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  • Tim Mathis

Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa: Spiritual Variant Day 2

Updated: Oct 20, 2023



This post is part of a series of guides about the Portuguese Coastal Camino. If you're looking for the full rundown on that route, have a look here: What do you REALLY need to know about the Portuguese Coastal Camino?


We’re veering from the main route onto the Spiritual Variant, which is what we did. If you want a guide to the main route, I like Pilgrimage Traveler, if you’re looking for a comprehensive turn by turn, or Stingy Nomads if you’re looking for more barebones logistics.


Rejoin me at Padrón if you decide against the Spiritual Variant.


La Ruta del Piedra y Agua, Spiritual Variant, Portuguese Camino
La Ruta del Piedra y Agua

Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa on the Spiritual Variant


Distance


23.7 km/14.7 miles


Terrain


Not as much of a challenge as yesterday. You start out on a couple miles of downhill forested trail on "La Ruta de la Piedra y del Agua." If it's been raining it can be slick in places but otherwise it's a pleasant walk.


When you start this section, you'll have the option to go on either the right or left hand side of the stream. Either works, but stay right for the most scenic experience.


After that, the terrain levels out and mostly follows the river before descending gradually to the sea at Cores. Some rolling terrain but it's mostly level after the initial descent from Armenteira, walking on paths and pavement.


Important note for tomorrow: If, like most people, you plan to take the boat for the next stage, you need to arrange today if you haven't already. Most people go on the large Barca del Peregrino. There are a few small operators that do the trip as well. In the off season it's a good idea to call ahead to be sure that the boat will be running when you want to take it, because it is dependent on demand.


Spiritual Variant, Day 2: Portuguese Camino

Experience


If you've ever gone hiking in the Pacific Northwest, you'll have a bit of a sense of the first part of today's walk. The Ruta de la Piedra y del Agua down from Armenteira passes through ferns and mossy forest, along a series of abandoned stone mills. It's a unique section that doesn't feel like anywhere else on the Coastal Camino, and a lot of people list it as their favorite stage of this walk.


Cruceiro, Portuguese Coastal Camino
Cruceiro

After a couple of miles of this, most of the day is spent following a river, through parks, past cornfields and through small towns. You'll pass a few cafes and bars along the way, and the day makes for a pleasant, relaxed walk. Not as much history and atmosphere as the previous stage, but plenty of natural beauty to make up for it, and a fair amount of shade to keep you cool.


Coastal walking before Vilanova de Arousa, Portuguese Coastal Camino, Spiritual Variant
Coastal walking before Vilanova de Arousa

When you get to the coast, you'll track past beaches, campgrounds and parks until you get to Vilanova de Arousa, where you'll cross a pretty bridge into town. If, like most people, you're taking the pilgrim boat (La Barca del Peregrino) the next day, the departure point is clearly visible to the left, and the office where you can buy tickets is to the right. (You can also buy online at their website if you'd like.) We got help from our hospitalero, but honestly it's just as easy to turn up at the office when they're open.


Vilanova de Arousa is a great little coastal town that draws tourists as well as pilgrims. It was a bit sleepy on the Sunday when we arrived until we happened upon a big mariachi concert near an old church. There must’ve been 500 people there, dancing and singing. Good times, and exactly the kind of thing that makes the Camino feel magical.


It's also possible to view some real history here. In the northern part of town, on a hill, are the remains of an 8th century monastery’s at the Calogo Tower. A document dated to the late 800's was discovered recently that described a donation to this monastery, and made reference to the pilgrimage to Santiago. It's the region’s oldest reference to the Camino, and proof that this area has been important in the Santiago story from the beginning. It doesn’t get more OG than that!


From here, to me, you really start to feel the massive influence and historical importance of Santiago and the Camino. You aren't far from Santiago now, and it’s a magical last couple of days.



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