The famous Camino de Santiago, also known as St James' Way and the French Way, is a wonderful 500-mile trail which has been walked by pilgrims for over 1000 years. For most pilgrims, the Camino de Santiago ends at the magnificent Romanesque Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela - reputedly the final resting place of St. James the Apostle, although a further few days of walking takes the pilgrim to 'the end of the earth' at Finisterre with its downward pointing scallop shell signifying the actual ending, and where pilgrims once burned their boots.
Without doubt this journey is about more than the usual joys of walking! The Camino may be walked for religious or non-religious reasons or perhaps just the desire to hop out of the fast lane to reflect on life and refresh the soul. For whatever reason, a very special atmosphere arises from the comradeship quickly established between pilgrims of many nationalities - each walking for their own personal reasons.
This trip does not include luggage transfers in the price, but they are available on request at an extra cost.
Burgos to Leon
In the province of Castilla y Leon, this is the land which named the Spanish language of Castillian dating back to the Muslim Invasion. Inhabitants are swarthy and the food robust. Villages are timeless combinations of ancient adobe houses, hillside 'hobbit' like storage cellars and imposing, lonely churches. Castrojeriz and Mansilla de las Mulas provide cultural stops amongst the plains. The endless flat plains provide the breadbasket of Spain, merging with vast skies filled with soaring vultures and eagles and a hint of distant mountains to be traversed before reaching Santiago.
Leon to O Cebreiro
Along this stretch the Pilgrim is faced with the challenge of crossing the Cordillera Cantabria at over 1500m. Departing culturally rich Leon, the Camino winds its way over mountain and moorland. Nestling between the mountains is the Bierzo Valley where easier walking provides a welcome break from the higher paths. Fresh, locally produced white wines quench the thirst after a long day in the mountains.
O Cebreiro to Santiago de Compostela
The final stage of the Camino and one which is walked by more Pilgrims than the rest of the route passes entirely through Galicia - a land with Celtic origins. Green, lush and warm, Galicia is a verdant part of Spain with its own language of Galega. Many characteristics of Galicia resemble Wales, Ireland and Brittany as Celtic influences come through in their language, music and lifestyle. Farming is the main occupation, and most houses cultivate even the smallest parcel of land around their homes. Grain is stored in 'horreos' which rise like tombs through the mist creating a mysterious scene.
The Camino soon leaves the city and passes through attractive rolling farmland. Cross a few rivers and climb a few hills before reaching the pretty village of Hornillos. As no accommodation here, transfer to Burgos for overnight and opportunity to explore more of the city.
A day of remoteness crossing typical ‘paramo’ landscapes of bleak moorland. Folds in the gentle hills hide picturesque villages – some of the most beautiful along the Camino.
Depart the beautiful castellated village of Castrojeriz by crossing a Roman walkway and bridge over the river before a short, sharp climb to Alto de Mostelares brings the reward of magnificent views. Descending across rolling hills of many shades to walk alongside a canal to Fromista with its fine examples of Romanesque architecture.
Two route options are available today as the Camino splits between a quiet but longer path with a distinct mediaeval feel to it, or a shorter faster roadside route. Both converge at the beautiful village of Villacalzar de Sirga. Overnight in the mediaeval town of Carrion de los Condes.
An easy day with much of the route following a Roman Road, if skies are clear, you will see the Cordillera Cantabrica in the far distance – stunning if snowcapped.
Endless flatness, endless views and a birdwatchers’ paradise.
A choice of routes again, either follow the road or detour through the isolated village of Calzadilla de los Hermanillos with its fine examples of adobe houses. A few small hills, groves of trees and flowing streams signify a change in the landscape as you approach El Burgo Ranero. Transfer back to Sahagun.
The sweeping, open countryside gives constant views of the horizon and the Cordillera Cantabrica ahead. The complete absence of settlements and trees creates an almost desert like landscape with the land becoming more fertile as you draw closer to the walled town of Mansilla.
Hills and mountains now fill the horizon as you continue on to Leon. At the end of this stage, there are magnificent views as you descend into the city.
Starting from the historic cathedral you walk out through the suburbs to Villadangos.
Today is an easy and fairly level walk which takes you to Astorga - another beautiful town to explore!
Gently ascend to Rabanal del Camino crossing open countryside with far reaching views and ancient Maragato villages.
A more challenging day, ascending to the highest point on the Cordillera Cantabrica, before descending to Molinaseca in the beautiful and fertile El Bierzo valley.
A long but reasonably level day through the El Bierzo valley to Villafranca del Bierzo – one of Spain’s most beautiful villages (day can be split).
It’s a long, rewarding day with stunning scenery in all directions, ending with the climb up to O Cebreiro where you stay overnight to experience this unique location (day can be split).
After an early climb up to Alto de la Roque with its imposing statue of a windswept pilgrim, descend through stunning green hills to the remote village of Triacastela noting the interesting ‘horreos’ (grain stores) along the way.
A day of lush river valleys and hilltop views to the town of Sarria – 100 km from Santiago. This is the last point from which you can walk to gain the Pilgrim’s Compostela.
Follow winding cart tracks to reach Portomarin, a town raised from the valley floor stone by stone to make way for the Mino reservoir. The village can still be seen when the reservoir is low A good stop for a rest day with historic Lugo nearby.
Quiet country lanes and tracks lead over the Sierra Ligonde to Palas de Rey.
A long day of gently rolling hills as the Camino winds its way through ancient villages and farming communities. The day may be split in Melide – famous for its delicious, stewed Octopus!
Continuing through rolling farmland and forests you become ever closer to Santiago. Lavacolla is where Pilgrims reputedly washed away weeks of dirt before entering the city.
Feel a special sense of achievement as you enter Santiago through the Pilgrims’ Gate and finally stand in front of the Cathedral – the sensation is quite overwhelming. Return home, stay on in Santiago ….or keep walking to Finisterre!
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.
23 nights accommodation in a variety of hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts.
Here at Headwater we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can continue to develop, and where necessary improve, our services and ensure our holidays continue to be the best they can be. However, as this is a relatively new holiday, we don't yet have any customer reviews available.
You can be confident that our pricing includes all the standard requirements of your holiday and many additional extras. Always ensure that you are comparing like for like when booking your holiday.
This 23 night self-guided walking holiday includes:
Management by your local Headwater-appointed agent
Route directions and maps
How to book:
For further details, or to check availability, speak to our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or click on the 'check availability' links below to complete our holiday enquiry form (we'll contact you at a time that's most convenient for you).
To enquire about this holiday, or for further information, call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or click on the 'Check availability' links below to complete our holiday enquiry form.
We do not currently have departure dates and prices available on-line. The season may have ended for this tour, or we are still in the process of adding these details to our website. Please contact us for further details.
Please contact us for child prices.
Self-guided walking Managed locally by Headwater appointed agent.
Transfers: On arrival - Madrid Airport - to Burgos by bus is not included, but can be booked as extra. On departure - Santiago to Santiago Airport by taxi is not included, but can be booked as extra.
For further details, or to check availability, speak to our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or click on the appropriate 'Check availability' button above to complete our holiday enquiry form, we'll contact you at a time that's most convenient for you.
To enquire about this holiday, or for further information, call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or click on the 'Check availability' links above to complete our holiday enquiry form.