St Jean Pied de Port – Santiago, The Complete Route
This walk covers the entire Spanish section of the Pilgrimage Route of St. James, one of the most famous pilgrimages in all of Christianity.
This thirty-three night tour covers the entire Spanish section of the Way of Saint James Pilgrimage Route.
£2475 per person sharing a room on a dinner bed and breakfast basis
£2930 in a single room on a dinner bed and breakfast basis
£2250 per person sharing a room on bed and breakfast basis only
£2735 in a single room on bed and breakfast basis only
There is an additional supplement for one person walking alone – please ask. This is to cover transfers and luggage transfers which have been calculated on a minuimum of 2 people walking together.
33 nights accommodation, 33 breakfasts, 29 dinners, luggage moved from hotel to hotel, maps and route notes and back up if required.(dinner not included in Pamplona, Logrono, Santo Domingo, Burgos & Santiago)
Nearest airport Biarritz. Then train to St Jean Pied de Port train station. There is a daily train from Paris to St Jean Pied de Port and it is well connected on the train in France.
Santiago de Compostela has a train and bus station and an international airport.
4 to 8 hours walking a day, some variance of altitude by several hundred metres (there are longer days, but they can be shortened: ask for more information).
Your luggage is transferred from accommodation to accommodation every day.
Day 1: Arrival at St Jean Pied de Port (overnight and dinner)
Day 2: St Jean Pied de Port – Roncesvalles, 24.9 km/15.6 miles.
Altitude at departure: 180m/594ft.
To cross the Pyrenees, it is better to use the Route Napoleon which tallies with the old Roman road between Bordeaux and Astorga and was used by pilgrims. The other route via Arneguy is less interesting. Initially, we climb up to Our Lady of Biakorri (or Orisson) at 1095m/3614ft, then a short respite before continuing up to the Col Lepoeder at 1430m/4719ft, the high point of the entire pilgrimage. From here, descend to Puerto de Ibaneta and Roncesvalles.
Altitude at arrival: 920m/3036ft. 24.9 kms/15.6 miles. 8 hours.
Day 3: Roncesvalles – Zubiri, 21.8 km/13.6 miles.
Altitude at departure: 920m/3036ft.
This first completely Spanish section is essentially Pyreneean. Pass several pretty villages – Burguete, Espinal, Viscarret…whilst everywhere is in the shade of the immortal Roland.
Altitude at arrival: 526m/1736ft. 21.8 kms/13.6 miles. 6 hours.
Day 4: Zubiri – Pamplona, 20.8 km/13 miles.
Altitude at departure: 526m/1736ft.
The itinerary follows the Arga Valley as far as Zabadilca before crossing to Pamplona, the first major Spanish town on the route. Don’t be taken in by the frequently unattractive nature of Spanish towns’ suburbs – they often conceal fascinating historic centres (‘casco antiguo’). Pamplona is just such an example and it worth spending time exploring the old town’s ancient streets. Dinner is not included tonight.
Altitude at arrival: 415m/1370ft, 20.8 kms/13 miles, 5 hours 30.
Day 5: Pamplona – Puente La Reina, 23.5 km/14.7 miles.
Altitude at departure: 415m/1370ft.
With the Pyrenees far behind us, we continue across Navarre. After the picturesque village of Zariquiegui, we cross the Sierra del Perdon, bristling with windmills. At the top (780m/2574ft), we pass a surprising group of pilgrms fashioned in metal, before descending to Puente la Reina, joining point for pilgrims coming from Arles via the Somport pass. As the accommodation is just outside the old town, you may prefer to visit it tomorrow.
Altitude at arrival: 346m/1142ft, 23.5 kms/14.7 miles, 5 hours 30.
Day 6: Puente La Reina – Estella, 22.1 km/13.8 miles.
Altitude at departure: 346m/1142ft.
As the route heads towards the Rioja region, which we will reach the day after tomorrow, the landscape is flatter and drier. Nonetheless there are curiosities to enjoy along the way – roman roads, medieval bridges…half-way we will cross the restored centre of Cirauqui (498m/1643ft).
Altitude at arrival: 426m/1406ft, 22.1 kms/13.8 miles, 5 hours 30.
Day 7: Estella – Los Arcos, 21.3 km/13.3 miles.
Altitude at departure: 426m/1406ft.
The route flanks immense fields, whilst a short detour is worthwhile to the monastery of Irache, where a curious wine fountain has been built. The more sober-minded may prefer to quench their thirst further on a the fountain of Villamayor de Monjardin.
Altitude at arrival: 447m/1475ft, 21.3 kms/13.3 miles, 5 hours 15.
Day 8: Los Arcos – Logrono, 27.9 km/17.4 miles.
Altitude at departure: 447m/1475ft.
Today we pass from Navarre into Rioja, famous for its vineyards, and watered by the Ebre river. The old town in Logrono, the regional capital, hides some fine surprises for the walker. End of the trip in the afternoon. Possibility of a night in Logrono if required – please ask for more information. Dinner not included in Logrono.
Altitude at arrival: 400m/1320ft, 27.9 kms/17.4 miles, 6 hours 45.
Day 9: Logrono – Najera, 29.1 km/18.2 miles.
Altitude at departure: 400m/1320ft.
First we make our way out of Logrono to enter the lovely area of Pantano de la Grajera, a 32 hectare lake surrounded by woodland. Next, we pass through Navarrete, town of potters, then enter beautiful Najera via the Alto de San Anton, where once there stood a Templar monastery.
Altitude at arrival: 485m/1601ft, 29.1 kms/18.2 miles, 7 hours.
Day 10: Najera – Santo Domingo de la Calzada, 20.8 km/13 miles.
Altitude at departure: 485m/1601ft.
Today’s walk gives the first taste of what the route will be like until we enter Galicia, as we cross the Spanish Meseta, the high plateau of corn fields where shade comes but rarely. Fortunately, just before Ciruena, a beautiful grove of oaks offers sanctuary before we reach Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
Altitude at arrival: 638m/2105ft, 20.8 kms/13 miles, 5 hours 30.
Day 11: Santo Domingo de la Calzada – Belorado, 26 km/16.25 miles.
Altitude at departure: 638m/2105ft.
The itinerary undulates over the bare, grandiose landscape of the Meseta, as we quit Rioja to enter the immensity of Castille and the province of Burgos. Leaving Santo Domingo, a variant is available to avoid part of the N120.
Altitude at arrival: 796m/2627ft, 26 kms/16.25 miles, 6 hours 40.
Day 12: Belarado – San Juan de Ortega, 24 km/15 miles and return by taxi to Belorado.
Altitude at departure: 796m/2627ft.
For the first part of the day we are on the Meseta but then things change quickly as we cross the ‘Montes de Oca’, covered in forest and once the realm of wolves and highwaymen. After Villafranca, the route goes through forest to Puerto de la Pedraja (1150m/3795ft), and crosses the plateau to San Juan de Ortega. (Taxi back to Belorado for overnight).
Altitude at arrival:1012m/3340ft, 24 kms/15 miles, 6 hours 15.
Day 13: Taxi to San Juan de Ortega Then walk San Juan – Burgos, 27.6 km/17.25 miles.
Altitude at departure: 1012m/3340ft.
Taxi to San Juan de Ortega to begin the walk. Leave behind the forests of ‘Montes de Oca’, to go down to the fertile plains of the Rio Arlanzon. To avoid the suburbs, it is recommended to take a slightly longer route into Burgos via the parks of Fuentes Blancas and Miraflores. Dinner not included tonight in Burgos but there is a wide choice of restaurants in the old town.
Altitude at arrival: 856m/2823ft, 27.6 kms/17.25 miles, 7 hours 15.
Day 14: Burgos – Castrojeriz, 38.7 km/24.2 miles (possibility of shuttle).
Altitude at departure: 856m/2823ft.
This is a very long section across the Meseta (although, at extra cost, there is the possibility of a transfer to Hornillo del Camino). After the suburbs of Burgos, the route comes to Rabe de las Calzadas, then climbs up to the plateau before redescending to Hornillo del Camino, a timeless village built along its one street. Back up to the plateau, descend to Hontanas, and we arrive at Castrojeriz along a charming valley.
Altitude at arrival: 800m/2640ft, 38.7 kms/24.2 miles, 10 hours.
Day 15: Castrojeriz – Fromista, 25.5 km/15.9 miles.
Altitude at departure: 800m/2640ft.
Up to the plateau again before going down to cross the twelve arches of the Itero bridge which marks the frontier between Burgos and Palencia provinces. We come to the Castille canal which is followed to the entry into Fromista, whose church of St. Martin is a model of Romanesque architecture.
Altitude at arrival: 780m/2574ft, 25.5 kms/15.9 miles, 6 hours 30.
Day 16: Fromista – Carrion de los Condes, 20.5 km/12.8 miles.
Altitude at departure: 780m/2574ft.
To get to Carrion, there are two possibilities: follow either the official, most direct route, or a more rural path beside the Rio Ucieza. In either case a detour via the centre of Villacazar de Sirga is worthwhile. From afar it is impossible not to notice the immense church high above the fields…not without similarities with a certain cathedral at Chartres!
Altitude at arrival: 840m/2772ft, 20.5 kms/12.8 miles, 5 hours 15.
Day 17: Carrion – Moratinos, 30.5 km/19.1 miles.
Altitude at departure: 840m/2772ft.
After Carrion we pass the San Zoilo monastery, before continuing across the ‘paramo’, or ‘desert’; we pass through a number of places before getting to isolated Moratinos, from where there is a transfer for overnight to the interesting town of Sahagun.
Altitude at arrival: 816m/2693ft, 30.5 kms/19.1 miles, 8 hours.
Day 18: Taxi to Moratinos, then Moratinos – Burgos Ranero, 27.9 km/17.4 miles.
Altitude at departure (Sahagun): 816m/2693ft.
Taxi back to Moratinos (although you can start from Sahagun if preferred) and then continue over the immensity of the Paramo, today lined with trees to provide some shade for travellers. Another variant is also possible, which follows an ancient Roman road.
Altitude at arrival: 878m/2897ft, 27.9 kms/17.4 miles, 7 hours 30.
Day 19: Burgos Ranero – Mansilla de las Mulas, 20 km/12.5 miles.
Altitude at departure: 878m/2897ft.
Two possible routes today as far as Reliegos where the two routes converge before arriving at Mansillas de las Mulas.
Altitude at arrival: 799m/2637ft, 20kms/12.5 miles, 5 hours 30.
Day 20: Mansilla – Leon, 18.4 km/11.5 miles.
Altitude at departure: 799m/2637ft.
A comparatively short and very pleasant section with a beautiful descent into Leon, one of the most important towns of the Camino Frances. To the north we can see the chain of mountains forming the Cordillera Cantabrica.
Altitude at arrival: 822m/2713ft, 18.4 kms/11.5 miles, 5 hours.
End of the trip in the end of afternoon.
Day 21: Leon – Hospital de Orbigo, 36 km/22.5 miles (shuttle possible at extra cost).
Altitude at departure: 822m/2713ft.
Today it is better to start by taking the local bus through the Leon suburbs, which departs every 20 minutes from Plaza Santo Domingo, to Virgen del Camino. Two itineraries are then possible from here: the Camino Real that follows the main road, or the Calzada de los Peregrinos further to the south. In either case we have to cross the Paramo, literally ‘the desert’, to reach Hospital and the famous Puente de Orbigo.
Altitude at arrival: 819m/2703ft, 36 kms/22.5 miles, 9 hours.
Day 22: Hospital de Orbigo – Astorga, 17.8 km/11.1 miles.
Altitude at departure: 819m/2703ft.
A section that is one of transition from the implacable Meseta to the Montes of Leon and short enough to allow you to enjoy Astorga on arrival. Astorga, with its Gothic cathedral, Gaudi palace and Roman mosaics, is a fascinating city.
Altitude at arrival: 869m/2868ft, 17.8 kms/11.1 miles, 4 hours 30.
Day 23: Astorga – Rabanal del Camino, 20.6 km/12.9 miles.
Altitude at departure: 869m/2868ft.
With the Meseta behind us, the landscape is more mountainous – not vertiginous peaks but large hills, with rounded crests. Nonetheless, the isolated nature of the countryside, and the stone houses, are redolent of mountain places. At 1149m/3792ft, Rabanal del Camino will allow us to recharge batteries before tomorrow’s long section.
Altitude at arrival: 1149m/3792ft, 20.6 kms/12.9 miles, 5 hours.
Day 24: Rabanal – Ponferrada : 32.7 km/20.4 miles.
Altitude at departure: 1149m/3792ft.
The route soon leaves the village and climbs gradually among the mountains. We are in the heart of the countryside, the air is fresh and morale is high. At 1504m/4963ft, the Cruz de Ferro is the highest point of the route in Spain, and the view is wonderful. However, no time to delay, as we can see Ponferrada is away to the west below, and there is still a long way to go. We tumble down to Acebo and Molinaseca, two superb villages with their wooden balconies. Then across the Bierzo plain and finally we arrive at Ponferrada and its templar castle.
Altitude at arrival: 543m/1792ft, 32.7 kms/20.4 miles, 8 hours 15.
Day 25: Ponferrada – Vilafranca del Bierzo, 22.5 km/14.1 miles.
Altitude at departure: 543m/1792ft.
Today the route wanders across the river plain of the Bierzo as far as Cacabelos (483m/1594ft), then Villafranca, ‘the Frankish town’, charming nestling against the foot of the mountain.
Altitude at arrival: 511m/1686ft, 22.5 kms/14.1 miles, 6 hours 15.
Day 26: Vilafranca del Bierzo – El Cebreiro, 30 km/18.75 miles.
Altitude at departure: 511m/1686ft.
Another beautiful section through the mountains as we pass from Catille to Galicia. Leaving Villafranca to avoid the motorway that accompanies the normal route, we can take a path that climbs through broom to the village of Pradela (940m/3102ft) and then redescends to Trabadelo (600m/1980ft) to rejoin the main route. Several possible variants bring us to El Cebreiro, a lovely town with wonderful views of the Galician countryside and which has always been an important point of pilgrimage.
Altitude at arrival: 1300m/4290ft, 30kms/18.75 miles, 8 hours.
Day 27: El Cebreiro – Triascastela, 21 km/13.1 miles.
Altitude at departure: 1300m/4290ft.
After El Cebreiro the route meanders over ridges with tremendous views over green Galicia (highpoint at Alto del Poyo 1337m/4412ft). We pass an astonishing bronze giant struggling with the elements and then plunge into the valley with its landscape that has the look of the Pays Basque.
Altitude at arrival: 665m/2195ft, 21 kms/13.1 miles, 5 hours 15.
Day 28: Triascatela – Sarria, 17.5 km/10.9 miles.
Altitude at departure: 665m/2195ft.
There are two possibilities today – one predominately follows roads via Samos (532m/1756ft) and its imposing monastery, whilst the second, shorter route meanders across the pretty Galician countryside.
Altitude at arrival: 420m/1386ft, 17.5kms/10.9 miles, 4 hours 30.
Day 29: Sarria – Portomarin, 22.5 km/14.1 miles.
Altitude at departure: 420m/1386ft.
Tracks and paths take us through hamlets and villages to Portomarin, a village reconstructed higher upon the slopes after the original in the valley had to make way for a lake created with the construction of a dam.
Altitude at arrival: 550m/1815ft, 22.5 kms/14.1 miles, 5 hours 45.
Day 30: Portomarin – Palas de Rei, 24.5 km/15.3 miles.
Altitude at departure: 550m/1815ft.
The route after Hospital de la Cruz follows a charming path that meanders through woods, hedges and prairies, dotted with the very distinctive local granaries (‘horreos’), and crucifixes similar to those in Brittany that remind us that we are in Celtic country.
Altitude at arrival: 565m/1865ft, 24.5 kms/15.3 miles, 6 hours 30.
Day 31: Palas de Rei – Arzua, 28.8 km/18 miles.
Altitude at departure: 565m/1865ft.
Almost without realising it we lose altitude as we approach the sea and lots of greenery and forests of eucalyptus. Half way, Melide (454m/1498ft) marks the meeting point of the Camino Frances and the northern most variant of the Camino del Norte.
Altitude at arrival: 389m/1284ft, 28.8 kms/18 miles, 7 hours 30.
Day 32: Arzua – Lavacolla, 28.8 km/18 miles.
Altitude at departure: 389m/1284ft.
The last long stage, so that we can arrive in good time tomorrow to explore Santiago itself.
Altitude at arrival: 320m/1056ft, 28.8 kms/18 miles, 7 hours 30.
Day 33: Lavacolla – SANTIAGO de COMPOSTELA, 10.1 km/6.3 miles.
Altitude at departure: 320m/1056ft.
A formality today but savour these last few paces and prepare to enjoy the delights of Santiago. Night in Santiago (dinner not included).
Altitude at arrival: 264m/871ft, 10.1 kms/6.3miles, 2 hours 45.
Day 34: End of the trip after breakfast
Nearest airport Biarritz. Then train to St Jean Pied de Port train station.
Santiago de Compostela has a train and bus station and an international airport.
6 to 8 hours walk a day, no difficulty, 300m of altitude change per day (some days may feature higher climbs).Luggage:Your luggage is transferred from accommodation to accommodation every day.
33 nights usually in good quality family run 2 and 3 star hotels, all rooms with private bathroom (dinner not included in Pamplona, Logrono, Santo Domingo, Burgos & Santiago). Breakfast included each day and dinner on 29 nights – when dinner is not included there is a wide choice of restaurants to choose from.
Pre-departure information & Route Notes:
Before your departure you will receive general information including your hotel list and contact details for local back-up, one copy of the John Brierley Camino de Santiago guide book per booking, luggage labels for each member of your party, vouchers for your hotels and vouchers for restaurants as needed.
We will send information via e-mail in advance. Depending on the reliability of postage, it is sometimes advisable for us to send your pre-departure information in advance to your first accommodation.Additional overnights or rest days can be added if required. Please ask for details.
Number of People:
This tour is available to groups of 2 or more. It is also suitable for single confident walkers. When to Go:There are departures every day between mid April until the end of October.
NB The first stage of the itinerary is not possible during Running of Bulls Festival (San Fermin) in first two weeks of July.
Dear Ann & Chris,
Just a quick note to thank you for a great pilgrimage experience! ALL hotels/hostels were at least as nice as hoped (clean, friendly, well-located) and generally better than expected. In addition, the Hostel San Paio in Lavacolla (about which we had the MOST concern) turned out to be one of the best experiences with spacious rooms, delicious food, and friendly staff. There were no glitches in processing our vouchers and the trek route was very well marked as you said. I look forward to writing an excellent Trip Advisor review for you when I catch up at work!
Best wishes and much appreciation,