RIGHT ROUTE: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port ➜ Valcarlos: 11.5km
Ascent: 527m Descent: -337m
LEFT ROUTE: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port ➜ Orisson: 7.5km
Ascent: 663m Descent: -43m
Between here and Roncesvalles there are two routes. The (lower) RIGHT route goes through Valcarlos, and the (higher) LEFT route goes through Orisson. If you're walking outside the summer months it's important to ask in the Pilgrims Office about weather conditions. Both routes are difficult in snow or high winds and the LEFT route is OFFICIALLY CLOSED from the beginning of November until the end of March (ignoring this may lead to legal sanctions). Remember that in mountainous areas such as this, weather conditions can change very quickly.
Leaving Saint-Jean walk down rue de la Citadelle, under the arch of Porte d'Espagne and up rue d'Espagne, continuing straight under another arch and up a hill for about 100m until you reach a junction with a small sign on a lamppost indicating where the two routes divide.
Turn right on to Chemin de Mayorga and continue straight until you come to the main road which you follow to the left. After about 600m turn right on to a small road, clearly signposted Valcarlos / Luzaide and Roncevaux (French for Roncesvalles).
6.8km to the Spanish border, marked by a gaudy shopping centre and petrol station. Walk towards the petrol station and continue straight.
1.6km to Arnéguy, shops, cafés and restaurants. The Camino crosses the river into France again and continues on a minor road through the village of Ondarrola, where it crosses the river again back into Spain.Valcarlos
Valcarlos ➜ Roncesvalles: 12.0km
Ascent: 998m Descent: -421m
Follow the main road for 2.4km until the Camino veers left on to a minor road and passes through the village of Gañecoleta before rejoining the main road after 1.7km. It then follows the main road for another 2.3km before veering left on to a lane. From there it's 4.1km of wooded, mountainous terrain to the top at Ibañeta (apart from one place where the Camino briefly meets the road again). Off-road parts of this route may be difficult in snow, in which case it's advisable to stick to the road. From the peak it's 1.4km down to Roncesvalles.
At the summit of the Puerto de Ibañeta, beside a small modern chapel, is a monument to Roland (Roldán in Spanish) and the Battle of Roncesvalles. Although the current chapel is very recent, there has been a chapel here since the middle ages. When there was fog or snow the chapel bell was rung to guide pilgrims who had gotten lost.
This route is sometimes known as le Port de Cize or the Route Napoléon. It follows the route of the Via Traiana, a Roman road linking Bordeaux and Astorga. In the early days of the Camino Francés this was the most popular route. Its popularity declined during the late middle-ages.
2.4km to Honto / Hontto
Ferme Ithurburia, to the left of the Camino. Evening meal. Breakfast. Laundry facilities. Singles/doubles from 70€. Tel 05 59 37 11 17Orisson
Orisson ➜ Borda: 0.6km
Ascent: 58m Descent: -17m
Borda ➜ Roncesvalles: 16.1km
Ascent: 722m Descent: -634m
3.8km after Orisson at a place called Pic d'Hostatéguy you'll pass the statue of La Vierge du Chemin with (weather permitting) panoramic views of the western Pyrenees. From there it's another 8.9km to the highest point at altitude 1427m, after which it's another 4.2km down to Roncesvalles.
Welcome to Spain and Navarra!
There are two options when descending into Roncesvalles, the most popular route to the left is quite a steep descent through the forest, while the route to the right is slightly longer, descending more gently along an unpaved road via the church at Puerto de Ibañeta.
Roncesvalles ➜ Burguete: 2.8km
Ascent: 4m Descent: -53m
Burguete ➜ Espinal: 3.4km
Ascent: 54m Descent: -73m
The Camino takes an abrupt right turn at the red Santander sign.Espinal
Espinal ➜ Zubiri: 15.0km
Ascent: 314m Descent: -655m
5.2km to Viskarret, new café Bar Dena Ona before the village and the traditional Bar Juan on main square with its amazing tortillas. Small Covirán supermarket on your left at the end of the village.
1.9km to Linzoain, after that it's 7.8km to Zubiri with a steep descent into the valley of the river Arre.
The Camino continues straight along the riverbank and doesn't go through Zubiri which is on the other side of the bridge.Zubiri
Zubiri ➜ Larrasoaña: 5.3km
Ascent: 117m Descent: -153m
The Camino bypasses Larrasoaña. If you want to visit the village turn right to cross the bridge.Larrasoaña
Larrasoaña ➜ Zuriain: 3.7km
Ascent: 92m Descent: -115m
Zuriain ➜ Zabaldika: 3.1km
Ascent: 51m Descent: -58m
Zabaldika ➜ Villava: 3.5km
Ascent: 85m Descent: -120m
Villava ➜ Pamplona: 4.5km
Ascent: 53m Descent: -32m
It's suburban streets from here to Pamplona. The Camino turns right shortly before a roundabout with a fountain in the middle and crosses a main road and turns right again. The 'zig-zag' footbridge over the river is the quickest way to Casa Paderborn, otherwise continue straight along the riverbank to Puente de la Magdalena.Pamplona
Pamplona ➜ Cizur Menor: 4.9km
Ascent: 76m Descent: -73m
If you get lost leaving Pamplona head for the Ciudadela fortress at the corner of Avenida del Ejército and Avenida del Pio XII. The path beside the park, with the fortress to your left, is the Camino. It's clearly marked. Several cafés around here are open early.Cizur Menor
Cizur Menor ➜ Zariquiegui: 5.9km
Ascent: 197m Descent: -32m
5.9km to Zariquiegui / Zarikiegi. Shop. Café San Andrés opens early.
From Cizur Menor it's a 300m climb to the peak of the Alto del Perdón, after which there is a steep descent on loose gravel which must be tackled with care.Zariquiegui
Zariquiegui ➜ Uterga: 5.8km
Ascent: 144m Descent: -273m
Zariquiegui has some beautiful Basque houses with wide arched doorways. The village church, Iglesia de San Andrés, was originally 12th century Romanesque, today only the south entrance is original. It contains a Gothic Virgin and Child.
Shortly before you reach the peak of the Alto del Perdón, where the windmills tower above you like something from a modern-day Don Quijote, you'll pass a drinking fountain. This is where, according to legend, the devil appeared to a parched pilgrim and offered to buy his soul for a drink of water. The pilgrim, no doubt having weighed up his options, decided in view of the unspeakable (and eternal) horrors that awaited him in hell that he could probably manage another while without a drink and politely declined. Whereupon, in a blinding flash of light, St James himself appeared and striking the ground with his staff brought forth a raging torrent of fresh water. Thus saving the pilgrim from a thirsty walk to the next village.
Today, unfortunately, of that raging torrent only a trickle remains.
The peak of Alto del Perdón has fantastic views of the route already travelled and the adventures yet to come. At the top is a flat, cut-out sculpture of medieval pilgrims on their way to Santiago. The inscription reads:
Donde se cruza el camino del viento con el de las estrellas
Where the way of the wind meets the way of the stars
Observe how the fauna has begun to change from northern European to Mediterranean. Before long you'll begin to see grapevines growing beside the Camino.Uterga
Uterga ➜ Muruzábal: 2.7km
Ascent: 11m Descent: -57m
Muruzábal ➜ Obanos: 1.5km
Ascent: 24m Descent: -46m
Obanos ➜ Puente la Reina: 2.7km
Ascent: 8m Descent: -75m
There are two routes to get to Puente la Reina. Leaving Obanos you'll come to steps going down left which lead to a slightly meandering (and slightly longer) path to Puente. Alternatively, if you choose to continue straight ahead you can follow a path parallel to the road passing Albergue Jakue.Puente la Reina
Puente la Reina ➜ Mañeru: 4.9km
Ascent: 166m Descent: -63m
There is a surprisingly steep 100m climb before arriving in...Mañeru
Mañeru ➜ Cirauqui: 2.7km
Ascent: 66m Descent: -27m
Cirauqui ➜ Lorca: 5.6km
Ascent: 147m Descent: -173m
Lorca ➜ Villatuerta: 4.5km
Ascent: 41m Descent: -82m
Villatuerta ➜ Estella: 4.1km
Ascent: 74m Descent: -73m
Estella ➜ Ayegui: 1.5km
Ascent: 65m Descent: -2m
To leave Estella continue past the Municipal Albergue on Calle la Rua, then straight until you come to a roundabout where you continue straight towards another roundabout where there is an Avia petrol station. After this the Camino continues uphill on a footpath. You can also continue walking along the road, Calle de Carlos VII, which rejoins the Camino after 500m, on this road is a small Decathlon (outdoor shop) and several large supermarkets.Ayegui
RIGHT ROUTE: Ayegui ➜ Villamayor de Monjardín: 7.4km
Ascent: 286m Descent: -115m
LEFT ROUTE: Ayegui ➜ Luquín: 8.1km
Ascent: 313m Descent: -215m
The Camino splits shortly after Bodegas Irache. Distances for left and right routes are Ayegui to Los Arcos.
5.7 km to Azqueta. Nice café, open from 07:00. Vending machines.
Friendly guest house La Perla Negra, on the Camino on the left, 45€ person, evening meal and breakfast included. Tel 627 114 797Villamayor de Monjardín
Villamayor de Monjardín ➜ Los Arcos: 12.0km
Ascent: 86m Descent: -306m
12km through open country with very little shade to Los Arcos.
The left route passes through beautiful forested countryside and the village of Luquín.Luquín
Luquín ➜ Los Arcos: 10.8km
Ascent: 97m Descent: -243m
10.8km to Los Arcos, very little shade.
You will pass the site of the Hospital de Cugullo of which today not much remains. It was founded in 1099 by the Order of St John of Jerusalem.Los Arcos
Los Arcos ➜ Sansol: 7.0km
Ascent: 92m Descent: -53m
Sansol ➜ Torres del Río: 0.7km
Ascent: 19m Descent: -42m
Torres del Río ➜ Viana: 10.5km
Ascent: 284m Descent: -278m
Viana ➜ Logroño: 9.2km
Ascent: 101m Descent: -196m
Entering La Rioja (although if you stray a little to your right you can pass through a tiny corner of the Basque Country)Logroño
Logroño ➜ Navarrete: 12.7km
Ascent: 227m Descent: -96m
Supermarkets and fruit and veg market on the Camino on the way out of town (not open at the crack of dawn). Mostly concrete walking surfaces to Navarrete!
6.3km café La Parada del Peregrino. Watch out for squirrels begging for (and possibly stealing) food, and rabbits.Navarrete
Navarrete ➜ Ventosa: 6.9km
Ascent: 159m Descent: -38m
The Camino follows the road for a while before swinging away to the left shortly after the Ermita de Santa María de Jesús.
A sign-posted alternative route allows you to bypass Ventosa and shorten the way by 500m.Ventosa
Ventosa ➜ Nájera: 8.9km
Ascent: 70m Descent: -199m
After passing under a main road don't miss the left turn towards Nájera (unless you actually want to visit Huércanos - not recommended).Nájera
Nájera ➜ Azofra: 6.6km
Ascent: 129m Descent: -74m
Azofra ➜ Cirueña: 9.3km
Ascent: 231m Descent: -37m
Cirueña ➜ Santo Domingo de la Calzada: 5.5km
Ascent: 39m Descent: -135m
Extreme care is necessary when crossing the main roads in Santo Domingo!Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Santo Domingo de la Calzada ➜ Grañón: 6.8km
Ascent: 109m Descent: -23m
Grañón ➜ Redecilla del Camino: 3.9km
Ascent: 74m Descent: -64m
Entering Castilla y León. The border is marked by a 'megalith' which is rumoured to have appeared in the dead of night during a violent thunder storm. Local Albergue owners are rumoured to offer it a blood sacrifice every new year's day in the hope of plentiful big spending pilgrims and possibly a sequel to The Way.
The main road here can be busy with fast traffic. Construction is underway on the new motorway and is likely to lead to some detours in the coming years.Redecilla del Camino
Redecilla del Camino ➜ Castildelgado: 1.6km
Ascent: 28m Descent: 0m
Castildelgado ➜ Viloria de la Rioja: 2.1km
Ascent: 46m Descent: -17m
It is not advisable to walk along the side of the very busy main road.Viloria de la Rioja
Viloria de la Rioja ➜ Belorado: 8.3km
Ascent: 84m Descent: -118m
3.5km to Villamayor del Río
Cafés, both on the main road, right of the Camino, the first one has a shop.Belorado
Belorado ➜ Tosantos: 4.6km
Ascent: 66m Descent: -12m
Tosantos ➜ Villambistia: 2.0km
Ascent: 45m Descent: -6m
Villambistia ➜ Espinosa del Camino: 1.6km
Ascent: 44m Descent: -6m
Espinosa del Camino ➜ Villafranca Montes de Oca: 3.5km
Ascent: 72m Descent: -25m
Villafranca Montes de Oca ➜ San Juan de Ortega: 12.0km
Ascent: 251m Descent: -195m
Ascent 214m over 3.1km
At the summit of Montes de Oca (3.6km) is a monument dedicated to the victims of a massacre during the civil war, the inscription reads:
No fue inútil su muerte, fue inútil su fusilamiento / Their death wasn't in vain, their execution was
In 2011 a mass grave was uncovered here containing the bodies of 60 people.
These hills (mountains is hardly the word) have the reputation in Camino lore for being a den of thieves, conmen and other assorted low-life who, taking advantage of the thick undergrowth, would lie in wait for unsuspecting pilgrims and relieve them of their valuables.
Nowadays, the most dangerous thing in this area is the traffic in Villafranca.
The Montes de Oca are at the extreme north-western end of the Sistema Ibérico mountain range which extends from here south-east through southern Rioja and on into eastern Castile. This mountain range is part of the watershed between the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Heavily wooded with native oak, the Montes de Oca are a paradise for wildlife, with deer and wild boar living here in abundance. You may also see otters, wildcats, foxes, badgers and wolves. Besides oak, juniper and ash are also common.San Juan de Ortega
San Juan de Ortega ➜ Agés: 3.7km
Ascent: 22m Descent: -58m
There are two routes from here to Burgos. The alternative one is waymarked but little-used and devoid of pilgrim accommodation. It passes through the following villages: Santovenia de Oca, Zalduendo, Ibeas de Juarros, Castrillo del Val, San Medel, Castañares and then to Burgos. Parts of it are along the side of a main road.Agés
Agés ➜ Atapuerca: 2.4km
Ascent: 6m Descent: -19m
Atapuerca ➜ Cardeñuela Ríopico: 6.1km
Ascent: 125m Descent: -154m
Cardeñuela Ríopico ➜ Orbaneja Ríopico: 2.0km
Ascent: 3m Descent: -16m
RIGHT ROUTE: Orbaneja Ríopico ➜ Burgos: 11.9km
Ascent: 43m Descent: -82m
LEFT ROUTE: Orbaneja Ríopico ➜ Burgos: 12.2km
Ascent: 71m Descent: -110m
There are two routes when entering Burgos. They divide after Orbaneja, after crossing over a motorway where you'll see houses and recycling containers on the left. The right route (10.9km from where they divide) has little shade and passes through Villafría (cafés) and an seemingly endless industrial zone. The left route (11.1km from where they divide) follows the perimeter fence of the airport to a village called Castañares (cafés) and a major road which you can cross at the pedestrian crossing to your left (out of order in August 2022, care required). Continue straight through a small park with a children's playground to your left and a basketball court to your right, straight along a small road which crosses a stream and swings right at the entrance to a factory. Continue until you cross a footbridge over a river. Now turn right and follow the path between the river and the road, turning left to pass under the road. Now you can follow the river for a pleasant, shady walk all the way to the city. There's a beach where you can swim (although the water is freezing). This route passes through a little-frequented nature reserve and some people may feel uncomfortable on their own.Burgos
Burgos ➜ Tardajos: 10.9km
Ascent: 35m Descent: -77m
Finding your way out of Burgos can be a bit complicated. Exiting the municipal albergue turn right and follow the Camino past the cathedral along Calle Fernán de González for 550m until you come to the city wall. Pass through the arch and turn left down the steps and straight on to Calle Emperador as far as Calle Villalon, where you turn left. This will bring you to the river which you cross on a footbridge (Puente Malotos) straight in front of you. After the footbridge you'll see a statue of Santo Domingo and the entrance to a park at the corner of Paseo de los Comendadores. You can either walk through the park or veer right on to Avenida de José Maria Vilacián Rebollo and then straight on to Calle de Villadiego, then veer right on to Calle de Benito Pérez Galdós (sign pointing to Los Guindales). From there follow the yellow arrows.Tardajos
Tardajos ➜ Rabé de las Calzadas: 1.8km
Ascent: 16m Descent: -12m
Rabé de las Calzadas ➜ Hornillos del Camino: 7.7km
Ascent: 104m Descent: -112m
Hornillos del Camino ➜ San Bol: 5.7km
Ascent: 127m Descent: -51m
San Bol ➜ Hontanas: 4.7km
Ascent: 38m Descent: -66m
Hontanas ➜ San Antón: 5.9km
Ascent: 24m Descent: -88m
For several kilometres after Hontanas the Camino runs parallel to a quite country road. In bad weather walking the road is an easier option.San Antón
San Antón ➜ Castrojeriz: 3.3km
Ascent: 37m Descent: -9m
Castrojeriz ➜ Itero del Castillo: 9.1km
Ascent: 156m Descent: -204m
In case you were expecting the Meseta to be flat, there's a massive hill starting 2.5km after Castrojeriz.Itero del Castillo
Itero del Castillo ➜ Itero de la Vega: 1.9km
Ascent: 10m Descent: -5m
Entering the Province of PalenciaItero de la Vega
Itero de la Vega ➜ Boadilla del Camino: 8.1km
Ascent: 65m Descent: -55m
Boadilla del Camino ➜ Frómista: 5.7km
Ascent: 23m Descent: -25m
Frómista ➜ Población de Campos: 3.4km
Ascent: 11m Descent: -11m
Just before Población on the left is the Romanesque Ermita de San Miguel with a nice shady wooded area.Población de Campos
RIGHT ROUTE: Población de Campos ➜ Villalcázar de Sirga: 10.9km
Ascent: 63m Descent: -39m
LEFT ROUTE: Población de Campos ➜ Villarmentero de Campos: 5.7km
Ascent: 22m Descent: -10m
After Población, just before crossing a small bridge, the Camino divides to rejoin in Villalcázar de Sirga.
4.2km to Villovieco, café just after crossing the river. After Villovieco the Camino crosses the río Ucieza and continues alongside it for 5km until a bridge with a large house over to the left, here you turn left and follow the paved road for 1.7km to Villalcázar. This route is a quieter and more pleasant option than the left route.
This route goes along the side of a road.
3.6km Revenga de Campos. Café.
2.1km to Villarmentero.Villarmentero de Campos
Villarmentero de Campos ➜ Villalcázar de Sirga: 4.0km
Ascent: 19m Descent: -7m
4km to Villalcázar de Sirga
Villalcázar de Sirga ➜ Carrión de los Condes: 5.5km
Ascent: 53m Descent: -21m
Carrión de los Condes ➜ Calzadilla de la Cueza: 17.2km
Ascent: 69m Descent: -48m
You should not leave Carrión without enough food and water for a long walk.Calzadilla de la Cueza
Calzadilla de la Cueza ➜ Lédigos: 5.9km
Ascent: 54m Descent: -34m
Take care crossing the main road here, traffic is infrequent but the locals have heavy feet.Lédigos
Lédigos ➜ Terradillos de Templarios: 3.0km
Ascent: 15m Descent: -10m
The Camino goes through open country after Lédigos however there is an older route to the right, which goes along the side of the road and has some shade.Terradillos de Templarios
Terradillos de Templarios ➜ Moratinos: 3.1km
Ascent: 21m Descent: -40m
Moratinos ➜ San Nicolás del Real Camino: 2.6km
Ascent: 19m Descent: -35m
San Nicolás del Real Camino ➜ Sahagún: 7.1km
Ascent: 63m Descent: -74m
Entering the Province of LeónSahagún
RIGHT ROUTE: Sahagún ➜ Calzada del Coto: 5.0km
Ascent: 33m Descent: -42m
LEFT ROUTE: Sahagún ➜ Bercianos del Real Camino: 10.2km
Ascent: 62m Descent: -33m
4.5km after Sahagún, at a road junction near a motorway just before Calzada del Coto. Here the Camino divides and continues on two separate paths until Reliegos. Much overpainting of arrows at this junction. The right route was a Roman Road whereas the left route is the original Camino Francés.
From where the two routes divide it is 500m to Calzada del Coto.Calzada del Coto
Calzada del Coto ➜ Calzadilla de los Hermanillos: 8.5km
Ascent: 79m Descent: -11m
Calzadilla de los Hermanillos ➜ Reliegos: 17.4km
Ascent: 53m Descent: -122m
17.4km to Reliegos or 24km to Mansilla via an alternative route which branches right after 16.5km (signpost often vandalised). Don't set off without adequate supplies for a long day's walking. There is no possibility to stock up on the way. The route runs entirely through open countryside parallel to the León - Madrid railway line. It is however possible to cross over to the left route in several places. You should not cross the railway line unless you want to join the other route.
For the left route continue straight at the road junction where the right route goes right, then veer right on to an unpaved road. Many parts of this route are gravel path along the side of a quiet road (The so-called Senda).Bercianos del Real Camino
Bercianos del Real Camino ➜ El Burgo Ranero: 7.2km
Ascent: 35m Descent: -12m
El Burgo Ranero ➜ Reliegos: 13.2km
Ascent: 30m Descent: -89m
Reliegos ➜ Mansilla de las Mulas: 5.8km
Ascent: 11m Descent: -30m
Mansilla de las Mulas ➜ Puente Villarente: 6.0km
Ascent: 16m Descent: -12m
Puente Villarente ➜ Arcahueja: 4.3km
Ascent: 52m Descent: -4m
Arcahueja ➜ León: 8.1km
Ascent: 101m Descent: -109m
It's mostly suburban from here to León.
In the city of León, as well as the usual yellow arrows the Camino is marked by metal shells set into the ground.León
RIGHT ROUTE: León ➜ Villadangos del Páramo: 20.2km
Ascent: 179m Descent: -121m
LEFT ROUTE: León ➜ Oncina de la Valdoncina: 11.1km
Ascent: 154m Descent: -125m
The official Camino winds its crooked way around the tourist attractions of León. Don't worry if you end up lost! The easiest way to find your way out is to find the river and walk upstream until you come to the footbridge, Puente San Marcos, which is just beside the magnificent Hostal de San Marcos. Cross the river here on the pedestrian bridge and follow the yellow arrows out of town.
Several cafés do breakfast in Trobajo del Camino south of the river. There are also several supermarkets, pharmacies, bakeries and banks along the Camino (however they don't open until about 09:00).
7.3km to La Virgen del Camino where the Camino divides until Hospital de Órbigo
Cafés, shops and a bank on the Camino. Pharmacy on Calle Cervantes which is to the right.
The church of La Virgen del Camino is one of the very few modern churches to be seen along the Camino Francés. It was completed in 1961, replacing an older church. It is concrete with heavy bronze doors and a detached tower. On its façade is a 'depiction' of the Virgin Mary and the twelve apostles. Inside, the Baroque altar belongs to the church which stood here previously and dates from the 18th century. This village developed on the site of an apparition of the Virgin Mary to a shepherd in the 16th century. It is a major local pilgrimage site with annual processions from nearby villages on 15 September and 5 October. During droughts an icon of the Virgin Mary is carried from here to the cathedral in León.
Cross the main road at the church and turn right. 350m further on the Camino divides between here and Hospital de Órbigo (There is a lot of confusing signposting at this junction). The right route runs along the side of a busy main road and is 27.1km. The left route passes through open countryside and is 24.4km. The two routes rejoin in Hospital de Órbigo. The right route follows the Roman road and is considered the original Camino.
4.2km to Valverde de la Virgin.
1.2km to San Miguel del Camino, shop, cafés.Villadangos del Páramo
Villadangos del Páramo ➜ San Martín del Camino: 4.4km
Ascent: 6m Descent: -30m
San Martín del Camino ➜ Hospital de Órbigo: 7.1km
Ascent: 5m Descent: -53m
7.2km to Hospital de Órbigo
1.6km from where the Caminos divide to Fresno del Camino, café.Oncina de la Valdoncina
Oncina de la Valdoncina ➜ Villar de Mazarife: 9.9km
Ascent: 53m Descent: -64m
5.6km to Chozas de Abajo, café about 250m off the Camino to the left. Then 4.4km toVillar de MazarifeVillar de Mazarife
Villar de Mazarife ➜ Villavante: 9.4km
Ascent: 2m Descent: -33m
Villavente can be bypassed by continuing straight on the road.Villavante
Villavante ➜ Hospital de Órbigo: 4.0km
Ascent: 4m Descent: -19m
Hospital de Órbigo ➜ Villares de Órbigo: 2.8km
Ascent: 13m Descent: -6m
At then end of the village the Camino turns right. A little-frequented alternative continues straight at this point. It is 2km shorter than the more popular route but it mostly follows a busy main road where there are no villages (or anything really) until where it rejoins the main route in San Justo de la Vega.Villares de Órbigo
Villares de Órbigo ➜ Santibáñez de Valdeiglesias: 2.5km
Ascent: 49m Descent: -29m
Santibáñez de Valdeiglesias ➜ Astorga: 11.8km
Ascent: 171m Descent: -150m
5km to David's refreshment stand.
2.7km to San Justo de la Vega.
San Justo de la Vega, cafés, bakery and further on on the right a shop and a pharmacy, all on the Camino. Café Bar Oasis is a friendly place and claims to have the best tortilla in the world (it just might be true!)
4km to Astorga.Astorga
Astorga ➜ Murias de Rechivaldo: 4.4km
Ascent: 33m Descent: -23m
Leaving town is a bit confusing so pay close attention to the waymarkings. Following the Camino through town (this already is a challenge) then with the cathedral main façade to you right veer left down Calle Leopoldo Panero and then at the end turn right. Continue straight across a road junction on to Calle de San Pedro, past the unusual modern Iglesia de San Pedro, until you arrive at the main road called Avenida Madrid-Coruña, which you cross on the pedestrian crossing to the right before continuing on to Calle de los Mártires. Follow this and it's straight all the way out of town.
Astorga marks the beginning of the Maragatería but it also marks the end of the geographic region of the Meseta which we entered weeks ago near Burgos. Today the land is sloping gently upwards and we will continue to climb for the next 30km or so until we reach the Camino Francés' highest point between Manjarín and El Acebo.
2.4km to Valdeviejas, albergue closedMurias de Rechivaldo
Murias de Rechivaldo ➜ Santa Catalina de Somoza: 4.5km
Ascent: 100m Descent: 0m
Santa Catalina de Somoza ➜ El Ganso: 4.2km
Ascent: 39m Descent: -8m
El Ganso ➜ Rabanal del Camino: 6.8km
Ascent: 152m Descent: -14m
The climb to Cruz de Ferro begins in earnest after El Ganso, however, the ascent is mostly pretty gradual.Rabanal del Camino
Rabanal del Camino ➜ Foncebadón: 5.4km
Ascent: 280m Descent: -7m
Foncebadón ➜ El Acebo: 11.2km
Ascent: 187m Descent: -481m
You can walk on the road all the way to Molinaseca if you so desire, a good option if it's been snowing.
1.9km after Foncebadón you will come to the Cruz de Ferro.
The Cruz de Ferro is also sometimes called the Cruz de Hierro or Cruz do Fierro. It doesn't mark the highest point on the Camino, that's a few kilometres later, but it's pretty high nevertheless. It's traditional for pilgrims to deposit a pebble here which they carried from their home to ask for protection on the remainder of their journey. Today the cross stands on top of a 5m high pile of stones. Pilgrim often also leave some other memento here.
2.3km to Manjarín
Manjarín was abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century and only came back to life in 1993 when the pilgrim albergue opened. Its history, like so many other villages in this region, dates back to the early days of the Camino when there was a pilgrim albergue here. Sadly the famous and iconic albergue here has closed and it seems unlikely if it will open again.
3.2km after Manjarín, after passing an antenna on your right, you will reach the highest point on the Camino Francés at 1515m and enter El Bierzo. Fiestas Día Del Bierzo 8 September.
After the highest point you will descend 930m over 11.7km between here and Molinaseca. The path may be slippery in places, especially in winter. It is possible to follow the road all the way.El Acebo
El Acebo ➜ Riego de Ambrós: 3.3km
Ascent: 10m Descent: -223m
Riego de Ambrós ➜ Molinaseca: 4.5km
Ascent: 26m Descent: -369m
There is a long, steep descent into Molinaseca. An easier alternative if you don't like descents or in poor weather, is to walk along the (quiet) road.Molinaseca
Molinaseca ➜ Ponferrada: 7.9km
Ascent: 103m Descent: -167m
From here, unfortunately, you'll be walking on hard surfaces most of the way to Las Herrerías.
From Molinaseca walk along the footpath beside the main road towards Ponferrada.
2.8km after Molinaseca the Camino divides. From here there are two options to enter Ponferrada. Either continue on the main road for 4km, or veer left on to a minor road to follow a longer 'official' Camino through a series of meanders for 5.1km.Ponferrada
Ponferrada ➜ Camponaraya: 8.7km
Ascent: 56m Descent: -76m
Getting out of Ponferrada is a little complicated, follow the Camino to the castle and then turn right. The Camino leads you through the historic centre before crossing the river into the new part of town where it turns right to follow the river north for 1.4km until it turns left away from the river at a roundabout shortly after the Museo de la Energia / Energy Museum.
4.5km to Columbrianos, café. (Albergue San Blas is reported closed)Camponaraya
Camponaraya ➜ Cacabelos: 5.9km
Ascent: 54m Descent: -61m
The Camino in Camponaraya runs along a busy road the length of the village and out the other end, then at the gates of a factory it veers up to the left beside a picnic area.Cacabelos
Cacabelos ➜ Pieros: 2.2km
Ascent: 64m Descent: -10m
Pieros ➜ Valtuille de Arriba: 1.9km
Ascent: 45m Descent: -28m
Valtuille de Arriba ➜ Villafranca del Bierzo: 4.9km
Ascent: 68m Descent: -127m
Villafranca del Bierzo ➜ Trabadelo: 9.2km
Ascent: 198m Descent: -131m
Shortly after crossing the bridge in Villafranca the Camino divides. The main (easiest and shortest) route continues straight ahead and follows the road along the flat valley floor beside the Río Valcarce. Passing through the village of Pereje.
THE ALTERNATIVE ROUTE (does not go through Pereje)
This (more scenic, hillier and longer) route goes up a narrow, steep street by Peluquería Ana / Hairdresser. (It may not be signposted due to vandalism.) It passes through beautiful mountainous countryside before rejoining the main route in Trabadelo. It has a steep 410m ascent and corresponding descent. Yellow arrows are scarce at times. Once at the top follow the unpaved road, at two points you will come to junctions where yellow arrows urge you to go right towards the village of Pradela, which is 600m off the Camino, where there is a café and an albergue.
Private (10, 6€, March to November) Albergue Lamas, in the village of Pradela close to the aternative route. Laundry facilities. Communal evening meal. Breakfast. Café / restaurant. Tel 677 569 764 Open 11:00
On the descend towards Trabadelo along a minor road, in a left-hand curve there's a marked track branching right, follow this. The route crosses the road twice before arriving in Trabadelo. This alternative route is a bit of an adventure but much more beautiful than the main valley route and worth the slog (in good weather and visibility).
4.8km Pereje, café. The municipal albergue has been closed since the beginning of Covid.
In the 12th century the pilgrim albergue in Pereje was the scene of a territorial dispute between the Cluniac monastery of Villafranca and a rival monastery in O Cebreiro supported by the Abbey of Saint Géraud d'Aurillac. The O Cebreiro monks built a church and albergue in Pereje, in defiance of the Villafranca monks who officially administered the village. The dispute became so heated that Popes and monarchs became involved. Thankfully it was eventually settled with a minimum of bloodshed.Trabadelo
Trabadelo ➜ La Portela de Valcarce: 4.1km
Ascent: 92m Descent: -65m
La Portela de Valcarce ➜ Ambasmestas: 1.1km
Ascent: 27m Descent: -15m
Ambasmestas ➜ Vega de Valcarce: 1.4km
Ascent: 34m Descent: -17m
Vega de Valcarce ➜ Ruitelán: 2.5km
Ascent: 47m Descent: -22m
Ruitelán ➜ Las Herrerías: 1.2km
Ascent: 33m Descent: -21m
Las Herrerías ➜ La Faba: 3.5km
Ascent: 272m Descent: -34m
The climb to O Cebreiro begins here. In the next 8.2km the Camino ascends 619m.La Faba
La Faba ➜ Laguna de Castilla: 2.3km
Ascent: 231m Descent: -5m
Laguna de Castilla ➜ O Cebreiro: 2.4km
Ascent: 163m Descent: -26m
Welcome to Galicia, Province of Lugo
There are few Municipal Albergues in Galicia however in their place are Xunta Albergues. These are funded directly by the Government of Galicia (the Xunta). They always have kitchens but for reasons which will not be speculated upon here their kitchens are rarely usable. ie. The cooker doesn't work, there are no utensils, etc. For this reason Xunta Albergues which have unusable kitchens (which is most of them) are listed here as having no kitchen.O Cebreiro
O Cebreiro ➜ Liñares: 3.3km
Ascent: 97m Descent: -159m
Leaving O Cebreiro walk to the left of the Xunta albergue and through the forest on a good path. Ignore signposting urging you to walk along the road!Liñares
Liñares ➜ Hospital da Condesa: 2.5km
Ascent: 93m Descent: -73m
Shortly after Liñares you will come to Alto de San Roque with its famous statue of the pilgrim struggling forward against a headwind.Hospital da Condesa
Hospital da Condesa ➜ Alto do Poio: 2.7km
Ascent: 152m Descent: -56m
Alto do Poio ➜ Fonfría: 3.4km
Ascent: 27m Descent: -62m
Fonfría ➜ Fillobal: 5.4km
Ascent: 20m Descent: -347m
2.5km to Biduedo, caféFillobal
Fillobal ➜ Triacastela: 3.5km
Ascent: 9m Descent: -301m
RIGHT ROUTE: Triacastela ➜ A Balsa: 2.0km
Ascent: 64m Descent: -9m
LEFT ROUTE: Triacastela ➜ San Cristovo do Real: 4.0km
Ascent: 51m Descent: -111m
At the end of the main street in Triacastela the Camino goes in two opposite directions. The right route goes through Calvor and on to Sarria. The left route goes through Samos. The two routes rejoin in Aguiada shortly before Sarria.
A Balsa ➜ Calvor: 11.1km
Ascent: 238m Descent: -444m
8.1km to Furela, café Bar Franco does good food, especially empanadas and Caldo Galego (see under O Cebreiro) although only in cold weather.
1.72km to Pintín, caféCalvor
Calvor ➜ Sarria: 5.0km
Ascent: 35m Descent: -117m
520m to Aguiada
Follow the road for 4km as far as San Cristovo do Real where the Camino branches to the right.San Cristovo do Real
San Cristovo do Real ➜ Samos: 6.1km
Ascent: 196m Descent: -260m
1.75km to Renche, café.Samos
Samos ➜ Sarria: 14.3km
Ascent: 284m Descent: -389m
After Samos the Camino follows the main road for 2.5km until it branches right at a restaurant called Mesón Pontenova. This route passes through beautiful countryside and the localities (you can hardly call them villages) of Pascais, Gorolfe, Veiga, Sivil and Perros.
7.9km from Samos to Sivil, café.
Once in Sarria there's a temporary (for several years now) detour where a bridge over the Río Sarria is being reconstructed.Sarria
Sarria ➜ Vilei - Barbadelo: 4.4km
Ascent: 174m Descent: -65m
Covid is well and truly over, proof of this is that in summer 2022 the charity scammers were back outside Sarria. They generally accost pilgrims on a quite part of the Camino with a clipboard and a story about helping deaf children. It's all lies. Don't give them anything. The best thing is not to engage with them at all, look pissed-off, look straight ahead and keep walking.Vilei - Barbadelo
Vilei - Barbadelo ➜ Morgade: 7.7km
Ascent: 190m Descent: -93m
1.7km to Café Serra.
3.1km to Molino de Marzán (the albergue here is closed)
1.6km to Peruscallo, café.
2.5km to A Brea, café.Morgade
Morgade ➜ Ferreiros: 1.1km
Ascent: 17m Descent: -13m
Ferreiros ➜ Mercadoiro: 3.8km
Ascent: 49m Descent: -163m
900m to 100km from Santiago waymarker.
300m to A Pena, café. Shortly after A Pena, As Rozas, café in a farm yard.Mercadoiro
Mercadoiro ➜ Vilacha: 3.1km
Ascent: 22m Descent: -139m
1.7km from the albergue to A Parrocha, caféVilacha
Vilacha ➜ Portomarín: 1.9km
Ascent: 7m Descent: -84m
600m after Vilacha the Camino divides. The left route veers on to a narrow path between high stone walls. This path is steep and can be slippy, especially after rain. The right route (the only one until 2015) branches right and follows a quiet country road. These routes rejoin at the bridge just before Portomarín. The distances are more-or-less the same.
If you're not stopping in Portomarín and you don't feel like climbing all those steps you can turn left just after the bridge, walk along the road and rejoin the Camino where it crosses a bridge to the left.Portomarín
Portomarín ➜ Gonzar: 7.9km
Ascent: 243m Descent: -54m
Gonzar ➜ Castromaior: 1.0km
Ascent: 42m Descent: 0m
Castromaior ➜ Hospital da Cruz: 2.8km
Ascent: 106m Descent: -21m
Hospital da Cruz ➜ Vendas de Narón: 1.6km
Ascent: 33m Descent: -8m
Vendas de Narón ➜ Ligonde: 3.1km
Ascent: 15m Descent: -98m
Ligonde ➜ Airexe de Ligonde: 0.9km
Ascent: 22m Descent: -24m
800m Café Casa Mariluz with its enormous tortillas de pata.Airexe de Ligonde
Airexe de Ligonde ➜ Portos: 2.1km
Ascent: 21m Descent: -70m
Portos ➜ Palas de Rei: 5.3km
Ascent: 85m Descent: -102m
800m to Lestedo, café.
1.9km, café.Palas de Rei
Palas de Rei ➜ San Xulián do Camiño: 3.7km
Ascent: 42m Descent: -142m
San Xulián do Camiño ➜ Mato: 1.0km
Ascent: 0m Descent: -40m
Mato ➜ Casanova: 1.3km
Ascent: 66m Descent: -2m
Casanova ➜ Melide: 8.7km
Ascent: 142m Descent: -181m
Melide ➜ Boente: 5.8km
Ascent: 82m Descent: -142m
This is the point where the Camino Primitivo (which starts in Oviedo) joins the Camino Francés.
Boente ➜ Castañeda: 2.2km
Ascent: 75m Descent: -58m
Castañeda ➜ Ribadiso: 3.0km
Ascent: 52m Descent: -155m
Ribadiso ➜ Arzúa: 2.4km
Ascent: 95m Descent: -5m
Arzúa ➜ Bebedeiro: 5.0km
Ascent: 129m Descent: -122m
Arzúa is where the Camino del Norte joins the Camino Francés.Bebedeiro
Bebedeiro ➜ As Quintas: 0.7km
Ascent: 8m Descent: -3m
As Quintas ➜ Outeiro: 2.7km
Ascent: 22m Descent: -84m
Outeiro ➜ Salceda: 3.6km
Ascent: 72m Descent: -45m
Salceda ➜ Santa Irene: 3.8km
Ascent: 88m Descent: -54m
You'll need to cross the main road several times between here and O Pedrouzo. Extreme caution is advised, this road can be very busy at times!
2.2km to A Brea, cafés
1.7km to O Empalme, cafés.Santa Irene
Santa Irene ➜ A Rúa: 2.6km
Ascent: 21m Descent: -147m
A Rúa ➜ O Pedrouzo: 1.4km
Ascent: 23m Descent: -15m
The official Camino passes through the outskirts of the town of O Pedrouzo, to get to the town centre, where the albergues and most business are, turn left on to the main road at a place where the Camino crosses it just after A Rúa. WARNING: it is easy to miss this junction!O Pedrouzo
O Pedrouzo ➜ A Esquipa: 9.5km
Ascent: 216m Descent: -203m
To get back to the Camino continue along O Pedrouzo's main street and turn right at the Casa do Concello.
There are cafés every couple of kilometres from here on.A Esquipa
A Esquipa ➜ Monte do Gozo: 5.5km
Ascent: 116m Descent: -42m
Frequent cafés from here on. Café de Amancio in Vilamaior is nice.Monte do Gozo
Monte do Gozo ➜ San Lázaro: 2.4km
Ascent: 23m Descent: -105m
It's urban jungle from here on. Lots of cafés, etc.San Lázaro
San Lázaro ➜ Santiago de Compostela: 2.3km
Ascent: 30m Descent: -58m
It's surprisingly easy to get lost on the way into Santiago. If in doubt aim for the cathedral.Santiago de Compostela
Copyright © Gerald Kelly 2023. All text and photos.