length

19 Days

difficulty

Challenging

trip cost

from $2800 pp

Icons / stylised / time Created with Sketch.

length

19 Days

Icons / stylised / difficulty Created with Sketch.

difficulty

Challenging

Icons / stylised /cost Created with Sketch.

trip cost

from $2800 pp

Self-Guided Trip

our walk experts

  • Overview
  • Highlights
  • Itinerary
  • Inclusions
  • Exclusive Guide
  • Similar Walks

Overview

Stage 3-5. Leon to Santiago

Starting from the lively city of Leon with its magnificent Gothic Cathedral this walk will give you a great experience of the Camino as it takes in a good variety of historical towns and cities plus beautiful villages, many places of interest and some of the most scenic parts of the Camino trail as you travel through the mountains.

You’ll visit Astorga, a charming city which is home to a palace designed by Gaudi and is home to Spain’s chocolatiers. Other notable places include Ponferrada with its Knight’s Templar castle, the Iron Cross, the hilltop hamlet of O’Cebreiro, the pretty towns of Molinseca and Villafranca Del Bierzo – often rated amongst travellers as their favourites – Samos with its magnificent Benedictine monastery, Sarria, and of course Santiago itself the finish to your walk.

There are two ranges to climb as you leave the province of Leon and reach Galicia and although the walking is more demanding through these sections the rewards are fantastic scenery and a real sense of accomplishment.

Adrian Mayer

Highlights

Get Ready For

  • Walk the final 300km of the Camino Trail
  • Self-guided trip allows you to set your own pace
  • We look after your accommodation and luggage transfers
  • Dedicated local support person in Spain for reassurance
  • Finish in this historic city of Santiago and visit the final end point of your walk at the Cathedral

Itinerary

The Camino

Week 1
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
TRANSFER TO HOSPITAL DE ORBIGO & WALK TO ASTORGA (17KM)

To avoid the built up areas and clear the city limits we transfer you to Hospital de Orbigo to start your walk. Many pilgrims chose to do this as it can take some time to clear the city limits of Leon.

From Hospital de Orbigo you have a relatively flatish walk through towns such as Santibanez de Valdeiglesias and San Justo de la Vega on route to your destination of Astorga.

Meals: B

Day 4
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 5
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 6
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 gently 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 7
REST DAY IN VILLAFRANCA DEL BIERZO

Rest up and relax, or further explore this town.

Meals: B

Week 2
Day 8
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 9
WALK HERRERIAS TO O CEBREIRO (9KM)

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 10
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 11
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 12
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 13
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 14
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

Week 3
Day 15
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 16
WALK ARZUA TO O PEDROUZO (21KM)

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 17
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 18
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 19
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

Inclusions

What you get

Included
  • 18 nights excellent accommodation including historic hotels and character country houses.
  • Private en suite rooms on a twin share basis
  • Daily breakfast
  • Luggage transfer each day from hotel to hotel (1 x 15kg bag per person)
  • Private transfer from Leon to Hospital de Orbigo (Day 3)
  • Full Camino guidebook with maps (one book per two people in twin/double share)
  • Pilgrim’s passport per person
  • Spanish phrase book (one book per two people in twin/double share)
  • 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
Excluded
  • Single supplement $1100 extra
  • Travel insurance
  • Flights to/from Spain
Added Extras

For an extra indulgence, upgrade your hotel in Santiago to a Parador for only $135 per person/per night twin share, when booked 6 months in advance (subject to availability).

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

Single supplement $1100 extra

For any part of your trip that falls before 15 March or after 31 October there is an out of season luggage transfer surcharge cost of $30 per day.

Camino-De-Santiago-Destination-Guide-Cover

Exclusive Guide

Camino de Santiago

Discover inspiration, travel essentials, practical information and more in our free Destination Guide. All you need to know about walking the Camino de Santiago routes through Spain, Portugal and France!

Walking the Camino is an incredible journey that will immerse you not only in Europe’s grand history, food and culture but most importantly the extraordinary camaraderie that exists along these routes. The spirit of the Camino de Santiago is alive and well among people from all over the world. It is a ‘bucket list’ experience you will never forget!

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TRIP date selection

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Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed

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