PORTO (Portugal)

In today’s post, you will hear the word “rain” many times. But before we get to that, here’s just another reminder of the other big cities we’ve visited so far on our Portuguese Camino:

  • Lisbon was definitely the perfect place from which we started walking our Portuguese Camino back in 2018. We loved our time there and really enjoyed exploring this beautiful city. You can read about our first big city on the Portuguese Camino here.
  • Tomar on the other hand, is a small medieval city. But it’s also not a city you should miss if you visit Portugal. You can read about our second big city here.
  • Coimbra will always have a special place in my heart, because it’s the city where I found hiking sandals to continue walking the Camino. But rest assured, it’s also a beautiful city – we especially loved seeing the various old churches. You can read about our third big city here.

I am happy to report that my hiking sandals did the job and that I was able to continue walking the Camino again. The distance to the next big city, Porto, is 131.5km (81.7 miles). It took us 5 days to reach Porto. During these 5 days we had only one day of sunshine, while the last 4 days were filled with hard and continuous rain. It was so bad that we decided to take the bus to Porto on the last day. There really is no fun in walking in the rain!

Here are some of the highlights of these five days:

Day 10: Mealhada (23.1km):

This was a great day on the Camino. The sun was shining and it was the first time I could walk again after resting my painful ankle for 3 days.

We leave Coimbra and see clear signs of spring

There was even a spectator when we walked into a small village

Both the locals and us enjoyed the sunny day

Mealhada, where we spent the night, is famous for its spit-roasted pork dish called “Leitoes” and we just had to try it. They even advertise it on a beautiful tiled wall at the entrance to the village. 

Tiled wall in Mealhada

Dinner was great

(You can read about the hiking of Day 10 here)

Day 11: Agueda (25.4km)

The day started in cloudy weather, but it was soon clear that we would be walking at least 21km in rain. Weather wise, it was definitely a challenging day!

Cloudy weather soon turned to rainy weather

Old and abandoned houses on the way

A lovely cat welcomed us to our albergue at the end of a rainy day

(You can read about the hiking of Day 11 here)

Day 12: Albergaria-a-Nova (23.1km)

We started walking again in partly sunny weather. We were quite optimistic that it would be a dry day and added an extra 6km to our day to shorten the next day’s stage. And guess what: Yes, it rained (and hailed) for the entire 6km to our destination! Do you know how far 6km can be in such awful weather?

Medieval bridge over the Marnel River

Walking over a modern bridge

Lovely tiled house on the way

When it started to rain, we were in the middle of a forest. At first the pathways were walkable, but they soon turned into a river. This day has to be in the top 5 of our most challenging hiking days ever!

At first, it was just a light rain

Unique tree fungi

Our forest walk turned into a river

(You can read about the hiking of Day 12 here)

Day 13: Sao Joao (24.1km)

Pouring rain … that’s how we started our day. Then we had cloudy weather for an hour before the rain returned until we got to our hostel. There are only a few things that can make walking in the rain better – coffee, pastel de nata and farm bread with real butter!

It was warm in this bakery while it was pouring outside

During that hour that it did not rain, we had beautiful views. But to be honest, we were more than happy to finally arrive in Sao Joao where we spent the night before seeing lovely Porto.

Original pilgrim pathway over the Anceira River

The town of Oliveira de Azemeis. The church dates back as far as 922

Medieval stone bridge over the Ul River

(You can read about the hiking of Day 13 here)

Day 14: Porto (35.8km)

When we woke up, opened the curtains and saw how hard it was raining, the decision was made instantly. We walked to the bus station and bought two tickets to Porto!

So, we can’t show you the way to Porto, but we can show you the beautiful city of Porto.


Before starting our Portuguese Camino, we decided to stay 2 days in Porto. We had read that it was a lovely city and we were eager to explore Porto. What we didn’t know at the time was that we would have to do it in cold and rainy weather. But still, even in this weather, it was clear that Porto is a city you should definitely visit once in your life!

We are in beautiful Porto

The historical center of Porto was declared a World Heritage site in 1996 and in 2001 Porto was chosen as the European City of Culture. You will find many statues celebrating Porto’s history and at least 30 main churches where services are offered throughout the day.

Statues of the famous Portuguese explorer Henry the Navigator

Just one of the many churches

On the banks of the Douro River in the Ribeira District there are lovely traditional colourful buildings with balconies. Even on a gloomy day it was beautiful to see.

Traditional buildings on the banks of the Douro River

Magnificent Dom Luis I bridge over the Douro River

We walked over this famous bridge to also explore the other side of the river … and tasting Porto’s own port on a cold day sounded like a very good idea!

At Vila Nova de Gaia on the south bank

Beautiful buildings and balcony on the south bank of the Douro River

The famous rabelo boats that were used to transport barrels of Port wine

Restaurants on the banks of the Douro River

Porto’s port

Tasting port and afterwards enjoying lunch with a beer

The Sao Bento train station is definitely worth a visit. Construction began in 1904 and the station was inaugurated in 1916. It is the large panels of azulejo tiles (about 20,000 of them) that make this station so fascinating.

Sao Bento station

Azulejo tiles inside the train station

Sao Bento station

Sao Bento station

Just before the next downpour, we walked around the historic part of Porto a bit more. It is truly a stunning city and we were very happy that we had an extra day to continue our exploration.

Torre Dos Clerigos (Clerigos Church) – 1763

Liberdade Square

Monument to King Pedro IV

Bronze sculpture ‘Boys’ with flowers and fruit – representing abundance

Liberdade Square

We were exhausted after exploring Porto. As Berto collapsed on our bed when we arrived at our hostel, I admired my new hiking sandals (and very colourful socks). I think you’re only allowed to dress like this when you’re on the Camino!

Tired after exploring Porto (in very colourful socks)

And as expected, Porto totally blew us away with its beauty. That’s why it’s impossible to have just one post about this beautiful city … we’ll see you soon with Part 2 of our visit to Porto.


65 thoughts on “PORTUGUESE CAMINO – Big Cities (4a)

    1. That’s very true Diane. You definitely see places you wouldn’t normally see if you drove instead – especially the smaller villages. But you’re right, my feet blamed me a lot for these long distances 😄.


  1. Porto is my absolute favorite city in the world. I have started 3 Caminos from Porto (including my first in 2012). Also after finishing my “French” Caminos, I almost always go down to Porto for a couple of days or more. It is an amazing place. I had John O’Neill meet me there in 2019 to walk the Camino and he fell in love with the place too. Especially after I took him to the restaurant where you sit at the bar and they bring you a pitcher of Vinho Verde wine a whole roasted chicken. HAHA

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember you telling us beforehand that Porto is such a beautiful city – we couldn’t wait to see it for ourselves! Sounds like you and John had a great time in Porto 😉. We certainly wouldn’t mind visiting Porto, like you, again and again!


    1. The train station is beautiful – photos just can’t capture the full beauty . We literally wandered around for an hour just looking at all the azulejos. Oh yes, the rain for days on end … it was not nice at all! But better days awaited 🌞.

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    1. Haha 😁, dis baie snaaks! Ek het darem self met my eie gedagtes aan die ander kant van die pad geloop … maar raai, sy het nogal vriendelik gegroet toe ons verby gestap het!


    1. It’s usually the delicious food (oh, that sweet pastel de nata) that is good motivation to keep walking! In the next post or two, we will walk along the beautiful coastal stretch from Porto to the border of Spain – it was incredibly beautiful!


  2. Very nice report! As I walked in the rain on the Munich Camino to Lindau in the rain for several days I know how you felt. I had to give up a few kilometers before Lindau. Because the trail was flooded after so much rain I took a bus to get to Lake Constance.

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    1. Thank you very much, yes I can totally understand why you know how it feels to walk in the rain! When a trail is flooded, there is no reason to keep walking in such adverse conditions!


  3. What an adventure, and so beautiful. I know it is not a “camino” but there is a trail in the USA know as The Pacific Crest Trail. It goes from California to Canada mostly at the timberline of the very high mountains, some amazing scenery on the parts I have done. Maybe that should be your next hike?

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    1. Thank you very much Terry – beautiful indeed. Oh yes, we know about The Pacific Crest Trail – we’ve read a lot about it. And you’re right, the views are amazing. Of course, we wouldn’t mind walking it at all, but for that we need a lot of time (especially if we want to walk a fair part of it)!


  4. I love your photos from Porto – they bring back happy but very wet memories from our time in the city – the heavy rain showers we experienced while exploring didn’t dampen our moods. This historic city has a lot to offer to any traveller, from beautiful architecture to delicious food and great culture. Whether you prefer exploring the city and admiring its beautiful azulejo tiles or you are looking for some gastronomic adventures, there is something for everyone in Porto. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva x

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    1. So, even you saw Porto in rainy weather … and still loved the city! I’m glad it brought back great memories too. You’re absolutely right Aiva, whether you visit Porto for the history, the beauty of those azulejo tiles or the delicious food … the city will not disappoint!

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    1. We certainly experienced more than enough rain on the Portuguese Camino! But that didn’t mean we didn’t enjoy it. Yes, I know Tomar is definitely a favourite with you … if I really had to choose, it would be Porto. But any other day it might be Tomar!

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  5. I’m so glad to hear that your ankle healed and you were able to hike again, but the weather sounds like it was really awful. Good call to take the bus. Porto is a beautiful city. We didn’t get there on our previous trips; we’ll have to go back again. 😊 Great post Corna!

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    1. To be honest, I don’t think my ankle healed completely, but it was better (well, good enough to walk again anyway 😉). Because we took the bus, we were in Porto nice and early and could see a lot of this beautiful city (even if it was in cold and rainy weather). I hope you can visit there one day – I can only imagine how many beautiful photos you will be able to take in Porto! Thanks for stopping by Tricia.

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  6. It’s so good that you found the right sandals though you must have got very wet feet. My toes are curling up in sympathy. Does Berto never have foot problems? Men don’t seem to which suggests our footwear is at fault, I mean our every-day shoes. We had to wear heels of course and our uniform shoes were not suitable for 8 hours of running about. The bed in that last picture…I hope you did not hit your heads!

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    1. My feet were soaking wet every day – which obviously didn’t bode well for the blisters! No, Berto has never had any foot problems – he walks with hiking boots (he was in the army, so it’s not a problem for him at all). I also had to wear high heels for many years while working in the hospital … don’t think that contributed to healthy feet.
      Oh, the bed 😁. Yes, I slept in the corner and was very careful not to hit my head… can you imagine, a painful ankle AND head – that would have been the end of me!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve always wanted to visit Porto but so far not got around to it. The city looks beautiful even in the rain, and from your last few photos it seems you got to enjoy it in some sunshine too?

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    1. Luckily, Portugal isn’t that far for you to travel to … I’d love to see Porto photos through your camera lens! Yes, we had (a little) sunshine – at least I can say I’ve seen Porto in sunny weather (and loved it)!

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  8. So pleased your ankle recovered and the new sandals were comfortable for you to continue on the Camino but how awful to be having to content with driving rain and hail for such prolonged periods. I don’t blame you both for taking the bus into Porto. It’s a beautiful city in a delightful setting and we had the place almost to ourselves for a week when travel restrictions had just been lifted during COVID.

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    1. Yes, the weather was definitely not in our favour! I can only imagine how nice it must have been to experience Porto with few tourists … on our visit I was surprised at how many visitors there were (and that even on a cold and rainy day)!

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  9. Well. I haven’t yet been but it always looks and sounds wonderful, I love drinking port and I love (WE love) Douro wine even more. And guess what, it’s pretty certain we’ll be hitting Porto later this year….looking forward to it even more after reading this!

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    1. Portugal se kleiner dorpies (maar ook die mooie Porto) het ons betower! My enkel was minder geswel, maar die blase het meer geword (waarskynlik te wyte aan my nuwe stap sandale en ook die baie reen). So, die een probleem het beter geword terwyl die ander een erger geword het. O, die lekkerte van lang staptogte 😉.

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  10. That’s a lot of walking in the rain, that forest trail couldn’t have been much fun. Well done on getting through it all with a smile on your face, Corna. I love the photos you took along the way: the old woman clad in black watching Berto intently, the cat at your albergue and the old, abandoned houses. Porto is a city we hope to visit one day, it looks magical. The train station with the beautiful tiles and the houses of Ribeira District in particular.

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    1. “The rain in Spain” … or no wait, Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady should have said “The rain in Portugal” instead 😄. I wonder what that old woman in black thought when she saw us walk into her town … a penny for her thoughts (or a few Euros). Porto is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen – if you ever get the chance to visit this city, do it! Thank you for continuing to read about our Portuguese Camino Leighton – as always it is much appreciated.

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    1. I think Porto is one of those cities that you just fall in love with right away! Yes, we didn’t have the best weather one could hope for … but it got better towards the end. We now know that no rain jacket is waterproof (even if it says so on the label 😉).


  11. Glad to hear that you were able to get back on your feet and resume hiking. That’s such a shame about all that rain. I hate hiking in the rain, especially over multiple days. Everything is damp and it’s such a dreadful feeling. Good call on taking the bus that one day.

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    1. Yes, I was extremely happy to walk again … even though it was in the rain! We had such bad luck with the weather, but luckily it got better later. Dry bags in our backpacks ensured that the next day’s clothes were dry, (but to be honest, that’s all that was dry 😉).

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    1. Oh, you’re so right Ruth … walking and seeing the rain follow you all the way (and is ahead of you), is pretty demotivating. But despite this, I’m glad we stayed an extra day in Porto – it’s such a beautiful city.

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