Travel Guide

The Religious Variant of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago

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The Religious Variant or Variante Espiritual is an non-obligatory route of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago from Pontevedra to Padron. This route is considered one of my favorites out of 9 completely different Camino de Santiago routes that I’ve accomplished. The identify religious comes from the truth that the route follows the final a part of the journey of the stays of the Apostle St.James. 

I’ve accomplished the route twice the primary time as part of our stroll on the Portuguese Camino from Lisbon and the second time as a separate route and each instances actually preferred it.

One of the stone crosses on the shore of Ulla River on the Spiritual Way
One of many stone crosses on the Traslatio route of the Religious Variant of the Portuguese Camino

The Religious Variant (Variante Espiritual) route overview

  • Whole distance – 74 km/46 mi; 46 km/28,5 mi strolling and 28 km/17,Three mi by boat
  • Variety of days – Three days
  • Place to begin – Three km north of Pontevedra on the Central route of the Portuguese Camino.
  • Ending level – Padrón
  • Whole ascent – 781 m
  • Whole descent – 779 m
  • Strolling floor – 22 km/13,6 mi on asphalt/cobbled and 24 km/15 mi on footpath/gravel street
  • Route marking – yellow arrows painted on sidewalks, fences, and poles in addition to small wood poles with steel tops with a carved Camino shell, and arrow.

What’s the Religious Variant of the Portuguese Camino?

The Religious Variant is an alternate route on the Portuguese Camino de Santiago. This coastal route is usually referred to as La Traslatio (typically spelled as Translatio) or the Ulla River Route referring to the final stage that’s accomplished by boat. The route follows the final a part of the journey of the stays of the apostle Saint James (Santiago in Spanish) from Jerusalem to the Iberian Peninsula. The final stage which is a ship journey from Vilanova de Arousa to Pontecesures is crucial a part of the Variante Espiritual route. The 74-kilometers route splits from the primary route of the Camino Portugues after Pontevedra and joins it once more in Pontecesures.

A view of Combarro and Pontevedra from a viewpoint on the Spiritual route
A view of the coast from a lookout level on the best way between Combarro and Armenteira

The Historical past of the Religious Route

The Religious Variant is typically referred to as the origin of the Camino de Santiago. Apostle Saint James or James the Nice was one of many first disciples of Jesus. The apostle was executed by decapitation. In accordance with the legend, the beheaded physique of St.James was transferred by the ocean in a stone boat. After reaching the banks of the Ria de Arousa the journey continued inland on the Ulla River to Iria Flavia, fashionable Pontecesures. From there the stays of Apostle Santiago had been carried on land and buried within the space these days often known as the town of Santiago de Compostela. St.James is the patron saint of Spain.

One of the many stone crosses on the Spiritual Variant of the Caminno
One of many stone crosses on the Camino route on the best way from Combarro to Armenteira

How lengthy is the Variante Espiritual?

The Religious route of the Portuguese Camino is 74 km/46 mi in whole; 46 km/28,5 mi of which you stroll and 28 km/17,Three mi you go on a ship. It takes Three days to finish the route from Pontevedra to Padrón.

The place does the route begin?

The Religious route splits from the Central Route within the forest Three km outdoors of Pontevedra. There’s a well-marked route break up; the left route throughout a small bridge is the Religious variant and the appropriate route by means of the forest is the primary route of the Camino Portuguese. All pilgrims stroll out of the town of Pontevedra following the identical route and after Three km once you get to the break up you may swap.

The centre of Pontevedra, Spain
The historic centre of Pontevedra one of the stunning cities on the Portuguese Camino route

The place does it be a part of the Central Route of the Portuguese Method?

The Religious Variant joins the Central method of the Camino Portuguese in Pontecesures, a city on the Camino 2 km south of Padrón from the place you stroll the ultimate stage of the Portuguese path to Santiago. Pontecesures was referred to as Iria Flavia previously.

The Variante Espiritual vs the Central Route

I’ve walked the Religious Variant twice and I actually prefer it. Which route to decide on is as much as you.

The Religious Method is a bit longer than the Central Route. From Pontevedra to Pardon on the Central Route is 40 km/24,Eight mi or 2 strolling days in comparison with 74 km/46 mi or Three strolling days from Pontevedra to Pardon on the Religious Method. The precise strolling distance on each routes is just about the identical as a result of, on the Religious Route, you stroll solely 46 km/28,5 mi, 28 km you do by boat.

What I like concerning the Religious route is that it doesn’t undergo any industrial areas, close to busy roads, or cities. It’s a picturesque quiet coastal method with spectacular surroundings and several other charming small cities. 

There are fewer pilgrims on the Religious route in comparison with the primary Camino Route. If you wish to have a quiet couple of days on the Camino it’s a great possibility.

The boat journey from Vilanova de Arousa is an experience by itself. The surroundings is gorgeous and really peaceable. It positively enriches the Camino experience regardless in the event you stroll the Central or the Coastal Route of the Portuguese Camino.

Is the route well-marked?

Sure, the Religious Variant is marked like every other Camino route. You possibly can see yellow arrows painted on sidewalks, partitions, and poles. In addition to wood poles with steel shells and arrows. It’s straightforward to observe however typically you do have to concentrate, particularly strolling by means of the forest.

One of the wooden pole that indicate the Spiritual variant of the Camino Portugues
The official route marking of the Variante Espiritual of the Portuguese Camino

Taking a ship (the Traslatio water route) on the Religious Variant of the Portuguese Camino

A ship journey from the port of Vila Nova de Arousa to Pontecesures is part of the route and is without doubt one of the highlights of the Camino. You possibly can e book your ticket on-line or purchase it on the workplace in Vila Nova de Arousa. The corporate workplace is on the Camino route on the other aspect of an extended pedestrian bridge (Pasarela de O Terron) that you just cross to get to the city 200 m away from the pier. Yow will discover it on Google.maps as Ruta Translatio. The workplace is open each day from Eight am to 7 pm.

Concerning the boat journey

  • The boat departs from the port of Vila Nova de Arousa each day round Eight am. It’s advisable to verify the departure time a day earlier than as as a result of climate situations it would change. 
  • The journey takes 1h30min. 
  • The value is 25 euros per individual.

Moreover the large boat La Barca del Peregrino, there are small velocity boats between Vila Nova de Arousa and Pontecesures. They’re operated by A Mare Turismo Nautico. A journey is costlier, 30 euros per individual. The length of the journey is about the identical however small boats go sooner. Should you resolve to take a velocity boat remember that it’s an open boat with no roof take a jacket with you in case it will get chilly or wet.

If the large boat is full don’t fear you’ll have the ability to get a spot on a velocity boat. I did the Religious Variant finish of Could and there have been two velocity boats with pilgrims on the route as our large boat was full.   

Between April and October, it’s virtually assured that the boat will go. Outdoors of the season, it is dependent upon the demand. If there are pilgrims they may go in any other case they gained’t. I requested on the boat about their season they usually instructed me that typically they exit even in December if there are folks. Final yr I needed to stroll the Religious Method finish of October and there have been no boats after the 21st of October. If there usually are not sufficient folks for the large boat to go you may attempt to e book a small boat because it doesn’t want that many passengers.

One of the stone crosses along the Translatio boat route on the Spiritual Route
One of many 17 stone crosses on the Traslatio boat route

Will I get the Compostela if I take a ship?

Many pilgrims are involved about getting their Compostela certificates in the event that they take a ship as in keeping with the foundations you must stroll at the least the final 100 km to Santiago de Compostela on any Camino route. There may be nothing to fret about boat journey is part of the route. You’re speculated to take a ship between Vilanova de Arouse and Pontecesures. You gained’t have any difficulties getting your Compostela in Santiago due to the boat. The truth is, they even offer you a stamp that confirms that you just did the interpretation as part of your pilgrimage on the Camino. 

I’ve accomplished the Religious Variant twice and the primary time we didn’t take a ship and determined to stroll from Vilanova de Arouse to Pontecesures simply to examine the route. It wasn’t a great experience. The route is poorly marked we needed to stroll subsequent to railways and alongside busy roads. In whole, we walked greater than 30 km that day. The boat journey is rather a lot higher. It’s fairly good for a change to take a seat on a ship and benefit from the surroundings after strolling for days. 

A forest scenery on the Spiritual Variant in Galicia
Strolling by means of the gorgeous Galician forest was one of many highlights of the Religious route

Baggage switch service on the Variante Espiritual

It’s doable to make use of a baggage switch service on the Religious route. Correos and Tui Trans provide baggage supply from door to door on the Religious Variant of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago. The typical value is 6 euros per backpack per stage.

Religious Route GPX information

The Religious Variant of the Portuguese Camino strolling phases

The stroll consists of three phases: the primary two are strolling phases the final stage is a ship journey + a brief stroll. 

Stage 1. Pontevedra to Armenteira, 21 km/13 mi

  • Distance – 21 km/13 mi
  • Time – four hours (shifting time) 
  • Ascent – 606 m
  • Descent – 358 m
  • Strolling floor – 9 km/5,5 mi footpath/gravel street, 12 km/7,four mi asphalt/cobblestones
A map of the Spiritual Variant of the Camino route from Pontevedra to Armenteira
A map of the primary phases of the Religious Variant of the Portuguese Camino

It was a phenomenal and difficult strolling day with a number of highlights. You’ll discover considerably fewer pilgrims on the Religious variant in comparison with the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino which is a pleasant factor in the event you stroll it within the peak season.

You possibly can break up the day into two components to make it simpler because the ascent within the second half of the day is sort of powerful particularly in the event you do it in summer season. On the primary day, you stroll 11 km from Pontevedra to Combarro. Spend an evening in Combarro and the following morning stroll 10 km from Combarro to Armenteira with a 400-meter ascent to the highest of the steep hill. Combarro is a captivating distinctive coastal city. We spent there a few days and actually loved it. We stayed at Casa Noelmar, an amazing place positioned within the coronary heart of the historic centre.


  • A number of brief ascents and respectable within the first half of the day between Pontevedra and Combarro.
  • A steep and lengthy ascent, 400 m within the second half of the day from Combarro to Armenteira. After conquering the hill by the tip of the day you’re fairly drained.
The elevation profile of the Camino route from Pontevedra to Armenteira with a steep ascent
The elevation profile of the primary stage of the Religious Method from Pontevedra to Armenteira


Stage 1 route description

From the historic centre of Pontevedra (Church of Virxe Peregrina) observe the Camio indicators that can lead you out of the city throughout the Ponte do Burgo Bridge. for the primary Three km, you observe the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino out of the city by means of the forest.

At 2,5 km there’s a water fountain

At Three km on the bridge, there’s a break up. The left route is the Religious Method which matches throughout the bridge in direction of the coast, and the appropriate route (the primary route) continues straight in direction of Caldas de Reis.

At 5,5 km you get to the small city of Cabaleiro the place you’ll find a few lodges and eating places. 

Between 6 km and eight km, the Camino goes by means of the forest and small villages. 

At 8,5 km you stroll previous the gorgeous monastery of Poio. You possibly can keep on the resort positioned in one of many complicated buildings. 

9 km you get to the city of Poio the place you’ll find a few bars. 

On the roundabout after Poio flip left. The Camino goes away from the street in direction of the coast.

At 11 km you get to a small seashore and the city of Combarro. It’s an ideal place to cease for relaxation and lunch in the course of the day earlier than the steep ascent. The route doesn’t undergo the historic heart it simply touches it nevertheless it’s so small that strolling round it is going to hardly add any distance to your stroll. I’d recommend spending a while within the city it has many attention-grabbing medieval buildings positioned alongside the slender cobbled streets. 

The main street of the historical centre of Combarro in Galicia
The attractive historic centre of Combarro is an ideal place for a relaxation cease on the primary day of the Religious route

At 11,5 km after crossing the primary avenue in Combarro you begin the regular climb that continues for the following 9 km. So be sure to have sufficient water.

At 13,5 km there’s a small kiosk the place you should buy snacks and water nevertheless it was closed once I walked by.

At 15 km (at a wood board with a route map) don’t miss a implausible lookout level in your left. 

At 19 km there’s a break up that’s not marked nicely don’t flip off the primary street (preserve proper). Within the final half, there shall be a number of splits however you simply follow the primary route until there’s a yellow arrow indicating the path.

At 20 km the ascent is over and also you begin a descent on a footpath which will get fairly steep simply earlier than you attain Armenteira. 

At 21 km you’ll arrive on the Armenteira Monastery. 

The Romanesque church of the Monastery of Armenteira
The Monastery of Armenteira is without doubt one of the highlights of the Religious Variant of the Portuguese Method

Locations to remain in Armenteira

Stage 2. Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa, 23,6 km/13,6 mi

  • Distance – 23,6 km/14,6 mi
  • Time – 4h30min. (shifting time) 
  • Ascent – 170 m
  • Descent – 417 m
  • Strolling floor – 15 km on a footpath/gravel street, Eight km on asphalt, 500 m on a quiet street
A route map of the second stage of the spiritual camino route
A map of the second stage of the Religious route from Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa

The primary a part of the day by means of the gorgeous forest is my favourite a part of the Religious Variant. The Camino follows the path that is known as the Route of Rock and Water (Ruta de Pedra e da Agua). Total it’s a really good strolling day by means of the forest and alongside the river for the primary 15 km. After that, you stroll by means of quiet cities and neighborhoods until you attain the coast.


  • It was a comparatively straightforward stroll with no explicit difficult components apart from the downhill stroll at the start nevertheless it wasn’t steep extra of a gradual downhill.
The elevation profile of the second day of the Spiritual route from Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa
The elevation profile of the Camino route from Armenteira to Arousa


  • A ravishing stroll by means of the lush-green forest alongside the river with small waterfalls and massive boulders
  • A quiet stroll by means of a phenomenal pure space alongside the river and between the vineyards
  • A stroll alongside the coast of the Atlantic Ocean on the final Three km earlier than Vilanova de Arousa

Stage 2 route description 

The primary 5 km on a footpath by means of the forest. Proper firstly when you get to the footpath there are two trails one goes on the appropriate aspect of the river and one crosses the bridge and follows the river on the left. I took the appropriate path. It goes nearer to the river and extra by means of the forest. The left path goes by means of extra open components and is a bit farther from the river. Each trails merge a few kilometers later on the street the place you’ll see a Camino signal. If it rains rather a lot the appropriate path would possibly get muddy and a bit slippery because it goes typically over rocks. There are a number of forest paths that cross the route simply follow the primary path until you get to the street the place you’ll see Camino indicators once more.

A small waterfall in the forest near Armenteira, Galicia, Spain
One of many waterfalls within the first a part of the stroll from Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa

At 5 km you’re out of the forest. It’s important to cross a few roads earlier than you will get again on a footpath that goes alongside the river. There’s a large restaurant on the appropriate simply 50 m away from the Camino.

Between 5,5 km and 13 km, you stroll principally alongside the river and vineyards. It’s a pleasant and peaceable stroll.

At 6,5 km there’s a restaurant proper on the Camino route.

At 10 km a the bridge there may be one other restaurant. The Camino route goes throughout the bridge and all the way down to the river on the opposite aspect of it.

At 13 km you get to the city of Ponte Arnelas the place you’ll find lodges and eating places.

Between 14 km and 15 km, you stroll 500 mon a street with not a lot visitors. There are two bars on that stretch.

At 15 km simply after a flip off from the street, there’s a small chapel the place you will get a stamp.

At 16 km one other restaurant. After the primary 5 km, there shall be loads of alternatives to cease for relaxation and meals.

At 19,5 km there’s a bar.

At 21 km you get to the coast. You will have round Three km to Vilanova de Arousa. From there on there shall be a restaurant/cafe each km or so.

The Camino goes alongside the coast for the final Three km providing spectacular views.

At 23 km you get to an extended pedestrian bridge that you just cross to get to the city of Vilanova de Arousa.

After crossing the bridge on the left, you’ll see a glass constructing and a pier. Pilgrims’ boats to Pontecesures go away from there. 

A bridge leading to the town of Vila Nova de Arousa in Galicia
A pedestrian bridge on the entrance to Vilanova de Arousa

Locations to remain in Vilanova de Arousa

Stage 3. Vilanova de Arousa to Padrón. The Translatio Sea Route, 30 km/18,6 mi

  • Distance –  30 km/18,6 mi; 28 km/17,Three mi by boat + 2,Three km/1,four mi strolling (from Pontecesures to Padrón)
  • Time – 2 hours, 1h30min. boat, 30 minutes strolling
  • Ascent – 5 m
  • Descent – four m. The strolling a part of the final part may be very flat
  • Strolling floor – 2,Three km on asphalt
A route map of the Camino from Pontecesures to Padron
A map of the strolling route from Pontecesures to Padron, the final stretch of the Religious Variant of the Portuguese Camino

The final day of the Variante Espiritual is a brief stage. In whole, it takes round 2 hours to get from Vilanova de Arousa to Padron. This implies you may have loads of time to proceed strolling previous Padron to get nearer to Santiago de Compostela with the intention to make the ultimate leg of the Portuguese Camino shorter.

The boat journey

The pilgrims’ boat often leaves at Eight am. They ask you to be on the pier 15 minutes earlier than. Should you purchase your ticket on-line you don’t should print it exhibiting it on the display of your telephone is sufficient. The truth is, they didn’t even examine the tickets simply requested for folks’s names and located them on their checklist.

Our boat was full we left at Eight am on the dot. You sit contained in the boat the place you’re protected against wind and rain. In order for you you may stand on the again the place there may be an open space. The Translatio route begins on the Arousa Sea and continues alongside the River Ulla which is without doubt one of the main rivers in Galicia. The boat makes a number of stops most of them at stone crosses. The captain tells you a little bit of historical past and factors within the path of crosses. They offer you tea and a pastry on the boat which was nice as a result of every thing within the city was nonetheless closed after we left.

There are 17 stone crosses alongside the river banks that point out the route. I counted 10 crosses the remainder of them had been in all probability too far to note. The boat journey had an virtually meditative impact on me. It positively may be described as one of many highlights of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago. Moreover historical crosses on the best way you see different monuments e.g., Torres do Oeste (two previous watching towers).

The pilgrims' boat at the port of Vilanova de Arousa
Our boat La Barca del Peregrino on the pier of Vilanova de Arousa

The stroll to Padrón

After 1h30min. the boat arrives in Pontecesures the place you get off and begin strolling alongside the river financial institution after which throughout the bridge in direction of Pardón following the Camino arrows. The top of the stage is 2 km on foot. Should you resolve to remain in Padron there are a number of personal albergues in addition to one public. The city is thought for the standard dish referred to as Padron Peppers which go nicely with native white wine.

Padrón is 24 km from Santiago de Compostela. After the boat journey you arrive in Padrón earlier than 11 am so as a substitute of staying there you may proceed strolling in direction of Santiago and cease at one of many locations on the best way to make your final day’s stroll shorter.

The historical centre of Padron, Galicia
The historic centre of Padrón the tip of the Religious Variant of the Portuguese Camino

Locations to remain in Padron

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Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

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