Camino de Santiago 
(St James Way)

Self-Guided walk    13 nights from Leon

 Self-guided Itinerary      

Day 1  Madrid to Leon by train (included) takes 2 hours 54 minutes. In Leon you check into a centrally located 3-star hotel. If you arrive early you will have a chance to see the sights of historic Leon. The Royal Basilica of San Isidoro is one of the great treasures of the Camino and in medieval times there were many miracles attributed to this saint. The Cathedral with its stained glass is one of the most beautiful in Spain. 

Day 2  Morning transfer by taxi (included) to Orbigo. From here your Camino walk begins at the famous bridge where, in 1434, a knight held a jousting match so he could escape from his "prison of unrequited love for a certain lady".  Today's walk is through pretty countryside on quiet roads and forest paths.  Your goal is the town of Astorga with its Gaudi Cathedral, Roman ruins and shops selling Astorga's famous chocolate. It is easy to moderate walking with a little gradual ascent.    Distance 16 km.

Day 3 
Today you leave Astorga on foot and walk to Rabanal.  The trail has a gradual ascent.  The quaint hamlet of Rabanal is a traditional resting place for pilgrims before starting the climb up the Montes de Irago.  Distance 21 km. 

Day 4 
From Rabanal you ascend the first 6 km to the Cruz de Ferro where traditionally pilgrims dropped a stone to symbolically lighten their load. From here the path is up and down through fragrant pine forests then has a gradual descent to the pretty village of Molinaseca.  Distance 27 km. 

Day 5 
From Molinaseca you continue through the Bierzo Valley passing through the  town of Ponferrada with its magnificent castle that was built by the mysterious Knights Templar in the late 1200's. The nearby Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Encina honours the patron saint of the region. "Encina" or "oak" refers to a legend that Christian knights discovered a Black Madonna image in an oak tree where it had been hidden to protect her from Arab invaders.  From Ponferrada you continue through the fertile Bierzo Valley to the medieval town of Villafranca where the Church of San Francisco commemorates the Camino pilgrimage made by Francis of Assisi in the 1200's. It is a long day but easy to moderate walking.  Distance 28 km

Day 6  From Villafranca to O'Cebreiro (alt 1300m)  is mostly uphill as you enter Galicia. Along the way you pass small "castros" or forts that were, in medieval times, used by local lords as toll-collection booths for pilgrims.  It is at misty and remote O'Cebreiro, according to local legend, that the Holy Grail was hidden. Or perhaps it is not hidden. Some say it is the chalice on display in a small church. This is one of the more difficult days as it is mostly uphill.  Distance 28 km. 

Day 7
From O'Cebreiro the trail leads through spectacular scenery down a gradual descent to the town of Triacastela.   Here you find that the three castles for which the town is named are gone but there are still stone quarries. Stone from these quarries was used in building the Cathedral in Santiago and medieval pilgrims would carry as much as they could so their blood and sweat would be an eternal part of the Cathedral.  Now it is moderate walking with gentle rolling hills.   Distance 23 km.

Day 8  The walk from Triacastela to Sarria is through the pretty, green Galician countryside.  There is a choice of routes today but if you choose the route via Samos you will be rewarded with the sight of one of the most ancient monasteries in Spain - founded in the 6th century. The monastery is worth a tour inside although its magnificent library was damaged in 1951 by a fire when the monks' liqueur-making apparatus exploded. Today is moderate walking with gentle rolling hills.  Distance 23 km.

Day 9 From Sarria to Portomarin on quiet trails edged by bramble covered fences and stone walls . On reaching Portomarin one finds a lovely lake which is really a reservoir. Beneath the waters of this reservoir lies a medieval town although the main buildings of that town were moved stone by stone and rebuilt on higher ground before the valley was flooded. Today is moderate walking with gentle rolling hills.  Distance 23 km.

Day 10 
The trail from Portomarin to Palas de Rei is through undulating landscape studded with oak trees and bramble. In spring the gorse is a brilliant yellow and sublimely fragrant. A small detour takes you to Vilar de Donas with its outstanding Romanesque church. Today is moderate walking with gentle rolling hills.  Distance 25 km.

Day 11
From Palas del Rei to Arzua.  On leaving Palas de Rei you traverse an area dominated by devotion to St Julian.  Legend says that Julian was tricked by the devil into killing his parents and to expurgate his sins he ran pilgrim hospitals. A quaint church of St Julian that commemorates his works.  At Melide, the parish church has 15th century frescoes depicting St James, the Moor-slayer. It also has plenty of shops, bars and restaurant scattered around the narrow streets. Melide is famous for its "pulpo" -  octopus cooked in it’s own juice in large copper pots and sprinkled with paprika. If octopus for lunch doesn't appeal this region is also known for its sea-food and its cheeses. From Melide to Arzua the trail is often through shady eucalyptus forests and lined by old stone walls and there is a nice resting stop next to a stream before reaching Arzua.  Today is long but can be broken in half with an overnight at Melide.   Distance 29 km.

Day 12 Almost there! 
Arzua to Rua/O Pino. On the trail leaving Arzua you pass fields, oak groves and small hamlets. Much of the Camino here is on farm tracks and occasionally you may have to wait while a farmer herds his cattle across the path. Enterprising farm wives often sell fresh-picked fruit and home-made pancakes to passers-by.   Distance 19 km

Day 13  The final day of walking.  From Rua the trail leads to San Paio. Legend says that Paio was a beautiful ten-year-old Galician boy who was traded as a hostage to a wicked Arab Caliph and killed. Although the boy was martyred in 925AD, his cult remains strong in Galicia. Just past San Paio comes Labacolla (from "Lava" - to wash and "colla" - one's bottom). Here, medieval pilgrims performed their ablutions washing their private parts before presenting themselves to St James.  The trail leads up Monte del Gozo (Mount of Joy) for a first sight of Santiago de Compostela. The historic route then leads through the city gates and finally to the main plaza by the Cathedral.  Distance 19 km.

Day 14  Depart after breakfast. It is a 20 minute taxi-ride to Santiago Airport (onward travel not included).  Or, if you wish to stay to explore the old city including the Cathedral, we can arrange for an extra night at the hotel.  

The itinerary can be modified with extra rest days along the way or longer days can sometimes be split into two shorter days – please ask about the price increase for customized options. 

About the Camino de Santiago

6 night itinerary

Cost and what is included

 13 night Itinerary

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33 night itinerary
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