Spain: Classic Camino de Santiago Encore-Only

Guided Walking Tour, Spain: Classic Camino de Santiago Encore-OnlyGuided Walking Tour, Spain: Classic Camino de Santiago Encore-Only

Spain

Classic Camino de Santiago Encore-Only

overview

NEW! For centuries, pilgrims have walked the sun-swept fields and medieval cities on the way to Santiago de Compostela. Historically, this journey has taken travelers more than two months to complete. The history and natural beauty of “the Way” is yours to experience on an innovative itinerary that showcases the highlights of the Camino Frances route in just nine days. Beginning in the mountain meadows of the Pyrénées, you pass poppy fields and wild mustard flowers. Follow sections of ancient Roman roads and visit ruins that date to the Paleolithic Era all in the company of our expert local guides. Wander the crooked cobblestone streets of Burgos to its acclaimed cathedral. Enjoy private wine tastings in La Rioja and fresh seafood on Galicia’s Costa da Morte. Stay in luxurious hotels and inns housed in baroque palaces. And finally, share a quiet moment with pilgrims in the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, an exquisite culmination to a journey that, for many, is life changing.

Please note: this is an Encore-Only Departure, offered exclusively to past guests of Country Walkers. Each Encore-Only Departure features something extra, be it special accommodations, access to a unique destination, or an early opportunity to savor a new trip or itinerary. Learn more about Encore-Only Departures.

Pre- or Post-Tour Extension

Linger longer! Add a Tour Extension to this adventure and explore more. Our extensions combine guided experiences with independent travel, allowing you to savor both insider access and ample private time, all the while staying in premium, hand-selected accommodations.

Barcelona Extension »
4 days, 3 nights
Granada Extension »
4 days, 3 nights

La Rioja Extension »
4 days, 3 nights

Madrid Extension »
4 days, 3 nights
Activity Level
Easy to Moderate;
5-9 miles daily
Meet
Bilbao, Spain
Depart
Santiago de
Compostela, Spain
Daily Itinerary
Download printable
itinerary
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
Guided Walking 
9 days, 8 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Two expert, local guides (for groups of 8 or more), with you 24/7
  • All meals except for one dinner; local wine or beer included with dinners
  • All accommodations while on tour
  • Transportation from the meeting point to the departure point
  • Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the Country Walkers staff
per person double occupancy
Single supplement + $635
 

Solo surcharge + $0
 

 

New guests and private travelers please consider our traditional Spain: Classic Camino de Santiago adventure.

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Gorraiz
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2
Villabuena de Álava
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3
Burgos
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4
Villoldo
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5
Luyego de Somoza
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6
O Corgo
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7
Santiago de Compostela
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8
Santiago de Compostela
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9
Santiago de Compostela
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Day 1

Gorraiz

Meet in Bilbao. Roncesvalles to Bizcarreta; 7 miles, easy to moderate, 900-ft. elevation loss

The tour begins in Bilbao, the Basque country’s largest city and a major port that has experienced a renaissance with its striking Bilbao Guggenheim Museum. Leaving the city, you travel by private coach into the heart of the countryside, rising from the coast and through rolling foothills, approaching the spine of the Pyrenees. The walk begins near the tiny town of Roncesvalles, just below the Ibañeta Pass at an elevation of 3,000 feet on the border between France and Spain. Small but rich in history, Roncesvalles is a popular starting point for many pilgrims—peregrinos in Spanish—walking the Camino de Santiago, and it was also the site of the defeat of Charlemagne by Basque tribes in the year 778. From the 18th-century stone hostel, the former pilgrims’ lodging, the trail descends through beech forest alternating with lush pasture into the village of Burguete, the trout-fishing area described in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Passing the sturdy stone and white-washed Basque farmhouses, you break for a picnic lunch in the meadows of Altos de Mezkiritz before descending to the town of Bizcarreta, also a 12th-century pilgrims’ way-point, where you are met and transferred to your resort hotel on the outskirts of Pamplona. In the early evening, you are led on an easy walking tour around this city that is best known for the running of the bulls through its historical center during the San Fermín festival in mid-July. Also appreciated for its delicious pintxos—the Basque word for tapas—this capital of the Navarra province has an old quarter and main square surrounded by ancient walls overlooking the surrounding region. Dinner this evening at your hotel’s intimate restaurant provides a unique opportunity to taste and toast the days ahead over a fine regional wine.

Castillo de Gorraiz Hotel Golf & Spa

Gorraiz, Spain

A renovated castle set in the small country town of Gorraiz just outside Pamplona, this four-star family-owned resort has spacious, well-appointed rooms with elegant furnishings. Public spaces include several lounges, fireside bars, a wine cellar, terrace bar, and fine-dining restaurant. A luxurious spa includes treatment rooms, pools, steam rooms, and a gym. A golf course and extensive landscaped grounds surround the property, overlooking nearby hills.

Day 2

Villabuena de Álava

Uterga to Cirauqui; 9 miles, easy to moderate, 700-ft. elevation gain and loss

After breakfast this morning, a 20-minute transfer takes you to the start of the day’s walk in the town of Uterga, where, although not far from the Pyrenees, the Atlantic-influenced geography gives way to a more Mediterranean feel with olive groves and vineyards. You walk through peaceful small towns with buildings made of the region’s golden stone, in the late summer matching the hue of the grain fields nearby. From Uterga, you come into the village of Muruzábal with its Baroque-era palace, now a wine cellar. Crossing some quiet roads, you enter Puente La Reina with its 11th-century Romanesque six-arched bridge, constructed for pilgrims to cross the Arga River. Past the 13th-century Santiago Church, you follow along the right bank of the Arga and, after the wine town of Mañeru, one of the Camino’s most picturesque views opens up—a trail winding up through vineyards to the hilltop medieval town of Cirauqui. A steep but short ascent leads to the ancient walls surrounding the town and the San Román Churcha perfect lunch spot. Later, you transfer to your hotel in the heart of the Álava region, where you are surrounded by the sheltered vineyards of numerous wineries. Here you are offered a private tour of one of the many local bodegas followed by a tasting to elucidate the intricacies of Rioja wine. Later, you enjoy dinner in a region not only blessed with its own excellent products, but also benefitting from the fresh seafood of the Atlantic to the north and the high-quality meats from the southern plateau.

Hotel Viura

Villabuena de Álava, Spain

Stunning modern architecture amidst a traditional Basque village describes this special hotel located in the heart of small but beautiful Villabuena de Álava . The restaurant features first class service, creative and inspiring cuisine, and a host of local wines. The rooftop terrace offers expansive views of the surrounding hillside while rooms and public spaces stylishly combine contemporary architecture with luxurious comfort.

Day 3

Burgos

Ermita de Valdefuentes to Agés; 6 miles, easy to moderate

This morning, about a short transfer brings you to the 12th-century Ermita de Valdefuentes. With a central statue of Saint James to watch over the pilgrims, this tiny hermitage is said to be the last vestige of a Cistercian monastery on the site. You enter a tranquil forested plateau where, in the past, lurking thieves made this section one of the Camino’s most dangerous. Now, the pine and oak trees provide habitat for deer, wild boar, and raptors. Continuing past the 11th-century monastery complex of San Juan de Ortega, you emerge from forest onto the Atapuerca plains for a picnic lunch, and then continue on to the traditional town of Agés. You meet your vehicle for the short transfer to the Atapuerca UNESCO World Heritage location—where recent archaeological research has confirmed evidence of the earliest-known hominids in Western Europe. You are guided around the excavation site, where fossils and stone tools were uncovered dating to around 1.2 million years ago. Afterward, a short drive brings you into the historical medieval heart of Burgos to your hotel, from where you step out to choose from the city’s many excellent dining options as confirmed by its status as “Spanish Gastronomy Capital” of 2013. You are now in the region of Castile and León, and in a city key to Spanish history at the confluence of the Duero and Arlanza rivers—a statue memorializes the birthplace of national hero El Cid, and the magnificent cathedral is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Hotel Palacio de los Blasones

Burgos, Spain

A 16th-century mansion in the historical center of Burgos is steps away from the cathedral, museums, and main plaza square. Artful restoration combines original exposed stone, arches, and beams with striking contemporary design and décor in its reception lounge, restaurant, bar, and glass-roofed atrium.

Day 4

Villoldo

Castojeriz to Itero de la Vega; 7 miles, easy to moderate

This morning, you walk the few steps from your hotel for a guided visit of the 13th-century cathedral—a crucial stop for Camino pilgrims; with its delicate spires, it is unique for its scale and French Gothic style. You also visit the new Museum of Human Evolution—to complement your visit to the Atapuerca site and learn more about the network of caves in the Sierra Atapuerca, where incredible discoveries are ongoing. You enjoy a lively tapas-style lunch before leaving the city, perhaps traditional patatas bravas (potatoes with spicy sauce), the region’s excellent cured ham and cheeses, tiny marinated fish, calamari, olives, even foie gras—the small-plate possibilities are endless. Afterward, you drive about 45 minutes to pick up the Camino at Castojeriz, also an important pilgrim way-station that once had several hostels and a stone hilltop castle that is now a ruin. In this vast landscape of Spain’s central plains, you make out windmills on the far horizon and arrive in the hamlet of Itero de la Vega, from where you are transferred about 30 minutes to the small pueblo (village) of Villoldo and the family-run inn there, a true culinary destination. As throughout the tour, local and seasonal ingredients are presented in traditional dishes with a light and creative touch, such as grilled octopus with rosemary potatoes and red-pepper aioli.

Estrella del Bajo Carrión

Villoldo, Spain

Between the cities of Burgos and León, three sisters run the hotel founded by their father over 30 years ago. The modern and airy country house features balconied guest rooms and common areas with fresh flowers and unique architecture. In addition to the fine-dining restaurant, the hotel features a library, billiard and wine room, and a willow-shaded terrace for breakfast or drinks al fresco.

Day 5

Luyego de Somoza

Villares de Orbigo to Astorga; 9 miles, easy to moderate, 650-ft. elevation gain, 530-ft. elevation loss

Breakfast this morning is a delight of homemade juices, breads and pastries, and jams of local fruits and berries. After checking out, a drive of a little over an hour takes you to the walk’s start at Villares de Orbigo. You are entering yet another region—the terrain here has a more Mediterranean feel, with its underlying geology of red stone nourishing vineyards and oak forests. Look out for the stork’s nest on the town’s Santa Maria Church. You also pass the 18th-century St. John the Baptist Church as you head into the surrounding countryside, with its vegetable farms crisscrossed by irrigation ditches, later finding a rest stop for the delicious packed lunch from the kitchen of your last hotel.

After passing the cross of Saint Turibius, the region’s 5th-century bishop, you descend past the village of San Justo de la Vega, making your way to the city of Astorga. You are welcomed here in the city’s most traditional café with a hot chocolate—the specialty of this Spanish birthplace of chocolate, thanks to the dry climate and location on the trade routes from the north and Andalucía to the south. You have a short tour of the town’s Roman ruins, as well as the fine cathedral and the bishop’s palace, one of only three buildings designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí outside of Catalonia. A transfer takes you to your historical hotel. Using local and seasonal ingredients, the hotel’s elegant restaurant is especially known for mushrooms prepared traditionally, perhaps sautéed, in soups, crèpes, and salads, or with foie gras. Traditional regional dishes—accompanied by an extensive wine cellar—include lamb, excellent local ham, fresh river fish, and frogs’ legs for the true gourmet!

Hostería Camino

Luyego de Somoza, Spain

This boutique hotel in a restored home has spacious, individually decorated guest rooms with polished wood floors and décor combining Spanish antiques with exposed beams and brick. Common areas include a fireside living room with inviting couches, a relaxed café for drinks or light fare, and a dramatically lit fine-dining restaurant. An antique shop is also on the premises.

Day 6

O Corgo

Las Herrerias to O’Cebreiro; 5 miles, moderate, 2,000-ft. elevation gain

This morning, the transfer is just under 90 minutes, bringing you farther west to the trailhead in the hamlet of Las Herrerías; just past it is the Barrio de Hospital, which housed a medieval hospital for English pilgrims. As you move toward Galicia, the landscape takes on a more Celtic feel; leaving behind Mediterranean vegetation, you are entering countryside that evokes the British Isles—verdant pastures, ancient gray granite stone. Most of the day’s walk is a long, gradual uphill; however, you are able to warm up on the paved flat terrain of the lush valley. Leaving the pavement, the Camino begins the gentle ascent on a path bordered by moss-covered stone walls and shaded by chestnut trees. After the village of Fada, the wooded area transitions to wide-open vistas of the forests along the Atlantic coast. The ascent eases up as you reach the village of Laguna de Castilla and, soon after, you cross the border from the province of Léon and officially enter Galicia. The walk ends in the town of O’Cebreiro, with its panoramic views over the province, as well as the Royal Saint Mary’s Church, built on the foundations of a pre-Romanesque church, and most importantly, lunch at an ancient hostelry. A Roman road predated the Camino here, and the pallozas—prehistoric stone homes—provide evidence of earlier people in the region. Driving down from O’Cebreiro toward your next hotel, you enjoy stunning views of the seasonally snowcapped mountains of Léon. The hotel’s grounds and garden offer both an outdoor swimming pool and a river bathing area. A canoe and bicycles are also available. With an excellent wine selection, the hotel’s fireside restaurant offers updated Galician cuisine from a wood-fired oven, featuring dishes such as suckling pig, lamb, and capon.

Casa Grande da Fervenza

O Corgo, Spain

A beautifully restored 17th-century miller’s residence within a biosphere reserve is a peaceful haven in the Galician countryside, with fireside fine dining. Individually decorated guest rooms feature unique antiques, hand-embroidered linens, polished wood floors, and exposed beams and stone. An outdoor swimming pool is on the grounds along with gardens along the river, where you can also swim or rent a canoe.

Day 7

Santiago de Compostela

Sarria to Ferreiros; 8 miles, easy to moderate, 1,020-ft. elevation gain

You transfer from your hotel this morning to the town of Sarria. For many, this is the start of their Camino walk, as it marks the point where pilgrims can begin the minimal consecutive distance (100 km) necessary to achieve the Compostela, the official certification of completion of the pilgrimage. Pilgrims have their Camino “passports” stamped along the way at the major local churches or official hostels. You’re likely to meet many walkers and pilgrims today—people from around the globe sharing this long walk and a unique camaraderie. You begin on the main street and encounter a set of steep stairs leading up to the center of the town and the hilltop Convent of Magdalena, dating from the 15th to 18th centuries. The Camino then descends to the Rio Pequeño, which you cross on the medieval Ponte Áspera bridge, and continues through fertile pasture and small vegetable patches. Depending on the season, small farms offer fresh berries for sale. Concluding the walk, you are met in the town of Ferreiros and transported the short distance to the lovely town of Portomarín for lunch overlooking the estuary.

After lunch, you enter Santiago de Compostela and set off on an easy walking tour of this capital of the autonomous region of Galicia. Narrow granite-cobbled streets loop past the Plaza de Cervantes, with its small statue of the writer, and on to the Plaza de Obradeiros, overlooked by the cathedral’s main façade. The Rua do Franco, a bustling shopping street, leads down to the Alameda Park.  The tour culminates at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in time to participate in daily mass—a breathtaking gathering, both from the cathedral’s grandeur and from the sense of accomplishment and emotion in the pilgrims who have arrived here from the many Camino routes. The peregrinos’ final steps lead to the statue of Saint James at the cathedral’s entrance. Construction of this cathedral, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, began in 1075 over the remains of a pre-Romanesque church. Expansion and embellishment continued from the 16th through the 18th centuries as it gained importance as an Episcopal see and place of pilgrimage—the third most important destination for Christians after Rome and Jerusalem. This evening, dinner is at your hotel, which is known for its traditional and sumptuous Galician cuisine.

Parador de Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela, Spain

This grand hotel is situated on Santiago’s main square—the Plaza Obreiros—overlooking the UNESCO-classified cathedral. From the majestic main façade of “the world’s oldest hotel,” the sumptuous interior contains museum-quality public spaces and furnishings, elegant lounges, four cloisters with sculpted gardens, and spacious guest rooms with classic Spanish décor. On site are a restaurant and café serving traditional Galician cuisine with outdoor terrace seating overlooking the square.

Day 8

Santiago de Compostela

A Costa da Morte, Moraime to Muxia, 2-3 miles, easy

After a hearty breakfast, a 90-minute drive takes you northwest of Santiago to the coastal town of Muxia, which is considered the true end of the pilgrimage by many pilgrims who continue their walk after reaching the cathedral in Santiago. The coastline’s spectacular beaches and surf have made it the site of many shipwrecks, but this location also means it is the Costa del Marisco (the “Seafood Coast”); therefore, lunch is Galician-style seafood: perhaps clams or mussels, accompanied by an albariño white wine. After lunch, you stroll the ridge above the surf, visiting the sanctuary and perhaps the giant rocking stone.

Returning to Santiago, you have time to rest or explore more of this fascinating city before gathering for a final dinner. Tonight you celebrate and toast to your “pilgrimage” on the ancient route in a bodega in the restored St. Francis chapel, a dramatic vaulted setting where the menu starts with an appetizer of local ham and baked octopus, and continues with several more courses of regional specialties.

Parador de Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela, Spain

This grand hotel is situated on Santiago’s main square—the Plaza Obreiros—overlooking the UNESCO-classified cathedral. From the majestic main façade of “the world’s oldest hotel,” the sumptuous interior contains museum-quality public spaces and furnishings, elegant lounges, four cloisters with sculpted gardens, and spacious guest rooms with classic Spanish décor. On site are a restaurant and café serving traditional Galician cuisine with outdoor terrace seating overlooking the square.

Day 9

Santiago de Compostela

Departure from Santiago de Compostela

You depart Santiago de Compostela after breakfast this morning at your leisure. If your schedule permits, you may wish to attend the daily noontime mass at Santiago’s cathedral; the famous incensory suspended from the cathedral’s ceiling—the botafumeiro—is used only at this noon mass.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a Country Walkers adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call Country Walkers at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

Guides

Diego Martin

Born and raised in Madrid, Diego Martin spends much of his year in the beautiful Picos de Europa mountains of northern Spain, as his heart is never far from nature. Studying geography and geology at university before journeying to South America, he eventually returned to Spain in order to start a family in his beloved Picos. Working with a local organization dedicated to re-introducing the bearded vulture into the Picos, Diego has worked closely with rural communities helping them preserve their traditional lifestyles. He has also found time to set up a small organic farm - a city boy turned country! Diego's brings his easy going charm and encyclopaedic cultural knowledge to this journey across northern Spain.

Xabier Etxarri

Xabier Etxarri, or Xabi as he’s known (pronounced 'shabby'), hails from Navarra, in the Basque Country and is a true Renaissance man. Originally a science teacher and physicist with a specialization in astrophysics, he decided to leave it all behind and travel to southern Chile where he unlocked his passion for poetry, writing over 14 volumes since! He soon became a fully-licensed trekking guide with a particular interest in nature and the natural sciences. His passion for the mountains of his native Pyrenees remains undiminished and he now splits his time between Patagonia and Spain. What Xabi brings to this journey is an intimate knowledge of the Basque lands, Riojan wines, and the flora of northern Spain.

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