A coveted linear guided cycle along one of the most ancient pilgrimage routes in the world!
The best accommodation available: mediaeval monasteries, converted mansions and a beautiful C15 parador next to Santiago's famous cathedral
Gothic cathedrals, Roman bridges, country chapels, thatched Galician villages
Poppy-sprinkled wheat fields, orchid-rich water meadows, pine-scented woodland
Share in a 1000-year old sense of achievement with your fellow group of cyclists!
At a glance...
7 nights, hotel-to-hotel
Departs Selected Saturdays from 10 May '14 to 18 Oct '14
Sustainability rating: 87%
Varied routes for nature lovers and botanists.
Destinations with bird watching opportunities.
Discover stunning historic sites en-route.
Especailly good for solo travellers.
Perfect for couples.
Camino de Santiago Cycling
The Spanish Camino de Santiago is one of the oldest pilgrimage routes in the world and was declared the first European Culture Route in 1987. Also known as the 'Way of Saint James', it originated in the region of Galicia where the tomb of Apostle James the Great was discovered in C9. The way is marked by the symbol of the scallop shell, typically found on Galician shores, with the grooves in the shell representing the many different ways pilgrims travelled to reach their final destination and St James' tomb in Santiago de Compostela.
Cycling the Camino is a great way to meet people from all over the world, and the feeling of camaraderie is second to none. The sense of achievement is quite special too, and sharing in the experience incredibly rewarding. Our group cycling begins in the winding narrow streets of the charming city of Leon. From here, we cross the Castillan plains, gradually climbing to the highest point of the trip, the 'Iron Cross' (1,505m) before entering the gastronomic region of Galicia. You then pedal through fertile valleys and vineyards, and along rural country tracks, to the beautiful cathedral of Santiago de Compostela where you will be given your Compostela Certificate.
Not quite what you're looking for - then why not take a look at some of our similar holidays?
Your holiday starts in the magnificent 3-star Parador de Leon, originally a C12 monastery and one of the most beautiful Renaissance buildings in Spain.
Day 2 - Leon to Astorga 58km/36mi
We collect our bikes after breakfast. Riding across the plains of Castilla, our route takes us through cultivated countryside and quaint villages with adobe houses and wine caves. We enter Orbigo village by crossing a stunning mediaeval bridge - one of the longest pilgrimage bridges in the country - and have lunch here. Our final 15km stretch is to the beautiful walled town of Astorga, with views of Leon's mountains affording a gorgeous backdrop.
Day 3 - Astorga to Molinaseca 46km/29mi
We leave the Castillan plains behind today as we climb gently into the mountains of Leon and up through the ochre-hued village of Castrillo de los Polvazares before lunch in the charming mountain hamlet of Acebo. Admire its beautiful balconied houses and wonderful views of the surrounding valley before descending into riverside Molinaseca and the tranquil oasis of Hotel Rural de Floriana.
Day 4 - Molinaseca to O'Cebreiro 60km/38mi
It's a gorgeous, mainly flat, ride this morning to beautiful Villafranca, a historic town renowned for its architecture and charming central square. After lunch here, it's out along the valley before a steady uphill push to the small mountain village of O'Cebreiro - stunning views of the valley and black slate-roofed houses make the climb worthwhile!
Day 5 - O'Cebreiro to Portomarin 69km/43mi
The longest day, but crammed with variety as we cross the border from Castilla into gastronomic Galicia. This is real farming land, where traditional agricultural villages continue as they have for centuries with locals cultivating their plots and tending to their cattle. Farmers wield razor-sharp scythes in tiny fields as we follow the Camino between sleepy villages, stopping off at Samos - home to one of the oldest monasteries in Spain. Our final stretch takes us along tree-lined paths to Portomarin - the original village was drowned by the Belesar Reservoir, and submerged houses still shimmer below the surface!
Day 6 - Portomarin to Arzua 48km/30mi
Time to drop into Portomarin's church before continuing along the Torres stream, cycling between cornfields and past fortified farmhouses into the pilgrimage hillside town of Palas del Rei in the province of A Coruna. Our route then takes us through vineyards - lovely views east to the Montes del Vacaloura - and on to the lively market town of Arzua. We stay in the elegantly converted C18 mansion in 35,000m2 of gardens set just outside the town.
Day 7 - Arzua to Santiago de Compostela 45km/28mi
Leaving Arzua's colonnaded streets, our route rises and falls as we pedal through open country passing beret-wearing farmers tending their vines and building haystacks with pitchforks! Excitement mounts as we approach Monte de Gozo - the Mount of Joy - and catch our first views of the soaring spires of Santiago. Approaching the historic centre, congratulations are everywhere as groups of pilgrims reach their journey's end in front of the cathedral's spectacular Baroque facade. We drop into the Pilgrim's Office to collect our Compostela Certificates of Achievement before checking into our luxury 5-star Parador - considered to be the oldest, and certainly one of the most luxurious hotels in the world.
Day 8 - Leave Santiago
We take you to the airport in the evening.
Guided cycling notes:
The riding is on a mixture of quiet minor roads, cycle paths and tracks. As we are passing through rural communities, the roads are quiet with very little traffic, however you will be sharing the route with a number of walkers and cyclists all on their way to Santiago de Compostela. There is one long but gradual climb on the second cycling day of the trip and one steep 8 km climb on the third cycling day, but the support vehicle will be on hand if you prefer to opt out. Alternatively, there is the opportunity to walk along the hiking track. There are a few cobbled sections where you should take care, particularly in wet conditions. Please note that wearing a cycling helmet is compulsory on this trip - as we are unable to provide these, you must bring your own.
Where you stay
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking.
Parador de León, León (5 Star)
The 5 star Parador de Leon is a magnificent building located in the Monastery of San Marcos, a grand imperial style building constructed in the 1500s on the site of a previous C12 building. This is less a hotel and more a living museum, with beautiful ornate stonework, hushed cloisters and chapter houses and oil paintings along the walls. It has been used for centuries by pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago. Suites are located in the original building with views of the square, and a more modern section where the majority of the accommodation can be housed.
Hotel bedrooms are generally spacious with luxurious interiors, some rooms with antique furnishings and tapestries. It is located on the historic pilgrimage route - an ideal starting point for your journey to Santiago.
The Hotel Astur Plaza could not be more central in the pretty town of Astorga. It is on the main square just a short stroll from the cathedral (with a Baroque façade) and the Gaudi Palace, both of which are worth a visit. The hotel rooms are set into a series of townhouses overlooking the main square, with a restaurant specialising in local cuisine on the ground floor. Bedrooms are modern and bright, many with wooden floors and big windows letting in lots of light. The bar downstairs is the perfect spot for a drink after a day in the saddle, and an arrangement with the nearby Hotel Via de la Plata Spa to use their facilities might also be tempting.
The Hotel de Floriana lies just a short stroll from the centre of Molinaseca, itself a pretty village on the French road to Santiago. The Floriana is a modern building constructed mainly of stone and wood, so it blends into the surrounding countryside quite effectively. The 22 rooms are spacious and bright with modern equipment and wooden floors. Downstairs there is a pleasant patio area and surrounding gardens, and it is a short stroll to reach the village where you can find additional amenities.
The Valena family have run much of the accommodation in O'Cebreiro for generations, and the village certainly looks like time has stood still. With amazing views in all directions, this tiny place is one of the most charming on the Camino. There are rooms in three different buildings, each just 20m apart and made from the heavy, grey stone typical to this area.
One building is an C11 monastery and is actually connected to the little church next door so the monks could walk directly between their rooms and their pews! Rooms are light and more spacious that you would suspect in such small 2 storey buildings.
The main restaurant is next to the cafe and bar, often filled with characters from the village. English is in short supply but there are so many nationalities passing though here you will always find someone to help!
The Pousada de Portomarin is a large modern building set high above the reservoir, just a short walk from the centre of this village. The ground floor is given over mainly to public areas decorated with period furniture and with views out towards the lake. The thirty two rooms are on the upper floors where bedrooms are relatively modern, spacious and light with modern amenities.
The hotel has a gymnasium and a pool just in case you fancy some extra exercise, and it is just a 5 minute stroll into the centre of Portomarin where you can find a small selection of shops and bars.
Juan Manuel Duque took on this ruined Galician stately home on the outskirts of Arzua as a retirement project several years ago, and has restored it to it's former glor using original materials and creating an atmosphere of perfect peace and tranquillity. Most rooms are set into the old stables around a central courtyard, with several also in the main house where the luxurious public lounges can be found on the ground floor.
The walls are solid stone, the beams and roof all ancient, and the dining rooms sports a giant fireplace and other original features. The entire complex is set in landscaped grounds on the edge of Arzua so it is around a 10 minute walk from the centre where all the shops and banks are located, as well as your onward route to Santiago.
Parador de Santiago, Santiago de Compostela (5 Star)
The Hotel Parador Santiago de Compostela is right on the main square in the city next to the magnificent Baroque façade of the famous cathedral. The building is also known as the Hostal dos Reis Catolicos, as it was originally a Royal Hospital and dates back to 1499. It provided lodging and shelter for the numerous pilgrims making their way to Santiago, an age old practice which continues to this day. It is considered to be the oldest hotel in the world it is also one of the most luxurious. The four cloisters are immense in scale, and the elegant reception rooms, spectacular bedrooms and luxurious dining room you could imagine you are in a Hollywood film set. In fact the hotel is so culturally significant and historic it even offers tours of the main sections of the hotel to people not staying here.
Transfers included from Oviedo airport to meet the Easyjet flight at 21:15, and back to Oviedo airport for the Easyjet flight leaving at 21:50.
Please call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange connecting flights.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assesment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
Reviewed by Mr McIlroy on 24/05/2013
This holiday was graded moderate to challenging and states 'the riding is generally undemanding'. 'Do we need to be experienced cyclists?' is answered by 'no' - 'this trip is ideal for the occasional cyclist who exercises regularly'.
I found the trip to be extremely demanding with many steep climbs and difficult off-road sections. I fell off my bike on the first day because I am not used to such difficult terrain and suffered bruising and a swollen knee. It was fortunate that I was able to ride in the support vehicle for the rest of the week which saved the holiday from being a complete disaster. Both guides were very helpful and understanding.
There is no way that this trip is accurately described in the brochure.
Departure dates & prices
We do not have on-line prices available at this time, please call 1-800-567-6286 for further details.
Guided cycling, hotel-to-hotel. Managed by our sister company, Exodus.
Selected Saturdays from 10 May '14 to 18 Oct '14, for 8 days (7 nights). Headwater are offering two departures in 2013: 11th May and 5th October.