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  • Tim Mathis

Matosinhos to Vila do Conde: Portuguese Coastal Camino Day 2

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

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?


Boa Nova Lighthouse. The Portuguese Coastal Camino, north of Matosinhos
Boa Nova Lighthouse North of Matosinhos

Distance


23 km/14 miles


Terrain


A flat mixture of boardwalk, paved path, and cobblestones. People at the beginning of this Camino worry about walking in sand. There's no sand except for one or two very short sections (think 50 meters) where the boardwalk is damaged.


Boa Nova Chapel north of Matosinhos on the Portuguese Coastal Camino
Boa Nova Chapel near Matosinhos

The first day's experience on the Portuguese Coastal Camino (for most people)


For most people on the Coastal Camino, this will be your first real stretch of walking. The first real Camino-ing. It's a good place to start. The day is a mixture of beautiful beaches where you can stop for a swim if you'd like, lovely rugged coastline, nice little towns, and a conclusion at one of the coolest towns on the Camino if Vila do Conde. If it were me, I'd book accomodation ahead to take the stress out of your first day. If you want a shorter day, Vila Chá is a great, picturesque little beach town and would make a nice place to stay the night.


You'll leave Matisinhos with a nice view of the Boa Nova Lighthouse, and will pass several old forts and chapels along the way between here and Vila Chá. As with the entire Coastal Camino, you'll pass plenty of cafes along the way for refreshments. This segment feels relatively populated as you're still in the outskirts of Porto.


Chapel of Sao Paio on the Portuguese Coastal Camino
Chapel of Sao Paio

After the small settlement and beaches at LaBruge, about 13 km north of Matisinhos, you'll pass the Castro de Sampaio, a chapel and archeological site. There's an interpretive center explaining the significance of the area, which was the site of an Iron Age fort.


Then you'll pass over a bridge near the sea, and a lovely view of the Onda River. It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to stay in this area.


Coming in to Vila Chá on the Portuguese Coastal Camino
Vila Chá

Vila Chá is just a few more kilometers, and it is also a great little town. There's a popular albergue there, and if you're walking in high season it'll be competitive to get in. Lots of people are at the height of accommodation anxiety at the start of the walk so it fills early.


It's another 8 km or so until Vila do Conde. There are cafes and bars but no other accommodations on this stretch (that I know of). It's a mix of nice coastal scenery and suburban wandering as you move into Vila do Conde, a medium city of about 80,000 people.


Vila do Conde on The Portuguese Coastal Camino
Riverfront, Vila do Conde

Vila do Conde is really worth some time if you have it. It must be a great place to live, because it's one of the oldest settlements in Portugal, with evidence of human habitation as early as 100,000 years ago. If you take a bit of time to explore, you can visit a 14th century church on the grounds of the Convent of Sta. Clara - the large, white structure you can't miss as you come into town across the bridge. There's also a striking 17th century aquaduct and a host of old churches and buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries.


Aquaduct segment, Vila do Conde, Portuguese Camino
Aquaduct segment, Vila do Conde

There's also a bit of interesting Camino history here. The town grew up during the "Age of Discovery" as Portugal and other maritime powers in Europe were colonizing the world, and was an important seaport in that era. However, it's said that development really boomed in the city when King Manuel I passed through on his pilgrimage to Santiago, and decided to invest in the area.


From the start, you can see how the Camino has shaped this part of the planet for centuries.





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