The Camino de Santiago, or Compostela Trail, has for centuries represented an important pilgrimage route from France, across the Pyrenees and the north of Spain to the tomb of St James in Santiago de Compostela. Following the most interesting sections from Roncesvalles in Spain through famous pilgrimage cities such as Leon and Pamplona, the landscapes change daily from mountain trails to forests and open plains. A continuous reminder of the pilgrimage route are the many churches, monasteries and crosses which line the route. With the camaraderie of a small group and local guide, the trip is fully supported throughout. At night stay in atmospheric towns in a selection of hand picked hotels where the local flavours are introduced by your hosts.
This is a guided walk with average daily stages of 3 to 5 hours. The trip is graded moderate as it is mainly on well defined trails, with a few off path sections only. There are many ups and downs and walking poles are definitely a good idea. A reasonable level of fitness is required. As with all of our trips it is important that you are well prepared. We suggest that you undertake regular exercise – swimming, cycling, and jogging, two to three times a week for three months prior to your departure.
Meet your guide in Bilbao - either at the airport or our hotel in the city centre (the meeting time is usually 4 to 4.30pm but this will be confirmed prior to your departure). If you would like to visit the Guggenheim Museum an extra day in Bilbao is recommended, ask our office for pre tour accommodation rates. After your group meeting there's a brief stop at the Guggenheim Museum to admire the exterior of this architectural masterpiece before transferring to Roncesvalles (around 2.5 hours drive) for dinner and overnight.
Your first introduction to the famous pilgrimage trail begins in the historical village of Roncesvalles, high in the Pyrenees and only 5km from the French border in northeast Navarre. Its famous local church has several relics dating back to the 8th Century and the defeat of Charlemagne by local tribes. Walk along the Camino to Alto del Erro then transfer to Pamplona for dinner and overnight.
Leaving Pamplona, we'll walk from the town of Cizur Menor with its 12th century Church of San Miguel before there's an ascent at Sierra del Perdon for a beautiful view. We'll pass through medieval villages to arrive at Puente la Reina before transferring to Logrono (1hr) for dinner and overnight. Situated on the Ebro river and on the border between La Rioja and Navarra, Logrono has many historic buildings.
In the morning, we'll visit Laguardia in the wine area Rioja Alavesa, including a visit to a wine cellar. We'll enter Castile e Leon and walk from Montes de Oca, through woodlands and along the foothills of the Oca Mountains, to the medieval village of San Juan de Ortega, which was built as a safe haven for pilgrims. Transfer to historic Burgos for dinner and overnight.
In the morning we'll have a guided tour of Burgos, including its UNESCO listed Gothic Cathedral. We'll then transfer to Castrojeriz to walk across the Castilian meseta to Frómista. This is gentle easy walking along winding paths over this huge wide open plain which offers such a contrast to the mountains and hills that have gone before. Transfer to Sahagun for dinner and overnight.
Today we'll walk through the Castile landscape, characterised by small valleys and riverbeds, before transferring to Leon, once the most important city in Christian Spain. Here we'll have a guided city tour, including a visit to the magnificent Gothic cathedral, built on the site of Roman baths dating from the 2nd century. Dinner and overnight in Leon.
Today's walk is between the villages of Hospital de Orbigo and Astorga. A magnificent sandstone bridge leads into Hospital de Orbigo, and from here we'll pass the holm oak and chestnut tree covered Colomba mountain and cross the Tuerto river to Astorga. With Roman ruins, a Romanesque and Gothic Cathedral and the Antonio Gaudi designed Palacio Episcopal, Astorga has an interesting architectural mix. Overnight Astorga.
The walk today is in the mountains and we begin at Cruz de Ferro which has panoramic views over the plains below. Continue to the picturesque village of Molinaseca before strolling to Villafranca del Bierzo, nestling at the foot of the mountains. We'll transfer to Herrerias de Valcarce for dinner and overnight.
Our route today takes us from the province of Castile to Galicia. This is another beautiful section through the mountains as we make our way to O Cebreiro, with its imposing church and wonderful views of the Galician countryside. It is also an important point of pilgrimage. Walk to Triacastela and transfer to Samos Monastery for a short visit. Transfer to Sarria for dinner and overnight.
We'll walk along tracks and paths through hamlets, farmland and woodlands to Portomarin. The village was relocated higher up the slopes after its original site was flooded following construction of the Belesar reservoir. Many monuments were moved to the new site, stone by stone. This is rural Galicia at its best. Transfer to Arzúa for dinner and overnight at a rural hotel.
Santiago is our destination today. Arrive in time to visit the amazing Gothic Cathedral and explore the historical centre.
Today there's a guided city tour of Santiago de Compostela. In the afternoon we take a half day excursion to Cape Finisterre, a symbolic destination as it was historically considered the edge of the known world. Farewell dinner and overnight Santiago.
Your tour concludes after breakfast.
I appreciate the small group + being free to explore alone sometimes. The walks were what I expected.
J Gibson, Hampton, VIC
I would highly recommend this trip. It was a great way to experience “the Camino” in total without having to walk the whole way. Thank you UTracks for making it possible.
A. Walsh, Port Macquarie, NSW
Our guide was very friendly, helpful, accommodating, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Her nightly story sessions of the legends & myths of the Camino made it come alive!! She was very professional and heaps of fun.
D.Spargo, Sydney, Australia
The Camino section was fabulous, amazing, and fantastic, I would go again tomorrow. The guide knew what she was talking about, had a passion for the Camino, her country, her history, and especially had a genuine interest in her tour participants. Our driver was safe, always on time, went out of his way to help, and provided extra services not part of the tour.
H. Bindels., NSW. Australia
The Best of The Camino guided walking tour is exactly as described, a journey encompassing many memorable moments from magnificent landscapes, an historical overview of cities such as Pamplona, Leon, Burgos and Santiago and the influence of previous societies which provides the current cultural aspect to these places. The journey itself which allowed those that weren't seasoned Trekkers to participate fully daily due to our excellent guide and his previous knowledge of the terrain and what was achievable for each group member. Also, the accommodation and meals were superb and we never wanted for anything.
D. Klundert., Bunbury, WA, Australia.
I loved this trip - It was well organised and incredibly interesting - challenging but manageable. Our tout guide was brilliant in every way you need a tour guide to be. The history and route were both amazing.If you are thinking of walking the Camino de Santiago I would highly recommend considering this trip as you truly do get to experience the BEST of the camino.
A. Parks., Toowong, QLD, Australia
Well guided and well provided for trip with excellent backup. Thoroughly recommended. Make sure the walking shoes are well broken in.
J. Jacobs, Exeter, UK, 12 Oct 2016
This trip took away all the major concerns I had about walking the Camino. Accommodations were pre-booked and good quality, meals - breakfast and dinner included so we were no left to dine on our own, safety - walking with group, guide and driver, baggage transport - not having to carry heavy pack, history and culture information about the areas we walked through was an added bonus. Length was good for a Camino primer. Would consider another longer Camino trek.
Linda Cooke, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, 01 Nov 2016
Sandra Gray, Wahroonga, Australia, 06 Nov 2016
The guide, Alex was very good. She had a cheerful disposition, energetic and attentive to all in the group. The driver Jesus, was helpful and friendly even though none of us in the group could speak Spanish to him. The group of 10 of us was a nice size and everyone was friendly and easy going. We were very lucky with the lovely, sunny weather too.
Lily Wong, Paddington, Australia, 04 Nov 2016
Walking the Camino is something I have wanted to do for a long time. The Best of the Camino was perfect. I experienced the pilgrimage and saw some of the Spanish countryside that you only get to see f you are walking. The tour was brilliant and the guide amazing. Thank you UTracks.
J. Hughes, Chapel Hill, QLD Australia, 06 Oct 2016
This is a very satisfying trip, without the "boring bits" of the well worn pilgrim walk. The back up vehicle was excellent for those who found the walking too strenuous. Our guide, Jorge, was very knowledgeable, pleasant and energetic. All the towns were interesting and there was enough time to see them, with city tour guides in the biggest, Burgos, Leon and Santiago. I enjoyed the luxury of my own hotel room with bathroom every night. There was enough trekking to experience the countryside, about 170km in total, and partake of the pilgrim experience. Arriving in Santiago and attending the Pilgrim Mass at the Cathedral was thrilling. I would recommend the trip to anyone who is interested in doing the Camino, but hesitant to spend 5 weeks on foot.
A. Kolatchew, Brisbane, Australia, 14 Jun 2017
Our guide Jorge and our bus driver Jesus, were exceptional in looking after us. Jorge was a wealth of knowledge and explained lots of things along the way. Jesus had us organized every morning and night and kept an eye on us in case we went the wrong way when we were coming into towns. I was a little disappointed at times when there wasn't a place at our table for Jesus to sit at. Our group looked after each other, which I am sure was due to our leaders.
J. Hillier, Huon, VIC Australia, 31 Jul 2017
I have just returned from a wonderful "Best of the Camino' trip to Spain, arranged through UTracks of Ottawa. In every way, it was satisfying and even inspirational. When the man at the Pilgrims Office in Santiago asked me if I had had a "cultural, athletic, spiritual or religious experience", I answered "All of the above". The right amount of walking each day, a very well-informed and caring guide named Jorge Bela, comfortable hotels, good meals and the company of 12 hearty Australians. Did I mention I was a fit 80? Buen camino!
R. Ganley, Peterborough, ON Canada, 28 Sep 2017
The choice of walks in The Best of the Camino were very good gave us an example of hills, forests, plains, rivers, dry creeks, farming communities, types of foods grown and animals cared for, villages, cities, churches, Cathedrals and many crosses. The Camino Walk is very popular and what was impressive was how friendly most people were all wishing you Bien Camino. Our Guide was particularly good at supporting everyone on their Camino he gave us good directions for the day and great cultural information throughout the trip.
C. Eden, Ashwood, VIC, 19 Oct 2017
The Best of the Camino is a great trip for anybody wanting to get a good overall view of the Camino de Santiago. It gives you a good insight into the spiritual and social significance of the Camino, the countryside and the lifestyle of the northern Spain region. Our guide, Hector Oliva, and driver Javier were absolutely delightful and created a wonderful group atmosphere. Hector provided clear and succinct commentaries along the way and smoothed the way for accommodation and meals. Javier was always jovial and happy to assist in any way. I would highly recommend the trip to anyone.
G. Ebsary, Parkwood, Western Australia, 24 Oct 2017
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