Following in the footsteps of countless pilgrims since the 9th Century, we follow the legendary route Camino Frances (French Way) to Santiago de Compostela.
Following in the footsteps of countless pilgrims since the 9th Century, we follow the legendary route Camino Frances (French Way) to Santiago de Compostela - the resting place of Saint James, where we claim our pilgrims' certificate. We walk along the most scenic sections between Leon and Santiago: across the high plains of the Castilian Meseta and into the Galician mountains. We discover Gothic cathedrals, pass through medieval villages and climb to the Iron Cross (1482m) along the way.
The legendary Camino de Santiago route - Walk through beautiful scenery and historic towns along the best parts of the route to claim a pilgrim's certificate
Astorga - Magnificent Bishop's Palace designed by Antoni Gaudi
Cruz de Ferro - The famous iron cross at the highest point of the Camino
O Cebreiro - Charming mountain village with cobbled streets, round stone thatched houses and picturesque valley views
Santiago De Compostela - Lively historic town and holy shrine of pilgrims
- Camino de Santiago
- Santiago De Compostela
- Small Group
- 50 plus
Day 1: Tour starts at Madrid airport. Walking tour of Leon
Our trip starts at Terminal 1 at Madrid airport, from where we travel for approximately three hours by charter bus to Leon. Leon is a great city with a wonderful sense of history reflected in it architecture. It is also an important waypoint on the famous Camino de Santiago. After settling into our hotel we have a walking tour of this interesting city. The city's main attractions are its beautiful Gothic cathedral with its unique stained glass windows and the Romanesque San Isidoro church. However there is lots more to discover, including the picturesque old quarter and the brass scallop shells set in the pavement that mark the route of the Camino de Santiago through the city.
Day 2: Walk from Hospital de Orbigo to Astorga
Today, after ensuring we have our Pilgrim Passports we drive to Hospital de Orbigo, famous for its 13th century bridge. We commence our trek from here, with a walk on the Meseta (the Castilian high plateau) to Astorga, home to the magnificent Bishop's Palace designed by Antoni Gaudi.
Our first walk covers 16 kilometres over approximately four hours. The terrain is gently undulating with a total ascent and descent of +/- 200m.
Day 3: Ascend to the Iron Cross (1482 m); descend to Molinaseca
We leave the high plateau of the Meseta behind us as we drive a short distance into the mountains to the near- abandoned village of Foncebadon. From here we walk, following the scallop shell markings, up to the famous Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross), the highest point of the Camino at 1482m. This is one of the most significant points on the route, for centuries pilgrims have left a stone brought from home, an offering they hope will give them protection for the rest of the pilgrimage. From here we can see the mountains of Galicia in the distance. The rest of our day is spent gently descending and we finally arrive in the small village of Molinaseca with its impressive Roman bridge. Here we meet our bus and transfer the short distance to our hotel in Villafranca del Bierzo. Villafranca del Bierzo was once an important medieval town and is home to some spectacular churches, including the Romanesque Church of Santiago.
Today our walk covers 19 kilometres over approximately five hours. We ascend to 1482 m then gently descend along mountain trails. The total ascent and descent is approximately +100m / -930m.
Day 4: Walk to the pretty mountain village of O Cebreiro
After a short drive to the start of today's walk we continue along the Camino, following the course of the Valcarce River through the valley. This has been the route between Galicia and Castile since ancient times, passing through the small hamlets of Las Herrerias and Ruitelan to the border between Galicia and Leon. Here we come to one of the highlights of our walk, the unusual village of O Cebreiro, a tiny wind battered settlement of stone houses set high above a patchwork quilt of green valleys. The village is famous for its 'pallozas' - traditional circular, thatch-roofed houses. Once in O Cebreiro we have time to relax and explore the village before meeting our bus for the drive to Sarria. En route there is the option to visit Samos Monastery, still an active retreat, and a landmark of the Camino.
Our walk is gently uphill almost all day today and far away from road access. We walk for nine kilometres over approximately three hours. The terrain is unmade mountain paths. The total ascent and descent is +750m.
Day 5: Pass the famous 100 km landmark
From Sarria we continue on foot through Galicia, traversing a terrain of undulating hills in the most verdant of Spain's regions. Passing the hamlet of Ferreiros we reach the famous 100km landmark, for so long a magical moment for weary pilgrims. It is here that they can re-gather their strength, knowing that it was now only another three or four days to go to Santiago. Nowadays this waypoint marks the limit from where one has to walk continuously to Santiago in order to get the 'Compostela', the official pilgrim's certificate. This afternoon we reach Portomarin, once a splendid medieval village, which was relocated by Franco to make way for a reservoir. Remnants of the town's more prosperous days can still be seen amongst its narrow streets, such as the attractive Romanesque San Pedro church.
Our walk today covers 22 kilometres over approximately five and a half hours. The terrain is mainly unmade paths through hilly countryside with a total ascent and descent of approximately +640 / - 680m.
Day 6: Descend to Palas de Rei
Today we start by crossing part of the reservoir on a disused railway bridge. Then the trail continues gradually uphill, passing the 80km mark near Castromaior village. In the vicinity is Casa Carneiro, in medieval times a night stop for 'VIP' pilgrims such as Charles V the emperor who stayed here in 1520 on his way to his coronation, and King Philipp II a few years later on his way to marry Mary Tudor in England. We reach our last high pass (722m) just before Ligonde, and continue on through undulating hills, Eucalyptus trees and Cruceiros (the stone crosses typical of Galicia), to gently descend to our night stop at Palas de Rei, an important pilgrim town.
Our walk covers 22 kilometres over approximately six hours. We ascend up to the pass (722 m) and then continuing on unmade paths through gently undulating hills. The total ascent and descent is approximately +410 / - 300m.
Day 7: Hike through rural Galicia; cross the medieval bridge to Melide
Leaving the town behind, the Camino now takes us through idyllic rural Galicia, passing farmland and beautiful countryside. We walk through an oak grove to A Coruna, and cross a medieval bridge with four arches to reach Melide where we stop for the night. Today is a good day for trying some traditional Galician dishes, specifically the famous 'pulpo a la Gallega octopus' for which the village of Melide is renowned, and maybe some of the excellent local white wine from the Riberas Baixas near Pontevedra.
Today our walk covers 14 kilometres over approximately three and a half hours. The terrain is rural paths through farmland and gently undulating hillsides, with a total ascent and descent of approximately +80/-200m.
Day 8: Walk through local villages en route to Arzua
Today you will pass many 'horreos', typical barns of the region that dot this beautiful countryside. We will also start to see more signs that we are nearing Santiago, including many pilgrim villages. Crossing the River Iso we arrive to Arzua where the Camino Frances (French Way) that we have been following, and Camino del Norte (North Way or Camino Primitivo) meet, and where we spend the night. Arzua is also known in the region for its local soft cheese.
Today our walk covers 14 kilometres and takes approximately three and a half hours. The terrain is rural paths and local village roads. The total ascent and descent is approximately +150/-250m.
Day 9: Visit pilgrim sites
Santiago is getting closer! Today we pass many pilgrim sites including pilgrim Guillermo Watt's memorial; he died here whilst on the pilgrimage and his shoes can be found in the stone wall. We can also stop at Santa Irene chapel to see statues of Saint James. We arrive to the small village of Rua and our hotel along a country road.
Our walk covers 18 kilometres over approximately four and a half hours. The terrain is unmade paths and country roads. The total ascent and descent is approximately +120 /-250m.
* Please note on some departures we will be staying in El Amenal rather than A Rua. For these departures today's walk will be 22 kilomteres over approximately five and a half hours. The total ascent and descent will be approximately +120 / -250m.
Day 10: Arrive in Santiago de Compostela
Today we complete our pilgrimage. We pass through the village of Lavacolla, where traditionally pilgrims would wash and change into their best clothes for the final stretch of the walk. From here we ascend the final hill to Monte Gozo, from where we finally see Santiago Cathedral in the distance. We are now just five kilometres from Santiago's historic centre and the end of our pilgrimage. As we walk the last hour of the trail we share the emotions and sense of achievement of thousands of pilgrims, ancient and modern from all over the world, as we complete the trail and claim our 'Compostela', our pilgrim's certificate.
Our last walk covers 21.5 kilometres over approximately six hours. The terrain is unmade paths and roads, with a total ascent and descent of approximately +180/-230m.
* Please note: If departing from El Amenal today's walk will be 17.5 kilometres over approximately five hours. The total ascent and descent will be approximately +180 / -230m.
Day 11: Free day in Santiago; optional visit to Cape Finisterre
This morning we take a guided walking tour of Santiago including a visit to the magnificent cathedral, a stunning architectural landmark with Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque features. We also visit the important local squares, churches and buildings around the cathedral. The afternoon is free to wander the city's narrow streets discovering some of the city's other architectural treasures, and enjoy the local food and wine. It is also possible to take an optional excursion to Cape Finisterre.
Day 12: Tour ends Santiago
Our tour ends today, after breakfast, in Santiago.
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