Via de la Plata - Last 100 km
Once a Roman thoroughfare between south and northern Spain, this last section of Via de la Plata features rural walks and lovely country house hotels. Featuring warm hospitality, great cuisine and wine, you have a driver for baggage and local transfers.
Off The Beaten Track
This is the Camino for you if you like to be away from the crowds, immersed in the countryside and staying in a higher grade of lodgings than found on other Camino routes.
Our Via de la Plata focuses on the last 110km section from Ourense in the south-east of Galicia to finish in Santiago de Compostela in the north-west.
You start the Via de la Plata from the Cathedral in Ourense. This is a lovely university town with a medieval cathedral and an abundance of hot thermal springs. As your first night is spent here, it's well worth exploring if you arrive early enough in the day.
Once you're out of Ourense, you'll find yourself in a rolling landscape of woodland and countless little hamlets. This is a tranquil and scenic quiet route with superb all-around views of the Galician countryside. The Via de la Plata gives you an insight to a rural Spain that is still largely unchanged by modern times. You're likely to encounter farmers working the land and livestock.
You reach Santiago de Compostela by way of the last remaining medieval gated entrance to the old town, which is a special feature of this route - you don't have the last long slog through the built-up outskirts of Santiago as experienced on the Camino Frances.
Our Services on the Via de la Plata
OUR SERVICES ON THE VIA DE LA PLATA
As the Via de la Plata is sparsely populated with few hotels, we provide a dedicated driver for short transfers of 1-2km between the Camino and lovely country house hotels. The dining offered in our hotels is of high quality. Baggage transfers and some trail pickups are included.
SMALL GROUPS ON THE VIA DE LA PLATA
We often cater for parties of friends and family on this lovely Camino. Because not everyone has the same level of walking ability, we can provide a backup vehicle in case someone requires a shortened walk. Plus our accommodations provide lovely surroundings for a relaxing day off.
Ancient Pilgrim Way to Santiago de Compostela
As early as the 10th century, Christians living under Muslim rule in the south of Spain were allowed to travel to Santiago de Compostela along the Via de la Plata.
The Via de la Plata runs through a natural corridor connecting north and south of Spain. Its history long pre-dating its use as a pilgrim route. It is even believed that Hannibal drove part of the route with his elephants.
Early farmers used the route for the seasonal shifting of grazing herds from the cooler north to the temperate southern pastures.
Phoenicians and Greeks used it as a trade route, but it was the Romans who converted this route into one of their main Spanish roads.
There has been a revival in popularity of the Plata and every year thousands of pilgrims walk from Seville or Granada to Santiago de Compostela.
Yet, it is still a quiet Camino when compared to the busy Camino Frances, making the Via de la Plata ideal to witness a rural Spain still largely unchanged by modern times.
The following is our 8-day / 9 night itinerary starting at Ourense and finishing 100km later at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
The old town of Ourense has the 12th-century Romanesque Cathedral, amongst many other monuments.
Ourense is well known for its thermal hot springs - greatly appreciated by the Romans when they settled here. Please ask if you would like us to arrange your hot spa for you - both indoor and outdoor available.
You will also find bars and small restaurants where you can try delicious tapas and the local Ribeiro wines.
Day 1 - From Ourense 12 km
A short ascent out of Ourense and the Miño valley into the countryside to finish in a small village. You will rendezvous with your driver for a short hop to your overnight stop a superbly renovated Galician country house with summer swimming pool.
Day 2 - Trappist Monastery of Oseira, 20.5 km
Today you are walking to the Monasterio de Santa Maria la Real de Oseira, via the village of Cea.
Cea is famous for its handmade sourdough bread, baked in traditional wood-fired ovens.
Sometimes referred to as the "Escorial of the North", the Trappist Monastery of Oseira is the largest and grandest in Galicia. Guided visits are available. There is also an interesting museum displaying traditional household and agricultural tools.
Again, your driver will meet you for a short drive to your charming country house hotel, set in beautiful wooded grounds. This will be your base for two nights.
Day 3 - Pass of Santo Domingo, 10.5 km
Starting back at Oseira, you have time to take a guided tour of the Monastic complex, with one of the brothers.
Then you will climb gently uphill through windswept moorland to the Pass of Santo Domingo, one of the highest of the walk at 819 metres, passing the scenic villages of Outeiro and Vidueiro. Destination Castro Dozon has a great little cafe bar for afternoon tapas, while you wait for your driver.
Day 4 - Woodland landscape, 20.5 km
A slow descent through a mixed woodland of oak, chestnut and pine takes you to the hamlet of Bendoiro and its stately mansion with its summer swimming pool and lovely landscaped grounds.
Day 5 - Rolling countryside, 13 km
From your hotel, you are walking all the way to the village of Bandeira through rolling countryside filled with hamlets and quiet lanes.
Tonight's village hotel is the most modest of the tour, but the owner is truly warm and hospitable and she also keeps a very good dinner table.
Day 6 - Across the River Ulla, 19.5 km
Ponte Ulla - The Bridge of Ulla, crosses the river which marks the border between Pontevedra and Coruña provinces. The walk today is gently undulating, with a little detour to reach your lovely country hotel complete with its own vineyard. Tours and wine tasting are available by request.
If time allows today, you might like to make a detour to climb Pico Sacro - the Holy Peak for your first glimpse of the Cathedral spires. But, you might prefer to do that with fresher legs next morning.
Day 7 - Santiago de Compostela, 12.5 kms
Near the start of the walk, you may take a detour to the summit of the Pico Sacro, a peak with links to the legend of Saint James. From here, pilgrims had their first sight of Santiago de Compostela and a wonderful panoramic view of the countryside.
The final leg to Santiago approaches the city from one of the quietest directions; no busy motorways or modern housing estates.
Before you know it you descend on a cobbled track through the only remaining medieval gate into the heart of Santiago de Compostela's old town and on to the tomb of St James, housed in the stunning Cathedral.
Ourense - Guide Tour & Thermal Hot Springs
We work with excellent local bilingual guides in Ourense, who can take you on a guided walking tour and take you one of Ourense's thermal hot spas to round off your tour.
At the Termas Outariz you can hire all you need, such as slippers, bathing suits, robes and towels. The thermal sessions usually last about 90 minutes and there is a wide range of extra treatments to enjoy, or simply enjoy a therapeutic soak in the indoor and outdoor hot springs.
AROMATIC FOAM BATH / AROMATIC BATH OF TEA EXTRACTS / CHOCOLATE BATH /
MASSAGES:- EXPRESS / FEET AND HANDS / SWEDISH MASSAGE / LEG STIMULANT / BODY RELAXATION / ZEN.
Delicious Galician Gastronomy and Wines
Galicia is a land with Celtic roots and some have highlighted similarities with Ireland. From hearty food to fruity wines, you will encounter small inns and bars along the way allowing opportunities to enjoy the local gastronomy.
The local wine speciality is the Ribeiro, which was one of the first wines in Spain to be awarded the Designation of Origin standard. Mainly white and fruity, Ribeiro wines were enjoyed by the pilgrims passing through the region on their way to Santiago de Compostela.
The Trappist Monastery of Oseira
The largest and grandest monastery in Galicia, Santa Maria de Oseira is sometimes referred to as the "Escorial of the North". The original construction dates back to the 12th century, but the buildings were later rebuilt in Gothic and Renaissance styles.
Guided visits are available. Your driver will drop you off here in the morning so you have time for a visit conducted by one of the monks.
As an aside, the celebrated English novelist Graham Green, author of Brighton Rock, The End of the Affair and The Power and the Glory, and would often come here on a summer retreat.
Santiago de Compostela, UNESCO World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, Galicia's capital city Santiago de Compostela is the world-known destination of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Around the Cathedral of St James, a masterpiece of Romanesque art, the city boasts a picturesque old town worthy of one of Christianity's greatest holy cities.
Guided Tour of Santiago de Compostela available by request.
As an optional extra, we can arrange a guided tour of the city's extraordinary ensemble of distinguished monuments grouped around the tomb of St James the Greater, the destination of all the roads of Christianity's greatest pilgrimage.
Day Excursion to Finisterre
As an add on to the tour, we can take you to Cape Finisterre in the Atlantic Coast, the final destination for many pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. We also organise four day walks on the Camino de Finisterre. A walk on the beach, searching for your own scallop shell makes for a superb ending to the whole experience.
Food & Drink
The Charm of a Galician Manor House
The first of our country house hotels is a delightful XVIIIth century historic building, sympathetically restored with great authenticity - featuring thick stone walls, beamed ceilings and antique furniture. The Pazo owners are impeccable hosts and fluent English speakers.
The delightful drawing room has comfortable sofas and armchairs in front of an enormous fireplace. When you arrive you'll be invited to take tea or coffee and cake here - a welcoming start to your stay.
A splendid breakfast is served in the spacious kitchen-dining area, featuring homemade cakes and pastries, as well as local cheeses and charcuterie - just the thing to set you up for the day ahead. Packed lunches are also available by prior request.
Dinners featuring local specialities are provided, in table d'hote style, with a fixed 3-course menu with wine. Special dietary needs can be catered for with advanced notice.
There is a very good wine cellar and the host will be delighted to introduce you to his favourites.
The hotel has a summer swimming pool, tennis courts and WiFi. The gardens, terrace and orchard are surrounded by the beautiful woodland of the estate making it a special place to stay.
Delightful Galician country houses set in beautiful surroundings
Our Plata accommodation is a cut above the standard lodgings on other Caminos. We combine traditional family-run farmhouses, historic country homes and two to three-star hotels.
Some of our charming country manor house hotels are set in beautiful surroundings with summer swimming pools. Excellent hospitality & dining awaits you.
The country lodgings also offer very good dining, so we book you on a half board basis in the countryside. But just on a B&B basis in Ourense and Santiago - as there is plenty of choice for dining out.
As this very rural Camino is not overburdened with hotels, we use the services of a dedicated local driver to ferry you 1 or 2 km between the Via and some of your lodgings.
Your driver will handle your baggage transfers, as well as arranging the odd pick-up and drop off between the rural hotels and the Via de la Plata.
Fly to Madrid and catch the AVE fast train to Ourense.
Fly to Santiago de Compostela or Vigo airports.
We can arrange local transfers from your arrival point to Ourense by request.
Listed below are some reviews from other customers who have already undertaken this tour with Walk the Camino.
- Review by Elaine & friends, UKHad a lovely holiday, you were always helpful and efficient with any questions. Casa Grande de Soutullo was very good with delightful rooms and good breakfasts. Casa Casarellos was probably our least favourite because the food was not as good. Pazo de Bendoiro was a lovely hotel and the staff were very pleasant. Hotel Victorino was modest but Eva, the owner was delightful and a very good cook. The owner of Pazo de Galagos was charming and we had a delightful stay. Hotel Francisco was ideally placed and again, on the whole, the staff were very helpful. The manager of the cafeteria, Jose Manuel, however, was most unpleasant - told us that if we wanted quick service we should go to the restaurant (very odd!). However, overall, the accommodation was great. Food in Pazo de Galagos was particularly good.
Maria, our driver (think she is Jose Angel’s daughter) was very efficient and a thoroughly nice girl. It might be useful to add in the packing requirements that a travel hairdryer would be useful - most of the hotels did not provide one in the rooms. The only slight problem we had was with the description of the final walk to Santiago, this was described as being only 7.8 miles (I seem to recall it was more like 10.5 (and we didn’t get lost!). However, to be honest, we mostly just followed the yellow arrows as the route was very well signposted. Not sure that I would want to do the Camino again as this trip was so perfect. Just thank you very much for all you have done.
- Review by Natasha & Marco, South AfricaI’m sure this is not the first email you may have received from guests that have returned with richness in their hearts and stars in their eyes. But here we are, with richness in our hearts and stars in our eyes and a great big word of thanks to you and your team for the organisation of such a special, soulful Camino journey.
Firstly, this was the first time we had ever ventured on such a journey and needless to say, we were a little anxious as to how it was all meant to unfold. However, your organisation, information packs, accommodation selections and ongoing transfers were of 100% top quality. So much so that the entire journey unfolded with such elegance and ease. All we really had to worry about were our cramping calves.
While we didn’t refer much to our maps, we did make use of your written notes (all the time!!) which, might I say, were perfectly in sync with the paths. I commend those who transcribed the way into words, for it is truly a feat, and was done remarkably well. Clear, concise and historically interesting.
We were really impressed with the choice of accommodation. Wow! We felt as though you understood our brief from the very beginning and took so much care in your selection along the way. We absolutely loved arriving at every one of our lodgings; each clean, spacious and unique in their own right and truly beautiful on the eye (and heart). Being greeted by our humble Galician hosts and feeling so very welcome in their homes too, was a heartfelt experience for us.
As for the cuisine, we were very grateful for all the extra attention and care we received from each of our hosts, and to indulge in authentic Galician cuisine was simply superb. All our meals were prepared from the heart, and of excellent quality.
As for your guidance originally, as to which Camino would best suit our objectives, you were spot on with Via de la Plata. All your patience over the 4 months of back and forth, to deliver what we were really seeking, definitely came to fruition. Thank you for listening, advising and being mindful of choosing the right journey for us. You couldn’t have been more on point.
A special mention to our driver Jose Angel, who warmed our hearts with his enthusiasm, service excellence and contagious smile. His knowledge of the region and his ability to educate us through his broken English was commendable. We tried to speak Spanish (poorly I’m afraid). Jose treated us exceptionally well and made sure our transfers were easy, secure and always on time. What a gem of a driver!! And a truly wonderful individual.
The journey entirely was, well, for lack of a better word – incredible. We have struggled to find the words (and I’m a writer!!) to express the utter depth of the experience. The arrows and written directions kept us on track all the way and the peace of the farmland landscapes filled our hearts with gold. An unmatched journey of a lifetime. We shall always remember, and cherish.
A big thank you to your team for carrying us through 112km of pure serenity. You made it effortless at a comfort level, which only enhanced the Way even more so. Our souls have forever been graced with the humility of a world gone by and a world that goes on - and our hearts have been opened to the possibility of journeying next year again, along the paths of the past – but only with the guidance of our Walk the Camino experts.
Preferred supplier guaranteed! And you can bet, we are spreading the word of your stellar service back home.
- Review by Orla, UKBeautiful rural countryside at the start. Really liked the town of Ourense. Friendly Spanish people. Favourable weather. You responded promptly with my requests. Varying accommodation standards, but all very clean. Pazo de Galegas outstanding host and excellent food and wine. Hotel Victorino basic, but spotlessly clean and run by a charming lady. Pazo de Bandoira not so welcoming and NO hot water. Casa Casarellos was fine, but poor breakfast. Gran Hotel Soutullo was very comfortable, lovely evening meal and excellent breakfast, welcoming hosts. Breakfast varied from accommodation to accommodation.
Jose our driver and his daughter were friendly and efficient - Excellent.
I genuinely enjoyed my holiday and appreciate all the efforts made by Walk the Camino to make my trip run so smoothly. I can’t really fault anything in particular except for the walking instructions.
- Review by Vanessa & friends, USA & UKParticularly enjoyed our stays at Gran Hotel Soutullo and Casa de Casal. Excellent food. A very memorable experience. The organisation was faultless, all the accommodation was comfortable, staff were friendly and welcoming.