The Non secular Variant of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago

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The Non secular Variant or Variante Espiritual is an non-obligatory route of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago from Pontevedra to Padron. This route is certainly one of my favorites out of 9 completely different Camino de Santiago routes that I’ve achieved. The identify non secular 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 achieved 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 occasions actually appreciated 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 Non secular Variant of the Portuguese Camino

The Non secular Variant (Variante Espiritual) route overview

  • Whole distance – 74 km/46 mi; 46 km/28,5 mi strolling and 28 km/17,3 mi by boat
  • Variety of days – 3 days
  • Start line – 3 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 highway
  • 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 Non secular Variant of the Portuguese Camino?

The Non secular Variant is another route on the Portuguese Camino de Santiago. This coastal route is usually known as La Traslatio (typically spelled as Translatio) or the Ulla River Route referring to the final stage that’s achieved 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 experience from Vilanova de Arousa to Pontecesures is an important a part of the Variante Espiritual route. The 74-kilometers route splits from the principle 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 way in which between Combarro and Armenteira

The Historical past of the Non secular Route

The Non secular Variant is typically known 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. Based on 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 referred to as 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 way in which from Combarro to Armenteira

How lengthy is the Variante Espiritual?

The Non secular route of the Portuguese Camino is 74 km/46 mi in complete; 46 km/28,5 mi of which you stroll and 28 km/17,3 mi you go on a ship. It takes 3 days to finish the route from Pontevedra to Padrón.

The place does the route begin?

The Non secular route splits from the Central Route within the forest 3 km exterior of Pontevedra. There’s a well-marked route cut up; the left route throughout a small bridge is the Non secular variant and the fitting route via the forest is the principle route of the Camino Portuguese. All pilgrims stroll out of town of Pontevedra following the identical route and after 3 km while you get to the cut up you may change.

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

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

The Non secular Variant joins the Central manner 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 known as Iria Flavia prior to now.

The Variante Espiritual vs the Central Route

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

The Non secular Method is a bit longer than the Central Route. From Pontevedra to Pardon on the Central Route is 40 km/24,8 mi or 2 strolling days in comparison with 74 km/46 mi or 3 strolling days from Pontevedra to Pardon on the Non secular Method. The precise strolling distance on each routes is just about the identical as a result of, on the Non secular Route, you stroll solely 46 km/28,5 mi, 28 km you do by boat.

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

There are fewer pilgrims on the Non secular route in comparison with the principle Camino Route. If you wish to have a quiet couple of days on the Camino it’s a superb possibility.

The boat experience from Vilanova de Arousa is an expertise by itself. The surroundings is gorgeous and really peaceable. It undoubtedly enriches the Camino expertise regardless if you happen to stroll the Central or the Coastal Route of the Portuguese Camino.

Is the route well-marked?

Sure, the Non secular Variant is marked like another Camino route. You may see yellow arrows painted on sidewalks, partitions, and poles. In addition to wood poles with steel shells and arrows. It’s simple to comply with however typically you do have to concentrate, particularly strolling via 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 Non secular Variant of the Portuguese Camino

A ship experience 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 may 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 facet of an extended pedestrian bridge (Pasarela de O Terron) that you simply cross to get to the city 200 m away from the pier. You’ll find it on Google.maps as Ruta Translatio. The workplace is open day by day from 8 am to 7 pm.

Concerning the boat experience

  • The boat departs from the port of Vila Nova de Arousa day by day round 8 am. It’s really helpful to verify the departure time a day earlier than as as a consequence of climate situations it’d change. 
  • The journey takes 1h30min. 
  • The value is 25 euros per individual.

In addition to the large boat La Barca del Peregrino, there are small pace boats between Vila Nova de Arousa and Pontecesures. They’re operated by A Mare Turismo Nautico. A experience is costlier, 30 euros per individual. The length of the experience is about the identical however small boats go sooner. In case you determine to take a pace 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 pace boat. I did the Non secular Variant finish of Could and there have been two pace boats with pilgrims on the route as our huge boat was full.   

Between April and October, it’s virtually assured that the boat will go. Outdoors of the season, it relies on the demand. If there are pilgrims they’ll go in any other case they received’t. I requested on the boat about their season and so they informed me that typically they exit even in December if there are individuals. Final yr I needed to stroll the Non secular Method finish of October and there have been no boats after the twenty first of October. If there aren’t sufficient individuals 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 need to stroll at the least the final 100 km to Santiago de Compostela on any Camino route. There’s nothing to fret about boat experience is part of the route. You’re imagined to take a ship between Vilanova de Arouse and Pontecesures. You received’t have any difficulties getting your Compostela in Santiago due to the boat. In truth, they even provide you with a stamp that confirms that you simply did the interpretation as part of your pilgrimage on the Camino. 

I’ve achieved the Non secular Variant twice and the primary time we didn’t take a ship and determined to stroll from Vilanova de Arouse to Pontecesures simply to verify the route. It wasn’t a superb expertise. The route is poorly marked we needed to stroll subsequent to railways and alongside busy roads. In complete, we walked greater than 30 km that day. The boat experience is loads higher. It’s fairly good for a change to sit down on a ship and benefit from the surroundings after strolling for days. 

A forest scenery on the Spiritual Variant in Galicia
Strolling via the gorgeous Galician forest was one of many highlights of the Non secular route

Baggage switch service on the Variante Espiritual

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

Non secular Route GPX recordsdata

The Non secular 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 experience + a brief stroll. 

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

  • Distance – 21 km/13 mi
  • Time – 4 hours (shifting time) 
  • Ascent – 606 m
  • Descent – 358 m
  • Strolling floor – 9 km/5,5 mi footpath/gravel highway, 12 km/7,4 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 Non secular Variant of the Portuguese Camino

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

You may cut up the day into two elements to make it simpler because the ascent within the second half of the day is kind of powerful particularly if you happen to do it in summer time. 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, a fantastic place situated within the coronary heart of the historic centre.


  • A number of quick ascents and first rate 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 Non secular Method from Pontevedra to Armenteira


Stage 1 route description

From the historic centre of Pontevedra (Church of Virxe Peregrina) comply with the Camio indicators that can lead you out of the city throughout the Ponte do Burgo Bridge. for the primary 3 km, you comply with the Central Route of the Portuguese Camino out of the city via the forest.

At 2,5 km there’s a water fountain

At 3 km on the bridge, there’s a cut up. The left route is the Non secular Method which works throughout the bridge in the direction of the coast, and the fitting route (the principle route) continues straight in the direction of Caldas de Reis.

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

Between 6 km and eight km, the Camino goes via the forest and small villages. 

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

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

On the roundabout after Poio flip left. The Camino goes away from the highway in the 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 middle it simply touches it however it’s so small that strolling round it’s going to hardly add any distance to your stroll. I’d counsel spending a while within the city it has many fascinating medieval buildings situated alongside the slender cobbled streets. 

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

At 11,5 km after crossing the principle road 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 purchase snacks and water however 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 cut up that isn’t marked properly don’t flip off the principle highway (hold proper). Within the final half, there will probably be a number of splits however you simply stick with the principle route except 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 Non secular 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 highway, 8 km on asphalt, 500 m on a quiet highway
A route map of the second stage of the spiritual camino route
A map of the second stage of the Non secular route from Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa

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


  • It was a comparatively simple stroll with no explicit difficult elements moreover the downhill stroll in the beginning however 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 gorgeous stroll via the lush-green forest alongside the river with small waterfalls and massive boulders
  • A quiet stroll via a wonderful pure space alongside the river and between the vineyards
  • A stroll alongside the coast of the Atlantic Ocean on the final 3 km earlier than Vilanova de Arousa

Stage 2 route description 

The primary 5 km on a footpath via the forest. Proper in the beginning when you get to the footpath there are two trails one goes on the fitting facet of the river and one crosses the bridge and follows the river on the left. I took the fitting path. It goes nearer to the river and extra via the forest. The left path goes via extra open elements and is a bit farther from the river. Each trails merge a few kilometers later on the highway the place you’ll see a Camino signal. If it rains loads the fitting path may get muddy and a bit slippery because it goes typically over rocks. There are a number of forest paths that cross the route simply stick with the principle path until you get to the highway 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 a must to cross a few roads earlier than you may get again on a footpath that goes alongside the river. There’s a huge restaurant on the fitting simply 50 m away from the Camino.

Between 5,5 km and 13 km, you stroll largely 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’s one other restaurant. The Camino route goes throughout the bridge and all the way down to the river on the opposite facet of it.

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

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

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

At 16 km one other restaurant. After the primary 5 km, there will probably 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’ve got round 3 km to Vilanova de Arousa. From there on there will probably be a restaurant/cafe each km or so.

The Camino goes alongside the coast for the final 3 km providing spectacular views.

At 23 km you get to an extended pedestrian bridge that you simply 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/17,3 mi by boat + 2,3 km/1,4 mi strolling (from Pontecesures to Padrón)
  • Time – 2 hours, 1h30min. boat, half-hour strolling
  • Ascent – 5 m
  • Descent – 4 m. The strolling a part of the final part could be very flat
  • Strolling floor – 2,3 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 Non secular Variant of the Portuguese Camino

The final day of the Variante Espiritual is a brief stage. In complete, it takes round 2 hours to get from Vilanova de Arousa to Padron. This implies you’ve got loads of time to proceed strolling previous Padron to get nearer to Santiago de Compostela as a way to make the ultimate leg of the Portuguese Camino shorter.

The boat experience

The pilgrims’ boat often leaves at 8 am. They ask you to be on the pier quarter-hour earlier than. In case you purchase your ticket on-line you don’t need to print it exhibiting it on the display screen of your cellphone is sufficient. In truth, they didn’t even verify the tickets simply requested for individuals’s names and located them on their listing.

Our boat was full we left at 8 am on the dot. You sit contained in the boat the place you’re protected against wind and rain. If you’d like you may stand on the again the place there’s 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 provide you tea and a pastry on the boat which was nice as a result of every thing within the city was nonetheless closed once 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 undoubtedly might be described as one of many highlights of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago. In addition to historical crosses on the way in which 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 the direction of Pardón following the Camino arrows. The top of the stage is 2 km on foot. In case you determine to remain in Padron there are a number of personal albergues in addition to one public. The city is understood for the standard dish known as Padron Peppers which go properly with native white wine.

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

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

Locations to remain in Padron

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