The Muros & Noia Camino is one of the best kept secrets of the Camino de Santiago. Recently officialized, it is a route chosen by pilgrims seeking to enjoy the sea, gastronomy, spectacular scenery and connect with nature. One of the best options to discover alternative Jacobean routes.
The Camino runs along the Muros-Noia estuary (also known as “Ría da Estrela”) located on the Galician northwest coast. This route is very special as it combines the natural beauty of the Galician coast, its historical and cultural heritage and the calmness of the countryside.
In addition, the Muros & Noia Camino also offers a unique culinary experience. As in all fishing villages, fresh fish and seafood are the star dish of the area. Moreover, you will also have the opportunity to taste the traditional specialties of Galician gastronomy such as Galician octopus, Galician empanada or local white wines.
The Muros & Noia Camino is the latest route to have been recognized by the Church as an official Jacobean Route, in the 2020. However, it is not surprising, since history supports the importance of this pilgrimage to Santiago during the Middle Ages.
The Muros and Noia estuary is located between the Rías Altas and the Rías Baixas. A historically strategic enclave in the Atlantic Europe circuits. It was a port that served as a boundary between the dangerous sailing waters of the Costa da Morte and the calm coast of the Rías Baixas. The coast of Barbanza serves as a refuge for boats coming from the north. Or, as the last point of navigation in calm waters for those coming from the south.
The ports of Muros and Noia received the ships that transported goods from the North Sea or the Mediterranean Sea, which contributed to the internal transit of the estuary by complementing the port, mercantile and productive activities of the fishing and commercial sector. In addition, this situation prompted the arrival of pilgrims to the tomb of the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela.
Between 1382 and 1503, the port of Noia, known as “Portus Apostoli” for being at the Cathedral service, was the most important port in Galicia. Some research suggests that it might be called “Port of Santiago”, since most of the pilgrims arriving by sea disembarked there.
The town of Muros was founded in 1286 by King Sancho IV of Castile to boost trade and the fishing industry in the estuary. The growing activity attracted the first pilgrims to the port. In 1516, a ship carrying 50 French pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela arrived there.
This route of the Camino passes through nine municipalities. The 5 that make up the tourist area of Muros & Noia (Muros, Outes, Noia, Porto do Son, Lousame), as well as Rois, Brión, Ames, Bertamiráns and Santiago de Compostela.
The starting point of the Muros & Noia Camino is the town of Muros, a picturesque fishing village that has maintained its charm and authenticity over time. Muros has a rich historical and cultural heritage. Strolling through its cobblestone streets and ancient buildings is like a throwback to the Middle Ages. Pilgrims can enjoy the spectacular views of Muros estuary and explore the historical and cultural buildings such as the Collegiate Church of San Pedro (formerly Collegiate Church of Santa Maria del Campo), the Church of the Virgen del Camino.
The second stage of this route goes through the nature trails of this impressive mountainous region. One of the most beautiful and authentic areas of Galicia. You will walk among beautiful green hills, oak, chestnut or pine forests, crystal clear rivers, waterfalls and small rural villages. A true natural paradise away from the hustle and bustle of the cities where you can enjoy the fresh air and the tranquility of nature. Or be impressed with the panoramic views from the mountain.
Noia is a historic town dating back to the 9th century. You will reach this village after crossing Pontenafonso, a magnificent medieval bridge over the Tambre river. Strolling around, you can still visit many historic buildings and monuments influenced by the Romanesque architecture of the Middle Ages as well as restaurants and typical taverns, where you can eat or have a drink. Some of the places of interest you must visit are the church of San Martin, inspired by the Portico de la Gloria of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral; the Plaza del Tapal, a medieval market plaza that still works as a market today; In the square you will find fresh local products, such as fish, seafood and fruits of the region; and the Clock Tower, whose legend tells that it is cursed, as the movie “The Bells of Death” says. Other attractions of this town are its crystal clear waters and soft sand beaches. An ideal place to have a break on the Camino and take a swim. Broña and Testal beaches are the most popular.
In the fourth stage of this route you will walk along the southern shore of the Muros and Noia estuary. Porto do Son and Portosín have beautiful beaches with crystal clear and calm waters. Perfect to enjoy the sea and the sun in summer. Among the most outstanding beaches are Broña, San Francisco, Las Gaviotas or Esteiro. Do not miss the opportunity to try the fresh seafood of the area: razor clams, clams, cockles and mussels are some of the most typical of this area.
Leaving Noia behind you will enter this rural area towards the interior of Galicia, where you can enjoy nature walking through forests, valleys and meadows. An essential stop at this stage is the natural site of San Xusto de Toxosoutos. A magical place worth discovering where history and nature come together in the same place. Here you can visit the Monastery of Toxosoutos, one of the architectural jewels of the area; and the Fervenza de San Xusto de Toxosoutos, a magnificent natural waterfall in the middle of the lush green forest. If you are lucky, you may come across some of the animal species that inhabit the area. Roe deer, wild boars and eagle owls are part of the fauna of this magical place.
The last kilometers of the Muros and Noia Camino cross the areas of Rois, Brión, Ames, Bertamiráns before reaching Santiago de Compostela. These are rural areas in the Galician countryside that will allow you to discover small villages and the quiet life of its people.
In summary, the Muros and Noia Camino is a wild and unexplored way, combining the natural beauty of the Galician coast with the historical and cultural heritage of the Galician rural. Pilgrims can enjoy spectacular views, historical and cultural sites, natural landscapes, a unique gastronomic experience and the feeling of being part of one of the most important pilgrimage routes in the world.
As we have already mentioned before, this route is full of monuments, architecture and natural landscapes that are part of the historical heritage of Galicia. Throughout the route you will come across buildings (churches, hermitages, monasteries…) and religious symbols (crosses, petos de ánimas…), archaeological sites, necropolis, mámoas, medieval bridges, crosses, waterfalls…
The Collegiate Church was built in the 12th century in Romanesque style, and has an impressive facade and bell tower. Inside it hosts a choir dating from the eighteenth century and a ribbed vault. The Collegiate also has an impressive baroque altarpiece and several medieval tombs and sarcophagi. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking views of the estuary from the bell tower.
The Muros & Noia Camino crosses this bridge over the Tambre River. Located in the village of Pontenafonso, near Noia, it is one of the most important medieval bridges in Galicia. Its construction dates from the 12th century and is an outstanding example of medieval stone engineering. It consists of 5 arches and is over 100 meters long.
The Church of Santa Martín is located in the historic center of Noia, surrounded by cobbled streets and ancient buildings. The church dates from the 12th century and is an excellent example of Romanesque architecture. The interior is impressive, with architectural and artistic details from different periods. Such as Gothic or Romanesque. The most remarkable works are the main altarpiece and the side chapels, which preserves several religious images.
A beautiful enclave that you must visit on your way through Lousame. This Romanesque monastery dates from the 12th century and is located in a quiet place surrounded by nature. Following the hiking route from the monastery, you can access the Toxosoutos Waterfall. An impressive waterfall of 20 meters and ideal place to picnic, relax and enjoy nature in its purest form.
These are just some of the most important places, keep in mind there are many more.
If you have enough time and in addition to walking this way of the Camino de Santiago, you want to take advantage of your trip to explore and discover new corners of Galicia, here are some recommendations. These places are just a few kilometers away from some of the stops along the Muros & Noia Camino :
Farther away than the previous ones, you can also visit Carnota, the Ézaro waterfalls or Finisterre.
The Muros and Noia Camino combines stages of medium and high difficulty. The sections whose route runs along the coast have little slope and are not very demanding. As you move away from the coastal areas towards the mountain, you will find some sections with strenuous slopes (ascents from 10m to 550m to descend again to 200-300m). We recommend the route to people who lead an active lifestyle and are in good shape. In the inland areas you will walk on long trails of moderate slope.
The route combines trails in unexplored natural areas with others that cross paved roads in small towns. In some sections, the trail runs parallel to the roads. In the first case, you will find eroded and irregular terrain (small stones, earth, leaves, etc). In the second, you will walk on smooth and conditioned pavements (cement, asphalt, gravel, etc).
Our recommendation is to divide the route into 7 stages. In this way the route will be a pleasant walk and you will be able to enjoy each stage walking comfortably. With an itinerary of 7 stages, you will walk between 3-5 hours a day and still have free time to enjoy nature, gastronomy, culture and the coastal and rural Galician heritage .
It is also possible to do the Camino in 5 stages. However, we only recommend this option to people with an active lifestyle and in good shape. Some sections are demanding. Since they combine positive and negative slopes that will make you accumulate fatigue throughout the day. Doing the route in 5 stages on foot requires an average of 7 to 9 hours a day walking.
The best time to do this route is in summer and autumn. In this season the weather conditions are optimal for the way. With medium-high temperatures and low rainfall. In the coastal sections, the sea breeze will soften the temperatures making the walks pleasant. While in the trails that run through the countryside, the lush vegetation will serve as a refuge from the heat and the sunlight.
In addition, at this time of the year you can take a swim and relax on the beach after long walks, or refresh yourself in one of the rivers you will find along the way.