Spain’s Camino Walk is a 755 km route that takes walkers across Spain’s northern regions including Castile, Rioja and Galicia.
The walk can be done in as little as 30 days, but for a more pleasurable walking experience 35 days is recommended. In planning an itinerary, some of the considerations in determining the distance for each day should include the type of terrain, the accommodation, weather, time of year and how fit one is.
The following is an outline of the 35-day walk itinerary that we chose. We walked 25 days of the journey, missing out the section between Burgos and Leon due to personal time constraints. We decided on this itinerary because of the achievable distances and the available accommodation.
Begin at: St Jean Pied-de-Port, France or Pamplona, Spain.
How to get there: Take a train from Madrid to Pamplona. Then take a bus to St Jean if you are starting from there.
Day 1. St Jean Pied Du Port – Roncesvalles (27 km)
A challenging day to climb through Roland’s Pass from France to Spain.
Day 2. Zubiri (23 km)
Still getting used to the distances, but the Menu del Dias are worth it.
Day 3. Pamplona (23 km)
A great city to take a rest in.
Day 4. Puenta La Reina (27 km)
The Bridge of the Queen. This part of Spain can be very hot in the summer months.
Day 5. Estella (21km)
One of the most elegant towns along the Camino.
Day 6. Los Arcos (18 km)
A mysterious town with a good refugio.
Day 7. Logrono (24 km)
Another fine Roman bridge to cross.
Day 8. Najera 26 (km)
A town built in a split of a rock. A good refugio here.
Day 9. Santo Domingo De La Calzada (21 km)
Try the restaurants here, they’re excellent.
Day 10. Belorado (21 km)
Another good refugio after a full day of walking.
Day 11. San Juan De Ortega (23 km)
Out in the middle of the old medieval forest areas, this is a rare opportunity to stay in an old monastery.
Day 12. Burgos (23 km)
Burgos is a place to take a rest day. The refugio is in the centre of a park, just the thing for a day off. From Burgos the pilgrim enters the Meseta – 160 km of wide open flat spaces, which end a little after Leon.
Day 13. Hontanas (28 km)
Day 14. Castrojeriz (10 km)
Day 15. Fromista (25 km)
Day 16. Carrion De Los Condes (18 km)
Day 17. Ledigos (24 km)
Day 18. Sahagun (16 km)
Day 19. Calzadilla de los Hermanillos (17 km)
Day 20. Mansilla De Las Mulas (22 km)
Day 21. Leon (18 km)
Arrive in Leon with its glorious light filled Gothic cathedral. Its stained glass windows are considered to be some of the best in the world. There may be time to visit the Hospital (now parador) of San Marcos, once the headquarters for the Knights of Santiago. And if possible visit the superb Real Basilica de San Isidoro and to see the Crypt and Pantheon of Kings.
Day 22. Villadangos (19 km)
Today we walk to Villadangos del Paramo, with its historic Church of Santiago.
Day 23. Hospital Del Orbigo (11 km)
A shorter walk today to give us an early rest. Puente del Orbigo is the longest original bridge on the Camino, subject of one of the most romantic legends of the Way.
Day 24. Astorga (17 km)
Our journey takes us to Astorga, where the Camino Frances meets up with the Via Del Plata. We visit the Cathedral with its Museum of the Way, Gaudi’s Palace, and the Museo Romano. For those with a sweet tooth there is a museum of chocolate.
Day 25. Rabanal (21 km)
The next few days are a little more challenging – across the mountains to Ponferrada. We walk through the old region of the Maragatos, a mysterious, race of muleteers to Rabanal Del Camino. We visit Santa Maria with its Romanesque Templar origins.
Day 26. El Acebo (18 km)
From Rabanal and Foncebadón we climb to the emblematic iron cross called Cruz de Ferro, with an enormous mound of stones placed by pilgrims at its base. We then enjoy a fairly level section through heather and broom before descending quite steeply into the lovely little stone village of El Acebo.
Day 27. Ponferrada (14 km)
We enjoy a gradual descent through the hills to the larger town of Ponferrada. Here we visit a fabulous Templar Castle, and if time also the Basilica de la Encina (has Statue of the virgin) and the Museo del Bierzo.
Day 28. Villafranca Del Bierzo (20 km)
A longer walk today brings us to the foot of a mountain range. At Villafranca we visit the Church of Santiago with its Puerta del pardon. The Church of San Francesco was reputedly established by St. Francis when he journeyed to Santiago.
Day 29. O Cebriero (27 km)
Bus to La Portela. The stiff walk up to the ancient village of O’Cebreiro, just on the Galician side of the León-Galicia border is one of the most famous stages of the entire Way. We visit the Church of Santa Maria Real.
Day 30. Triacastela (21 km)
We climb through the pass at Alto San Roque. The Church of Santiago in Triacastella is another attractive church along the Way.
Day 31. Sarria (24 km)
A beautiful stretch of walking today – although it passes through extremely rural areas with very few services. Samos Monastery is historically very important. The Sarria Churches of Santa Marina and El Salvador are worth a visit.
Day 32. Portomarin (22 km)
Portomarin has a great setting and Pilgrim’s atmosphere. A nice place to relax, read, and update your journal. We walk across the Mino Bridge and visit the Church of St. Nicholas.
Day 33. Palas De Rei (25 km)
Out in the countryside again. We pass small hamlets and Eucalypt stands to arrive at Palas de Rei. There is a Pilgrims’ monument there.
Day 34. Arzua (28 km)
We hike through rolling rural terrain. Much of the walk to Melide (wonderful square and church) is on quiet surfaced country lanes, dirt and cobbled paths and medieval bridges. Then on to the bustling town of Arzua.
Day 35. Arca (21 km)
Other northern pilgrim’s routes merge with the Camino Frances in Arzúa – we will notice more pilgrims from here on. Walk through Ste. Irene and another Eucalyptus Forest.
Day 36. Santiago (17 km) – your destination!
Our last stretch before arriving in Santiago.
How to get back from Santiago de Compostela: Take a train back to Madrid, or fly out from Santiago’s airport.
Our Take: This is an ancient journey which has been undertaken by countless pilgrims throughout the ages. In following them, you become a part of this tradition. It’s one of Europe’s best walking journeys.