Iria Flavia to Santiago de Compostela: The Final Day of the Portuguese Coastal Camino
In this introduction to the stages of the Portuguese Coastal Camino, I'm focusing on the stuff you actually need to know. You'll sort out accommodation and restaurants and so forth on your own as you travel. I'll cover the things that you don't want to miss along the way. For everything else, check out this article: What do you REALLY need to know about the Portuguese Coastal Camino?
23 km/14.3 miles
This section has a reputation for having a lot of uphill. It’s 800 feet across about 10 miles, then a bit more up and down. That's really not that much. It definitely isn't anything to worry about if you've made it this far. The path is a mix of pavement and cobblestone with some occasional dirt trail. You'll pass through rural farmland and small settlements between Padrón and Santiago, before an urban walk into the city.
Experience: Iria Flavia to Santiago de Compostela
For most everyone, this stage is defined by the pull of Santiago de Compostela, but there are still some things left to experience along the way.
Wandering past the cemetery and church at Santa Maria la Mayor in Iria Flavia is a good way to start this final stage of walking, imagining the thousands years worth of pilgrims who've passed this spot the same way you are.
The first few kilometers of the day follow along roads at times but it's mainly a relaxed walk through agricultural land until you get to Escravitude. Here, you'll have a chance to visit one of the final, impressive old churches that you'll see before you get to Santiago - the Igrexa da Escravitude. There's a fountain here that will allegedly will heal your injuries and illnesses if you drink from it. It's a great place to stop in for a stamp and a reflection as you come to terms with the end of your Camino.
Following a few more miles of walking mostly rural paths and roads, through several small villages you'll get to the more sizeable suburb of Milladoiro, about 7 km from Santiago de Compostela. This is where you'll get your first glimpse of the cathedral. It was traditional for pilgrims to prostrate themselves here, and there is something that hits you about that first sight of your destination. It's like seeing a ghost, or maybe an old friend, after all this planning, preparing and walking. There's a nice little chapel in town that's a popular stopping point for a stamp, and for one last moment of reflection after long walk from Porto.
The normal experience is to walk into Santiago and get a bit confused about where the official Camino actually goes. Follow a map or an app but it doesn't matter much, really. You're walking towards the spires and into thickening crowds of pilgrims, so get there however you want.
Arriving into Santiago from the Coastal Camino, the sheer number of pilgrims might be surprising. They have been converging from all directions - especially the Camino Frances - to meet you here. Pilgrims often hang around Santiago for days after finishing, so the city can have a bit of a festival atmosphere. It’s a town packed with tourists and pilgrims but what else would you expect? Hundreds of thousands making the walk to Santiago ever year.
You'll pass the Parque Alameda less than a kilometer from the Cathedral, and head into your final steps of the Camino.
The quintessential experience is to arrive at the Praza Do Obradoiro in front of the Cathedral for photos and celebration, before settling in to your time in Santiago.
In any case, you've finished the route. Congrats, and buen Camino!
There's a lot to do and see in Santiago, so to conclude this guide to the Coastal Camino, I've written a separate post about the key things you may want to do when you arrive. It's not a walking stage, but Santiago is worth at least a full day on its own, and preferably two.
What to do in Santiago after you've finished.