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Camino Portugues: Variante Espiritual with Boat

Camino Portugues: Variante Espiritual with Boat

Overview

The Espiritual variant of the Camino Portugues, also known as the Arousa Sea Route or Translatio Route, is a beautiful trail, taking pilgrims through quaint coastal villages, lush forest tracks, vineyards, sandy beaches and ancient monasteries following an alternative route to the classic Camino Portugues.

This Camino tour combines walking in the beautiful coastal region of O Salnes with a short boat trip across the Sea of Arousa and up the River Ulla all the way to Padron, believed to be where the boat carrying the remains of St James first landed in Galicia. The Variante Espiritual has been just recently approved by Santiago Cathedral as an official Camino de Santiago route, but it might be the oldest of all Camino Ways.

Starting from Baiona, the route takes you to the stunning coastal town of Combarro and Armenteira Monastery where resident nuns celebrate a Pilgrim Mass every day, and along superb natural trails all the way to Vilanova de Arousa, where you will catch your boat to Padrón. The boat trip is an unforgettable experience in its own right. After Padron, you will follow the classic Camino Portugues route to Santiago de Compostela.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Baiona

Today you will arrive in the pretty town of Baiona with its medieval historical centre, situated by the outlet of the Vigo Bay. Overnight Baiona.

Day 2: Baiona to Vigo

Today you will follow the coast from Baiona to Nigrán and finally to the city of Vigo. Once you leave the residential areas around Baiona, the terrain becomes rural with villages and patches of woodland. There is a brief section along a busy road after which you’ll be back among villages on the approach to Vigo. You will enjoy fantastic views of the Bay of Vigo, with the magnificent Illas Cíes and its Natural Park in the horizon. On a hot day, stop at the blue flag beach of Praia América in Nigrán for a quick swim.

  • Walking for the day: 26 km, 5-6 hours
  • Overnight Vigo

Day 3: Vigo to Redondela

From the city of Vigo, you will follow the route of the Coastal Camino Portugues with the Bay of Vigo to your left. Today is quite a short day so you can enjoy a more relaxed pace. Your stop for the night is the town of Redondela where the Camino Portugues Coastal Way and Central Way merge.

  • Walking for the day: 15 km, 3-4 hours
  • Overnight Redondela

Day 4: Redondela to Pontevedra

Today you continue to follow the traditional Camino Portugues route and can make the most of the seaside. Stop to try the famous oysters in the fishing village of Arcade. Your final point is the city of Pontevedra, with its pretty historic centre. You will have time to explore the old town, with its many Romanesque churches and quaint granite squares.

  • Walking for the day: 20 km, 4-5 hours
  • Overnight Pontevedra

Day 5: Pontevedra to Caroi

Shortly after leaving Pontevedra, you will veer off the Portuguese Camino and head west towards the sea. While most of today’s walk is inland, it follows the coast for a few kilometres through the town of Combarro. From here you will climb to the Monasterio de Armenteira in Caroi.

  • Walking for the day: 19 km, 4-5 hours
  • Overnight Caroi

Day 6: Caroi to Vilanova de Arousa

Today’s walk follows a relatively easy route as it descends from Caroi and then travels alongside the rivers of Armenteira and Umia. The path then heads towards the coast and your finishing point for today, Vilanova de Arousa.

  • Walking for the day: 21 km, 4-5 hours
  • Overnight Vilanova de Arousa

Day 7: Vilanova de Arousa to Padron (Boat Trip)

From Vilanova de Arousa you will take a boat which follows the River Ulla to Pontecesures. From Pontecesures it is a short walk (1.8 km) to Padrón. The boat trip takes about one hour and as you make your way upstream you will be taken past the sights of the river: mussel farms, the Maritime-Terrestrial National Park and of course the stone crosses on the river banks which mark the route of the Ruta del Mar de Arousa (Arousa Camino). Padrón is a lovely little town on the banks of the River Sar. It is believed to have been the arrival point of the remains of Saint James when they were brought to Santiago de Compostela by ship.

  • Walking for the day: 1.8 km, 0.5 hours
  • Overnight Padron

Day 8: Padrón – Santiago de Compostela

Your final stage! You will walk mostly through rural settings but there are still pleasant sections through oak, pine and eucalyptus woodland. Enter the ancient city of Santiago de Compostela and relish the end of your journey at the Cathedral.

  • Walking for the day: 25 km, 5-6 hours
  • Overnight Santiago

Day 9: Departure

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before heading back to the airport. We highly recommend booking additional nights in Santiago de Compostela to explore this fantastic city.

Hotels

Accommodations on this tour include a mix of welcoming country inns and comfortable 3-star hotels, located close to the route of the Camino. You will always have a private room and en-suite (attached) bathroom. In the larger cities, you will stay in larger 3-star hotels; the other nights will be in a mixture of rural hotels and inns, all with private rooms and en-suite bathrooms. They have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. Below you can see some samples, but please note that the Camino is a very popular destination and the hotels in your final booking confirmation may be different from the ones pictured below. Extra nights can be booked at any of the accommodations along the way.

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included (usually buffet breakfast/coffee and toast/bread/croissant) on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. Where no dinner is included, most places serve hearty pilgrim menus – you can get a 3-course dinner including wine and water for GBP 10-15.

Travel

You are best to fly in and out of Vigo or Santiago de Compostela.

Please note that flight information can change rapidly, and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner before finalising any booking with us. Please do not book your flights before we have confirmed your booking.

Transfers to/from Airports

  • Vigo Airport 30 km: From Vigo, you can take a bus to Baiona. There are buses every 30 minutes from Vigo on weekdays. On Saturdays and Sundays, there are buses every hour. The company providing this service is called ATSA and the buses are blue. See: http://atsahorarios.com/
  • Santiago de Compostela Airport 129 km: From Santiago, you can take the shuttle bus to the bus station or the train station. From there you can catch a bust to Vigo Bus Station (about 2 hours, see www.monbus.es) or a train (1 hour and 30 min approximately, see: www.renfe.es). From Vigo to Baiona you can take a bus, taking about 40 min (http://www.vigobus.com/http://atsahorarios.com/)
  • Porto Airport 160 km: the Best option is to get to Vigo either by train (www.cp.pt) or bus (www.autna.com). From Vigo city then take a bus to Baiona (http://www.vigobus.com/http://atsahorarios.com/)

Baggage Transfers

All hotel to hotel luggage transfers on walking days are included (maximum one piece of 20 kg per person). When arriving at hotels, sometimes your luggage will have been taken to your room awaiting your arrival. However, don’t be surprised if in some places your luggage is waiting for you at the reception desk. Please politely ask someone from the staff if you need assistance to bring it to your room.

Travel Insurance

A comprehensive and reputable travel insurance policy is essential to your enjoyment and peace of mind while on an active holiday. It is highly recommended when booking with us that all group members have valid travel insurance which includes cover for all activities included in your trip. We have teamed up with World Nomads Logo to offer you adequate cover at a great value from a reputable insurer, and it takes only a few minutes to buy online.

Buy travel insurance online

Country Info

Up-to-date travel advice on Spain is available here.

Trip Info

Difficulty Grade: Easy to Moderate

This walk is graded moderate and includes daily walks of up to 26 km; the terrain is mostly flat (read more about difficulty grades). You will follow a mixture of dirt roads, woodland paths and minor roads.

Route Navigation

The routes are well waymarked, and in general, the itinerary is very easy to follow. Please take care however at intersections where there may be a choice of several different alternative routes. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to Go

This trip is available from mid-March till November. Best months to visit are April – June and September – October as in summer months it may become too hot for walking. The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Compostela/Pilgrims Passport

You can obtain one at the start of your walk in the pilgrim’s office or the local church in town. You need to get the passport stamped in churches, restaurants or hotels along the way. At the end of the walk in Santiago de Compostela, you can obtain your Compostela Certificate (only if you have walked the last 100 km finishing in Santiago).

Important: Due to the large influx of pilgrims during summer, and to avoid long waiting times, the Pilgrim Office in Santiago has installed a numbered ticket system for issuing pilgrim certificates (the Compostela). This new system allows pilgrims to collect their ticket and, using a QR Code, to check the status of the queue and estimated waiting time to obtain the Compostela. However, the number of tickets per day is limited so on days with high numbers of pilgrims arriving, there is a possibility that not all pilgrims will be able to collect their certificate on the day of arrival and will have to return for it on the following morning.

Therefore, if obtaining a pilgrim certificate is important to you, and if you plan to undertake the Camino between April 15th and October 15th, we recommend that you arrange the return travel in such a way that you will be in Santiago de Compostela during the morning after your arrival. Better still, we encourage you to book a second night in Santiago so that you can collect the certificate without rush and enjoy the charms of the city!

What to Bring

We recommend that you travel as light as possible – airlines might charge you an extra fee, and during ground transfers, the place might be limited. Ideally, you should bring one piece of luggage weighing no more than 20 kg (to be checked in) and a daily pack (15 – 20 l rucksack) for your everyday essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc.). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack. If you need further advice, please contact a reputable outdoor retailer or us.

  • Good hiking boots or trail running shoes
  • Hiking socks
  • Several t-shirts (preferably breathable/fast drying)
  • Packable waterproof and windproof jacket with hood
  • Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece
  • Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside the accommodation
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
  • Hat/Baseball cap
  • Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)

Included

  • 8 nights in 3-star hotels and country inns in private en-suite rooms
  • 8 breakfasts
  • Detailed journey documentation and practical information (roadbook, destination manual), all provided in digital formats prior to the departure date
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (up to 20 kg per person)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Supplements

  • Single room supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; as costs are not shared, there is a solo traveller supplement to the standard price.

To see the price of the holiday for your desired dates, including the cost of different options and supplements, please click the CHECK AVAILABILITY button above.

Other Trip-Related Costs

  • Entrance fees for attractions and museums

Excluded

  • Flights and airport transfers
  • Travel insurance
  • All lunches and dinners
  • Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme

Extensions and Optional Extras

  • Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request
  • Airport transfers

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