length

10 Days

difficulty

Moderate - Challenging

trip cost

from $1795 pp

Icons / stylised / time Created with Sketch.

length

10 Days

Icons / stylised / difficulty Created with Sketch.

difficulty

Moderate - Challenging

Icons / stylised /cost Created with Sketch.

trip cost

from $1795 pp

Nature Immersion

Cultural Interest

Self-Guided Trip

our walk expert

  • Overview
  • Highlights
  • The experience
  • Itinerary
  • Map
  • Inclusions
  • Exclusive Guide
  • Similar walks

Overview

The Spiritual Variant

The Spiritual Variant (or Variante Espiritual in Spanish) is an exciting newer alternative path from the usual Portuguese Camino walking routes. It is said to follow the route the remains of the Apostle St James are believed to have taken to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally it includes a boat trip from VilaNova de Arousa to Pontecesures, along the Rio Ulla, which was also reportedly how St James’ remains were transported, which is considered a real highlight.

Our Spiritual Variant itinerary starts from Vigo and continues to Santiago de Compostela. On request, the Spiritual Variant can also be included as a part of our full-length Portuguese Camino from Lisbon or incorporated into our Porto to Santiago or Baiona to Santiago itineraries.

Find out more about the highlights and history of this route.

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Spiritual Variant Portuguese Camino000

Highlights

get ready for

  • Enjoy tranquil hiking on this less-frequented section
  • Take in spectacular views and walk on delightful mountain paths
  • Follow a tree-canopied stream with moss covered stones, continuous waterfalls, and an otherworldly feel 
  • Explore historical landmarks, churches, ancient bridges and charming towns and villages
  • Discover Galicia’s rich local customs, traditions, history and cuisine
Spiritual Variant Portuguese Camino002

The experience

What's it like underfoot?

There are some challenging sections to this route and longer hiking distances to consider. The uphill hike out of Combarro is straight up along a road for about 4km until levelling off somewhat. The first 3–4km out of Armenteira involves a steep downhill walk along a stream with lots of large stepping stones, possibly moss covered, that can be hard on the knees from all the jarring. As this is not the ‘usual’ Camino route that the majority of other people will walk, at times the signage may not be as frequent. Our RAW navigation app will help you easily find your way on the trail. There will likely be less other walkers around, and facilities and services will likely be fewer. Generally a greater level of independence and sense of adventure is recommended when undertaking a ‘variant’ route.

Itinerary

Daily details

IMPORTANT - COMPOSTELA CERTIFICATE

The stipulations for obtaining a Compostela is that you either walk the last 100km or cycle the last 200km into Santiago de Compostela. Therefore, on this route you are not eligible to receive a Compostela if you take the boat, train or taxi. By taking public transport of any description in the last 100km you technically forfeit your right to a Compostela.

Day 1: Arrive Vigo

Vigo is an industrial city nestled along Spain’s rugged coastline, which also offers maritime charm and a vibrant culture. This Galician city is famous for its bustling fishing port, succulent seafood delights and picturesque views of the Atlantic. 

Travellers can arrive into Vigo by air at Vigo’s Peinador Airport, and train services connect Vigo to Porto and to major Spanish cities, with the Vigo-Guixar station serving as a hub. Bus routes can also provide convenient land transportation and may also be a good option.

You may like to add a rest day in Vigo as from here you can take a ferry trip out to the Cíes Islands. The ferry runs from June to September and on weekends in May. The Cies Islands are known as the Caribbean of Spain and are a beautiful protected national park. Visitor numbers to the islands are controlled, so a visit must be booked in advance.

Day 2: Walk Vigo to Redondela (16km)

Today start your hiking adventure on the Camino towards Santiago de Compostela. There are two ways to depart Vigo: the Seashore Path leaves the old town along the coast past the Vigo Guixar railway station along Rua do Areal and Rua de Garcia Barbon and Sanjurio Badia (the PO-323), before turning right (4km from the railway station), on to Camina Trapa where it joins the Coastal Way.

The alternative is to make your way from the old town along the Rua do Principe mall continuing along the Rua de Urzaiz where it intersects with Avenida do Alcalde Gregorio Espino. This is where you pick up the Camino Coastal Way and the yellow arrows. Follow the pedestrian mall then turn to the left just before the ends on Rua Toledo, then along quiet back streets with the Bay of Vigo on the left where the British sunk many galleons in the 1702 battle of Vigo Bay.

The Camino to Redondela is a pleasant walk with great views of the Vigo estuary as the walk continues through a string of hillside villages and patches of woodland. Your stop for the night is the town of Redondela, known as the ‘Village of Viaducts’, where the Coastal and Senda Litoral Caminos join with the inland Central Portuguese Camino to Santiago de Compostela.

Meals: B

Day 3: Walk Redondela to Pontevedra (20km)

Today is a beautiful day of walking on the Camino Portuguese, and you will notice more pilgrims have joined from the Central Way from Porto via Tui. Several kilometres out of Redondela the path leads up to the Alto de Lomba through the forest after which there is a short section on the busy N-550 to the village of Arcade famous for the best oysters in Galicia. Cross the long medieval bridge of Ponte Sampaio over the River Verdugo where Napoleon’s army was defeated by the Spanish in 1809 during the War of Independence. Then walk up through the forest and enjoy one of the most beautiful stretches of the Camino following the ancient narrow stone paths as they climb up the slope. The path widens amongst fields and vineyards, before arriving in Pontevedra. An alternative scenic and peaceful way to enter the town is via the Rio Gafos. Turn left shortly after the chapel da Santa Marta and before a play area, not waymarked.

Meals: B

Day 4: FREE DAY - Pontevedra

Pontevedra is a great rest day option as it has a wonderful atmosphere to soak up and enjoy with its pedestrianised streets and plazas. Discover Pontevedra’s pretty historic centre, the 13th-century church of Santa Maria, and the famous Pilgrim Virgin’s church (Santuario da Peregrina), which although appears round, is actually in the shape of a scallop shell.

Meals: B

Day 5: Walk Pontevedra to Armenteira (23km)

Start today by negotiating the suburbs of Pontevedra for about 3km until you come to the Spiritual Variant turn off. Take note that the markers are different from the regular Camino markers. You then negotiate a mixture of small villages and woodland walking until you arrive at the charming seaside town of Combarro.

Stock up on energy snacks here because there’s no further amenities until Armenteira. Take the turn off in the middle of town and head straight up through town and along a quiet country road, stopping for some spectacular views over the Ria de Pontevedra, before turning off the road and walking along a delightful, quiet woodland trail all the way to Armenteira. Be sure to explore the 12th-century Cistercian monastery upon arrival in Armenteira.

Meals: B

Day 6: WALK ARMENTEIRA TO VILANOVA DE AROUSA (25KM)

Today starts with some of the most delightful walking of any Camino. Following an ethereal, canopied stream with large, moss-covered stones that produce an otherworldly feel and look, the steep downhill soon levels off while still following the waterway which eventually feeds into the Rio Umia. The riverside walking finishes at Pontearnelas, from where you pass through a series of small hamlets along country lanes before eventually reaching the ocean again and walking along the beach for the last few kilometres into Vilanova de Arousa. Make sure to check the boat availability for the next day when you arrive.

Meals: B

DAY 7: BOAT VILANOVA DE AROUSA TO PONTECESURES (28KM); WALK TO PADRÓN (2KM)

Today’s itinerary depends on whether the boat to Pontecesures is available. There is no set schedule and it varies depending on demand, tidal levels etc. If available, it’s a lovely, usually guided, trip that takes in historical crosses and ruins, mussel farms etc, and lands you in Pontecesures, about 2km short of Padron. There are various types and sizes of boats, so do your research when you arrive in Vilanova de Arousa. The boat trip from VilaNova de Arousa to Pontecesures, along the Rio Ulla, is a real highlight, and is reportedly how St James’ remains were transported between these points. 

If the boat isn’t running, then you will need to catch a taxi to Vilagarcia de Arousa (approx 9km), from where you can catch a train to either Pontecesures or Padron. There is also an option to walk the whole way, but this would then be a 37km walking day mostly along busy roads, and isn’t recommended.

Meals: B

DAY 8: WALK PADRÓN TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA (26KM)

Your final walking day on the Camino Portuguese will provide some variety through woodlands and on increasingly busy roads. You will pass through a number of small villages and the suburbs of Santiago de Compostela. After making your way to the historic sanctuary of A Escravitude, continue to Faramello and the Chapel of San Martino where you can see one of the oldest wayside crosses (cruceiro) in Galicia.

After passing through Milladoiro and the tiny town of Agro dos Monteiros, but before passing under the motorway, pilgrims now for the first time will have a view of the spires of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. After crossing the Sar River, take the left waymarked option and continue through the streets of the city via Rua de Porto Faxeira, the old entrance of the Portuguese Way into Santiago de Compostela. Make your way via Rua Franco to Praza do Obradoiro and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Meals: B

DAY 9: FREE DAY - SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

Spend the whole day exploring the historical city of Santiago de Compostela. Dine at one of the many cafes or restaurants and reflect on your Portuguese Coastal Camino experience. Attend the pilgrim’s midday mass and spend some time exploring the famous Cathedral or sit and watch the steady flow of pilgrims arriving into the square finishing their epic journey.

Meals: B

DAY 10: DEPART SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

You are free to check out of your hotel any time before 10am. If you would like to explore Santiago further you are able to leave your bags with reception.

Meals: B

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Map

Explore

Vigo

Vigo is a busy, cosmopolitan industrial city. The Old Town (Casco Vello) is the city’s heart, packed with lively bars and restaurants serving delicious Galician dishes.

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Redondela

The town of Redondela is known as the ‘Village of Viaducts’. It’s where the Coastal and Senda Litoral Camino’s join with the inland Central Portuguese Camino to Santiago de Compostela.

Pontevedra

Pontevedra has a pretty historic centre, pedestrianised streets, plazas and a wonderful atmosphere to soak up. The famous Pilgrim Virgin’s church (Santuario da Peregrina) appears round but is actually in the shape of a scallop shell.

Armenteira

Armenteira is a small village with a lot of charm located in the Concello de Meis. It preserves the most faithful and authentic Galician traditional aspect, offering an incomparable landscape to any visitor with a passion for nature.

Vilanova de Arousa

Vilanova de Arousa is a lovely seaside town in Galicia. The town has lovely promenades to stroll along and take in the beautiful scenery. There is great seafood to be had in the many restaurants.

Padrón

Padrón was said to be where the body of St James first reached land when it returned by boat after being martyred in Jerusalem. The parish church has the legendary Pedron, the stone where St James’ boat was moored. You can find the Pedron under the altar in the Igrexia de Santiago with a replica Pedron over the bridge on the west bank of the Rio Sar.

Santiago de Compostela

The wonderful and historic city of Santiago is the end of the Camino journey for most pilgrims. Praza do Obradoiro and the wonderful ancient Cathedral form the city’s heart. Attend the midday pilgrims mass and watch the steady stream of pilgrims arriving into the square as they finish their epic journey. There are many enticing tapas bars and restaurants in which to celebrate your journey.

 

Inclusions

What's included?

Included
  • Accommodation with private en-suite rooms (double/twin share)
  • Daily breakfast
  • Luggage transfer each day from hotel to hotel (1 x <20kg bag per person) on days when walking
  • Pilgrim’s passport per person
  • RAW Travel navigation app with maps of your hotel locations and emergency contact numbers
  • Pre-trip Camino guidance and planning
  • Local RAW Travel support staff in Spain
Excluded
  • Single supplement $800
  • Travel insurance
  • Flights 
  • Train tickets
  • Lunches and dinners
  • Guidebooks and phrase books
  • Taxis or local buses between towns if needed
  • Boat trip 
  • Arrival and departure transfers
Added Extras

For an extra indulgence, upgrade your hotel in Pontevedra to a Parador from $50 per person/per night twin share and $75 per person/per night single occupancy, when booked 6 months in advance (subject to availability).

For an extra indulgence, upgrade your hotel in Santiago to a Parador from $170 per person/per night twin share and $250 per person/per night single occupancy, when booked 6 months in advance (subject to availability).

For any part of your trip that falls between 31 October and 31 March there is an ‘out of season’ luggage transfer surcharge cost of $30 per person per day.

We can tailor the itinerary with the addition of extra rest days (for example in Vigo) or additional overnight stays to shorten some of longer walking distances (for example, Milladoiro).

Camino De Santiago destination guide

Exclusive Guide

Portuguese Camino

Discover inspiration, travel essentials, practical information and more in our free Destination Guide. All you need to know about walking the Camino de Santiago routes through Spain, Portugal and France!

Walking the Camino is an incredible journey that will immerse you not only in Europe’s grand history, food and culture but most importantly the extraordinary camaraderie that exists along these routes. The spirit of the Camino de Santiago is alive and well among people from all over the world. It is a ‘bucket list’ experience you will never forget!

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TRIP date selection

when would you like to travel?

Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed

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