Our day sixteen on the Coasal Route of the Camino Portugués was along urban areas, a bit of coast and through verdant fields of Portugal, then a jaunt through smaller towns. It was a day completely different than the prior day. This day we met many new pilgrims, from many different places, yet saw no one that we had seen before.
"Blessed are you pilgrim, when you contemplate the "camino" and you discover it is full of names and dawns." ~ From the Beatitudes of the Pilgrim, slide show in the Pilgrims Office Chapel in Santiago
It was a day of lots of new faces, yet we made very few connections! Our Aussie friend Rob decided to walk inland and take up the Central Route. Our British friend Steve, for some reason, we never stumbled into! And Chris and Christine, also from Australia and with whom we met on the Way from Lisbon, were two days behind.
As for the dawns, while we had seen some glorious ones thus far, on the Caminho da Costa, there was only daybreak. Nice enough, especially along the River Ave.
Here is my Google map, of my GPS tracks. The map is just like you would expect, so open it, zoom it, move it around, etc. There are many accommodations along the Way, that I placed on the map, along with the cafés where we stopped. There are many services throughout the day, as you can see. The traditional Coastal Route is shown in blue. The Senda Litoral is shown in orange and there are two sections where you can more closely stick to the coastline. If you do both you will add about 3.5 kilometers to your day. The Senda Litoral from Vila do Conde adds about 2.0 kilometers, and from Apúlia adds about 1.5 kilometers.
Again, walking along the coast, there is very, very little elevation change as you can see.
We ate our cold breakfast in the Albergue de Peregrinos Santa Clara before setting off. I wanted to go back to where the Camino left off at the Ave River, so we retraced our steps to the south a few meters, to take the official route from the river and get more accurate measurements for the day.
From the Ave River, walking from the south, the pilgrimage traveler must take a left as the waymark indicates, below and walk down the stairs and across the Praça da República to the west side. You can see the waterfront from the plaza.
The waterfront of the Rio Ave was gorgeous and so peaceful, pictured below. Here you have the option to take the Senda Litoral, shown on the map above in orange and continue to follow the Ave River. It is a straightforward approach, following the coastline along paved roads and paths. This route will add another two kilometers to your day’s total.
However, the Senda Litoral avoids the walk through a long string of suburbia, all the way to Póvoa de Varzim, so make your own choice here.
After passing the waterfront marina of Vila do Conde, with a 16th century ship, below, enter a park, the D. João II Square, with interesting sculptures by José Rodrigues, next photo below, in memory of the 500th anniversary of the Portugueses maritime discoveries.
Next, walk on a wonderful waterfront bikeway until you reach the jetty where the river meets the sea. There is a small chapel out on the peninsula to your left and monument straight ahead, the Primeira Tentativa de Desembarque Esquadra Liberal, or the First Attempt to Land a Liberal Squadron. This obelisk is a memorial commemorating an attempt to land opposition forces during the Liberal Wars, or the war of Portuguese independence in the 19th century.
And just beyond the monument is the fortress, the Forte de São João Baptista de Vila do Conde.
You will pass around the mighty fort on the beach side, picking up a wonderful beach walkway at the Praia do Seca and towards the next beach, the Praia de Forno, below. The beaches here at the mouth of the River Ave are wild and wonderful.
Continue onward, past one lovely beach after another, as you make your way to Póvoa de Varzim. The beachfront will get more developed as you walk northward.
Pass the Póvoa de Varzim Marina on your left and another fort, the Castelo da Póvoa, and a large Casino on your right. At these final landmarks, you are steps from the clock tower and a raised viewing platform, pictured farther below, in the center of Póvoa de Varzim, where the Senda Litoral meets the Coastal Route.
After crossing the Praça da República from the first Coastal Route waymark shown farther above, find the narrow street on the west end and take it. Continue on this street a few meters and turn right onto the Rua do Lidador, below, heading northward into town.
The street above crosses the Rua 25 de Abril, to walk past the wonderful little church of São João (St. John) that I visited at the end of day fifteen. If you are here when the church is open, you may want to stop in for a moment. It is worth it, and so is the view from the church terrace.
There are wonderful metal waymarks on the pavement in Vila do Conde, pictured below, in addition to brand-new blue waymarks to reassure you that you are indeed on the Caminho Portugués da Costa.
After the church, the pilgrimage traveler must then turn right onto the Rua da Costa, as it bends left, and heads northward. Eventually, you come to the Largo Antero de Quental, and turn left onto the narrow side street called the Travessa do Laranjal.
After a few meters, you make a right turn onto the wide main street of R. Comendador António Fernandes da Costa, which shortly becomes the R. dos Benguiados.
The Rua dos Benguiados comes to a circle, crosses the Avenida Júlio Saúl Dias with a large triangular-shaped fountain, and you are now in the town of Alto da Pega. It is possible that you will find an open café at this circle if you have not had your breakfast yet.
Walk straight ahead and by a walled school on your left.
It is a four kilometer stretch between Vila do Conde and Póvoa de Varzim, and I didn't take a lot of photos. It is just one long string of suburban sprawl. Not very photogenic.
After 1/2 km the road becomes the Rua da Estrada Velha. It now begins to look more rural, then the Rua da Estrada Velha bends to the left, continuing on a string of suburban roads, on the way to the next town of Poça da Barca. It may be possible that if you need breakfast that you will pass another café that opens early.
Continue on the Rua da Estrada Velha as it crosses the Avenida Dr. António Bento, where the road becomes the Rua das Violetas in Poça da Barca.
After another 1/2 km or so, the street becomes the Rua dos Ferreiros, and becomes more quaint, and old-town-like with high walls and narrow streets as you walk into Póvoa de Varzim.
After walking about another 600 meters or so, along the Rua dos Ferreiros, turn left onto the Rua Dr Sousa Campos and head toward the center of town.
You enter the Praça da República and the Capela de São Roque immediately comes into view, guarding the entrance to the shopping district on the Rua da Junqueira, and its pleasant walking plaza. In the front of the church is the Monumento ao Carteiro (Monument to the Postman). There is a nice placard in front of the church, describing the Way of St. James and the Coastal Route. You are at 4.1 kilometers into the day at this church.
Walk along the Rua da Junqueira and through the shopping district.
Turn right onto the Rua da Alegria, and see the looming spire of the Igreja Paroquial de São José de Ribamar, below.
After the church, turn left onto the Avenida Mouzinho de Albuquerque and head towards the sea, joining the Senda Litoral at about 4.72 kilometers into the day.
If you were to turn right instead at the church, in a few meters you would come to the parochial Albergue de Peregrinos San José de Ribamar (+351 252 622 314).
Just beyond the albergue is the inexpensive Hotel Avenida. Also inexpensive and along the Camino is the Sardines and Friends Hostel and the Junqueira 76 Guest House. There are also many, many other accommodations in Póvoa de Varzim. Click here for the booking website. Check the interactive Google map above for their exact locations.
After reaching the sea once again, turn right onto the seaside street called the Avenida dos Banhos. The Camino walks along this wide avenue, with its own promenade, along the beach called the Praia Redonda. Here, the viewing platform with the clock tower is distinctive.
Continuing to walk north along the Avenida dos Banhos, is the next beach, the Praia da Salgueira. Below, you can see the walkway promenade.
The Avenida dos Banhos ends after the giant sports stadium on your right and becomes a pedestrian way by this pergola, called the Rua do Alto de Martins Vaz at the Praia da Lada I. You have reached about 5.85 kilometers here. The cloudy day was becoming a bit blustery!
The pedestrian way walks on only briefly, becomes the Avenida dos Pescadores at the Praia Lagoa then becomes a pedestrian walkway once again.
This section of the Way is all on cobblestone, or actually granite setts along the avenues and pedestrian ways. The Way continues on its granite cobblestone walkway as the Avenida dos Pescadores becomes a street for motor vehicles once again.
Look for the Casa Fragosa along this stretch, right on the camino, with an econimical dormitory option if your pilgrimage day ends here. It is about 6.6 kilometers into the day, and the Camino turns to the left, towards the sea in front of it pictured below.
The Camino has now finally left the busy Avenida dos Pescadores and one block later, it turns to the right to join the boardwalks of the Praia da Fragosa. We were now leaving the developed beaches and skyscrapers behind.
Continue on this boardwalk about 1/2 kilometer, until it comes to the pavement at this funky, yellow semicircle, below. However, you continue on this boardwalk system, taking the left turn to avoid pavement once again.
About 240 meters later, this first boardwalk system ends on the Avenida Jardim do Praia, by the beach, the Praia do Esteiro. Continue on the Avenida Jardim do Praia for 1/2 kilometer or so, passing by one beach after another. When the road ended, we turned onto the Rua do Sargaceiro, to walk again by the beach on a developed road. Here the beaches are rocky, and the beachfront is lined with quaint beach houses along the road.
Another 400 meters later, the Rua do Sargaceiro ends at a restaurant and parking lot by the Praia de Quião. It is here, at 8.3 kilometers, that the next boardwalk system begins.
The beaches are rugged here and the wind was picking up. We put on our jackets and even got a brief spritzing of rain.
We met more pilgrims, a Frenchman named Michele, seen below talking to Rich, on the boardwalk leading to the Praia do Santo André. The pilgrims in front of them are the same ones we saw earlier in Póvoa de Varzim.
While we chatted with Michele awhile, neither Rich nor I really connected with him. He was nice enough, yet clearly an independant walker. No worries. It was his Camino and our respect for him was high.
Once reaching the Praia Santo André, the boardwalk continues and walks past the Hotel Santo André. At this large hotel complex you have reached the 9.25 kilometer mark on day sixteen of the Coastal Route on the Camino Portugués.
The boardwalk ends at the corner of the hotel, crosses a small plaza, then immediately on the left, enters this 3rd boardwalk system, below.
After about 300 meters, when this boardwalk system ends, it turns to the right to meet the Rua da Marginal once again.
We walked for not quite one kilometer on/off the Rua Marginal along the seacoast, on long straight concrete promenades toward the town of Aguçadoura and the Aguçadoura Beach. Soon after joining the Rua Marginal, the Aguçadoura Guest House is a few meters off-Camino and has dormitory accommodations, if you are finished for the day. There are more seaside accommodations, but most are houses for multiple people with high price tags. Check the map above to see them if you wish.
Halfway towards Aguçadoura in the town of Areosa, we saw a sign pointing to a cafe, and we walked one block off the waterfront to see the Flor do Trigo pastry shop. After the usual delights and coffee, and sandwiches to compliment the treats, we headed back on the Camino. We had logged in about 10.5 kilometers for the day, not quite halfway.
Just after the pastry shop, you will pass an old windmill on your right. A bit farther, at kilometer 10.8 is the municipal Albergue de Aguçadoura, right along the Camino. They will accept reservations through the link provided or call +351 252 034 493.
When the road ends at a carpark by the Aguçadoura Beach, the boardwalk begins again, winds around a bit, then walks straight on for about another 1.5 kilometers and past this windmill, pictured below.
The boardwalk eventually comes to a parking area at a large soccer field, around 12.6 kms into the day. It turns inland a bit as it makes an S-curve, crosses another parking area to continue again, straight ahead on a boardwalk system. This next boardwalk system starts to the right of the white tower you can see in the photo below and runs along the eastern side of the soccer field.
This brand-new boardwalk system continues for about 2.5 kilometers more!
First pass the Estela Golf Course on your left and greenhouses on your right. The next kilometers will take you through a lot of beautiful farmland, more greenhouses and wild, marshy, riparian areas, photos below.
When the boardwalk system ends at about 15 kilometers into the day, turn left onto a narrow paved road. After only a few meters, leave the road for another short boardwalk, pictured below.
This short section ends on a nice farmers dirt lane. Only after a few meters on the dirt lane, you come to this intersection, below, with a windmill off in the distance to your left. Follow the yellow arrow on the rock, to the right and onto a cobblestone road.
The windmill, in the distance, above, shown closer-up, below. We did not walk by this one.
The photo below shows the same intersection, walking onward. Continue on this same cobblestone road as it winds through more farms, and a forested area shown next.
After about two kilometers on the cobblestone road, and a total of 17.2 kilometers, come to an intersection with a larger road at a roundabout. The Camino continues on straight and onto the Rua do Pinhal, shown below. You can see the Camino waymark on the large tree where you walk by.
You have the option here of turning left, instead of through the roundabout, to take the Senda Litoral to Fão, avoiding Apúlia. There are no waymarks to show you the way to the Senda Litoral here, so you will have to understand where you are to take it! See the interactive map above, where the orange route branches, just south of Apúlia.
Along the Senda Litoral in the section before Esposende, there is no boardwalk once you get to the seacoast at the Praia da Ramalha, but you could walk on many beaches including the Praia da Ramalha, Praia da Apúlia, and Praia da Apúlia Norte, all long lovely tourist beaches. Otherwise it is just more pavement walking. There is a very short section of boardwalk after the Praia de Apúlia Norte and several historic windmills to see. After the windmills, there would be more pavement walking, and then an eastward approach towards Fão on pavement to avoid the Cádavo River delta on the way to Esposende.
Choose the Senda Litoral to the left if you plan to stay in the brand-new private albergue, the Home of Pilgrims d`Apúlia. It is easy to get there. After turning to the left, go to the right at the next roundabout and onto the Rua do Açude. It's about 600 meters to the north.
We chose to walk straight on the Caminho da Costa, walking on the Rua do Pinhal, as it was drizzling a bit and a touch windy. We did not wish to walk on the beach in the wind and rain. This way was also shorter and we had plenty of walking along the beach already!
In 1/4 kilometer, you turn left onto the Rua da Igreja to walk into Apúlia. In the photo below, we are getting close to the Centro Paroquial Vila de Apúlia, or the Parish Center.
There is a convenient Pilgrim’s Stop on your right, just before the church, where you can get a stamp and refreshments from the vending machines inside.
There is a nice information board just before the church, below, where two pilgrims are huddled over. They refused to look at us as we briefly looked over their shoulders, and then hurried away. A language barrier is what I guessed.
When we arrived at the front of the church, after 17.7 kilometers, a group of ladies was coming out. Rich, once again, was in a chatty mood, talking to everyone he saw!
We would stumble upon these ladies a few times again, but we were keeping a faster pace. This would be the theme of the Portuguese Camino, from Porto. Many ways, many pilgrims, weaving their way in and out of our journey.
After the church, we continued on the Rua da Igreja, then shortly crossed over the Avenida da Praia (road to the beach, so you could turn left here as well for the Senda Litoral, if you needed more beach time. It is shorter than the route described above. The private Albergue Santiago da Costa (+351 961 885 803) is to the left along this route, after about 3/4 km.) After this crossover, the road becomes the Rua da Agra.
After about 1.1 kilometers on country roads, the Way becomes a lane through fields and forest. It was pleasant walking along this lane and I didn't mind not being on the coast.
After about another 1/2 km the Camino joins the Rua da Ramalhão and in several hundred meters more, walks by a large sports complex on the south side of Fão. You have reached about 20 kilometers into day sixteen at this complex.
After yet another 1/2 kilometer or so, turn right onto the Rua de Santo António, then left in a couple hundred meters onto the Rua das Almas. Several hundred meters more and you come to the busy N13 and turn left (north) to walk into Fão.
Along this portion we met Janny from the Netherlands, and here Rich is chatting with her. Another new face. She was walking alone, was warm and very friendly.
Ah, the never ending changes of face on the Camino Portugués from Porto! I needed to adjust. However, Janny would remain our companion for the rest of our Camino. A real jewel.
We had to walk only briefly on the N13, before turning right at the first Y-intersection onto the Av. Dr. Henrique Barros Lima, below. At this turn, looking hard right, is the HI Hostel Ofir - Pousada de Juventude, a lovely private albergue. There are two more private albergues in Fão, the Spot Hostel Ofir to the west of the N13 and the Hostel do Alto, a bit farther west.
For more accommodations in Fão, if your journey ends here, click here.
The street becomes the Rua Azevedo Coutinho, a quaint side street, and walks by this chapel, the Capela de Fão, below.
Close by the chapel, our eyes spied a pastry shop, the Pastelaria Clarinha, and so we followed our eyes! Our saying was fast becoming, "Never enough Nata!" and so we had one! With café con leite of course!
If you don't know about the Pastel de Nata yet, it is a custard pastry to die for! Lovely custard-filled tarts, a delectable Portuguese treat! One of these butter, egg and milk-laden treats, with coffee and milk can take me at least 10 kilometers!
When we had almost walked through Fão we came to the Bombeiros Voluntários de Fão fire station. As we walked by they were having an honors ceremony. Lovely to see. This had special meaning to Rich, since he is a volunteer fireman at our home! He just doesn't have quite such a wonderful uniform to wear!
After the plaza by the fire department, we turned left onto the Rua do Cais, shown below, to meet the Rio Cávado. The bridge ahead is our destination toward Esposende.
In less than 100 meters, on day sixteen of our Camino Portugués we joined the N13, to turn right and cross the river.
After crossing the river, we immediately bent left onto the Rua da Ponte Dom Luís Filipe, a broad avenue, below, without a sidewalk, but an adequately wide shoulder. And just look at the town's greeting! Marvelous!
The first accommodation after crossing the river, a few steps off-Camino is the Sleep & Go (+351 932 005 800), a private albergue. To find it, take the first right after the turn off the N13.
Next, after one kilometer from the bridge, and right along the Way is the Hotel Mira Rio. It also has a restaurant. We have stayed here and the buffet breakfast in the morning is quite substantial and the staff friendly and efficient.
Our first time through Esposende, we wished to continue into town, so we followed the Camino left at the next roundabout, immediately turned right at the lovely Camino Shell waymark pictured below, then an immediate left onto the Rua Narciso Ferreira that goes through town.
If you are walking onward another 4.5 kilometers to the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Marinhas, stay to the left at the roundabout and continue walking along the waterfront, on a lovely pedestrian and bikeway. This is the Senda Litoral, in the map above, in orange. You will rejoin the coastal route in about another 1.5 kilometers, saving you a few steps for your day.
In about 1/2 km we walked by the Hostel Eleven, where we ended up choosing to stay for the night. This was the place we were looking for. It was not yet 4:00 p.m. when the albergue opened.
It is a long story how we happened to reserve the Hostel Eleven. For some reason we had the idea that the municipal albergue four kilometers farther on in Marinhas was already full. It is a long way north to the next accommodation from the albergue, and we did not want to have to back track to Esposende.
After locating the Hostel Eleven, we went on into the town square to look at making reservations. We sat at the Café Havanesa for a beer, below, and asked the waiter there about the muni ahead. He said that indeed he heard that it was full, and it would be best to try to get reservations here in Esposende ASAP.
I tried to book the Hostel Eleven on my phone, to no avail! We asked the waiter again for assistance, and he called someone, and said that everything was full! What? I didn't think we saw that many pilgrims! It was only the end of April! Something just didn't make sense.
We figured that we might have to pay a bit to spend the night at the beachside somewhere, but we would be fine. We decided to wait for the Hostel Eleven to open at 4:00 and see what was up.
Meanwhile, we spent the time visiting the church, the Igreja da Misericórdia, below on the left of the photo, and city hall, the Câmara Municipal de Esposende, below on the right. You can also see the café in the foreground where we had beers at the tables in the church square.
The small church was simple and delightful. I said a prayer for our friend Rob, walking and carrying his illness.
From this small square, immediately west there are three more private albergues, the Inn Esposende Sports Hostel, the Eskama Hostel and farther out the Esposende Guest House along the Senda Litoral. The Sea Soul Esposende, on the north side of town, a few blocks east of the Coastal Route also has dormitory beds. For even more choices, click here for pre-booking in Esposende.
When we rang the doorbell at the Hostel Eleven after 4:00, it turned out that there was plenty of room. In fact, there was only one other Canadian couple who stayed there that night, with whom we barely spoke.
It must have been a Booking.com glitch, and we were glad we tried the Hostel Eleven in person. It turned out to be a gorgeous, brand-new place, with very friendly folks running it. A large continental breakfast was included in the price of 45 Euro for their double room. It's about 16 Euros/person in the dormitory, breakfast included. To see more photos of this lovely place, click here. I highly recommend it. The Hostel Eleven does have a kitchen, which you could use to cook, as an alternative option!
The ever changing pilgrim faces were a new force with which I had to reckon. While I love the quote at the beginning of the article from the Pilgrim's Office Chapel in SdC, to collect names (and dawns), what was happening on my Camino suited me too well!
As in the prior day, I knew that I would adjust. As the famous Buddhist saying goes, "And this also I shall include." Include into my soul, all that is presented to me, whatever it is and however I judge it to be! It is all part of the Camino experience.
Anyhow, there is nothing that will make you feel better on the Camino than pastel de nata and a café con leite. Seriously! We indulged three times on day sixteen on the Coastal Route of our Camino Portugués! A small piece of heaven with every bite!
May your own day sixteen on the Coastal Route of your Camino Portugués be filled with names, connections and a gorgeous dawn. Or may you adjust to whatever comes your way! Ultreia!
Skip to Central Route Below, for Final Days 22-25 to Santiago
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Need suggestions on what to pack for your next pilgrimage? Click Here or on the photo below!
Carbon fiber construction ( not aluminum) in a trekking pole makes them ultra lightweight. We like the Z-Pole style from Black Diamond so we can hide our poles in our pack from potential thievesbefore getting to our albergue! There are many to choose from! ( See more of our gear recommendations! )