• The Camino de Santiago

    Follow the famous medieval pilgrimage route from France into Spain on this epic quest

    For over one thousand years, the Camino de Santiago has attracted countless spiritual and adventure-seeking pilgrims alike to visit the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela—a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the remains of the Apostle James.

    best times to go: April - June, September - October

    departures: 5 scheduled datesview departures

    pricing: from $5,295 see detailed pricing

    The Mediterranean

    Moderate to Strenuous

Follow the famous medieval pilgrimage route from France into Spain on this epic quest

Hiking the old pilgrim trails to Spain’s Santiago de Compostela is a challenging quest that has enticed travelers for centuries. Eager to have you fully experience it without any added worry, we’ve included some extra perks that you won’t always find with other companies: the expertise of our local guide (an accomplished historian), full support coach, incredible meals, wine with dinner, tickets, transfers, and comfortable accommodations. What’s more, we’ve peppered your journey with informative afternoon guided tours of charming cities and towns along El Camino, including Pamplona, Burgos, and León. Whether you seek illumination or just want to enjoy the thrill of hiking this famous path, this is certain to be the adventure of a lifetime.

Activities

8 days of moderate walking on mostly flat and rolling terrain (trails, roads, and sidewalks), of significant length (6 – 16.5 miles per day), with few steep uphills.
 

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Experience one of the world’s most epic pilgrimages via the famed Camino Francès route
  • Rest assured with an exceptional guide-to-hiker ratio, and constant vehicle support—there is always the option to shorten or skip walks!
  • Explore the town of Pamplona, famous for the running of the bulls; the medieval city of Burgos, home of the 11th century hero El Cid; and the ancient Christian capital of León
  • Enjoy guided visits to historic towns including tours of Santiago de Compostela and Finisterre

Duration: 11 days Start Location: Bilbao, Spain End Location: Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Download Detailed Itinerary
Itinerary
  • Day01_scs_bgstk_bilbao
    Day 1 : Meet in Bilbao (Spain) – Transfer to Saint Jean-Pied de Port (France)

    Plan to rendezvous with your guide and the rest of the group at 11:00 a.m. at The Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao in Bilbao. Those flying into Bilbao on Day 1 will be picked up from the airport prior to the 11:00 a.m. rendezvous.  Bilbao is the cultural capital and main city of Basque Country in Northern Spain, and is home to the famous Guggenheim Museum, noted for its permanent collections of avant-garde art displaying the works of 20th. Century artists such as Vasily Kandinsky, Willem de Kooning, and many leading Basque and Spanish artists. We recommend that you arrive in Bilbao prior to Day 1 to visit the Museum, and to recover from your jet lag. After introductions and a brief orientation, we’ll transfer together to San Sebastian, considered to be the most beautiful city along the Bay of Biscay.  After a short visit and lunch, we’ll continue on to Saint Jean-Pied de Port on the French side of the Basque Pyrenees, where we’ll take a brief walking tour and then check into our hotel.  We’ll end the day with a delicious welcome dinner.  (2.5 hours driving, no hiking.)

  • Day 2 : Saint Jean Pied de Port France (France) – Roncesvalles (Spain)

    Begin with a short transfer (30 minutes) from St. Jean-Pied de Port to a place called La Virgen de Biakorri. This is the first step of El Camino, crossing this famous historical pass of the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles.  Here is where the famous hero of the Charlemagne Army, Roland, battled against the Basques.  We’ll enjoy a good hike in the mid-altitude meadows of the Pyrenees, with a very gradual climb from St. Jean to the cols of Bentarte and Leopeder, eventually descending into Spain through beech tree forests to Roncesvalles, where we stay for the night.  In the afternoon, we'll have a guided tour of Roncesvalles' historic sites.  (30-minute transfer, 6 hours hiking, 9.3 miles, 1,656' gradual ascent, 2,114’ descent.)

  • Day03_scs_csbt_pamplona
    Day 3 : Roncesvalles – Pamplona

    After breakfast, we’ll hike through meadows and forests, passing small villages along the way.  Our destination is the charming old town of Zubiri in the Valley of Esteribar. We’ll cross the Valley of Erro through oak and beech tree forests, the typical scenery of the southern slopes of the Pyrenees in the Navarra Basque Country.  Once we’ve reached Zubiri, we’ll board our bus and transfer 35 minutes to the city of Pamplona, where we’ll spend the night. Pamplona, a city founded by the Roman General Pompeius, is the first big city that the Pilgrims discovered when they arrived in Spain. We’ll take a leisurely walk through the Old City and the streets of the famous "running of the bulls," before sitting down for dinner. (35 minutes driving, 6 hours hiking, 14 miles, 1,428' ascent, 2,853’ descent.)

  • Day04_scs_bgstk_burgos
    Day 4 : Ages Atapuerco – Burgos

    Today, we'll begin one of the main stages of El Camino, the Meseta, the High Plains of Central Spain. We’ll start the day with a transfer from Pamplona to Ages, where we begin our walk. Today’s journey follows a very flat route, beginning with a short ascent of about 500 feet to Matagrande, as we leave behind the Valley of Rio Pico, passing through the villages of Atapuerca, Villafria, and Castañares. In the afternoon, we’ll arrive to the city of Burgos, situated on the Rio Arlanzon. Burgos was once the capital of the Castile and Léon realms. This 9th Century city was the home town of El Cid whose statue guards the Puente de San Pablo.  We’ll continue along a riverside walkway to the Puente El Cid, and to the Cathedral near which we will spend the night.  After checking in to the hotel, we'll have a guided tour of The Cathedral and the old town of Burgos before dinner. (2 hours driving, 6 hours hiking, 12.5 miles, 1,000' ascent, 1,500’ descent.)

  • Day 5 : Boadilla del Camino – Carrion de los Condes

    Today, we’ll enjoy another full day on the High Plains of Central Spain, as we cross through the Tierra de Campos (or Campos Goticos).  It is here where the Spanish Visigoths settled after defeating the Muslims who entered Spain.  This land is filled with the history of La Reconquista, a period of time lasting nearly 800 years in the Middle Ages, during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula.  It is today known as Castilla.  We’ll walk through this sparse farm country, passing green and golden grasslands and fields of sunflowers, to the town of Carrion de los Condes where we’ll stay for the night. The medieval town of Carrion has one of the most important Churches of El Camino in this area of Tierra de Campo or Campos Goticos, La Iglesia de Santa Marua del Camino.  We'll visit the old town with a local guide on our way to the hotel located in the same monastery that has the relics of San Zoilo.  (1 hour driving, 7 hours hiking, 16.5 miles, 891' ascent, 865’ descent.)

  • Day06_scs_csbt_leoncathedra
    Day 6 : El Burgo Ranero – Mansilla de las Mulas (León)

    Today, we’ll hike through the small town of El Burgo Ranero, and through vast fields of crops and grasslands on very flat terrain.  By lunch time we will reach the medieval market city of Mansilla de las Mulas, a crossroads in this area of El Camino. After lunch, we'll take a short transfer to the city of León, the Capital of Christian Spain, also known as “El Reino de León.“ The Cathedral of León is one of the most famous in Spain, constructed in the early Gothic style.    In the afternoon we'll enjoy a guided historical tour of the city and the Cathedral.  The Hotel Parador, where we stay this evening, is itself a historical monument from the XVI century worth spending an hour to explore.  (45 minutes driving, 6 hours hiking, 12 miles, 464' ascent, 1,090’ descent.)

  • Day7_scs_csbt_orbigo
    Day 7 : Hospital de Órbigo – Astorga

    Our destination today is the small city of Astorga.  The old Roman city of Asturica Augusta, a subdivision of the Roman legion that patrolled all of these High Plains more than 2,000 years ago, is known for its fascinating architecture from the Romanesque style to the Gothic, and is home to the Episcopal Palace of Astorga, built by the famous Catalonian, Antoni Gaudi.  To reach Astorga, we’ll begin in Hospital de Órbigo, with its picturesque old Roman Órbigo Bridge, and continue along country roads through vineyards and rolling hills for 11 miles.  Along the way, we’ll pass through the small villages of Valle de Santibañez and Valdeiglesias, until we eventually reach a poignant part of our trip – El Crucero de Santo Toribio, the religious cross that has marked this trail for centuries.  (1.5 hours driving in two 45-minute shifts, 6 hours hiking, 11 miles, 800' ascent, 834’ descent.)

  • Day08_scs_csbt_ocebreiro
    Day 8 : Villafranca – Las Herrerias – O Cebreiro – Lugo

    Today we leave the Castilla and Leon region, and the High Plains of El Camino as we hike to Galicia, the northwestern region, with its Celtic history and hilly landscapes. We’ll begin our hike in Las Herrerias crossing La Faba and Laguna de Castilla before we reach our first significant ascent in many days.   We’ll climb over 2,000 feet in our last 5 miles to reach the old Celtic village of O Cebrerio by way of the Piedrfita Pass, where custom has it the pilgrim must throw one stone in the Cruceiro for good luck.  We are now entering Galicia, and the last stage of our El Camino journey.  As we are now in Galicia, we will spend the night in the Old Roman city of Lugo, where we will have the opportunity to visit the Cathedral and walk along the Roman Wall (45 minutes driving, 4 hours hiking, 6 miles, 2,416' ascent, 394’ descent.)

  • Day9_scs_csbt_pedrouzo
    Day 9 : Pedrouzo – Santiago de Compostela

    After breakfast, we’ll have a 45-minute transfer to the town of Pedrouzo, where we’ll start the last stage of our journey along the great El Camino de Santiago.  Today, we’ll reach La Plaza del Obradoiro at the foot of the impressive Cathedral de Santiago in Santiago de Compostela. The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is the reputed burial place of Saint James, and is the official destination of The Way of St. James, the traditional pilgrimage route, and of our journey together. We will hike straight to our hotel, the famous XVI century building of the Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos (a 5-star parador). (45 minutes driving, 6 hours hiking, 14 miles, 1,534' ascent, 1,600’ descent.)

  • Day10_scs_csbt_santiago
    Day 10 : Day Trip to Finisterre – Guided Historical Tour of Santiago de Compostela

    Today we’ll will enjoy a guided excursion to the coastal village of Finisterre ("the end of the Earth"), another important historical site for those pilgrims walking the El Camino. Some pilgrims choose to continue another 55 miles from Santiago de Compostela to Cape Finisterre, the westernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. It is a tradition for pilgrims to burn their clothes or boots at the end of their journey at Cape Finisterre. In the afternoon, we'll return to Santiago for a guided historical tour of the old city, and of the Cathedral, and then rest up for a special farewell dinner.

  • Day 11 : Departure

    Alas we must say adios!  After breakfast, we'll transfer to the airport in Santiago de Compostela for departures home.

Download Detailed Itinerary

DATES: Best time to go: April - June, September - October Departures: Sep 29, 2014 - Oct 9, 2014 Oct 13 - 23, 2014 Apr 27, 2015 - May 7, 2015 Sep 21, 2015 - Oct 1, 2015 Oct 5 - 15, 2015

PRICING:

2014 Prices
$5,295 (4-16 members)
$1,000 single supplement

2015 Prices
$5,695 (4-16 members)
$1,400 single supplement

 

  • Hotel Des Pyrenees
    Saint Jean Pied de Port (France)
  • Hotel Roncesvalles
    Roncesvalles
  • Hotel Tres Reyes
    Pamplona
  • NH Palacio de la Merced
    Burgos
  • Hotel Monasterio San Zoilo
    Carrión de los Condes
  • Parador Hostal San Marcos de León
    León
  • Parador de Villafranca del Bierzo
    Villafranca del Bierzo
  • Hotel Méndez Núñez
    Lugo
  • Parador Nacional De Los Reyes Catolicos
    Santiago de Compostela

Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.

Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.

  • Erik Perez

    Erik was born and raised in Asturias, Region of Northern Spain, with the big range of Mountains called Picos de Europa and Cordillera Cantabrica. He is an accomplished climber (climbing Mont Blanc numerous times), backcountry and downhill skier. Erik has been with MTS since 1989 and has received his certification to be a IFMGA/UIAGM guide which is the highest professional award attainable in mountaineering. He has written two guidebooks on hikes and climbs in the Picos de Europa. Erik studied Humanities at the University of Oviedo, Capital city of Asturias and received a Masters degree in History.

photo credits: ©Christopher Bettencourt, MTS Photo File



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Itinerary for The Camino de Santiago

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Activity Ratings

Easy

Many activities are optional and involve fairly easy travel. Trips may include short hikes of two to three hours or optional walks at low elevations. Includes less demanding sea kayaking and river rafting trips with Class I-II rapids.

Moderate

More active trips involving hiking over moderate terrain, usually - but not always - with vehicle support and at elevations less than 10,000 feet, or trips with long hiking days, multiple sea kayaking days, wilderness camping, or other invigorating activity. On many trips, you can elect to skip a day's activity, depending on logistics. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips and river rafting trips with Class III rapids.

Strenuous

Hiking and trekking over steeper or more rugged terrain or where elevations may exceed 10,000 feet - often several days in a row. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips (4-5 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.

Ultimate Challenge!

Our most demanding trips: trekking over steep, rugged terrain at high elevations (no vehicle support) or with substantial altitude gains and losses; trips to remote, extreme wilderness; mountaineering trips. Includes our most demanding sea kayaking (5-7 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.

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Departure Dates

Sep 29, 2014 - Oct 9, 2014 Oct 13 - 23, 2014 Apr 27, 2015 - May 7, 2015 Sep 21, 2015 - Oct 1, 2015 Oct 5 - 15, 2015
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