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Spiritual variant - is it worth it?

merrenkate

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese
We are walking the Camino Portugués (coastal) and looks like we'll have some extra days to play with. Has anyone done the Spiritual Variant and can recommend whether it's worth doing and adding in an extra day of walking? We're loving the way so far but can't find a lot of info on whether the variant is worth it/whether it misses out any nice walking on the inland route. Thanks in advance!
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
We are walking the Camino Portugués (coastal) and looks like we'll have some extra days to play with. Has anyone done the Spiritual Variant and can recommend whether it's worth doing and adding in an extra day of walking? We're loving the way so far but can't find a lot of info on whether the variant is worth it/whether it misses out any nice walking on the inland route. Thanks in advance!
Well, I haven’t done the regular route but yes, the VE is worth it. It was my favourite part of the CP from Lisbon. My article on it if you are interested:

Variante Espiritual Highlights
 
We are walking the Camino Portugués (coastal) and looks like we'll have some extra days to play with. Has anyone done the Spiritual Variant and can recommend whether it's worth doing and adding in an extra day of walking? We're loving the way so far but can't find a lot of info on whether the variant is worth it/whether it misses out any nice walking on the inland route. Thanks in advance!
In 2019 I decided to move inland towards Pontevedre and on to Padron. It was a very enjoyable experience for me. I would recommend it but such options are a personal decision. I thought Padron was worth a visit...famous for peppers...If you wish you can get a "Padronella", a souvenir of your visit, something like the Compostella.... (from the tourist office there.. well.....more of tourist booth really)...nice to have...
 
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In 2019 I decided to move inland towards Pontevedre and on to Padron. It was a very enjoyable experience for me. I would recommend it but such options are a personal decision. I thought Padron was worth a visit...famous for peppers...If you wish you can get a "Padronella", a souvenir of your visit, something like the Compostella.... (from the tourist office there.. well.....more of tourist booth really)...nice to have...
You go through Padrón on both the regular route and the Variante Espiritual.
 
Well, I haven’t done the regular route but yes, the VE is worth it. It was my favourite part of the CP from Lisbon. My article on it if you are interested:

Variante Espiritual Highlights
Nick, I too thought the Spiritual Variant was my favorite part of the Portuguese route. Your article and photos "say it all"!
 
Hi merrenkate!
Yeah defo worth it like Nick said; the best bit of Coastal and very pretty especially when the sun shines!
Here is a link to David Wens YouTube playlist; days nine to eleven are the Variant!
He starts on the Coastal from Porto moves to the Central and then the Variant.
Weather not that great when he walked but will give you a taste of what to expect!
The boat footage on day ten and then when he's in the square; the cheering and clapping pilgrims brings back memories :)!!!!


Buen Camino
Woody
P lease forgive my language on the mountain i was knackered!
Singing in Portuguese i think not Spanish?
 

Attachments

  • UP IN THE HILLS TO VILLA NOVA.mp4
    7.7 MB
  • FROM MY TABLE COMBARRO.mp4
    4.5 MB
  • GREAT ATMOSPHERE SINGING PORTUGUSE ANTHEM.mp4
    9.7 MB
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We are walking the Camino Portugués (coastal) and looks like we'll have some extra days to play with. Has anyone done the Spiritual Variant and can recommend whether it's worth doing and adding in an extra day of walking? We're loving the way so far but can't find a lot of info on whether the variant is worth it/whether it misses out any nice walking on the inland route. Thanks in advance!
Yes absolutely. Stay over in Combarro. It is beautiful.
Hostal Nostra Senora Del Camino.
 
very much enjoyed it especially the first two days. it was special to be in armenteira (pilgrims mess with two other pilgims) i had to walk the 3rd day (no boats due to no other pilgrims; this was early november 21) and i would take the bus instead next time.
 
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I’ve done both the VE (twice) and the inland route through Caldas. They are both very pleasant but I would rate the VE as being a bit different to much of what you will see on the CP. The climb from Combarro, the monastery in Armenteira (would definitely recommend staying there if you can get a room), the walk down the way of stone and water and then the boat ride to Pontecesures; all added to a rich experience before arriving in Santiago. But the inland route also has a lot of charm; whatever you choose, you won’t be making a decision that you regret.
 
I say definitely worth it! The second day is one of the most beautiful walks I’ve ever done, waterfall after waterfall. The boat wasn’t running on day three so I had to walk 38 km since I had planned to meet up with my sister in Milladoiro, that days walk wasn’t so great so take the boat if it’s running.
 
We are walking the Camino Portugués (coastal) and looks like we'll have some extra days to play with. Has anyone done the Spiritual Variant and can recommend whether it's worth doing and adding in an extra day of walking? We're loving the way so far but can't find a lot of info on whether the variant is worth it/whether it misses out any nice walking on the inland route. Thanks in advance!
Yes it is worth doing. We have done it twice, very beautiful
 
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Our Atmospheric H30 poncho offers lightness and waterproofness. Easily compressible and made with our Waterproof fabric, its heat-sealed interior seams guarantee its waterproofness. Includes carrying bag.

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I've done both, and hands down the Spiritual Variant was a highlight. Petroglyphs, lunch in Combarro before tackling the mountain to Armenteira, the Pilgrims' blessing there, the Route of Stone and Water, and the boat ride - all were magical. Yes, I missed dinner by the Roman bridge in Caldas de Reis, but it was a small price.
 
I am enjoying reading this thread, as my husband and I plan to walk in Portugal in October. I think we will take the central route out of Porto (starting our walk there), unless there’s an advantage to the coastal route. So, to take the Variante Espiritual, where would we leave the central route?
 
I am enjoying reading this thread, as my husband and I plan to walk in Portugal in October. I think we will take the central route out of Porto (starting our walk there), unless there’s an advantage to the coastal route. So, to take the Variante Espiritual, where would we leave the central route?
Right after Pontevedra. It's very clearly marked. Right: central. Left: Variante Espiritual.
 
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We are walking the Camino Portugués (coastal) and looks like we'll have some extra days to play with. Has anyone done the Spiritual Variant and can recommend whether it's worth doing and adding in an extra day of walking? We're loving the way so far but can't find a lot of info on whether the variant is worth it/whether it misses out any nice walking on the inland route. Thanks in advance!
IMHO Absolutely worth it! I walked there in June 2018. It is magical. Particularly the area after the Monasterio de Armenteira called the Route of Stone & Water and the boat ride up the Ulla river. Spiritual indeed.
 
We are walking the Camino Portugués (coastal) and looks like we'll have some extra days to play with. Has anyone done the Spiritual Variant and can recommend whether it's worth doing and adding in an extra day of walking? We're loving the way so far but can't find a lot of info on whether the variant is worth it/whether it misses out any nice walking on the inland route. Thanks in advance!
I to will be walking Spiritual V. starting from Esposenda July 3 ....question can i register for my Credentials in Esposenda or are they available from Hostels / Aubergues i dont want to go into Porto at this stage .
 
I to will be walking Spiritual V. starting from Esposenda July 3 ....question can i register for my Credentials in Esposenda or are they available from Hostels / Aubergues i dont want to go into Porto at this stage .
Order one at Ivar’s shop here at the forum. Maybe he is able to get it to you by post before you go to Portugal. time is short so arrange it now I should say.
otherwise and unfortunately for you you have to go to the cathedral in Porto
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I am enjoying reading this thread, as my husband and I plan to walk in Portugal in October. I think we will take the central route out of Porto (starting our walk there), unless there’s an advantage to the coastal route. So, to take the Variante Espiritual, where would we leave the central route?
We've loved the coastal route so far - very few roads, gorgeous walking in dunes and next to the beach, beautiful sunrises over the coast and AMAZING fish! Have never done the central but 100% recommend the coastal, though not sure what the weather would be like later in the year.
 
IMHO Absolutely worth it! I walked there in June 2018. It is magical. Particularly the area after the Monasterio de Armenteira called the Route of Stone & Water and the boat ride up the Ulla river. Spiritual indeed.
Thank you! Where does the boat ride go to/from? Have heard a lot of people mention it but not sure of the details!
 
Nick, I too thought the Spiritual Variant was my favorite part of the Portuguese route. Your article and photos "say it all"!
Ditto. My wife and I loved the Variante! Walked it in May of 2018, before Covid. It was the two most beautiful days of our walk from Porto to Santiago. And…it’s down hill all the way!
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Ditto. My wife and I loved the Variante! Walked it in May of 2018, before Covid. It was the two most beautiful days of our walk from Porto to Santiago. And…it’s down hill all the way!
I walked it a year later, in May 2019. I do remember a few uphills though.🤔 I particularly loved Combarro and spent an overnight there because it was so special.
 
We've loved the coastal route so far - very few roads, gorgeous walking in dunes and next to the beach, beautiful sunrises over the coast and AMAZING fish! Have never done the central but 100% recommend the coastal, though not sure what the weather would be like later in the year.

I love hearing your report. I’ve been concerned that by taking the coastal route it would be a little too much of the same thing every day, not great variety with woods and hills etc. I guess I need to read up a bit more. We loved walking in France, le Chemin du Puy, and just finished the Camino Primitivo in May. My husband definitely does not want steep mountain climbs.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
We are walking the Camino Portugués (coastal) and looks like we'll have some extra days to play with. Has anyone done the Spiritual Variant and can recommend whether it's worth doing and adding in an extra day of walking? We're loving the way so far but can't find a lot of info on whether the variant is worth it/whether it misses out any nice walking on the inland route. Thanks in advance!
Absolutely worith it. It’s the best part of the Portuguese Camino.
 
I’ve been concerned that by taking the coastal route it would be a little too much of the same thing every day, not great variety with woods and hills etc. I guess I need to read up a bit more
Those were my concerns as well, especially since we had just completed the Fisherman's Trail in Portugal with stunning clifftop views of coves/water from above as bird's eye views. Afterward we walked from Porto to Vila de Conda, nice, but not spectacular and I was ready to head inland to the central route...as by that time I was missing the villages and vineyards prevalent on the Frances Camino.
 
The boat boards at Vilanova de Aurousa. About an hour ride to Pontecesures/Padron.
You need to make reservations. Call Bahia-Sub at (+34) 607-911-523. I suggest a few days before if you can. The boat goes when the tide is right! The cost was about E20 then.
info: https://www.labarcadelperegrino.com

I stayed at the Vilanova de Arousa Albergue. call Emilio at (+34) 633-906-490 for reservations.

Buen Camino mi amigo/a :)
 
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Thank you! Where does the boat ride go to/from? Have heard a lot of people mention it but not sure of the details!
From Vilanova de Arousa to Pontescures.
2 options. Fast new boat service. Overcrowded old and slow one.
You can Google options.
 
I love hearing your report. I’ve been concerned that by taking the coastal route it would be a little too much of the same thing every day, not great variety with woods and hills etc. I guess I need to read up a bit more. We loved walking in France, le Chemin du Puy, and just finished the Camino Primitivo in May. My husband definitely does not want steep mountain climbs.
We were a bit worried about it being too samey too, but we've found the complete opposite - it varies every day and between days (dunes, cliffs, fishing villages, beach towns, hills, vineyards), and a lot of the days you can choose between the Senda Litoral (right by the coast) and the Coastal (more inland but with views of the sea). Would really recommend A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino Portugués by John Brierly if you want to do some reading, it's been fab for us!
 
We were a bit worried about it being too samey too, but we've found the complete opposite - it varies every day and between days (dunes, cliffs, fishing villages, beach towns, hills, vineyards), and a lot of the days you can choose between the Senda Litoral (right by the coast) and the Coastal (more inland but with views of the sea). Would really recommend A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino Portugués by John Brierly if you want to do some reading, it's been fab for us!
I def preferred Le Puy and Primitivo.
I found the Portuguese coastal built up, too much road walking....the Primitivo was a relief after that.
The historic centres on the Portuguese coastal are nice and the bit along the coast before Vila do Conde is fab. There are a couple of other lovely sections. The Spiritual Variant is wonderful.
Overall, I preferred the Portuguese central. Take coast to Vilar do Conde, then in to Rates and after Pontevedra turn left onto the Spiritual.
 
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We were a bit worried about it being too samey too, but we've found the complete opposite - it varies every day and between days (dunes, cliffs, fishing villages, beach towns, hills, vineyards), and a lot of the days you can choose between the Senda Litoral (right by the coast) and the Coastal (more inland but with views of the sea). Would really recommend A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino Portugués by John Brierly if you want to do some reading, it's been fab for us!
mind if it rains or has been raining , the Coastal through the hills is risky. The off road path can be very slippery and there are lots of sharp rocks. Ascending and decsending can be dangerous. With a backpack your center of gravity is higher than without I have the experience . Falling , Injuries . After the stage from Viana do Castelo to Vila Praia de Âncora I quited the coastal and continued the Senda
 
We are walking the Camino Portugués (coastal) and looks like we'll have some extra days to play with. Has anyone done the Spiritual Variant and can recommend whether it's worth doing and adding in an extra day of walking? We're loving the way so far but can't find a lot of info on whether the variant is worth it/whether it misses out any nice walking on the inland route. Thanks in advance!
It is absolutely worth it. I did it a few days ago and loved it.. very peaceful, great scenery

I've already put some useful info in another thread (link below)


Boat is €25 and can be booked online, by phone, or in person at the office in Villanove D'Arosa - it is tide dependent so times change each day - takes 1.5 hours - they say "breakfast included" but it's just coffee and cake.

You will need a booking and you'll need to be at the harbour at least 15 mins before departure so if you're a hungry person in the morning I'd advise eating first or buying something to bring with you

If you have lots of time, do a night in Combarro, a really beautiful small seaside town. It was our lunch stop on day 1 (Pontevedra to Armenteira) and I would have loved to spend a night there
 
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We were a bit worried about it being too samey too, but we've found the complete opposite - it varies every day and between days (dunes, cliffs, fishing villages, beach towns, hills, vineyards), and a lot of the days you can choose between the Senda Litoral (right by the coast) and the Coastal (more inland but with views of the sea). Would really recommend A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino Portugués by John Brierly if you want to do some reading, it's been fab for us!
Thanks so much, I’ll check the book out. I’m not wanting a “sand in my shoes” experience, not a beach person, much prefer the hills and valleys. And we love the communal experience of Albergues, sharing meals together with new friends.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
We are walking the Camino Portugués (coastal) and looks like we'll have some extra days to play with. Has anyone done the Spiritual Variant and can recommend whether it's worth doing and adding in an extra day of walking? We're loving the way so far but can't find a lot of info on whether the variant is worth it/whether it misses out any nice walking on the inland route. Thanks in advance!
Myfavorite part
 
We are walking the Camino Portugués (coastal) and looks like we'll have some extra days to play with. Has anyone done the Spiritual Variant and can recommend whether it's worth doing and adding in an extra day of walking? We're loving the way so far but can't find a lot of info on whether the variant is worth it/whether it misses out any nice walking on the inland route. Thanks in advance!
Best and most beautiful part of the Camino for me!
 
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It is absolutely worth it. I did it a few days ago and loved it.. very peaceful, great scenery

I've already put some useful info in another thread (link below)


Boat is €25 and can be booked online, by phone, or in person at the office in Villanove D'Arosa - it is tide dependent so times change each day - takes 1.5 hours - they say "breakfast included" but it's just coffee and cake.

You will need a booking and you'll need to be at the harbour at least 15 mins before departure so if you're a hungry person in the morning I'd advise eating first or buying something to bring with you

If you have lots of time, do a night in Combarro, a really beautiful small seaside town. It was our lunch stop on day 1 (Pontevedra to Armenteira) and I would have loved to spend a night there
Thank you! We just arrived in Armenteira and had the most wonderful lunch in Combarro per your recommendation, totally worth it!!
 
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Yes I recommend it, the Route of Stone and Water isn’t anywhere else on Camino and it’s beautiful. Some hard hills but worth it.
 
We are walking the Camino Portugués (coastal) and looks like we'll have some extra days to play with. Has anyone done the Spiritual Variant and can recommend whether it's worth doing and adding in an extra day of walking? We're loving the way so far but can't find a lot of info on whether the variant is worth it/whether it misses out any nice walking on the inland route. Thanks in advance!
I walked it in 2019 whilst on the Camino Portuguese from Porto to Santiago and it was beautiful. Highly recommend.
 
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I just came back from walking the Variant - once you leave Combarro there is nothing until you get to Armenteira. There are only two places to stay in Armenteira - the Monastery or the Albergue. I know several pilgrims who walked to Armenteira - then called a cab to take them back to Combarro for lodging, then returned to Armenteira in the morning to walk the rest of the route. I would also recommend that if you take the boat from Vila Nova De Arousa to Pontesecures (It was fantastic) - do not take the first one at 7am! The weather often bad - rain and clouds. If you take the 9am, you get to Padron by 1130, go to the church get your stamp, then head to the Tourist Office for your Pedronia. The other two churches are closed. You still have plenty of time to explore then walk to Teo or Farmcello to spend the evening, before walking into Santiago.
 
I just came back from walking the Variant - once you leave Combarro there is nothing until you get to Armenteira. There are only two places to stay in Armenteira - the Monastery or the Albergue. I know several pilgrims who walked to Armenteira - then called a cab to take them back to Combarro for lodging, then returned to Armenteira in the morning to walk the rest of the route. I would also recommend that if you take the boat from Vila Nova De Arousa to Pontesecures (It was fantastic) - do not take the first one at 7am! The weather often bad - rain and clouds. If you take the 9am, you get to Padron by 1130, go to the church get your stamp, then head to the Tourist Office for your Pedronia. The other two churches are closed. You still have plenty of time to explore then walk to Teo or Farmcello to spend the evening, before walking into Santiago.
I loved staying in Combarro overnight. The private albergue Nuestra Senora Del Camino is absolutely beautiful and stunning. I stayed in the Monastery in Armenteira, which was lovely. It is so peaceful on that route, shame to rush through it. Combarro is a special historic and very picturesque place. There is a fab little place close to Nuestra Senore, frequented by the locals. It operates out of a shed and they serve their own wine and rationed, often someone plays an instrument, lots of laughter, really local scene.
 

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