Our routes/ Route 35 days
The Camino de Santiago From Roncesvalles (Navarre)
to Santiago de Compostela ( Galicia)
35 days y 34 nights
Total Distance: 500 miles (800 kilometres)
Walking Days: 33
Level: ranges from Easy to Difficult
Average Daily Walking Distance: average between 21-30 kilometers (13-19 miles)
No.of Participants: A minimum of 7 pilgrims is required.
What is included:
- Pre-departure information
- Experienced guides to accompany the group
- Support vehicle
- All ground transportation from the start in St. Jean Pied-de-Port to the finish in Santiago de Compostela
- 34 nights in double room in half board. ( breakfast and dinner). 30 lucnhes.
- The Pilgrim's Passport, daily maps and descriptions of the sections to be walked.
What isn´t included:
- Airfare to and from Europe
- Traveller's insurance or trip cancellation insurance
- Transportation to and from the starting and ending points
- Entry fees.
Note: The stages and distances described in this itinerary may be subject to modification for circumstances beyond our control, such as the season of travel and availability of accommodation in each locale. Where such modifications occurs , participants will be advised before departure.
Day 1 – Origen - Roncesvalles
Our pilgrimage begins the medieval kingdom of Navarre. We'll join other pilgrims from around the world at an evening Mass in the church of the 11th century monastery of Roncesvalles. This monastery is one of the earliest examples of medieval gothic church architecture in Spain. After Mass, pilgrims bound for Santiago receive the blessing of the canons of the monastery following a rite dating from the 12th century. A hearty supper follows in one of the nearby restaurants.
Day 2 – Roncesvalles –Zubiri (21.5 kms)
Today the modern era seems to fall away and the atmosphere of the medieval pilgrimage envelop you as we make our way through the Mezkiritz and Erro passes to Zubiri, a small, roadside village nestled in the valley beneath the passes. Here there will be plenty of time to rest and recover from the day's journey before having supper and retiring to our hotel for the night.
Day 3 – Zubiri – Pamplona (21.4 kms)
Following our arrival in Pamplona this afternoon, we will enjoy a guided tour of the 14th century gothic cathedral of Santa Maria la Real (St. Mary the Royal) and the most emblematic corners of this city, famous for the "running of the bulls" during its annual San Fermín celebrations every July. Later we will enjoy some pinchos (elaborately-prepared local appetizers) in the bars along Estafeta Street, followed by dinner in one of the city's many restaurants.
Day 4 – Pamplona - Puente la Reina (23.5kms)
We depart the city today across the gentle, rolling prairies surrounding Pamplona on our ascent to the Sierra del Perdón. Before arriving in Puente la Reina, we will divert to the lovely Romanesque church of Santa María de Eunate (St. Mary's of the Hundred Doors in Basque), a popular place for local pilgrimages in honor of the Blessed Virgin and unique among the churches along the Camino for its detached, exterior cloister. There we will pause to enjoy a picnic lunch in the fields surrounding the church.
Upon arrival in Puente la Reina and check in at our hotel, we will visit the Church of Santiago with its lovely, 13th century image of St. James in the city's high street, and the 11th century, Romanesque bridge which gives the city its name. Built by Queen Doña Mayor to ease the pilgrim's way across the river, many famous pilgrims, including St. Francis of Assisi, have crossed this bridge on their way to Compostela.
Day 5 – Puente La Reina -Estella (22 kms)
Our route today takes us through the fields of central Navarra to the village of Cirauqui, where we the Camino follows a 1900-year-old section of Roman road, until we finally arrive at Estella. Founded by King Sancho Ramírez in the 11th century in order to take advantage of the pilgrim traffic and to help populate this part of his kingdom, it is mentioned in the 12th century pilgrim's guide the Codex Calixtinus, as one of the medieval pilgrims' most valued halts along the route. Numerous churches, convents, palaces and monuments recall its illustrious past and its historic links to the Pilgrim Way. Those who wish to do so may attend Mass this evening in the fortified royal church of San Pedro de la Rúa, where the kings of Navarre once swore their oaths to protect the rights of their subjects.
Day 6 –Estella - Los Arcos (21.8 kms)
On our way out of Estella this morning we pass the monastery of Irache, where sick and injured pilgrims were tended to by the monks who once lived here. Sample some of the excellent local wine at the unusual "wine fountain" which a local winery has installed in commemoration of the monastery's former generosity towards pilgrims. Following our arrival in Los Arcos, we will celebrate Mass together (optional) in the lovely church of St. Mary's, with its elaborate Baroque altarpiece, its Renaissance period bell tower and its restored Gothic cloister.
Day 7 – Los Arcos –Logroño (28 kms)
After more than a week's journey through the Navarre region, our way today takes us into the La Rioja province, renowned the world over for its excellent wines, and its capital city, Logroño. On the way there, we'll visit the eight-sided Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the village of Torres del Río; styled after the Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepuchre, its construction is attributed to the Templar knights. We will also pay a visit to the Church of St. Mary in Viana, where the tomb of Cesare Borgia, the Renaissance prince and warrior, and illegitimate son of Rodrigo Borgia (the future Pope Alexander VI), can be found.
Day 8 – Logroño -Nájera (29 kms)
A pleasant morning's walk takes us through the city of Logroño and out into the rolling fields dedicated almost exclusively to the cultivation of wine as we make our way today to Nájera, once a royal city belonging to the kingdom of Navarre. Along the way we will also pay a visit to the 16th-century Church of The Assumption in Navarrete where we can admire its elaborate Baroque altarpiece.
In Nájera we will visit the spectacular Royal St. Mary's Monastery (Monasterio de Santa María la Real), built in 1502 at the site of a 12th-century apparition of the Blessed Virgin. The monastery is home to an outstanding Gothic cloister, an elegant carved choir and, most significantly, a royal pantheon where several Navarrese kings are buried.
Day 9 – Nájera -Santo Domingo de la Calzada ( 21 kms)
Our destination today is Santo Domingo de la Calzada, one of the most emblematic villages on the route. It is here that, according to legend, the miraculous resuscitation and crowing of a roasted hen served as a harbinger of an even greater miracle: the miraculous resurrection of a pilgrim unjustly hanged for theft, through the intercession of St. Dominic of the Causeway, the saint for whom the village is named.
We'll visit the magnificent Cathedral of the Holy Savior, where a live rooster and hen keep watch from their pen overlooking the main altar in commemoration of the miracle and have an opportunity to sample some of the region's fine wine's in the parador hotel, once a pilgrim's hospital run by the Franciscan friars, just across the street. Afterwards we'll have supper in the parador or one of the other restaurants in the village before retiring for the evening.
Day 10 – Sto. Domingo de La Calzada -Belorado (24 kms)
Only three days after entering it, we bid farewell to the Rioja region this morning and enter Castile and Leon. Castile is the medieval kingdom that brought to completion the re-conquest of the Iberian peninsula from the Moors, gave birth to modern Spain and gave the world castellano, Castilian Spanish, the language spoken by hundreds of millions of people the world over.
Our journey today takes us through Viloria, the birthplace of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, to Belorado, our halt for this afternoon.
Day 11 –Belorado/ San Juan de Ortega (24 kms)
Today we travel through the Montes de Oca (Goose Mountains), dreaded by pilgrims in the Middle Ages as a haven for bandits and wolves, and where many pilgrims became lost as they made their way through the dense pine forests that cover them. To assist them, San Juán de Ortega, a 12th century monk, built a monastery in the midst of this desolate area. After reaching the monastery we'll visit the saint's tomb in the monastery church. There we will also have the chance to admire a lovely Romanesque capital which depicts the Annunciation and which draws hundreds of visitors each spring when, on the Feast of the Annunciation, a single ray of sunlight through the church's window strikes the capital, illuminating the images of the Virgin and St. Gabriel.
We'll sleep tonight in the nearby village of Atapuerca, an important archaeological site where evidence of human settlements in Europe dating back one million years was uncovered in the 1970s and 80s.
Day 12 – San Juan de Ortega / Burgos (27.6 kms)
Burgos' magnificent gothic cathedral rises in the distance as we make our way to this lovely city, home to one of the most magnificent examples of Gothic architecture in all of Spain and the final resting place of Spain's great epic hero, El Cid, whose remains lie buried beneath the paving of its famous cathedral. There will be plenty of free time to wander the streets of the city centre on foot and further explore the hospitality of this delightful city. Those who wish to do so may visit the nearby monastery of Las Huelgas, founded in 1187 by Eleanor of Aquitaine, daughter of Henry II of England and wife of Alfonso VIII of Castile. Once one of the most prominent monasteries in Spain, it is still home to about 35 nuns today. We will eat lunch together today. Dinner tonight will be on your own.
Day 13 –Burgos – Hontanas (30.6 kms)
Our departure from Burgos this morning marks the beginning of a new stage in our pilgrimage to Compostela, as well as a significant change in the rhythm of the Camino. Gone are the mountains which have been our constant companions since St. Jean Pied-de-Port, we must now traverse the austere and solitary plains of the Castilian tableland that forms the center of Spain. With little to distract the eye amidst the endless sea of wheat stretching out to the horizon in every direction, our gaze must now turn inward as we seek new purpose and a deeper meaning in our journey.
Our path today takes us to Hontanas, a typically Castilian village in midst of a rolling sea of wheat, where we will make our stop for the night.
Day 14 – Hontanas - Boadilla del Camino (28.4 kms)
After breakfast, the Camino carries us to Castrojeriz, an ancient Roman, and later Visigothic, settlement that was the scene of many battles between Christian and Muslim forces until it was definitively recaptured for Spain by King Alfonso VII in 1131. Shortly before entering the village we will pass beneath the enormous arch of the Convento de San Antón (St. Anthony's convent), once the property of a medieval religious order famous both for their charity towards pilgrims and their skill at curing a dreaded skin disorder similar to leprosy known as "St. Anthony's Fire", which spread throughout Europe in the 10th and 11th centuries.
After crossing the Mostelares Heights and the broad expanse of wheat fields that follows Castrojeriz, we'll stop for the evening in Boadilla del Camino, where we'll enjoy a well-deserved lunch and evening's rest.
Day 15 – Boadilla del camino - Carrión de los Condes (25.3 kms)
This morning we carry on to Frómista, following the line of the Canal de Castilla (Castile Channel). Once there, we'll enjoy a visit to St. Martin's Church, one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in all of Spain.
Afterwards we'll carry on along a conditioned walker's path that leads us to Carrión de los Condes, where we will sleep tonight. Just before our arrival there, we'll stop for a visit to Villalcázar de Sirga and its enormous fortified basilica, Santa María la Blanca (St. Mary the White), another one of the properties entrusted to the legendary Templar knights along the Pilgrim's Way-the other ones being a castle Ponferrada and a church in Galicia.
Day 16 – Carrión de los Condes Calzadilla de La Cueza (17.35 kms)
Our destination today is Lédigos, a small village where in the middle of the seemingly endless expanse of moors that dominates the province of Palencia. Here we will make our stop for the evening.
Day 17 –Calzadilla de la Cueza -Sahagún (22.3 kms)
Today we arrive in Sahagún, the first large town in the province of León. Known in past times as the "Spanish Cluny", it once boasted a famous Benedictine monastery. In the 11th century, King Alfonso VI invited the French monks of Cluny to come and re-found the monastery according to the stricter principles of the new order. For centuries it flourished as a centre of the arts and letters; sadly, today all that remain of this once-great foundation are the great arch of the main entrance and two minor towers.
Day 18 – Sahagún -El Burgo Ranero (18 kms)
The "Calle Real", or "Royal Highway" that is the main street of this little village coincides exactly with the line of the Camino de Santiago. El Burgo Ranero offers pilgrims a warm and friendly welcome that makes for a very pleasant point at which to stop for the evening.
Day 19 – El Burgo Ranero -Mansilla de las Mulas (19 kms)
This little village, which to this day retains significant sections of it medieval walls, was once an important commercial and livestock trading centre and boasted seven churches and three hospitals to attend to the flow of pilgrim traffic along the Camino de Santiago. Today, only two churches remain.
Day 20 – Mansilla de Las Mulas –León (20 kms)
In Roman times, the city of León was founded as a garrison for the Seventh Legion. In the Middle Ages there was no other city on the entire route to Compostela which could boast as many churches, monasteries, convents and hospitals to attend to the sick and the poor as this one. León's cathedral rivals that of Burgos in its beauty, though in this case it is not only its Gothic architecture but rather its 1,800 square metres of colourful stained glass windows which inundate its interior in a rainbow of light and color that elicits the awe of visitors.
By way of contrast to the graceful and soaring cathedral, the nearby Church of St. Isidore is an elegantly compact and solid example of the Spanish Romanesque. The ceiling of its Royal Pantheon, often called "the Sistine Chapel of Spanish Romanesque art" is covered with an impressive series of medieval paintings depicting the months of the year and the labours appropriate to each, from the planting of crops to their harvesting and the slaughter of pigs. After our celebration of Mass this evening (optional), we will enjoy an early supper and then join the Benedictine nuns at their convent Sta. María de Carvajal for vespers and a blessing of pilgrims by the Mother Superior.
Day 21 – León - Villadangos del Páramo (21.8 kms)
As with many of the other villages that we have encountered along the Camino Francés, the little village owed its former prestige to the Camino's existence. There was once a pilgrim's hospital here, and the village's little parish church is dedicated to St. James. Our halt here puts us within a day's walk of the ancient Roman city of Astorga, our destination for tomorrow.
Day 22 - - Villadangos del Páramo –Astorga (27.1 kms)
Asturica Augustus was an important communications hub for the Romans and the most important city of this region of Spain, known as the Maragatería. So important was the city on the route to Compostela that in the Middle Ages the city boasted up to 25 hospitals for the care of sick and injured pilgrims.
Here we will have the opportunity to admire the unusual Episcopal palace designed by Antonio Gaudí, enjoy a relaxed dinner in the restored city centre and attend Mass in the cathedral.
Day 23 –Astorga - Rabanal del Camino (20.7 kms)
Today our journey through the plains of Castile and León and the endless stretches of wheat fields finally reaches an end and we enter the mountains of León. Only a decade and a half ago, the tiny village of Rabanal del Camino was almost completely deserted, abandoned by its inhabitants who had left to seek work in larger nearby cities such as Astorga and Ponferrada. Its fortunes, like those of many of the villages through which we will pass today and tomorrow, have been revived thanks to the continuous flow of pilgrim traffic each year. Here there is also a small Benedictine community of recent foundation. The three monks who live here discovered their vocations on the Camino de Santiago and were later granted permission by their abbot to found a new monastery on the route to attend to the spiritual needs of pilgrims. Tonight we will celebrate Vespers with the monks in the former parish church of Rabanal, which now serves as the monastery church, followed by a hearty supper in one of the local bars.
Day 24 – Rabanal del camino –Molinaseca (33 kms)
Leaving Rabanal, our day's journey begins with a walk to the semi-abandoned village Foncebadón and, just beyond it, to the Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross) The cross is one of the contemporary Camino's most emblematic points and the highest point on the Camino (1,500 meters, or 4,921feet); here pilgrims often deposit a stone brought from home or some other point along the Caminoto deposit at the base of the cross as a symbol of shrugging off the weight of one's sins.
Afterwards, our descent of the mountain takes us to Molinaseca, a lovely riverside village nestled in a bend in the Meruelo River beneath the shadow of the Bierzo Mountains. Tomorrow we will continue on to Ponferrada.
Day 25 – Molinaseca -Cacabelos (23.5 kms)
This morning we enter Ponferrada, capital of the El Bierzo region of Spain, and once an important Roman mining town, thanks to the abundance of gold mines once found in the region. Its name (Pons Ferrata in Latin) derives from its bridge which stretches over the River Sil, and which in 1082 was reinforced with iron, another mineral found in abundance in the region. It was the home to the Templar Knights, sworn to the protection of pilgrims travelling the Way of St. James. Their imposing castle still stands, and has become the emblem of the city. Those who wish to can visit the castle before leaving the city to carry on to our destination.
Day 26 – Cacabelos – Villafranca del Bierzo ( 7.2 kms) or Vega de Valcarce)
Today’s journey will be a short one. Villafranca del Bierzo has always offered the pilgrims wonderful hospitality and an advantageous point from which to begin the next day's ascent to O Cebreiro. In addition, passing through the Door of Pardon in the village’s Church of Santiago allowed pilgrims in the Middle Ages who were to ill to continue their journeys the possibility of gaining the same blessings and indulgences that they could have gained in Compostela. It is a an excellent stopping point for today, and the shorter walk will allow us to rest up and prepare for tomorrow’s ascent.
Day 27 – Villafranca del bierzo- O Cebreiro (30.3 kms)
Today's destination is one of the most memorable along the entire Camino. With its stunning vistas of the valleys below from 1300 metres up, the ancient pallozas (pre-Roman stone dwellings built by the Celts of the region), the fog which descends to envelop the village in an enchanted mist even in summer … few places along the Camino are as enchanting as O Cebreiro!
O Cebreiro is also the site of a Eucharistic miracle that occurred in the village's little pre-Romanesque Church of St. Mary's around the year 1300. The story goes that a farmer from a nearby village one day struggled up the mountain to hear Mass, despite the winter storm that was raging. At the moment of the consecration, the local priest-having lost faith in his vocation and in the sacrifice that he was offering-looked out from the altar at the farmer, alone in the church, and inwardly ridiculed the poor man's faith. At that very moment, the sacred host visibly changed into flesh and the wine into blood. The chalice and the paten from that long ago Mass are still preserved in the church, in a reliquary donated by Queen Isabella the Catholic herself, who stopped here to venerate the miracle during her own pilgrimage to Santiago in the year 1488.
Day 28 – O Cebreiro - Triacastela (Samos) (20.4 kms)
The lush valleys and rolling green hills of Galicia, Spain's Celtic region, bear more than a little resemblance to Ireland. Today we will pass through numerous small villages dedicated principally to cattle rearing and along simple footpaths that make the bend and transform themselves suddenly into quiet village lanes. Nestled in a tranquil valley, our destination today is Triacastela, founded in the 9th century following the reconquest of this the area from the Muslims. Today nothing remains of the three castles that gave the village it's name.
Near Triacastela, some 7 kilometers (4 miles) away lies the Benedictine monastery of Samos, one of the oldest in all of Spain and an important symbol of Galician culture. A visit to the monastery and an explanation of its history is programmed for this afternoon. Time permitting, we will also participate in an evening celebration of Mass and vespers prayers with the monks in the monastery church.
Day 29 – Triacastela ( Samos) -Sarria (21.5kms)
Our journey today ends in Sarria, the site of an ancient Roman settlement that was repopulated in the 8th century by Bishop Odoario of Lugo. King Alfonso IX of León, who favored the city with several important building projects, died here in 1230. It is now an important service center for all of the villages of the Concello of which it is the capital, as well as an excellent place to rest and enjoy the wonderful seafood offer in one of the many taverns on the promenade along the banks of the river.
Day 30 – Sarria - Portomarín (21.6kms)
Just before Portomarín today we pass the 100 kilometer mark on the Camino, the minimum point from which anyone travelling to Santiago must walk in order to receive the Compostela.
The Portomarín in which we will sleep tonight is not the Portomarín that pilgrims in the Middle Ages knew; that one lies below the waters of the reservoir we see in the valley below the present-day village, which was built in 1960. The village's impressive fortified church, built by the monk-knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in the 12th century, was disassembled stone by stone and moved up the hill to its present location, together with the balcony of the village's town hall and the Romanesque façade of the Church of St. Peter.
Día 31 –Portomarin - Palas do Rei (24.5kms)
Though it retains nothing of the medieval atmosphere that made it an important village on the medieval pilgrim's route, Palas de Rei, is a friendly and welcoming place, and it's where we'll make our halt today.
The town's name (Palace of the King) derives from a legend that says that the Visigothic king Witiza built the town's palace. Just as it was in the Middle Ages, the village is surrounded by numerous small farming villages, and the entire area is replete with many, fine examples of Romanesque churches.
Day 32 – Palas de Rei -Arzúa (28.7 kms)
Our journey today begins from Palas and ends up at the little village of Arzúa, a little village famous for its cheeses. A cheese festival is held here every year in March.
En route we'll pass through the bustling small town of Melide, once an important intersection in the Roman Via Traiana and the northern roads descending from the Cantabrian coast. Today we also pass from Galicia's Lugo province to La Coruña. The chestnuts and oaks native to the region gradually give way to fragrant forests of eucalyptus, imported to the region for use in construction in the 19th century.
Day 33 – Arzúa - Lavacolla (28.8 kms)
Our journey today ends in Lavacolla, a tiny village only 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from our goal, and well positioned so that we may make an early entrance into Santiago tomorrow morning. Lavacolla was an important ceremonial halt for pilgrims in the Middle Ages, who used to wash themselves in the river prior to their entry into the holy city of Santiago.
Day 34 –Lavacolla - Santiago de Compostela (10.3kms)
The long-awaited day has finally arrived! We will make an early start this morning so as to reach Santiago de Compostela well before the 12.00 Pilgrim's Mass in the cathedral. If we are lucky, the gigantic botafumeiro censer will be used during the Mass. Afterwards we will head over to the Pilgrim's Office to receive our Compostelas.
There will be plenty of time this afternoon for an individual visit to the cathedral, sightseeing and souvenir hunting, and leisurely exploration of the lovely old quarter of the city before dinner in one of Santiago's many fine local restaurants.
Day 35 - OPTIONAL EXTRA DAY IN SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
This morning participants who have opted to may depart for home.
Those who have opted to stay on for one more day will have a free day to explore the city, relax, shop for souvenirs and pray in the cathedral. An optional side trip to Finisterre, the "end of the world" for medieval pilgrims will be offered for any who wishes to go. If you opt to remain Santiago, lunch today will be on your own. We will have an opportunity to bid each other farewell at a final dinner together as a group this evening (optional).