Day 1. Arrival to Sarria
Free transfer from Madrid, or meet with the group in Sarria
Book a pre-stay in Madrid
Pick-up from Madrid-Barajas airport and transfer to hotel. We can arrange a guided tour of Madrid for you to get to know the heart of Spain a little better.
At 13,000 residents, Sarria is the largest city you’ll be in before you reach Santiago de Compostela.
Day 2. Sarria – Portomarín
22 km on foot.
After about an hour’s walk you’ll be in Barbadelo, a small town with the 12th century Church of Santiago. Soon you’ll pass the 100 km from Santiago de Compostela signpost. Savor the view of Portomarín from the top of your climb past Mercadoiro, before descending into the Miño valley.
The route to Portomarín passes over the the Miño River, which at over 300 km long is the longest river in Galicia. To allow making the reservoir, most of the town was moved brick-by-brick in the 1960s, and what was left behind is now underwater (though in the dry seasons it’s possible to see the submerged buildings). In Portomarín is the temple-fortress Igrexa de San Nicolas.
Day 3. Portomarín – Palas de Rei
24,5 km on foot.
Today’s walk is scenic with oaks and eucalyptus trees branching overhead. You start in Portomarín and have a steady upwards climb ahead, first through Gonzar and then Castromaior. Just outside of Castromaior, and just a few meters off the Camino path, is the Castro de Castromaior, a preserved Iron-Age settlement occupied from roughly the 9th century BC until the 1st century AD.
The highest point of today’s journey occurs near Ventas de Narón and save a few short climbs, the path meanders downhill from here. About 2.5 km from Ventas you’ll pass by the iconic Cruceiro de Lameiros constructed in 1670.
A few kilometers past the Cruceiro is Portos, where a recommended side trip (5 km total) takes you to Vilar de Donas. What the hamlet’s small 14th century church lacks in space, it makes up for in its stone effigies and frescoes of the Knights of Santiago, and Celtic iconography which show the Celtic influence in Galicia.
From Portos it is not a long walk to the end of the stage, Palas de Rei. According to tradition, Palas de Rei was home of King Witiza from 702 AD until his death in 710. Palas de Rei had a military history, exemplified by the Pambre Castle 10 km outside town.
Day 4. Palas de Rei – Arzúa
25 km on foot.
Three and a half kilometers into today’s stage you will pass through San Xulian de Camino, a town with a 12th century church dedicated to San Xulian (Julian). In O Leboreiro is the Igrexa de Santa Maria de Leboreiro which also functioned as a pilgrims hospital. Across from the church is a cabaceiro, a basket used to dry and store corn. A few kilometers further is the village of Furelos with a rustic 12th century bridge, Ponte Velhe Furelos.
Having passed Furelos, you’ll soon be in Melide, a more modern town known for preparing some of the best octopus in Galicia. You’ll be pleased to know that Melide is less than 50 km from Santiago. Here also is where the Camino Primitivo connects with the Camino Francés, the one you have been walking. In Melide is the 14th century Igrexa de Sancti Spiritus.
The long day finishes up in Arzúa, where you should visit the Igrexa de Santa Maria Magdalena, another 14th century church. The Camino del Norte joins here in Arzúa, so if you haven’t noticed more pilgrims since Melide, you’re sure to do so tomorrow and the day after. Arzúa cheese (named Ulloa) is famed and name-protected, meaning that cheeses with the name Ulloa must originate solely from the Arzúa region and go through stringent quality control.
Day 5. Arzúa – Pedrouzo
28 km on foot
On the trip to Pedrouzo you’ll pass through groves of oak and eucalyptus and open meadows and fields as you traverse gentle slopes and flatter roads. Of note—the eucalyptus you see is not native to Spain, but was introduced from Australia in the 19th century. Take some time in Santa Irene to view the Chapel of Santa Irene and the Holy Fountain. The story is that Portuguese martyr Saint Irene was murdered on the spot the chapel now stands, and the fountain dedicated to her is said to be physically and spiritually healing.
Day 6. Pedrouzo – Santiago
20 km on foot
The first town of importance today is Lavacolla. Historically, Lavacolla was the spot of the cleansing ritual in the river for pilgrims before entering Santiago de Compostela, but this practice is no longer followed.
Just past San Marcos is El Monte de Gozo (Mount of Joy), a panoramic viewpoint where you can see for the first time Santiago de Compostela. It’s not far from El Monte de Gozo to the Plaza del Obradoiro, where the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela stands. This is the end of the walking portion of your trip.
Inside the Cathedral you will be awarded your Compostela, the certificate of having completed the pilgrimage. You’ll attend the mass for pilgrims, and if the Botafumeiro (incense-filled swinging thurible) is open for viewing, you’ll be able to see it. After, you’ll have time to explore the historic area of Santiago, perhaps the Pazo de Raxoi (Royal Palace, completed in 1766) or the shops selling mementos and local goods.
Day 7. Stay in Santiago or return to Madrid
If you’d like, extend your stay, or take our free transfer back to Madrid (600km). End of trip.