Spiritual Variant - Camino Portuguese
A partly coastal variant of the Camino Portugues, this route shadows the Arousa estuary and incorporates a section by boat on the River Ulla. This commemorates the arrival of the Saint’s body by sea and transfer to his final resting place in Compostela.
Your journey begins in the lively port city of Vigo, with a lovely walk along the estuary to the village of Redondela. Here you join the traditional Camino Portuguese and continue through the Spanish countryside to Pontevedra, which has a delightful medieval centre.
From Pontevedra you turn west to join the Variante Espiritual for the next three days. Parting company with the throng of pilgrims continuing on the busier inland Portuguese route, you first come to the Monastery of Poio. After a visit, continue on to Combarro, an unspoiled coastal village town, renowned for its fishing fleeting and traditional grain stores or hórreos.
Next day, a short walk with a steep climb up to the remote hamlet of Armenteira, but you will be rewarded with views over the Rias. This shorter day, allows you time to visit the Monasterio de Armenteira, a Cistercian monastery founded in the C12th. A special place to end your first day and there are a couple of little bars where you can enjoy a sundowner.
Leaving this haven of peace and nature behind you, continue down the hillside by a path called the Ruta da Pedra (stone) e da Agua (water), walking by streams and through woodland on ancient paths, to finish at the coastal town of Vilanova de Arousa.
The third Spiritual stage from Vilanova, is by the sea route known as the Traslatio, which carries you by boat along the beautiful Ría de Arousa. Passing the many ancient stone crosses that mark the way and the remains of the Viking Towers of Cataoira, you'll disembark in Pontecesures and continue on foot through the town of Padron to the hamlet of Teo. From Padrón the spiritual variant joins the Portuguese Way again and you will be back in the company of many more pilgrims once again.
The last day of walking brings you to the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela, the anticipation of your arrival in the Plaza Obradoiro builds. We recommend two nights in the city of St James to allow you ample time to attend Pilgrim Mass, collect your Compostela certificate and explore the wonderful old centre.
You might like to add on a day trip to Cape Finisterre which includes a visit to the 0.0 km way-marker at Fisterra, to stand on the most westerly point of SW Europe, followed by a visit to Muxia and the Sanctuario de la Virgen de la Barca.
To earn the Compostela certificate you must prove you have walked a minimum 100 km to finish in Santiago de Compostela. In practice, that means starting from Vigo to Santiago de Compostela - a total of 110 km / 61 miles completed over 6 walking days / 7 nights.
We highly recommend spending a second night in Santiago, so you're not under pressure to hurry the final walk into Santiago for Pilgrim Mass in the Cathedral which takes place daily at noon.
Our popular 7-day itinerary starts at Vigo on the coast. We can tailor the itinerary below to suit. If you do not want to take the boat journey, you can walk the Camino and have an extra night in the village of Carril on the coast.
1. Start in Vigo
2. Walk 9.8 miles / 15.8 km to Redondela
3. Walk 12.5 miles / 20.1 km to Pontevedra
4. Walk 7 miles / 11.2 km to Combarro
5. Walk 6.3 miles / 10.1 km to Armenteira
6. Walk 15.3 miles / 24.6 km to Vilanova de Arousa
7. Sail Vilanova to Pontesecuras then walk 8.3 miles / 13.4 km to Teo
8. Walk 9.2 miles / 14.8 km to Santiago de Compostela and stay 2 nights
See the Santuario da Peregrina, a unique church from the C18th which has a floor plan in the shape of a scallop shell. Visit the C16th Basilica of Santa María a Grande, with its magnificent Plateresque facade and the Sanctuario da Aparicións, where Sister Lúcia, child of the Fátima miracle, once lived.
Monstery of Poio
On route to Combarro, you can make a stop at the Mosteiro de San Xoan de Poio, a C15th Benedictine monastery that houses such treasures as an 80m long stone mosaic representing a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. It also has an impressive hórreo (granary) in the grounds - a grand place for a picnic lunch.
Monastery of Armenteira
The hike from Combarro uphill to Armenteira is pretty steep - but it's a mercifully shorter one and the view from the top makes it worthwhile.
It also means you will have time to visit the Monasterio de Armenteira, a Cistercian monastery founded in the C12th. The small community of nuns that lives here produce many crafts, such as natural handmade soap and cosmetic items, they also serve the lodgings and practice organic farming. (Do please try to patronise their shop). You may be able to join the nuns for Vespers and enjoy their singing and prayer. Your guide will later translate the nuns shared personal reflections and readings. A special way to end your first day.
The third Spiritual stage from Vilanova, is by the sea route or Traslatio, along the beautiful Ría de Arousa. Passing the many ancient stone crosses that mark the way and the remains of the Viking Towers of Cataoira, you'll disembark in Pontecesures and continue on foot through the town of Padron to the hamlet of Teo. From Padrón the spiritual variant joins the Portuguese Way again and you will be back in the company of many more pilgrims once again.
If you are not keen to travel by boat you can walk this section alongside the river. But you will need an extra night on the Spiritual route or request a short shuttle from Padron to Teo.
Food & Drink
For any traveller on the Camino, nourishment and refreshment is an essential part of the daily routine. There are many places to enjoy good local dishes to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. We also aim to cater for those with particular dietary needs.
Some of the walks may have a few or no places to stop for food and drink, so check your information pack before you set out and shop for a picnic before you leave town.
The local bars and cafes offer light snacks, seasonal plates of freshly prepared food, tapas and refreshments. As you pass through cities, towns and village you will encounter local specialities - often of the hearty, traditional variety that best sustains a weary, hungry walker.
All our itineraries are booked as Bed and Breakfast. Half board with dinner is possible too, but these set dinners can become repetitive, featuring similar dishes each night. We encourage you to eat out and try a wider range of local specialities.
Where available we always order a full breakfast spread for our clients. But breakfast does vary between establishments - from just a light pastry and hot drink to a full buffet spread. Whether you have a light or substantial offering, you can top up mid-morning at a cafe on the route. The Spanish habit is to have breakfast between 10 and 11 when cafes and bars fill with locals having their desayuno.
Lunches on the Camino are often taken as picnics, and most places have local shops selling items of fresh local produce to purchased each morning before you set out on the trail. Certain lodgings will offer pre-ordered packed lunches. Or check your guide and plan to stop off in a cafe-bar or restaurant on the Way.
Locals tend to have dinner from 9 pm. But on the Camino, dinner is usually served from 8 pm — so do take advantage of the habitual afternoon merienda to keep you going, once you have arrived at your daily destination. That could be cold beer cerveza and tapas or coffee and cake.
Many of our lodgings offer 3 course set menus with water, bread and often a glass of wine for just a few euros. These are advertised locally as "Pilgrim Menus" and available pretty much everywhere along the route. You'll notice that there are staple common dishes as well as regional recipes according to the season.
Hydration is essential — carry between 1.5 and 3l of drinking water, depending on the season, temperatures and distance you plan to cover. Keep a sugary and salty snack handy in your pocket or daypack - this will give you that little extra burst of energy to keep you going.
Mid-morning or afternoon snacks known as merienda are the perfect way to sustain yourself on the Way. Especially if you are not used to the later meal times which are the norm across Spain. It is customary for Spanish people to have a mid-morning stop for breakfast and late afternoon for a bite to keep them going until the traditional late dinner.
The larger towns and cities of the Camino have a variety of lively plazas with bars and restaurants, so there will be plenty of opportunities for you to enjoy a wider range of local gastronomy and a variety of local and world-famous wines.
You can choose to upgrade your accommodation standard, (available in a few selected places along the route), where you can enjoy a la carte menu and fine dining in the hotel restaurant.
Many people enjoy shopping for lunch items and snacks in the local food shops each day. You'll find many little stores offering local produce, fruits and vegetables, cheeses and cured meats, fresh local baked goods - ideal for making your daily picnic for the daily walk. On certain days, Markets also make an appearance in most villages and towns. Some of our lodgings will provide a picnic lunch by request.
You will find local wine called Albariño, cervezas (light beer), and licores (strong spirits). Spain has a great wine-making culture and Galicia is a very distinctive producer which has become well respected internationally. This grape variety tingles the palate and makes a light-bodied, straw-coloured wine. Grown in the Rias Baixas area of Galicia this wine is also fruity and aromatic, with a bracing hint of the sea. It's a perfect match for signature fish and seafood dishes of the area.
Hand-picked comfortable, small establishments with high levels of personal service is our style of service. We believe that our high level of personal service and customer care offers the best in the local food, culture and history.
Hand-picked and well known to us, we usually choose comfortable, small, family-run establishments on the Camino. Your accommodation will include a variety of family run traditional farmhouses, historic homes, and two and three-star hotels. All rooms have en-suite facilities.
If your budget allows, we can suggest some superb accommodation upgrades, as we often work with the top-end establishments on the Camino. Some of these require a short transfer off the Camino to a rural setting. We think you'll find them very charming and comfortable.
We provide fully insured and secure luggage transfers. We move your baggage from one accommodation to the next as you walk. This daily service is organised so that all you have to worry about is carrying a daysack with your essential items.
Fly into Vigo.
Fly into Santiago de Compostela and transfer by train to Vigo.
Fly into Porto and transfer by train to Vigo.
Fly into Madrid and transfer by train to Vigo.
Return flights from Santiago de Compostela or rail connections to Madrid, Porto and Vigo.
There is a bus from Santiago direct to Porto airport.