Getting to Portugal: Travelers can fly from Tel Aviv to Lisbon, and connect to a domestic flight to Porto as they both have international airports. For travelers arriving in Lisbon, inexpensive trains or buses can be used to travel to Porto. While 12 days is the recommended itinerary, I would strongly recommend giving yourself a few extra days in the event you are not used to walking 20–25 km. a day and need a few days to rest along the way. Any extra days at the end can be used to explore Spain or Portugal, which can easily be decided at the end of the walk. You can return to either Lisbon or Porto by bus, which should be booked sometime after you arrive in Santiago at the post office near the Pilgrim’s Office. The trains from Santiago are not as frequent as the bus.
What to take: Many blogs recommend what to pack. I strongly recommend packing light, including a good 40-liter backpack; lightweight hiking boots with ankle support that have been broken in; four pairs of lightweight merino blend wool socks; and bandages to put over blisters. Change your socks in the middle of the day and hang from your backpack to dry. Try and keep the weight of your backpack to 10% of your body weight. Water bottles can be easily refilled along the way at fountains, restaurants and bars. Laundry is easily done either at your place of lodging or at laundromats in larger towns. When staying in group lodging, always keep your valuables, passports and money with you and carry it with you when exploring. A small foldable zippered day bag is perfect. Lodging on the Camino: Options for lodging include municipal or public hostels; private hostels; private rooms in pensions; and in the cities, traditional hotels. The cheapest option are the public hostels that offer accommodation to pilgrims “dormitory-style,” usually with bunk beds. They do not take reservations, allow pilgrims to stay for only one night, and usually close from mid-morning to early afternoon. Travelers provide their own sheets, pillow cases and towels. Private hostels offer lodging in dorm rooms at less than €15 per night, which usually includes sheets and towels and – most importantly – can be booked in advance. Private rooms in pensions include beddings and towels as well as shared bathrooms, and cost €30–50+ per night. We started in public hostels and then “upgraded” to private hostels or rooms for the remainder of the trip, booking in advance most days either over the phone or online as emails often went unanswered.
Electronics: You can purchase a SIM card for use in Portugal and Spain that includes data and voice for approximately €20 after arrival. Kindles or E-books weigh less, fit more books and are lighter to carry. I would recommend keeping your laptop at home. Do take one portable charger.
Books: If you want to take a guidebook, there is one that everyone uses and is worth the price: Camino Portugués by John Brierley. John is THE expert on the Camino Santiago and has written several books. We noticed many pilgrims carrying this book.
ANCIENT POLDRA, bridges used to cross rivers.
CAMINO PATH between walls.