What you need to know about cycling the Portuguese Camino de Santiago
While the ancient pilgrim trails through Portugal and Galicia to Santiago de Compostela were developed by walkers, the good news for cycling enthusiasts is that it’s also possible to cycle the Camino.
Whether you opt to follow the Coastal Way, the Central Route or the lesser-travelled Santiago to Finisterre route, you can be sure of stunning scenery and delicious food throughout your journey.
What’s different for cyclists on the Camino?
If you wish to qualify for the compostela pilgrim certificate, you’ll need to cycle at least the last 200 kilometres to Santiago de Compostela as opposed to the 100 kilometres required for those on foot. Just remember to get your pilgrim passport (credencial) stamped regularly along the route to prove you have covered this distance.
Some off-road sections of the original trail are particularly challenging for cyclists. For this reason, our detailed route notes and GPS trails recommend some detours from the walking route so that you can skip the most problematic parts and enjoy a smoother ride.
Since you’ll be moving faster than walkers, you can cover more ground in less time. We have divided the Porto-Santiago Camino into six or seven stages, depending on the route. This means that some days will be quite long (up to 55 kms) while others are relatively short, giving you plenty of time to explore the towns where you are staying overnight.
Can anyone cycle the Camino de Santiago?
Even with the detours, the Camino is not an ‘easy’ route by bike, although it is enjoyable for experienced cyclists. You need to be proficient and confident at cycling among traffic and dealing with a range of off-road situations.
The terrain varies from busy urban roads, quiet country lanes and level cycle paths to uneven dirt and stone trails and granite cobblestones.
You also need to be physically fit and capable of carrying your bike short distances or up and down a few steps where necessary. At times, it will be easier to push the bike than to ride it.
If you’d like to make things a little easier on yourself, you can upgrade to an electric bike, which gives you a welcome boost to tackle hills.
What technical skills do you need?
You’ll be cycling the Camino without a guide so you need to know how to perform a few basic tasks, such as pumping up your tyres and changing gears. You should also know how to change an inner tyre in case you get a puncture as bike shops are very few and far between.
We only use new, top quality mountain bikes so there shouldn’t be any mechanical problems with the bicycle. If you do have a more serious problem while you’re on the road, call us and we’ll sort it out.