Travelers seeking a once-in-a-lifetime multiday trek will love this historic trail, spanning 500 miles and 35 days from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Along the route, experience camaraderie and a profound spiritual journey as you cross the Pyrenees in France and into four regions of Spain: Navarre's hills, La Rioja's vineyards, Castile's meseta, and Galicia's greenery, all while honoring centuries-old pilgrimage traditions and meeting fellow trekkers along the way.


  • Sample regional gastronomy from La Rioja's wines to pintxos in Basque Country
  • Visit sites like the Gothic Burgos Cathedral and the tomb of the iconic El Cid
  • Hike across panoramic views of Galacia from the ancient village of O'Cebreiro
  • Witness the swinging of the Botafumeiro at the Santiago Cathedral to end the trip

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Biarritz, Train to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Self-Guided Tour Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Day 2 Hike to Roncesvalles, Visit the Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles Roncesvalles
Day 3 Hike to Zubiri, Cross the Rabies Bridge Zubiri
Day 4 Hike to Pamplona, Explore the City Pamplona
Day 5 Hike to Puente la Reina, Admire the Puente la Reina Bridge Puente la Reina
Day 6 Hike to Estella, Explore the Old Town Estella
Day 7 Hike to Los Arcos via the Irache Wine Fountain, Explore Los Arcos
Day 8 Hike to Logroño, Discover Camino Sites Logroño
Day 9 Hike to Nájera, Wander the Old Town Nájera
Day 10 Hike to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Explore the Cathedral Santo Domingo
Day 11 Hike to Belorado, Explore the Historic Center Belorado
Day 12 Hike to San Juan de Ortega, Monastery Visit San Juan de Ortega
Day 13 Hike to Burgos, Discover Burgos Cathedral Burgos
Day 14 Hike to Hontanas, Tour the Ermita de la Piedad Chapel Hontanas
Day 15 Hike to Boadilla del Camino, Optional Activities Boadilla
Day 16 Hike to Carrión de los Condes, Attend a Singalong with Nuns Carrión
Day 17 Hike to Terradillos de los Templarios, Optional Activities Terradillos 
Day 18 Hike to El Burgo Ranero, Halfway Certificate & Museum El Burgo Ranero
Day 19 Hike to Mansilla de las Mulas, Optional Activities Mansilla de las Mulas
Day 20 Hike to León, Explore Gothic & Gaudi Masterpieces León
Day 21 Hike to San Martín del Camino, Pay Homage to San Martín San Martín del Camino
Day 22 Hike to Astorga, Discover a Gaudí Masterpiece  Astorga
Day 23 Hike to Rabanal del Camino, Attend the Pilgrim's Mass Rabanal del Camino
Day 24 Hike to Ponferrada, Visit the Castle of the Knights Templar Ponferrada
Day 25 Hike to Villafranca del Bierzo, Stroll the Historic Streets Villafranca del Bierzo
Day 26 Hike to O'Cebreiro, Optional Activities O'Cebreiro
Day 27 Hike to Triacastela, Explore the Town Triacastela
Day 28 Hike to Sarria, Visit the Monastery of San Julián de Samos Sarria
Day 29 Hike to Portomarín, Explore the Historic Center Portomarín
Day 30 Hike to Palas de Rei, Visit the Church of San Tirso Palas de Rei
Day 31 Hike to Melide, Optional Activities Melide
Day 32 Hike to Arzúa, Cheese Sampling Arzua
Day 33 Hike to Pedrouzo, Optional Activities Pedrouzo
Day 34 Hike to Santiago de Compostela, Optional Activities Santiago de Compostela
Day 35 Depart Santiago de Compostela  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Biarritz, Train to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Self-Guided Tour

Kick off your adventure in the charming French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Welcome to France! Upon arrival in Biarritz, you'll catch the three-hour train to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a former fortress town guarding the French side of the Pyrenees mountain pass. You may meet other pilgrims here who also go to Saint-Jean, the traditional start of the Camino de Frances (French Way). From Saint-Jean, check into your hotel and the pilgrim's office and then explore the cobbled streets, soaking in the medieval ambience. Admire the houses and pink sandstone walls encircling the town. Stroll along the Nive River, noticing the picturesque facades and the ancient bridge's elegance.

To witness the town's grandeur from above, ascend toward the citadel entrance. You'll be rewarded with a panoramic view of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and the lush Basque Country. Spend some time discovering the imposing fortress and its surrounding wall. Afterward, savor a hearty dinner and pack your backpack in preparation for tomorrow's difficult ascent through the Pyrenees mountains on the Way of St. James, marking the beginning of the "Body" section of the Camino, which is said to test your physical endurance and build resilience. 

Day 2: Hike to Roncesvalles, Visit the Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles

Climb the Napoleon Route through the Pyrenees mountains
Climb the challenging Napoleon Route through the Pyrenees mountains

Set out on your climb to Roncesvalles, traversing the challenging yet rewarding 15.5 miles (25 km) through the Pyrenees, marking your transition into Spain's Navarre region. Many pilgrims claim today's trek as the most difficult, taking as long as nine hours, so bring plenty of water and snacks and take breaks along the way. As you ascend, you'll have sweeping mountain views. Upon reaching Roncesvalles, congratulate yourself on a job well done and freshen up before spending an hour at the Collegiate Church, a Gothic-style architectural marvel.

Dating back to the 12th century, this sacred site has long been a refuge for pilgrims crossing the Pyrenees. Delve into its historical significance as a shelter and hospital for weary travelers. Consider participating in the pilgrim's mass, a poignant ceremony offering blessings for your onward journey. The spiritual resonance and centuries-old traditions enrich the pilgrim experience, lending a profound sense of continuity to your steps on the path of the Way of St. James. 

Day 3: Hike to Zubiri, Cross the Rabies Bridge

Cross the Puente de la Rabia to enter Zubiri
Finish today's trek by crossing the stone bridge entering Zubiri

Embark on a serene hike from Roncesvalles to Zubiri, a tiny town with a welcoming spirit. Pilgrims often find it an ideal resting point due to its amenities, such as accommodations, cafés, and shops. You'll cover approximately 13 miles (21 km) in about six hours as you traverse peaceful, wooded trails, passing by idyllic villages along the way. For those seeking added exploration, consider a detour to the Church of Santa Maria de Eunate, a beautifully preserved 12th-century Catholic church showcasing Romanesque architecture. 

As you continue, encounter the Rabies Bridge, a testament to history and local legend. Dating back to the 12th century, this Romanesque marvel spans the River Arga. Folklore intertwines with the bridge's construction, as discovering Saint Quiteria's remains led to a strange tradition. Townspeople ceremoniously led animals around the central pillar, believing this would protect against rabies, lending the bridge its distinctive name. Reflect on the bridge's historical significance and the cultural tales etched into its stones. 

Day 4: Hike to Pamplona, Explore the City

Explore a bit of Pamplona, the city that is famous for the "Running of the Bulls"

Embark on a rewarding 13.7-mile (22 km) hike to Pamplona, lasting approximately seven hours. Begin by crossing back over the medieval stone Bridge of Rabia and traversing serene countryside and rolling hills. Arriving in Pamplona is exciting, and you'll be greeted by a city famed for the exhilarating "Running of the Bulls" during the San Fermín festival. But beyond this iconic event, Pamplona beckons with its well-preserved old town, historic buildings, and landmarks like the grand Plaza del Castillo and the Gothic Cathedral of Santa María la Real.

Allow three hours to uncover Pamplona's treasures, visiting all the sites, from Café Iruña, favored by Hemingway, to the City Hall and the Three Old Neighborhoods. Discover the oldest public garden, Parque de la Taconera, offering lush greenery, ponds, and freely roaming peacocks. For a taste of culture, peruse the events at Baluarte Congress Centre and Auditorium, which hosts diverse artistic performances. Cap off the day by indulging in Basque cuisine, such as pintxos and chistorra (sausage), at local eateries.

Day 5: Hike to Puente la Reina, Admire the Puente la Reina Bridge

Take in the beauty of the 12th century bridge, Puente de la Reina
Take in the beauty of the 12th-century bridge, Puente de la Reina

Today's 15-mile (24 km) journey to Puente la Reina leads you through urban zones and rustic terrains over the course of six hours. Depart Pamplona and pass through Cizur Menor, a town with ancient stone houses and a historic church. Ascend the mountain pass of Alto del Perdón, where you'll have panoramic views. At the summit, snap a few photos with the famed sculpture symbolizing pilgrims facing the challenges of their Camino journey. Descend from the pass to Uterga to explore the Romanesque Church of San Andrés.

Proceed to Obanos, a village with cobblestone streets and medieval charm. Notice the Church of San Juan Bautista and its striking octagonal tower. Upon arriving at Puente la Reina, the highlight awaits at the Queen's Bridge, an ancient 12th-century Romanesque marvel crossing the Arga River, connecting the town to the Camino de Santiago route. The bridge, named after Queen Doña Mayor, believed to have supported its construction, is a cherished landmark for pilgrims and visitors. Settle in before venturing to a local restaurant and trying the special pilgrim's menu for dinner. 

Day 6: Hike to Estella, Explore the Old Town

Visit the Cloister of Monastery of Santa Maria de Iranzu
Visit the Cloister of Monastery of Santa Maria de Iranzu

Walk for six hours and 13 miles (21 km) to Estella through Navarre's picturesque wine country. As you traverse vineyard-laden landscapes, you can gain insights into local wine production. Here, some pilgrims detour to see The Monastery of Santa María de Iranzu, its elegant arches, delicate columns, and intricate carvings making for a beautiful and peaceful space for contemplation. Continue to Estella and pass charming villages like Villatuerta before stopping to relish a coffee or a meal at a local spot.

Upon nearing Estella, you'll encounter the intriguing octagonal Chapel of Santa María de Eunate, steeped in enigmatic history. In Estella, allow an hour to explore the old town, beginning with the Church of San Pedro de la Rúa, renowned for its exquisitely adorned cloister. Meander along the historic Calle de Curtidores (Tanners' Street), referring to the artisans and craftspeople who worked along this avenue. In the past, this street was connected to the leatherworking industry and housed numerous tanneries, where animal hides were treated and transformed into leather goods. 

Day 7: Hike to Los Arcos via the Irache Wine Fountain, Explore

Continue to Los Arcos after visiting the Monsaterio de Irache

The route to Los Arcos spans 13 miles (21 km) of scenic landscapes, taking about six hours. Departing Estella, you'll encounter the Iratxe Forge blacksmith shop, where you can glimpse into traditional blacksmithing practices, witness a demonstration, and shop for handmade metal wares. Next, approach the town of Ayegui, home to the Monasterio de Irache. The monastery here hosts the Fuente del Vino (wine fountain), where pilgrims traditionally sample local wine—an iconic stop and highlight of the Camino. If you don't have a cup, your scallop shell works as a drinking vessel, just like in medieval times.

Peek into the museum to gain insights into the winemaking process and browse historical winemaking tools and equipment displays. Continue to Villamayor de Monjardín, with hilltop views and a serene ambience perfect for a brief respite. Arrive in Los Arcos and wander through the labyrinthine streets, pause at the Church of Santa María renowned for its elaborate Gothic portal, and admire the stately Palacio de los Condes de Azpeitia, a noble residence with impressive architecture, before dinner in its historic Plaza Mayor and celebrating the completion of one week on the Camino. 

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Day 8: Hike to Logroño, Discover Camino Sites

Decipher the symbolic Game of Goose in the Plaza de Santiago (Santiago Square)

On this leg of the journey, you'll trek about eight hours and 17 miles (28 km) to Logroño, the capital of La Rioja, a region known for its wine production, experiencing countryside landscapes and fields of sunflowers. Starting off, you'll arrive in Viana, situated on a hilltop. Walk its historic streets and visit the Church of Santa María while soaking in the picturesque views. Leaving Viana, the route continues through vineyards and olive groves before arriving in the town of Logroño, the final stretch of the route taking you along the banks of the Ebro River.

The architectural grandeur of Logroño's churches awaits. Explore the Co-Cathedral of Santa María de la Redonda and, for a step back into medieval times, the 12th-century Church of San Bartolomé. Spend two hours sampling tapas and typical dishes on the bustling Calle del Laurel, such as Riojan potatoes and vegetable stew. Discover the city's 16th-century defense walls and the 18th-century palace that houses the Museum of La Rioja. In Santiago Square, play the Game of the Goose, with Jacobean motifs, and see The Pilgrim Fountain, commemorating the Camino's history. 

Day 9: Hike to Nájera, Wander the Old Town

The route to Najera has rolling hills and picturesque villages
Snag views of rolling hills and picturesque villages en route to Najera

Begin your day's walk from Logroño, anticipating a longer trek of around eight hours through vineyards and undulating terrain. Arrive at Navarrete, renowned for its wine production and where you can indulge in Rioja's wine culture with a tasting. Continuing to Ventosa and pause to unwind at one of the village's cafés. In Nájera, delve into the Camino's history at the Monastery of Santa María la Real, admired for its Romanesque cloister with intricate stone carvings. Explore the captivating old town, a mix of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque styles, and stroll through the old town's Plaza de España.

The Castle of Nájera, a strategic fortress during medieval times, provided a vantage point over Nájera and its surroundings. Atop the hill, enjoy panoramic views of the town. To view more interesting architectural features and religious art, stop by the Church of Santa Cruz and the Church of San Miguel. Cap off your day with a walk along the banks of the Najerilla River and try traditional dishes like pochas a la riojana (bean stew), pimientos rellenos (stuffed peppers), or chuletillas al sarmiento (grilled lamb chops) and prepare for another early morning of trekking. 

Day 10: Hike to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Explore the Cathedral

Visit the UNESCO-listed cathedral in Santo Domingo de la Calzada

As you leave the medieval town of Nájera, prepare for a day-long trek spanning approximately 13 miles (21 km) and six hours through rural landscapes with vineyards, small villages, and serene countryside. The terrain varies from gentle paths to moderately hilly sections. Shortly after departing, you'll come across the peaceful villages of Azofra and Cirueña. Arrive in Santo Domingo de la Calzada and discover its UNESCO-designated cathedral renowned for a hen coop commemorating a miraculous event central to the town's lore: the legend of the rooster and hen.

The town emerged from the aspirations of Santo Domingo, a crucial figure in the pilgrimage's history. Initially designed to aid pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela, the town provided refuge amid the La Hojuela forest and river Oja. Venture to the old Pilgrims' Hospital, now a Parador de Turismo (hotel in a historically or culturally significant building). Admire emblematic houses along Calle Mayor, City Hall, and the San Francisco convent before stopping by Casa del Santo (Saint's House), an information center for pilgrims, offering valuable guidance for the road ahead. 

Day 11: Hike to Belorado, Explore the Historic Center

Enjoy the serenity of the meseta landscapes
Savor the peaceful rolling hills as you make your way to Belorado

Today, you'll walk 13.5 miles (22 km) to Belorado, a journey of about six hours through diverse landscapes of rolling hills, countryside, and tiny villages like Grañon, Redecilla del Camino, and Castildelgado, offering glimpses into rural Spanish life.

After arriving in Belorado, explore the historic center, including the Church of Santa María with its Romanesque portal and the nearby Hermitage of Vera Cruz, a symbol of the local faith and traditions of Belorado and a place where you can stop for quiet reflection. After settling into your hotel, discover the local Spanish cuisine by sampling caldereta (meat stew) and morcilla (blood sausage). 

Day 12: Hike to San Juan de Ortega, Monastery Visit

Pay your respects at the Monastery of San Juan de Ortega at the end of today's trek

The hike from Belorado to San Juan de Ortega spans 15 miles (24 km) and seven hours, presenting a moderately challenging path through Spain's countryside. When you depart Belorado, follow the route through Villambistia, offering a peaceful rural ambience. The next town, Espinosa del Camino, is famed for its Iglesia de San Nicolás, a 13th-century Romanesque church.

San Juan de Ortega, named after the venerated saint, hosts the Monastery of San Juan de Ortega. The monastery features a chapel famed for an interesting twisted column, which casts a cross-shaped shadow on the equinoxes. The Monastery visit, lasting approximately one hour, invites pilgrims to pay homage to Saint Juan de Ortega, whose contributions were pivotal to the Camino's infrastructure. Enjoy meeting fellow pilgrims in this quiet town and preparing for tomorrow's exciting walk to Burgos

Day 13: Hike to Burgos, Discover Burgos Cathedral

Take advantage of medieval Burgos with its charming cafés and restaurants

Today's seven-hour journey to Burgos covers 17 miles (27 km) over moderately challenging terrain. Departing San Juan de Ortega, you'll traverse Ages, a serene village showcasing the Romanesque Church of Santa Eulalia. Continue toward the archaeological site of Atapuerca, which provides insight into ancient human history. Pass through Cardeñuela Riopico, housing the Monastery of San Félix and San Juan de Cardeña. Founded in the ninth century, it was home to the medieval Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross. Then, arrive in Burgos in the Castille y León region.

Explore the medieval old town, including the UNESCO-listed Gothic Burgos Cathedral, which dates back to 1221. Wander through the city's museums and landmarks like Arco de Santa María, a grand archway that dates back to the 14th century and was originally one of the main gates to the city. Enjoy the contrast of a larger city with more amenities, and take time to restock any supplies and eat any ethnic cuisine you've been missing. From Burgos, you'll progress into the "Mind" section, known for being contemplative and solitary, allowing pilgrims to introspect along the vast plains of the Meseta.

Day 14: Hike to Hontanas, Tour Ermita de la Piedad Chapel

Meet fellow pilgrims while visiting the Church of San Juan Bautista

Today's eight-hour, 8.6-mile (30 km) journey to Hontanas passes through farmland and rolling hills. The first landmark is the Church of Santa María in Rabé de las Calzada, where you can stop to appreciate its Romanesque style and intricately carved portal. Next, admire the ruins of San Bol, a small hermitage where pilgrims often stop to enjoy the vistas across the Meseta Central.

In Hontanas, stop for a rest at the Ermita de la Piedad chapel and the Church of San Juan Bautista, a historic church likely visited by pilgrims for centuries. The church often represents a focal point in small communities like Hontanas, reflecting local architectural styles and religious traditions. Then, settle in for dinner at a local restaurant, where you can refuel for tomorrow's walk and pause to reflect on the past two weeks of being on the Camino.

Day 15: Hike to Boadilla del Camino, Optional Activities

Hike along flat terrain and wheat fields as you cross the Meseta

Your hike from Hontanas to Boadilla del Camino spans 17 miles (28 km) and typically lasts eight hours, offering flat terrain and a serene experience across the Meseta. Departing Hontanas, the trail leads through the ruins of the 15th-century convent belonging to Saint Antón, an order famous for the miraculous cures of the "fire of Saint Antón" (ergotism), a gangrenous disease. 

Onward lies your stop for the night: Boadilla del Camino. This town is known for its warm hospitality toward pilgrims, its albergue (hostel) designed to resemble a medieval castle, and a well-maintained Jurisdictional Roll, a Gothic-style column from the 15th century that was a venue for trials and executions. Adjacent to it stands the 16th-century Gothic church of Santa María, whose Romanesque baptismal font dates back to the 13th century. After exploring the town center, try this area's specialty for dinner: vegetable stew made with a sauce based on lean pork, beef, and onion.

Day 16: Hike to Carrión de los Condes, Attend a Singalong with Nuns

Check out the sights of Carrión de los Condes before joining a singalong

The hike to Carrión de los Condes spans 15 miles (24 km) and takes around six hours. This moderately challenging stage predominantly crosses the Meseta's vast farmlands and countryside. First, reach the town of Fromista, renowned for the Romanesque Church of San Martín, and notice the beautiful 11th-century sculptures. Follow the route along the Canal de Castilla, an essential transport route for agricultural produce, connecting the interior regions of Castile to the northern ports. Stop where the path skirts Paseo de los Marqueses, a canal-side promenade with a view.

During the Middle Ages, Carrión de los Condes was a hub for pilgrims, with several churches and hospitals. Discover landmarks like the 12th-century Romanesque Church of Santa María del Camino, where the legend of the "tribute of the hundred maidens" is etched in its portico. Pilgrims wanting to partake in a unique activity can visit the 13th-century Santa Clara Monastery to join a group singalong hosted by the nuns, a fun way to mingle with fellow pilgrims. Afterward, try a traditional dish of the Palencia region for dinner, such as sopa albada, a version of garlic soup with serrano ham. 

Day 17: Hike to Terradillos de los Templarios, Optional Activities

Continue on the long stretches of farmland in the meseta
Continue walking the extensive stretches of flat farmland in the Meseta

The journey from Carrión de los Condes to Terradillos de los Templarios spans 16 miles (26 km). It takes about six hours, offering flat terrain and panoramic views of fields and farmland across the Meseta. Beyond the Carrión River lies the 16th-century Benedictine Monastery of San Zoilo, now transformed into a luxury hotel. Spend time here and at the museum before continuing, as this moderately challenging stage is the longest stretch of the Camino without intermediate villages or resting places, though sometimes locals set up mobile bars.

Terradillos de los Templarios, named in honor of the medieval Christian military order, the Knights Templar, beckons weary travelers. Founded in the early 12th century during the Crusades, the Templars played a pivotal role in safeguarding Christian pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The Templars' commitment to protecting pilgrims led to people building bridges, hostels, and churches along the Camino, vital infrastructure for pilgrims. This quiet village offers the perfect opportunity to connect with other pilgrims and to get some rest before tomorrow's milestone stop in Sahagún

Day 18: Hike to El Burgo Ranero, Halfway Certificate & Museum

The office at Iglesia de la Peregrina will issue you a halfway certificate
Pick up your halfway certificate at the Iglesia de la Peregrina

Begin your 18.6-mile (30 km) seven-hour trek by crossing rolling landscapes that unfurl before you. Soon, Sahagún will emerge, marking the Camino's halfway mark for pilgrims commencing their journey from St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France. Celebrate this milestone by stopping at the Iglesia de la Peregrina, a scallop shell-shaped architecture symbolizing the Camino, to obtain your halfway certificate and discover its museum, which explains the pilgrimage's history. Before returning to the trail, explore Sahagún's historic cobbled streets and ancient structures.

Near the Río Cea stands La Ermita de Nuestra Señora de La Virgen del Puente—a serene hermitage inviting pilgrims to pause and reflect. Upon reaching El Burgo Ranero, settle into your lodging and savor a meal while bonding with fellow travelers. Take in the history of this town, named after the region's prevalent ranas (frogs) and for being a haven for pilgrims to restock provisions (ranero referencing the French term ranz for provisions). Afterward, partake in the pilgrim's mass at the Church of Santa María del Camino, light candles, and marvel at its Romanesque aesthetics. 

Day 19: Hike to Mansilla de las Mulas, Optional Activities

Make your way along the path to Reliegos before continuing to Mansilla de las Mulas

Today, for about five hours, you'll set out on an 11-mile (18 km) hike through the Meseta's expansive fields and gentle terrain. The trail offers a simpler yet reflective experience, showcasing the history of Mansilla de las Mulas. Leaving El Burgo Ranero, the path leads to Reliegos, a small village perfect for a brief respite amid rural landscapes.

Upon reaching Mansilla de las Mulas, cross the medieval bridge and find the historic town center. Marvel at the well-preserved city walls safeguarding Camino travelers for hundreds of years, and wander through narrow streets and discover the Church of Santa María with Gothic and Renaissance architectural influences. Take the opportunity to rest in this tiny town and gear up for tomorrow's arrival in a bigger city. 

Day 20: Hike to León, Explore Gothic & Gaudi Masterpieces

Hike from Mansilla de las Mulas to León
Fill up on León's beautiful architecture, which includes Gaudí's Casa Botines

Begin today's 12-mile (19 km) walk, transitioning from the countryside to the urban presence of León. The town of Villarente provides a brief stop before the final stretch while crossing the Río Bernesga marks the city's official entry. Upon arrival, allocate two hours to discover León's landmarks, such as Casa Botines, an architectural masterpiece by Antoni Gaudí. The highlight is the 13th-century Catedral de León, a Gothic marvel with stained glass mosaics constructed atop Roman baths. Enter the Basilica of San Isidoro, renowned for its frescoes, including the painted ceiling of the Basilica's Royal Pantheon area.

If time allows, head over to the Monastery of San Marcos. Originally built as a pilgrim's hospital, the space now operates as a Parador Nacional, a state-run luxury hotel chain in historic buildings with Plateresque (Spanish late Gothic and early Renaissance) architecture and houses the León Museum with archaeological artifacts. After a full afternoon of exploration, round off your day in Barrio Húmedo, a lively area surrounding the Plaza Mayor famed for its nightlife and cocktail and tapas bars.

Day 21: Hike to San Martín del Camino, Pay Homage to San Martín

Say goodbye to León as you begin your hike to San Martín del Camino

Today's walk has you departing León while covering 15.5 miles (25 km) over seven hours on moderately challenging, flat terrain. The landscapes along this stretch are rural, fostering a connection with nature. First, you'll encounter Virgen del Camino, a town graced by the modern Sanctuary of the Virgen del Camino, honoring the Camino's patron saint, the Virgin Mary. A nearby park dedicated to La Virgen del Camino offers a spot for reflection.

Continuing your pilgrimage, arrive at San Martín del Camino, paying homage to Saint Martin at the Church of San Martín. Upon arrival at your accommodation, you'll have time to eat dinner at a nearby restaurant or opt for a family-style dinner prepared by your host. It's the perfect opportunity to rest and regroup before tomorrow's trek to a larger city. 

Day 22: Hike to Astorga, Discover a Gaudí Masterpiece

Give your legs a break and unwind at a café in Astorga

Begin your day walking 18.6 miles (30 km) to Astorga, expecting around eight hours of walking through trails and dirt roads. Passing through León's mountainous landscape, you'll reach Hospital de Órbigo, named after a hospital and shelter that cared for pilgrims. It's also home to the famous Puente de Órbigo, or the Bridge of the Knights, the site of the Tournament of the Passo Honroso in 1434. Legend has it that a knight, Suero de Quiñones, proclaimed a personal challenge, vowing to fight against any knight who dared to cross the bridge for a specific period of time, seeking love and honor for his lady.

Continue onward, and upon reaching Astorga, explore the Pink Cathedral, an impressive Gothic structure. Move on to the Palacio Episcopal, a neo-Gothic masterpiece designed by Antoni Gaudí, housing the Gaudí Museum. Delve into Astorga's Roman roots by visiting remnants of ancient Roman baths and conclude your day in Astorga at Plaza Mayor, where you can unwind at outdoor cafés, soak in the lively atmosphere, and sample some chocolates, a local specialty, before retiring for the night. 

Day 23: Hike to Rabanal del Camino, Attend the Pilgrim's Mass

The route to Rabanal del Camino is know for its solitude
Relax on today's route to Rabanal del Caminom, which is known for its solitude

Embark on a 12-mile (20 km) walk to Rabanal del Camino, witnessing the shift from urban to expansive countryside vistas over five hours and moderately challenging terrain. Commence the walk with a visit to the Church of Santa Catalina in Astorga, an exemplary display of Gothic architecture.

Upon arrival to Rabanal del Camino, attend the Pilgrim's Mass at the unassuming yet charming Church of Santa María. Notably, the Crucifix of Santo Toribio, a monumental cross near the church, symbolizes the spiritual journey undertaken on the Camino. Explore cafés, getting to know the locals and your fellow pilgrims as you swap stories, eat croissants, and enjoy views of the Galician countryside. 

Day 24: Hike to Ponferrada, Visit the Castle of the Knights Templar

Pilgrims leave a stone from their home to symbolize releasing their burdens
Stop by the Iron Cross where pilgrims leave a stone from their home

Today's 20-mile (32 km) walk to Ponferrada takes around nine hours through rural landscapes and charming villages, gradually descending from the mountains. Leaving Rabanal del Camino, follow the waymarkers to Foncebadón, a village known for the iconic Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross). On this revered pilgrimage site, travelers traditionally leave stones symbolizing their burdens. Farther along, explore the historic Puente de Molinaseca, a Roman-era bridge in the town of Molinaseca with cobblestone streets and a riverside setting.

Arrive in Ponferrada, nestled in León's Bierzo region, and explore The Castle of the Knights Templar. Dating back to the 12th century, it was built to protect the Camino de Santiago and ensure the safety of pilgrims. Spend time exploring the castle's interior with the Templar's Library, which houses medieval texts and manuscripts, climb the castle wall for panoramic views, and admire the castle's military architecture and the chapel, Capilla de Nuestra Señora de la Encina

Day 25: Hike to Villafranca del Bierzo, Stroll the Historic Streets

Encounter rural landscapes en route to Villafranca del Bierzo
Encounter rural landscapes en route to Villafranca del Bierzo

Embark on a 15-mile (24 km) trek to Villafranca del Bierzo. The journey spans about seven hours, encompassing rural landscapes and vineyards. Departing Ponferrada, find the village of Cacabelos, renowned for its wines. Delve into local wineries to sample the area's esteemed wine varieties while exploring the town's charm. Afterward, stop by The Church of Santa María, a cultural gem worth visiting in Cacabelos.

Arriving in Villafranca del Bierzo, prioritize visiting the Church of Santiago, notable for its Romanesque architecture, and the Door of Forgiveness, a doorway where it's said pilgrims sought blessings if unable to complete their journey to Santiago de Compostela. The Castle of Villafranca, now housing the Colegiata de Santa María church, served a historic role in safeguarding pilgrims. In Villafranca del Bierzo, stroll through the historical streets, taking in the Church of Santiago's impressive facade and the town's serene Paseo del Generalissimo, a serene tree-lined promenade.

Day 26: Hike to O'Cebreiro, Optional Activities

Pass through countryside and vineyards along the route to O'Cebreiro

On today's 17-mile (28 km) eight-hour walk to the village of O'Cebreiro, you'll encounter vineyards, forests, and a gradual ascent into the mountains, making it one of the more demanding stages due to elevation changes. Departing Villafranca del Bierzo, traverse through Vega de Valcarce, a village offering pilgrim services and a serene resting spot. You'll notice the changes in landscapes as you cross from Spain's Castille y León region to the verdant hills of Galicia. This final section, known as the "Soul" section, provides a rejuvenating experience and a sense of accomplishment.

The highlight of this stage is O'Cebreiro, a mountain village with traditional pallozas, which are stone huts with thatched roofs representing Galicia's mountain architecture. Explore the village's Church of Santa María Real, a pre-Romanesque church distinguished by its thatched roof. For cultural experiences, wander through O'Cebreiro's ethnographic museum and spot the memorial honoring the painter of the iconic yellow arrow waymarkers from the 1980s. Conclude your day by witnessing the sunset over the mountains.

Day 27: Hike to Triacastela, Explore the Town

Descend from the mountains to reach Triacastela, which means "Three Castles"

Hike for 13 miles (21 km) and seven hours to Triacastela. You can choose the challenging yet scenic Hospitales Route or the standard path through lush Galician landscapes, with moderate elevation changes. The trail descends from the mountains, leading through Galician countryside adorned with verdant hills and forests.

Arriving in Triacastela, meaning "Three Castles," pilgrims encounter remnants of its medieval history reflected in the town's name. Explore the Romanesque Church of Santiago, housing medieval paintings depicting visual narratives of the pilgrimage experience. Traverse the Ponte Aspera, a medieval bridge spanning the river. Get some rest in preparation for an exciting walk to Sarria, marking the home stretch of your Camino journey. 

Day 28: Hike to Sarria, Visit the Monastery of San Julián de Samos

Enjoy the fact that you're nearing the end of the trail on today's moderately challenging course 

Feel the excitement today as hundreds of pilgrims join you on this 11-mile (18 km) and five-hour stretch to Sarria, the starting point for pilgrims aiming to cover the final 62 miles (100 km) to qualify for the Compostela certificate. The trail winds through verdant Galician countryside, with rolling hills, oak forests, and quaint villages, a moderately challenging course with intermittent elevation changes. Leaving Triacastela, you can opt for the San Xil Route, offering serene forested paths as a quieter alternative.

A highlight is the Monastery of San Julián de Samos, a Benedictine complex with beautiful gardens dating back to the 6th century. Sarria exudes bustling energy and anticipation. Notice the Romanesque Church of Santa Mariña, or wander through the historic old town with quaint streets, inviting squares, and cozy cafés. Sit down for a local dish of caldo gallego (hearty soup made with greens, beans, and chorizo) and treat yourself to tarta de Santiago for dessert. This almond cake is flavored with lemon zest and dusted with powdered sugar, usually featuring the image of the Cross of Saint James on its surface.

Day 29: Hike to Portomarín, Explore the Historic Center

Hike through rolling hills, farmlands, and small settlements on your way to Portomarín

Begin your 14-mile (22 km) walk to Portomarín, navigating undulating terrain for the initial 8 miles (13 km), challenging a consistent walking pace. The six-hour trek traverses wooded paths, a moderately challenging stage that winds through Galicia's countryside, featuring rolling hills, farmlands, and small settlements. You'll cross the Río Miño via Puente de Triacastela, a bridge with vistas of the river and town.

Upon reaching Portomarín, explore the historic center featuring the relocated Church of San Nicolás de Portomarín, a resilient Romanesque church moved during the Belesar Reservoir's creation in the 1960s. Wander the old town, similarly relocated to higher ground to evade rising waters, showcasing buildings and streets meticulously moved stone by stone. Delve further into history by visiting the Castillo de Pambre (Castle of Pambre), a well-preserved medieval fortress constructed in the 14th century. Tuck into your accommodation for the night to prepare for another early morning trek. 

Day 30: Hike to Palas de Rei, Visit the Church of San Tirso

Follow the signs to Palas de Rei, which has been supporting pilgrims since the Middle Ages

On today's 15-mile (24-km) and seven-hour trek to Palas de Rei, you'll traverse the Galician countryside's rolling hills, woodlands, and quaint villages, offering a moderately challenging path featuring intermittent elevation changes. Along the way, discover the small village of Gonzar, providing a peaceful respite. Farther ahead lies Hospital de la Cruz, a serene hamlet with the Chapel of Hospital de la Cruz, echoing the historical significance of pilgrim hospices that once aided weary travelers.

Upon reaching Palas de Rei, meaning "Palace of the King," explore its medieval heritage and learn about how it supported and accommodated pilgrims from the Middle Ages until now. If time allows, peek into the Church of San Tirso, a Romanesque sanctuary adorned with medieval carvings. 

Day 31: Hike to Melide, Optional Activities

Walk the wooded path from Palas de Rei
Breathe in the scent of pine trees along the wooded path to Melide

Begin your 9-mile (15-km) trek from Palas de Rei to Melide, approximately a five-hour journey. The path meanders through the serene Galician countryside, with wooded trails and rustic landscapes. Departing Palas de Rei, you'll soon encounter Casanova, a tranquil village perfect for pausing and relaxing. While en route, explore the Romanesque Church of Santa María de Leboreiro, adorned with an intriguing tympanum featuring the Last Supper—a significant religious depiction along the Camino de Santiago.

Arrive in Melide and indulge in the famous local dish, pulpo a la gallega (Galician-style octopus). Experience the town's bustling market, offering fresh produce, seafood, and handicrafts. Additionally, visit the Melide Museum, which has prehistoric, Roman, and medieval artifacts, such as pottery and tools. The museum often features an exhibit with pilgrim-related items.

Day 32: Hike to Arzúa, Cheese Sampling

Stop at the fountain in Arzúa
Stop for a well-deserved rest and a water refill at the fountain in Arzúa

The 12-mile (19 km) walk to Arzúa takes about five hours, guiding pilgrims through rural settings. First, you'll reach Boente, a serene village where the Chapel of San Alberte, a historical religious site, is a great place to take a break. Continuing, Ribadiso stands as a charming hamlet with a distinct ancient feel. It houses an old pilgrim hospital turned albergue and features a medieval bridge over the Iso River, where you can snap scenic photos.

In Arzúa, check into your accommodation and head out to learn about this town's focus—cheese production. Sample local varieties, including the famed bocadillo de queso, and explore dairies to learn about cheesemaking traditions. 

Day 33: Hike to Pedrouzo, Optional Activities

Pat yourself on the back as you hike to Pedrouzo, the penultimate leg of your journey

Today's 12-mile (19 km) hike to Pedrouzo for about six hours leads you through forests, farmlands, and villages. Stop at the hamlet of Santa Irene to rest at the modest Santa Irene Chapel. Farther along, admire the traditional horreo, or elevated grain stores in Rúa. Pedrouzo, the final major stop before Santiago de Compostela, features the unassuming Church of Santa María. The town teems with amenities like shops, cafés, and restaurants, providing pilgrims with resources for their journey's concluding stretch.

Sit down for dinner and gelato and enjoy the anticipatory atmosphere of the town as pilgrims gather, fostering camaraderie and preparing emotionally for the impending final leg of their pilgrimage. Make sure to go to bed early in preparation for the exciting final leg of your journey tomorrow. 

Day 34: Hike to Santiago de Compostela, Optional Activities

Pass through Lavacolla before entering your last stop of the trip: Santiago

Today's trek spans 12 miles (20 km), and six hours, guiding you from woodlands to urban areas. The mixed terrain offers a blend of emotions—anticipation, introspection, and celebration—as you near the culmination of your pilgrimage. Along the route is Lavacolla, where it's said pilgrims would cleanse themselves in the Lavacolla River before entering Santiago, symbolizing purification. Next, you'll see San Marcos, which houses the Chapel of San Marcos. Not far up the trail is Monte do Gozo (Mount of Joy), offering panoramic views of Santiago de Compostela.

Upon reaching Santiago de Compostela, attend mass at the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela to witness the iconic Botafumeiro (incense holder) and view the revered apostle Saint James' silver tomb. Next, explore its museums, including the Cathedral Museum and the Museum of Pilgrimages & Santiago. Santiago de Compostela marks an endpoint for those walking from Saint Jean Pie-de-Port and the beginning of pilgrimages to coastal Muxia or Finisterre. Head to the Pilgrim's Office to receive your Compostela certificate and celebrate. Congratulations and buen camino!

Day 35: Depart Santiago de Compostela

Until next time, Spain!
It's time to say farewell to Spain! Depending on the time of your flight or train reservation, squeeze in one more morning of sightseeing, perhaps picking up some last-minute souvenirs. At the designated time, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to the airport or rail station for your departure.

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