The Camino de Santiago is a trail, a hike, a pilgrimage, a cultural tour, a historical tour... and much more. Walking the way of St James on the Camino from Leon to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, represents for many, the fulfilment of a dream & the culmination of the ultimate spiritual journey - join us on this amazing adventure for an experience of a lifetime!
LÉON to SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
16 days / 15 nights (13 days of walking in Spain)
This itinerary is provided as a guide only, as our tour may vary from this in some instances.
Throughout this trip, we anticipate arriving at each destination with ample time for each of us to head off and explore the many magnificent sites, and enjoy the unique experiences that location has to offer, depending on our individual preferences. Listed at the end of each day below, are some of the possible highlights you may wish to discover.
DAY 1 Arrival at Léon Any Time Today
Welcome to Spain! There is no walking today, however we recommend you arrive some time before dinner. You may want to consider arriving a few days early, to adjust to any jet lag, as well as to allow time to explore this fascinating, historic city, the last major city on this stretch of the Camino, with many sites worth seeing!
We will meet over dinner for a debrief, outlining the details of the tour.
DAY 2 Transfer from Léon to Vilar de Mazarife, then walk to Hospital de Orbigo, 15km
Today we avoid the built up areas, clear the city limits and transfer by Local Bus to Vilar de Mazarife to start our walk. Many pilgrams choose to do this, as it can take some time to clear the city limits of Leon, as well as placing unnecessary stress on our feet from the onset.
We head into Hospital de Orbigo over the Puente de Órbigo’s – one of the most famous stone bridges pf the pilgrimage. This 13th century Roman bridge has a massive 20 arches, an interesting monolith at its centre - the site of love battle between jousting knights in 1434!
DAY 3 Hospital de Orbigo - Astorga, 14km
Today we continue following the iconic scallop shell symbols and yellow arrows of the Camino, across the magnificent mediaeval bridge over the Órbigo River. From here we head through beautiful rural countryside, heading steeply downhill to cross the Tuerto River before ascending again to Astorga.
DAY 4 Astorga - Rabanal del Camino, 20km
We head off today for a largely uphill walk through farmland and lovely views in the Leon Mountains. We pass through a collection of small villages over cobblestone paths, past pilgrim’s fountains and old buildings with quaint thatched roofs. Just before we reach the small town of Rabanal we pass El Roble del Peregrino, or “The Pilgrim’s Oak Tree”, where many a pilgrim has stopped to rest in the shade. We head off, refreshed along a cobblestone road into this charming town.
DAY 5 Rabanal – Ponferrada, 33km
We start our day with a steep uphill stretch, as we head towards the town of Foncebadón, then on to one of the most magical places on the Camino – the Cruz de Ferro (iron cross). The cross was believed to have been placed on what was originally a Roman alter, in the 11th century by a hermit Gaucelmo, who devoted his life to protecting pilgrims on the Camino. It is surrounded by millions of rocks, part of an important Camino ritual. Many were brought from pilgrims’ homeland and inscribed with inscribed little messages.
We continue our uphill walk until we reach the highest point on the entire Camino, at 1515 meters, after which it’s “downhill all the way” to Ponferrada.
DAY 6 Ponferrada - Rest Day
Enjoy a day of relaxation or exploration in this beautiful town.
DAY 7 Ponferrada - Villafranca del Bierzo, 25km
Today’s walk takes us through some hilly vineyards and tranquil farming country, passing through many small villages, and crossing small rivers. Just prior to arriving at the historical town of Villafranca del Bierzo we may pass an interesting set of sculptures.
DAY 8 Vilafranca del Bierzo - O Cebreiro, 30km
Leaving town today, we pass some chestnut trees as you head through more small villages and hamlets, and through a forest of giant chestnut trees. After a relatively flat terrain yesterday, we have now reached one of the mythical climbs of the Camino, as we leave the region of Castilla y León, and enter the region of Galicia. However we will rest often, and turn around to take in the fabulous views of the impressive countryside. We might even find a quaint place to stop for liquid refreshment, before pushing up the final few kilometers to the unique O Cebreiro, with its distinctive “pallozas” - round drystone houses with cone-shaped thatched roofs (descendents of Celtic huts) .
DAY 9 O Cebreiro - Triascastela, 21km.
Today’s walk takes us from the mountainous terrain of Castilla down to the fertile valleys of Galicia. A few kilometres outside O Cebreiro we head briefly uphill again to San Roque where we are rewarded with spectacular views, as well as a famous statue of a pilgrim on his way to Santiago. Not far from here, we commence a long downhill stretch on dirt and narrow stony-dirt tracks through a number of small villages, until we reach our destination village of Triascastela (which literally means “three castles” that once stood there but unfortunately no longer exist).
DAY 10 Triacastela - Sarria, 21km
Today we have the choice of 2 routes. The route to the right at the junction via San Xil is mainly on the road and quite a difficult incline early on. The rewards however, are great views of the surrounding Galacian Hills.
The recommended route is longer by about 6km, it heads to the south through Samos, past a famous Benedictine Monastery (originally built in 5th & 6th century).It follows oak and chestnut lined track, providing beautiful scenery as it follows the valley and the Oribio River.
DAY 11 Sarria - Portomarin, 22km
Today we cross over the all-important last 100km-to-Santiago milestone. This is the minimum distance pilgrims must walk in order to obtain their Compostela in Santiago. Today’s journey takes us through a time warp of cobblestone paths through countless villages, farmland, lush forests, more wonderful architecture, quaint medieval walkways and bridges, interspersed with modern conveniences.
The town of Portomarin has a fascinating recent story. The original town is now completely under water – the result of the damming of the Río Miño river to create the Embalse de Belesar reservoir in the 1960’s. The most historic monuments were relocated, brick by brick, and reassembled where they stand today. If you look closely at the bricks on the Iglesia de San Nicolas you can still see numbers from their relocation.
DAY 12 Portomarin - Palas de Rei, 25km
We set out this morning across metal bridge over the Torres River, then think of home as we walk through forests of eucalyptus and oak as we pass the ruins of an old fort at Castromaior, before a long gradual ascent of Mount San Antonio. This area divides the valleys of the Mino and Ulla rivers and the surrounding area is the site of a 9th century battle between the northern Christian kingdoms and the Arabs. We are now quite familiar with lovely walks through farmland, forests, small hamlets, larger towns with amazing ancient architecture and today is no exception.
DAY 13 Palas de Rei - Arzua, 29km
Aside from the distance, todays walk is relatively easy with gently undulating terrain and more of our familiar eucalyptus and oak forests. In the Leboreiro we’ll come to the 13th century Iglesia de Santa María and a curious Cabazo, which is a gigantic weaved basket with straw roof perched up on a stone platform, used to store corn.
At about our half –way point in the town of Melide we are met with the Camino Primitivo, which is another Camino trail, a deviation southwards from the Camino del Norte (which runs along the north coast of Spain). In Arzua we are also joined by the pilgrims on the Camino del Norte.
DAY 14 Arzua - Lavacolla, 29km
We head off today through gently undulating Galacian countryside, through farmland and the ever-present quaint little villages and hamlets. Always following the little scallop shell markers, yellow arrows and Camino waymarkers we enjoy all that this iconic walk has to offer. We soon see an example of the stark contrast of the ancient and modern, as we pass near the Santiago airport.
DAY 15 Lavacolla - Santiago de Compostela 10km
It will be with mixed emotions that we set off today, as we cover the last few kilometres on our final day of walking on the world-famous Camino de Frances (unless you have opted to the extension from Santiago de Compostela to Finnesterre).
The first highlight of today will be Monte de Gozo, meaning “Mount of Joy”. Here stands huge statues of pilgrims, and on top of the hill a modern monument commemorating the visit of Pope John Paul II in the Holy Year 1993. We may even get glimpses of the huge spires of the Santiago Cathedral.
It’s not long until we enter Santiago, where we continue on through exquisite historical buildings across the Praza da Immaculada, underneath the Arco del Abispo and into the massive Praza de Obradoiro. There stands before us, the magnificent Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela, guaranteed to take your breath away! In mediaeval time this was the third most important place of pilgrimage, after Jerusalem and Rome.
After savoring the moment, and our wonderful journey, we’ll head off to register our pilgrimage and apply for our Compostela.
DAY 16 Trip ends after breakfast
Our tour concludes today after breakfast, however I thoroughly recommend you attend the Pilgrim’s Mass in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, regardless of your religious beliefs. This is a special Mass held at noon every day where the countries of origin and starting points of all pilgrims who received their Compostelas the previous day (including us!) are announced. During this Mass, we watch the spectacular swinging of the massive ‘butafumeiro’, synchronised beautifully with the moving “Hymn to Christ”. It really is an extremely moving experience, not to be missed.
Nearest train station: Léon
Departure point: St Jacques de Compostela
Difficulty: Ranging from Moderate Days (under 20ks walking) to Challenging Days (over 20k's walking) - (See below for our interpretation) Note: Plenty of options to take taxi's at very little cost, if you choose not to walk the full distance every day, after all it is your holiday!
• Time: 5 to 7 hours / less than 20km per day on average.
• Gradient: Up to 1000m ascent per day on average, possibility of some steep climbing.
• Trail Type: Walking paths, mountain trails, not technically difficult.
• Suitable for: Moderate level of fitness required. Some weekend walks of around 3-4 hours should help your preparation.
• Time: Some of our days can be over 7 hours / more than 20km per day on average
• Gradient: Days can be more than 1000m, some steep climbing.
• Trail Type: Walking paths, mountain trails, can be technically difficult.
• Suitable for: Good level of fitness required. Previous experience would be best. Regular weekend walks of 4-5 hours or more are advisable in the months leading up to your holiday. These should include some mountain walks.
15 Nights twin share - rural lodgings/hotels, including breakfast.
All breakfasts except arrival day in Leon
Cost of Tour:
Adventurous Women ® ™ Financial Club Members: AU$3950
General Public (Female only/non club members): AU$4250
Cost of Tour Includes:
* Adventurous Women ® ™ Tour Leader, Sue O’Connor (Experienced Camino End to Ender) who will guide the group, share her local knowledge and provide support en-route.
* Transfer by Local Bus from Leon to start of walk
* Daily baggage transfers to accommodation (max 20kg)
* Accommodation as stated (or similar, subject to availability)
* Mostly breakfast & dinner each day as indicated
* Use of a mobile phone (with local sim card) for duration of walk
* Maps of route / route notes
* Meals other than those specified
* Travel to Leon
* Items of a personal nature
* Entrance Fees
* Internal transfers : Any buses or taxis taken to supplement the walking day.
To secure your place on this tour, we require a $400 deposit. (Places are limited to 12 only). To make a booking, please click on the BOOK NOW BUTTON below, fill out your details and our Travel Agent Partners will provide you with a Tax Invoice.
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Each of our Tour Operators/Service Providers have their own booking conditions & cancellation policy over and above those of Adventurous Women's booking conditions, please ensure you request them and read them carefully.
Adventurous Women's Cancellation Policy can be viewed at the bottom of this website under the heading 'Cancellation Policy'. Please ensure you read it carefully, as by paying your deposit, you acknowledge that you accept this cancellation policy, over and above that of our Service Providers.
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