The fifth stage of the Camino Portuguese takes pilgrims from Rubiãs to Tui. This is a very special day, as it includes the border crossing from Portugal into Spain over the Río Miño. Leaving Rubiãs, the first half of this stage is on natural pathways and dirt roads surrounded by woodlands and farms. The second half covers sidewalks and asphalt as pilgrims approach the large cities of Valença and Tui.
Stage Map And Overview
- Distance: 13 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1191 ft
- Minimum Elevation: 79 ft
- Maximum Elevation: 915 ft
- Time: 9 hours
- Stage Overview: Lots of natural pathways to start, followed by asphalt and concrete city streets.
Camino Portuguese Day 5: Rubiãs to Tui
Our fifth day on the Camino Portuguese started early with a return visit to Cafe São Sebastião by our hotel. I had a few of my standard caffè Americanos and a chocolate croissant, while Julia and Owen went to work on an omelette. By the time we hit the trail, the sun was bright and warm. We started our Camino walking through rain on 60 degree days. We would now get to walk the second half of our pilgrimage in temperatures much more like home, 90 degrees and sunny.
The trail out of Rubiãs keeps a nice distance from the main road EN 201 that cuts through town. The path starts out on cobblestone and then turns into a dirt path. Like the days before this one, Owen was getting waves and greetings from everyone we passed by. Just as we started, we met a Rubiãs local, and not long after that, we chatted with two fellow pilgrims.
Our day started with an uphill climb, so we opted to have Owen begin this stage in his stroller. As soon as we hit the downhill, he was champing at the bit to take on a the trail with his own two feet. He had seen quite a few pilgrims walking with trekking poles, so he picked up a stick to see if it would improve his balance. I think I’ll bring a pair of mine for him next Camino.
As we reached 4 miles of walking on the day, we began our descent into the parish of Fontoura. From here, we only had 6 miles to go until reaching Valença.
We stopped in Fontoura’s main cafe along the Camino route and met a few pilgrims. While we were sitting out front and enjoying our coffee, Owen spotted a couple walking down the street with their daughter. We said “hi” and before we knew it, the kids were playing at the nearby park. As much as Owen loved meeting people along the Camino, they were all adults. This was the first kid he got to play with that was his age.
After playing in Fontoura, Owen fell asleep, which let us walk at a pretty nice pace to Valença. We stopped just outside of the city center for lunch, as we wanted to explore the Fortaleza fortress on the Río Miño.
After lunch, we made our way towards the Fortaleza. The history of Valença can be traced back to the times of the Romans. Starting in the 13th century, Valença was seen as a vital defense location for Portugal, with Spain lurking just opposite the Río Miño.
The Fortaleza fortress has been destroyed on numerous occasions, with invasions from the Barbarians, Moors, Spanish, and French throughout the centuries. Fortunately, the stronghold has been restored each time.
The Camino leaves the Fortaleza behind via a bridge and Porta do Sol, or the Sun Door. There are a ton of shops, restaurants, vendors, and hotels in this area, which makes it a nice place to stop for lunch, snacks, or to stay for the night.
As pilgrims reach the outskirts of Valença, they will approach a bridge connecting Portugal and Spain. This bridge was built in 1879 by both countries, and the design was inspired by the Eiffel Tower. Cars drive down the middle of the bridge, but there are protected walkways on both sides. Make sure to stop and look under the entry point of each bridge to see the markings for each country.
In the photo below, you’ll see Owen holding a box. That box is a toy car transporter that he picked up while walking through Valença. He saw it on display at a street side shop and just had to have it. Our deal was that we would buy it, but he had to wait until we reached the hotel before he could take all the cars out and load them onto the transporter. It makes for a very nice prop in the photos 🙂
At the halfway point on the bridge, you will see the markings for the line that separates Portugal from Spain. This is one of the most popular photo-ops on the Camino Portuguese.
We crossed the bridge and made it into Tui. As you can see, Owen was still clinging tightly to the box holding his car transporter toy. Before making our way to the hotel, we stopped by the Tui Cathedral. This cathedral is located in the center of town at the heart of Plaza de San Fernando. This medieval part of town is surrounded by a pilgrim’s museum, restaurants, shops, and cafes. Construction was started on this cathedral back in the 12th century, with the main chapel and choir being completed in 1699.
Many pilgrims start their journey on the Camino Portugues from Tui, making the Tui Cathedral a very important location. The crowds had been very small up until this point on our pilgrimage, but we could tell that things would be changing over the next few days towards Santiago.
We had a room for the night at Albergue Villa San Clemente, a beautiful hotel with a large room, gardens, wash facilities, a full kitchen, and a great location. We showered and relaxed for a bit, and Owen finally got to open up his toy! After that, we made our way back to the city center for dinner and an evening of relaxation.
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