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Camino Portugues: Variante Espiritual

Camino Portugues: Variante Espiritual

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.

On this tour, you will be walking 108 km across the beautiful coastal region of O Salnes and up the River Ulla to the town of Padron, taking in picturesque villages, wonderful cultural heritage and lush landscapes along the way. After Padron, you will follow the classic Camino Portugues route to Santiago de Compostela. Santiago Cathedral has just recently approved the Variante Espiritual as an official Camino de Santiago route, but it might be the oldest of all Camino Ways. The legend has it that St James’ remains were transported from Jerusalem to the mouth of the Ulla River and then landed at Iria Flavia, today’s city ​​of Padrón, from where they reached Santiago De Compostela.

Highlights

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Vigo

Arrive in Vigo on your own where you can enjoy fantastic views of the Bay of Vigo, with the magnificent Illas Cíes and its Natural Park on the horizon. On a hot day, go to the blue flag beach of Praia América in Nigrán for a quick swim.

Day 2: Vigo to Arcade | 22 km

Walk along Vigo’s main shopping street and out of the city onto a long road that connects a string of peaceful hillside villages with views across the city, estuary and port. Around halfway into the journey, you’ll exchange houses for trees before the steep descent towards Redondela. Climb through the woods before heading down to Arcade, a riverside town famous for its oysters. Here the routes of the Traditional (Central) Way and the Coastal Way of Camino Portugues merge.

  • Walking for the day: 22 km, 5-6 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Duarte or similar in Arcade

Day 3: Arcade to Pontevedra | 13 km

Today you continue to follow the traditional Camino Portugues route and can make the most of the seaside. Climb the ancient stone paths of the Verea Vella da Canicouva and explore the 13th-century church. 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: 13 km, 3-4 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Avenida or similar in Pontevedra

Day 4: Pontevedra to Armenteira | 23 km

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 and passes by the imposing Poio Monastery before that. From here you will climb to the Monasterio de Armenteira.

Day 5: Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa | 23 km

Today’s walk follows a relatively easy route and one of the most beautiful stages of the Camino. After leaving Armenteira you will follow the Stone and Water Route, a trail that runs parallel to the Armenteira River, surrounded by lush vegetation and charming nooks. It continues via Ribadumia and Pontearnelas to reach the coast at Vilanova de Arousa, where this stage ends.

  • Walking for the day: 23 km, 5 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Bradomin or similar in Vilanova de Arousa

Day 6: Vilanova de Arousa to Pontecessures by Boat / Walk to Teo | 13 km

This stage of the variant offers two alternatives.

You can continue walking from Vilanova de Arousa to Pontecessures along the banks of the Ria de Arousa and the Ulla River, passing a series of fishing villages. It is quite a flat day with a few short climbs.

The alternative to hiking is the Translatio sea route. There are several local companies that make this sea crossing (availability is subject to tides). On this waterway route, you can see the only water-based Holy Way in the world, a collection of 17 crosses that mark the Apostle’s journey. The sea route meets the Portuguese Camino in Pontecessures, from where it’s a short walk to Teo.

Day 7: Teo to Santiago de Compostela | 13 km

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: 13 km, 4 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Lux Santiago or similar in Santiago de Compostela

Day 8: 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.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodations on this tour include a mix of welcoming country inns and comfortable tourist hotels located close to the Camino route. You will always have a private room and an en-suite (attached) bathroom. The accommodation places 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. The hotels in your final booking confirmation may be different from those pictured below. Extra nights can be booked at any of the accommodations along the way.

Click to view default hotels

*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.

Difficulty & terrain

This walk is graded moderate and includes daily walks of up to 23 km; the terrain is mostly flat with a few climbs (read more about difficulty grades). You will follow a mixture of dirt roads, woodland paths and minor roads. The routes are well waymarked, and in general, the itinerary is very easy to follow. However, please take care 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 the beginning of March till the end of October. The 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.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airports for this tour are Santiago de Compostela and Vigo.

By train or bus

Arrival in Vigo:

  • Vigo Airport: From Vigo, you can take a bus to the city centre.
  • Santiago de Compostela Airport: From Santiago, you can take the shuttle bus to the bus station or the train station. From there you can catch a bus to Vigo Bus Station (about 2 hours, see www.monbus.es) or a train (1 hour and 30 min approximately, see: www.renfe.es).
  • Porto Airport: you can reach Vigo either by train (www.cp.pt) or bus (www.autna.com).

Departure from Santiago de Compostela:

  • Santiago de Compostela Airport 12 km: There is a shuttle bus from/ to the city to Santiago airport, departing every 30min. Bus stops include the city centre (Praza de Galicia), the bus station (Estación de Autobuses) and the train station (Estación de Ferrocarril). See www.empresafreire.com.
  • Vigo Airport 90 km: From Santiago, you can take a train to Vigo Guixar (see www.renfe.com) or a bus to Travesia de Vigo (every hour). You should then take a city bus from Travesia de Vigo to Vigo Airport (every 30 min).

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in private en-suite rooms
  • 7 breakfasts
  • Detailed journey documentation with tips and maps
  • Pilgrim Kit: pilgrim passport (credencial) and shell
  • Boat trip from Vilanova de Arousa to Pontecessures
  • Welcome meeting
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (1 pc up to 15 kg per person)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches and dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes & entry fees (payable on the spot)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights
  • Airport transfers

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 your 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!

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