Portuguese Coastal Camino with Kids

Author: Dan Brewer

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Over the past few years, we have started to enjoy more active travel with our kids. We’ve gone on family cycling tours in France, and hut-to-hut hiking tours in Slovenia, so for our Easter trip we wanted to continue to build on this active family travel theme. Then we found it… hiking the Portuguese Coastal Camino with our kids was the perfect active family trip for us!

The Portuguese Coastal Camino trail is reputed to be the most kid-friendly Camino trail of them all. Starting in Oia, Spain, the coastal Camino route is approximately 120 km of hiking over 6 days. The terrain is mostly flat and provides a combination of stunning oceanside scenery and magical inland forests.

The kids from the Family Can Travel blog, walk the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail on a self-guided tour.

Our kids are capable little hikers, but we were wondering how they would react to six straight days of hiking 20+ kilometers per day. We needn’t have worried – as usual they surpassed our expectations.

Our kids absolutely loved hiking the Camino Portuguese Coastal Route – in fact, when it was over, our daughter said that she wished it was two days longer. Below, we share an honest account of our family experience hiking the Portuguese Coastal Camino trail in hopes it will inspire your family to (literally) follow in our footsteps!

This post contains compensated links.

Benefits of a Self-Guided Camino Tour with Kids

One of our favorite styles of active holidays in Europe are self-guided tours. On these family-friendly tours, we love how the tour company takes care of all the little details, but leaves us free to enjoy the experience at our own pace.

This is especially important for us when having an active holiday with our kids as we don’t have to worry about keeping pace with a big group. We can simply enjoy each day as it comes, stopping where and when we want. We can goof off whenever we want to with no pressure to keep up to a group. It’s such a nice feeling of freedom…

A 10-year old girl makes her family laigh by pretending to walk into a sign post while on the Portuguese Coastal Camino Route.
Hiking at your own pace frees up time to have some family fun!

Our Camino Tour Company

One of the reasons we chose to hike this Camino trail with our kids was that we found a tour company which has a family-friendly Portuguese Camino self-guided tour. We booked the Family Package: Oia to Santiago De Compostela through Follow the Camino, and as you’ll see, we are very glad we did.

A 10-year old girl models her Follow the Camino buff before beginning a 6-day family-friendly Camino pilgrimage with her family.
As you’ll see in the pictures below, our daughter loved her Follow the Camino buff!

The benefits you can expect on a Follow the Camino family-friendly Portuguese Camino tour are:

Detailed Route Notes and Maps

Prior to our arrival in Oia, Spain, Follow the Camino provided us with an app which contained a detailed GPS based hiking map. For the most part, the Portuguese Coastal Camino trail is well marked, but it’s not always clear which way to go. When hiking alone with kids for several days, it’s always comforting to know you have an accurate map of the trail in your pocket, just in case.

Celine Brewer, owner of FamilyCanTravel.com, walks along a boardwalk with her child while hiking the Portuguese Coastal Camino together.

Family-Friendly Hotels

We really liked the selection of hotels that Follow the Camino chose for our tour. Many of them were right on the Camino trail, while others were right on the beach. Looking at all the modest pilgrim hostels along the route, we were sure glad that we were staying in comfortable hotels as a reward for our hard work every day.

An 8-year old boy relaxes on the balcony of his beachfront hotel at the end of a long day hiking the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail with his family.
We loved this beachfront hotel!

Luggage Transfer

This is one of my favorite parts of a self-guided hiking tour. Each day Follow the Camino arranges for your luggage to be transported from place-to-place. Simply leave your main bags in the hotel lobby when you leave each day, and they magically show up at your new hotel! Magic!

A Follow the Camino luggage tag on our suitcase ensures that it will be transferred to our next hotel along our self-guided Camino tour.

Emergency Support

Chances are you won’t need it, but Follow the Camino has a 24/7 emergency number just in case.

Our Family-Friendly Portuguese Camino Tour Experience

Arrival Day in Oia, Spain

The starting point for our family-friendly Portuguese Coastal Camino tour is in Oia, Spain, a small, but beautiful town right on the Atlantic Ocean.

Prior to our family Camino walk, we had spent 3 days in Sintra with kids. We were able to get most of the way here by taking a bus from Sintra to Porto, but we were unable to find easy public transportation from there.

As a solution, we arranged a private transfer from Porto to Oia. Although expensive, it was extremely easy and convenient. Our driver picked us up right at the Porto bus station and 90 minutes later was dropping us off at our oceanfront hotel in Oia.

The view from our oceanfront hotel at the starting point of our family-friendly, self-guided tour of the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail.
Not a bad view from our hotel!

Day 1 – Hiking Oia to Baiona

After a satisfying breakfast, we got our Camino passport stamps from the hotel desk and were on our self guided walking holiday by 9:00. Our family loves multi-day hiking tours, so we were very excited to begin our very first family Camino hike!

The Brewer kids, from the FamilyCanTravel.com blog, are all smiles at the very beginning of their six-day family hike on the Camino Portuguese Coastal Route.
All smiles at the start of our Camino walk – only 148 km to go!!

From Oia, Spain, the Portuguese Coastal Camino trail starts in spectacular fashion. Just one minute from our hotel we were on the official Camino trail, which runs parallel to the ocean. The sights and sounds of the crashing waves on the dramatic Atlantic coastline reaffirmed our choice to do the coastal Camino route – it was spectacular!

Celine Brewer, walks the Portuguese Camino Coastal Route with her 10-year old daughter near Oia, Spain.
Amazing oceanfront scenery!

The crushed gravel trail was wide enough for three people, making it great for family conversations. Being so close to the ocean, we had to be very careful where we stepped as it seemed like there were hundreds of snails also enjoying a leisurely morning on the Camino trail.

The scenery isn’t all just about the ocean, as forested hills line the coast just inland. The fields are separated by ancient, crumbling rock walls, with many patches of wild calla lilies growing at their borders. In addition, many yards had lemon trees bursting with near ripe fruit.

One of the things our kids love about these multi-day hiking tours is the chance to interact with animals, and there were plenty on this leg of the Camino hike. The first encounter was just outside our hotel, when two beautiful white horses walked over to a nearby fence to be petted. Throughout our walk to Baiana, we encountered many horses, cows, sheep, and even a couple of super cute baby goats.

A 10-year old girl hiking the camino de santiago portuguese coastal route with her family, stops to pet a friendly horse on the nose.
Our daughter loves animals and will stop to pet every single one.

The Portuguese Coastal Camino trail doesn’t follow the ocean the entire day. There are a few stretches where you walk on a dedicated walking path along the side of the highway. The ocean is always visible from here, but you also get some traffic.

Dan Brewer, owner of FamilyCanTravel.com, enjoys talking to his 8-year old son on the Portuguese Coastal Camino route.
Hiking trips are a great opportunity to have nice talks with your kids.

Around the 4 km mark, the trail heads inland a little further to go around a town. Walking on quiet paved roads, we enjoyed some amazing elevated ocean views from up here.

It was along this stretch that we had the most amazing discovery of the day – a large pile of beautifully painted rocks! Many of the rocks had a Camino theme – people wrote their names and dates, while others were works of art. It would be a lot of fun for your kids to decorate some rocks to leave here on your family Camino walk.

A pile of decorated rocks found along the Portuguese Coastal Camino Route.

Back along the coastline, the trail passes through a field of massive boulders, with equally massive waves crashing ashore. It’s a stunning leg of the Portuguese Coastal Camino trail.

Around the 7 km mark, we stopped at a little shop to collect another Camino passport stamp. Watch for this shop – it’s run by an very friendly man with a wild beard. He makes some pretty incredible rock carvings, but he also sells smaller Camino de Santiago trinkets as well.

At the 12 km mark, the Camino leaves the oceanfront and starts to climb uphill. The forest along this trail is so beautiful, with many towering pine trees. If you look towards the coast, you’ll get a great view of a lighthouse, perched high up on a coastal hill.

A lighthouse along the Spanish coastline as seen from the Camino Portuguese Coastal Route.

This was the biggest hill of the day, but our kids barely noticed it. It’s a little long, but not very steep. You’ll be rewarded with some pretty amazing ocean views.

Celine Brewer, owner of FamilyCanTravel.com, enjoys views of the Atlantic Ocean from the Portuguese Coastal Camino route.

As we emerged from the forest, we started walking along rural roads, with quaint country houses. Before long, we were beginning our final descent into Baiona. From the hill we could see the imposing Castelo de Monterreal on a peninsula near the historic old town and the Virgen de la Roca on a nearby hill.

As we entered Baiona, we stopped for a quick visit to an old cemetery, which our kids always find fascinating. We passed several beautiful old churches as we followed the Camino through some sleepy back streets.

A 10-year old girl pauses her family Camino hike to investigate an interesting old building in Baiona, Spain.

We arrived at our oceanfront Baiona hotel at 3:20. We hiked approximately 19 km today in just under 6 hours of moving time.

Day 2 – Hiking Baiona to Vigo

After a simple breakfast and getting stamps for our Camino de Santiago passport from hotel reception, we were back on the trail at 8:30 am for another day of hiking the Portuguese Coastal Camino with kids.

The Atlantic Ocean at sunrise in Baiona, Spain along the Portuguese Camino Coastal Trail.
We began our second day with this view.

There are two Portuguese Camino trails which leave from Baiona. The first is the original Portuguese Camino trail, which heads inland immediately and stays inland.

The second Camino trail from Baiona is the newer Coastal trail, which follows the beautiful coastline for much of the day. Our family-friendly self-guided Camino tour was the Coastal version, so that’s the route we took.

Our hotel was right on the path of the Portuguese Coastal Camino, so we were on the path to Santiago de Compostela within seconds of starting. We began along a long boardwalk running along a beautiful soft white sand beach on the Baia de Baiona. Continuing the cute animals theme from yesterday, there was a little pony grazing in a nearby field.

A 10-year old girl walks along the Atlantic Ocean in Baiona, Spain while hiking the Portuguese Camino Coastal route with her family.

The trail leaves the bay for a bit, following alongside an estuary, where we saw an abundance of birds, including a beautiful white crane actively looking for fish. There’s a really fun playground nearby shortly after you cross the river which feeds the estuary.

The FamilyCanTRavel.com kids take a break from hiking the Camino to play in a playground in Baiona, Spain.
It’s important to give kids time to play too.

Our next beach came around the 4 km mark, when we arrived at Praia America. There’s a fascinating, and very creative sculpture of a sperm whale at the entrance of the beach made entirely of plastic junk from the ocean. Praia America is a long, beautiful soft sand beach which is a pleasure to walk along. There’s yet another playground for your kids too.

A sperm whale sculpture made entirely of plastic trash from the ocean at Praia America beach.

Walking along the beaches of Spain is so much fun. People are out for their morning jog, while dogs lose their minds with happiness running on the beach. Everyone is so friendly and encouraging of the kids. Most wish them a “Buen Camino!” to offer some encouragement.

Celine Brewer, from the Family Can Travel blog, walks along a beach boardwalk with her son on the Portuguese Coastal CAmino Trail.

There was a very tempting bakery at the end of Praia America, so we stopped in and grabbed some pastries. While eating them, a playful Australian Shepherd dog got our kids to play fetch with him and the pinecone he was using as a ball.

After a short walk through town, we met up with yet another beach – Praia da Madorra. This beach seemed very popular with surfers, so we stayed to watch a few of them conquer the big waves just offshore.

We alternated between town and beach walking for several more kilometers. After 11 km of walking the Portuguese Coastal Camino with kids, the trail arrived at a more natural seashore area, with large waves crashing dramatically on the big rocks on shore. After so many beautiful sandy beaches, it was a nice contrast.

A view of the scenic Atlantic Ocean as seen from the second leg of the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail.

The next 4 km or so are pretty uneventful – mainly walking next to a busy highway or through residential streets.

Thankfully, at the 15 km mark, we reached the first of our final two beaches of this leg of the Portuguese Coastal Camino walk. After being so close to the beautiful ocean all day, it was nice to get back.

An 8-year old boy walks along a beach boardwalk nearing the end of the second leg of the camino portuguese coastal route.

The final 8 km or so of this leg of the Portuguese Coastal Camino is through the big city of Vigo and is not supposed to be very enjoyable. Our tour company gave us a head’s up about a bus you could catch near the end of Samil Beach which takes you into the heart of Vigo. We gladly took this option and skipped the city portion of the hike.

We arrived at the bus stop at 2:30 pm. We walked just over 18 km of the Portuguese Camino with our kids in about 6 hours.

Day 3 – Redondela to Pontevedra

The first 10 km or so from our Vigo hotel is pretty uninspiring big city walking. So, as part of our tour package, our tour company arranged a taxi from Vigo to Redondela, at a much nicer spot along the Portuguese Camino Trail. Our taxi arrived promptly at 9 am and we were on the trail by 9:20.

The Brewer family, from the Family Can Travel blog, has some fun before beginning the third stage of the Portuguese Camino Route in Vigo, Spain.
We couldn’t decide which way to go!

It was nice being back on the official Portuguese Camino trail again. We began our day’s journey towards Santiago de Compostela along a beautiful cobblestone street. We had to stop about 1 minute in as our daughter started playing with a cat in the window.

After 2 km of walking through the charming outskirts of Redondela, we were now fully in the countryside. We were on a paved road, but traffic was infrequent.

It was here that we began our ascent up the biggest hill of the day. Thankfully, we traded asphalt for a gravel hiking trail through a beautiful forest. Wildflowers spruced up the forest floor, while the sound of birds singing filled the air. We even started to pass our first of many small vineyards.

Family travel expert Celine Brewer enjoys a family-friendly walk along the Portuguese Camino Trail.

As we climbed higher up this hill on the Portuguese Camino, we started to earn nice views of the countryside below. We stopped for a Camino passport stamp at a souvenir stand a nice lady has opened up beneath the towering pine trees. We ended up buying a few Camino bookmarks for the kids.

There’s no shortage of temptations to slow the kids down. Shortly after getting our Camino passports stamped, we happened upon a tree swing near the top of the hill, which of course we had to stop and try.

At the 5 km mark of our third day of hiking the Camino with kids, we were treated to excellent water views of the Rio de Vigo below. The forest in this part of Spain is especially beautiful.

Elevated views of Rio de Vigo as seen from the third stage of the camino portuguese coastal route.

We arrived in the town of Arcade just before noon. The friendly locals out for a walk always say “Ola” and “Buen Camino”, and are especially encouraging towards our kids. We passed an interesting historic Lavanderia, where locals used to wash clothes in a large basin. There are lots of citrus trees growing in yards, they look so tempting we wished we could grab one for ourselves!  

At the 8km mark, we crossed a long, arched stone bridge over the river. It’s always fun to walk across historic bridges!

The FamilyCanTravel.com family crosses a bridge over the Rio de Vigo, while hiking the third leg of the Portuguese Camino Route.

We stopped at a quiet spot near a stream for some lunch. We were eating our sandwiches when the nearby homeowner came out to say hello. When he saw we were doing the Portuguese Camino with kids, he was so happy he gave them each a Camino necklace.

We began the second major hill of the day as we left Arcade on a series of very narrow residential streets. We passed many more vineyards as we left town and ironically notice some picnic tables next to a stream (which would have been nice for our lunch).

A 10-year old girl takes a break from her family hike along the Portuguese Camino Trail to pet a horse.
Always stopping for the animals…

This portion of the Portuguese Camino Trail has inlaid rock steps underneath, with water from a nearby stream flowing through. It makes for some slippery steps at times.

We stopped for another stamp from an eccentric souvenir guy, and he also gave the kids free bracelets. Everyone is just so excited to see kids hiking the Camino!

There are two routes on the Portuguese Camino Trail which lead into Ponteverde. One is a quicker route, but it’s along the side of a busy road. The other is a little longer, but apparently much more scenic along the shores of a river.

A happy 8-year old boy plays with a stick while on a self-guided Camino tour with his family.

We were advised by several people that the trail conditions on the river route were not good due to recent rains, so we walked the last few kilometers into town along the road. We would have preferred the scenic route, but oh well… you can’t control mother nature.

Nearly 7 hours after we began, we arrived at our Pontevedra hotel after hiking 21 km of the Portuguese Camino Trail.

This marks the halfway point of our journey towards Santiago de Compostela. Perhaps it was the heat, or perhaps it is the cumulative effect of hiking roughly 60 km in three days, but the kids were dragging pretty good towards the end today.

A Scallop shell with the word "Santiago" hangs from a lush tree in the forest along the Portuguese Coastal Comino Route.

Day 4 – Hiking from Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

After a hearty buffet breakfast at our Pontevedra hotel, we were back on the Portuguese Camino Trail by 8:30. We didn’t have far to go as our hotel was less than a block away from the trail.

The night before, the streets of Pontevedra were bustling with people, but early in the morning, they were nearly deserted. It was a pleasure to walk the Camino trail through their beautiful old town with no one around.

Celine Brewer enjoys an early morning walk through an empty old town in Pontevedra, Spain.
It’s so quiet first thing in the morning.

As we were crossing a large bridge to leave old town Pontevedra, another pilgrim on the Camino hike stopped to give our kids lollipops. Everyone just seemed so happy to see kids doing the Camino trail – and our kids loved the attention.

After walking through the suburbs of Pontevedra for a while, we eventually came out on a quiet country road. There were train tracks on our right, and a beautiful forest on our left.

An 8-year old sucks on a lollipop as he hikes the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail with his family.
Our son enjoying yet another free lollipop.

Before long, we arrived at a building labelled “Miseri Cordia”. It seemed popular with our fellow Camino pilgrims, so we went in for a look.

It was a pretty amazing little building for pilgrims! It offered free instant coffee, free rosaries, toilets, showers, Camino stamps, places to sit and rest and more. It turns out that “Miseri Cordia” translates to “Mercy” – makes sense…

The Brewer family gets Camino passport stamps at the Miseri Cordia building on the fourth stage of the Portuguese Coastal Camino Route.
Our kids loved getting stamps for their Camino passports.

Around the 10 km mark, we hiked through the most beautiful forest of the Portuguese Camino so far. It was a magical, deep green, mossy forest with a stream running next to the trail.

Every now and then, a waterfall would flow into the stream, adding to the amazing ambience. Through this stage of the Camino, the gravel trail was nice and wide, making it perfect for families to walk side-by-side, enjoying good conversation.

Pilgrims walk the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail through a lush forest.

A few kilometers later, we passed through a small town called San Amaro. There was a popular coffee shop there, so we stopped to take a look.

The kids had wanted to buy souvenir scallop shells for their hiking backpacks (which are very popular for pilgrims along the Camino trail). They had some really nice scallop shells here, so we picked up a pair for the kids along with a packet of gummy bears for a trail snack. Again, the staff at the café were thrilled with having kids there, so they also gave them free lollipops as well.

Yellow and purple wild flowers grow alongside the camino portuguese coastal route.

The stretch between San Amaro and Caldas de Reis was primarily along quiet country roads. They were well treed, but not as lush as the forest earlier in the day. The vineyards started out small, but grew in size as we neared our destination.

As usual, there were plenty of fun distractions for the kids along the way, including cute puppies, horses, sheep and more. At one point, we found a really big lizard (for this part of the world anyway). The lizard must have been a foot long!

A large lizard lives under a rock underneath the camino portuguese coastal route.

Caldas de Reis is a nice, little Spanish town. It’s much sleepier than our last two stops, which was a nice change of pace.

Almost 7 hours after we left our Ponteverde hotel, we arrived at our Caldas de Reis hotel. We hiked nearly 23 km today, which was our longest day yet. There were barely any hills, and the weather was cooler than yesterday, making the miles go a little easier.

Day 5 – Hiking from Caldas de Reis to Padron

Today was a very enjoyable day of hiking the Portuguese Camino with our kids. After filling our tummies at the ample hotel buffet breakfast, we were on the Camino trail by 8:30 am.

Although it’s one of the smaller overnight towns we have stayed at on our family-friendly Portugal Coastal Camino tour, it still has a very pleasing old town. Again, the experience of walking these cobblestone historic streets early in the morning when they are empty was such a treat.

Celine Brewer, a travel expert from the FamilyCanTravel blog, walks through Caldas de Reis with her kids on the fifth day of their family walking tour on the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail.
Celine and the kids leave Caldas de Reis.

It didn’t take long before we left Caldas de Reis and we were in the countryside. The locals have such beautiful back yards, with flowering trees, citrus trees and nice gardens.

When we began this tour, we were so excited to see all the calla lilies, but we soon realized that they are literally everywhere! They are such beautiful flowers, it’s really such a treat to see so many in bloom his time of year.

Today, the vast majority of our Camino hike was along quiet country roads or through forests. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and there was a stream next to the trail nearly the whole time – it just felt like the perfect spring day to be hiking the Camino with kids.

Celine Brewer, owner of FamilyCanTravel.com, enjoys a conversation with her 10-year old daughter along the fifth stage of the Portuguese Coastal Camino Route.
More great conversations with the kids.

Along the way we stopped at a trail-side cafe for some coffee and Santiago cake, which is a local treat you see a lot along the Camino. It’s kind of like an almond cake and is very tasty. We had it mid-morning and were surprised to find how long we felt full afterwards.

Family travel expert, Celine Brewer, savors a coffee and Santiago cake while hiking the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail with her family.
Ahhh… coffee and cake break…

In addition to the beautiful churches we passed along the way, we also saw some longhorn cows (which the kids thought were so cool) and a cute little pony.

At one point, we stopped in front of a barn to look at some cute cats, when an elderly lady emerged and asked us to follow us into her barn – she wanted to show the kids something. We figured there were kittens in there or something, but in fact, she wanted to show us a young cow.

She was very proud of it! We’re really enjoying the quirky interactions we’re having with people along the Portuguese Camino trail – you simply never know what is going to happen.

An 8-year old boy hiking the Portuguese Coastal Camino Route with his family poses next to a trail marker which shows it is only 33 km left to Santiago de Compostela.
Wow – only 33 km to go!

As we entered Padron, we were thrilled to see a street market in full swing along the Camino trail. Locals were out doing their Sunday shopping, and it was a hive of activity. It’s always a treat to get to enjoy the local markets in Europe. We’re lucky we stumbled across this one in Padron.

There was a playground near our hotel, and the kids still had some energy left, so we let them play for quite a while. After being such good hikers for the past 5 days, it looked like they just needed time to be silly kids – it’s sometimes easy to forget that they need some play time while on family holidays too.

A church along the Portuguese Coastal Camino Route has a wooden hiking boot out front.
A church with a wooden hiking boot in front.

Day 6 – Hiking from Padron to Santiago de Compostela

With a little sadness and a lot of excitement, we began the final day of our family Portuguese Coastal Camino walk. The 26 km of walking remaining would be the longest one-day hike our family has ever taken. Given, they had already hiked 5 straight days, I was a bit nervous about how the final leg of our family Camino pilgrimage was going to go.

A bit nervous about the length of the walk, we arranged an early breakfast with our hotel, allowing us to be on the Camino trail by 7:50 am. We were lucky to be in Padron at this time as they had an Easter festival on, so the streets were nicely decorated. We really enjoyed walking through the decorated old town in the atmospheric street lights in the light rain.

A person with an umbrella walks through the deserted streets of Padron, Spain in the early morning on a rainy day.

Before long, we were out of Padras and back on our familiar country roads, We passed a historic church almost immediately, which in turn, made us excited about reaching Santiago de Compostela, our final destination.

After 2.5 km of hiking, we met up with some good friends we had made from the UK, who had also booked their self-guided tour through Follow the Camino. They were excellent company and our kids just loved them, so we were happy to enjoy our final leg of the Portuguese Camino walk with them.

The Brewer family enjoys walking the final stage of the Portuguese Coastal Camino Route with some new friends from the UK.
I love how easily our kids make new friends on our travels.

The scenery on our final leg of our walk to Santiago de Compostela was surprisingly nice. Nearing a big city, I guessed we’d be walking through lots of populated areas on our way, but it was mostly rural roads, farmland and forest.

A Portuguese Camino trail marker shows there is only 15 km to go to Santiago de Compostela.

As we neared the 10 km mark of our Camino walk, we were walking through an especially beautiful forest, as vines covered the tree trunks all the way up. We started talking to a local out walking her dogs, and she offered to show us a ‘locals path’ as a minor detour.

Apparently this detour used to be part of the original Camino, but locals got fed up with how poorly the pilgrims were treating it. This is a good reminder that we all need to be good stewards of this special land.

She led us along the shores of a swift river, with the most beautiful forest yet. We passed many rapids and waterfalls along this special detour. This could have been the most scenic portion of our Camino walk so far, all thanks to a friendly local.

The Brewer kids from FamilyCanTravel.com walk along a river on the final day of the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail.

At the 15 km mark, we were walking along a busy highway and started to approach a collection of large apartment buildings. I figured my fears were coming true and prepared myself for the final 10 km to be in the city, but before long we were happy to be continuing our family Camino hike back in the forest.

Two kids on a family pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela pose next to the trail marker which shows only 10 km left in their journey.
Less than 10 km to go!!

For the next hour or so, we alternated between sleepy villages and the countryside. We even saw the cutest little miniature Shetland pony.

With 2.5 km remaining in our Camino walk, we had officially reached Santiago de Compostela. We were on busy city street now and there was no returning to the peaceful countryside. But none of us cared now as we were so excited to be so close to our destination.

After 6.5 hours of walking the final leg of the Portuguese Coastal Camino trail, we reached our final destination – the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Perhaps it was because we walked over 100 km to get there, but it could be one of the most beautiful cathedrals we have ever seen!

We shared hugs, kisses and high-fives all around as we celebrated our family achievements over the past 6 days. We took lots of pictures commemorating this special family moment along with some good friends we made on our journey. A special moment indeed.

The Brewer family, from the FamilyCanTravel.com blog, celebrate successfully reaching the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela after hiking the Portuguese Coastal Camino for six days.
We made it! Time to celebrate!!

Pilgrim’s Reception Office

And then…. we started walking again… This time to our real final destination – the Pilgrim’s Reception Office, where we received our official certificates marking our achievement. Our kids were VERY excited about earning this special certificate!

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Although our family pilgrimage along the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela wasn’t necessarily religious in nature, we went back to visit the beautiful building – after all, we walked for 6 days to get here.

The primary reason that hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is because it is where the remains of the beloved apostle St. James are believed to be. The cathedral is quite beautiful, but the main attraction for the pilgrims is the opportunity to visit the remains of St. James.

You cap off your visit by hugging the statue of the Apostle James, which symbolizes the completion of the pilgrimage. For many, including us, it was a moment of gratitude and a personal reflection of achievement for making such an epic pilgrimage with our kids.

The FamilyCanTravel.com family show off their certificates for completing the Portuguese Coastal Camino pilgrimage while standing in front of the Cathedral de Compostela.
We are so immensely proud of these guys!

Hotels on the Camino Tour

We stayed at a nice variety of hotels on our Portuguese Coastal Camino trip. The hotels along the Coastal leg of the Camino had excellent locations near the ocean, as well as near the Camino trail.

The inland hotels along the real Portuguese Camino trail were always in, or very near to, the historic town centers, but also close to the trail. These central locations made it easier for us to find food for the kids, given how late they eat in Spain.

Dan Brewer plays Exploding Kittens with his son while in a hotel room on a family-friendly Camino tour.
We love playing card games when traveling with our kids.

At every hotel, we were given two rooms, each with two twin beds. This meant we had one parent in each room, and we alternated the kids we slept with. It was fun to have some alone time with the kids each night, but it also meant being alone in the dark once the kids were asleep.

Food on the Portuguese Camino Tour

Being from Canada, we found it challenging to adjust to the Spanish meal times, which are much later than what we are used to back home.

Breakfast

Breakfast was included at every hotel we stayed at along the Portuguese Coastal Camino trail. Start times for breakfast varied between 7:00 and 8:00, so this worked well for us.

With the exception of one hotel (which offered a la carte), we enjoyed buffet breakfast at the hotels. There was typically a good selection of breakfast food one offer, from hot protein options (eggs, bacon, sausage, etc) to continental option such as cereal, fruit, yogurt, cheese, croissants, etc).

The breakfast buffet at one of the family-friendly hotels on our Portuguese Coastal Camino tour.

Lunch

As mentioned above, we self-catered for lunch every day along our Portuguese Camino pilgrimage. This would typically include a loaf of bread, peanut butter, bananas, cookies and trail mix.

Dinner

Our kids are typically in bed by 8:00, so the 8:00 meal time common in Spain was a bit of a challenge for us. We got around this by forgoing the amazing Spanish food, and settling for more North American foods – which are typically the only things on offer before 8 PM.

Along the Portuguese Coastal Camino trail, we ate the gamut of North American foods, including hamburgers, pizza and kebabs.

A 10-year old girl smiles before eating her hamburger in Spain.

It was a little sad knowing that we missed out on some amazing Spanish food, but we are asking a lot of our kids to hike these long distances every day. It’s a small sacrifice to make knowing that a good meal helps them get a good night’s sleep, giving them lots of energy for hiking the next day.

Tips for Hiking the Portuguese Camino with Kids

Know Your Kids Pace

Go on several long hikes at home before you go on the Portuguese Camino with your kids. Having a rough idea of how fast they hike will help you plan your days, especially the longer days.

The Brewer kids walk along the Atlantic Ocean on the first stage of their family tour along the Portuguese Coastal Camino Route.

For example, we knew our kids hike, on average, about 3.5 km/hour. On our final day of the Camino, we knew we had to leave our hotel as early as possible to hike the 26 km to Santiago de Compostela.

Our kids were very motivated to get their Camino certificates, so we had to make sure we arrived in plenty of time before the certificate office closed.

Wear Comfy Walking Shoes

It seems like there is more pavement than gravel trail on the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail. We all wore our hiking shoes, but this seemed to be the wrong choice as hiking shoes weren’t really necessary for the trail conditions. A good pair of comfortable walking shoes would have been a better choice.

The Family Can TRavel kids walk on a beach boardwalk during their self-guided, family-friendly Portuguese Coastal Camino tour.

Self Cater Your Hiking Lunches

We go hiking with our kids a lot, and some of the best advice we can give for hiking with kids is it make sure they are well fed and hydrated. If, like us, your kids are a little slow, you’ll need to be on the Camino trail early in the day. This means you’ll have a lot of hiking behind you by the time lunch rolls around.

We found it very hit or miss as to whether there would be any place to eat lunch along the Camino, especially if you are requiring an early lunch. To make sure our kids were well fed, to keep their energy levels up, we bought lunch supplies at a grocery store the evening before.

What We Packed on our Family Camino Hiking Tour

Headphones for the kids: In an ideal world, our kids would love walking and talking with us for 5-7 hours each day on the Camino trail. But, this isn’t reality, and we have found it very beneficial to our kids mental wellbeing on long, active trips like this, to give them a way to have some fun & enjoyable alone time.

The Brewer kids loved wearing their bluetooth headphones while hiking the Coastal Portuguese Camino Route with their family.

We bought the kids bluetooth headphones ahead of our family hiking tour on the Portuguese Coastal Camino, and they were a lifesaver. We only let them wear them a few hours each day, but we found that they were an instant mood-improver for the kids.

As a bonus, it gave us adults some (almost) kid-free time too!

Small day bags for the kids: We wanted our kids to carry some of their own stuff on the Camino trail, but not so much that they’d get tired too easily. Our kids had small day bags from MEC (Canada’s equivalent to REI) which had enough space to carry a water bladder and some of their own gear (a fleece jacket, etc).

For non-Canadians, this is a similar day bag bag which is a good size for kids.

an 8-year old boy wears his own small day bag while hiking the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail with his family.
Having the kids carry some of their own stuff made it easier on the parents!

Snacks: There are lots of little shops and restaurants along the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail, but sometimes you go surprisingly long in-between them. This is especially noticeable in the morning, when most shops are still closed.

Hungry kids are miserable hikers, so we always had some high-energy snacks with us on the Camino trail. In our family travels, we have learned that a simple granola bar can be the difference between a happy, co-operative kid and a miserable, uncooperative kid.

A 10-year old girl is excited to meet a beautiful white horse along the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail in Oia, Spain.

Final Thoughts on Hiking the Portuguese Coastal Camino with Kids

I am so grateful to Follow the Camino for making it so easy and enjoyable to hike the Portuguese Coastal Camino with our kids. We travel with our kids to teach them about the world and show them it’s many wonders.

I expect our kids will never forget hiking the Camino trail. It’s hard to overstate the positive impact that all the support, encouragement and affection they received from countless strangers along the way. Our kids felt really special on the Camino hike and we could tell they felt good about themselves and what they were doing – and rightfully so.

A happy 8-year old walks the Portuguese Camino Route next to the Atlantic Ocean.

Completing the Portuguese Camino hike to Santiago de Compostela was a major confidence builder for them. They got to participate in a ritual over 1,000 years old, and learn a lot about our world and the amazing people in it.

The Brewer kids pose for a picture at the starting point of their family-friendly Camino tour on the Portuguese Coastal Route.
The kids from the Family Can Travel blog, walk the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail on a self-guided tour.

Follow the Camino

We highly recommend the Family Tour: Oia to Santiago De Compostela by Follow the Camino for hiking the Portuguese Coastal Camino Trail with your kids. It’s a family adventure you won’t soon forget!

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Dan Brewer is an intrepid family travel blogger with a passion for exploring the world's most captivating destinations. With 58 countries under his belt and a sense of wanderlust that knows no bounds, he has made it his life's mission to share his travel experiences and insights with fellow families who love to travel.

When Dan isn't traveling with his wife and kids, he's either out enjoying the Canadian Rockies he calls home or working on one of his three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Travel Banff Canada and Ultimate Sports Road Trip).