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 6 to 6.30pm but this will be confirmed prior to your departure). There's a brief stop at the Guggenheim Museum to admire 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 to Zubiri then transfer to Pamplona for dinner and overnight.
Leaving Pamplona, we'll walk through 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 including 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 climb up to 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 you can take an optional half day excursion to Cape Finisterre (supplement applies), a symbolic destination as it was historically considered the edge of the known world. Farewell dinner and overnight Santiago.
Your tour concludes after breakfast.
Per Person, Twin Share