Travel Guide

Vila do Conde to Charges; the river route vs the aqueduct route

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The strolling stage from Vila do Conde to Charges connects the Coastal and the Central Routes of the Camino de Santiago route from Porto. It’s one of many two connecting routes on the Portuguese Camino that’s utilized by individuals who stroll out of Porto following the coast and after the primary day wish to proceed their Camino journey on the Central (inland) route. 

The church of São Pedro de Rates, Portugal
The attractive Romanesque church of São Pedro de Charges is likely one of the highlights of the stroll from Vila do Conde to Charges

The place is Vila do Conde?

Vila do Conde is a coastal city in Northern Portugal, 27 km north of Porto. It’s located on the Coastal and the Litoral Routes of the Portuguese Camino. Two routes go away Porto following totally different trails and join in Vila do Conde. The Litoral Route (Senda Litoral) is essentially the most stunning path to stroll out of Porto. Many pilgrims even those that are planning to stroll the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino go away Porto following the Litoral Means until Vila do Conde. From there they change to the Central Route following the connecting path between Vila do Conde to São Pedro de Charges. 

São João Square in the historical center of Vila do Conde in Portugal
The historic middle of Vila do Conde, one of many two cities on the Camino Portuguese the place you can change from the Coastal to the Central Route

Switching between the Coastal and the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino

There are two locations with marked trails on the Coastal Route of the Portuguese Camino the place you possibly can change to the Central Route. The primary one is described on this submit from Vila do Conde to Charges and the second is 70 km north from Caminha to Valença. 

If after per week of strolling on the Central Route, you begin feeling like going again to the coast you are able to do so by following the Non secular Variant of the Portuguese Camino from Pontevedra. 

Vila do Conde to Charges – evaluating the river route and the aqueduct route

I’ve learn a number of data on-line and in Brierley’s guidebook about each routes earlier than strolling them. It sounded just like the river route is well-marked but it surely has a number of strolling on busy roads whereas the aqueduct route is barely marked however has no strolling on roads. I went to the tourism data workplace in Vila do Conde and so they indicated that the river route was the official Camino route that’s marked. 

Listed here are my conclusions after strolling the river and the aqueduct routes.

A typical Camino sign on the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino in Rates
An indication of the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino in Charges

Route marking

Each routes are in some way marked however not in addition to the primary Portuguese Camino routes. The route marking was in some way good in some components and really poor in others. On the river route, the shells on the primary 5 km had been tough to note as they had been light or washed off. On the aqueduct route within the final stretch, I didn’t see any arrows for about 2 km.

Roads and site visitors

On each routes, you generally stroll on the street however these roads are extra like streets via cities and villages with no sidewalks. Locals use them to maneuver round. The one time on the river route I actually needed to stroll on the street (freeway) was 1 km earlier than Arcos once I went over the bridge. There have been no automobiles in any respect and the street had a large shoulder. 

The final Three km to Charges the aqueduct route had been on a sidewalk alongside a busy street and on a street with not a lot site visitors. The final Three km on the river route had been via the countryside.

I walked the river route from Vila do Conde on Friday morning (between 10 and 12) and the aqueduct route on Saturday morning (between eight and 10). You’d assume that Friday morning could be busier however there wasn’t extra site visitors on the river route on Friday than on the aqueduct route on Saturday.

A road with little traffic between two high walls on the river route
A brief 50 m stretch of strolling on the street on the river route from Vila do Conde.

Easiness to navigate

The river route in my view is less complicated to observe than the aqueduct route. It’s very easy. I feel I needed to flip 2 or Three instances through the stroll. For a lot of the day, you observe the identical avenue/street that goes via cities. Even in the event you don’t see arrows you simply preserve going straight. Each time you need to flip there might be a Camino signal. On the aqueduct route, there are lots of turns you actually have to concentrate to route marking or use an app. 

The river route merges with the Central Portuguese Camino route in Arcos, Three km earlier than Charges. From there on it’s straightforward to navigate there are lots of Camino indicators. The aqueduct route merges with the Central Route in Charges the final kilometer is marked effectively however the earlier 2 km have barely any indicators.


My stroll from Vila do Conde to Charges on the river route was 13 km and on the aqueduct route – 15 km. My stroll on the aqueduct route was 2 km longer however I needed to do a 700-meter detour to cross the street outdoors of Vila do Conde in a secure place and I walked 300 m further in Vila do Conde once I missed the flip. Each routes are fairly flat with no important ascents or descents.


I actually loved strolling alongside the aqueduct for the primary Four km on the aqueduct route. Strolling out of Vila do Conde on the river route wasn’t that spectacular simply strolling alongside a quiet avenue previous homes. As for the remainder of the stroll, I favored the cities and villages on the river route greater than on the aqueduct route. On the aqueduct route, you stroll via cities on a avenue between excessive partitions or fences you possibly can’t even see homes behind them. General the cities on the river route appeared extra like previous cities whereas on the aqueduct route, they appeared extra like newer neighborhoods. 

Each routes have cafes and bars each couple of kilometers.

You get some countryside surroundings on each routes. And a brief patch of forest on the aqueduct route. 

A beautiful pink house with walls covered in red flowers on the route from Vila do Conde to Rates in Portugal
Homes in one of many city on the river route from Vila do Conde to Charges

Strolling floor

Each routes from Vila do Conde are nearly completely on onerous surfaces corresponding to asphalt or cobblestones. The river route has extra sidewalks with even surfaces (tarmac, asphalt), and the aqueduct route has a number of cobbled streets which in my experience are tougher in your ft. It won’t matter because the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino has loads of strolling on cobbled streets.


If you would like a straightforward and simple stroll I’d advocate taking the river route. Even in the event you don’t see yellow arrows it’s not tough to navigate. The roads usually are not as dangerous and busy as generally described. I can’t say that the Vila do Conde to Charges stage within the sense of site visitors was, particularly, dangerous in comparison with the opposite phases of the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino. 

If you wish to stroll a extra scenic route (the primary 5 km) and don’t thoughts utilizing a Camino app or GPS navigation then the aqueduct route is an effective selection.

Santa Clara Aqueduct in the fields outside of Vila do Conde
Santa Clara Aqueduct is the spotlight of the route kind Vila do Conde to Charges

Which route from Vila do Conde to Charges is described in Brierley’s guidebook?

The guidebook provides a quick description of the river route from Vila do Conde to Arco from the place you proceed to Charges on the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino. As a lot as I like Brierley’s Camino guides I discover the outline of the route is in some way complicated. Even after strolling it, I’m unsure I completely perceive the directions from his Camino Portugues guidebook.

I didn’t use the guidebook for strolling the river route however we now have one at house the 2022 version and I checked the route description out of curiosity.

The river route from Vila do Conde to Charges

  • Distance – 13 km
  • Time – 2h30min. – Three hours
  • Ascent – 155 m
  • Descent – 107 m
  • Strolling floor – largely asphalt, some cobblestones
A route map of the walk from Vila do Conde to Rates
A map of the river route from Vila do Conde to Charges. AGLA and Medieval Bridge are two factors the place you flip proper.

The river route GPX file

An in depth description of the river route 

The river route begins on the bridge over the Ave River. When you cross the bridge flip proper. You’ll see a yellow arrow pointing in that route. Comply with the river for about 200 m until you get to a street cut up. Take the left avenue (Av. Figueiredo Faria) that goes away from the river. Proceed straight previous the roundabout following Av. Bernardino Machado. There might be some yellow arrows on the sidewalk on the precise facet. Comply with the road until the top, it’ll take you out of the city. 

After 2 km at a T-junction (the top of the road) flip proper. You’ll see a constructing materials retailer (AGAL), a automotive service middle,

Comply with the identical avenue for the subsequent Three km. It goes via a city with a few bars and a non-public albergue.

Between 3,5 km and 4,2 km, you stroll on a street with not a lot site visitors. There was a really brief half (within the picture) between two partitions that I didn’t like an excessive amount of.

At 4,5 km you attain a small city with a restaurant (Cafe Novo) and a grocery store. Proceed strolling alongside the primary avenue for about 300 m until an intersection the place you flip proper in direction of the bridge. There might be a few Camino indicators indicating the route.

A Medieval bridge on the Camino between Vila do Conde and Rates in Portugal
A ravishing city with a river and an previous bridge on the river route kind Vila do Conde

From that time for the subsequent couple of kilometers, the route marking is best you’ll see many yellow arrows.

Proceed following the identical most important avenue/street via cities and neighborhoods. Don’t flip wherever. 

Someplace round 6 km, you cease seeing yellow arrows. Simply preserve following the primary avenue.

At 6,5 km you’ll stroll previous Ramos and Ferriera cafe/bakery. It’s a pleasant place to cease for espresso and pastry. There’s a cut up proper after the cafe the place you’re taking the left avenue. For the subsequent 400 m, you stroll on the street via the city. There might be a few cafes within the subsequent kilometer. 

7,5 km you get to an attractive church. From the church, the road goes left. You stroll on a slender street for 400 m until you attain a village.

A traditional Portuguese church in Junqueira on the Camino route
The church of Junqueira one of many highlights of the river route

Between eight km and 9,6 km, you stroll on the street together with a brief half over the bridge that you simply stroll on a freeway, about 400 m. The freeway wasn’t busy and had a large shoulder. The bridge half has a sidewalk. 

9,Four km you attain Arcos the place the route connects with the Central Portuguese Camino. In Arcos, there are a few cafes and guesthouses. 

The route between Arcos and Charges is marked very effectively. After leaving Arcos it goes via the countryside to Charges. 

13 km you arrive in Charges. You’ll be able to keep there or proceed strolling to the subsequent city.

The aqueduct route from Vila do Conde to Charges

  • Distance – 15 km
  • Time – 3 – Four hours
  • Ascent – 159 m
  • Descent – 127 m
  • Strolling floor – largely cobblestones, some asphalt, and 500 m on a footpath

The aqueduct route GPX file

A route map of the aqueduct route from Vila do Conde to Rates
A map of the aqueduct route from Vila do Conde to Charges.

An in depth description of the aqueduct route 

My most important suggestion for strolling out of Vila do Conde on the aqueduct route may be very easy simply observe Santa Clara Aqueduct for the primary Four km. It begins at Santa Clara Monastery about 300 m after the bridge over the Ave River.

When you cross the bridge over the Ave River to Vila do Conde go straight for about 300 m following N13 street. Then flip proper to Calçada do São Francisco, a protracted slender avenue with many stairs. Stroll up the road to Santa Clara Aqueduct. As soon as there flip left and stroll alongside the aqueduct for 1 km.

Santa Clara Aqueeduct in the historical center of Vila do Conde, Portugal
The spectacular Santa Clara Aqueduct initially of the aqueduct path to Charges

There’s a half the place you possibly can’t stroll subsequent to the aqueduct. As soon as there (on the wall) flip left and stroll for 100 m then flip proper to a small avenue Rua das Mos that may lead you again to the aqueduct. I missed the flip and did an extended detour. Simply keep in mind to remain near the aqueduct. 

Comply with the aqueduct for the subsequent 1,5 km until you get to a busy street (Avenida do Atlantico). You must cross the street to proceed strolling alongside the aqueduct. Don’t run throughout the street automobiles drive at a excessive velocity from across the nook it’s not secure. You may have two choices; to show left and stroll alongside the street until you discover a crossing (in the event you observe the Camino app it’ll lead you to a safer crossing) or flip proper and stroll alongside the freeway until you get to a tunnel (as I did). When you stroll via the tunnel you’ll stroll an additional 700 m however you get to cross safely to the opposite facet of the freeway. 

As soon as on the opposite facet of the street proceed strolling alongside the aqueduct for an additional 1,5 km

4,5 km flip left away from the aqueduct in direction of the street (Rua dos Arcos) after which proper. Stroll to the pedestrian crossing and cross the street. There are yellow arrows painted on sidewalks and partitions marking the route. That a part of the route is marked fairly effectively I didn’t have any downside discovering the best way.

At 7 km there’s a bar. 100 m previous the bar take the precise avenue and stroll underneath the aqueduct. After that, you’ll stroll on the street for about 300 m. 

Between 7,5 km and eight,5 km, you stroll via neighborhoods with a few cafes.

9 km – 9,5 km you stroll on a footpath via the forest.

A short walk through the forest on the aqueduct route from Vila do Conde to Rates
A brief a part of strolling on a footpath via the forest on the aqueduct route

At 10 km there’s a cafe. From someplace round there for the subsequent 2 km, I ended seeing Camino indicators. I simply adopted the identical avenue until I reached the city of Rio Mau and the freeway (N206). As soon as on the freeway I turned left and continued on the sidewalk alongside the freeway for an additional kilometer. 

On the intersection on the left, you’ll see official Camino indicators. From there, you simply observe the indicators until you attain Charges. The final kilometer is on the street with not a lot site visitors.

15 km you arrive on the church in Charges.

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Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

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