Scallop shells mark your path and Galician bagpipers squeal out a serenade as you pass under the arches into Santiago de Compostela’s cathedral square. Since the ninth century, seekers have dreamed of reaching this final stage of Europe’s greatest pilgrimage. Pause a moment to reflect on your unique journey, and the amazing people you’ve met along the way. In eight days on this Self-Guided walking tour of the Camino de Santiago, you’ve traveled halfway across Spain, walking the Camino’s prettiest segments, and traveling the rest via taxi. From Roncesvalles near the French Pyrenees, you’ve crossed almond orchards to hilltop hamlets, wandered La Rioja’s vineyards, toured the great monuments of Burgos and Astorga, and climbed chestnut-shaded Roman roads into Galicia’s green mountains. Now the ultimate goal, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, is just one staircase away. ¡Buen camino!
Thu, Apr 1 to Sat, May 1 - 2021
You are met in Pamplona by a representative who transports you northwest to the tiny town of Roncesvalles, nestled just under the Ibañeta Pass, the crossing of the Pyrenees between France and Spain. A feeling of anticipation and excitement is palpable, as this town was purpose-built as a waypoint on the Camino. In fact, it is the first stop in Spain for those pilgrims, peregrinos in Spanish, who began the Camino Francés in St. Jean Pied de Port, France. The route actually passes right through your historic hotel complex, a former ecclesiastical residence surrounded by tranquil forest. In addition to its significance as a waypoint on the Camino, Roncesvalles was also the site of the battle between Charlemagne and the Basque tribes who defeated him and killed the legendary Roland in 778.
Accommodation: Hotel Roncesvalles, Roncesvalles
Included Meals: Dinner
7.2 miles, easy to moderate, 450-ft. elevation gain and 900-ft. elevation loss
After a copious buffet breakfast, your first steps on the Camino de Santiago begin right from your hotel and lead out through the hamlet of Roncesvalles. With the Pyrenees and the French–Spanish border at your back, your walk descends gradually throughout the day from a starting elevation of 3,000 feet to the town of Bizkarreta, at about 2,500 feet. Pass through a mixed forest and by a Gothic pilgrim’s cross, and in a few miles, you’ll emerge at the tiny town of Burguete. Here, you’ll find one main street of Basque-influenced, sturdy-beamed houses. The nearby Irati river is the trout fishing area that Hemingway described in The Sun Also Rises. Although you are officially in the Navarra region of Spain, the heavy stone architecture, traditions, and language are strongly influenced by the Basque region to the north and west. Continue from Burguete to the town of Bizkarreta, which was a Camino stopping point in the 12th century, complete with a pilgrims’ hostel. A 30-minute transfer takes you to your night’s lodging in the vibrant city of Pamplona. With an intriguing old quarter, lovely parks, and main square, the capital of Navarra is best known for the running of the bulls through its historic center, which takes place during the San Fermín festival in mid-July.
Accommodation: Pamplona Catedral Hotel, Pamplona
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
9.2 miles, easy to moderate, 700-ft. elevation gain and loss
A 20-minute transfer takes you to the start of the day’s walk in the town of Uterga. You’re still not far from the Pyrenees, but you have passed from an Atlantic-influenced geography to a more Mediterranean feel of open vistas with olive groves and vineyards. The peaceful, small towns you walk through today are built of the region’s golden stone, a hue that matches the color of the nearby grain fields in the late summer. 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, the day’s recommended lunch spot, with its 11th-century Romanesque six-arched bridge, explicitly built for pilgrims to cross the Arga River. The route departs the town past the 13th-century Santiago Church and follows along the right bank of the Arga. After the wine town of Mañeru, one of the Camino’s most picturesque views opens up—a trail winding up through vineyards to the medieval hilltop town of Cirauqui. A short and steep ascent leads to the ancient walls surrounding the town, and you make your way the San Román church. In Cirauqui, a peaceful, authentic place, there is time for refreshment, perhaps at a small bar, as you await your transfer toward the wine-producing region of La Rioja.
Accommodation: Señorío de Briñas, Briñas
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
6.3 miles, easy to moderate, 160-ft. elevation gain and 250-ft. elevation loss
This morning a one-hour transfer brings you to start of the day’s walk at a hermitage just off the main Camino path. A gentle climb on a gravel trail soon transitions to a wide, packed forest road. In the past, this remote and isolated wooded plateau was one of the Camino’s most dangerous sections—now this forest of pine and oak is a tranquil haven, the habitat of deer, wild boar, and raptors. The route continues past the 11th-century monastery complex of San Juan de Ortega, and then into a forest before arriving at the traditional town of Agés. Nearby is the archaeological site of Atapuerca, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, containing evidence—fossils and stone tools—of the earliest known hominins in Western Europe. Dating to an estimated 1.2 million years ago, these fossils predate the French site of Lascaux. There is time to learn more about this site tomorrow. A short transfer takes you to the historical heart of medieval Burgos, where you refresh at your hotel before strolling out to choose from the city’s many dining options and sample the traditional cuisine of the Castile and León region.
Accommodation: AC Hotel Burgos, Burgos
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
6.9 miles, easy to moderate, 450-ft. elevation gain and 500-ft. elevation loss
This morning you are free to explore the culturally rich city of Burgos, integral to many key events in Spanish history. Most of the city’s sites can be reached easily on foot from your hotel in the picturesque old quarter. Serving for five centuries as the capital of the joint kingdom of Castile and León, Burgos was long an important stop on the Camino. Today, it is home to one of the jewels of Spanish Gothic art, the Cathedral of Santa María, a UNESCO World Heritage site well worth visiting. Another Gothic architectural gem is the Palace of the Constables of Castile—or, in Spanish, Casa del Cordón—where the king received Columbus after his second voyage to the Americas. A visit to the Museum of Human Evolution is a must (closed on Monday), especially to learn more about the nearby prehistoric archaeological finds of Atapuerca through fascinating state-of-the-art exhibits (in English). Burgos is also the home town of “El Cid,” the 11th-century warrior and Spanish national hero, who is memorialized on a mounted statue. After this morning’s explorations and lunch, you transfer 45 minutes farther along the Camino, where you begin the day’s walk at Castrojeriz. This last town in Burgos province was also an important waypoint along the Camino, and once the site of several pilgrim hostels, its hilltop castle ruins attest to its long history. The route this afternoon involves a moderate climb and descent, and features wide-open scenery, with windmills on the far horizon. You make your way to the hamlet of Itero de la Vega, where you are met and transferred about 30 minutes to your home for the evening.
Accommodation: Estrella del Bajo Carrión, Villoldo
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
9.2 miles, easy to moderate, 650-ft. elevation gain and 550-ft. elevation loss
A delicious breakfast of homemade baked goods and jams fuels the day, which begins with a 75-90-minute transfer to the trailhead. The packed picnic lunch from the kitchen of your last hotel will be a treat. Begin your walk as you enter yet another of the varied regions on your itinerary—the terrain here has a Mediterranean feel, with an underlying geology of red stone that supports vineyards and forests of conifers and oak. The oak translates into delicious local hams, as acorns are the preferred diet of pigs. Setting off from the village of Villares de Orbigo, your route leads you through agricultural land to the village of Santibañez. A rolling path ensues through oak and chestnut forest, leading you to the flat top of the range where you are rewarded with views to the north as far as the Cantabrian range. Passing the house of one of the Camino’s modern “hermits,” you soon reach the cross of Saint Turibius, the region’s 5th-century bishop. You then descend toward San Justo de la Vega and make your way toward the city of Astorga. In addition to Roman ruins and a fine cathedral, Astorga is perhaps best known for containing one of only three buildings outside Catalonia designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí—the Episcopal Palace. This fascinating structure was built between 1889 and 1913 and is an example of Gaudí’s distinctive Catalan Modernism style.
Accommodation: Hostería Camino, Luyego de Somoza
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
5.3 miles, moderate, 2,000-ft. elevation gain
A transfer of about two hours west brings you to the beginning of today’s walk in the hamlet of Las Herrerías. Just past the start, is the Barrio de Hospital, which housed a medieval hospital for English pilgrims. As you move toward Galicia, the landscape takes on a “Celtic” feel; leaving behind Mediterranean vegetation, you enter countryside that evokes the British Isles—verdant pastures and ancient stones of gray granite. Most of the day’s walk is a long uphill, a challenging but important stage for all pilgrims as it leads to the long-awaited province of Galicia. You are able to warm up on the paved flat terrain of the lush valley alongside a bubbling stream before beginning the steady ascent. Camaraderie and excitement also grow steadily amongst walkers on this wooded path, which is bordered by moss-covered stone walls and shaded by chestnut trees. After the village of La Faba, where you may choose to have lunch or a drink, 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, also with a bar and hotel, and soon after, you cross the border from the province of Léon into Galicia. You are rewarded at the conclusion of the walk at the town of O Cebreiro with wonderful open views over Galicia, as well as the Royal Saint Mary’s Church, built on the foundations of a pre-Romanesque church. Predating the Camino was a Roman road, and even earlier than that, the pallozas—prehistoric stone homes—you see nearby. Your drive down from O Cebreiro toward your next accommodation provides stunning views of the mountains of Léon, which, depending on the season, might be snow-capped.
Accommodation: Hotel Monumento Pazo de Orbán, Lugo
Included Meals: Breakfast
8.1 miles, easy to moderate, 1,000-ft. elevation gain and 150-ft. elevation loss
Although it’s your final stage on the Camino de Santiago, for many pilgrims this is their first. From the day’s starting point in Sarria, it is 100 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela—the minimum distance completed consecutively 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 truly creating a unique camaraderie. You begin on Sarria’s main street and encounter steep stairs that bring you to the town center and the hilltop Convent of Magdalena, dating from the 15th to 18th centuries. The Way then descends to the Rio Pequeño, which you cross over via the medieval Ponte Áspera bridge, and continues through fertile pasture and small vegetable plots. Depending on the season, in Peruscallo, you may be able to buy fresh berries from small farms nearby. Your driver meets you in the town of Ferreiros, allowing you to avoid outlying neighborhoods to bring you into the final stage of your journey at the edge of the city of Santiago de Compostela. You are dropped off at your hotel, where you can refresh before setting off to find the trail of scallop shells embedded in the cobbled streets that mark The Way. Follow the path, flanked by stone archways, until you arrive at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela—a breathtaking sight both in its grandeur and in the sense of overwhelming accomplishment it inspires in the walkers and pilgrims who have arrived here from the many Camino routes. The peregrinos’ final steps lead to the statue of Saint James at the cathedral entrance. You may choose to attend an evening pilgrim mass, although the famous botafumeiro—a Galician term for the large incensory suspended from the ceiling—is only used on special occasions. Construction of this cathedral, 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 the cathedral gained importance as an Episcopal see and place of pilgrimage—the third-most-important destination for Christians after Rome and Jerusalem. After the excitement, you might be ready to retire at your hotel in a quiet neighborhood of the historic district. A celebratory drink is in order—the final punctuation to completing a truly fascinating walk through living and ancient history. You can step out later for dinner in Santiago, exploring its intriguing medieval streets and enticing restaurants.
Accommodation: Altaïr Hotel, Santiago de Compostela
Included Meals: Breakfast
After breakfast at your hotel, you can depart at your leisure; however, it is highly recommended that you spend an additional day or two in this fabulous city. If your schedule permits, you may want to explore the cathedral museum, the open-air market, or join the 12:00 p.m. “Pilgrim’s Mass” (arrive early!). You might complete your journey with another exclusive experience by joining a guided tour of the cathedral rooftops.
Included Meals: Breakfast
This family-owned-and-operated boutique hotel located in a quiet corner of Santiago de Compostela’s historic center has been renovated to seamlessly blend minimalist décor and soothing colors with the building’s stone walls and exposed beams. Comfortable, air-conditioned guest rooms include WiFi. A personal greeting from the owners and a welcome drink in the adjoining garden of a sister property provide an insider feel to the historic pilgrimage destination city of Santiago. The capital of the autonomous region of Galicia, the entire old town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site for its wealth of historic buildings. Santiago’s narrow granite-cobbled streets invite exploration while providing plenty of stopping points at myriad cafés, tapas bars, and restaurants. Please note: this accommodation is available on limited departures.
Estrella del Bajo Carrión
In a small pueblo (village) between the cities of Burgos and León, a three-sister team provides a warm welcome to guests at this hotel, which their father founded over 30 years ago. With a true country-house feel, guest rooms (all un-air-conditioned, and with balconies) and the common areas are modern and elegant, artfully white with fresh flowers and unique architectural touches. The on-site fine-dining restaurant makes the hotel a popular weekend destination for foreign and local visitors. Using all local and seasonal ingredients, traditional dishes have light and creative touches, such as grilled octopus with rosemary potatoes and red pepper aioli. Breakfast is a delight of homemade juices, breads and pastries, and jams of local fruits and berries. In addition to the dining room, the hotel features a library, billiard and wine room, and a willow-shaded terrace for breakfast or drinks al fresco. Please note: this accommodation is available on limited departures.
Senorio de Brinas
In the heart of the Rioja wine-making region, this family-owned hotel in a 15th-century palacio, (palace) offers simple, individually decorated guest rooms with air conditioning, terra cotta floors, and unique furnishings that create the feel of an authentic country home. In season, you may enjoy a glass of wine on the quaint outdoor patio. Please note: this accommodation is available on limited departures.
AC Hotel Burgos
AC Hotel Burgos is ideally located to visit this historic city with nearby attractions including the sumptuous UNESCO-protected Gothic Cathedral, the Museum of Human Evolution, and a myriad of top-notch tapas bars. Located in the historical pedestrian zone, this hotel features sleek exterior air-conditioned guest rooms, and trendy dining options. Please note: this accommodation is available on limited departures.
This boutique hotel constructed in a restored home has spacious, individually decorated, un-air-conditioned guest rooms with polished wood floors, Spanish antiques, and 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. Please note: this accommodation is available on limited departures.
Hotel Monumento Pazo de Orban
In Galician, pazo means a stately house—an appropriate name for this restored old Baroque palace that’s been caringly converted into a lovely hotel. Air-conditioned guest rooms feature a blend of traditional and modern décor with wooden floors, while common areas are adorned with antiques and oddities, adding to the Old World feel of this charming, small hotel. Ideally located, Hotel Pazo de Orban is just a two-minute walk from the triangle-shaped Plaza del Campo and Lugo’s main tapas streets. The Cathedral is just 650 feet away and not far from Plaza Mayor—home to one of Galicia’s most striking Baroque buildings, the Concello de Lugo, or Town Hall. Please note: this accommodation is available on limited departures.
Pamplona Catedral Hotel
Located within the ancient walls of the city’s old town, this hotel is an ideal home base for travelers hoping to make the most of the first urban hub along the Way of St. James. This four-star property makes exceptional use of its former convent building, with a restaurant housed in the former chapel and unique, contemporary, air-conditioned rooms. The hotel is conveniently close to the Portal de Francia (where the Camino enters the city) and the Plaza del Castillo. Please note: this accommodation is available on limited departures.
This historic hotel in a beautifully renovated 18th-century former ecclesiastical residence was one of the original hostels, or hospitales, built along the Camino de Santiago to shelter pilgrims. Still owned by the church, the Camino actually traverses the structure and its surrounding grounds and extensive outbuildings. The careful renovation preserved the wood floors, beams, and exposed stone, artfully combining these original materials with modern chrome fixtures, tile, and minimalist décor and fabrics. Comfortable rooms are naturally cooled without air conditioning. The restaurant is the Navarre region’s first Slow Food establishment. Roncesvalles is a tiny town at 3,000 feet, just below the Ibañeta Pass of the Pyrenean border between France and Spain.
|15 meals: 8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 4 dinners|
|Detailed water- and tear-resistant Route Notes and maps|
|Orientation meeting with a Country Walkers representative|
|Local representative available 24/7|
|Scheduled taxi and luggage transfers (Please note: If unable to walk, it is possible to transfer with your luggage from one accommodation to the next; there may be an additional charge.)|
|Travel assistance available 24/7 provided by Allianz Global Assistance|
|Access to Self-Guided Flight Concierge—Ask our knowledgeable team to find flights that sync perfectly with your planned trip.|
Dates & Prices
|2021 Dates||Number of Travelers||Pre Hotel Night||Post Hotel Night|
|2-3||4+||Single Supplement||Solo Surcharge||2+||Single Supplement||2+||Single Supplement|
|Apr 1 - May 1||$4,398||$4,398||$748||$1,698||$148||$98||$123||$73|
|May 2 - Jun 30||$4,598||$4,598||$748||$1,698||$148||$98||$123||$73|
|Sep 1 - Oct 1||$4,598||$4,398||$748||$1,698||$148||$98||$123||$73|
|Oct 2 - Oct 31||$4,398||$4,398||$748||$1,698||$148||$98||$123||$73|
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