Pilgrims Walking the Camino

Full Camino francés

st Jean Pied de Port ⇒ Santiago de Compostela
790 km. (491 MI.)

Regular Pace: 40 Days

Average: 21.4 km. (13.3 mi.) / Day

Average: 26.3 km. (16.4 mi.) / Day

Slow Steps: 55 Days

Average: 15.2 km. (9.4 mi.) / Day

With over 60% of all Pilgrims walking this Way to Santiago, Camino Francés is, without any doubt, the most well-known, historically significant and iconic of all the Caminos. Paolo Coelho’s bestseller “The Pilgrimage” and Martin Sheen’s Movie “The Way” are set on this Camino, and its unparalleled diversity of landscapes, superb infrastructure and fantastic comradery of Pilgrims from allover the World make walking this Camino a truly unique and amazing experience.

Read More about the Camino Francés ⇒

The French Way, or Camino Francés, is the most popular of the many routes to Santiago de Compostela. Saint Jean Pied de Port – a charming town on the French side of the Pyrenees – is the beginning of this fascinating 800 km. (500 mi.) long journey across Northern Spain.

The French Way leads you across the majestic Pyrenees mountains into the charming hilly countryside of Navarra and on into the fertile wine region of La Rioja. Then, pilgrims enter the vastness of the wide-open Meseta: its endless grasslands and dramatic cloud movements in the sky allow for some epic, panoramic vistas. Having crossed the Meseta, the Camino now winds up the passes of another mountain range – the Montes de León, with the enchanting El Bierzo region lying in its valley. The last ascent summits at O Cebreiro and also demarcates the entry into Galicia – the land of strong Celtic tradition, mystical forests, foggy mornings and an absolutely unique, mysterious feel.

The French Way became the main route for pilgrims in medieval times and, to this day, its historical and cultural riches never seize to fascinate thousands of pilgrims from around the World. Picturesque villages and towns of medieval charm, vibrant, contemporary cites and countless tales and legends of miracles – all of these complement the natural landscape diversity along the Way. Blended with the superb infrastructure and – last but, most definitely, not least – the great comradery among Pilgrims, these make the Camino Francés an absolute highlight.

In the 11th century, the first waves of pilgrims reached their height, and King Sancho III of Navarra established a Way over the Pyrenees to Nájera – the ancient Capital of Navarra. The Royal Cities of Pamplona, Burgos and León became connected by the Camino Francés, and thousands of pilgrims contributed to these regions’ economy and left their lasting cultural imprint.

The medieval pilgrims impacted the regions of Northern Spain very strongly, and many traces of that time can still be found along the French Way. When foreign traders, craftsmen and artists settled along the Camino Frances, many Spaniards would simply refer to them collectively as “Franks”, although certainly not all settlers belonged to that ethnic group. But the term stuck – and that is how the Camino Francés got its name.

It is true, however, that especially the superior Frankish craftsmanship and architectural knowledge shaped many cities along the Camino. The movement of pilgrims also rendered a strong economic stimulus. Bridges and other aspects pf infrastructure were put in place, and numerous hospitals were founded along the way to treat pilgrims that had gotten ill. Cities like Logroño, Burgos and Santo Domingo de la Calzada owe their size and prestige partly to their location along the Camino Francés. Over time, many towns along the way acquired Christian relicts and constructed churches, while also more and more miracles were reported to have been witnessed in various locations.

The French Way has remained the most popular among the routes to Santiago to this day, with over 60% of all pilgrims to Santiago walking this trail. In 1993, the Camino Francés became inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage for its historic and cultural significance.

regular pace: 40 days

The Highlights

Starting in St Jean Pied de Port, crossing an entire country on foot and completing the Pilgrimage in Santiago is a great accomplishment, and a truly rewarding and often even transformational experience.

This Tour is very well-paced, and it is best suited for people of average, reasonable physical fitness, and who are under no particular time pressure. Because of its length, it is highly advisable to insert a couple of resting days into the itinerary.

tour details

Tour Type: Self-Guided

Availability: March through October

Details ⇒
  • March 01 – June 15: Regular Season
  • June 16 – August 15: High Season
  • August 16 – October 31: Regular Season

Blackout Dates: May 1 – May 31, 2022

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Duration: 40 Days Total / 37 Days Walking

Total Distance: 790 km. (491 mi.)

Average distance: 21.4 km. (13.3 mi.) / Day

Prices (per person):

Double Room:
Starting at € 2,380

Single-Occupancy Room:
Starting at € 3,220

What’s Included:

39 nights in single / double room

En-suite facilities

English-speaking emergency assistance
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Your full digital Travel Info Package
Details ⇒

We are proud to be working together with hand-picked, high quality and mostly locally owned and operated service providers.

Your journey will be booked through, and your Travel Package will include all the information you will need to access your lodging locations and to process your check-in.

Optional Add-ons:

Luggage transfer on walking days

Breakfasts (subject to availability)

Lodging for additional night(s) stays

Airport transfers
Details ⇒

If you wish to walk your Camino Stages with a light backpack, carrying only the basic necessities, we will be happy to arrange for your luggage to be forwarded from one hotel to the next on your walking days.

Breakfasts are not available everywhere, and they are often served late, starting around 8 am. However, if you wish to include brekfasts, we will be happy to do so, where possible.

Spending an extra night in a given town throughout your journey is often a good idea: you give your body a rest, relax and enjoy exploring the town. In Santiago, two nights are included in most of our Tours by default as we believe it’s the least a Pilgrim would need to enjoy the City; however, you have the option to opt out of it.

We will be happy to arrange for an airport shuttle transfer for you from your airport of arrival to the starting point of your journey. The same goes for the departure, unless you end your journey in Santiago and fly out of Santiago Airport. In that case, a taxi can be easily arranged for the time of your choice directly at the Reception Desk at your Hotel.

What’s NOT Included:

Flighs

Travel Insurance

Tour guide

Meals
Details ⇒

We do not book flights, nor organize any rail or commercial busline travel. However, if you need assistance in deciding how to get to and back from your Camino Tour, we will be happy to give you assist you with tips and ideas!

We strongly recommend to all our travelers to get a Travel Insurance; however, we do not sell any such policies. For our international clients, it is best to get a policy in their country of residence, as some countries offer insurances only to their own residents.

This is a date-flexible tour; therefore, it is self-guided – no Tour Guide will be accompnying you. If you are interested in joining a Group Tour with a Tour Guide, please check our Guided Tours page. (Note: our Guided Tours take place on set dates that are planned ahead.)

tour itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in St Jean Pied de Port

At last, your travels bring you to Saint Pied de Port – the charming town on the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains and the starting point of the Camino Francés. Check in at your hotel, and enjoy the rest of the evening!

Day 2: St Jean Pied de Port – Huntto • 5.4 km. (3.7 mi.)

Take your time to enjoy your morning in Saint Jean. Visit the iconic sites of this scenic town and, if need be, take advantage of the option to make any last-minute purchases in one of the numerous Pilgrim gear shops. If you haven’t done so already yesterday, stop by the Pilgrims’ Office and get your Credencial – your Pilgrim’s Document, which will entitle you to receive your Compostela (Certificate of Pilgrimage Completion) once you reach Santiago – as well as your very first stamp in it! Then, lace up your boots: your Camino is about to begin! Today’s first hike is a short one: out of town and up to Huntto. The elevation gained today will make tomorrow’s climb over the Napoleon Pass shorter and easier. Your accommodation here is in a historic Casa Rural in the mountains – check in, spend the afternoon and evening enjoying the beautiful Pyrenees and get good rest for tomorrow’s challenge.

Distance: 5.4 km. / 3.7 mi.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Day 3: Huntto – Burguete • 22.9 km. (14 mi.)

This is one of the most strenuous days of entire French Way – but also one of the most rewarding: the breath-taking panoramic vistas of this Napoleon Route make the physical challenge well-worth it! The total elevation gain of 950 m. (3117 ft.) is significant, but the ascent is steady and the terrain – passable. Across the Summit, the Camino descends steeply across forests toward the iconic Monastery of Roncesvalles. The remaining 3.5 km. (2.2 mi.) to Burguete are easy, and your accommodation is in the historic hotel, in which Hemingway once wrote parts of his novel “Fiesta.”

Distance: 22.9 km. (14 mi.)
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Day 4: Burguete – Zubiri • 18.9 km. (11.7 mi.)

Compared to yesterday’s physically demanding trek, today’s hike is both a bit shorter and less strenuous. Across forested hills and past charming little villages and over the pass of Erro, the Camino unfolds the genuine beauty of Navarra. On entering Zubiri – today’s destination – you will walk over the medieval Bridge “Puente de la Rabia” (“Rabies Bridge”) – your first of many epic medieval bridges along the French Way, and with one of the uncountable tales and legends encoded in its name.

Distance: 18.9 km. (11.7 mi.)
Difficulty: Moderate

Day 5: Zubiri – Pamplona • 20.2 km. (12.6 mi.)

For much of the today’s hike, the Camino runs as a charming, forested path right alongside the River Arga, all the way to the village of Zabaldika. Here, the beautiful Romanesque church is home of the oldest bell in Navarra which – when open – the Pilgrims are allowed to ring: climb up the bell tower, make a wish and ring the bell, sending the echo across the picturesque valley below! From here, you can return to the path along the river, or go over the hills – both paths will eventually converge and lead you into the heart of Navarra’s Capital and your first city of the Camino – Pamplona. Walk its streets, and catch yourself imagining what it’s like here during the Running of the Bulls at the time of San Fermín.

Distance: 20.2 km. (12.6 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 6: Pamplona – (Eunate) – Puente la Reina • 22.4 / 24.9 km. (13.6 / 15.5 mi.)

Leaving the hustle and bustle of Pamplona, the Camino traverses grassy hills, gradually but steadily ascending to the summit Alto de Perdón (Hill of Forgiveness) with the epic Pilgrims Monument and spectacular vistas: looking back at Pamplona and the Pyrenees, and forward into the vast valley that lies ahead. After a sharp descent, the Camino continues across hilly fields. At Muruzábal, the Way splits into two, offering the option of an easy 2.5 km. (1.5 mi.) detour to the stunning Templarian Basilica Santa Maria de Eunate. Both Ways re-merge in the next village of Obanos, and the Camino continues on into Puente la Reina. Spend some quality time on the lawn beneath this town’s iconic Bridge – a true masterpiece of medieval human design – and be sure to also see it at twilight.

Distance: 22.4 / 24.9 km. (13.6 / 15.5 mi.)
Difficulty: Moderate

Day 7: Puente la Reina – Estella • 21.9 km. (13.6 mi.)

After Puente la Reina, forested hills eventually give way to vineyards and olive groves, interrupted by frequent, charming villages. Mid-way lies picturesque Cirauquí – a town planted perfectly on the slopes of a hill. Cross the still-standing Roman (!) bridge, and you will find yourself stepping on the stones of the Via Trajana – the road paved and trodden by the Roman legions in the 3rd Century. Traversing more pretty villages and green hills, and crossing medieval bridges, the Way leads you into the lovely town of Estella with its many historic churches, which are well worth exploring.

Distance: 21.9 km. (13.6 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Day 8: Estella – Los Arcos • 21.6 (13.4 mi.)

Some of the absolute highlights of today’s stage comes soon after leaving Estella: the famous Wine Fountain (Fuente del Vino) nested in the Irache Winery, and the adjacent Monasterio de Irache – one of the oldest monasteries in Navarra. Have a break and a drink before you carry on. The Camino dives into and out of pockets of forests and winds up and down the pleasant rolling hills until Villamayor de Monjardín, where it loops around the base of an imposing hill with ruins of a medieval castle upon it. The remaining half of this day’s journey is almost completely straight, continuing – first, alongside vineyards and thereafter, amidst vast grass fields – towards Los Arcos – the “Town of Arches.” Those interested can receive a Pilgrims’ Blessing offered after the Pilgrim Mass in the magnificent Church of Santa María.

Distance: 21.6 (13.4 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Day 9: Los Arcos – Logroño • 26.7 km. (13.4 mi.)

The first 8 km. of today’s longer journey are almost entirely straight: crossing grape fields, you enter Torres del Río famous, gorgeous chapel. Passing some rolling hills, a few pockets of forest and more wine country – and the Camino reaches the charming town of Viana. The last, easy 9 km. have two highlights: the border-crossing into the La Rioja and, just before reaching Logroño, the lovely little stop-and-rest nook for Pilgrims called “Higas y Amor” (“Figs and Love”). The tradition of aiding pilgrims out of her own house was started by Felisa – one of the many Angels of the Camino – years ago, and is now continued by her grandson. Today’s stage ends in Logroño – the Capital of La Rioja and a city with a rich cultural heritage,  many churches and the culinary fame for its Vino & Tapas.

Distance: 26.7 km. (13.4 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy terrain, but moderate to challenging distance

Day 10: Logroño – Nájera • 29.5 km. (18.3 mi.)

(Tip: in order to shorten this stage’s walking distance and to avoid walking the busy streets out of Logroño, you may wish to consider taking a taxi for the first 5 km. (3.1 mi.) out of the city center to the Park La Grajera.) Today’s journey is also longer; however, with only a few hills to roll over, it is mostly an easy walking day. You are in the world-famous wine region of La Rioja, and today’s scenery, whichever way you’ll look, will remind you of that. Passing by many vineyards, you will reach the charming town of Navarrete. Afterwards, you will be walking in the middle of more and ever more grape fields until, before the journey’s end, you will get on top of some hills to enjoy truly magnificent vistas of this epic wine country, nested in a vast valley and rimmed by far-away mountains. You will then reach Nájera – a truly charming small town with very proud history: it was once the Capital of the Kingdom of Navarra, and it is home to the medieval Monastery of major significance – Santa María la Real. Wind down and relax by the river or in one of the pretty bars down the narrow streets of Nájera’s Old Town. 

Distance: 29.5 km. (18.3 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy terrain, but moderate to challenging distance

Day 11: Nájera – Santo Domingo de la Calzada • 22 km. (13.7 mi.)

After the first couple of hours of walking, you will start noticing a change in scenery: the vineyards will gradually begin to give way to gentle, grass-clad hills, which will render picturesque panoramic views. With rather few villages in-between as well as fair terrain, you will soon find yourself reaching today’s destination: Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Visit its famous cathedral and learn about the miracle of the “Hanged Innocent” that (supposedly) took place here, and you will find out why the Cathedral houses a massive bird cage with living chickens inside. Consider also going up the bell tower right across from the Cathedral, and soak up some amazing 360 views of the surrounding countryside.

Distance: 22 km. (13.7 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 12: Santo Domingo de la Calzada – Belorado • 23.5 km. (14.6 mi.)

The first 7 km. (4.4 mi.) of today’s journey are the last ones in La Rioja – soon after leaving the lovely little town of Grañón, you will be crossing the next border: into the Province of Burgos, the first province inside the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León. The Camino will now continue running over smooth hills and sunflower fields, and traverse a number of typical little Castilian villages. Your eyes will by now have gotten used to seeing medieval churches just about everywhere you walk as the Camino, following its deeply-rooted Pilgrimage tradition, almost always passes next to them. This day’s easy journey in the middle of genuinely pleasant countryside will eventually lead you into the town of Belorado. Enjoy the quaint main plaza as you spend your evening exploring the compact town center.

Distance: 23.5 km. (14.6 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 13: Belorado – San Juan de Ortega • 24.6 km. (15.3 mi.)

The first half of today’s stage has a similar look and feel to it as the last day’s: more wide-open spaces with smoothly-rolling hills with fields of corn, sunflowers and wild grass, and more small villages to walk across and take a break in. However, the scenery will change both quickly and radically as you leave the village Villafranca: you will be gaining 200 m. (600 ft.) of altitude over a steady ascent as you enter the Montes de Oca (Goose Hills). After numerous days of crossing fields and vineyards, you will find yourself walking in the forest again, all the way until you reach the tiny village of San Juan de Ortega. Make sure to visit its famous monastery and enjoy the genuine peace and quiet for, tomorrow, the stage’s destination will be as different as it can be: Burgos, the largest City on the entire Camino Francés.

Distance: 24.6 km. (15.3 mi.)
Difficulty: Moderate

Day 14: San Juan de Ortega – Burgos • 25.3 km. (15.7 mi.)

This morning begins with a lovely forest walk – the last one for quite some time – to the charming village of Agés. Then, the Camino passes by the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Atapuerca and ascends the hill to summit at the Wooden Cross La Cruz de Maragrande. Standing at this summit, take in the vast panorama of the valley ahead, with the city of Burgos lying at its bottom. The descent from the Wooden Cross is quite gradual; as the terrain soon flattens out, villages pop up one after another. At Orbaneja Riopico, the Camino splits into two options for entering Burgos, the one along the river Arlanzón certainly being the more pleasant one. Burgos offers a plethora of attractions to explore, and touring its UNESCO-listed Cathedral alone make take a couple of hours. Therefore, it is the place where many pilgrims decide to take a rest day. But, whether you spend one or more nights in this fascinating city, take a quick hike up to the Mirador del Castillo (only 7-10 min. from the Cathedral Plaza) for an absolutely gorgeous panoramic view of the Cathedral and the Old Town. And doing so at sunset / twilight may be even more rewarding than at daytime.

Distance: 25.3 km. (15.7 mi.)
Difficulty: Moderate

Day 15: Burgos – Hornillos • 19.5 km. (12.1 mi.)

Today’s journey is both rather short and quite easy, so there is no need to rush out of Burgos too early. As you leave the city behind, you now officially enter la Meseta – the Castilian High Plain – characterized by wide-open spaces with occasional hills. Trees become more scarce, and distances between villages seem larger as the landscape seems more monotonous. In the middle of today’s journey, at Rabé de las Calzadas, the quaint little Chapel Ermita de la Virgen de Monasterio is well-worth a stop: the kind nuns in attendance give a lovely and touching blessing to all pilgrims who pass by. Take some time to admire the impressive murals on the outskirts of this village – they are among the best on the whole Camino. Beyond that, up and over a few hills, you will find yourself enjoying the impressive panoramic views down the valley and for as far as your eyes can see – the true beauty of the Meseta. Down below the valley lies the pretty Hornillos del Camino with the typical flair of a Meseta village along the Camino de Santiago.

Distance: 19.5 km. (12.1 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 16: Hornillos – Castrojeriz • 21.5 km. (13.4 mi.)

The first 11 km. (6.8 mi.) of this day’s hike take you across the low, barren hills with no villages in-between. The only place to stop and rest in the shade is San Bol – in the middle ages, a hospice that treated people with leprosy had once stood here; now, there is a thicket of trees and a small pool with clean, running water. After more hills and grasslands, the charming village of Hontanas with surprise you as it pops out of nowhere. The rest of the journey mostly follows a road with trees and songs of many different birds that nest in them. Be sure to stop and look around the ruins of the old Augustinian monastery of San Antón before reaching the end of today’s stage – Castrojeriz. The Camino traverses this whale-shaped town for over 1.5 km. (1 mi.) and Castrojeriz is a true jewel of the Camino! Some of the many places to explore here will be seen as you enter it: the former Collegiate Church of Santa María, the ruins of the medieval castle (“Castro” – hence the town’s name) nested atop the hill. In the town center and right on the Camino also lies the magical “Hospital de Alma” – the Hospital for the Soul – which is very much worth paying a visit to.

Distance: 21.5 km. (13.4 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 17: Castrojeriz – Boadilla del Camino • 19.3 km. (12 mi.)

Soon after leaving Castrojeriz, the terrain will surprise you with a lengthier ascent up the Table Mountain called Alto de Mostelares – once you reach the summit, enjoy the magnificent panorama with the farewell view of Castrojeriz below. An absolute highlight is the famous medieval chapel of San Nicolás and, just a short distance away, the imposing bridge over the river Pisuerga, which also demarcates the border between the Provinces of Burgos and Palencia. The Camino then leads you on across open Meseta landscapes into the quaint village Boadilla del Camino. If you are an early riser, you will enjoy the concerts that morning birds nested under the roof of the church will perform for you.

Distance: 19.3 km. (12 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 18: Boadilla del Camino – Villalcázar de Sirga • 19.2 km. (11.9 mi.)

The beginning of today’s stage is particularly beautiful as you will be walking right next to the Canal de Castilla – set out at dawn, and enjoy the mysterious vistas of the fog above its waters.  Once you reach the town of Frómista, be sure to visit the Romanesque Church of San Martín – one of the finest pieces of medieval architecture on the entire Camino Francés. The Camino follows the highway into Población de Campos: from here, you can continue on along the road, or opt to turn right and walk past Villovieco along the bed of the River Ucieza – a slightly longer, but much more quiet and peaceful walk which we recommend. Both Ways converge again as you reach Villalcázar de Sirga, today’s destination. Be sure to visit the impressive 13-century Church Santa María la Blanca: its construction demonstrates elements of transition between Romanesque and Gothic periods, and this constituted part of the monastery of the Knights Templar.

Distance: 19.2 km. (11.9 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 19: Villalcázar de Sirga – Calzadilla de la Cueza • 22.4 km. (13.9 mi.)

After the first 6 km. (3,7 mi.) of walking along the highway, you will reach the beautiful town Carrión de los Condes. At the end of town, you will cross the River Carrión over another stunning medieval bridge: walk off to the right to enjoy a lovely view of it. Just beyond, the Camino takes you past the magnificent, renaissance Monastery San Zoilo. Beyond that, the Meseta flattens out almost entirely. After some 6 km (3.7 mi.) of walking on a path rimmed with trees, the Camino will unfold before you – arguably – the most stunning stretch of the Meseta: you will be walking straight ahead on this endless, treeless highland all the way until you reach Calzadilla de la Cueza, which will hid from your sight in a small valley until the very end.

Distance: 22.4 km. (13.9 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 20: Calzadilla de la Cueza – Sahagún • 22.4 km. (13.9 mi.)

Beyond Calzadilla, the landscape will not be as flat as before, and the Camino will wind around, taking you into and out of a number of small, delightful, typical Meseta-villages. If you’ve never been to The Shire, you will see your first Hobbit House as you enter Moratinos – you can walk up on top of it for a lovely 360 view. The terrain will continue to get somewhat hillier, and the Camino will cross the next Provinces border: you will step out of Palencia and into León. Soon thereafter, you will walk into Sahagún – a more populous town with an appealing historic center and famous brick churches built in the Mudéjar-Style. Sahagún is also the official half-way point of the Camino Frances, and pilgrims can obtain here a Certificate of Completion of the first half of their Way

Distance: 22.4 km. (13.9 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 21: Sahagún – El Burgo Ranero • 20.1 km. (12.5 mi.)

At the edge of Sahagún, another scenic medieval bridge takes you over the River Cea and after 4 km. (2,5 mi.) the Camino splits. The option on the left is shorter, but it follows along the highway. We recommend turning right and into Calzada de Coto offers a much more scenic hiking on the high Meseta plains along the historic Roman road Calzada Romana, where one can often walk in complete solitude. Passing the lovely, quiet village of Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, one will eventually have to turn left towards the bridge to El Burgo Ranero – the day’s final destination – entering it from the north. Enjoy the peace and quiet of this sleepy village and the tasty, hearty local food.

Distance: 20.1 km. (12.5 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 22: El Burgo Ranero – Mansilla de las Mulas • 19.3 km. (12 mi.)

Leaving El Burgo Ranero, you could walk back over the bridge to the Calzada Romana, but this time, we recommend staying with the option of walking along the road. Here, the shaded path is pleasant, and crossing the hilly Meseta landscape is easy. Enjoy the wide-open spaces and the few villages along the way until you reach today’s destination: Mansilla de las Mulas, which earned its name from the famous cattle markets that used to be held here (Mulas = cattle). Mansilla has a small but charming old town center worth taking the time to enjoy and relax in. However, it is also worth it to walk towards the end of town – like in many places before, a lovely medieval bridge is situated on the western edge of town, and you can spend quality time right next to it, on the shaded banks of the River Esla.

Distance: 19.3 km. (12 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 23: Mansilla de las Mulas – León • 18 km. (11.2 mi.)

Today’s journey is easy, though not the most scenic – particularly the last half of it suggests that you will soon be entering a big city. But the reward is awaiting ahead: once you reach the historic city center of León, its beauty will cast a spell on you! Similar to Burgos, León is another logical place to consider taking a “day off” – the amount of things to explore and sights to see can otherwise seem overwhelming. Paying a visit to the Cathedral, the Church of San Isídoro and the Parador is a must, but just as rewarding is simply getting lost in the labyrinth of the narrow streets of the Old Town’s Barrio Húmedo – the “Humid District” – which has earned this name because of (tapas-) bars beyond count that are situated here. Treat yourself to a drink or snack at the upstairs restaurant terrace of the Hotel NiMú Azotea, from where you can enjoy a stunning panoramic view of León.

Distance: 18 km. (11.2 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 24: León – Villar de Mazarife • 21.7 km. (13.5 mi.)

8 km. (5 mi.) after León the Camino reaches the town Virgen del Camino, where it splits again into two options: the first one follows the highway for 25 km. (15.5 mi.) all the way to Hospital de Órbigo, and we do not recommend it. The other option is scenic and very peaceful: it traverses pleasant landscapes and pops in and out of lovely Meseta villages. The end of today’s stage is Villar de Mazarife, where you can unwind and relax after spending time in a big city the day before.

Distance: 21.7 km. (13.5 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 25: Villar de Mazarife – Villares de Órbigo • 18 km. (11.2 mi.)

This is the last day of truly being on the Meseta. Setting out from Villar de Mazarife, you will encounter yourself amidst wide-open spaces one last time – with the difference that, now, the mountains lying ahead will be drawing nearer and nearer with every step. Enjoy the flat vastness of the terrain, and the liberating feeling of finding yourself in the middle of nowhere! After 15 km. (9.3 mi.) the Camino will lead you into the charming town Hospital de Órbigo. Spend some time here, and enjoy the site of the massive medieval bridge comprising 20 (!) arches – there is no other one like this on the whole Camino. With only 2.6 km. (1.6 mi.) left to today’s final destination, Hospital de Órbigo is a wonderful place to relax without any hurry. Once you reach Villares de Órbigo, you can again enjoy the quaint peacefulness of a small village and get ready for tomorrow’s hike to and sightseeing in Astorga.

Distance: 18 km. (11.2 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 26: Villares de Órbigo – Astorga • 15.4 km. (9.6 mi.)

Today’s stage is not only easy, but also short. After passing the first of only two small villages, Santibáñez, not long after setting out, you will then start gaining a bit of altitude and – again – passing first patches of forest. Enjoy a lovely rest at La Casa de los Dioses – an enchanting oasis right on the Camino. Once you reach the Cross of Santo Toribio, you will be rewarded with a picturesque panoramic view of mountains to the west and to the north, and the city of Astorga with its majestic Cathedral spires lying straight ahead. Explore Astorga: its Cathedral, the Episcopal Palace (by Gaudí), the city walls and the ancient architecture of this once-Roman city are but a few sights to visit, both in daylight and at dusk.

Distance: 15.4 km. (9.6 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 27: Astorga – Rábanal del Camino • 21.4 km. (13.3 mi.)

This day’s stage is not long and quite comfortable, so there is no need to rush out of Astorga at the break of dawn. You will be passing various lovely villages and slowly, ever so gradually beginning to gain altitude. The scenery will also change rapidly before your eyes even by walker’s speed: grasslands will first turn into terrain covered with bushes and short, wind-defiant trees and, eventually, into full-sized forests. As you walk into the charming village of Santa Catalina de Somoza, marking the half-way point of today’s journey, turn around, take a look back and soak up the last panoramic view of Astorga at a far distance and bid farewell to the endless sea of Meseta beyond. And in front, no less epic views of Montes de León looming ahead will be getting you ready for mountain hiking that is to come. The end of today’s journey is the charming village of Rábanal del Camino. You can visit the medieval church in the evening for the vespers for Pilgrims, and rest up for tomorrow’s tough, but stunningly beautiful mountain trek.

Distance: 21.4 km. (13.3 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 28: Rábanal del Camino – Molinaseca • 24.6 km. (15.3 mi.)

As you leave Rábanal del Camino, you will begin a continuous ascent: first, up to the winded village of Foncebadón and, beyond it, to Cruz de Ferro – the Iron Cross – the iconic demarcation of the highest point on the Camino Francés. Here, pilgrims many centuries ago joined the tradition of an even older age: to leave a stone they brought from home at the Cross. Consider spending a bit of time at this summit – rest, and soak up its energies. The next several kilometers (miles) will be fairly flat as you will be walking on the mountain top, forests will give way to picturesque open mountain vistas, and then, two challenging descents will be awaiting you. First, it is a steep, rocky path down to the beautiful medieval village of El Acebo with an absolutely epic drop back view of the entire valley beyond. And then, after some level distance, the last challenge: the descent into today’s final destination – Molinaseca. You can have lunch in the beautiful medieval village of El Acebo before heading towards Molinaseca. This little town is absolute jewel, and many pilgrims rank it among their top 3 most beautiful places on the entire French Way. Spend some time resting on the pretty riverside lawn right across the gorgeous medieval bridge, and take an evening walk back to the bridge for some amazing twilight views.

Distance: 24.6 km. (15.3 mi.)
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Day 29: Molinaseca – Cacabelos • 23.3 km. (14.5 mi.)

Soon after leaving Molinaseca, the Camino veers off from the street and into the fields – we recommend staying on the road as this is considerably shorter, and the alternative is not scenic enough to be worth it. The Camino takes you straight into Ponferrada – the last larger town until you reach Santiago. The most outstanding landmark of this otherwise busy modern city is the imposing medieval castle built by the Knights Templar, which is absolutely worth entering and exploring. Walking out of Ponferrada will take you Today you will enter the more densely populated region of Bierzo, famous for its excellent wines. The highlight of this day is the old Templar’s fortress in Ponferrada.

Distance: 23.3 km. (14.5 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 30: Cacabelos – Vega de Valcarce • 23.5 km. (14.6 mi.)

Today’s journey takes you across the picturesque wine-country landscapes of El Bierzo until you reach Villafranca. This gorgeous town, situated in a valley where two rivers converge, is another well-known pilgrim hub very much worth spending some time in to enjoy and explore. The local Romanesque Church of Santiago (located right at town entrance) is the only one on the entire Camino – other  than Santiago Cathedral – that has the Gate of Forgiveness (Puerta de Perdón). Since the middle ages, pilgrims that were incapable to carry on for the remaining 185 km. (115 mi.) to Santiago because of their health could receive here their full indulgence and the “Little Compostela” – Certificate of Pilgrimage Completion. Still in Villafranca, the Camino splits into two options: straight on up the valley of the River Valcarce, or up the Camino Duro (2.2 km longer and quite steep, but considerably more beautiful). Both Caminos then meet again at Trabadelo and lead on to the charming little valley village of Vega de Valcarce.

Distance: 23.5 km. (14.6 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy 
Camino Duro option:
Distance: 25.7 km. (16 mi.)
Difficulty: Challenging

Day 31: Vega de Valcarce – O Cebreiro • 11.8 km. (7.3 mi.)

Today’s comparatively short-distance hike comprises a continuous, moderately difficult ascent and is highlighted by absolutely stunning mountain landscape. Shortly after leaving the Valcarce river valley, the Camino will lead you onto a forest path up to the sleepy village of La Faba. Afterwards, the forest gives way to highlands, and as you continue to go up and up, each stop you take will reward you with breath-taking mountain views. Bar La Escuela in Laguna de Castilla is the last stop in the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León; just beyond it, you will reach the iconic stone post demarcating the border of Galicia. The picturesque village of O Cebreiro – your final destination for the day – is like an open-air museum. You can marvel at the restored, traditional thatched-roof stone houses called Payozas, which stem from pre-Roman, Ibero-Celtic times and where used until the second half of the 20th century. You should also pay a visit to the Church Santa María la Real constructed on the ruins of a pre-Romanesque sanctuary. Enjoy the local desert specialty “Queso con Miel” (cream cheese with honey) and the stunning panoramic vistas both at daytime and at sunset.

Distance: 11.8 km. (7.3 mi.)
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Day 32: O Cebreiro – Triacastela • 20.9 km. (13 mi.)

O Cebreiro is not only the first village in Galicia – it is also the last one to be situated in the mountains. After some 12 km. (7.5 mi.) of hilly ups and downs through forests, occasional openings with majestic highland views and a few peaceful villages, the Camino begins to descend – first, gradually, and then quite steeply into what Galicia is, really, all about: lush-green, thick and mossy forests. Just before you enter the charming town of Triacastela, you will pass the oldest chestnut tree on the Camino – Castaño de Ramil – which is said to be over 800 years old. After today’s challenging altitude drop of over 600 m. (1,970 ft.), you can now rest or take a quick walk over to the river and relax on its bank, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the lovely Triacastela.

Distance: 20.9 km. (13 mi.)
Difficulty: Moderate

Day 33: Triacastela – Barbadelo • 23.5 km. (14.6 mi.)

As you leave Triacastela, the Camino splits once again into two options: to the left, via the Monastery of Samos (longer) and to the left toward San Xil, which is the one we recommend. The terrain that started at the end of yesterday’s journey will continue for much of today, and you will find yourself traversing lush, most of the time damp forests with moss-clad stones on both sides of your path. As you pass occasional villages, you will find lovely places to stop and rest. Eventually, the Camino will run along a road for some 3 km. (1.9 mi.) and eventually lead you into the bigger town of Sarria. For many pilgrims, Sarria is the starting point of the Camino – it is easily reachable by public transportation, and distance from Sarria to Santiago is just over 100 km., entitling those who walk it to receive their Compostela (Certificate of Pilgrimage Completion). As Sarria tends to get crowded at times, the final destination for today will be a bit farther ahead. Take your time to enjoy the gorgeous medieval bridge right as you walk out of Sarria. The Camino will then lead you up a forested hill and, once you reach its top, spaces will become wide-open and you will enjoy some lovely Galician countryside panoramas until you reach Barbadelo.

Distance: 23.5 km. (14.6 mi.)
Difficulty: Moderate

Day 34: Barbadelo – Portomarín • 23 km. (14.3 mi.)

The mornings outside Barbadelo (as well as in many places in Galicia) tend to get quite foggy, which adds a special note of mystery and magic to be enjoyed by those who hike out early. Today’s terrain will differ very little from yesterday’s: more lovely forested pockets, fields to meander across, charming little brooks to cross, and inviting places in cute villages to stop in. However, most of the time, the influx of pilgrims starting from Sarria is usually noticeable, and from here at the latest, the Camino bocomes quite lively. Today’s stage ends in the town of Portomarín. In the 1960s, it was decided that this town, originally situated in the river valley, had to make way for a new reservoir and be moved just up the hill.  The two medieval churches were dismantled stone by stone and put back together in their new location. As you walk across the bridge into town, the remains of the old village of Portomarín down in the valley can still be seen when the water levels are low, giving the whole panorama a kind of a tolkienesque feel.

Distance: 23 km. (14.3 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 35: Portomarín – Palas de Rei • 23.9 km. (14.9 mi.)

A hilly forested path outside Portomarín eventually levels with the road until the village of Gonzar. Afterwards, a very gradual but lengthy ascent up the Sierra de Ligonde renders some truly picturesque, far-away vistas on the quaint Galician countryside. For the remaining half of today’s journey, the Camino levels off as it leads you past small, sleepy villages and beautiful green fields on to the town of Palas de Rei, where you can relax and enjoy the many wonderful culinary options to start getting to know the wonderful Galician cuisine.

Distance: 23.9 km. (14.9 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Day 36: Palas de Rei – Castañeda • 25 km. (15.5 mi.)

More peaceful and beautiful Galician countryside is awaiting you today. Fields interchange with forests, and the terrain is not only pleasing to the eye, but also pleasant to walk. The magnificent medieval bridge over the River Furelos is the last larger one on the Camino Francés, and have the option to admire it from both sides. Consider having lunch in one of the famous Pulperías in Melide – the busy town toward the end of your day’s journey – here, you will get octopus served on wooden boards the traditional way: simply boiled, cut with scissors, accompanied by cooked potatoes and seasoned only with olive oil, salt and paprika. Pop into the charming little church of Santa María as you walk out of Melide to take a look at its well-preserved Romanesque wall paintings and its stunning altar dating back to the times of the Visigoths. The Camino will now take you into the beautiful Galician eucalyptus forests, passing a couple of more quaint villages until you reach you the end of your today’s in Castañeda.

Distance: 25 km. (15.5 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 37: Castañeda – O Pedrouzo • 25.5 km. (15.5 mi.)

Leaving Castañeda, you will have a few hills to go up and down, and you can reward yourself with an early rest stop just 3.5 km. (2.2 mi.) as you reach the absolutely delightful little village of Ribadiso: sit at its waterfront by the cute little medieval bridge and soak up the sheer serenity of the scenery. The Camino then leads you across the busy, larger town or Arzua before it plunges backs into the pleasant, peaceful Galician scenery. It is an easy walking day, and you will spend most of the rest of in on forest paths with occasional villages and patches of lush green grasslands in-between. The fragrance of eucalyptus will have become as familiar to your senses as the sight of these pretty trees’ tall and straight trunks. After the serenity of the forest, the atmosphere in the bustling little town of O Pedrouzo may seem a bit too busy, but it’s also worth enjoying it, as all the pilgrims are tingling with restlessness before the last Camino Francés’ stage tomorrow.

Distance: 25.5 km. (15.9 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 38: O Pedrouzo – Santiago de Compostela • 20.5 km. / 12.7 mi.

The Camino has yet just the perfect amount of beautiful scenery, peacefulness and calmness in store for you as you plunge into a beautiful eucalyptus forest right outside O Pedrouzo. As you pass a couple of villages, eucalyptus gives way to conifers, and you will find yourself walking alongside the Airport of Santiago – the feeling of reaching the journey’s end and the impending departure for home is often sensed quite strongly here. Walk up to the top of the Monte do Gozo – the Mount of Joy – and you will behold Santiago de Compostela for the first time!  Let the Camino guide you, one last time, into the heart of this magical City. Congratulations, dear Pilgrim: You. Have. Arrived. Celebrate, and enjoy!

Distance: 20.5 km. (12.7 mi.)
Difficulty: Easy

Day 39: Free Day in Santiago de Compostela

We strongly feel that, after this amazing journey, it is instrumental to spend (at least!) one full, extra day and another night in Santiago, which is why it is added in our program “by default” (though you can opt out of it). This is both the time and the place to unwind, to reflect upon and enjoy your journey’s end and, most importantly, to take it easy on yourself with your post-Camino re-entry into the big, wide World. Aside from that, UNESCO-listed city of Santiago is full of incredible places to explore, and you can collect your very well-earned Compostela (Certificate of Completion) as well as attend the Pilgrims’ Mass at the Cathedral.

Day 40: Departure from Santiago de Compostela

Farewell, Santiago; farewell, Camino – and sage travels on your journey back home or to your next adventure! And here is another option well-worth considering: to continue the Camino on to Finisterre (the “End of the World”) and / or to Muxía – two stunning, mystical places on the majestic Atlantic coast.

¡Buen Camino!

fast track: 33 days

The Highlights

Covering the same French Way as the “Regular Pace” Tour, this itinerary is quite a bit more physically demanding. 26 km. (16 mi.) of walking per day may not seem like a lot; however, the biggest physical challenge lies in the fact that one walking continuously. Therefore, it is highly recommendable here also to consider inserting at least 2-3 resting (no-walking) days, to give your body a chance to relax and recover.

Practice shows that our bodies need at least 1 week to adjust to this type of physical activity, to get used to the unique rhythm of the Camino, to develop the individual daily routine and to get used to it. With this in mind, the average stages for the first week (except for the very first day) are set a bit lower, and the pace pics up gradually thereafter.

Lastly, it is highly advisable for this particular program to spend some time preparing: regular walks or time running, yoga or other stretching exercises, and the habit of drinking approx. 3 l. of water daily will all serve you well on this Camino.

tour details

Tour Type: Self-Guided

Availability: March through October

Details ⇒
  • March 01 – June 15: Regular Season
  • June 16 – August 15: High Season
  • August 16 – October 31: Regular Season

Blackout Dates: May 1 – May 31, 2022

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Duration: 33 Days Total / 30 Days Walking

Total Distance: 790 km. (491 mi.)

Average distance: 26.3 km. (16.4 mi.) / Day

Prices (per person):

Double Room:
Starting at € 1,795

Single-Occupancy Room:
Starting at € 2,730

What’s Included:

32 nights in single / double room

En-suite facilities

English-speaking emergency assistance
i
Your full digital Travel Info Package
Details ⇒

We are proud to be working together with hand-picked, high quality and mostly locally owned and operated service providers.

Your journey will be booked through, and your Travel Package will include all the information you will need to access your lodging locations and to process your check-in.

Optional Add-ons:

Luggage transfer on walking days

Breakfasts (subject to availability)

Lodging for additional night(s) stays

Airport transfers
Details ⇒

If you wish to walk your Camino Stages with a light backpack, carrying only the basic necessities, we will be happy to arrange for your luggage to be forwarded from one hotel to the next on your walking days.

Breakfasts are not available everywhere, and they are often served late, starting around 8 am. However, if you wish to include brekfasts, we will be happy to do so, where possible.

Spending an extra night in a given town throughout your journey is often a good idea: you give your body a rest, relax and enjoy exploring the town. In Santiago, two nights are included in most of our Tours by default as we believe it’s the least a Pilgrim would need to enjoy the City; however, you have the option to opt out of it.

We will be happy to arrange for an airport shuttle transfer for you from your airport of arrival to the starting point of your journey. The same goes for the departure, unless you end your journey in Santiago and fly out of Santiago Airport. In that case, a taxi can be easily arranged for the time of your choice directly at the Reception Desk at your Hotel.

What’s NOT Included:

Flighs

Travel Insurance

Tour guide

Meals
Details ⇒

We do not book flights, nor organize any rail or commercial busline travel. However, if you need assistance in deciding how to get to and back from your Camino Tour, we will be happy to give you assist you with tips and ideas!

We strongly recommend to all our travelers to get a Travel Insurance; however, we do not sell any such policies. For our international clients, it is best to get a policy in their country of residence, as some countries offer insurances only to their own residents.

This is a date-flexible tour; therefore, it is self-guided – no Tour Guide will be accompnying you. If you are interested in joining a Group Tour with a Tour Guide, please check our Guided Tours page. (Note: our Guided Tours take place on set dates that are planned ahead.)

tour itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in St Jean Pied de Port

At last, your travels bring you to Saint Pied de Port – the charming town on the foothills of the Pyrenean Mountains and the starting point of the Camino Francés. Take your time to enjoy Saint Jean. Visit the iconic sites of this scenic town and, if need be, take advantage of the option to make any last-minute purchases in one of the numerous Pilgrim gear shops. Also, stop by the Pilgrims’ Office and get your Credencial – your Pilgrim’s Document, which will entitle you to receive your Compostela (Certificate of Pilgrimage Completion) once you reach Santiago – as well as your very first stamp in it! Enjoy your evening and good night’s rest before your first Camino walking day tomorrow!

Day 2: St Jean Pied de Port – Roncesvalles • 26.6 km (16.5 mi.)

Your Camino is about to begin! This is one of the most strenuous days of entire French Way – but also one of the most rewarding: the breath-taking panoramic vistas of this Napoleon Route make the physical challenge well-worth it! The total elevation gain of 950 m. (3117 ft.) is significant, but the ascent is steady and the terrain – passable. Across the Summit, the Camino descends steeply across forests toward the iconic Monastery and village of Roncesvalles.

Distance: 26.6 km (16.5 mi.) | Difficulty: Challenging

Day 3: Roncesvalles – Zubiri • 22.7 km (14.1 mi.)

Compared to yesterday’s physically demanding trek, today’s hike is both a bit shorter and less strenuous. Across forested hills and past charming little villages and over the pass of Erro, the Camino unfolds the genuine beauty of Navarra. On entering Zubiri – today’s destination – you will walk over the medieval Bridge “Puente de la Rabia” (“Rabies Bridge”) – your first of many epic medieval bridges along the French Way, and with one of the uncountable tales and legends encoded in its name.

Distance: 22.7 km. (14.1 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 4: Zubiri – Pamplona • 20.2 km. (12.6 mi.)

For much of the today’s hike, the Camino runs as a charming, forested path right alongside the River Arga, all the way to the village of Zabaldika. Here, the beautiful Romanesque church is home of the oldest bell in Navarra which – when open – the Pilgrims are allowed to ring: climb up the bell tower, make a wish and ring the bell, sending the echo across the picturesque valley below! From here, you can return to the path along the river, or go over the hills – both paths will eventually converge and lead you into the heart of Navarra’s Capital and your first city of the Camino – Pamplona. Walk its streets, and catch yourself imagining what it’s like here during the Running of the Bulls at the time of San Fermín.

Distance: 20.2 km. (12.6 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 5: Pamplona – (Eunate) – Puente la Reina • 24.9 km. (15.5 mi.)

Leaving the hustle and bustle of Pamplona, the Camino traverses grassy hills, gradually but steadily ascending to the summit Alto de Perdón (Hill of Forgiveness) with the epic Pilgrims Monument and spectacular vistas: looking back at Pamplona and the Pyrenees, and forward into the vast valley that lies ahead. After a sharp descent, the Camino continues across hilly fields. At Muruzábal, the Way splits into two, offering the option of an easy 2.5 km. (1.5 mi.) detour to the stunning Templarian Basilica Santa Maria de Eunate. Both Ways re-merge in the next village of Obanos, and the Camino continues on into Puente la Reina. Spend some quality time on the lawn beneath this town’s iconic Bridge – a true masterpiece of medieval human design – and be sure to also see it at twilight.

Distance: 22.4 / 24.9 km. (13.6 / 15.5 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 6: Puente la Reina – Estella • 21.9 km. (13.6 mi.)

After Puente la Reina, forested hills eventually give way to vineyards and olive groves, interrupted by frequent, charming villages. Mid-way lies picturesque Cirauquí – a town planted perfectly on the slopes of a hill. Cross the still-standing Roman (!) bridge, and you will find yourself stepping on the stones of the Via Trajana – the road paved and trodden by the Roman legions in the 3rd Century. Traversing more pretty villages and green hills, and crossing medieval bridges, the Way leads you into the lovely town of Estella with its many historic churches, which are well worth exploring.

Distance: 21.9 km. (13.6 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Day 7: Estella – Torres del Río • 28.6 km. (17.8 mi.)

Some of the absolute highlights of today’s stage comes soon after leaving Estella: the famous Wine Fountain (Fuente del Vino) nested in the Irache Winery, and the adjacent Monasterio de Irache – one of the oldest monasteries in Navarra. Have a break and a drink before you carry on. The Camino dives into and out of pockets of forests and winds up and down the pleasant rolling hills until Villamayor de Monjardín, where it loops around the base of an imposing hill with ruins of a medieval castle upon it. The remaining half of this day’s journey is almost completely straight, continuing – first, alongside vineyards and thereafter, amidst vast grass fields – towards Los Arcos – the “Town of Arches.” Beyond Los Arcos, the last 8 km. (5 mi.) of today’s longer journey are almost entirely straight: crossing grape fields, you enter Torres del Río famous, gorgeous chapel.

Distance: 28.6 km. (17.8 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 8: Torres del Río – Navarrete • 33.4 km. (20.8 mi.)

Today’s journey is a longer one, so it is wise to set out early. Beyond Torres, the Camino passes some rolling hills, a few pockets of forest and more wine country until it reaches the charming town of Viana. The next 9 km. have two highlights: the border-crossing into the La Rioja and, just before reaching Logroño, the lovely little stop-and-rest nook for Pilgrims called “Higas y Amor” (“Figs and Love”). The tradition of aiding pilgrims out of her own house was started by Felisa – one of the many Angels of the Camino – years ago, and is now continued by her grandson. Today’s stage’s big city is Logroño – the Capital of La Rioja and a place of rich cultural heritage, many churches and the culinary fame for its Vino & Tapas. Today’s journey is also longer; however, with only a few hills to roll over, it is mostly an easy walking day. You are in the world-famous wine region of La Rioja, and today’s scenery, whichever way you’ll look, will remind you of that. Passing by many vineyards, you will reach the charming town of Navarrete.

Distance: 33.4 km. (20.8 mi.) | Difficulty: easy terrain, but moderate to challenging distance

Day 9: Navarrete – Cirueña • 32.4 km. (20.1 mi.)

Leaving Navarrete behind, you will be walking in the middle of more and ever more grape fields until, before the journey’s end, you will get on top of some hills to enjoy truly magnificent vistas of this epic wine country, nested in a vast valley and rimmed by far-away mountains. You will then reach Nájera – a truly charming small town with very proud history: it was once the Capital of the Kingdom of Navarra, and it is home to the medieval Monastery of major significance – Santa María la Real. Wind down and relax by the river or in one of the pretty bars down the narrow streets of Nájera’s Old Town. Beoynd Nájera, you will be walking past more endless, beautiful Rioja wine fields.

Distance: 32.4 km. (20.1 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy terrain, but moderate to challenging distance

Day 10: Cirueña – Belorado • 30 km. (18.6 mi.)

Today, you will start noticing a change in scenery: the vineyards will gradually begin to give way to gentle, grass-clad hills, which will render picturesque panoramic views. With rather few villages in-between as well as fair terrain, you will soon find yourself reaching Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Visit its famous cathedral and learn about the miracle of the “Hanged Innocent” that (supposedly) took place here, and you will find out why the Cathedral houses a massive bird cage with living chickens inside. If time permits, consider also going up the adjacent bell tower right across from the Cathedral, and soak up some amazing 360 views of the surrounding countryside. The next 7 km. (4.4 mi.) beyond Santo Domingo are the last ones in La Rioja – soon after leaving the lovely little town of Grañón, you will be crossing the next border: into the Province of Burgos, the first province inside the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León. The Camino will now continue running over smooth hills and sunflower fields, and traverse a number of typical little Castilian villages. Your eyes will by now have gotten used to seeing medieval churches just about everywhere you walk as the Camino, following its deeply-rooted Pilgrimage tradition, almost always passes next to them. This day’s journey in the middle of genuinely pleasant countryside will eventually lead you into the town of Belorado. Enjoy the quaint main plaza as you spend your evening exploring the compact town center.

Distance: 30 km. (18.6 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 11: Belorado – Atapuerca • 31.1 km. (19.3 mi.)

The first half of today’s stage has a similar look and feel to it as the last day’s: more wide-open spaces with smoothly-rolling hills with fields of corn, sunflowers and wild grass, and more small villages to walk across and take a break in. However, the scenery will change both quickly and radically as you leave the village Villafranca: you will be gaining 200 m. (600 ft.) of altitude over a steady ascent as you enter the Montes de Oca (Goose Hills). After numerous days of crossing fields and vineyards, you will find yourself walking in the forest again, all the way until you reach the tiny village of San Juan de Ortega. Make sure to visit its famous monastery. Then, a lovely forest walk – the last one for quite some time – to the charming village of Agés. Afterwards, the Camino passes by the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Atapuerca until it reaches the village by the same name – your journey’s fianl destination for the day. You can walk up to the church on the hilltop for lovely sunstet vistas, and enjoy the genuine peace and quiet for, tomorrow, the stage’s destination will be as different as it can be: Burgos, the largest City on the entire Camino Francés.

Distance: 31.1 km. (19.3 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 12: Atapuerca – Burgos • 20.6 km. (12.8 mi.)

Just beyond Atapuerca, the Camino ascends the hill to summit at the Wooden Cross La Cruz de Maragrande. Standing at this summit, take in the vast panorama of the valley ahead, with the city of Burgos lying at its bottom. The descent from the Wooden Cross is quite gradual; as the terrain soon flattens out, villages pop up one after another. At Orbaneja Riopico, the Camino splits into two options for entering Burgos, the one along the river Arlanzón certainly being the more pleasant one. Today’s journey is rather short, offerring you extra time to explore its destination. Burgos offers a plethora of attractions to explore, and touring its UNESCO-listed Cathedral alone make take a couple of hours. Therefore, it is the place where many pilgrims decide to take a rest day. But, whether you spend one or more nights in this fascinating city, take a quick hike up to the Mirador del Castillo (only 7-10 min. from the Cathedral Plaza) for an absolutely gorgeous panoramic view of the Cathedral and the Old Town. And doing so at sunset / twilight may be even more rewarding than at daytime.

Distance: 20.6 km. (12.8 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 13: Burgos – Hontanas • 32.4 km. (20.1 mi.)

As you leave the city of Burgos behind, you now officially enter la Meseta – the Castilian High Plain – characterized by wide-open spaces with occasional hills. Trees become more scarce, and distances between villages seem larger as the landscape seems more monotonous. In the middle of today’s journey, at Rabé de las Calzadas, the quaint little Chapel Ermita de la Virgen de Monasterio is well-worth a stop: the kind nuns in attendance give a lovely and touching blessing to all pilgrims who pass by. Take some time to admire the impressive murals on the outskirts of this village – they are among the best on the whole Camino. Beyond that, up and over a few hills, you will find yourself enjoying the impressive panoramic views down the valley and for as far as your eyes can see – the true beauty of the Meseta. Down below the valley lies the pretty Hornillos del Camino with the typical flair of a Meseta village along the Camino de Santiago. Beyond Hornillos, the last 11 km. (6.8 mi.) of this day’s hike take you across the low, barren hills with no villages in-between. The only place to stop and rest in the shade is San Bol – in the middle ages, a hospice that treated people with leprosy had once stood here; now, there is a thicket of trees and a small pool with clean, running water. After more hills and grasslands, the charming village of Hontanas with surprise you as it pops out of nowhere.

Distance: 32.4 km. (20.1 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 14: Hontanas – Boadilla del Camino • 30.1 km. (18.7 mi.)

The rest of the journey mostly follows a road with trees and songs of many different birds that nest in them. Be sure to stop and look around the ruins of the old Augustinian monastery of San Antón before reaching the end of today’s stage – Castrojeriz. The Camino traverses this whale-shaped town for over 1.5 km. (1 mi.) and Castrojeriz is a true jewel of the Camino! Some of the many places to explore here will be seen as you enter it: the former Collegiate Church of Santa María, the ruins of the medieval castle (“Castro” – hence the town’s name) nested atop the hill. In the town center and right on the Camino also lies the magical “Hospital de Alma” – the Hospital for the Soul – which is very much worth paying a visit to. Soon after leaving Castrojeriz, the terrain will surprise you with a lengthier ascent up the Table Mountain called Alto de Mostelares – once you reach the summit, enjoy the magnificent panorama with the farewell view of Castrojeriz below. An absolute highlight is the famous medieval chapel of San Nicolás and, just a short distance away, the imposing bridge over the river Pisuerga, which also demarcates the border between the Provinces of Burgos and Palencia. The Camino then leads you on across open Meseta landscapes into the quaint village Boadilla del Camino, where you will rest and spend the night. If you are an early riser, you will enjoy the concerts that morning birds nested under the roof of the church will perform for you.

Distance: 30.1 km. (18.7 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 15: Boadilla del Camino – Carrión de los Condes • 26.4 km. (16.4 mi.)

The beginning of today’s stage is particularly beautiful as you will be walking right next to the Canal de Castilla – set out at dawn, and enjoy the mysterious vistas of the fog above its waters. Once you reach the town of Frómista, be sure to visit the Romanesque Church of San Martín – one of the finest pieces of medieval architecture on the entire Camino Francés. The Camino follows the highway into Población de Campos: from here, you can continue on along the road, or opt to turn right and walk past Villovieco along the bed of the River Ucieza – a slightly longer, but much more quiet and peaceful walk which we recommend. Both Ways converge again as you reach Villalcázar de Sirga. Be sure to visit the impressive 13-century Church Santa María la Blanca: its construction demonstrates elements of transition between Romanesque and Gothic periods, and this constituted part of the monastery of the Knights Templar. After the first 6 km. (3,7 mi.) of walking along the highway beyond Villalcázar de Sirga, you will reach the beautiful town Carrión de los Condes – today’s journey’s destination. At the end of town, you can cross the River Carrión over another stunning medieval bridge: walk off to the right to enjoy a lovely view of it, both at daylight as well as at twilight.

Distance: 26.4 km. (16.4 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 16: Carrión de los Condes – Terradillos de los Templarios • 28.1 km. (17.5 mi.)

Right as you walk out of Carrión, the Camino takes you past the magnificent, renaissance Monastery San Zoilo. Beyond that, the Meseta flattens out almost entirely. After some 6 km (3.7 mi.) of walking on a path rimmed with trees, the Camino will unfold before you – arguably – the most stunning stretch of the Meseta: you will be walking straight ahead on this endless, treeless highland all the way until you reach Calzadilla de la Cueza, which will hide from your sight in a small valley. Beyond Calzadilla, the landscape will not be as flat as before, and the Camino will wind around, taking you into and out of a number of small, delightful, typical Meseta-villages until you reach Terradillos.

Distance: 28.1 km. (17.5 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 17: Terradillos de los Templarios – El Burgo Ranero (via Calzada Romana) • 31.5 km. (19.6 mi.)

If you’ve never been to The Shire, you will see your first Hobbit House as you enter Moratinos (the village right after Terradillos) – you can walk up on top of it for a lovely 360 view. The terrain will continue to get somewhat hillier, and the Camino will cross the next Provinces border: you will step out of Palencia and into León. Soon thereafter, you will walk into Sahagún – a more populous town with an appealing historic center and famous brick churches built in the Mudéjar-Style. Sahagún is also the official half-way point of the Camino Frances, and pilgrims can obtain here a Certificate of Completion of the first half of their Way. At the edge of Sahagún, another scenic medieval bridge takes you over the River Cea and after 4 km. (2,5 mi.) the Camino splits into two options. The option on the left is shorter, but it follows along the highway and is, therefore, busy with the passing traffic and not as scenic. We recommend turning right and into Calzada de Coto. This alternative offers a much more scenic hiking on the high Meseta plains along the historic Roman road Calzada Romana, where one can often walk in complete solitude. Passing the lovely, quiet village of Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, one will eventually have to turn left towards the bridge to El Burgo Ranero – the day’s final destination – entering it from the north. Enjoy the peace and quiet of this sleepy village and the tasty, hearty local food.

Distance: 31.5 km. (19.6 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 18: El Burgo Ranero – Puente Villarente • 25.3 km. (15.7 mi.)

Leaving El Burgo Ranero, you could walk back over the bridge to the Calzada Romana, but this time, we recommend staying with the option of walking along the road. Here, the shaded path is pleasant, and crossing the hilly Meseta landscape is easy. Enjoy the wide-open spaces and the few villages along the way until you reach today’s destination: Mansilla de las Mulas, which earned its name from the famous cattle markets that used to be held here (Mulas = cattle). Mansilla has a small but charming old town center worth taking the time to enjoy and relax in. However, it is also worth it to walk towards the end of town – like in many places before, a lovely medieval bridge is situated on the western edge of town, and you can spend quality time relaxing on a lawn right next to it, on the shaded banks of the River Esla. The remaining 7 km. (4.4 mi.) until Puente Villarente are easy to walk.

Distance: 18 km. (11.2 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 19: Puente Villarente – León • 12.4 km. (7.7 mi.)

Today’s journey is short and easy, though not the most scenic – particularly the last half of it suggests that you will soon be entering a big city. But the reward is awaiting ahead: once you reach the historic city center of León, its beauty will cast a spell on you! Similar to Burgos, León is another logical place to consider taking a “day off” – the amount of things to explore and sights to see can otherwise seem overwhelming. Paying a visit to the Cathedral, the Church of San Isídoro and the Parador is a must, but just as rewarding is simply getting lost in the labyrinth of the narrow streets of the Old Town’s Barrio Húmedo – the “Humid District” – which has earned this name because of (tapas-) bars beyond count that are situated here. Treat yourself to a drink or snack at the upstairs restaurant terrace of the Hotel NiMú Azotea, from where you can enjoy a stunning panoramic view of León.

Distance: 12.4 km. (7.7 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 20: León – Villar de Mazarife • 21.7 km. (13.5 mi.)

As today’s journey is neither very long, nor overly challenging, there is no urgent need to to rush out of León with the first light of the day: enjoy the morning in the city, for example, with a nice breakfast at one of the many quaint cafés on the Cathedral Plaza. 8 km. (5 mi.) after León, the Camino reaches the town Virgen del Camino, where it splits again into two options: the first one follows the highway for 25 km. (15.5 mi.) all the way to Hospital de Órbigo, and we do not recommend it. The other option is scenic and very peaceful: it traverses pleasant landscapes and pops in and out of lovely Meseta villages. The end of today’s stage is Villar de Mazarife, where you can unwind and relax after spending time in a big city the day before.

Distance: 21.7 km. (13.5 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 21: Villar de Mazarife – Astorga • 32.9 km. (20.4 mi.)

This is the last day of truly being on the Meseta. Setting out from Villar de Mazarife, you will encounter yourself amidst wide-open spaces one last time – with the difference that, now, the mountains lying ahead will be drawing nearer and nearer with every step. Enjoy the flat vastness of the terrain, and the liberating feeling of finding yourself in the middle of nowhere! After 15 km. (9.3 mi.) the Camino will lead you into the charming town Hospital de Órbigo. Spend some time here, and enjoy the site of the massive medieval bridge comprising 20 (!) arches – there is no other one like this on the whole Camino. Beyond Hospital de Órbigo, after passing the first of only two small villages, Santibáñez, you will then start gaining a bit of altitude and – again – passing first patches of forest. Enjoy a lovely rest at La Casa de los Dioses – an enchanting oasis right on the Camino. Once you reach the Cross of Santo Toribio, you will be rewarded with a picturesque panoramic view of mountains to the west and to the north, and the city of Astorga with its majestic Cathedral spires lying straight ahead. Explore Astorga: its Cathedral, the Episcopal Palace (by Gaudí), the city walls and the ancient architecture of this once-Roman city are but a few sights to visit, both in daylight and at dusk.

Distance: 32.9 km. (20.4 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 22: Astorga – Rábanal del Camino • 21.4 km. (13.3 mi.)

This day’s stage is not long and quite comfortable, so there is no need to rush out of Astorga at the break of dawn. You will be passing various lovely villages and slowly, ever so gradually beginning to gain altitude. The scenery will also change rapidly before your eyes even by walker’s speed: grasslands will first turn into terrain covered with bushes and short, wind-defiant trees and, eventually, into full-sized forests. As you walk into the charming village of Santa Catalina de Somoza, marking the half-way point of today’s journey, turn around, take a look back and soak up the last panoramic view of Astorga at a far distance and bid farewell to the endless sea of Meseta beyond. And in front, no less epic views of Montes de León looming ahead will be getting you ready for mountain hiking that is to come. The end of today’s journey is the charming village of Rábanal del Camino. You can visit the medieval church in the evening for the vespers for Pilgrims, and rest up for tomorrow’s tough, but stunningly beautiful mountain trek.

Distance: 21.4 km. (13.3 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 23: Rábanal del Camino – Molinaseca • 24.6 km. (15.3 mi.)

As you leave Rábanal del Camino, you will begin a continuous ascent: first, up to the winded village of Foncebadón and, beyond it, to Cruz de Ferro – the Iron Cross – the iconic demarcation of the highest point on the Camino Francés. Here, pilgrims many centuries ago joined the tradition of an even older age: to leave a stone they brought from home at the Cross. Consider spending a bit of time at this summit – rest, and soak up its energies. The next several kilometers (miles) will be fairly flat as you will be walking on the mountain top, forests will give way to picturesque open mountain vistas, and then, two challenging descents will be awaiting you. First, it is a steep, rocky path down to the beautiful medieval village of El Acebo with an absolutely epic drop back view of the entire valley beyond. And then, after some level distance, the last challenge: the descent into today’s final destination – Molinaseca. You can have lunch in the beautiful medieval village of El Acebo before heading towards Molinaseca. This little town is an absolute jewel, and many pilgrims rank it among their top 3 most beautiful places on the entire French Way. Spend some time resting on the pretty riverside lawn right across the gorgeous medieval bridge, and take an evening walk back to the bridge for some amazing twilight views.

Distance: 24.6 km. (15.3 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Day 24: Molinaseca – Villafranca del Bierzo • 32.4 km. (20.1 mi.)

Soon after leaving Molinaseca, the Camino veers off from the street and into the fields – we recommend staying on the road as this is considerably shorter, and the alternative is not scenic enough to be worth it. The Camino takes you straight into Ponferrada – the last larger town until you reach Santiago. The most outstanding landmark of this otherwise busy modern city is the imposing medieval castle built by the Knights Templar, which is absolutely worth entering and exploring. Past Ponferrada, the last third of today’s journey takes you across the picturesque wine-country landscapes of El Bierzo until you reach Villafranca. This gorgeous town, situated in a valley where two rivers converge, is another well-known pilgrim hub very much worth spending some time in to enjoy and explore. The local Romanesque Church of Santiago (located right at town entrance) is the only one on the entire Camino – other than Santiago Cathedral – that has the Gate of Forgiveness (Puerta de Perdón). Since the middle ages, pilgrims that were incapable to carry on for the remaining 185 km. (115 mi.) to Santiago because of their health could receive here their full indulgence and the “Little Compostela” – Certificate of Pilgrimage Completion.

Distance: 32.4 km. (20.1 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 25: Villafranca del Biezo – O Cebreiro • 28.9 km. (18 mi.)

Still in Villafranca, the Camino splits into two options: straight on up the valley of the River Valcarce, or up the Camino Duro (2.2 km longer and quite steep, but considerably more beautiful). Both Caminos then meet again at Trabadelo and lead on to the charming little valley village of Vega de Valcarce. Today’s hike comprises a continuous, moderately difficult ascent and is highlighted by absolutely stunning mountain landscape. Shortly after leaving the Valcarce river valley, the Camino will lead you onto a forest path up to the sleepy village of La Faba. Afterwards, the forest gives way to highlands, and as you continue to go up and up, each stop you take will reward you with breath-taking mountain views. Bar La Escuela in Laguna de Castilla is the last stop in the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León; just beyond it, you will reach the iconic stone post demarcating the border of Galicia. The picturesque village of O Cebreiro – your final destination for the day – is like an open-air museum. You can marvel at the restored, traditional thatched-roof stone houses called Payozas, which stem from pre-Roman, Ibero-Celtic times and where used until the second half of the 20th century. You should also pay a visit to the Church Santa María la Real constructed on the ruins of a pre-Romanesque sanctuary. Enjoy the local desert specialty “Queso con Miel” (cream cheese with honey) and the stunning panoramic vistas both at daytime and at sunset.

Distance: 28.9 km. (18 mi.) | Difficulty: Challenging

Day 26: O Cebreiro – Triacastela • 20.9 km. (13 mi.)

As you leave Triacastela, the Camino splits once again into two options: to the left, via the Monastery of Samos (longer) and to the left toward San Xil, which is the one we recommend. The terrain that started at the end of yesterday’s journey will continue for much of today, and you will find yourself traversing lush, most of the time damp forests with moss-clad stones on both sides of your path. As you pass occasional villages, you will find lovely places to stop and rest. Eventually, the Camino will run along a road for some 3 km. (1.9 mi.) and eventually lead you into the bigger town of Sarria. For many pilgrims, Sarria is the starting point of the Camino – it is easily reachable by public transportation, and distance from Sarria to Santiago is just over 100 km., entitling those who walk it to receive their Compostela (Certificate of Pilgrimage Completion). As Sarria tends to get crowded at times, the final destination for today will be a bit farther ahead. Take your time to enjoy the gorgeous medieval bridge right as you walk out of Sarria. The Camino will then lead you up a forested hill and, once you reach its top, spaces will become wide-open and you will enjoy some lovely Galician countryside panoramas until you reach Barbadelo.

Distance: 23.5 km. (14.6 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 27: Triacastela – Barbadelo (via San Xil) • 23.5 km. (14.6 mi.)

As you leave Triacastela, the Camino splits once again into two options: to the left, via the Monastery of Samos (longer) and to the left toward San Xil, which is the one we recommend. The terrain that started at the end of yesterday’s journey will continue for much of today, and you will find yourself traversing lush, most of the time damp forests with moss-clad stones on both sides of your path. As you pass occasional villages, you will find lovely places to stop and rest. Eventually, the Camino will run along a road for some 3 km. (1.9 mi.) and eventually lead you into the bigger town of Sarria. For many pilgrims, Sarria is the starting point of the Camino – it is easily reachable by public transportation, and distance from Sarria to Santiago is just over 100 km., entitling those who walk it to receive their Compostela (Certificate of Pilgrimage Completion). As Sarria tends to get crowded at times, the final destination for today will be a bit farther ahead. Take your time to enjoy the gorgeous medieval bridge right as you walk out of Sarria. The Camino will then lead you up a forested hill and, once you reach its top, spaces will become wide-open and you will enjoy some lovely Galician countryside panoramas until you reach Barbadelo.

Distance: 23.5 km. (14.6 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 28: Barbadelo – Ventes de Nerón • 31.6 km. (19.6 mi.)

The mornings outside Barbadelo (as well as in many places in Galicia) tend to get quite foggy, which adds a special note of mystery and magic to be enjoyed by those who hike out early. Today’s terrain will differ very little from yesterday’s: more lovely forested pockets, fields to meander across, charming little brooks to cross, and inviting places in cute villages to stop in. However, most of the time, the influx of pilgrims starting from Sarria is usually noticeable, and from here at the latest, the Camino bocomes quite lively. Today’s stage ends in the town of Portomarín. In the 1960s, it was decided that this town, originally situated in the river valley, had to make way for a new reservoir and be moved just up the hill. The two medieval churches were dismantled stone by stone and put back together in their new location. As you walk across the bridge into town, the remains of the old village of Portomarín down in the valley can still be seen when the water levels are low, giving the whole panorama a kind of a tolkienesque feel. A hilly forested path outside Portomarín eventually levels with the road until the village of Gonzar. Afterwards, a very gradual but lengthy ascent up the Sierra de Ligonde renders some truly picturesque, far-away vistas on the quaint Galician countryside.

Distance: 31.6 km. (19.6 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 29: Ventes de Nerón – Melide • 28.2 km. (17.5 mi.)

In the beginning of today’s journey, the Camino levels off as it leads you past small, sleepy villages and beautiful green fields on to the town of Palas de Rei, where you can relax and enjoy the many wonderful culinary options to start getting to know the wonderful Galician cuisine. More peaceful countryside is awaiting you afterwards: fields interchange with forests, and the terrain is not only pleasing to the eye, but also pleasant to walk. The magnificent medieval bridge over the River Furelos is the last larger one on the Camino Francés, and have the option to admire it from both sides. Consider dining in one of the famous Pulperías in Melide – the busy town that is the end of your day’s journey – here, you will get octopus served on wooden boards the traditional way: simply boiled, cut with scissors, accompanied by cooked potatoes and seasoned only with olive oil, salt and paprika.

Distance: 28.2 km. (17.5 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Day 30: Melide – Salceda • 26.2 km. (16.3 mi.)

As you walk out of Melide, pop into the charming little church of Santa María to take a look at its well-preserved Romanesque wall paintings and its stunning altar dating back to the times of the Visigoths. The Camino will now take you into the beautiful Galician eucalyptus forests, passing a couple of more quaint villages until you reach Castañeda. Thereafter, you will have a few hills to go up and down, and you can reward yourself with a rest stop in the absolutely delightful little village of Ribadiso: sit at its waterfront by the cute little medieval bridge and soak up the sheer serenity of the scenery. The Camino then leads you across the busy, larger town or Arzua before it plunges backs into the pleasant, peaceful Galician scenery. It is an easy walking day, and you will spend most of the rest of in on forest paths with occasional villages and patches of lush green grasslands in-between.

Distance: 26.2 km. (16.3 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 31: Salceda – Santiago de Compostela • 29.3 km. (18.2 mi.)

Today’s comparatively short-distance hike comprises a continuous, moderately difficult ascent and is highlighted by absolutely stunning mountain landscape. Shortly after leaving the Valcarce river valley, the Camino will lead you onto a forest path up to the sleepy village of La Faba. Afterwards, the forest gives way to highlands, and as you continue to go up and up, each stop you take will reward you with breath-taking mountain views. Bar La Escuela in Laguna de Castilla is the last stop in the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León; just beyond it, you will reach the iconic stone post demarcating the border of Galicia. The picturesque village of O Cebreiro – your final destination for the day – is like an open-air museum. You can marvel at the restored, traditional thatched-roof stone houses called Payozas, which stem from pre-Roman, Ibero-Celtic times and where used until the second half of the 20th century. You should also pay a visit to the Church Santa María la Real constructed on the ruins of a pre-Romanesque sanctuary. Enjoy the local desert specialty “Queso con Miel” (cream cheese with honey) and the stunning panoramic vistas both at daytime and at sunset.

Distance: 11.8 km. (7.3 mi.)
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Day 32: Free Day in Santiago de Compostela

We strongly feel that, after this amazing journey, it is instrumental to spend (at least!) one full, extra day and another night in Santiago, which is why it is added in our program “by default” (though you can opt out of it). This is both the time and the place to unwind, to reflect upon and enjoy your journey’s end and, most importantly, to take it easy on yourself with your post-Camino re-entry into the big, wide World. Aside from that, UNESCO-listed city of Santiago is full of incredible places to explore, and you can collect your very well-earned Compostela (Certificate of Completion) as well as attend the Pilgrims’ Mass at the Cathedral.

Day 33: Departure from Santiago de Compostela

Farewell, Santiago; farewell, Camino – and sage travels on your journey back home or to your next adventure! And here is another option well-worth considering: to continue the Camino on to Finisterre (the “End of the World”) and / or to Muxía – two stunning, mystical places on the majestic Atlantic coast.

¡Buen Camino!

Slow Steps: 55 days

The Highlights

Covering the same French Way as the “Regular Pace” Tour but at slower speed, this itinerary is geared towards the pilgrims who are under no particular time pressure and are wish to take the time to enjoy the French Camino in its full beauty. Averaging approx. 15 km. – just under 10 mi. – per day, you will have ample opportunity to stop, rest, take pictures, contemplate meditate, visit as many places as you would wish without needing to feel rushed, and fully immerse yourself in the Camino experience!

Similarly, this itinerary is very often favored by our pilgrims for whom the “Regular Pace” option may be too demanding – in view of previous injuries, lack of practice of long-term long-distance walking, or for any other personal reason.

Although the distances are kept short, living the Camino daily routine and walking every day may still be taxing on the body. In addition, a fair number of places along the Camino are so inviting to explore in more detail that a half-day stop in them may not be nearly sufficient. Therefore, it is highly recommendable to consider inserting at least 2-3 resting (no-walking) days, spaced out at meaningful intervals throughout the Camino – to relax and recover, and to enjoy exploring.

tour details

Tour Type: Self-Guided

Availability: March through October

Details ⇒
  • March 01 – June 15: Regular Season
  • June 16 – August 15: High Season
  • August 16 – October 31: Regular Season

Blackout Dates: May 1 – May 31, 2022

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Duration: 55 Days Total / 52 Days Walking

Total Distance: 790 km. (491 mi.)

Average distance: 15.7 km. (9.8 mi.) / Day

Prices (per person):

Double Room:
Starting at € 3,030

Single-Occupancy Room:
Starting at € 4,600

What’s Included:

54 nights in single / double room

En-suite facilities

English-speaking emergency assistance
i
Your full digital Travel Info Package
Details ⇒

We are proud to be working together with hand-picked, high quality and mostly locally owned and operated service providers.

Your journey will be booked through, and your Travel Package will include all the information you will need to access your lodging locations and to process your check-in.

Optional Add-ons:

Luggage transfer on walking days

Breakfasts (subject to availability)

Lodging for additional night(s) stays

Airport transfers
Details ⇒

If you wish to walk your Camino Stages with a light backpack, carrying only the basic necessities, we will be happy to arrange for your luggage to be forwarded from one hotel to the next on your walking days.

Breakfasts are not available everywhere, and they are often served late, starting around 8 am. However, if you wish to include brekfasts, we will be happy to do so, where possible.

Spending an extra night in a given town throughout your journey is often a good idea: you give your body a rest, relax and enjoy exploring the town. In Santiago, two nights are included in most of our Tours by default as we believe it’s the least a Pilgrim would need to enjoy the City; however, you have the option to opt out of it.

We will be happy to arrange for an airport shuttle transfer for you from your airport of arrival to the starting point of your journey. The same goes for the departure, unless you end your journey in Santiago and fly out of Santiago Airport. In that case, a taxi can be easily arranged for the time of your choice directly at the Reception Desk at your Hotel.

What’s NOT Included:

Flighs

Travel Insurance

Tour guide

Meals
Details ⇒

We do not book flights, nor organize any rail or commercial busline travel. However, if you need assistance in deciding how to get to and back from your Camino Tour, we will be happy to give you assist you with tips and ideas!

We strongly recommend to all our travelers to get a Travel Insurance; however, we do not sell any such policies. For our international clients, it is best to get a policy in their country of residence, as some countries offer insurances only to their own residents.

This is a date-flexible tour; therefore, it is self-guided – no Tour Guide will be accompnying you. If you are interested in joining a Group Tour with a Tour Guide, please check our Guided Tours page. (Note: our Guided Tours take place on set dates that are planned ahead.)

tour itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in St Jean Pied de Port

At last, your travels bring you to Saint Pied de Port – the charming town on the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains and the starting point of the Camino Francés. Check in at your hotel, and enjoy the rest of the evening!

Day 2: Saint Jean Pied de Port – Huntto • 5.4 km. (3.7 mi.)

Take your time to enjoy your morning in Saint Jean. Visit the iconic sites of this scenic town and, if need be, take advantage of the option to make any last-minute purchases in one of the numerous Pilgrim gear shops. If you haven’t done so already yesterday, stop by the Pilgrims’ Office and get your Credencial – your Pilgrim’s Document, which will entitle you to receive your Compostela (Certificate of Pilgrimage Completion) once you reach Santiago – as well as your very first stamp in it! Then, lace up your boots: your Camino is about to begin! Today’s first hike is a short one: out of town and up to Huntto. The elevation gained today will make tomorrow’s climb over the Napoleon Pass shorter and easier. Your accommodation here is in a historic Casa Rural in the mountains – check in, spend the afternoon and evening enjoying the beautiful Pyrenees and get good rest for tomorrow’s challenge.

Distance: 5.4 km. (3.7 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Day 3: Huntto – Roncesvalles • 19.4 km. (12.5 mi.)

This is one of the most strenuous days of entire French Way – but also one of the most rewarding: the breath-taking panoramic vistas of this Napoleon Route make the physical challenge well-worth it! The total elevation gain of 950 m. (3117 ft.) is significant, but the ascent is steady and the terrain – passable. Across the Summit, the Camino descends steeply across forests toward the iconic Monastery of Roncesvalles.

Distance: 19.4 km. (12.5 mi.) | Difficulty: Challenging

Day 4: Roncesvalles – Bizkarreta • 11.7 km. (7.3 mi.)

Compared to yesterday’s physically demanding trek, today’s hike is both a bit shorter and less strenuous. Across forested hills and past charming little villages and over the pass of Erro, the Camino unfolds the genuine beauty of Navarra.

Distance: 11.7 km. (7.3 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 5: Bizkarreta – Larrasoaña • 15.2 km. (9.5 mi.)

Much like yesterday, beautiful trails across forrested hills will lead you today to Zubiri – a lovely village to stop and rest. On entering Zubiri – today’s destination – you will walk over the medieval Bridge “Puente de la Rabia” (“Rabies Bridge”) – your first of many epic medieval bridges along the French Way, and with one of the uncountable tales and legends encoded in its name. After Zubiri, more beautiful trails eventually lead you into Larrasoaña.

Distance: 15.2 km. (9.5 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 6: Larrasoaña – Pamplona • 14.7 km. (9.1 mi.)

For much of the today’s hike, the Camino runs as a charming, forested path right alongside the River Arga, all the way to the village of Zabaldika. Here, the beautiful Romanesque church is home of the oldest bell in Navarra which – when open – the Pilgrims are allowed to ring: climb up the bell tower, make a wish and ring the bell, sending the echo across the picturesque valley below! From here, you can return to the path along the river, or go over the hills – both paths will eventually converge and lead you into the heart of Navarra’s Capital and your first city of the Camino – Pamplona. Walk its streets, and catch yourself imagining what it’s like here during the Running of the Bulls at the time of San Fermín.

Distance: 14.7 km. (9.1 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 7: Pamplona – Uterga • 17.3 km. (10.8 mi.)

Leaving the hustle and bustle of Pamplona, the Camino traverses grassy hills, gradually but steadily ascending to the summit Alto de Perdón (Hill of Forgiveness) with the epic Pilgrims Monument and spectacular vistas: looking back at Pamplona and the Pyrenees, and forward into the vast valley that lies ahead. After a sharp descent, the Camino leads you into today’s destination of Uterga.

Distance: 17.3 km. (10.8 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 8: Uterga – Cirauquí • 14.4 km. (9 mi.)

Beyond Uterga, the Camino continues across hilly fields. At Muruzábal, the Way splits into two, offering the option of an easy 2.5 km. (1.5 mi.) detour to the stunning Templarian Basilica Santa Maria de Eunate. Both Ways re-merge in the next village of Obanos, and the Camino continues on into Puente la Reina. Spend some quality time on the lawn beneath this town’s iconic Bridge – a true masterpiece of medieval human design and, according to many, the most glorious bridge on the entire Camino! After Puente la Reina, forested hills eventually give way to vineyards and olive groves, interrupted by frequent, charming villages. Mid-way lies picturesque Cirauquí – a town planted perfectly on the slopes of a hill.

Distance: 14.4 km. (9 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 9: Cirauquí – Estella • 14.3 km. (8.9 mi.)

As you leave Cirauquí, you will cross the still-standing Roman (!) bridge, and then will find yourself stepping on the stones of the Via Trajana – the road paved and trodden by the Roman legions in the 3rd Century. Traversing more pretty villages and green hills, and crossing medieval bridges, the Way leads you into the lovely town of Estella with its many historic churches, which are well worth exploring.

Distance: 14.3 km. (8.9 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 10: Estella – Los Arcos • 21.4 km. (13.3 mi.)

One of the absolute highlights of today’s stage comes soon after leaving Estella: the famous Wine Fountain (Fuente del Vino) nested in the Irache Winery, and the adjacent Monasterio de Irache – one of the oldest monasteries in Navarra. Have a break and a drink before you carry on. The Camino dives into and out of pockets of forests and winds up and down the pleasant rolling hills until Villamayor de Monjardín, where it loops around the base of an imposing hill with ruins of a medieval castle upon it. The remaining half of this day’s journey is almost completely straight, continuing – first, alongside vineyards and thereafter, amidst vast grass fields – towards Los Arcos – the “Town of Arches.” Those interested can receive a Pilgrims’ Blessing offered after the Pilgrim Mass in the magnificent Church of Santa María.

Distance: 21.4 km. (13.3 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy terrain, but moderate to challenging distance

Day 11: Los Arcos – Viana • 18.1 km. (11.3 mi.)

The first 8 km. (5 mi.) of today’s somewhat longer journey are almost entirely straight: crossing grape fields, you enter Torres del Río. Be sure to stop and visit its famous, gorgeous chapel. Beyond, passing some rolling hills, a few pockets of forest and more wine country, the Camino reaches the charming town of Viana, the last town in the Province of Navarra.

Distance: 18.1 km. (11.3 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 12: Viana – Logroño • 9.8 km. (6.1 mi.)

Today’s short and easy-walking stage has two highlights: the border-crossing into the La Rioja and, just before reaching Logroño, the lovely little stop-and-rest nook for Pilgrims called “Higas y Amor” (“Figs and Love”). The tradition of aiding pilgrims out of her own house was started by Felisa – one of the many Angels of the Camino – years ago, and is now continued by her grandson. Today’s stage ends in Logroño – the Capital of La Rioja and a city with a rich cultural heritage, many churches and the culinary fame for its Vino & Tapas.

Distance: 9.8 km. (6.1 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 13: Logroño – Navarrete • 12.5 km. (7.8 mi.)

With only a few hills to roll over, it is mostly an easy walking day. You are in the world-famous wine region of La Rioja, and today’s scenery, whichever way you’ll look, will remind you of that. Passing by many vineyards, you will reach the charming town of Navarrete.

Distance: 12.5 km. (7.8 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 14: Navarrete – Nájera • 17.1 km. (10.6 mi.)

As you leave Navarrete, you will be walking in the middle of more and ever more grape fields until, before the journey’s end, you will get on top of some hills to enjoy truly magnificent vistas of this epic wine country, nested in a vast valley and rimmed by far-away mountains. You will then reach Nájera – a truly charming small town with very proud history: it was once the Capital of the Kingdom of Navarra, and it is home to the medieval Monastery of major significance – Santa María la Real. Wind down and relax by the river or in one of the pretty bars down the narrow streets of Nájera’s Old Town.

Distance: 17.1 km. (10.6 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 15: Nájera – Cirueña • 14.9 km. (9.3 mi.)

After the first couple of hours of walking, you will start noticing a change in scenery: the vineyards will gradually begin to give way to gentle, grass-clad hills, which will render picturesque panoramic views.

Distance: 14.9 km. (9.3 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 16: Cirueña – Redecilla del Camino • 16.3 km. (10.1 mi.)

With more wide-open countryside and rather few villages in-between, you will soon find yourself reaching the charming town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Visit its famous cathedral and learn about the miracle of the “Hanged Innocent” that (supposedly) took place here, and you will find out why the Cathedral houses a massive bird cage with living chickens inside. Consider also going up the bell tower right across from the Cathedral, and soak up some amazing 360 views of the surrounding countryside. The first 7 km. (4.4 mi.) beyond Santo Domingo are the last ones in La Rioja – soon after leaving the lovely little town of Grañón, you will be crossing the next border: into the Province of Burgos, the first province inside the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León. Today’s destination of Redecilla del Camino is the first village after the border crossing.

Distance: 16.3 km. (10.1 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 17: Redecilla del Camino – Belorado • 11.9 km. (7.4 mi.)

The Camino will now continue running over smooth hills and sunflower fields, and traverse a number of typical little Castilian villages. Your eyes will by now have gotten used to seeing medieval churches just about everywhere you walk as the Camino, following its deeply-rooted Pilgrimage tradition, almost always passes next to them. This day’s easy journey in the middle of genuinely pleasant countryside will eventually lead you into the town of Belorado. Enjoy the quaint main plaza as you spend your evening exploring the compact town center.

Distance: 11.9 km. (7.4 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 18: Belorado – Villafranca Montes de Oca • 11.9 km. (7.4 mi.)

Today’s shorter stage has a similar look and feel to it as the last day’s: more wide-open spaces with smoothly-rolling hills with fields of corn, sunflowers and wild grass, and more small villages to walk across and take a break in.

Distance: 11.9 km. (7.4 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 19: Villafranca Montes de Oca – Agés • 15.7 km. (9.8 mi.)

As you leave Villafranca, you will be gaining 200 m. (600 ft.) of altitude over a steady ascent as you enter the Montes de Oca (Goose Hills). After numerous days of crossing fields and vineyards, you will find yourself walking in the forest again, all the way until you reach the tiny village of San Juan de Ortega. Make sure to visit its famous monastery and enjoy the remaining easy forested stretch to Agés.

Distance: 15.7 km. (9.8 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 20: Agés – Villafría • 13 km. (8.1 mi.)

Beyond Agés, the Camino passes by the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Atapuerca and ascends the hill to summit at the Wooden Cross La Cruz de Maragrande. Standing at this summit, take in the vast panorama of the valley ahead, with the city of Burgos lying at its bottom. The descent from the Wooden Cross is quite gradual; as the terrain soon flattens out, villages pop up one after another.

Distance: 13 km. (8.1 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 21: Villafría – Burgos • 8.8 km. (5.5 mi.)

Today’s journey is short and not one of the picturesque ones, but the reward for the lack of beautiful scenery will come as you will arrive early in the magnificent historic old town of Burgos. Burgos offers a plethora of attractions to explore, and touring its UNESCO-listed Cathedral alone make take a couple of hours. Therefore, it is the place where many pilgrims decide to take a rest day. But, whether you spend one or more nights in this fascinating city, take a quick hike up to the Mirador del Castillo (only 7-10 min. from the Cathedral Plaza) for an absolutely gorgeous panoramic view of the Cathedral and the Old Town. And doing so at sunset / twilight may be even more rewarding than at daytime.

Distance: 8.8 km. (5.5 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 22: Burgos – Rabé de las Calzadas • 12.8 km. (8 mi.)

Today’s journey is both rather short and quite easy-walking, so there is no need to rush out of Burgos too early. As you leave the city behind, you now officially enter la Meseta – the Castilian High Plain – characterized by wide-open spaces with occasional hills. Trees become more scarce, and distances between villages seem larger as the landscape seems more monotonous. In the middle of today’s journey, at Rabé de las Calzadas, the quaint little Chapel Ermita de la Virgen de Monasterio, located at the end of the village, is well-worth a stop: the kind nuns in attendance give a lovely and touching blessing to all pilgrims who pass by. Take some time to admire the impressive murals, also on the outskirts of this village – they are among the best on the whole Camino.

Distance: 12.8 km. (8 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 23: Rabé de las Calzadas – Hontanas • 18.2 km. (11.3 mi.)

Beyond Rabé, up and over a few hills, you will find yourself enjoying the impressive panoramic views down the valley and for as far as your eyes can see – the true beauty of the Meseta. Down below the valley lies the pretty Hornillos del Camino with the typical flair of a Meseta village along the Camino de Santiago. The last 11 km. (6.8 mi.) of this day’s hike take you across the low, barren hills with no villages in-between. The only place to stop and rest in the shade is San Bol – in the middle ages, a hospice that treated people with leprosy had once stood here; now, there is a thicket of trees and a small pool with clean, running water. After more hills and grasslands, the charming village of Hontanas, today’s final destination, will surprise you as it pops out of nowhere.

Distance: 18.2 km. (11.3 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 24: Hontanas – Castrojeriz • 8.9 km. (5.5 mi.)

Today’s short journey mostly follows a road with trees and songs of many different birds that nest in them. Be sure to stop and look around the ruins of the old Augustinian monastery of San Antón before reaching the end of today’s stage – Castrojeriz. The Camino traverses this whale-shaped town for over 1.5 km. (1 mi.) and Castrojeriz is a true jewel of the Camino, and you will have plenty of time to enjoy all of it! Some of the many places to explore here will be seen as you enter it: the former Collegiate Church of Santa María, the ruins of the medieval castle (“Castro” – hence the town’s name) nested atop the hill. In the town center and right on the Camino also lies the magical “Hospital de Alma” – the Hospital for the Soul – which is very much worth paying a visit to.

Distance: 8.9 km. (5.5 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 25: Castrojeriz – Itero de la Vega • 11.3 km. (7 mi.)

Soon after leaving Castrojeriz, the terrain will surprise you with a lengthier ascent up the Table Mountain called Alto de Mostelares – once you reach the summit, enjoy the magnificent panorama with the farewell view of Castrojeriz below. An absolute highlight is the famous medieval chapel of San Nicolás and, just a short distance away, the imposing bridge over the river Pisuerga, which also demarcates the border between the Provinces of Burgos and Palencia. Today’s destination of Itero de la Vega lies just beyond the border crossing.

Distance: 11.3 km. (7 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 26: Itero de la Vega – Frómista • 13.9 km. (8.6 mi.)

The Camino then leads you on across open Meseta landscapes into the quaint village Boadilla del Camino. Beyond Boadilla, The beginning of today’s stage is particularly beautiful as you will be walking right next to the Canal de Castilla – set out at dawn, and enjoy the mysterious vistas of the fog above its waters. Once you reach today’s destination, Frómista, be sure to visit the Romanesque Church of San Martín – one of the finest pieces of medieval architecture on the entire Camino Francés.

Distance: 13.9 km. (8.6 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 27: Frómista – Carrión de los Condes • 18.7 km. (11.6 mi.)

As you leave Frómista, the Camino follows the highway into Población de Campos: from here, you can continue on along the road, or opt to turn right and walk past Villovieco along the bed of the River Ucieza – a slightly longer, but much more quiet and peaceful walk which we recommend. Both Ways converge again as you reach Villalcázar de Sirga, today’s destination. Be sure to visit the impressive 13-century Church Santa María la Blanca: its construction demonstrates elements of transition between Romanesque and Gothic periods, and this constituted part of the monastery of the Knights Templar. After the first 6 km. (3,7 mi.) of walking along the highway, you will reach the beautiful town Carrión de los Condes. As you explore it, at the end of town, you can cross the River Carrión over yet another stunning medieval bridge: walk off to the right to enjoy a lovely view of it, picturesque both in the daytime and at twilight!

Distance: 18.7 km. (11.6 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 28: Carrión de los Condes – Calzadilla de la Cueza • 17.2 km. (10.7 mi.)

As you leave Carrión, the Camino takes you past the magnificent, renaissance Monastery San Zoilo. Beyond that, the Meseta flattens out almost entirely. After some 6 km (3.7 mi.) of walking on a path rimmed with trees, the Camino will unfold before you – arguably – the most stunning stretch of the Meseta: you will be walking straight ahead on this endless, treeless highland all the way until you reach Calzadilla de la Cueza, which will hide from your sight in a small valley until the very end..

Distance: 17.2 km. (10.7 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 29: Calzadilla de la Cueza – Moratinos • 12.5 km. (7.8 mi.)

Beyond Calzadilla, the landscape will not be as flat as before, and the Camino will wind around, taking you into and out of a number of small, delightful, typical Meseta-villages. If you’ve never been to The Shire, you will see your first Hobbit House as you enter Moratinos – you can walk up on top of it for a lovely 360 view. Moratinos has little else to offer other than the true, real peace and quiet, and you can truly rest and relax here.

Distance: 12.5 km. (7.8 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 30: Moratinos – Sahagún • 9.5 km. (5.9 mi.)

The terrain will continue to get somewhat hillier after Moratinos, and the Camino will cross the next Provinces border: you will step out of Palencia and into León. Soon thereafter, you will walk into Sahagún – a more populous town with an appealing historic center and famous brick churches built in the Mudéjar-Style. Sahagún is also the official half-way point of the Camino Francés, and pilgrims can obtain here a Certificate of Completion of the first half of their Way.

Distance: 9.5 km. (5.9 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 31: Sahagún – El Burgo Ranero • 17.7 km. (11 mi.)

At the edge of Sahagún, another scenic medieval bridge takes you over the River Cea and after 4 km. (2,5 mi.) the Camino splits. The option on the right is longer; therefore, we recommend the one that follows along the highway. You will pass varios typical Meseta villages and, eventually, reach El Burgo Ranero – the day’s final destination. Enjoy the peace and quiet of this sleepy village and the tasty, hearty local food served here.

Distance: 17.7 km. (11 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 32: El Burgo Ranero – Mansilla de las Mulas • 18.8 km. (11.7 mi.)

Leaving El Burgo Ranero, you will be walking again along the road. Here, the shaded path is pleasant, and crossing the hilly Meseta landscape is easy. Enjoy the wide-open spaces and the few villages along the way until you reach today’s destination: Mansilla de las Mulas, which earned its name from the famous cattle markets that used to be held here (Mulas = cattle). Mansilla has a small but charming old town center worth taking the time to enjoy and relax in. However, it is also worth it to walk towards the end of town – like in many places before, a lovely medieval bridge is situated on the western edge of town, and you can spend quality time right next to it, on the shaded banks of the River Esla.

Distance: 18.8 km. (11.7 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 33: Mansilla de las Mulas – León • 18.7 km. (11.6 mi.)

Today’s journey is a bit longer and not the most scenic – particularly the last half of it suggests that you will soon be entering a big city. But the reward is awaiting ahead: once you reach the historic city center of León, its beauty will cast a spell on you! Similar to Burgos, León is another logical place to consider taking a “day off” – the amount of things to explore and sights to see can otherwise seem overwhelming. Paying a visit to the Cathedral, the Church of San Isídoro and the Parador is a must, but just as rewarding is simply getting lost in the labyrinth of the narrow streets of the Old Town’s Barrio Húmedo – the “Humid District” – which has earned this name because of (tapas-) bars beyond count that are situated here. Treat yourself to a drink or snack at the upstairs restaurant terrace of the Hotel NiMú Azotea, from where you can enjoy a stunning panoramic view of León.

Distance: 18.7 km. (11.6 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 34: León – Villar de Mazarife • 21.7 km. (13.5 mi.)

8 km. (5 mi.) after León, the Camino reaches the town Virgen del Camino. (Tip: if you do not fancy crossing this distance through the noisy suburbs on foot, consider taking a taxi from León to Virgen del Camino!) At Virgen, the Camino splits yet again into two options: the first one follows the highway for 25 km. (15.5 mi.) all the way to Hospital de Órbigo, and we do not recommend it. The other option is scenic and very peaceful: it traverses pleasant landscapes and pops in and out of lovely Meseta villages. The end of today’s stage is Villar de Mazarife, where you can unwind and relax after spending time in a big city the day before.

Distance: 21.7 km. (13.5 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy terrain, but moderate to challenging distance

Day 35: Villar de Mazarife – Villares de Órbigo • 18 km. (11.2 mi.)

This is the last day of truly being on the Meseta. Setting out from Villar de Mazarife, you will encounter yourself amidst wide-open spaces one last time – with the difference that, now, the mountains lying ahead will be drawing nearer and nearer with every step. Enjoy the flat vastness of the terrain, and the liberating feeling of finding yourself in the middle of nowhere! After 15 km. (9.3 mi.) the Camino will lead you into the charming town Hospital de Órbigo. Spend some time here, and enjoy the site of the massive medieval bridge comprising 20 (!) arches – there is no other one like this on the whole Camino. With only 2.6 km. (1.6 mi.) left to today’s final destination, Hospital de Órbigo is a wonderful place to relax without any hurry. Once you reach Villares de Órbigo, you can again enjoy the quaint peacefulness of a small village and get ready for tomorrow’s hike to and sightseeing in Astorga.

Distance: 18 km. (11.2 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 36: Villares de Órbigo – Astorga • 15.4 km. (9.6 mi.)

Today’s stage is not only easy, but also short. After passing the first of only two small villages, Santibáñez, not long after setting out, you will then start gaining a bit of altitude and – again – passing first patches of forest. Enjoy a lovely rest at La Casa de los Dioses – an enchanting oasis right on the Camino. Once you reach the Cross of Santo Toribio, you will be rewarded with a picturesque panoramic view of mountains to the west and to the north, and the city of Astorga with its majestic Cathedral spires lying straight ahead. Explore Astorga: its Cathedral, the Episcopal Palace (by Gaudí), the city walls and the ancient architecture of this once-Roman city are but a few sights to visit, both in daylight and at dusk.

Distance: 15.4 km. (9.6 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 37: Astorga – Rábanal del Camino • 19.8 km. (12.3 mi.)

This day’s stage is quite long and, though it is very easy-walking, you may wish to consider taking a taxi for the first 5 km. (3.1 mi.) out of Astorga. You will be passing various lovely villages and slowly, ever so gradually beginning to gain altitude. The scenery will also change rapidly before your eyes even by walker’s speed: grasslands will first turn into terrain covered with bushes and short, wind-defiant trees and, eventually, into full-sized forests. As you walk into the charming village of Santa Catalina de Somoza, marking the half-way point of today’s journey, turn around, take a look back and soak up the last panoramic view of Astorga at a far distance and bid farewell to the endless sea of Meseta beyond. And in front, no less epic views of Montes de León looming ahead will be getting you ready for mountain hiking that is to come. The end of today’s journey is the charming village of Rábanal del Camino. You can visit the medieval church in the evening for the vespers for Pilgrims, and rest up for tomorrow’s tough, but stunningly beautiful mountain crossing.

Distance: 19.8 km. (12.3 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate due to distance

Day 38: Rábanal del Camino – El Acebo • 16.8 km. (10.4 mi.)

As you leave Rábanal del Camino, you will begin a continuous ascent: first, up to the winded village of Foncebadón and, beyond it, to Cruz de Ferro – the Iron Cross – the iconic demarcation of the highest point on the Camino Francés. Here, pilgrims many centuries ago joined the tradition of an even older age: to leave a stone they brought from home at the Cross. Consider spending a bit of time at this summit – rest, and soak up its energies! The next several kilometers (miles) will be fairly flat as you will be walking on the mountain top, forests will give way to picturesque open mountain vistas, and then, two challenging descents will be awaiting you. First, it is a steep, rocky path down to the beautiful medieval village of El Acebo with an absolutely epic drop back view of the entire valley beyond.

Distance: 16.8 km. (10.4 mi.) | Difficulty: Challenging

Day 39: El Acebo – Ponferrada • 15.4 km. (9.6 mi.)

Beyond El Acebo, after some level distance, lies a challenging descent into Molinaseca. This little town is absolute jewel, and many pilgrims rank it among their top 3 most beautiful places on the entire French Way. Spend some time resting on the pretty riverside lawn right across the gorgeous medieval bridge. Soon after leaving Molinaseca, the Camino veers off from the street and into the fields – we recommend staying on the road as this is considerably shorter, and the alternative is not scenic enough to be worth it. The Camino takes you straight into Ponferrada – the last larger town until you reach Santiago. The most outstanding landmark of this otherwise busy modern city is the imposing medieval castle built by the Knights Templar, which is absolutely worth entering and exploring

Distance: 15.4 km. (9.6 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 40: Ponferrada – Cacabelos • 15.3 km. (9.5 mi.)

Walking out of Ponferrada, you will be walking across pleasant countryside: fields with small farms will be interrupted by occasional villages, offering opportunities to stop and rest. Towards the end of today’s easy-walking journey, you will walk amidst the videyards of the region of Bierzo, famous for its excellent wines.

Distance: 15.3 km. (9.5 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 41: Cacabelos – Trabadelo • 18.2 km. (11.3 mi.)

Today’s journey takes you across the picturesque wine-country landscapes of El Bierzo until you reach Villafranca. This gorgeous town, situated in a valley where two rivers converge, is another well-known pilgrim hub very much worth spending some time in to enjoy and explore. The local Romanesque Church of Santiago (located right at town entrance) is the only one on the entire Camino – other than Santiago Cathedral – that has the Gate of Forgiveness (Puerta de Perdón). Since the middle ages, pilgrims that were incapable to carry on for the remaining 185 km. (115 mi.) to Santiago because of their health could receive here their full indulgence and the “Little Compostela” – Certificate of Pilgrimage Completion. Still in Villafranca, the Camino splits into two options: straight on up the valley of the River Valcarce (recommended here), or up the Camino Duro (2.2 km longer and quite steep, but also more solitary and picturesque). Both Caminos then meet again at Trabadelo.

Distance: 18.2 km. (11.3 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 42: Trabadelo – Las Herrerías • 10.5 km. (6.5 mi.)

Today’s journey is short, easy and truly beautiful, as the Camino follows up along the Valcarce River Valley. Take your time to stop and enjoy the many quaint little villages you will pass along the Way, or get down to the River and take a lovely break in the picturesque pece-and-quiet. Today’s destination of Las Herrerías is the last village in the Valcarce Valley: tomorrow, you will be leaving the valley and crossing mountains again.

Distance: 10.5 km. (6.5 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 43: Las Herrerías – O Cebreiro • 8.0 km. (5 mi.)

Today’s comparatively short-distance hike comprises a continuous, moderately difficult ascent and is highlighted by absolutely stunning mountain landscape. Shortly after leaving the Valcarce river valley, the Camino will lead you onto a forest path up to the sleepy village of La Faba. Afterwards, the forest gives way to highlands, and as you continue to go up and up, each stop you take will reward you with breath-taking mountain views. Bar La Escuela in Laguna de Castilla is the last stop in the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León; just beyond it, you will reach the iconic stone post demarcating the border of Galicia. The picturesque village of O Cebreiro – your final destination for the day – is like an open-air museum. You can marvel at the restored, traditional thatched-roof stone houses called Payozas, which stem from pre-Roman, Ibero-Celtic times and where used until the second half of the 20th century. You should also pay a visit to the Church Santa María la Real constructed on the ruins of a pre-Romanesque sanctuary. Enjoy the local desert specialty “Queso con Miel” (cream cheese with honey) and the stunning panoramic vistas both at daytime and at sunset.

Distance: 8.0 km. (5 mi.) | Difficulty: Challenging

Day 44: O Cebreiro – O Biduedo • 14.3 km. (8.9 mi.)

O Cebreiro is not only the first village in Galicia – it is also the last one to be situated in the mountains. After some 12 km. (7.5 mi.) of hilly ups and downs through forests, occasional openings with majestic highland views and a few peaceful villages, the Camino begins to descend – first, gradually, and then quite steeply into what Galicia is, really, all about: lush-green, thick and mossy forests.

Distance: 14.3 km. (8.9 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 45: O Biduedo – Pintín • 17.9 km. (11.1 mi.)

Just before you enter the charming town of Triacastela, you will pass the oldest chestnut tree on the Camino – Castaño de Ramil – which is said to be over 800 years old. You can rest and enjoy the peace and quiet of the lovely Triacastela. As you leave Triacastela, the Camino splits once again into two options: to the left, via the Monastery of Samos (longer) and to the left toward San Xil, which is the one we recommend. The terrain that started at the end of yesterday’s journey will continue for much of today, and you will find yourself traversing lush, most of the time damp forests with moss-clad stones on both sides of your path.

Distance: 17.9 km. (11.1 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 46: Pintín – Rente • 11.8 km. (7.3 mi.)

As you pass occasional villages, you will find lovely places to stop and rest. Eventually, the Camino will run along a road for some 3 km. (1.9 mi.) and eventually lead you into the bigger town of Sarria. For many pilgrims, Sarria is the starting point of the Camino – it is easily reachable by public transportation, and distance from Sarria to Santiago is just over 100 km., entitling those who walk it to receive their Compostela (Certificate of Pilgrimage Completion). As Sarria tends to get crowded at times, the final destination for today will be a bit farther ahead. Take your time to enjoy the gorgeous medieval bridge right as you walk out of Sarria. The Camino will then lead you up a forested hill and, once you reach its top, spaces will become wide-open and you will enjoy some lovely Galician countryside panoramas until you reach Rente.

Distance: 11.8 km. (7.3 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 47: Rente – Portomarín • 15.9 km. (9.9 mi.)

The mornings outside Rente (as well as in many places in Galicia) tend to get quite foggy, which adds a special note of mystery and magic to be enjoyed by those who hike out early. Today’s terrain will differ very little from yesterday’s: more lovely forested pockets, fields to meander across, charming little brooks to cross, and inviting places in cute villages to stop in. However, most of the time, the influx of pilgrims starting from Sarria is usually noticeable, and from here at the latest, the Camino bocomes quite lively. Today’s stage ends in the town of Portomarín. In the 1960s, it was decided that this town, originally situated in the river valley, had to make way for a new reservoir and be moved just up the hill. The two medieval churches were dismantled stone by stone and put back together in their new location. As you walk across the bridge into town, the remains of the old village of Portomarín down in the valley can still be seen when the water levels are low, giving the whole panorama a kind of a tolkienesque feel.

Distance: 15.9 km. (9.9 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 48: Portomarín – Ventas de Nerón • 12.6 km. (7.8 mi.)

A hilly forested path outside Portomarín eventually levels with the road until the village of Gonzar. Afterwards, a very gradual but lengthy ascent up the Sierra de Ligonde renders some truly picturesque, far-away vistas on the quaint Galician countryside. For the remaining half of today’s journey, the Camino levels off as it leads you past small, sleepy villages and beautiful green fields.

Distance: 12.6 km. (7.8 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 49: Ventas de Nerón – Palas de Rei • 11.6 km. (7.2 mi.)

Today’s stage is short and very pleasant to walk. At the end of your walking day, you will find yourself in the charming town of Palas de Rei, where you can relax and enjoy the many wonderful culinary options to start getting to know the wonderful Galician cuisine.

Distance: 11.6 km. (7.2 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 50: Palas de Rei – Melide • 14.9 km. (9.3 mi.)

Beyond Palas, More peaceful and beautiful Galician countryside is awaiting you today. Fields interchange with forests, and the terrain is not only pleasing to the eye, but also pleasant to walk. The magnificent medieval bridge over the River Furelos is the last larger one on the Camino Francés, and have the option to admire it from both sides. Consider having a traditional dinner in one of the famous Pulperías in Melide – the end of your day’s journey. Here, you will get octopus served on wooden boards the traditional way: simply boiled, cut with scissors, accompanied by cooked potatoes and seasoned only with olive oil, salt and paprika.

Distance: 14.9 km. (9.3 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 51: Melide – Arzúa • 14.2 km. (8.8 mi.)

Pop into the charming little church of Santa María as you walk out of Melide to take a look at its well-preserved Romanesque wall paintings and its stunning altar dating back to the times of the Visigoths. The Camino will now take you into the beautiful Galician eucalyptus forests, passing a couple of more quaint little villages. You will have a few hills to go up and down, and you can reward yourself with a lovely rest stop as you reach the absolutely delightful little village of Ribadiso: sit at its waterfront by the cute little medieval bridge and soak up the sheer serenity of the scenery. The Camino will then lead you on to today’s final destination of Arzúa. before it plunges backs into the pleasant, peaceful Galician scenery. It is an easy walking day, and you will spend most of the rest of in on forest paths with occasional villages and patches of lush green grasslands in-between. The fragrance of eucalyptus will have become as familiar to your senses as the sight of these pretty trees’ tall and straight trunks.

Distance: 14.2 km. (8.8 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 52: Arzúa – Rúa (O Pedrouzo) • 17.7 km. (11 mi.)

After the serenity of the forest, the atmosphere in the bustling little town of O Pedrouzo, which you will reach after the first couple of hours walking, may seem a bit too busy. The Camino has yet just the perfect amount of beautiful scenery, peacefulness and calmness in store for you as you walk into and out of beautiful eucalyptus forests before Rúa (O Pedrouzo). After the serenity of the forest, the atmosphere in the bustling little town of O Pedrouzo may seem a bit too busy, but it’s also worth enjoying it, as all the pilgrims are tingling with restlessness before the last Camino Francés’ stage tomorrow.

Distance: 17.7 km. (11 mi.) | Difficulty: Easy

Day 53: Rúa (O Pedrouzo) – Santiago de Compostela • 20.8 km. (12.9 mi.)

After O Pedrouzo, the Camino plunges backs into the pleasant, peaceful Galician scenery. It is a longer walking day, and you will spend most of the rest of in on forest paths with occasional villages and patches of lush green grasslands in-between. The fragrance of eucalyptus will have become as familiar to your senses as the sight of these pretty trees’ tall and straight trunks. As you pass a couple of villages, eucalyptus gives way to conifers, and you will find yourself walking alongside the Airport of Santiago – the feeling of reaching the journey’s end and the impending departure for home is often sensed quite strongly here. Towards the end of today’s walk, you will reach the top of the Monte do Gozo – the Mount of Joy – and you will behold Santiago de Compostela for the first time! Let the Camino guide you, one last time, into the heart of this magical City. Congratulations, dear Pilgrim: You. Have. Arrived. Celebrate, and enjoy!

Distance: 20.8 km. (12.9 mi.) | Difficulty: Moderate

Day 54: Free Day in Santiago de Compostela

We strongly feel that, after this amazing journey, it is instrumental to spend (at least!) one full, extra day and another night in Santiago, which is why it is added in our program “by default” (though you can opt out of it). This is both the time and the place to unwind, to reflect upon and enjoy your journey’s end and, most importantly, to take it easy on yourself with your post-Camino re-entry into the big, wide World. Aside from that, UNESCO-listed city of Santiago is full of incredible places to explore, and you can collect your very well-earned Compostela (Certificate of Completion) as well as attend the Pilgrims’ Mass at the Cathedral.

Day 55: Departure from Santiago de Compostela

Farewell, Santiago; farewell, Camino – and sage travels on your journey back home or to your next adventure! And here is another option well-worth considering: to continue the Camino on to Finisterre (the “End of the World”) and / or to Muxía – two stunning, mystical places on the majestic Atlantic coast.

¡Buen Camino!

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Via Podiensis