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Walk only the very best sections of the Camino de Santiago on this inn to inn route picking out the highlights of the Camino Francés all the way from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela in just 11 days, staying in beautiful small hotels each night.
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Start your trip today with the drive up into the Spanish Pyrenees and the start point for many pilgrims walking to Santiago de Compostela. Settle in to a beautiful converted monastery as you soak up the atmosphere of the early stages of the pilgrimage.
Set off walking your first stretch of the Camino right from the front door. The landscape is one of lovely small villages set in the rolling pastures and forests of the Basque Pyrenees. Over the course of the day, you gradually descend through villages and woodland. Please note that the length of walks can be varied according to your energy levels but on most days you would expect to walk between 12 and 20km.
Moving away from the Pyrenees, the terrain changes to open, rolling landscapes punctuated by vineyards, olive groves and villages rich in history. Puente de la Reina, one of the prettiest villages along the entire Camino, is a great place to enjoy lunch. Carry on this afternoon to cross medieval and Roman bridges, passing olive groves and small vineyards. Tonight you stay in the La Rioja region.
Walking boots back on today for the long walk through the Montes de Oca. This was traditionally one of the most feared stretches of the pilgrimage due to the presence of bandits hiding out all over the forested hills. There is along stretch today through pine forest but this then gives way to deciduous woods and then out onto the plains of Spain so the transition is beautiful.
Enjoy a full day to visit Burgos with its dramatic gothic cathedral, the first rate Museum of Human Evolution as well as the city's lovely historic centre.
The walk today is across the Tierra de Campos with its huge cereal fields and enormous skies. The landscape is punctuated with small villages, enormous churches with nesting storks and wind turbines turning.
The landscapes on today's walk start to get more hilly as you leave the central plains of Castile and start to see the forests and mountains ahead. The number of pilgrims starts to build as different branches of the Camino converge as you walk into the ancient hill-top town of Astorga. There are extensive Roman remains here, as well as a Gaudí designed Archbishop's palace. And it's the home of chocolate making. There's plenty to do and see!
Prepare yourself for a big change in scenery today as you walk up and up into the province of Galicia. The landscape is mountainous and forested and it is often wet. At the top of the hill is the village of O’Cebreiro, rich in Camino history and site of one of the oldest inns on the walk. It’s been serving meals to pilgrims since the 9th century so where better for lunch? Continue downhill to push on into the rich green landscapes of Galicia.
Today's route follows ancient trails passing small hamlets and magic “corredoiras,” the traditional Galician pathways lined with oak and chestnut trees. You also enjoy views of wide open countryside. These last stages of the Camino are widely thought of as the most beautiful. They are certainly the busiest: 100km is the shortest distance you can walk to Santiago and get your *compostela* pilgrim certificate. Continue to Santiago by road this afternoon.
Santiago is a very special city. Resolutely and obviously Spanish, it has also lived with visitors for millennia so has a relaxed cosmopolitan feel which is much harder to find in Spain. Of course, the city is also full of pilgrims who are just delighted to have arrived so it is hard not to be infected by positivity. This is a very easy place to spend a happy day wandering, visiting markets, museums and eating...
Transfer to the airport or train station today as we all head home. Alternatively, if you have time, we highly recommend that you extend your stay to enjoy a bit of time soaking up all that Santiago has to offer. Again, we quote international flights separately on this holiday.
It was fabulous to see so much of the northern part of Spain, learn so much of the culture and history, and spend time experiencing so many different parts of the Camino. Martha T
Walk our favourite sections of the Camino de Santiago over 11 days, all the way from the Pyrenees to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela whilst staying in beautiful small hotels. From the berets and log piles of the Basque Pyrenees to the vast golden plains of Castilla and the ever-flowing waters of Galicia, we bring you the culinary, cultural and physical highlights of the 'French' path of the Camino de Santiago walk.
This holiday consists of walking what we think are the most emblematic and beautiful stretches of the Camino between the Pyrenees and Santiago de Compostela. We also feel that the walks chosen convey most succinctly the changing landscapes as you move along the Camino.
To be clear, the way the trip works is that you travel some distance by road at the start of the day to be dropped off at the start of a section, you are then picked up at the end of the walk to drive to your next hotel. By and large those road transfers take between 30 minutes and and hour. By doing this it allows us to walk just the best bits but also means that frankly, we avoid walking the many soul sapping stages of the full Camino - walking through the outskirts of cities for instance is never a lovely prospect, nor are the hundreds of kilometres of monotonous rolling plains of Castille which the 'real' pilgrims will cross over the course of a scorching week or 10 days.
You walk 7 stages over the 10 full days of this trip, each stage varies somewhat in length but on average you will be walking around 16km though this can be adjusted to suit you. The nature of the walking varies depending on the region you are passing through but by and large, the walking is on very good, wide paths and tracks. On one of the days the walk is almost entirely uphill as you cross into Galicia but the gradient is steady.
Since you are travelling essentially the width of northern Spain over the course of this trip, the weather will change from day to day. During the months we run this trip, we expect the weather to be basically dry until you get into Galicia where rain is much, much more common. Temperatures at the very start and very end of the trip should be around 15°- 20°, as you travel across the plains of Castille, things will get warmer with daytime highs of around 25°- 30°. We time walks as best we can to avoid getting too hot.
The accommodation on this journey is very comfortable, always en suite and always with lots of personality. Although star ratings are not particularly helpful when it comes to small hotels in more rustic environments, you should expect 3+ to 4 standard. For full details of the hotels, please see our detailed pdf itinerary.
We have selected our highlights of the Camino partly on the basis of the physical transitions from region to region but also very much on the basis that each day should reflect a cultural transition too as you move from region to region of Spain.
Starting in the Basque country, your first walk is through almost Alpine landscapes with grazing cattle, meadows and piles of wood ready for the long harsh mountain winters. As you cross the central plains of Spain, the sense of pilgrimage intensifies with ever increasing numbers of pilgrims on the path as you approach Santiago. Into Galicia and you will notice the hard rural lifestyle, it is here that people have to work hardest to produce from their land. Smallholdings are tiny and winters long and harsh, the character of the Galicians is noticeably distinct.
As well as the more obvious definition of culture, it's important to remember just how good the food and wine is along this journey. And besides, viticulture counts as culture. It is remarkable on this trip just how many different D.O. (denominated origin) regions you travel through. You will be able to sample wines which are rarely seen beyond the shores of Spain.
There is a detailed itinerary for this trip in the form above. Please get in touch and we can email that to you. This is a holiday which can be run as a private self-guided trip or a guid. The itinerary itself can be altered to suit you if required in both duration and content. If you would like to join us on this holiday, please call us to discuss your requirements and any additional arrangements you may want.
Although flights are not included in the holiday price, we are very happy to advise on the best routings and timings. The holiday starts in Bilbao (airport code: BIO) which is well served by both international and domestic flights. It ends in Santiago (airport code: SCQ) which is also well connected by air but also has good rail connections to Madrid in particular.
Price per person based on two travelling. Departs any day of the year, between April and October, to suit you.
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The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.
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