Spiritual Variant

Spiritual Variant of the Camino in the Arousa Estuary

The Spiritual Variant of the Camino de Santiago is an alternative and lesser-known route of the Camino de Santiago, offering pilgrims a unique spiritual experience and a deeper connection with the history and culture of Santiago. Galicia. Unlike the main routes of the Camino de Santiago, such as the French Way or the Northern Way, the Spiritual Variant is not characterized so much by distance or the influx of pilgrims, but by its focus on spirituality and contemplation.

This route starts from the Galician city of Pontevedra and follows the Atlantic coast towards the north, passing through beautiful coastal landscapes and small fishing villages. Arriving in Vilanova de Arousa, where pilgrims can enjoy the serenity and beauty of the surroundings. From there, we leave for Padrón by boat, doing the Traslatio Route in boat to Pontecesures, and finally on foot we will arrive at Santiago de Compostela.

What sets the Spiritual Variant apart is its focus on reflection and spirituality. Pilgrims can enjoy the natural beauty of the Galician coast, visit historic churches and monasteries, and connect with the religious tradition that has been present in the region for centuries and its delicious cuisine. Additionally, as it is a less crowded route, it offers a calmer and more serene experience for those seeking a deeper connection with themselves and their faith while walking the Camino de Santiago.


Isla Cortegada Previous Cortegada Island

Tour details

  • Type of Tours Guided tours and sea taxi
  • Price From 30 euros
  • Destination Arousa
  • City hall Vilanova de Arousa, Pontecesures
  • Language Multilingual
  • Transfer Boat

Traslatio Route

The Traslatio Maritime Route

This unique stage of the Camino de Santiago is a route that is carried out on board, following the path of the boat that transported the remains of the Apostle Santiago in the company of his two most beloved disciples, Teodoro and Anastasio.

The route runs through beautiful natural landscapes, crossing the only river crossing of the Camino where you can see seventeen ancient stone crosses that identify this Camino de Santiago as the Translatio, the origin of all the Caminos.

The boat ride from Vilanova de Arousa is an experience in itself. The landscape is beautiful and very peaceful. It definitely enriches the experience of the Camino

The boat picks up at the port of Vilanova de Arousa, from there it crosses the Ría de Arousa and goes up the Ulla River. On the route, you will be able to see the Briñas Islands, the Malveiras Islands and the Cortegada Island, all belonging to the National Park of the Atlantic Islands and where some of the 17 cruzeiros (stone crosses) that mark the route and that constitute the the only maritime-river via crucis in the world. Once in the waters of the Ulla River, we will navigate through the towns of Bamio, Catoira, Valga and Dodro until reaching Pontecesures, where the disembarkation takes place.

On the boat trip, in addition to seeing the cruzeiros, you will also be able to see the Catoira Towers and the Viking ships that annually parade among the wonderful landscapes, remembering the raids of these Nordic warriors in the Galician waters.

In Pontecesures, the Traslatio Route joins the Portuguese Way, to continue to Padrón, a town known worldwide for its famous peppers.

From Padrón to Santiago de Compostela there are about 25 kilometers. A fourth stage to be carried out by all those who wish to complete their pilgrimage to the tomb of Santiago Apóstol.

Variante Espiritual

Boat Route

The nautical journey step by step

Vilanova de Arousa

In this picturesque seaside town in Galicia, which is located in the province of Pontevedra, the maritime-river route begins. Once boarded you will see many small beaches surrounding the city, also beautiful views of the estuary and the Island of Arousa.

This town hall has beautiful promenades that you can enjoy walking and contemplating the landscape. When it’s time to eat, there’s excellent seafood at the city’s many restaurants.

There are many good places to eat, especially in the old part of Vilanova. There are also many wineries nearby that offer guided tours, so take some time to enjoy them before boarding the boat.

Ría de Arousa

Mussel pots

Once the journey has begun, the boat will head to the famous mussel rafts. The Atlantic coast of Galicia is an important region for seafood production. Along the estuary there are fields of anchor ropes that hold the mussels. A single rope line is capable of producing up to 7.5 tons of mussels per year. Not only are they an affordable form of protein, but they are also the most sustainable seafood available. Because mussels act as a natural filtration system for the marine environment, their cultivation is beneficial to the environment and could even heal the habitat.

Briñas, Malveiras and Cortegada Islands

Then, from the boat, you will see this group of small islands, located very close to the coast of O Carril (Vilagarcía de Arousa), within the Atlantic Islands National Park, in a natural environment of great beauty. The island of Cortegada is the largest of the archipelago and there is the largest plant formation of laurel (Laurus nobilis) in Europe.

Via Crucis Maritime Fluvial

While navigating the waters of the estuary, you will see the 17 cruzeiros – religious sculptures made of stone, mainly granite, formed by a cross at the top that sits on a pillar, also made of stone – that mark this unique maritime Way of the Cross. -river. Located in beautiful places, on both sides of the Ría de Arousa and on the natural islets, these crosses mark the route that the remains of the Apostle Santiago followed to the region of Galicia.

Variante Espiritual
Torres de Catoira

Catoira and its towers

Sailing through the deepest area of the Ría de Arousa where the Ulla River flows, you will see the Torres del Oeste, in Catoira. The current towers were part of a larger defensive complex that guarded the river. In the 10th century, the local bishop invested many resources in improving the fortification to protect it from marauding pirates. At its peak, the fortress had seven towers and a chapel dedicated to Santiago. In many ways, the castle ruins are a testament to the relic’s unique history. Today, the castle ruins are a national monument and ground zero for the annual Catoira Viking Festival. On the first Sunday of every August, the people of the nearby town of Catoira recreate a mock battle of the Viking invasions.


Once the sea-river crossing is completed, we disembark in Pontecesures. Located on the banks of the Ulla River, in a section close to the mouth of the Arousa estuary, Pontecesures, known as Cesures by the Romans, is a port that for centuries was the commercial and economic base of the region; Remains of Phoenician, Greek and Carthaginian ceramics have been found there, testifying to its antiquity. From here you can complete the pilgrimage by walking along the Portuguese Way to the neighboring town of Padrón, where according to legend the apostle landed.


The Traslatio

Traslatio is the Latin word used to refer to the transfer by sea of the remains of the Apostle Santiago, from Palestine to Galicia.

There are several medieval texts that allude to this fact. Among the most notable is the Codex Calixtinus, also known as the Book of the Camino de Santiago.

According to legend, the Apostle James was beheaded by order of Herod Agrippa I in Jerusalem. The disciples who had followed him there stole his lifeless body and loaded it into a stone boat that had no rudder or crew.

They say that it was the angels and the stars who guided the boat to the Galician coast. As in the last stage of the Spiritual Variant, the boat crossed the Ría de Arousa and the Ulla River, docking in Iria Flavia, a neighborhood of the current town of Padrón.

After the remains of the Apostle Santiago were landed on land, his disciples had to overcome various difficulties until they were finally able to bury the apostle’s body.

According to common legend, Athanasius and Theodore approached Queen Lupa in search of a place to bury the apostle James. As a pagan, she purposely pointed them the wrong way twice, but they both managed to return to safety. In the end, her persistence and dedication to the apostle truly inspired the queen. She ended up converting to Christianity and provided a place for the apostle James. So it was thanks to Queen Lupa that the Path exists.

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