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15 Nights – Camino Francés: León & the Final 280 km to Santiago

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16 Days, 15 Nights
Max People : 14
Iberian Adventures > Destinations > Camino Francés > 15 Nights – Camino Francés: León & the Final 280 km to Santiago
Tour Details

A Self-Guided Trip. 16 Days, 15 Nights, with 13 days walking & 1 rest day.

After a first night in the historic city of León, this itinerary covers approximately the final one third of the entire Camino Frances route in Spain – 280 km / 174 miles – all the way to the Apostle’s resting place at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Only offered for a minimum of 2 people.

Duration:

16 days (including 1 rest day in Lugo)

Meeting Point:

León (several daily connections from Madrid and Barcelona by air, rail or bus)

Ending Point:

Santiago de Compostela (several daily connections to Madrid, Barcelona and certain European cities by air, as well as rail connections to Madrid and other cities)

Walk Difficulty and Terrain:

(C -) Although the terrain is very easy, we classify this as “Moderate”, due to length of walks with constant short ups and downs, averaging just over 22 km / 13.8 mi daily. For most people this would be about 5 to 6 hours.

Accommodations:

We use the best available lodgings in each overnight stop in rural areas (usually 2* – 3* hotels or equivalent inns). In larger towns we usually use quality 3* – 4* properties with plenty of charm and character

Start Dates:

Any day between March 1 and October 31

Minimun Group size:

2

Price Per Person (2 person group):

Consult us.

Price includes:

Accommodation

Breakfasts, some evening meals with local wine and bottled water. Other nights to explore on your own.

Local maps of some towns where necessary to help you find your way to your hotel.

Custom-written, detailed daily route instructions, hotel contact information, public transport schedules and other information necessary to complete your personal itinerary.

Luggage and personal transfer as required by itinerary between start (León) and end (Santiago de Compostela) points)

Local English-speaking Iberian Adventures contact

Extra nights:

In standard hotels at start (León) and/or end (Santiago) of tour are also available. Please consult us for prices and availability.

Custom Trips:

We can provide other itineraries over this section of the Camino for people who would like some shorter stages or have fewer days available. Contact us!

Highlights

The unique energy and camaraderie of the “pilgrimage” – every day you’ll share the trail with fellow pilgrims from around the world, and inevitably, the traveller soon finds herself imbued with the unique and magical spirit of the “Camino “.

León – one of Spain’s great historic cities, home to some of Europe’s greatest masterpieces of Gothic art and a wonderful pilgrim’s atmosphere, its old quarter is perfect for strolling and enjoying tapas and the excellent local wine.

Astorga – crossroads of the Via de la Plata and Camino de Santiago, the city’s illustrious patrimony includes numerous Roman ruins, a Gothic cathedral and Catalán architect Antonio Gaudí’s Neo-Gothic Bishop’s Palace.

Castrillo de los Polvazares – one of Spain’s most beautiful and well-preserved medieval villages, it is the symbol of the area in western León province known as La Maragatería.

Cruz de Ferro – emblematic iron cross called “cruz de ferro”, emerging from and enormous mound of stones, placed by countless pilgrims at its base.

Villafranca del Bierzo – considered the “gateway to Galicia”, the last major town before the Way begins the arduous ascent to cross the Leon-Galicia border, it has a wealth of historic buildings, including several churches, a castle, a monastery, a convent and plenty of noble homes.

O’Cebreiro – the 1st village the Camino Frances in Galicia, an emblematic hilltop stone village with curious pre-Roman thatch-roofed dwellings called pallozas. The chapel is the site of one of the Camino’s most famous legends.

Lugo – you’ll spend a rest day here. Very important in the history of the pilgrimage, it has a 12th C cathedral and Spain’s best preserved Roman walls encircling the old town – you can walk the entire circuit atop the walls (designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and an attractive historic quarter with a lively atmosphere for tapas or fine dining.

Santiago de Compostela – one of the world’s great historic cities, its ancient granite-clad old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to Galicia’s regional government, one of Europe’s oldest universities and the magnificent cathedral that has drawn millions over the centuries like a magnet, it virtually buzzes with a unique energy and is a fascinating place to explore.

Itinerary

Day 1León

Independent arrival in León. Explore on your own.

Overnight: in León, in the heart of historic quarter, just steps from the great cathedral.

Day 2Transfer to Orbigo. Walk to Astorga

To avoid the dreary exit from Leon through suburbs and an industrial zone, we provide a short taxi to the start point of your walk at Hospital de Orbigo, where you cross a famous bridge, subject of one of the most romantic legends of the Way. The Way leads through scrubby farmlands, entering the paramos—windswept heathlands— and becoming increasingly hilly on the approach to Astorga. This historic city has plenty to see, including various Roman ruins and Catalán architect Antoni Gaudí’s Bishop’s Palace.

Approximate walking distance: 16 km / 10 mi
Overnight: in Astorga.

Day 3Astorga to Rabanal del Camino

Shortly after leaving Astorga, visit stone-built Castrillo de los Povazares, one of Spain’s best preserved medieval villages. Continue through more typical stone villages on mostly level terrain with a gentle climb to end of stage in Rabanal.

Approximate walking distance: 19.5 km / 12.1 mi
Overnight: Rabanal del Camino.

Day 4Rabanal del Camino to Acebo

A classic walk covering the better part of one of the most challenging stages of the Way, climbing steadily through beautiful landscapes of windswept, largely treeless heaths, with broom, Mediterranean aromatics and heather on the approach to emblematic iron cross called “cruz de ferro”, with an enormous mound of stones, placed by pilgrims at its base. A bit further on, reach highest point on the entire Camino in Spain (1517 m), before descending into the tiny stone village of Acebo.

Approximate walking distance: 17 km / 10.6 mi
Overnight: family run inn in Acebo.

Day 5Acebo to Ponferrada

Today, a lovely descent through hamlets and river valleys with great views eventually brings you to Ponferrada, capital of El Bierzo, a wonderfully fertile pocket of verdant low hills and valleys ringed by large mountains, justly famed for its wine, cured meats, preserved fruits and vegetables. Ponferrada has a definite working-class feel to it, perhaps as El Bierzo traditionally also had a strong coal mining industry, nowadays in heavy decline. The trail drops steeply 560 m over the first 8 km to Molinaseca, allegedly home to over 40 wine cellars! Ponferrada has one of Spain’s finest castles, built by the Knights Templar.

Approximate walking distance: 15.3 km / 9.5 mi
Overnight: comfortable 3* hotel in the old town of Ponferrada.

Day 6Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo

Soon you are in the heart wine country (El Bierzo D.O.) and rural landscapes accompany you for the rest of the day, through very gently rolling terrain among vineyards, cherry orchards and vegetable patches. Villafranca del Bierzo is the last major town before the Way begins the arduous ascent to enter Galicia. Villafranca is hilly and has lots to see, so plan for a couple of hours sightseeing on arrival today or in the AM tomorrow (churches open 10:00 20:00).

Approximate walking distance: 23.3 km / 14.5 mi
Overnight: a 4* parador or a charming 3* family run inn in old town of Villafranca.

Day 7Villafranca del Bierzo to O’Cebreiro

The most challenging stage of this itinerary. There 2 different routes out of Villafranca, the standard route often closely paralleling a quiet main road, and a more strenuous but attractive route through the hills to the N of the main road, which merge in Trabadelo, 4.5. km before Ambasmestas. The rest of the day is a lovely but challenging walk up the lush Valcarce Valley, through dense chestnut and oak forest and tiny hamlets, then high pastures, crossing the Leon/Galicia border shortly before reaching the emblematic hilltop stone village of O’Cebreiro with its curious pre-Roman thatch-roofed dwellings called pallozas and chapel, site of one of the Camino’s most famous legends. NOTE: IT IS POSSIBLE TO BREAK UP THIS STAGE INTO 2 DAYS… GIVING YOU TIME TO EXPLORE VILLAFRANCA IN THE MORNING AND LEAVE MIDDAY FOR A SHORT WALK OF APPROXIMATELY 15 KM. ADDS 1 DAY TO THE TOTAL ITINERARY. CONSULT US….

Approximate walking distance: 28 – 31 km / 17.4 – 19.4 mi
Overnight: family run inn in O’Cebreiro.

Day 8O’Cebreiro to Triacastela

An exhilarating walk with great views. 1st 8.5 km are more or less level, up high at over 1300 m / 4265 ft. The last 13 km are practically all downhill, through pastureland and forest with many sections on lovely corredoiras – typically narrow and often shady Galician country paths linking meadows and villages.

Approximate walking distance: 21.2 km / 13.2 mi.
Overnight: in Triacastela, in a family-run 1* inn.

Day 9Triacastela to Sarria. Transfer to historic Lugo

You’ll have to choose from a shorter and a longer option today, both through lush green countryside, depending on whether or not you want to visit the Benedictine monastery at Samos, one of the oldest in Christendom. On arrival in Sarria, a short taxi transfer takes you to the historic city of Lugo for a well-deserved rest day tomorrow!

Approximate walking distance: 18.5 – 25 km / 11.5 – 15.5 mi. Transfer: 30 min
Overnight: in Lugo a comfortable modern 4* hotel within the old Roman walls.

Day 10Rest Day in Lugo

Nearby Lugo is a very important city in the history of the pilgrimage, although it is NOT on the “French” Way, but instead on the first & oldest of the Ways to Santiago, the Camino Primitivo. It has a 12th C cathedral and Spain’s best preserved Roman walls encircling the old town – you can walk the entire circuit atop the walls (designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site). There is an excellent Roman museum, fine shops and a lively area with plenty of great options for drinks, tapas or fine dining. A perfect place to rest your weary bones for a day and recharge batteries!

Overnight: in Lugo a comfortable modern 4* hotel within the old Roman walls.

Day 11Transfer back to Sarria. Walk to Portomarín

Today’s walk may be the most beautiful of the entire pilgrimage, through verdant forests, grassy meadows, fertile orchards and simple stone-built hamlets to Portomarín, perched on the banks of the Miño, one of Galicia’s great rivers.

Approximate walking distance: 21.5 km / 13.3 mi.
Overnight: a former “parador”, this 3* traditional-style country hotel is the best in Portomarín.

Day 12Portomarín to Palas de Rei

The Way continues on through lush Galician countryside to Palas de Rei. If time allows, take a short detour to visit one of Spain’s most outstanding Romanesque churches at nearby Vilar de Donas, classified as a national monument.

Approximate walking distance: 24.3 km / 15 mi.
Overnight: family run inn near Palas de Rei.

Day 13Palas de Rei to Castañeda

Rolling green landscapes, dotted with cows, stonewalls and tiny Romanesque churches on your way to Melide, famed for its Pulpo a la Feira – tender morsels of boiled octopus drenched in virgin olive oil, sea salt and paprika. An especially enchanting stretch of forest trail leads to the tiny hamlet of Castañeda.

Approximate walking distance: 22.8 km / 14.2 mi
Overnight: a highlight of the trip is this 18th century “Pazo”- a traditional granite-built Galician manor house.

Day 14Castañeda to Rua

More pretty rolling terrain as ancient paths and country lanes lead through vegetable patches, fields and oak groves, then pine and eucalyptus woods.

Approximate walking distance: 23 km / 14.3 mi
Overnight: a family run inn set in a typical Galician landscape.

Day 15Pino to Santiago

Quiet lanes and forest paths wend through increasingly populated countryside until you reach the Monte del Gozo—“Mount of Joy”, so named for the emotion of those who were rewarded with their first view of the cathedral spires. Now downhill, in the footsteps of millions before you, until the magical moment of arrival at the impressive cathedral in the Plaza del Obradoiro – Santiago’s grandiose central square.

Approximate walking distance: 22 km / 13.7 mi
Overnight: located in the old quarter just steps from the magnificent Obradoiro square and the Cathedral, our standard hotel is a comfortable 4 *property in the refurbished wing of a working Franciscan monastery,and is consistently rated one of the city’s best.

Day 16Departure (or stay an extra day or more)

Don’t forget the 12:00 noon mass at the cathedral for pilgrims arriving the previous day! If you’re flying out, most flights out of Santiago leave in mid-afternoon, so you’ll have time for the 20 minute transfer to the Santiago international airport.

NOTE: If you aren’t in a hurry we definitely recommend you stay at least 2 nights in Santiago to fully enjoy and experience this magical city. Then…if there’s time and you want to see more of the area or another part of Spain, consider hiring a car and driving from Santiago along the coast to Bilbao, across the country to Madrid or Barcelona, Andalusia, etc. We can help you to plan your itinerary. Ask us!

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