Ride Overview - Medieval Trails from Alto Minho to Santiago de Compostela
If you are a medieval history “buff,” this horseback riding vacation is for you! You will begin your ride in Porto, Portugal, and end in Santiago, Spain. Ranked as one of the most important European cultural routes, you will feel as if time has stopped as your horse carries you through tranquil countrysides and medieval hamlets. You’ll find it difficult to take your eyes off the spectacular Alto Minho landscape which includes quiet pastures and magnificent views over rolling horizons that have a long historical and geological pedigree. The ruby-colored wines and local dishes constitute a mouthwatering treat. In order to sense this unique experience more intensely, your lodging will include village house B & B’s where you’ll find full modern comforts allied to respect for tradition. Highlights of the ride include a visit to Porto, a World Heritage site, Ponte de Lima, the oldest medieval village in Portugal and the breathtaking Santiago de Compostela.
Ride Itinerary - Medieval Trails from Alto Minho to Santiago de Compostela
You will be met at the Vigo Airport at 3:00 PM and then transferred to the lovely village of Porto located near the Douro River. The village is one of the oldest European centres and has been proclaimed a World Heritage site and is known for its stately bridges and Port wine production. In the medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants’ houses and cafes. Here you will visit a winery. Next, you will travel Barcelos known for its handmade ceramics, especially the Galo de Barcelos – a colorful cockerel which is acknowledged as an unofficial national icon and often used as a symbol of Portugal. The medieval walled town is situated on a hill above the Cavado river, its charming streets lined with baroque houses. You will stay and dine in a comfortable Benedictine convent which was converted into a Habitação Quinta Tourism.
Today’s 18-mile trail will cross rolling pastures dotted with cattle and lead to Albergaría. In 1117, D. Teresa, Countess of Portucale, and mother of Afonso Henriques the first king of Portugal, donated this land to the nobleman Gonçalo Eriz provided that he maintained a hospice for poor. Your evening will be spent in a rural house called Quinta da Albergaria located in the village of Facha.
This 12 mile ride will lead you across the gorgeous countryside to the oldest medieval town of Portugal, Ponte de Lima. It’s got all the right ingredients to charm you: plenty of gardens, beautiful colored panels emblazoned on the buildings, bronze statues fill the squares, traditional restaurants and it’s surrounded by gorgeous countryside. Then you will ride to Calheiros, a very old settlement which dates its principles to pre-Roman times. You will have dinner and spend the night at the Palace of a Count.
After breakfast, you will ride through Sierra de Labruja named after the surrounding mountain range. Historically, the settlement grew from the 9th century village to a centre of a Benedictine monastery. Nex,t you will ride tothe picturesque fortress of Valenca which is just a cannonball shot from the Spanish border. After you crossed the border, you will visit the cathedral town of Tui in Galicia separated from Portugal only by the River Minho and its iconic International Bridge. Dinner and overnight at the Parador de Valenca do Minho which is located between the walls of a 13th century town.
Your trail will lead you through pungent sweet chestnut, eucalyptus and pine woods, tranquil farmland and peaceful hamlets as you ride to Ponte Caldelas. named after an ancient bridge over the Río Caldelas. Along the way, you will enjoy an unforgettable panorama of the gently flowing Vigo estuary dotted with mussel rafts, St. Simon Island and the modern bridge of Rande. Your next stop is the riverside village of Arcade known for its exquisite oysters. The day ends in Pontevedra, the old “Ad Pontes Duos” and after Compostela, is the best medieval preserved city of the Galicia. Located in its own ria (bay) and bisected by the “rio” (river) “Lerez”, this town boasts many small public squares. Lodging accommodation is in the rural Tourism house, O Castelo.
Your trail crosses a geographical area of transition between the mountains of the interior of Pontevedra and the banks of the Rias Baixas. Your destination is Ponte Caldelasos framed in a natural region that stretches through the western foothills of the Sierra suide and a land of rivers and springs. You will lodge in Pontecesures. Nearby is Iria, a Roman settlement and the last bishopric before Santiago.
After breakfast, your horse will carry you across the verdant Galician countryside to Padrón, a town with great religious and historic significance as well as the birthplace of some of Galicia’s most famous and celebrated citizens, most notably Rosalia de Castro. It has churches, museums, the largest open air market in Galicia as well as two artifacts with connections to the apostle Saint James and Santiago de Compostela. Your final destination is Brion – Los Angeles which is near Santiago. After lunch in the rustic Pousada Rosalia, you will be transferred by car (around 4:00 PM) to Obradoiro Square at the Cathedral of Santiago. From there, you will be on your own to explore the town and cathedral. You will either lodge in a Santiago hotel or in the O Castelo B & B.
After breakfast, transfer to the Santiago Airport.
Ride Details - Medieval Trails from Alto Minho to Santiago de Compostela
Dates: April 21st-24th, May 26th-29th, June 23rd – 26h, July 14th-17th, August 25th-28th, September 8th-11th
Airport: Arrival: Vigo Airport at 3 PM. Departure: Santiago Airport
Riding Days: 6
Daily Riding Hours: 4 – 6
Riding Ability: STRONG INTERMEDIATE: Confident and in control at all paces including posting trots, two point canters and gallops in open country. Capable of crossing rivers.
Hotels: 3 *** & 4**** B & B
Prices: $2,325.00 per person, double occupancy $220.00 single supplement
*Prices are based on USD/EURO exchange rates and will be fixed at your final payment.
Includes: 7 nights lodging, transfer from airport to first night lodging, horse, guide, breakfasts and lunches
Not included: airfare, dinners, taxi from hotel to Santiago Airport (around 12 euros)
ANNUAL TEMPERATURE AND RAINFALL:
Medieval Trails from Alto Minho to Santiago de Compostela: Gallery
Medieval Trails from Alto Minho to Santiago de Compostela
Portugal to Spain