El Camino de Santiago
Pilgrimage in Spain
JOURNEY back in time
For more than a thousand years, pilgrims have walked these ancient routes. Once the most important pilgrimage of the Middle Ages, the Camino de Santiago is a network of trails that stretch across Europe, converging in northern Spain at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela where it is believed that the remains of St. James are buried. Traditionally, one began their pilgrimage by stepping out from their doorstep, walking the entire way.
EXPERIENCE a modern-day Pilgrimage
Today, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world journey to the Camino each for their own reasons. You may see it as a spiritual journey or a modern-day retreat by setting your own personal intention. Or, perhaps you are looking for the experience of walking through beautiful countryside and timeless villages of northern Spain, gaining a deeper insight into Galician culture, hospitality and gastronomy.
EXPLORE northern Spain
The French Way is the classic, most popular route and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Together we’ll follow the last 112km (70 miles) of the French Way while staying in luxury guest-houses and historic hotels, walking approximately 4-6 hours each day. We’ll have a local guide join us every step of the way and support vehicles to transport our luggage so that we can spend our energy enjoying the journey, each other and others that we meet along The Way.
our original route
August 28 – September 6, 2019
10 days / 9 nights
Day 1: Arrive Madrid (Aug 28)
Welcome to Madrid, the capital city of Spain. Known for its elegant boulevards, baroque-style architecture, outdoor cafés, art galleries, vibrant night life and culinary delights.
During the day there are no planned activities so check into our boutique hotel located near Plaza Mayor, the grand central square, and enjoy this time to explore the city.
In the evening we’ll meet for a Welcome Meeting, followed by dinner on the town, a Flamenco show, and a visit to the San Miguel Night Market.
Day 2: Sarria
Today we begin our journey by private transport to the town of Sarria, stopping en route at iconic sites along the Way.
Cruz de Ferro is the highest point along the Camino.Frances. We’ll stop here to take a moment and participate in a centuries old tradition where pilgrims leave a stone brought from home as a symbol of leaving behind something that no longer serves you.
In the town of Ponferrada, we’ll visit a magnificent 12th century stone castle.
In O Cebreiro, we’ll see pallozas, round stone huts with thatched roofs. These huts are how townspeople of this region lived dating back to Celtic times 1,500 years ago, up until the 1960s.
Day 3: Portomarin
Today our pilgrimage begins! We’ll enjoy a peaceful walk through beautiful countryside, open meadows and the shade of an oak wood forest. Expect some steep uphill and downhill on parts of the route as we pass through charming villages and cross a medieval bridge to our destination of Portomarin.
Tonight we stay in a modern boutique hotel in the heart of Portomarin with free time to stroll through the streets with their impressive archways, relax in the main plaza, or check out the castle-style church which was moved brick by brick and reconstructed in a new location after the original village flooded in the 1960’s.
Walking Distance: 22 km / 13.7 miles (Approx 6.5 hours)
Day 4: Lestedo
Today we climb steadily uphill through woodlands passing the hamlet of Gonzar. Near Castromajor, the path borders the ruins of a 2200 year old Celtic fort, and in Ligonde, we’ll find a hospital which received the emperor Charles V and his son Philip II, the most famous pilgrims of the 16th century.
If you’re interested in architecture, you may wish to follow the 2.5 km detour to the extraordinary 15th century Romanesque church of Vilar de Doñas, the burial place of several nights of the Order of Santiago.
Tonight we’ll stay in a luxurious 17th century Galician Manor. The owner will pick us up from the Camino and bring us back to the same point the next day.
Walking Distance: 20 km / 12.4 miles (Approx 5.5 hours)
Day 5: Melide
Arriving in the lively market town of Melide for lunch, we’ll eat at one of the many restaurants. If you’re adventurous, you may like to try octopus, Galicia’s most classic dish in one of the many ‘pulperías’. Tonight we’ll stay in a beautiful guesthouse in the countryside with garden and mountain views.
Walking Distance: 18 km / 11.2 miles (Approx 5 hours)
Day 6: Arzua
From Melide, the camino becomes gentler and we continue our journey through the peaceful Galician countryside.
Tonight we’ll stay at a modern hotel in the heart of the town.
Walking Distance: 14 km / 8.7 miles (Approx 4 hours)
Day 7: O Pedrouzo
With only 40 km (35 miles) left before we reach Santiago, the countryside begins to change as we walk through a shaded forest, along streams and through sleepy villages.
In O Pedrouzo, the owner the Galician Manor where we’ll be staying will pick us up and take us to his guest house. We’ll have plenty of time to relax and explore the area including the orchard, granary, a renovated old mill, a small chapel and ethnographic museum.
Walking Distance: 19 km / 11.8 miles (Approx 5.5 hours)
Day 8: Santiago de Compostela
Today we’ll cross the Lavacolla river where pilgrims traditionally bathed and washed their clothes to purify their soul before stepping into the Cathedral. We’ll climb up to Monte do Gozo (Mount of Joy) which offers stunning views of the City before we descend into the medieval town, entering via the “Camino Door” and continue down to the Plaza del Obradoiro. After we share in the emotion of having arrived at our destination, we’ll check-in at our hotel with free time to enjoy this beautiful city and dinner on the town.
Walking Distance: 20 km / 12.4 miles (Approx 6 hours)
Day 9: Finisterre
Today we’ll journey along a unique route that starts in Santiago and ends at Cape Fisterra which was believed to be the ‘End of the Earth”. This is the only trail starting in Santiago de Compostela that takes pilgrims West to the stunning Atlantic coast of Galicia where pilgrims in ancient times would go to pray and burn their clothes to symbolically start a new and purer life.
A local guide will pick us up in a private vehicle and take us on a day tour along the Finisterre Camino. Rather than spend 3-4 days hiking this trail, we’ll walk a portion of the route along the rugged coastline and beaches feeling the wind and salty air.
Day 10: Departure Day (Sept 6)
In the morning a local guide will take us on a walking tour to see the highlights of Santiago and ensure that we get our Pilgrim’s Certificate for having walked the final 112 km of the Camino. Our tour ends with lunch and marks the end of our pilgrimage to Santiago. In the afternoon there are no planned activities and you are free to depart at any time.
Important Note: For the duration of 2019, the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, believed to be the burial site of the biblical apostle St. James, will be under construction but we may still be able to get glimpse inside.
Want to stay longer? If you’d like to stay longer to explore more of Santiago de Compostela, additional nights accommodation can be arranged at the time of booking.
meals + accommodation + luggage
We’ll stay in charming 17th century Galician manors and boutique hotels, all offering a welcoming and authentic experience.
Afternoons are free to relax, explore the local villages or enjoy a drink along the way. Evenings will be spent in heart of a town or at a guesthouse in the peaceful countryside.
Along the camino, breakfasts and dinners are included, either served at our guesthouse or at a nearby restaurant. Expect traditional three-course meals with several choices prepared with fresh and local produce. Lunches are on your own, allowing you to stop whenever you feel you need a break. Options are available for special dietary requests.
Our luggage will be transferred for us each day along the Camino which means you’ll only need to carry a small daypack with the essentials (eg. water, sunblock, camera, cell phone, personal documents, your pilgrim passport, first aid supplies etc). Luggage for each person is limited to 1 per person with a maximum weight of 50 lbs (20 kg).
★ English Speaking Tour Leader throughout
★ Local Guide (on the first day of the Camino, on the day trip to Finisterre and in Santiago de Compostela)
★ Meals: 9 breakfasts & 7 dinners
★ Double-occupancy accommodation in charming guest houses & 2-4 star hotels (9 nights)
★ Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel
★ Private vehicles
★ Flamenco Show in Madrid
★ Day trip to Cape Finisterre
★ John Brierley Guidebook: A Pilgrims Guide to the Camino de Santiago
★ A Pilgrim Kit including your Official Pilgrim Passport
What’s Not Included
★ International Airfare
★ Taxis from airport to hotel on arrival and departure days, budget €60
★ For snacks & lunches not included on the Camino, budget €20 per day x 7 days. For meals on arrival day in Madrid, day trip to Finisterre, and departure day in Santiago, budget €50 per day x 3 days. (Approx €290)
★ Extra money to tip driver and local guides, budget €30
★ Extra money for souvenirs, drinks etc.
Landscapes of the Camino
Journey back in time on a Pilgrimage through beautiful countryside and timeless villages of northern Spain, gaining a deeper insight into Galician culture, hospitality and gastronomy along this ancient route.
El Camino Spain
Aug 28 – Sept 6, 2019