For 2020 departures our trip inclusions are changing - please contact us for full details
The Spanish Camino de Santiago is one of THE most ancient walking routes in the world. Ever since the 9th century, the French Way has led thousands of pilgrims on an 800km journey across northern Spain, winding from the Pyrenees across the wheat fields of old Castile to pass through Leon, the seat of Spanish Kings, full of soaring cathedrals and hushed convents, before entering Galicia. The route then builds to a spectacular finale at Santiago de Compostela's majestic Baroque cathedral, the last resting place of St James the apostle.
Your walk begins in Leon and, in keeping with the pilgrimage route, you walk daily along farm tracks, paths and country lanes, enjoying sociable lunches in restaurants en route. You'll stay in an astonishingly diverse range of properties including restored parish houses, converted water mills and stylish farmhouses, all packed with period features. We've included transfers after breakfast on the first three walking days, after which you'll walk all the way to Santiago. The sense of achievement on arrival is immense, and sharing in this tradition with your fellow pilgrims en route is incredibly rewarding.
Everyone on the Camino has a Pilgrim Passport that can be stamped in bars, hotels and churches along the way to qualify for a certificate from the official Pilgrim Office in Santiago. You'll notice a profound and heart-warming camaraderie with other walkers, as day by day you fall in and out of step with people from all over the world, some of whom have been walking for months, covering hundreds of miles! You'll also find complete strangers cheering you on and wishing you 'Buen Camino!' ('Enjoy your walk!').
Read more about this holiday in Stumpy's Blog.
Walks on this holiday are on village streets, country lanes, farm tracks and rural paths. Walking boots are essential. Walking poles are recommended.
Arrive at your historic hotel in the heart of Leon. There are masses of restaurants and tapas bars on your doorstep, so we've left the choice up to you for dinner tonight.
You stay at the Posada Regia (breakfast included)
Your day starts with a guided tour of Leon's magnificent Gothic cathedral, which is often called the 'House of Light', and a visit to the Basilica of San Isidoro, one of the most important Romanesque churches in Spain and resting place of Leon's medieval monarchs. You will then receive your Pilgrim Passport at the local albergue and we'll provide a transfer (1hr) to Cruz de Ferro, the highest point on the Camino, marked by a pre-Roman cross. The Camino winds downhill through fragrant pines where once the Knights Templar protected pilgrims from bandit attack. A path lined with wild chestnuts, cherries, peppers and fennel leads to Molinaseca and your hotel.
You stay at the Casa El Palacio (breakfast included)
After a short transfer (30 mins), you ascend the Rio Valcarce valley, climbing into moody oak woods strung with lichen and strewn with early purple orchid. O Cebreiro is an 11th century village in the heart of the Cordillera Cantabrica. Walk to the viewpoint above the village for a perfect sunset and views over four ranges of hills then return along the narrow, cobbled streets, past traditional thatched houses known as pallozas.
You stay at the Hotel O Cebreiro (breakfast and evening meal)
After a short transfer we drop you off at Triacastela. As the Camino meanders between heather-clad villages overlooking the Monastery of Samos, you can hear the bells ringing. On reaching Sarria - the antiques capital of Galicia, you'll be whisked to Javier and Raquel's elegant country rectory (10 mins), complete with chapel and al fresco dining patio area.
You stay at the Rectoral de Goian (breakfast and evening meal)
A Roman bridge leads out of Sarria up the Celerio Valley, where you'll traverse the hamlets of the southern flank of the Sierra del Paramo. Descend into Portomarin - the original village was drowned by the Belesar Reservoir, and some remains still shimmer below the surface!
You stay at the Casa Rural Santa Marina (breakfast and evening meal)
Drop into Portomarin's church then follow the Torres stream, passing between cornfields lined with ox-eye daisies. Stamp your Pilgrim Passport in country churches dedicated to the Order of St James before arriving at your beautifully restored rectory.
You stay at the Rectoral de Lestedo (breakfast and evening meal)
Country lanes lead past fortified farmhouses into the hillside town of Palas de Rei (Palace of the King) as you enter the province of A Coruna. You'll pass typical, raised Galician granaries, and chickens scamper across narrow streets as you enter vineyards, with views east to the Montes del Vacaloura.
You stay at Casa de los Somoza (breakfast and evening meal)
Today's first stop is Melide - a thriving country town where tavernas brim with locals enjoying Galician seafood in specialist pulperias (octopus restaurants). Drop into the Romanesque church to admire the frescoes, before lanes lined with bright yellow celandine bring you into the lively market town of Arzua. Continue on to your elegant manor house, surrounded by tranquil countryside, just outside the town.
You stay at the Pazo de Santa Maria (breakfast and evening meal)
Arzua's colonnaded streets lead into open country where local farmers wear berets as they tend vines and build haystacks with pitch forks. Your route rises and falls through river valleys, crossing rushing streams. This evening you can marvel at Javier's breathtaking converted water mill, where original machinery has been turned into spectacular period features.
You stay at O Muino de Pena (breakfast and evening meal)
Excitement mounts as you set off towards Monte do Gozo (Mount of Joy), where pilgrims of old caught their first glimpse of the spires of Santiago. On reaching Santiago's historic centre, congratulations are everywhere as a steady stream of pilgrims reach their journey's end below the cathedral's spectacular Baroque facade. Drop into the Pilgrim Office to collect your certificate if you wish, before checking into our historic hotel near the old marketplace - still a riot of colour!
You stay at the Hotel Virxe da Cerca (breakfast included)
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.
The Posada Regia is perfectly located in the centre of Leon, just off the main (largely pedestrian) street and around a five minute walk from the impressive central cathedral. The hotel has two buildings on adjacent streets.
NEARBY:El Palacio is perfectly located on the banks of the river in Molinaseca and in a restored building that was formerly known as the Casona de Don Pelegrin. Recently renovated the modern rooms offer flat screen TVs and WiFi access.
The Valina 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.
A rectoral in Spain is the equivalent of a parsonage in the UK. A grand home, often in a picturesque location built of attractive old stone. Such is the case with The Rectoral de Goian, just 8km from the centre of Sarria, it's a gorgeous property set in isolated countryside in landscaped gardens that are just too perfect.
This eco-friendly hotel is located on the banks of the Mino river. The rooms are located in the Main building and are decorated with wood panelling.
Set deep in the countryside directly on the Camino, on a hillside with fabulous north facing views, this ancient light stone ruin has been restored by Susana and Cesar (a local vet). The sloping garden gives all the rooms pleasant country views, and the public spaces are very effectively designed to maximise natural light and make the most of the views. The 9 bedrooms are light and spacious with black and white photos on the walls, wooden floors and some striking designer touches that you might not expect in a building of this age.
In the tiniest village of just a few houses, Jesus Cardelle's rustic country Turismo Rural is a popular stop on the Camino. The house was originally a farm, and has an old world charm about it with tiled floors and wooden beams throughout. The garden outside is always full of passing pilgrims having a drink in the sunshine, and playing Jesus' typical in house Galician skittle game. This is a simple village and a simple hotel, full of rustic charm. There is no English spoken here.
Read customer reviews on Tripadvisor.
NEARBY: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 glory using original materials and creating an atmosphere of perfect peace and tranquillity.
Just off the Camino (you will be picked up from Pension Compas which is on the Camino by Javier), can be found some of the loveliest and most unusual properties to stay in, and this is one of them.
Just on the edge of the historic centre in Santiago de Compostela, the Virxe da Cerca sits just below the old market - it is still used by the locals daily and is definitely worth wandering through.
Room upgrades: Suite.
Suites offer extra space.
Extra nights: Please contact us for details.
If you'd like to extend your trip with extra nights at the start or end, or if you'd like to arrange a stop off point en-route, then we recommend the following hotels.
NEARBY:The Hotel Petit Palace Preciados enjoys an excellent position just off the bustling Puerta del Sol Square, which is considered one of the central spots in Old Madrid. The hotel itself lies just off the pedestrian area to the north where the famous Corte Ingles department store is located. You are ideally situated for exploring all of Madrid's famous sights.
Room upgrades and extra nights: Contact us for details.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted to our website, so that people can make an informed decision based on past experiences before heading off on holiday. We don’t edit the reviews, the only thing we do is proofread them and alter any typos, where necessary, to ensure they are easy to read for everyone. All reviews will be published (except in certain extreme circumstances), and a member of the Headwater team will respond to any constructive criticisms/comments under the reviews, at their discretion. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
I enjoyed it
My husband and I used Headwater in order to walk the Camino de Santiago. When arranging our holiday, we asked for an extra night in Madrid as well as Santiago; this they did for us, no problem at all.
Throughout our holiday, we had, mostly, excellent accommodation and the walk routes were really good.
We will both be using Headwater again and highly recommend them.
The first night in Leon is an enjoyable experience, in the evening the streets are very busy with everybody out enjoying themselves, get a seat, get a beer, and sit and watch the world go by.
The first two days are the most difficult, uphill on unmade paths, once you pass from Leon in Galicia the paths are much better, made up with gravel and it is possible to progress at your normal walking pace. The first two days are also a delight, being high up with beautiful scenery, and looking down on eagles soaring below is a real treat. The spring flowers were stunning.
All along the route the local people are welcoming and happy to see you,. Your fellow pilgrims are a huge multicultural gathering of people from all over the world, and it is a pleasure to be a traveller on El Camino
The hotels are good, very comfortable, with good staff, and are very very clean and highly polished, a pleasure.
The connections, the taxis, the baggage moving all worked perfectly and reliably
All round a very happy and enjoyable experience
The walk from Leon to Santiago started as a series of walks but developed into a pilgrimage of sorts as we and the walkers around us (who we'd bump into regularly) were immersed in the journey that so many hundreds of thousands of people have made for centuries. It was a wonderful feeling when we arrived in Santiago di Compostela
Walking the Camino was a lovely experience. Having the luggage moved everyday and prearranging accomodation and meals took away the stress of travelling.
Wonderfully organised and relaxing holiday, apart from the challenge of walking every day, which is what we paid for!! Thank you!
An enjoyable way to experience part of the Camino with a mix of accommodation to stay in along the way and the opportunity to walk along several interesting parts of the route.
Great all round but the last hotel in Santiago de Compostela (Hotel Virxe de Cerca) was wonderful. Fantastic location and everything about the hotel was just lovely. We had a couple of extra nights here and it was a great end to the walk
We had a very enjoyable trip, with great walking in beautiful locations, meeting interesting people, eating some delicious meals and we appreciated having our luggage transported!
We thoroughly enjoyed the entire set-up of this holiday. Our companions in the group were friendly and good company. The walk was spectacular with some of the more boring bits done by vehicular transfer. We were also extremely luck with the weather, it only rained once for 5 minutes! We felt a real sense of achievement when we arrived in Santiago de Compostella.
Anyone of reasonable fitness can walk the Camino, but maybe you should consider grading your Camino walking holiday. One grade for people who are not really used to walking distances and another grade for people who have come to walk at least 25 - 30 km per day. Most of the walkers had booked hotels and albergues in towns and villages. Walkers like to meet up with each other in the evening and share experiences. At one place the hotel pick up was 1 hour 15 minutes late from the agreed time, with no apology or
Quite demanding. 9 days is a long walking holiday.
A very good trip. Where scores have been less than excellent this is because I think the hosts could welcome guests with an offer of drink after a day of exertion - including making tea/coffee available. At times the hosts were not visible and when they appeared it felt awkward asking for a service of this kind with the exception of Pazo Santemaria and Casa los Semoza (the latter had a bar). Some of the accommodation may not be conveniently located so meant waiting around to be picked up. An arrangement whereby the guest could have a taxi as he/she arrived at collection point would be better. Also in some places it was cool/damp weather and bed linen felt a little damp. Heating not always switched on (noticeable feature when one is tired) and I had to ask at one place for it to be put on as I was quite uncomfortable. However, luggage was always transported exactly which was reassuring. Blanca the guide in Leon was excellent and Headwater have made a very interesting programme of accommodation - full of interest/quirky and beautifully located. Thank you.
We are 2 female friends and booked single occupancy of rooms. We felt hotels were well chosen and variable, but all interesting and overall comfortable . We got a bit sick of the Pilgrim 10 euro menu, but also had some superb meals. The walking was excellent, and easier than we had expected. We enjoyed the independence of being self guided. There were a few minor faults in the daily walking guide and we have offered to come in and point them out. We live in Chester and decided to Travel from Liverpool to Madrid and spend a night there rather than at Heathrow. We did find that the schedule on Day 1 was a bit over-heavy. Everyone was exhausted that night. But, overall this was a Brilliant holiday! And May was a very good choice this year.
The Camino is a wonderful experience. The walking can be challenging so you need to practice before your holiday. The accommodation was mixed, breakfast tended to be a disappointment. The star of the show for us was Rectoral de Goian. A wonderful place with great food and a sincere welcome. Overall the accommodation is lovely and given the standard that some of the pilgrims use it is pure luxury. The bag transfers and pick ups ran like clockwork.
A few suggestions
a) Update your travel notes to refer to the actual kilometre-markers which are now in place
b) Arrange the final leg so that your clients have the option to be in Santiago for the midday pilgrim service in the cathedral
c) The staffing of the Casa de los Samozo was a source of great amusement, somewhat lacking experience, but all was still delivered
d) Hotel Petit Palace was noisy but the location was perfect
But overall the holiday surpassed our expectation and we will certainly consider Headwater again
This is my 10 th Headwater holiday,this time I convinced three friends to walk the Camino de Santiago with Headwater.
Our group of four were very pleased with Headwater and are looking at more holidays with them.
We loved this walk. Accommodation on the whole was as good as it could be given the isolated nature of some places. We were particularly impressed with the helpfulness of staff at Headwater when BA cancelled our outward flight the evening before our journey so we didn't miss any of our holiday. The arrangements went very smoothly. The weather in mid July was very hot-unusually so according to locals- so if you suffer from the heat, earlier or later might be better!
Well organised; great choice of places to stay with walking well directed and right amount of effort per day. The Camino is not the most beautiful route we have walked but communion with fellow travellers made it feel special.
Only comment would be O Coto. Finished short walk to Casa de la Somoza by lunch and really not much to do that afternoon. While the hotel was adequate it was not the sort of place you could amuse yourself in for an afternoon. The common parts were a bit gloomy. We went for a walk! that afternoon.
A pity about baggage handlers' strike in Madrid, main problem was that we had our walking poles taken from us in Stansted in spite of the fact that my husband had checked with Ryanair that we could get them through security. This is categorically not true. We had to store our poles in Stansted at cost to ourselves and buy poles in Leon.
A superb holiday experience that we will always remember. Headwater's advice & organisation was faultless.
Casa Rural santa maria-would have been helpful to know that he would pick up from the town as the extra km was not good on a v hot day.La Posada de Muriel-the hosts had changed! The breakfast of one piece of toast was not enough for a long walk and certainly could not be described as a buffet! Pazo Santa Maria-should have informed us of the most direct way to get to it as it is also a bit out and at least a 20min walk from the track as described.Rectoral de Lestedo-it would have been very helpful to have known that there was no option of drinks(tea, coffee or anything else for the three hours before the meal,which was poor.It would be useful to suggest that walkers go into the cafe about a km before the accommodation as going back doesn't seem sensible and we were ok with water (from the tap)
Excellent experience. A privilege to walk through such a beautiful and little known part of Spain!
This is a classic walk which also includes extra interest such as a tour of Leon and the ability, due to transfers, to stay in some lovely establishments. This part of Spain is very beautiful and we walked through lovely little villages and farms. The flowers, particularly on the first day, along the way were stunning. Lots of places to get snacks and drinks. The Camino is so well signposted that there is very little need to consult notes and maps so it is easy to enjoy the walking.
My 2nd camino walk holiday, a different personal experience but excellent, Galicia & Spain at its very best, Headwater organisation & bag moving en route is superb hassle & worry free,
I have a friend who is doing this trip next year and I have recommended your company
It was an excellent holiday and very well planned so that we had a good morning sightseeing in Leon*, walked the best stretches of the Camino and had an attractive balance of accommodation.
* We were a bit concerned about starting the 1st days walk so late in such heat (30c+), but we managed it!
We were blessed with decent weather, and so enjoyed this 160km. very much. We found the O Munio De Pena a bit of a gloomy place, with Javier nowhere in sight until 8.30 that evening! The only other mild carp we have is at Sarria, where that last km. through the town was hard work. Could a pick-up closer to our entry into the town be considered?
Also, going into Arzua, the Pazo told us that if Headwater had told us we could have phoned the Pazo for a taxi from our entry into the town to the hotel for 4 euros! This could have been very valuable info. as we were being chased by a thunderstorm at that time! We also recommend the taxi back to the starting point next day.
This was a great holiday. It's the walks are fairly straightforward, but there are some long days. The arrangement by Headwater worked like clockwork. The hotels are well-chosen and generally of a good standard. Our favourites were the 2 rectorals and Paze Santa Maria. This was a great way to explore the Camino de Santiago.
Overall it was a fantastic holiday - one of our best ever. We loved the Camino itself and our holiday was enhanced by the 6 others in our group.
Our stay in O'Cebriero was horrid, as the community was celebrating its local saints day and the hotel/pub was in the centre of the long festivities, including lots of pulpo (octopus) being prepared, boiled and eaten and an amplified band striking up at midnight. Understandably on such a big occasion it took quite a while before we could access our rooms, and it was not possible to get our cases through the crowds for a time either. Unfortunately the refuge at the quiet end of the village was fully booked otherwise we would have stayed there instead. Headwater should warn clients arriving on that day what to expect.
Good mixture of walking, history and culture which in combination produced an excellent break
Felt could have walked further each day, especially in order to reach Santiago more comfortably to experience the pilgrim's service (we walked the final 21kms in 4 hours in order to do this) plus that last part is the least interesting part of the walk. Appreciated the care taken to make the first 3 days so interesting - very glad that started at Leon and not at Sarria - and very glad that stayed way out of Sarria as it's a rather depressing town! Found the trek down to the resort at Portomarin a pain - felt had arrived, at the river, then found had another good up and down km to do to reach the entrance. The manager/owner offered to drive us the next morning, which we all appreciated. All the taxi and other drivers were excellent, on time, friendly and efficient. Would especially like to mention Blanca, the guide in Leon; such a lovely and enthusiastic person with immense knowledge - we were expecting to be bored, but were totally immersed and hope to go back. We all agreed that it would be useful to have a list of taxi and other drivers' phone numbers as we often arrived 2 or 3 hours before pick up time. O'Coto was a pleasant hotel, it was just a pity that was sandwiched between 2 busy roads with a car dump nearby. It was also a bit damp, tho the owners put the heating on for us (we know they are new owners so maybe will be making improvements for next year), and was difficult to dry our washing - which we all did as were staying 2 nights there. I am being very pernickety here, as overall we enjoyed the holiday immensely and have enthusiastically recommended it to our friends.
We thoroughly enjoyed the walking but preferred the days when the accommodation was actually on the Camino. The inconvenience and waste of time waiting for taxis in unpicturesque places at the end of a day's walking was irritating. Similarly starting a day with a taxi ride to get back to the Camino from remote accommodation was unsatisfactory.
Fantastic, it was everyting I hoped it would be and more!
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For 2020 departures our trip inclusions are changing - please contact us for full details.
This 10 night self-guided walking holiday includes:
Hotel-to-hotel accommodation in a mix of , , and hotels
All continental breakfast and 7 evening meals
Management by your local Headwater-appointed agent
Route directions and maps
Luggage transfers between hotels
Guided city tour of Leon
How to book:
|4th Apr||US$3079||Check availability|
|11th Apr||US$3079||Check availability|
|18th Apr||US$3079||Check availability|
|25th Apr||US$3079||Check availability|
|2nd May||US$3079||Check availability|
|9th May||US$3079||Check availability|
|16th May||US$3079||Check availability|
|23rd May||US$3099||Check availability|
|30th May||US$3099||Check availability|
|6th Jun||US$3149||Check availability|
|13th Jun||US$3149||Check availability|
|20th Jun||US$3149||Check availability|
|27th Jun||US$3149||Check availability|
|4th Jul||US$3149||Check availability|
|11th Jul||US$3149||Check availability|
|18th Jul||US$3149||Check availability|
|25th Jul||US$3149||Check availability|
|1st Aug||US$3149||Check availability|
|8th Aug||US$3149||Check availability|
|15th Aug||US$3149||Check availability|
|22nd Aug||US$3149||Check availability|
|29th Aug||US$3099||Check availability|
|5th Sep||US$3099||Check availability|
|12th Sep||US$3099||Check availability|
|19th Sep||US$3099||Check availability|
|26th Sep||US$3099||Check availability|
|3rd Oct||US$3079||Check availability|
|10th Oct||US$3079||Check availability|
|17th Oct||US$3079||Check availability|
Minimum group sizes
No minimum group size, however transfers are subject to at least 2 people (in total) booked on each departure.
This holiday is unsuitable for children.
Self-guided walking Managed locally by Headwater appointed agent.
Every Saturday from 4th Apr 2020 to 17th Oct 2020, for 10 nights. All dates are subject to availability, please contact us to check.
All continental breakfast and 7 evening meals
This holiday is based on a minimum of 2 passengers.
The price includes a rail ticket between Madrid and Leon however the start point for this holiday is the Hotel Posada Regia in Leon.
Due to the tailor-made nature of our holidays, we need a little more information in order for us to check availability for Walking the Camino de Santiago. Simply complete the form below (fields marked * are mandatory) and a member of our sales team will contact you (when it's most convenient for you) to provide availability information, travel options and an accurate price. Of course there's no obligation, but if you do wish to proceed with a booking they will be on-hand to assist you throughout the process.
Alternatively, you can call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 to discuss your requirements in more detail.