
  • 6 lunches
  • 6 dinners
  • Personal accident insurance
  • Liability insurance

What’s Not Included

  • Guided
  • Beverages
  • GPS
  • Gratuities
  • Supported:
  • Beverages
  • Support vehicle
  • GPS
  • Meals other than breakfast
  • Self Guided:
  • Beverages
  • Cycling guide and support vehicle
  • Meals other than breakfast
TourBike
TypeBoth
SkillEasy–Moderate
Length8 days
From1509 Rates
Client Reviews

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Tour Dates

Arrival possible on any day in 2016

Day-To-Day Itinerary

Coastal Route to Santiago de Compostela Map

Day 1: Porto
Day 2: Porto - Esposende, 37 mi. (60 km)
Day 3: Esposende - Caminha, 35 mi. (56 km)
Day 4: Caminha - Bayona, 21 mi. (33 km)
Day 5: Bayona - Pontevedra,  36 mi. (57 km)
Day 6: Pontevedra - Caldas Dos Reis, 16 mi. (26 km)
Day 7: Caldas Dos Reis - Santiago de Compostela, 25 mi. (40 km) 
Day 8: Departure

Day 1: Porto
Your first day will be spent in Porto, an ancient port city, once an outpost of the Roman Empire, steeped in history and tradition. Located along the Douro River Valley in Northern Portugal, Porto is one of the oldest European cities and its historical center was proclaimed a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1996. There is a rich heritage dating from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 20th Century.  You can explore this city on an included guided tour that will lead you through the art and tradition, such as the blue and white tiled churches, as well as some contemporary highlights including the bookstore that influenced J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the magnificent Stock Exchange Market.

Day 2: Porto - Esposende, 37 mi. (60 km)
On this first day of cycling, you will enjoy the seaside landscapes and small “Portuguese Rivieras” such as Póvoa de Varzim. This is one of the oldest fishing villages in Portugal with an ancient center, old fishermen district,  beach districts and an emerging contemporary east district. Póvoa is a hotspot for nightlife as well! The town of Vila do Conde became important in the 15th century as a shipyard and played a role in the era of Portugues discoveries, know as El Dorado. It has always had an ancient connection to the sea, as do all the coastal cities. The journey ends in Esposende, a seaside city located in the North.

Day 3: Esposende – Caminha, 35 mi. (56 km)
On the agenda today is Viana do Castelo, another seaside city that was very strategic during the era of the  Discoveries. During the XIV-XVth Centuries, it was here that the ships were built to sail to Brasil, India, Africa and other Portuguese colonies. Final destination today will be Caminha, on the delta of the river Minho which became an important trading port early in the 14C, shipping wine to Britain and later importing products from Africa, India, and Brazil. Today, Caminha is known for its green rural landscape and pine forests clinging to the slopes of the granite mountains, which provide good hiking. The river estuary is good for boating and the beaches are popular in the summer. 

Day 4: Caminha - Bayona, 21 mi. (33 km)
Today the route leads into Spanish territory, ending in Bayona. In the days of the famous voyages of Christopher Columbus, this was the first port to hear about the discovery of America and today a replica of the Pinta is permanently moored in the harbor. Apart from the sea landscape, you can also get lost in the old city center, made up of a tangle of inviting lanes, with a handful of 16th and 17th-century houses and chapels. There are quite a few churches and other small buildings of architectural and historical interest, but Bayona's most prominent building is the Castelo de Monterreal, a castle on the edge of the town, providing excellent views of the town and the surrounding coastline from its elevated position.

Day 5: Bayona - Pontevedra,  36 mi. (57 km)
The fifth day will follow the route of the Vigo and pass by San Simon’s Bay. Following then the coastline, Pontevedra will be the destination, with its abundance of natural beauty. It is a city built on a hill with some streets sloping downward to the Lérez River. The old city center is well preserved and contains numerous historic buildings and monuments. Pontevedra is proud of its cultural and natural heritage.

Day 6: Pontevedra - Caldas Dos Reis, 16 mi. (26 km)
According to historical archives, the first inhabitants of Caldas Dos Reis were a pre-Roman community that lived from the hot springs of this territory and since the Middle Ages has been part of the pilgrim path to Santiago de Compostela. Apart from the rich cultural heritage, like Arcade, Caldas de Reis is also know for its “empanadas” of lamprey and the traditional Spanish bread. Even today, the hot springs are a special tourist attraction.

Day 7: Caldas Dos Reis - Santiago de Compostela, 25 mi. (40 km) 
This last cycling day will end in Santiago de Compostela and the end of your cycling pilgrimage. It does not matter whether or not you believe in the legend of St. James and value of the "pilgrimage", Santiago is one of Spain's finest cities. The cathedral of Santiago dominates the golden granite square with its Baroque towers, covered everywhere with ornamentation. The city is surrounded by the hilly, lush terrain of Galicia, dramatic coastal scenery, delicious seafood, fine local wines, and an easygoing ambiance. 

Day 8: Departure or extension of stay. 
Train ticket back to Porto is included in your tour price.

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Customer Feedback

  • Marci Cincotta 2 months ago

    Inspirational ride along the Portuguese and Spanish coastline! This trip is truly outstanding. The trip operator's personalized customer service was above and beyond! Though we did a self-guided tour, we felt very supported throughout our entire stay. The package included a walking tour of the city of Porto. Definitely take advantage of this. We had a personalized four hour tour which was rich with information and recommendations for the rest of our stay. Sergio, the owner of the tour operator checked in with us daily and even picked us up at the end to drive us back to the Porto train station to catch an early train to Lisbon. The biking route takes you along beachside boardwalks, many cobblestone roads, some mountain biking as well as some paved roads. You will ride through beaches, forests and vineyards and weave through tiny villages. The route is very well marked, especially in Spain, but the terrain can be challenging at times. While I found this a little difficult to adjust to in the beginning, I wound up enjoying the adventure and appreciating the sense of accomplishment that came at the end of each day. The stopping points each night were amazing. Each town had its own character and was filled with local charm. The hotel accommodations were outstanding. We stayed in castles and inns that were truly unique. Throughout the trip, but particularly the last few days, we encountered many people walking the camino and it was awesome to stop and chat with them at coffee stops and wish each other the typical "buen camino" along the way. We were given an accreditation booklet where were collected stamps from our various stops along the camino. At the end, we received a certificate in Santiago for completing the camino. Though we did not take this route for religious reasons, the trip proved to be very spiritual and inspirational. I would do it again!

  • Barbara petersen 2 months ago

    Loved the trip and especially our guides, the hotels, the food., the scenery..The Way was interesting and challenging (some gravel, some sand, beach boardwalks, etc; walked a bit but not because it was too hilly. We actually biked theough vineyards and even under trellises of grapes!! ) If you have a choice don't start the cycling portion on a weekend during beach season. (Dodging beach goers disturbs the scenery and calm). Porto is lovely and interesting too. A great opportunity to slow down and enjoy the countryside. None of us needed to ride in the van!!!

  • D. Blank 2 months ago

    The trip was really terrific. Super accommodations (especially Torre de Rio), abundant, delicious food ( and a real bonus that it was included in the trip price), varied and interesting scenery. However we feel that the Ebike was most useful (fantastic, really!!!) when there were no rocks or gravel. Fortunately our guides were kind enough to push the very heavy bike up some of the steeper rocky paths when the bike had traction problems. In general, the "moderate" designation for the trip should be explained in more detail, as beginning cyclists think that word means hills - when in fact, for this trip, it means surface. As Pedro said, "this is not a road trip." This is not a good trip for an inexperienced rider (which I'm not, but first time Ebike). Since we've been on many road trips, we didn't quite have the vision of what we were signing up for...although in looking back at the reviews, I now see that others did mention the road conditions but they should be described more clearly in the promotional materials.

    The guides and the bike shop owners were extremely caring and knowledgeable, and well organized and accommodating. Our contentment was clearly a priority as was safety. Dealing with the U.S. Office was very efficient and pleasant. We actually used their after hours contact phone for a flight pickup change and they were very responsive.

    This was our second Tripsite tour and we are highly impressed with quality and value!

  • Rycharde Farah 3 months ago

    Fizemos, eu e minha esposa, em maio/junho de 2016, o Caminho Português da Costa a Santiago de Compostela. Foi fantástico, excelente organização! Recomendo.

  • Sue Wise 5 months ago

    In a word - FANTASTIC!

    The entire trip was incredible. The route is extremely varied and beautiful. Starting in Porto and riding through seaside villages along the coast, then crossing into Spain and continuing along the coast, the riding is mostly flat and the views of the ocean just breathtaking. There are parts where you ride on bike paths, roads, boardwalks, cobblestone farming paths, and even a little single-track mountain biking type trail (which leads to a secluded beach area!). Later, the route takes you directly onto the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) and the riding is more hills and dirt paths, but also through small villages and historic areas. You follow this exclusively for the last 2 and a half days. You'll see many walkers making the pilgrimage - be sure to wish all a "buen camino"!

    We opted for the self-guided version, using the GPS. This was perfect for us. We could linger in areas for photos, rest when we wanted to and ride at our own speed. The GPS was easy to follow and also included interesting waypoints, such as waterfalls and old churches and monasteries. This really added to the trip.

    The hotel accommodations were awesome! In particular, views from the Parador in Baiona and the quiet, rustic beauty of the Hotel Torre do Rio were very memorable. The towns where we stayed were lovely and interesting to walk around after a day of riding. Don't miss some of the recommended restaurants - we tried a few and they were excellent.

    Ending in Santiago de Compostela, we visited the beautiful cathedral and lovely old town center. This is a terrific ending to the trip. Don't forget to get your "Compostela" to commemorate your travels.

    Sergio did a fantastic job with everything - the bikes were great, the pre-trip instructions clear, the accompanying trip notes good, the GPS easy to follow. He checked in with us a couple times just to make sure everything was going well. He's put a terrific trip together!

    This will be a trip we remember and talk about for years to come. Highly recommended!

    Traveled - early May 2016.

  • Margie Hovan 9 months ago

    Spain & Portugal were delightful but the guides worked so hard at keeping us safe & happy that they made the trip an exceptional experience. I will definitely tell friends that this was a wonderful trip.

  • Mary Burkhard 10 months ago

    I wish I could say more about the route, but unfortunately, because of a biking accident, I was only able to ride the first day. The ebike seemed to be a really good one, but the combination of wet, slippery roads, the boost of power from the ebike, and the urging to use a higher boost mode on the bike was not a good combination. I know it's why I fell.

  • Donna DeLeo 10 months ago

    The scenery was spectacular, the challenge was invigorating, the people were interesting, the guides were ever helpful and informative. Loved everything.

  • Lynn Conrad 10 months ago

    The trip included wonderful biking-many bike paths, trails and traffic-free lanes. It was made special -even inspiring- by following the route of St James--the Camino -- a historic pilgrimage route.
    Having tour guides made the trip stress-free thus more enjoyable. Their knowledge covered all aspects of the trip: best routes,history of the area, the best places to eat, out-of-the way special sites, translation and more.

  • Mary Daly 11 months ago

    I felt this was more of a moderate to difficult ride not easy to moderate the tour guides treated us like family.

  • Sally Fischbeck 11 months ago

    A wonderful experience! We biked on paths, boardwalks, back roads, through woods, along the beautiful Atlantic coast, beside pilgrims walking to Santiago, through city streets and sidewalks, and more! We opted to stay in 4 star hotels, which I would definitely recommend (converted palaces, monasteries, etc.).

  • Klazina van Buren 11 months ago

    I never expected this trip to show that much variety in scenery, was awesome.

  • Tim and Jan 11 months ago

    “Self-Guided Bike Tour Porto to Santiago de Compostela - 6 days cycling”

    Sergio and his team did themselves proud - congratulations. This is a bike tour with a difference....from the excellent personal service, to the included walking tour of Porto, to the interesting and varied ride, to the high standard of the hotels especially the absolute gem Torre de Rio at the end of day 5.
    The ride for the most part follows the Portuguese Caminho way, so is not always smooth and easy, but this is to be expected by its very nature, and adds to the challenge.
    My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and unreservedly recommend it to all enthusiastic cyclists.

    Visited June 2015

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