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Following St James’ Way

from $2,779.00

This 12 night holiday is one of Europe’s classic walks following one of the most ancient pilgrimage routes in the world! There’s a real sense of camaraderie and achievement as you chat to fellow walkers from all parts of the globe. Enjoy time in Leon and Santiago too!

  • Reviews 10 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Self-guided
  • Activity Level Moderate
    5/8
All about the Following St James’ Way.

One of the most ancient walking routes in the world, the Spanish Camino de Santiago is popular with walkers from all over the world, who come to follow in the footsteps of travellers from the C9 onwards. The 800km journey across northern Spain has led thousands of pilgrims on a winding route from the Pyrenees across the wheat fields of old Castile to pass through Leon, the seat of Spanish Kings, full of soaring cathedrals and hushed convents, before entering Galicia. As you reach Santiago de Compostela’s majestic Baroque cathedral, your route comes to a spectacular finale at the resting place of the Apostle St James.
On this 12-night trip, you’ll begin your walking in Leon – you’ll spend two nights here, giving you ample chance to explore the historic city and its fabulous architecture. From here, in keeping with the pilgrimage route, you’ll walk daily along farm tracks, paths and country lanes, enjoying sociable lunches in restaurants en route. Remember to have your Pilgrim Passport stamped in bars, hotels and churches along the way to qualify for a certificate from the official Pilgrim Office in Santiago. After you’ve reached your journey’s end, you’ll spend two nights in UNESCO-listed Santiago de Compostela so you can explore the city’s old town, and its Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings. You can even choose to attend the special Pilgrim Mass at 12 noon.
You’ll stay in an astonishingly diverse range of properties including restored parish houses, converted water mills and stylish farmhouses, all of them packed with period features. We have included transfers after breakfast on the first three walking days, after which you’ll walk all the way to Santiago. The sense of achievement on arrival is immense, and sharing in this tradition is incredibly rewarding.
Along with your Pilgrim Passport you’ll notice a profound and heart-warming camaraderie with other walkers, as day by day you fall in and out of step with people from all over the world, some of whom have been walking for months covering hundreds of miles! You’ll also find complete strangers cheering you on and wishing you ‘Buen Camino!’ (‘Enjoy your walk!’).

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • All buffet breakfasts and 7 dinners
  • 12 nights accommodation (see accommodation section)
  • Route notes and maps
  • Standard Madrid to León rail ticket
  • Pilgrim Passport to record your adventure en-route
  • Walking transfers
  • Guided city tour of Leon
What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Arrival & departure transfers (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)

Highlights

  • A spectacular walk along one of the most famous UNESCO pilgrimage routes in the world
  • Two nights in beautiful Leon – great historical and architectural heritage, and in Santiago de Compostela – a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Excellent variety of accommodation: converted water mills, restored parish houses, stylish farmhouses
  • Poppy sprinkled wheat fields, orchid rich water meadows, pine-scented woodland
  1. Day 1 Day 1 Arrival in Leon

    After arriving at your historic hotel in the heart of Leon, head out for dinner in one of the many restaurants and tapas bars on your doorstep. (Staying at Posada Regia, Breakfast only)

  2. Day 2 Day 2 Free day in Leon

    Your day starts with a guided tour of Leon’s magnificent gothic Cathedral which is often called the ’House of Light’ and a visit to the Basilica of San Isidoro, one of the most important Romanesque churches in Spain and resting place of Leon’s mediaeval monarchs. You will then receive your pilgrims passport at the local albergue. After this, you are free to explore the rest of Leon which is famous for its historical and architectural heritage, perhaps visit the Casa Botines, a creation of the famous Antoni Gaudi or the Museum of Contemporary Art (MUSAC) which is also is a superb example of modern architecture. (Staying at Posada Regia, Breakfast only)

  3. Day 3 Day 3 Leon to Molinaseca 8km/5mi/2hr or 19km/12mi/5hr

    A one-hour transfer takes you to Cruz de Ferro, the highest point on the Camino, marked by a pre-Roman cross. The Camino winds downhill through fragrant pines where the Knights Templar once protected pilgrims from bandit attack. A path lined with wild chestnuts, cherries, peppers and fennel leads to riverside Molinaseca. (Staying at Casa El Palacio, Half Board)

  4. Day 4 Day 4 Molinaseca to O Cebreiro 15km/9.5mi/5hr

    After a short transfer (30 mins), you ascend the Rio Valcarce valley, climbing into moody oak woods strung with lichen and strewn with early purple orchid. Reaching O Cebreiro, an C11 village in the heart of the Cordillera Cantabrica, you can walk to the viewpoint above the village for a perfect sunset and views over four ranges of hills. You’ll then return along the narrow, cobbled streets, past traditional thatched houses known as pallozas. (Staying at Hotel O Cebreiro, Half Board)

  5. Day 5 Day 5 O Cebreiro (Triacastela) to Sarria 18km/11.5mi/5.5hr

    Today begins with a short transfer to Triacastela. You’ll hear the Monastery of Samos’s bells ringing as you meander between the heather-clad villages that overlook it. On reaching Sarria, the antiques capital of Galicia, you’ll be whisked to Javier and Raquel’s elegant country rectory (10 mins), complete with chapel and al fresco dining patio area. (Staying at Rectoral de Goian, Half Board)

  6. Day 6 Day 6 Sarria to Portomarin 23km/14mi/7.5hr

    A walk along the Roman bridge leads you out of Sarria up the Celerio Valley, where you’ll criss-cross the hamlets of the southern flank of the Sierra del Paramo. You’ll then descend into Portomarin – the original village was drowned by the Belesar Reservoir, and houses still shimmer below the surface! (Staying at Casa Rural Santa Marina, Half Board)

  7. Day 7 Day 7 Portomarin to Lestedo 21km/13.5mi/7hr

    Visit Portomarin’s church then follow the Torres stream passing between cornfields lined with ox-eye daisies. Stamp your Pilgrim Passport in country churches dedicated to the Order of St James before arriving at your beautifully restored rectory.(Staying at Rectoral de Lestedo, Half Board)

  8. Day 8 Day 8 Lestedo to O Coto 14km/9mi/4hr

    Follow country lanes leading past fortified farmhouses into the hillside town of Palas del Rei (Palace of the King) as you enter the province of A Coruna. You’ll pass typical raised Galician granaries and see chickens scamper across narrow streets as you enter vineyards, with views east to the Montes del Vacaloura. (Staying at Casa de los Somoza, Half Board)

  9. Day 9 Day 9 O Coto to Arzua 21km/13.5mi/6hr

    Today’s first stop is Melide, a thriving country town with tavernas brimming with locals enjoying Galician seafood in specialist pulperias (octopus restaurants). Drop into the Romanesque church to admire the frescoes, before lanes lined with bright yellow celandine lead you into the lively market town of Arzua. The last stop is your elegant manor house, surrounded by tranquil countryside, just outside the town. (Staying at Pazo de Santa Maria, Half Board)

  10. Day 10 Day 10 Arzua to Rua 19km/12mi/5hr

    Arzua’s colonnaded streets lead into open country where local farmers wear berets as they tend vines and build haystacks with pitch forks. Your route then rises and falls through river valleys crossing rushing streams. This evening you can marvel at Javier’s breathtaking converted water mill, where original machinery has been turned into spectacular period features! (Staying at O Muino de Pena, Half Board)

  11. Day 11 Day 11 Rua to Santiago 21km/13.5mi/6hr

    It’s an exciting time as you set off towards Monte do Gozo, the Mount of Joy, where pilgrims of old caught their first glimpse of the spires of Santiago. It is certainly busier these days! On reaching Santiago’s historic centre, the atmosphere is alive with chatter as a myriad of pilgrims reach their journey’s end below the cathedral’s spectacular Baroque facade. Drop into the Pilgrim Office to collect your certificate, before checking into our historic hotel near the old marketplace, still a riot of colour!(Staying at Hotel Virxe da Cerca, Breakfast only)

  12. Day 12 Day 12 Free day in Santiago

    You can choose to attend the Pilgrim Mass (at 12 noon) before exploring this beautiful city. The old town has Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The oldest monuments are grouped around the tomb of St James and the cathedral, which contains the remarkable Portico de la Gloria. (Staying at Hotel Virxe da Cerca, Breakfast only)

  13. Day 13 Day 13 Leave Santiago de Compostela

    Take a taxi to the airport (payable locally, approximately 15).

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Where you stay
Posada Regia
The Posada Regia is perfectly located in the centre of Leon, just off the main (largely pedestrian) street and around a five minute walk from the impressive central cathedral. The hotel has two buildings on adjacent streets. The main building is where the restaurant and bars are located. Once inside you enter the world of ‘old Leon’ as even part of the original Roman city wall has been incorporated into the structure of the new building. The atmosphere is rustic with lots of timber and tile floors, and this building is next to a lively square where it is pleasant to sit out for drinks of an evening. The second building (where Headwater rooms are located) is 20m down a quieter street. Bedrooms are attractive with bold colours and smart new bathrooms.
Hotel El Palacio
El Palacio is perfectly located on the banks of the river in Molinaseca and in a restored building that was formerly known as the Casona de Don Pelegrin. Recently renovated the modern rooms offer flat screen TVs and WiFi access.
Hotel O Cebreiro
The Valina family have run much of the accommodation in O Cebreiro for generations, and the village certainly looks like time has stood still. With amazing views in all directions, this tiny place is one of the most charming on the Camino. There are rooms in three different buildings, each just 20m apart and made from the heavy, grey stone typical to this area. One building is an C11 monastery and is actually connected to the little church next door so the monks could walk directly between their rooms and their pews! Rooms are light and more spacious than you would suspect in such small 2 storey buildings. The main restaurant is next to the cafe and bar, often filled with characters from the village. English is in short supply but there are so many nationalities passing though here you will always find someone to help!
Rectoral de Goian
A rectoral in Spain is the equivalent of a parsonage in the UK. A grand home, often in a picturesque location built of attractive old stone. Such is the case with The Rectoral de Goian – a gorgeous property set in isolated countryside in landscaped gardens that are just too perfect. Javier will collect you from the Hotel Roma cafe opposite the station in Sarria and bring you the 8km to the hotel, and will also drop you off in the morning in the same place to continue the walk. The Rectoral building is horseshoe shaped – it has an open patio and balconies facing the garden so it is ideal for eating al fresco in the evening. There is even a tiny chapel in the garden that is still used! Bedrooms are gorgeous with stone walls, beams, wooden floors and modern bathrooms, all with views on to the patio or the garden. Raquel and Javier don’t speak English, so a phrase book will come in handy here too.
Casa Rural Santa Marina
This eco-friendly hotel is located on the banks of the Mino river. The rooms are located in the Main building and are decorated with wood panelling.
Rectoral de Lestedo
Set deep in the countryside directly on the Camino, on a hillside with fabulous north facing views, this ancient light stone ruin has been restored by Susana and Cesar (a local vet). The sloping garden gives all the rooms pleasant country views, and the public spaces are very effectively designed to maximise natural light and make the most of the views. The 9 bedrooms are light and spacious with black and white photos on the walls, wooden floors and some striking designer touches that you might not expect in a building of this age. Selected departures will be staying in Casa Roan, a spectacular original walled Galician farmhouse 3km from the Camino de Santiago. (You will be picked up from Eirexe by the owners, Pilar and Jose Manuel Rodriguez Vasques). Their rambling walled farmhouse has fireplaces you could park a car in, and 8 homely bedrooms are decorated in rustic style. There is also a grand stone dining room that looks as if it could host a gathering for the entire village. Pilar and Jose Manuel don’t speak English, so a phrase book will definitely come in handy. The website is www.casaroan.com
Casa de los Somoza
In the tiniest village of just a few houses, Jesus Cardelle’s rustic country Turismo Rural is a popular stop on the Camino. The house was originally a farm, and has an old world charm about it with tiled floors and wooden beams throughout. The garden outside is always full of passing pilgrims having a drink in the sunshine, and playing Jesus’ typical in house Galician skittle game. This is a simple village and a simple hotel, full of rustic charm. There is no English spoken here.
Pazo Santa Maria
Juan Manuel Duque took on this ruined Galician stately home on the outskirts of Arzua as a retirement project several years ago, and has restored it to it’s former glory using original materials and creating an atmosphere of perfect peace and tranquillity. Most rooms are set into the old stables around a central courtyard, with several also in the main house where the luxurious public lounges can be found on the ground floor. The walls are solid stone, the beams and roof all ancient, and the dining rooms sports a giant fireplace and other original features. The entire complex is set in landscaped grounds on the edge of Arzua so it is around a 10 minute walk from the centre where all the shops and banks are located, as well as your onward route to Santiago.
O Muino de Pena
Just off the Camino (you will be picked up from Pension Compas which is on the Camino by Javier), can be found some of the loveliest and most unusual properties to stay in, and this is one of them. Hidden in the backwoods and valleys this ancient mill sits next to a rushing river and weir, instantly relaxing you with the sound of running water. The bedrooms are on the top floor as you enter (you enter on the second floor as it is built on a steep hill), and all are utterly charming with beams, stone walls and dark wooden furniture. Downstairs, much of the heart of the mill has been retained, with giant wheels and massive machinery blending perfectly with the bar and dining area and looking quite spectacular. The open riverside garden is perfect for a drink, and the entire place feels as if it is a mythical secret hideaway. Javier will drive you back to the Camino (10 minutes) in the morning.
Hotel Virxe da Cerca
Just on the edge of the historic centre in Santiago de Compostela, the Virxe da Cerca sits just below the old market – it is still used by the locals daily and is definitely worth wandering through. Our superior rooms are in the grand old 4-storey building that backs on to an extensive garden at the back. The breakfast room overlooks the garden while the in house restaurant is on the ground floor in the depths of the building with solid stone walls and a cosy atmosphere. It is only a 5-minute walk into the heart of the old town so it is perfect for exploring, and feels like coming back to your very own stately home in the city.
Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 8 dinners are included.

Dinners are either taken at the hotel, or left open, where there is a good choice of restaurants.

Activity Level: 3 (Moderate)

This is a moderate walking holiday because of the distance covered each day rather than the altitude change or the terrain. There is lots of classic Galician countryside to enjoy, rural paths and hamlets with cafes and restaurants for pilgrims along the route. Walks on this holiday are on village streets, country lanes, farm tracks and rural paths. Walking days are approximately 5-6 hours with ascents up to 700m (2400feet) and may involve some scrambling. You should be used to walking all day.

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. You are provided with route notes for each day, which begin with an overview of the walk and advice on lunch, followed by detailed instructions. The route notes contain a 24 hour emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the hotels are normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 11/11/2016
5/5

Mr EtchellsButler

After long tiring days of walking, it was lovely to relax in rustic accommodation with comfortable beds, a good en suite and decent food. We thoroughly enjoyed 'Walking the Way of St. James.' The landscape was thoroughly unexpected in Galicia, - very lush, green and much like the U.K. and Ireland. It was particularly special to make friends (although very briefly) with people from all over the world.

Reviewed On 05/10/2015
5/5

Mrs Bathe

This holiday provides a stress-free camino experience for those who either do not wish to or cannot carry a full back pack. Accommodation and meals are of a significantly higher standard than is available in the hostels and dormitories along the route. As well as completing the 100km required for the compostela, it combines some interesting earlier sections of the camino as a bonus. The guided tour of Leon provides an excellent introduction to the camino combined with the visit to the impressive Cathedral and other historic buildings. It is well worth extending the holiday to spend two nights in both Leon and Santiago de Compostela.

Reviewed On 14/10/2014
5/5

Mr Dyer

We would like to say how fantastic the man was who gave us the mini-moke ride from our hotel back into Portomarin and how hard our hostess (Maria) worked to keep everybody happy in the Casa de los Samoza.



The food in Rectoral de Goian was amazing! For the world's best bread and butter pudding go to O Muino de Pena>

Reviewed On 08/10/2014
5/5

Mrs Hughes

Overall it was a great holiday. We throughly enjoyed ourselves.

Reviewed On 28/08/2014
5/5

Ms Summers

Everything extremely well-organized - comfortable and interesting accommodation. Would thoroughly recommend Headwater.

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