Total tour distance: 218 miles
Daily tour distance: 36 miles
Difficulty: 50 / 100
Since the Middle Ages, pilgrims from all over Europe were attracted by the grave of the apostle James at Santiago de Compostela at the far North-Western tip of Spain. Today, both hikers and cyclists from around the world follow the pilgrims trail and are impressed by the experience, whether from a spiritual, cultural or sportive point of view. The St. James trail is an unforgettable journey. A way of encounters, strain, rest, reflection and the origin of the European Idea some even say. Our proposal follows the last 300km of the “Camino francés” (French route), the most popular route passing through very diverse countryside from deep Spanish Castile-León to more Celtic rooted Galicia. A series of splendid monuments from Romanesque bridges to Baroque Cathedrals will make your day.
Day 1 | Arrival to León
León is one of the most important cities in the Way of Saint James. In León you will enjoy the “Húmedo” Quarter and its “tapas” (for instance León black pudding), the Romantic Quarter, the Cathedral and many beautiful squares.
Day 2 | Bike Tour León to Astorga - 60 km
Once you have enjoyed León, you will leave the city immersed in a network of flat and quiet country roads cycling through small places like Oncina de la Valdoncina, Chozas de Abajo, and Villar de Matarife. After all small places you will arrive to Hospital de Órbigo, crossing the impressive Medieval Bridge, where you can enjoy the tasty “sopa de trucha” (trout soup). From Hospital de Órbigo you will ascend through a dirt track to the “cross” ofSanto Toribio to descend comfortably to the beautiful city of Astorga. This town is located in the Maragatería district, which stands out gastronomically thanks to its “mantecadas” (these small cakes can be bought everywhere in Astorga) and, of course, the “cocido maragato”, a succulent and filling dish of mountain cuisine based on boiled meat and vegetables.
Day 3 | Bike Tour Astorga to Molinaseca - 48 km
After Astorga you will ride on the flat around the Maragatería. You will cycle through little places like Murias de Rechivaldo, Santa Catalina de Somoza and El Ganso. Afterwards the terrain gradually ascends until you reach Rabanal del Camino, a good place where you can get your strength back before you begin the climb to Foncebadón and to Cruz de Ferro. From Rabanal del Camino to Foncebadón there are almost 6 km. of a strong ascent, and 2 more km. until you reach the mythical Cruz de Ferro (1,505 m).It is one of the most magical places on the Road and history has it that there was once a former cross on a Roman altar in worship of Mercury, the god of the road; the cross was placed there by a hermit called Gaucelmo, who devoted his life to protecting the pilgrims on their journey to Compostela. From there you will have a short but tough ascent and you will spectacularly descend to the valley of Bierzo, cycling through El Aceboand Riego de Ambrós. Finally, you will arrive to Molinaseca, a small town with a beautiful bridge over the Meruelo river.
Day 4 | Bike Tour Molinaseca to O Cebreiro - 59 km
From Molinaseca you will reach easily Ponferrada, where you will find the Castle of the Templars (National Artistic Monument since 1924). As a particularly fertile regional capital, many restaurants in Ponferrada serve rich vegetables and wine from the local Designation of Origin, where the red wine is worthy of particular mention. After Ponferrada you will ride among vineyards crossing places like Fuentes Nuevas, Camponaraya, Cacabelos and Villafranca del Bierzo. Villafranca is one of the historical towns on the Pilgrim's Road to Santiago, and a lot of Monuments can be visited there (the Church ofSantiago the convent of San Francisco, the Castle, the Church of San Nicolás, the collegiate church, and the convent of La Concepción). From here you will cycle accompanied by the sound of the riverValcarce, crossing little places like Trabadelo, Ambasmestas and Las Herrerías. From here, you will reach the final section of this stage where you will face one of the most difficult climb of the Camino. There will be almost 9 km of a hard ascent that will take you through spectacular mountain sceneries to the top of the mythical O Cebreiro (1.313 m), already in Galicia. This is a magical place on the Road, somewhat mysterious and located in a privileged environment. The village has many attractions and we mention only three here: its fresh cheese, which is made in the shape of a hat and, when accompanied with honey, is a delicacy; the “pallozas”, round-shaped houses with straw roofs reminiscent of very remote times; and its beautiful church ofSanta María a Real and the legend that relates it to the miracle of the Holy Grail.
Day 5 | Bike Tour O Cebreiro to Portomarin - 71 km
Today’s stage starts with a short (but hard) climb to the Alto de San Roque and to theAlto do Poio. The landscape will be impressive, and you will be over 1.300 m. From there you will descend cycling through small hamlets like Fonfría, Biduedo, Lamas and Filloval.The route will be characterised by a constant downhill journey along a dirt track (in Galician, “corgas” or “corredoiras) that is often narrow and stony until you reachTriacastela, a good spot for a break and for enjoying the local gastronomy or the surrounding countryside. From Triacastela to Sarria the route will be characterized by an undulating terrain, which goes uphill through San Xil and downhill through Montán andPintín until you reach Sarria. This is one of the most important towns on the pilgrim's route in Galicia owing to the fact that it is an important services centre and also to its history, which is completely associated with the route. Nowadays, it has a beautiful historical centre located in the upper part of the town, through which the Rúa Maior runs. Special mention must be made of the Tower of Batallón and the Convent of Magdalena, both in the upper part of the town. Antique-lovers will be interested to know that this town has many restoration workshops and antique shops. From Sarria to Portomarín the Route will be again characterized by an undulating terrain, ascending through places like Vilei, Barbadelo, Peruscallo, Brea andFerreiros, and descending from Ferreiros until you reach Portomarín, which is undoubtedly a village with a history. Owing to the construction of a reservoir on the River Miño, the village was abandoned and now its remains rest under the water of the river. When the water level of the reservoir is low, you can see a few buildings and also the old bridge. The village of Portomarínwas moved to its current location, at the upper part of the town. The imposing church of San Nicolás, in the main square, was moved stone by stone from the old to the new Portomarín, as was the small church of San Pedro. It is still possible to see the numbers on the stones. Besides the aforementioned history, this place is also famous for its tarts and liqueurs.
Day 6 | Bike Tour Portomarin to Arzúa - 65 km
From Portomarín you will cycle through a dirt track, mainly besides the main road. This dirt track will goes through Toxibo, Gonzar and Castromaior. After this place you will cycle through tarmac crossing Ventas de Narón, ascending Monte Ligonde and descending until you reach Palas de Rei, which is a good place for tasting the local cuisine, based in vegetables, meats and fresh chesses. Just 3 km from Palas the Way runs along dirt tracks and tarmac roads far away from the traffic. The route is now accompanied by beautiful stone houses and oaks. Once in Coto, exactly in the border of the provinces of A Coruña and Lugo, the Way becomes mainly flat crossing two old brigdes in Leboreiro and Furelos. Shortly afterwards the Way goes in to Melide, the geographical center of Galicia. This town has a well-conserved old city, with several old “hospitales” from the Middle Age. It is said that the oldest “cruceiro” (stone cross) of Galicia is located in Melide. In Melide ist a must to taste the octopus in different restaurants along the main road that crosses the town (usually is served boiled with salt and pepper). After Melide there are only 15 km to Arzúa, mainly across secondary roads along a green landscape. Sometimes it is necessary to paid attention by crossing the National road. Before entering in Arzúa there is a moderate descend followed by a hard ascent, exactly in Ribadiso, one of the most charming places in the Camino. Arzúa is a small town related principally with the cheese industry.
Day 7 | Bike Tour Arzúa to Santiago de Compostela - 47 km
The Way now leads to different hamlets along secondary roads escorted by green fields and eucalyptus. There are different small valleys in the Way until you reach Salceda, with some bars for a break. Following the Way O Empalme marks the start of a hard descent to Rúa, where the Way enters quietly. From this point there two important climbs beforeSantiago: the first one takes close to the airport, and the second one to the popular Monte do Gozo, where Santiago is already in sight. From this point few kilometers will separate you from the cathedral. Santiago is a Unesco World Heritage city, and one of the most charming cities in the World. The impressing Romanesque Cathedral, the squares ofObradoiro, Praterías, Quintana and Acibechería are just some examples of the beauty of this city. The enormous pedestrian area hides a plenty of secrets, corners and shops to be discovered. The University, the Religion and the cultural life are without doubt the starring of the city. The Galician gastronomy is represented in every restaurant of the city, especially in the busy streets O Franco and A Raiña.
Day 8 | End of tour
End of tour. Departure at your leisure after breakfast on your own.
- 7 nights' accommodations in double room with private bath
- Buffet breakfast daily
- All luggage transfers from hotel to hotel
- Local emergency support throughout your tour during daylight riding hours
- Arrival orientation and bike set up
- Route maps, route cue sheets with suggestions for visitation and site information
- All pre and post travel planning services
- A package of pre-travel documents sent electronically to help you prepare for your trip.
Accommodations: Hotels on this tour are usually family owned and in convenient locations. All lodging includes private bathroom. Some upgrades to Parador accommodations are possible, please inquire. Hotels include:
- Hotel NH Plaza Mayor****, León
- Hotel Spa Ciudad de Astorga****, Astorga
- Hotel de Floriana***, Molinaseca
- Venta Celta**, O Cebreiro
- Hotel Pousada de Portomarin***, Portomarin
- Pazo Santa Maria***, Arzúa
- Hotel Virxe de Cerca****, Santiago de Compostela