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Portuguese Camino Day 5: An Unexpected Stay at Casas do Rio

Last updated Nov 6, 2021 | Published on Oct 11, 2021

I squinted at my phone and looked at the house before me. According to the pilgrim guide Buen Camino, the place was advertised as a pilgrim’s guesthouse. However there was no signage or indication that anyone was home.

A group of guys was doing some sort of construction work on the driveway. Natalia Ilina approached one of them to try and learn more information. He did not speak any English but seemed confused that we would try to sleep there. Were we even in the right place?

We approached the house and knocked on the door. No answer. So we tried again and walked around the building looking for any sign of life.

No luck.

Eventually I dug up the phone number for the guesthouse. It turns out we did have the right house (yay!), but unfortunately they were closed for the weekend.

Well that was a bummer. It was 5:30 pm and there weren’t a lot of other options nearby. The village of Balugães was pretty small. I guess it was time for a new plan.

Barcelos and Barcelinhos

Rewind the clock to the beginning of the day at the twin cities of Barcelos and Barcelinhos. I had spent the previous evening in Barcelinhos and when I awoke, the city was shrouded in fog.

It was the first time on the Camino so far that I encountered anything but sunny weather.

Ponte de Barcelos (Barcelos Bridge)

It was still misty as I crossed the Ponte de Barcelos (Barcelos Bridge) which connects the two cities.

View from the bridge

Walking Across the Bridge

View off the other side of the bridge

Igreja Matriz de Santa Maria Maior

After crossing the bridge, I spent some time exploring the church on the other side (which is called (Igreja Matriz de Santa Maria Maior).

There are some ancient ruins next to the church as well as the impressive Barcelos City Hall.

Barcelos City Hall


The Camino then travels through the heart of downtown Barcelos.

With a population of 120,000 people, it’s the biggest city I’ve visited since leaving Porto five days before.

The town’s famous symbol is the rooster, or galo in Portuguese. There are brightly-painted rooster statues all over Barcelos.

It’s actually a really lovely city and I wish I had more time to visit. I picked up a stamp at the Torre Medieval (medieval tower).



Lijó and Ribeira

After leaving Barcelos, I spent most of the morning walking along country lanes through vineyards. I passed the towns of Lijó and Ribeira along the way.

Thrash cans are everywhere


Welcome to Lijó

Lunch in Portela

Eventually I arrived at Portela and stopped for a late lunch at Restaurante 2000. It was past 2:00 pm at this point so I was pretty hungry. I was happy to see that they have a pilgrim’s menu for a reasonable price.

The restaurant is located directly across the street from a beautiful church and albergue called “Capela Nossa Senhora do Rosário da Portela”.

Natalia wandered along half-way through my lunch. I met Natalia at an albergue a few days ago and we keep running into each other. We ended up walking the rest of the afternoon together which was fun.

Pilgrim’s Lunch at Restaurante 2000

Capela Nossa Senhora do Rosário da Portela

Natalia strikes a pose


At one point, the path goes by Chuch of Nossa Senhora de Fatima. The church is unusual in that it has a very modern-looking design.

Chuch of Nossa Senhora de Fatima

View from behind the church

Mad Dash to Find Lodging

Eventually we arrived in Balugães and headed to the guesthouse.

We hadn’t made advance reservations because it hadn’t been necessary on the previous nights. There aren’t as many pilgrims this late in the season and there is usually plenty of availability.

Except for tonight, of course. We hadn’t planned on the guesthouse being closed. It was a Saturday and there are limited options in Balugães.

So I started making phone calls. One hotel was full. A hostel in the next town was also full. However the owner offered to call us a taxi to Ponte de Lima but we had to walk 3 km (1.9 miles) to get there

That didn’t sound like a great option. So, I tried the last hotel in the area and, as luck would have it, they did have a room available.

It wasn’t the cheapest room, however, but split between two people made it half as expensive! The only catch was that we had to walk 2.2 km (1.4 miles) to get there – in the opposite direction of the Camino. Boo!

Casas do Rio to the Rescue

The walk was worth the effort. Casas do Rio is a hidden gem located in a sprawling fenced estate. It has a swimming pool and hot tub and stone buildings that looked like medieval towers.

It was getting pretty late so we headed straight for the hot tub. Afterwards, the host gave us complimentary glasses of champagne.

Not a bad way to spend an evening if I do say so myself!

Natalia rings the door bell

The swimming pool

Casas do Rio main building

More hot tub time, please!

Portuguese Camino Stats

Date: Saturday, October 9
Starting Location: BWay Guesthouse in Barcelinhos
Ending Location: Casas do Rio in Balugães
Camino Distance Walked Today: 10 miles/ 16.1 km
Distance to Santiago: 106.4 miles/ 171.2 km

AllTrails Map Recording

Click here to view my map recording for today:

Portuguese Camino Day 5 on AllTrails

Note: the distance in this recording doesn’t match my Camino distance because it includes some off-route walking.

Stamps Collected Today

Stamp from the Barcelos Tower

Restaurante 2000

Casas do Rio

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For more information about my pilgrimage along the Camino Portugués, visit my Portuguese Camino web page.

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Hi, I'm Unicorn!

I am an avid hiker, traveler, and adventurer who is on the mission to explore hiking trails around the world.  I’m also obsessed with National Parks, long-distance trails and other outdoorsy things.

I hope to share this knowledge with you and inspire you to explore new hiking trails too!


  1. Gretchen Hoyt

    All the stone buildings give the area such a medieval feel! And all churches inn Portugal seem to look very similar except for the lady of Fatima. Was it built recently. Your hotel had some great comforts and looks charming. A happy ending to the day.

    • Unicorn

      Hi Gretchen! Thanks for the comment. You are correct, the Igreja Nossa Senhora de Fátima in Arborim is a new building. Construction began in 1978.


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