Cycling the Portuguese Camino: Coimbra to Santiago de Compostela

Cycling the Portuguese Camino: Coimbra to Santiago de Compostela

Pedal along the rivers, coasts and valleys of Northern Portugal and learn about the cast of characters that founded the country we now know as Portugal in the 12th century. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Coimbra, Porto, Ponte de Lima and Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Cruise along the Douro, Minho and Lima rivers - on your bike. Take the time to taste and savor the gastronomic specialties of the area and enjoy the changes that come with crossing a border as we cycle into Galicia, Spain. With 3 wine regions along our route and a blend of fresh seafood, hearty stews and modern day gourmet there is something for all tastes.

Our route crisscrosses the Portuguese Camino as we follow in the footsteps of royalty such as Queen Isabel of Portugal who did this pilgrimage in the 13th century. We’ll touch on two versions of the Camino -- one along the coast, and the traditional interior route to reach the enthralling towns of Barcelos, Ponte de Lima and Baiona and then Pontevedra, Padron and Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. A generous dose of Southern European hospitality and lifestyle makes this a unique and wonderful bicycle tour.

If this sounds good but you don't have time for the 12-day tour, join us for the last 8-days on Cycling the Portuguese Camino: Porto to Santiago de Compostela

Tour Dates & Prices

Date
Price
Private Room Fee
Note
Jun 16-27, 2020
USD$4995
USD$650
Sold Out!
Jul 7-18, 2020
USD$4995
USD$650
Book by November 15th and Save $200 per person!
Jul 28-Aug 8, 2020
USD$4995
USD$650
Guaranteed to Go! Book by November 15th and Save $200 per person!
Aug 25-Sep 5, 2020
USD$4995
USD$650
Guaranteed to go! Book by November 15th and Save $200 per person!

* We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

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Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 12 Days
  • Total Distance / 476 km (298 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 52 km (33 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level / 2.5
  • Countries / Portugal, Spain
  • Begin/End / Coimbra /Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • Price / From USD$4995
  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
  • Similar Tours
Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    UNESCO Towns: Coimbra, Porto, Ponte da Lima and Santiago, Minho and Dour River Valleys, Vinho Verde, Douro and Porto Wines, Baiona's Historic Port, Pimientos del Padrón - in Padrón Spain, Galician Countryside Cycling, Cycling Portugal's Northern Coast
  • Includes
    12 days, 11 nights accommodation; visit to Salt Factory, Porto wine tasting, guided city tours as described in itinerary, and the usual (see below).

    The Usual (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)

    • Superb tour leaders who are fun, bilingual and avid cyclists.
    • Help with flights, trains and starting/and or ending hotel reservations.
    • Comfortable lodging in 3-4 star hotels. 
    • All breakfasts and at least half of your dinners.
    • Use of a high quality Titanium road bike, hybrid, or tandem (aluminum road bikes or hybrid bikes in South America) geared specifically to cruise the flats and help ease you over the mountain. Our bikes come with an odometer so you can track your miles, an expandable rear rack pack to carry your stuff, and one water bottle that is yours to keep.
    • Full van support to carry luggage – and tired cyclists, too! 
    • Special events such as wine tastings or cultural visits as described in the trip itinerary.
    • All tips and gratuities at tour hotels and group meals.
    • Unique routes, marked with our famous chalk dust arrows.
    • Daily mileage options on tour.
    • Detailed route map for each day's ride.

    What's not included:

    • Transportation to and from the bicycling tour including airfare, or train travel
    • Helmets - we ask that you bring your own to ensure the best fit
    • Meals not listed in the itinerary
    • Tour Leader gratuity

    See the complete list of what's included with every ExperiencePlus! Tour.

  • Arrive / Depart
    Lisbon / Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • Overall Tour Level
  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    **Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    Test ride
    2
    66km / 630m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    3
    38km / 158m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.0
    4
    43km / 254m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.0
    5
    Rest day
    6
    62km / 555m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 2.0
    7
    37km / 472m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 1.5
    8
    79km / 809m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.5
    9
    52km / 763m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.5
    10
    69km / 1108m
    Very hilly
    difficulty level 4.5
    11
    31km / 545m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.0
    12
    Last day

    Tour Level Note:

    **We use Ride With GPS (ridewithgps.com) to calculate elevation and mileage information. Due to variance between mapping technologies, totals may differ slightly across devices and applications

Terrain Legend

Mostly flat Mostly flat

Rolling hills Rolling

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary

DAY 1: Meet in Coimbra

Highlights: Stay in a renovated 18th century palace, UNESCO World Heritage Town

Meet the group in Coimbra, Portugal - an easy train ride from Lisbon, and explore the streets that Afonso I, king of Portugal once walked. It is rumored that he was born in Coimbra and it is certain he was buried here in 1185. Arrive early to explore the historic center of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our hotel in Coimbra is located slightly out of town but its a perfect setting to begin a tour steeped in history and mythology. This historic country estate features beautiful grounds and was the site of a tragic 14th century love story between lady-in-waiting Inês de Castro and Prince Pedro. This is where we meet for our bike fitting and first dinner.

DAY 2: Bicycle Coimbra to Aveiro

Highlights: Ride along the Mondego River, Explore the Aveiro canals

Exiting Coimbra you'll follow the bike path along the Mondego River this morning. Our route takes you through the small towns of the interior as you head north to Aveiro on the shore of Aveiro Lagoon, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy a stroll along the riverfront or explore the city's famous network of waterways with a canal cruise. Don't miss out on trying the famed Fios de Ovos de Ovar pastries.

  • Distance: 66km (41mi)
  • Gain: 630m (2066ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 3: Pedal the salt flats and the coast.

Highlights: The history of salt, beachfront hotel

Visit a local salt factory to learn about salt's integral history in the economy of this region as well as to learn about products that are made today. You'll have a close-up view of the source as we pedal the salt flats before jumping on a short ferry ride along the Ria de Aveiro, an estuary teeming with wildlife. (Keep your eye's peeled for flamingos.) It's easy to see how water conquered land and shaped the towns in this area. The numerous oxygenated lagoons provide the seaweed that is sold to pharmaceutical companies, and is another important income source for the local economy. This evening, we'll walk to a local hang-out for an aperitif together. There will be plenty of time for a dip in the ocean which is only a short distance from our hotel.

  • Distance: 38km (24mi)
  • Gain: 158m (518ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: difficulty level 1.0
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 4: Bicycle to Porto through small towns

Highlights: Explore the interior, Porto

Today’s ride is a part of the Camino de Santiago so be sure to keep an eye out for pilgrims along the way. Our ride take us from a fisherman’s village along the Atlantic coast, to green pine woods, and a quiet bike path that will lead you directly to the heart of downtown Porto, or Ribeira do Porto as it is known locally. Before crossing the iconic metal bridge into Porto you’ll pedal through its sister city on the south bank, Vila Nova de Gaia, featuring docks lined with famous Porto wineries. Locals will tell you it is the best place to admire Porto from a far! As you make your way across the famous Douro River the colorful city of Porto will come alive before your eyes. Welcome to the home of proud happy people with a quick smile.

DAY 5: Porto

Highlights: Explore Porto, Pilgrim's passport, wine tasting

Today you decide - explore the Douro by boat, take a scenic tram ride, or explore the intricate historic city streets of Porto. If you stay in town, don't miss a visit to the spectacular Lello Library. For lunch, seek out a unique Francesinha sandwich with chips and sauce or - if you're feeling especially brave - a bowl of Tripas á moda do Porto. This evening we'll meet for a group tour and taste of the famous Porto wine in Gaia.

You can pick up your pilgrim's passport today so you can track your progress along the Portuguese Camino de Santiago which ends at Santiago de Compostela.

DAY 6: Bicycle Porto to Barcelos, Portugal

Highlights: Ride in Portugal's Wine Country

Have you spotted the colorful rooster that is Portugal's unofficial mascot? If not, keep your eye out; the rooster is said to embody the Portuguese love of life and it originates in Barcelos. But, before we get there, we must say goodbye to bustling Porto. We ride out on a bike path that eases us into the peaceful wine country. Expect fun hills and green lush vistas along the way along with plenty of other cyclists with whom to share an "OLÁ."

  • Distance: 62km (39mi)
  • Gain: 555m (1820ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 7: Bicycle to Ponte de Lima

Highlights: Explore historic Ponte de Lima

Today's ride is short so you can take full advantage of the beautiful small country roads that lead to the oldest village in Portugal, Ponte de Lima. Often considered the postcard village of Portugal, Ponte de Lima is situated on the banks of Rio Lima and is the heart of the green wine region. It is also home to a very old tradition dating back to Roman or even Phoenician times: Vaca Das Cordas, or "playing with wild cows". Vaca Das Cordas is a type of bull-running through town, followed the next day - generally in July, by the Festa do Corpo de Deus (Corpus Christi), when flowers carpet the streets. Stroll through the picturesque historic center and along an old bridge where you'll likely spot pilgrims walking along the Portuguese Camino de Santiago.

  • Distance: 37km (23mi)
  • Gain: 472m (1548ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 1.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 8: Bicycle to Baiona, Spain

Highlights: Pedal to Spain and explore the beaches of Baiona, Columbus’s first port

On March 1, 1493 the first of Columbus's ships touched shore in Baiona. The news of his "discovery" of America soon spread to the rest of Europe. Today's ride follows the coast and Minho river as we pedal north towards this historic port and cross into one of the most beautiful regions of Spain, Galicia. Toast your arrival into Spain with a glass of Albarino or by relaxing on the beach in Baiona.

  • Distance: 79km (49mi)
  • Gain: 809m (2654ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 9: Bicycle the Galician Coast

Highlights: Explore Ria de Vigo, inspiration for Julius Verne's 20,000 leagues Under the Sea

Today's ride starts out flanking one of the geographical features that characterizes the Galician coast - a Ria (Ría in Spanish and Portuguese), or a drowned river valley that is open to the sea. Though a Ría is the opposite of a lagoon, they look the same. The ride skirts the city of Vigo and you'll jump on a ferry to cross the Ría de Vigo. In 1702 a landmark naval battle (Battle of Rande) took place outside Vigo, the largest Galician city. The battle between Anglo-Dutch and French-Spanish fleet was over the arrival of Spanish galleons laden with an immense treasure of gold, silver and jewels. Though the story of what happened next varies a treasure hunt for the gold ensued and included Jules Verne's Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. We'll continue to pedal north to reach Pontevedra, our home for the night. It's worth your time to explore the medieval heart with its old granite houses and spacious squares.

  • Distance: 52km (33mi)
  • Gain: 763m (2503ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 10: Bicycle to Padrón, Spain

Highlights: Scenic views of the Galician Mountains, Padrón Peppers

Leave the water behind today with a short climb to a mountain spine providing glorious views as a reward. It's a perfect day for a picnic. Make sure to seek out some of Padrón's infamous peppers. First brought from South America 400 years ago by monks and then grown in the gardens of a convent in the tiny village of Hébron, Padrón peppers became a quick favorite on local dinner tables - and are now famous throughout Spain. The monks traded the peppers for necessary items and 400 years later, they are still in demand. The peppers are no longer grown by monks but by generations of locals who have adopted both traditional methods and modern technology to offer their product to Spanish and UK markets. Watch out, these peppers are as addictive as popcorn but can catch you by surprise if you find a spicy one!

  • Distance: 69km (43mi)
  • Gain: 1108m (3634ft)
  • Terrain: Very hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 4.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 11: Bicycle to Santiago de Compostela

Highlights: Santiago, St James Cathedral and the end of the camino.

A short ride through the country side brings us to the larger metropolis of Santiago de Compostela, one of the world's most important religious and spiritual sites thanks to St. James and his shrine. Popular since the Middle Ages as a religious pilgrimage to visit the remains of the martyr St. James, the town and its associated pilgrimage routes continue to attract travelers of all types. Once we arrive, you'll have ample time to discover the famous Cathedral of St. James, the heart of Santiago. Tonight, we'll celebrate our journey's end with a special farewell dinner.

  • Distance: 31km (19mi)
  • Gain: 545m (1788ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 12: Tour ends in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Highlights: Pilgrim's Mass at Noon

We'll offer a tour in Santiago this morning. You might also want to stick around for the Pilgrim's Mass at noon at the Cathedral. If you would like to participate in these activities, schedule flights after 3:30 p.m. Buen viaje!

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Meet in Coimbra

"

Meeting time 2 p.m. - on Day 1, meet your fellow cyclists and Tour Leaders at the Day 1 Hotel specified on the itinerary.

Note:

As you are planning, remember that the hotels listed in our itineraries are our primary hotels and are - in rare cases - subject to change. Before you make travel arrangements, check with us if your tour departure is guaranteed. If your tour departure is out further than 6 months, please also check with us as there might be slight changes to the itinerary.

The below information will help you plan your arrival. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio. The fare and timing information listed below is approximate.

We recommend flying into the Lisbon Airport (LIS):

  1. Taxi to the Lisboa Oriente Train Station (30 min/EUR 20)
  2. Train from Lisboa Oriente Train station to *Coimbra B station (2 hours/fares vary)
  3. Taxi from *Coimbra A to Day 1 Hotel (15 min/EUR 10)

*Note: Long distance trains only serve Coimbra B station (away from city center) but all tickets include a 5-min train ride to Coimbra A (center of Coimbra/Baixa de Coimbra). Purchase your train ticket at the train station, no pre-booking necessary.

Look up Portuguese train schedules at CP.pt. Most Portuguese train tickets do not need to be booked in advance. Questions? See our information on taking trains in Europe here or ask us.

"

Day 12: Departure Information

Tour ends in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

The tour ends on the final day after a tour of Santiago this morning. You may also want to stick around for the Pilgrim's Mass at noon. If you would like to participate in these activities, schedule flights after 3:30 p.m.

The below information will help you plan your departure. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio.

We recommend flying out of the Santiago de Compostela Airport (SCQ).

  • A train or bus to Madrid or Barcelona is at least a 9-hour trip.
  • Iberia airlines provides one-way flights to numerous destinations from Santiago.

Flying out of SQL

  • Taxi from the Ending Hotel to the airport (20 min/EUR 21)

Look up Spanish train schedules at Renfe.com or Trainline.eu. Questions? See our information on taking trains in Europe here or ask us.

What's Included

For a full list of what's included before, during and after your bike tour, visit our What's Included page.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To do right after you booked!

6 to 3 Months Prior to Tour Start Date

  • Check the online itinerary of your trip and review the arrival and departure information under the "Travel Information" tab to see meeting place and time, if a reservation on a complimentary ExperiencePlus! Shuttle (if applicable) is required, and other important information to help you plan your arrival and departure.
  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights.
  • Begin your chosen training program: https://www.experienceplus.com/blog/travel-planning/bicycle-tour-training/
  • Final payment is due 90 days (120 days for Bike & Barge/Boat tours) prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Deposit Payment Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 to 2 Weeks Prior to Tour Start Date

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour

Bicycles

Your bike will be equipped with: a men's or women's saddle, a quick release style seat post adjustment, rear rack and expandable pack, pump, patch kit, spare tube, cable lock, cyclometer, rear lights, a water bottle cage (or two), one water bottle , and a bell. If you would like to bring your own pedals and shoes we recommend doing so—your tour leaders will install them during the bike fitting. We have flat pedals with or without cages available. For safety and hygiene reasons you are responsible for bringing a helmet.

Daysheets

Each day you'll receive a daysheet with information on the day's activities, meals and ride. These also include Tour Leader phone numbers, hotel information and interesting historical and cultural information about sites that you may want to stop and see along the route. Your Tour Leaders will also post daily announcements in the hotel lobby with information about sightseeing in town or restaurant recommendations for dinners on your own as well as important information about breakfast, luggage down and "arrows down" time.

Navigating on Tour

Each day we will provide you with a route map with the day's ride highlighted route. Of course, we also mark the route every day with our signature chalk dust arrows. Our arrows make navigating very easy—you may never need to look at the map! The arrows also allow you to ride at your own pace. There is no need to "keep up" with the group—this is your ride!

But what if it rains? What happens to the arrows? In a light rain, the arrows actually "set up" and become more permanent. In a heavy rain, they do wash away. If that happens, we'll re-group to cycle together for those who want to continue cycling while those who prefer to stay dry can shuttle.

For the tech-loving riders out there we offer the opportunity to download GPS tracks of most tour routes to your personal GPS device using RideWithGPS.com.

Van Support

The van carries luggage and supports cyclists. It also has water, fruit and snacks. Though the van has snacks, we encourage you to stop and enjoy markets and find your own favorite local specialty.

Hotels

We have carefully chosen all of our accommodations for their charm and location. They are typically small, family run hotels that offer you a glimpse into the local culture.

We prefer hotels near interesting sites in the center of town located along the best cycling route in the area. Because many of the hotels are small not all of the rooms will be exactly the same. We keep this in mind and do our best to distribute rooms fairly by the end of the tour. Our itinerary lists our primary hotels. On rare occasions, listed hotels are subject to change.

Meals and Restaurants

Breakfasts: we work hard to arrange complete breakfasts but some hotels still serve continental style breakfasts; cycling is energy intensive so we do recommend you plan for a morning or mid-morning snack on the road at a local café or market.

Water is OK in almost all hotels and in country fountains; if there is a problem, we will advise you.

We'll recommend lunch locations en route and most itineraries include a few group picnics. We limit the number of picnics so you don't feel pressured to be at a certain place in the middle of your ride.

Dinners together are often pre-planned and pre-ordered. We'll ask you prior to your trip if you have special dietary requirements. Preplanned meals allow us to provide a variety of regional specialties and facilitate efficient service. Water, wine and beer are included.

Tipping Your Tour Leader Team

If you feel your tour leader team has demonstrated great expertise and service, common practice within the travel industry is to tip. Tipping is voluntary and greatly appreciated, and gratuity amounts vary widely. Should you decide to leave a tip, as a guideline, we suggest 5% of the tour cost per traveler – this for the entire tour leader team, not each Tour Leader. If you’d like to show your gratitude for your Tour Leaders’ excellent service you can give the tip to any member of the tour leader team, as they share it evenly. In order to avoid social tensions, we encourage you to tip as individuals and not as a group. If you feel your Tour Leaders did not quite meet your expectations, then we would like to know about it. You will also have the opportunity to leave your comments in our evaluation survey which we email to you after your trip.

Photos

By reserving space on tour, you agree that ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours may use, re-use and reproduce any images, photos or videos that you send to us, or that are taken by our guides and/or other travelers of you individually or in a group, in any medium, including but not limited to print, electronic media, or Internet, free of charge and without your right to inspection, for promoting and publicizing our travel products and services worldwide. If you do not want us to use any images of you that are taken by us or other participants during the tour, you must inform us or your tour leader in writing at the start of the tour.

Map

Map

Reviews

Reviews

  • Magnificient way to discover Nothern Portugal. This country is friendly and it is warm and beautiful.

    Isabel M., Granby, Quebec, Canada - July 2019
  • Lovely, ever-changing route: Portuguese coast, inland countryside, Galician hills, roads, bike paths. Something to enjoy in each town we stayed in, beyond the wine and pastry.

    Anne K., Portsmouth, RI - June 2019
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