I just returned home from a successful hike of the Camino Portuguese with my wife and 2-year old son. Beginning in Porto, we hiked nearly 150-miles until we reached our final destination, the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. It was an incredible experience highlighted by great food, countryside exploration, new friends, and breathtaking vistas.
Having solo hiked the 500-mile Camino Frances in 2012, I wasn’t sure what to expect on the Portuguese Route this time around. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit anxious embarking on such an adventure with a toddler. He loved every minute of his Camino though, and made this trip one we’ll remember forever. In 2012, I hiked the 500 mile French route in 22 days. This trip on the Portuguese required a much slower pace, and because of that, I enjoyed it quite a bit more. I have a ton of photos, videos, and stories to share in the weeks ahead, but for now, here are my 15 favorite photo moments from the Camino Portuguese!
1. Experiencing The Pre-Camino Excitement In Porto
Starting the Camino Portuguese from a large city like Porto was a stark departure from my starting point on the Camino Frances, the village of St. Jean Pied du Port. Porto made for a great base to adjust to a new time zone and enjoy the sites of a beautiful Portuguese city. We also enjoyed great local foods like francesinha!
2. Leaving From the Porto Cathedral
After spending two nights in Porto to relax and adjust to a new time zone, we officially began the Camino Portuguese from the Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto). The cathedral sits up on a hill overlooking the city, which provided some breathtaking views. We were surprised how abundant the markings were in Porto. We never once had to guess or search for where to go, as every turn was directed by the yellow arrows towards Santiago (and blue for Fatima).
3. Counting Our Blessings Despite The Rain
Our first three days of walking on the Camino Portuguese were less than perfect in the weather department. It rained everyday. I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as bad weather though, just bad gear. If you come prepared with the right gear, any outdoor outing can be a lot of fun. We had all of our rain gear dialed in and ready to go, allowing us to take in the natural splendor despite the dark and drizzling skies.
4. Crossing The Bridge Into Barcelos
The first day on the Camino Portuguese is a mentally tough one, as the trail leading out of Porto sticks to sidewalks, cobblestones, and narrow roads with lots of car traffic. Day 2 is quite a bit nicer and adds more natural pathways. The highlight of the second day is the final stretch leading into Barcelos. The Way crosses over a bridge and pilgrims leave Barcelinos behind towards the town of Barcelos and the nearby medieval ruins.
5. The Horses, Sheep, Goats
We don’t get to see a lot of farm animals living in Southern California, so the daily exposure to sheep, horses, cows, goats, chickens, and pigs was a lot of fun for Owen. It was pretty funny to hear him emulating the sounds of the farm animals as we walked along.
6. Bonding With Fellow Pilgrims
When we first started walking, fellow pilgrims had a look of amazement and disbelief when they saw we had a toddler along for the ride. As we continued to keep pace with people day after day, their looks and words turned into admiration and encouragement. As many tend to find on the Camino, it’s easy to create a little Camino family as you see the same people day after day. Owen helped us create a massive Camino family as we walked since everyone wanted to talk with us about him and take his picture. It didn’t matter if we spoke the same language or not, there is something about the energy and pure spirit of a child that brings people together for good.
7. Watching My 2-Year Old Grow Up
Speaking of my toddler, I can’t put into words how proud I am of his accomplishment. Each day we would walk around 15 miles, and my little man would manage 2-3 of those on his own. The rest he would enjoy from his stroller or kid carrier. He never cried or complained, and was genuinely interested in all of our activities each day. He sat down like a gentleman for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and was charming and courteous to everyone we met. He helped find and point out arrows and scallops and indulged me every time I asked him to pose for a photo. I saw Owen make a ton of personal growth during our trips to Iceland and Vietnam, but he really grew up on the Camino.
8. Pushing A Stoller Up Alto Da Portelo
Alto da Portelo is the hardest climb of the entire Camino Portuguese. Compared to the hikes we do at home, this trail is one we would usually consider a cake walk…but, we usually don’t hike with a fully loaded stroller! For the hike up to the 400m Alta Da Portelo, Julia put Owen on her back and I pushed and carried his stroller up the rock laden fire road and single track. It was a high effort stretch of activity, but provided some very nice views.
9. Meeting Locals And Making Friends
As I mentioned above, hiking with a toddler starts up a lot of conversations. It wasn’t just pilgrims that were interested in our walk, the locals from each town we passed through were equally interested and impressed. It was a lot of fun for us as parents to see Owen interact with people speaking a different language, especially when he met a little girl his age!
10. Crossing The Border from Valença, Portugal to Tui, Spain
The Camino Portuguese begins in Portugal and ends in Spain. The border crossing takes place on the Minho River as pilgrims cross a bridge from the city of Valença, Portugal to Tui, Spain.
11. Enjoying The Views And Solitude On The Way
The Camino Portuguese includes a lot of cities, cobblestone roads, asphalt, and concrete. In regards to scenic beauty and landscapes, I feel the Frances has it beat by a wide margin. That doesn’t mean the Portuguese route isn’t beautiful though, it just presents its beauty in shorter spouts. The massive amount of road walking also made me appreciate the spells of natural pathways a great deal more.
12. Super Bock, Estrella Galicia, Bocadillos, And More!
When you’re walking 15 miles a day you’re going to burn a ton of calories. It’s imperative that pilgrims refuel and hydrate throughout the day. My ideal morning would start with two coffees and a croissant. For lunch, I’d usually order a bocadillo sandwich with tortilla (omelette) or ham and cheese. For dinner, I’d stick to the multi-course pilgrims menu and max out on calories and protein for the following day. There is so much great food to be consumed on the Camino, I could do a dedicated post featuring my favorite options…maybe that’s what I’ll get working on next!
13. Reaching Padrón With Only One Day To Go
The final stage of the Camino Portuguese goes from Padrón to Santiago de Compostela. Much like my walk of the Camino Frances, I was filled with a mix of excitement and sadness when I realized our amazing journey would soon come to an end. For breakfast we were ushered into an amazing local bar with owners that cater to pilgrims walking the Camino. It was the perfect way to begin our final stage of walking.
14. Arriving In Santiago De Compostela
We walked into Santiago de Compostela under a clear blue sky with bagpipes playing in the cathedral courtyard. Owen just wanted to play with his toy trucks, but indulged us for a few celebratory photos. After 10 days of walking, we had completed our pilgrimage!
15. A Day Exploring Finisterre And Muxia
In 2012, I walked the Camino Finsterre after completing the Camino Frances. We were short on time for this trip, so we decided to take a day trip to “the end of the earth” instead. Even though we didn’t walk from Santiago to the ‘0,00km’ signpost near the Finisterre Lighthouse, it was still a very meaningful moment for all of us to see it, and the perfect way to end our vacation. We also took a trip out to Muxia, which I did not get to visit in 2012. It was a very fitting end to our two weeks of Camino adventures. We’re already looking ahead and hoping to plan the next one…maybe on the Camino Ingles!
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69 thoughts on “My 15 Favorite Photo Moments From The Camino Portuguese”
A dynamic photo expose of your adventure in Portugal and Spain. Really enjoyed the comprehensive look you gave of the people you met both hikers and locals along with a cross section of the landscape….. bravo!
Much appreciated! The people we met were the best part of this trip. It makes me want to learn more languages!
Great pictures; that tell a great story! Owen is a trouper.
Thank you! He’s a tough little guy for sure 🙂
Great pictures! I enjoyed your explanations and was able to experience your trip through your eyes. Well done! A+
Len! Great to hear from you. Thank you for the A+ 🙂
Thanks for sharing your trip! I was curious about the Camino Portuguese. What a lucky boy Owen is!
Thanks for reading, Kathy! The Portuguese route was a lot of fun. We’re considering the Ingles route next year which would also give us time for Finisterre!
Thank you for taking us along for the trip through your beautiful photography & narrative. You are truly an inspiration for all ! You are creating life long memories for your son and family; priceless!!
Thank you for reading! I appreciate the kind words!
What a wonderful photo essay. Thank you. And well done!
Beautiful photos and a great post Drew!
Lovely to see your family hiking such a long distance.
Thank you! We’re hoping to plan a trip to Greece in the next few years. Hopefully we can get some of your hikes in!
You will be more than welcomed and of course, I will be happy to provide you with many info.
Take care and enjoy your beautiful family.
This is so amazingly! Owen is a champ!
Thanks, Anna! We’re incredibly proud of the little guy 🙂
Dear Drew, Julia and Owen – it was a great pleasure for me to meet you several times on the portugues and at least downtown Santiago. You are such a wonderful family. God bless you. Jürgen (Germany)
It’s so great to hear from you, Jürgen! It was a pleasure meeting you as well. I appreciate the advice you shared with me in Santiago. I’m thankful that we were able to cross paths there once again. Buen Camino!
Thanks Drew for sharing with the world your beautiful experience, for those ten days you made us part of your adventure. We’ve fallen in love with Owen, so brave !
Thank you! Owen was a little celebrity on the Camino. It was a lot of fun to see him receive and enjoy all of the attention. He can’t wait to return to walk another route to Santiago!
What an amazing experience, and to do it with Owen I’m sure made it all the more special. I love his running shoes! I’m glad you guys are dispelling the myth that interesting and active travel is not possible with young children. On the contrary, as you have mentioned, it opens up all sorts of doors and breaks barriers. Congrats to all three of you on your Camino!
I hope we can inspire more parents to travel with their kids. So many people assumed we would have to stop traveling the way we do once we had a child. We’ve made a few changes, but we’re still enjoying adventure travel as much as possible! I hope Owen continues to love it. Did your son’s opinions on travel change much as he got older?
It was actually easier to travel with him when he was a young child, up to the age of 11 or 12, where he loved everything. Through the teenage years he was a bit whiny that we were schlepping him to too many “exotic or weird” places. That said though, now that he’s 21 he often talks about those trips and tells us how much he liked them. When he was around 13 he got his SCUBA certification and that was a really fun thing we did (and continue to do when possible) as a family, and we usually combine it with travels to cool places. That kept him interested. During his post high school gap year he traveled in Europe and Morocco, which he loved and felt very comfortable doing. I know he is really grateful for his early experience as a traveller.
Thanks for the info! It looks like we’ll have to pack it into the next decade until Owen hits the teenage years 🙂 It’s great to hear he has fond memories of your travels now that he’s 21.
Enjoyed reliving the Caminho with your pictures and commentary. My March trip was all rain so glad you had mostly blue skies and many companions! Bom caminho.
Hey Tom! From what I heard, this was an unusually wet year in Portugal. That’s saying a lot since they’re used to a lot of rain!
Lovely recount. I start the same journey this Friday…my first Camino ever! This will serve as somewhat of a guide for me…thank you.
Wow! Bom Caminho! It looks like you’re have some really nice weather in the week ahead.
Amazing! What a wonderful experience for you all. Bom Caminho for next time! Mel
Thanks, Mel! Bom Caminho!
Great photos and fantastic story, Drew. I liked your comment, early on -“I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as bad weather though, just bad gear.” Ha, that sounds like Drew Robinson! Owen looks like he’s becoming an armful for Julia, he’s growing up to be a world-class backpacker, I’d say. And he sure seems to be a good ‘ice-breaker’ when meeting strangers along the trail/journey. Everyone loves the kids! Thanks for your story and the great photos, Drew. I enjoyed them.
haha, you know I’m all about the gear! Owen is definitely becoming an armful. It won’t be long until he is too large for us to carry. Hopefully he’ll be conditioned to cover enough ground on his own by then!
Loved your photos and story – and also a nice reminder for me, as some of the people in your pictures I also met as I walked a similar path to you and your beautiful family recently on the Portuguese Camino. You were quite the celebrities on the trail, and always so gracious. I have a couple of lovely photos of your son and one of you and your wife if there is some way I can post them on your site let me know.
Thanks, Shelley! I’m sure we crossed paths with a lot of the same people. I would love to see your photos! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This year was very very wet in my country! Especially in the north of the country. I am really proud that you enjoyed my country! I see that you loved the portuguese beer!
Yes! Everyone was telling us how much rain had fallen. It rained for our first three days and then we had blue bird days from there on. I did enjoy the Portuguese beer! The perfect way to end a long day of hiking 🙂
Hi Drew, we enjoyed talking to you, Julia and Owen while having coffee on our final morning in Santiago. I enjoyed reading your Camino blog and looking at the pictures.
Hi Richard. We enjoyed meeting you guys as well!
Thank you for sharing…incredible trip , amazing trip to share with that adorable child….remember doing a 17 hr flight, car trip with 4 children…youngest 14 months…what an adventure.
Wow, that is a lot with 4 children!
Haha funny to find your page. I saw you in Santiagio. We were together in the cathedrale and you recorded with your cam and you tried to hide it a bit because it wasnt allowed 😂
I think we arrived at the same day. I didnt see you on the days before but I heard about you “did you see the couple with the little child?” 😁
Greetings from Germany – Johanna
Hi Johanna! You caught me taking video in the cathedral! 🙂 I think the word started spreading about the toddler on the Camino from the day we began in Porto!
I’ve so enjoyed reading about your family trip – so wonderful! I notice the pic of everyone’s shoes/feet but can’t quite make out the type of footwear used by you and your wife. Perhaps you mention it elsewhere. I’m just wondering as I’ve noticed a lot of comments about the large amount of cobblestones on the Portugal route and the adverse effect … but perhaps it’s mostly from pilgrims with a different age demographic [haha! – I’m 55 myself 😉 ]. Anyway, would be interested to know if you found your footwear choice suitable for this route.
Best regards from downunder,
Hi Karen. We all wore Salomons. I’ve worn Salomons on every major trip since my Frances walk back in 2012. I wore the Salomon SLAB Ultra and Julia wore the Salomon Sense Ride. Both were perfect. Owen wore the kids version of the XA Pro 3D.
Many of the people having trouble with cobblestones have the wrong footwear. There is more asphalt and cobblestone on the Portuguese than dirt paths. Trail running shoes with ample cushion is the way to go. I’m always shocked to see people wearing high top boots with GTX on easy walking trails like the Camino. Almost everyone I saw having foot problems wore boots made for the mountains.
Find yourself a pair of well cushioned trail running shoes and you’ll be fine. 55 is very young, and I don’t think age has much to do with it.
Check out this company OBOZ. They are a Montana based outdoor shoe/boot company. Walked the French Camino in 2018. NO BLISTERS !!! Water resistant and water proof solutions available. Just take the downhills carefully!
I’ve seen quite a few OBOZ shoes on local trails, but have never tried a pair myself. I may have to get a pair for review this year.
You don’t see a lot of adventure bloggers hiking as a family especially with a 2-year-old in tow so lovely to see these photo moments. As a side note, Drew, I have really enjoyed reading through your Japan catalogue of travels.
Thanks, David. I’m glad you enjoyed the posts on Japan. That has been one of my favorite trips so far, and we’re now hoping to go back with Owen. Julia was pregnant on that trip, so it would be cool to see some new things there with our son.
Hi drew, wow what inspiration! I walked the Camino de Santiago in 2012 as well, started in the same village as you, saint Jon pied de port! When in 2012 did you walk it? I was there through July. It sure was an encredible experience that I think about always and seeing your story just now is so inspiring as now I have a daughter and dream of one day taking her on the Camino as well so it’s been great to see another family do it!! Thanks so much for sharing!! Buen Camino!
Thanks, Emma! We probably started around the same time. I walked from Mid-July to Mid-August. Hopefully you’ll be able to walk with your daughter. It was a lot of fun and a very different experience this time around! Buen Camino!
Looks amazing. I completed the Camino Francés in 2013 alone. But now I have a new born and we plan to walk the Portuguese Camino when she is 2. Could you tell me what kind of stroller you have. It looks ideal. Cheers..
Buen Camino! It sounds like you’re taking a similar Camino journey to mine. Our stroller is a BOB. I swapped out the tires for mountain bike tires, and also made some adjustments on the brakes. It handles just about any trail we go on now.
Thank you so much for this posting. The photos actually brought tears of joy to my eyes. My hubby and I are planning on hiking through the El Camino next year. We are both around 72 years old. I should say 72 years young. The experience of starting training now for the El Camino has brought such joy and love in conversation and adventure to our marriage. Thank you for your inspiration. God bless
You’re welcome! 72 years young is a great time to walk. It is so beautiful to hear that the training on the Camino has lit a new spark. Just wait until you hit the actual trail. Buen Camino!
Thanks for sharing. Your reflections are informative and interesting and just what I’ve been looking for.
thanks for sharing photo and your felling.i love travel i am trekking mountain guide nepal .
Thanks for reading. I’m hoping to make it to Nepal some day!
always welcome 🙏
welcome sir http://www.umeshadventures.com
Loved your story! Having completed the French Camino in 2018 with my son Owen, I am looking forward to doing the Oporto to Santiago Pilgrimage in 2021. While on the French trip we also walked a few stages with a young couple doing the journey with their 18 month old son. We were in awe of their courage to partake in such a venture. Where did you change Owen’s diaper !!!!
As you and all who have done these amazing treks know as well … the Camino becomes part of your everyday thoughts. The Camino has become a vital part of my bonding with my son. We are already working on the the Portuguese trip.
(Origins say meaning is Noble Born).
Perhaps the Nobility thing skips a generation?
Awesome! I hope to walk the Frances and Ingles with my son in the future. The Portuguese is a great route as well and we really enjoyed it.
For Owen’s diaper, we just changed him whenever we took a stop and brought plastic dog waste bags to keep them secure.
What a pleasant spiritual adventure. Thank you for sharing.
¡Preciosos momentos! ¡preciosas fotografías! para recordar siempre. Saludos y a seguir disfrutando de muchos viajes.