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Location

Leon to Santiago

Difficulty

5-6

Challenging

Length

20

Trip Cost

from $2750 pp
twin share

Overview

  • Follow in the footsteps of millions of pilgrims and over 1,000 years of history on the world’s greatest historical trail
  • Walking over 300km of the French Camino Trail
  • Santiago – finish in this historic city and visit the final end point of your walk at the Cathedral
  • Self-guided trip allows you to set your own pace while we look after your accommodation and luggage transfers
  • Travel with like-minded people but still within a self-guided framework to give you great flexibility
  • Dedicated local support person in Spain for reassurance

This is a self guided walking trip that is for people who prefer company on their walk. The friendly nature of the Camino means it’s ideal for single travellers who would like the details of their trip well planned but do not want a fully guided walk.

Follow in the footsteps of millions of pilgrims and over 1,000 years of history on the world’s greatest historical trail. Following scenic country roads and forest tracks crossing old villages and cities born from the Camino trail, it is difficult to imagine a better way to enjoy Spain’s rich legacy of history, culture, food and art than to follow your own Camino. Join people from all walks and life and nationalities as they embark on this great adventure, you don’t have to be religious just a keen walker! We also offer tailor made walking trips along the the world famous Camino De Santiago walking trail or simply ‘The Way’.

RAW Travel also offer tailor-made arrangements and can adapt this itinerary to suit your needs – just ask us about this and we can advise on how to best vary the itinerary to suit your needs. Please note that tailor-made arrangements incur higher costs due to the extra work involved.

Extend Your Holiday – City Breaks

Double your holiday experience by including a stopover on your journey! A city break is a great way to explore another place, indulge in some extra shopping, dining or sightseeing and is a great way to break up a long flight. Our fabulous array of RAW Travel city breaks can be tailor made to your requirements and usually include an arrival transfer, 2 nights accommodation and a city sightseeing tour.

Read more about our city breaks.

Are you a first-time or solo traveller?

We’ll support you all the way! View our preparation and training resources.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Leon

Arrive anytime on this day.

Day 2: Free day in Leon

A free day for you in Leon to settle into Spain and to prepare for the journey ahead. You may wish to explore this beautiful city and its incredible Gothic Cathedral which is renowned for its marvelous stained glass windows. The streets of Leon come alive in the evenings when people parade the streets and its bodegas are overflowing with people.

Meals: B

Day 3: Walk Leon to Villar de Mazarife (21.5km)

Enjoy walking through Leon’s interesting urban streetscape before clearing the city limits. Stock up on any last minute supplies before taking the scenic route on flat sandy paths across wide open fields to the charming village of Villar de Mazarife where you will be picked up by your hosts for the evening and transferred to your accommodation.

Meals: B

Day 4: Walk Villar de Mazarife to Astorga (31.5km)

A lovely days walk with the last of the flat open scenery opening up to the green rolling hills of the Cantabrian mountains as your backdrop. Hospital de Orbigo is a lovely town with a medieval ambiance and the half way point and where the two routes converge. Refresh yourself and enjoy this pretty village before continuing your journey, choose your route to Astorga when the Camino splits again at the end of the village.

Meals: B

Day 5: Walk Astorga to Rabanal del Camino (21km)

Leaving behind Astorga you will be walking on pleasant paths across plains and with good views of the hills before you. This next section of the Camino de Santiago journeys through to Ponferrada and passes through the area known as La Margateria and then enters the Bierzo region with its mines and bordering Galicia. The La Margateria area has very few villages and we recommend you always carry enough food and water for emergencies. Make sure you carry warm clothing even in the height of summer with you as you will be walking into high mountains.

The path runs parallel to the road to Murias de Rechivaldo then to Santa Catalina de Somoza. Soon after the path begins to climb again up to El Ganso which sits 1,020 metres above sea level.

The Camino continues through El Ganso, down a track and runs parallel to the road. Here it passes an old oak tree known as El Roble del Peregrino where many a pilgrim have rested in the shade of its canopy. As you walk along the path towards Rabanal del Camino (1155m) you pass the remains of the Roman gold mines of La Fucarona.

Meals: B

Day 6: Walk Rabanal del Camino to Molinaseca (26km)

As you leave Rabanal del Camino you’ll start to feel the incline which steepens as you head into the hills towards Foncebadon (the infamous deserted village which is no longer deserted). The incline is always walkable and there are plenty of switchbacks with great views back over the plains behind you. At the top of the hill is the Iron Cross, “Cruz Ferro”, an ancient monument said to be erected by the Celts and where pilgrims leave something, usually a stone or pebble that represents their burden or a memorial to a loved one.

Passing over a few more hilly sections you will reach your highest point at Collado de las Antenas (1515m), from here it is a steep downhill to Molinaseca (610m)

Meals: B

Day 7: Walk Molinaseca to Villafranca del Bierzo (31km)

Leaving Molinaseca you firstly descend before climbing again towards the city of Ponferrada which can be clearly seen in the distance. Once in the city of Ponferrada, continue past the castle of the Knights Templar, make sure you enjoy a quick coffee in the plaza to admire the hills you’ve just climbed. After Ponferrada, the walk continues through gentle rolling hills and vineyards before reaching the charming town of Villafranca del Bierzo which is nestled in the hills that mark the border into Galicia. Both Molinaseca or Villafranca del Bierzo are great places to consider an additional rest day.

Meals: B

Day 8: Rest day in Villafranca del Bierzo

Rest up, relax or explore the town.

Meals: B

Day 9: Walk Villafranca del Bierzo to Herrerias (21km)

Walk down Calle del Agua and at the far end turn left at the statue of the pilgrim. Walk across the Río Burbía, past the convent and Iglesia de la Concepcion and keep walking until you reach the exit of the road tunnel through the mountains. Cross over and take a right turn, walk another 3 kilometres before turning right into an older section of the NVI road just before you enter the village of Pereje. Walk down the Calle Camino de Santiago until you reach where the motorway crosses the NVI, turn right onto the main road and follow this road until you reach the village of Herrerias.

Meals: B

Day 10: Walk Herrerias to O Cebreiro (10km)

The Camino from this point onwards climbs through the mountains starting gently but progressively getting steeper until you reach the atmospheric hilltop hamlet of O Cebreiro. From Herrerias you drop into the valley taking a quieter road and then ascend through deep woodland to the village of La Faba. The path continues through the village to Laguna de Castilla and onto the delightful hilltop hamlet of O’Cebreiro.

Meals: B

Day 11: Walk O Cebreiro to Triacastela (21km)

From O Cebreiro you start out on the main road or a rough track next to the road. Climb steeply for a kilometre to the Alto de San Roque, where on a clear day you will get wonderful views across the mountains and into Galicia. The path continues to climb to the small village of Hospital da Condesa, then a lane and track take you on to the small town of Padornelo. Once through the village the track begins to climb steeply towards the Alto do Poio some 3 kilometres away and on a track parallel to the road and into the village of Fonfría. From here is it downhill all the way to the town of Triacastela.

Meals: B

Day 12: Walk Triacastela to Sarria (19km)

As you leave Triacastela you arrive at a T-junction where you are given a choice of 2 routes towards Sarria. The left hand route takes you to past the impressive monastery of Benedictine Monasterio de San Julián de Samos in Samos about 11 kilometres away, the right hand route guides you through a more rural path towards San Xil before meeting the Samos route a few kilometres before Sarria. Both routes are clearly marked.

Sarria has been inhabited for many thousands of years both by the Celts and the Romans but the town was founded at the end of the 12th century by Alfonso IX, the last king of León who named the village Vilanova de Sarria.

Meals: B

Day 13: Rest Day in Sarria

Sarria is a busy, modern town with plenty of shops, hotels, restaurants and bars, but its origins are Celtic and it was an important and major medieval centre for pilgrims. Remnants of its ancient past can still be seen in the old quarter along Rua Major. The church of Igrexia de Santa Maria has an ancient pilgrim’s mural. If you follow the Camino route to the top end of town you will see the ancient convent Monasterio da Madalena, the ruins of the Castle and the medieval bridge Ponte Aspera that crosses the River Celerio. Nowadays the town is bustling with peregrinos, from those that started their Camino 100’s of kilometers back, to the large number that walk the final 100 kilometres to Santiago de Compostela to qualify for their Compostela.

Meals: B

Day 14: Walk Sarria to Portomarin (22km)

The majority of the this walk is on sheltered woodland pathways or quiet country roads and passes through many hamlets and small villages. The scenery along the way is wonderfully green and lush and very rural. The trail climbs and falls repeatedly as it passes tiny hamlets full of history. In the final section is the high point of the day (660m) at Pina dos Corvos which has wonderful views over the reservoir and surrounding countryside. From here begin your steep descent, crossing the Mino Reservoir over its modern bridge into Portomarin.

Portomarin has been inhabited for thousands of years and its importance grew with the popularity of the Camino in the middle ages. At one time it had three orders of Knights: the Knights Templar, the Knights of St John and the Knights of Jerusalem, which may go some way to explaining the castle like edifice of the 12th century Romanesque Igelsia San Nicolas church which still stands in the square at the centre of town. The town was previously divided by the Rio Mino but was flooded in 1960 to create the Mino Reservoir. Every historic monument was moved brick by brick to the town that stands on the hill today; you can see pictures of the old town in some of the bars and cafes that line the main street.

Meals: B

Day 15: Walk Portomarin to Palas de Rei (25km)

Today’s walk is uphill for 15 km, however the gradient is never too steep and you gradually climb to a height of 720m. The path crosses and runs parallel to the main road to Gonzar, though you spend most of your days walking on woodland tracks and quiet roads. From Sierra Ligonde, today’s high point at 720m, the walk is now downhill to Ligonde and Eirexe and onto A Calzada. There is a detour here of 2 km to the National Monument, Vilar de Donas where the Knights of Santiago are buried and is worthy of a visit if you have time. A gentle climb now takes you through several small hamlets to Alto Rosario, a good vantage point on a clear day and then down into Palas de Rei.

Palas de Rei or Palace of the King has little to remind you that it was once home to a king. Today it is a small country town with plenty of services available.

Meals: B

Day 16: Walk Palas de Rei to Arzua (29km)

Today’s walk is mostly on paths through quiet woodland, crossing over the main road to Arzua several times and guiding you through six river valleys to reach a high point of 515m at Coto.

On route you will pass Melide, a busy town founded in the 13th century and has many historic buildings and churches including the Capilla de San Pedro and San Roque next to which stands a 14th century stone cross said to be the oldest in Galicia. The museum and the buildings around the Plaza de Convento are well worth a visit. Melide is also famous for Pulpo Gallego, octopus cooked Galician style and reputed to be the best in Spain.

Much of the path after Melide winds through woodlands of oak, pine and eucalypt, passing over several valleys though Boente, Castañeda and then Ribadiso from where you can see the Hospital San Anton, one of the oldest pilgrim hospitals in existence. From Ribadiso follow the country road on a steep uphill climb and through the outer suburbs before entering Arzua.

Arzua with a population of around 7000 is the last large town before you reach Santiago. The 14th century Capilla de la Magdelena is the town’s main monument. Arzua is most famous for its local cheese, Queixo, a smooth creamy cheese made from cow’s milk which most restaurants feature in some way and is definitely worth trying. The town also celebrates its cheese with a Queixo Cheese festival every March.

Meals: B

Day 17: Walk Arzua to O Pedrouzo (19km)

The majority of today’s walk to O Pedrouzo is through wonderful pine and eucalyptus scented woodland. The path is mostly level, passing through three shallow river valleys with a gradual climb up to Alto de Santa Irene at 404m. The country lanes and woodland paths pass through many small hamlets. The final section climbs steeply to a main road, into eucalyptus woodland and onto A Rua and the village to O Pedrouzo. O Pedrouzo /Arco do Pino is a small but busy town with plenty of shops, restaurants and bars and the staging point for the last section of the Camino before entering Santiago de Compostela.

Meals: B

Day 18: Walk O Pedrouzo to Santiago (20km)

Today’s route will be a busy as pilgrims begin the last stage of their walk into Santiago. The pilgrims mass at Santiago Cathedral begins at midday so you will need to leave early to arrive on time. The first section of today’s route passes through eucalypt forests with most of the route on quiet roads and pathways before the final kilometres and a climb to Mount Gozo before descending into the suburbs of Santiago. The path runs alongside the airport and you will see many crosses of twigs and branches used by pilgrims to decorate the fence.

Lavacolla village is where pilgrims traditionally washed to purify themselves before entering Santiago and Lavacolla literally means to wash your tail. At Monte Gozo, Mount of Joy, you will first sight the stunning Catedral de Santiago spires.

The final section is well signposted into the old quarter with its wonderful historical buildings and narrow shop filled alleyways, until you finally reach the Praza Obradoiro and the wonderful ancient Cathedral.

Meals: B

Day 19: Free Day in Santiago

Today you have the whole day to enjoy and explore historic Santiago with its many enticing tapas bars and restaurants. You can attend the midday pilgrims mass and look around the famous Cathedral of St James which forms the city’s heart and watch the steady stream of pilgrims arriving into the square as they finish their epic journey.

Meals: B

Day 20: Departure Santiago

You are free to check out of your hotel any time before 10am. If you would like to explore Santiago further you are able to leave your bags with reception.

Meals: B

Dates

Start date
09 Sep 2019
End date
28 Sep 2019
Price
$2750
Availability
Available

Inclusions

  • 19 nights excellent accommodation including historic hotels, charming country houses
  • 1 night in Parador – Villafranca del Bierzo
  • Private en-suite rooms on a twin share basis
  • Daily breakfast
  • 1 x dinner at a casa rurale (location to be advised)
  • Luggage transfer each day from hotel to hotel (1 x 15kg bag per person)
  • Full Camino guidebook with maps
  • Pilgrim’s passport per person
  • Spanish phrasebook
  • Document case
  • Daily luggage tags
  • Maps of your hotel locations
  • Local and Australian emergency contact numbers
  • Pre-trip Camino guidance and planning
  • Dedicated local support person in Spain for reassurance

Not Included

  • Single supplement: AUD $955
  • Travel insurance
  • Flights to/from Spain

Options/Add-Ons

For an extra indulgence, upgrade your hotel in Santiago to a Parador for only $120 per person/per night twin share.

For an unforgettable birds-eye view of the city and the cathedral interior, add the Rooftop Cathedral Tour for $25 per person.

Map & Guide

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Lilia Akhtanenko – Camino & Coast to Coast (UK)

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Trip Grading

This trip is rated as Challenging