Camino de Santiago
The Grand Tour of the Camino de Santiago emphasizing the artistic, cultural and historical treasures of northern Spain while walking through scenic countryside to Santiago.
If Nancy were a college professor, she would be the best professor you ever had…Our Camino was a wonderful experience. We loved Nancy & Jose, and we loved every part of the trip. We have already recommended it to friends.
Julie & David, May 2018, Camino de Santiago
For more than 20 years Nancy L. Frey, PhD and Jose Placer have been leading groups along Spain’s premiere walking trail – the medieval pilgrimage route called the Camino de Santiago. We call our Grand Tour of the Camino de Santiago, "On Glory Roads" as it truly is a remarkable journey that stimulates all of your senses in addition to your curiosity and often times, unexpectedly, your spirit. We emphasize the artistic, cultural and historical treasures of northern Spain while walking through scenic countryside to Santiago. Many people write to us many years later still saying, for example,
We remember our time with you in 2013 with such fondness … It’s still the best holiday ever!
Sally, writing May 2018 about her Sept 2013 Camino de Santiago tour.
Following scenic country roads, agricultural fields and forest tracks as well as crossing villages and cities born of the Camino de Santiago, it is difficult to imagine a better way to enjoy Spanish (and European) art, history, culture, and geography than to embark on this magnificent way. According to legend, around the year 812, a religious hermit discovered the long forgotten tomb of the apostle James by following a falling star. His chance finding gave birth to what would become Santiago de Compostela as millions of devout men and women came to venerate the saint’s bones throughout the Middle Ages. In the late 20th C the idea of going on pilgrimage to think, have a time-out or reassess one’s life, struck a chord with walkers, with diverse backgrounds and motivations, from all over the world
On our 11-day tour we’ve selected the most beautiful and representative sections of the Camino to walk. Between walking stages we shuttle to our accommodations selected for their character as well as proximity to the historical quarters of the towns and villages where we will spend the night. On our last night we stay in the spectacular, world-famous 5-star Hotel Reyes Católicos located at the foot of the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
Starting in Roncesvalles (on the France-Spain border), we cover the section called the Camino Francés as the route passes from the wooded Pyrenees of Navarra to the fertile wine territory of La Rioja, the rolling wheat fields and high tablelands (meseta) of Castile and León and then to verdant, rolling Galicia.
Each region also offers its own gastronomic highlights which we’ll take great pleasure in introducing you to in both Jose’s world-famous picnics and the evening meals. Expect to enjoy a magnificent array of wildflowers in the spring and early summer as well as the ripening fruits of fall. Come with us and discover and explore why this remarkable tradition has moved millions of people for more than 1000 years and continues to do so.
CAMINO FRANCÉS: FROM RONCESVALLES (NAVARRA) TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
11 days & 11 nights
Level: Easy-Medium. We will be walking and hiking from 5.1mi/8.3km to 11.9mi/19.3km on a daily basis. On some days optional walks are scheduled with a total maximum distance of 12.7mi/20.6km. On many days the daily total distance is done in sections and we can offer alternatives to shorten the walks or you can elect to ride in the support vehicle if you do not want to complete the scheduled walk. Terrain varies from hilly, mountainous track, easy country lanes, forest paths and a few asphalt, secondary roads. Walking sticks are recommended for this tour.
Walking Days: 11
Total Distance: 80.8mi/ 131.5km With optionals 99.8mi / 161.6km
(In the itinerary everything is optional. If you don't feel like walking any section, of course, that is up to you. If you did all of the walking - scheduled sections plus sections marked optional - then your total distance would be the 'With Optionals' figure).
Tour Start/End Point: The tour starts in Pamplona and ends in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The airport codes are – Pamplona (PNA) and Santiago de Compostela (SCQ). Both airports are located conveniently to the city center. Daily direct flights are available from Madrid (MAD) and many European hubs to these cities.
Start Time: 2pm on Day 1
End Time: After breakfast on Day 12 (the tour is 11 nights inclusive)
Group size: The tour is limited to a maximum of 15 participants.
Tour Price: 3975E per person in double accommodation
Single Supplement: The single supplement fee is €390 for this tour.
Weather: In May expect some showers, temperatures from 5-20ºC / 40-70ºF and varying conditions. In June expect sunny skies and temperatures from 15-30ºC / 60-80ºF and the possibility of rain during the tour. Late September, early October is normally warm and clear though rain showers and cooler temperatures are always possibility.
Groups: If you have a group of six (6) or more and the dates are not available when you would like to travel, contact us and we can try and schedule a tour adapted to your dates.
Tour Dates: 27 Sept - 7 Oct 2023
Custom Camino Tours: We also organize retreats, youth, church, or private tours of the Camino. Contact us for more information.
Our Camino de Santiago Tour does not qualify for the Compostela Certificate: On our Camino de Santiago tour you will not be eligible to receive the Compostela Certificate. We walk more than 100km but not the LAST 100km which is the key. As an alternative, we can arrange for you to walk with us through Day 10 of the tour and then you can walk the last 100km independently to earn the Compostela. Please contact us if you would like more information on how this would work. On our 7-day Compostela Tour from León to Santiago, you will be eligible to earn the Compostela Certificate.
Note about the Compostela Certificate: Some tours guarantee that you can acquire the Compostela Certificate without offering you the possibility of correctly doing so. The Compostela is a document given by the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago de Compostela to pilgrims who state a religious/spiritual motivation and who have walked the last 100km (62mi) continuously on foot (200km on bicycle). It is not sufficient to do the distance piecemeal from Roncesvalles to Santiago. If you have any questions in this regard, please refer to the Pilgrim`s Office official website: https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/
Trip price includes accommodations (double occupancy), all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) each day, except 3 dinners (Burgos, Logroño and Molinaseca), all entry fees, pre-departure information, experienced guides, support vehicle, all transportation during the trip.
Tour does not include: Airfare to Spain is not included nor is required health/travel insurance or transportation to and from the starting (Pamplona) and ending (Santiago de Compostela) points. Personal amenities such as drinks and snacks at end of walks or in free time are not included.
Single Supplement: The single supplement fee is €390 for this tour.
Optional Wine Tour: On Day 3 in Logroño we offer an optional visit to a Rioja winery with a commented tasting - price per person 20€, minimum four participants for the optional to run.
Day 1 - Pamplona
Walking Distance: 5.1 miles / 8.3 km
Walking in SpainAfter meeting at our hotel in the heart of Pamplona’s historical district, we’ll head up to the Pyrenees and the French border. From there we’ll descend on foot through beech forest to Roncesvalles, the tiny hamlet where the medieval epic Song of Roland places the defeat of Charlemagne’s army and the death of Roland. Our walk will continue through the deciduous forest to Burguete, a typical Navarran mountain village and Hemingway’s preferred stop over for trout fishing (see The Sun Also Rises). Upon return to Pamplona, we’ll enjoy Navarran cuisine in one of the old quarter’s most long-standing restaurants.
Day 2 - Estella
Walking Distance : 8.3 miles / 13.5 km
The day starts with a walking tour of Pamplona paying special attention to the famous streets associated with the annual 'Running of the Bulls'. We’ll briefly enter the town’s 14th C Gothic cathedral. Afterwards we quickly leave behind the city and enter the tranquil rolling fields that ascend to the Sierra del Perdón. We’ll picnic on local specialties and then briefly visit the enigmatic, 8-sided Romanesque church of Eunate. In Puente la Reina, we’ll marvel at its perfectly balanced 11th century stone bridge. In the afternoon walk to Cirauqui the Camino unites with a 1900-year-old section of Roman road. From their we’ll enjoy a rest in our riverside hotel set on the outskirts of Estella.
Day 3 - Logroño
Walking Distance : 6.3 miles/ 10.3 km With optionals 9.4 miles / 15.3 km
The day starts in Estella, a lovely small town split in two by the Ega River and surrounded by conic, wooded hills topped with castles (or their ruins) and churches attesting to its long history as a crucial center of commerce and worship. After visiting Estella’s most important monuments, our walk enters a dense forest of evergreen oaks, passes through fields of red poppies, wheat, grapes and white asparagus; the latter a local specialty grown underground. After lunch we’ll walk through Torres del Río and past another architectural wonder of the Camino : the 12th century, 8-sided Holy Sepulchral Church. We’ll continue on to Logroño, capital of the La Rioja region - home of some of Spain’s most celebrated red wines. Enjoy an optional wine tour in a nearby cellar and then dinner on your own in this vibrant city.
Day 4 - Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Santo DomingoWalking Distance: 5.9 miles / 9.6 km with optional 9.6 miles / 15.6 km
From Logroño we shuttle to Nájera born out of red earthen cliffs and where an 11thC apparition of the Virgin Mary in a cave led to the construction of a spectacular monastery. From here we'll walk among cultivated fields of wheat and wine, pass villages and perhaps encounter a flock of sheep before reaching Santo Domingo de la Calzada. We'll stay in the town's luxurious parador, a stone's throw from the Cathedral which we'll visit after some relaxing free time in this delightful small town, famed for being the center of one of the Camino’s most famous and celebrated legends.
Day 5 - Burgos
Walking Distance : 9.3 miles / 15 km
Today's walk ascends and traverses the Montes de Oca, densely populated by oaks, pines, wildflowers, birds and small mammals. This section was dreaded in the Middle Ages as a particularly dangerous hang-out for bandits and wolves and many pilgrims lost their way in the forest. A 12th century monk, San Juan de Ortega, constructed a monastery (by the same name) in the heart of the lonesome area in order to assist pilgrims. After reaching the monastery on foot we'll visit the saint's tomb and point out a mysterious Romanesque capital which depicts the Nativity and draws hundreds of people each Spring and Fall. Shuttle to stately Burgos, built along the Arlanzón River. Enjoy a guided walking tour of the magnificent Gothic Cathedral. Dinner will be on your own tonight in this enchanting Castilian city and final resting place of Spain's great epic hero, El Cid.
Day 6 - Carrión de los Condes
Walking Distance: 8.9 miles / 14.4 km With optionals 12.3 miles / 19.9 km
The meseta (high tablelands) walk is a true highlight. Surrounded by interminable fields of cereal grains and with no signs or sounds of civilization to distract you, we’ll walk to our picnic spot, a small outpost in the middle of nowhere. After our picnic we walk along the Canal de Castilla, a 18th C public works project that brought water to this dry outback. Shuttle to Carrión de los Condes where we sleep and dine in style at the exclusive San Zoilo monastery.
Day 7 - León
Walking Distance: 6.5 miles / 10.6 km
The sun will rise upon our backs as we wend our way through cultivated wheat fields and pass from village to village in the gently rolling Leonese countryside. We’ll visit a remarkable, well-preserved bath complex of a 3rd century AD Hispanic Roman villa and enjoy the high-quality mosaics and curious architectural floor plan. Once in León city, founded as a Roman outpost, we’ll have a guided walking tour of the old quarter housing two jewels of Romanesque and Gothic architecture (San Isidoro and the Cathedral). The latter is particularly famous for its luminescent 13th to 17th century stained glass windows.
Day 8 - Molinaseca
MolinasecaWalking Distance: 9mi/14.6km With optional 12.7mi/20.6km
Beginning in Puente Orbigo, we’ll cross its long, stone bridge witness to various bizarre encounters including a 15th century knight, Suero de Quiñones, who in a demonstration of his unrequited love challenged all the knights who passed the bridge to a joust during a 30-day period. From the bridge we’ll walk to the Cruz de Santo Toribio overlooking Astorga, a strategic Roman.After the picnic we’ll stop for coffee in Astorga before heading up into the desolate Leonese foothills in an area called the Maragatería, a rural area dotted with small villages. From the semi-abandoned village Foncebadón, the walk ascends to the Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross), one of the Camino's most emblematic points.
Day 9 - Samos
Walking Distance: 5.6 miles / 9 km With optionals 9.6 miles / 15.5 km.
Drive through Ponferrada past the Templar castle and then on to our trailhead at the hamlet of Herrerías to walk one of the Camino's most challenging and celebrated sections. We ascend along a corredoira, a stone pathway, among chestnuts and then open countryside, through two villages finally reaching Galicia and the pass of Cebreiro. Here, we'll visit a pre-Roman style dwelling, a palloza, and have our delicious picnic including hearty Galician bread and outstanding Cebreiro cheese. We'll continue to Samos, famed for its Benedictine monastery founded in the 6th century. Enjoy a quiet afternoon in the village of Samos at our riverside hotel.
Day 10 - Arzúa
ArzúaWalking Distance: 11.9 miles / 19.3 km
Galician landscapes are mountainous, green, forested and largely rural. On today’s walk we’ll pass through various rustic hamlets on ancient pathways. Stone dominates in architecture and village life is largely agricultural. We’ll pass Portomarín a town flooded in the 1950s to make way for a dam further downstream. Our gentle afternoon walk takes us through fragrant eucalypt forests before we continue on to Arzúa. Tonight’s quarters are in a lovely country mansion, a fine example of Galician noble's homes of the 18th century. Enjoy a cooking class with the owners tonight!
Day 11 - Santiago de Compostela
Walking distance : 4 miles / 6.5 km With Optionals 4.9 miles / 8km
Today the journey comes to an end in Santiago. We’ll walk through woodlands and farms before shuttling to the city gates to reach the main plaza on foot in time to attend the 12 Noon Pilgrim’s Mass (optional). If in luck, the Cathedral’s special incense burner, the Botafumeiro, will swing at the end of the Pilgrim’s Mass. In the afternoon we’ll have a guided walking tour of the town and explain the pilgrims’ most important rituals. We’ll say farewell to one another in the exquisite Reyes Católicos Parador over dinner and then enjoy a well-earned slumber within its luxurious walls.