“Hello pilgrims, my name is Efrén González and I’m a travel adventure vlogger. I would like to invite you to join me on a pilgrimage along the legendary Camino de Santiago de Compostela. I will show you the beauty of northern Spain, the food, the culture, and the sites. We’ll walk through sleeping medieval towns, forests, the fruitful plains of la Meseta, and lush mountainous Galicia. You’ll get a first-hand view of my workflow and how I go about capturing the experience on my vlogs. I hope to see you take your first steps along the Camino Frances. Buen Camino my friends.” – Efrén González
Efrén González invites you to join him on an epic adventure across Spain on the Camino de Santiago and Camino Finisterre, May 3-June 14, 2023
Option 1 – Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago; Option 1.a. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Pamplona begins
May 3, 2023: Gather and Orientation. The adventure begins when Efrén meets you in beautiful Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, the traditional starting-point of the Camino Francés. Tour the town, check out the pilgrim office where you get your first credential stamp, then join Efrén for a friendly, orientation dinner (All meals on this trip are no-host).
May 4, 2023: Walk 24.7km from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port over the Pyrenees to quiet Roncesvalles, a monastery/hostel community on the Spanish side of the mountains. This daylong walk is a physical exertion for all fitness levels. If you’re worried about your stamina, Efrén will direct you to a taxi option (€+) that can give you a head start 8km up the mountain to Orisson.
May 5, 2023: Walk 21.8km from Roncesvalles to Zubiri. The brief challenge of a couple of 100m climbs is overshadowed by the long and sometimes steep descents on this mostly downhill stage. Concrete paths are often available to make for better footing, but they can be slippery when wet. Overall, however, a pleasant, wooded stage with occasional views and frequent village cafes for refueling and rest.
May 6, 2023: Walk 21.1km from Zubiri to beautiful and historic Pamplona. The trail follows the Arga (Arre) River valley and plays cat and mouse with the N-135 highway as it winds its way on sometimes overgrown paths through woods and farms to historic and scenic Pamplona, capital of the Navarran region (Option 1.a concludes the next morning).
Option 1- SJPP to Santiago continues; Option 1.b. Pamplona to Burgos begins
May 7, 2023: Walk 24.4km from Pamplona to Puente la Reina. Today’s apex at Alto del Perdón offers some of the most dramatic views on the entire Camino Francés. The effects of steep uphills and downhills are cushioned somewhat by towns with ample services at regular intervals along the way. An optional jaunt to the beautiful and mysterious Chapel of Eunate adds a worthwhile 3.2km to the day’s total.
May 8, 2023: Walk 21.6km from Puente la Reina to Estella. Wide open skies, wheat fields, vineyards and views over rolling hills make this a scenic and memorable stage. This is Camino walking at its loveliest, with moderate difficulty and ample rest stops
May 9, 2023: Walk 21.6km from Estella to Los Arcos. Under clear skies this stage is full of impressive scenery – mountains, valleys, grain fields and vineyards. Watch carefully for the option after the Irache wine fountain and turn right in the direction of Villamayor de Monjardin for the best views. The stretch between Villamayor and Los Arcos is one of the longest on the Camino without food or drink – unless you luck out with the presence of the food van 5km before Los Arcos. Still, it’s best to plan ahead and pack some lunch and plenty of water.
May 10, 2023: Walk 28.2km from Los Arcos to Logroño. The trail now crosses into the Spanish wine region of La Rioja, beginning fairly flat, but as it approaches Viana developing some steep ups and downs. The walk into Logroño may feel charmless and bleak. Even so, each successive town offers its rewards. Torres del Río for coffee, Viana for lunch, and Calle Laurel in Logroño for a delicious tapas dinner if you have budget and are in the mood to explore.
May 11, 2023: Walk 28.2km from Logroño to Nájera. The first part of the walk is very pleasant as it follows a pedestrian walkway to a quiet reservoir. Some road-walking before and after Navarrete takes away some of the charm, but the extravagant retablo of the parish church at Navarrete is an unforgettable spectacle. Venture into Nájera’s old quarter for an intriguing exploration into Spanish history.
May 12, 2023: Walk 22.1km from Nájera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. A relaxing stage that gently undulates among shallow valleys and low ridges, filled at first with vineyards then with wheat fields. At stage end is Santo Domingo de la Calzada, one of the Camino’s iconic towns with a long history of pilgrim service.
May 13, 2023 Walk 22.5km from Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Belorado. In spite of following alongside the N-120 highway, this stage has many advantages – beautiful views of rolling hills and frequent stops at tiny villages. The many villages are more convenient than memorable, until sweet Belorado, a charming if decrepit riverside town with many pilgrim services.
May 14, 2023 Walk 30.2km from Belorado to Atapuerca. Today’s stage begins along the route of the N-120 highway surrounded by flat fields of grain until Villafranca Montes de Oca where it climbs through forests over the Montes de Oca to San Juan de Ortega. San Juan de Ortega sports an historic monastery, and a very pleasant walk ends at Atapuerca, home to a UNESCO archeological dig site.
May 15, 2023 Walk 20.6km from Atapuerca to Burgos. After the climb of 150m to Cruz de Atapuerca the day is a gradual downhill jaunt, with scenic and cosmopolitan Burgos at stage end. A poorly marked option at the Burgos airport allows pilgrims to choose between an industrial entry to the city via the official route, or a more relaxed entry along a riverfront park.
May 16, 2023 Rest Day in Burgos. Enjoy tours of the stunningly ornate Burgos Cathedral and the historic hilltop fortress above town. Extra credit for those curious enough to see one of the best archaeological museums anywhere at the Museum of Evolution (Option 1.b concludes the next morning).
Option 1 to Santiago de Compostela continues; Option 1c Burgos to León begins
May 17, 2023 Walk 20.9km from Burgos to Hornillos del Camino. Burgos quickly fades into the background and the vast scale of the Meseta now becomes clear. Towns are fewer and smaller, but their connection to the medieval Camino becomes more evident.
May 18, 2023 Walk 20.2km from Hornillos del Camino to Castrojeriz. Today’s topography includes one of the Meseta’s few memorable hills, and the walk is quite free of shade.
May 19, 2023 Walk 25.4km from Castrojeriz to Frómista. The wide horizons of this stage plus the topography fill it with unforgettable images, particularly of views going up and down the steep Alto de Mostelares just after Castrojeriz. Other than a few very scattered and tiny towns, this region is empty of most everything except fields and wind farms.
May 20, 2023 Walk 19.3km from Frómista to Carrión de los Condes. The day consists mostly of gravel trails alongside the quiet P-980 highway. Ample services at regular intervals allow plenty of options for food and drink, while the architectural gems in Villalcazar and Carrion de los Condes delight the devout, the historian and the artist.
May 21, 2023 Walk 26.4km from Carrión de los Condes to Terradillos de los Templarios. The vast wilderness of grainfields between Carrion de los Condes and Calzadilla de la Cueza marks one of the longest stretches of Camino without formal services (although there is an informal bar partway).
May 22, 2023 Walk 14.5km from Terradillos de los Templarios to Sahagún. The track gradually rises and then descends across gently undulating farmland planted mostly with grain and sunflowers. On this stage, at Calzada del Coto, pilgrims are faced with the choice of a shaded, better-serviced and manicured walk under plane trees or the desolate-but-beautiful Roman road option. The mid-sized town of Sahagun offers important services to help prepare for the spare, tiny villages ahead that infrequently dot the vast landscape.
May 23, 2023 Walk 30.7km from Sahagún to Reliegos. Walk along flat fields and through small, agricultural villages in former sheep raising territory, now spread over with large farms.
May 24, 2023 Walk 25.2km from Reliegos to León. An ambivalent stage as the tranquil farms and fields are left behind for the hectic but vibrant and engaging provincial capital of León. While Friday and Saturday nights bring youthful partygoers to its historic heart, delicious tapas can be found any evening in the Romantico and Humedo quarters of this energetic mid-sized city.
May 25, 2023 Rest Day León Enjoy Leon’s spectacular Gothic cathedral or enjoy its public market and many small shops in the central historic area (Option 1c concludes the next morning).
Option 1 to Santiago de Compostela continues; Option 1d from León to Santiago begins
May 26, 2023 Walk 21.2km from León to Villar de Mazarife. Although the official track follows the N-120 on a roadside path through Villadangos del Paramo, the Villar de Mazarife option is the more tranquil choice.
May 27, 2023 Walk 31.9km from Villar de Mazarife to Astorga. From Hospital de Orbigo, the Meseta’s vastness is replaced with rolling hills, scrublands, and only the occasional field of grain. The climb to Astorga is the official end of the Meseta, and the town serves as gateway to the Montes de León just beyond.
May 28, 2023 Walk 25.7km from Astorga to Foncebadón. The Meseta’s wide views now fade into memory and are replaced by vistas of mountains and forests. The long and gradual uphill can almost convince you that you are not climbing into the mountains. However, just before Rabanal the path heads more steeply upward, continuing up to Foncebadon and the summit just beyond.
May 29, 2023 Walk 26.9km from Foncebadón to Ponferrada. The walk includes some of the Camino’s most beautiful mountain vistas on paths that are often very pleasant, particularly with wildflowers in season. The highlight of the day may be Cruz de Ferro, with its tradition of contemplation and spiritual release. The unstable footing on the long downhill into Molinaseca makes the day’s middle half sometimes difficult, and the long, suburban walk after Molinaseca, although uninspiring, has the delightful center city of Ponferrada at its culmination.
May 30, 2023 Walk 23.6km from Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo. The mostly flat stage can be described in three parts – the pleasant riverfront promenade out of Ponferrada; the walk among homes, gardens, villages and vineyards until Cacabelos, and then the not-so-pleasant walk along the highway until just shy of Villafranca del Bierzo. Wine drinkers will want to order a glass of the internationally famous Bierzo vintages. Plan a relaxing evening exploring the churches, castles, shops, restaurants and bars of lovely Villafranca.
May 31, 2023 Walk 28.7km from Villafranca del Bierzo to O Cebreiro. This long uphill climb is gentle at first, but after La Herrerias becomes quite steep. Although the walk follows the old N-VI (Madrid–A Coruña highway) and shares the narrow valley with the A-6 freeway, the most common sound is the Valcarce River as it makes its way noisily downhill to the accompaniment of songbirds and, well, the occasional belch of a diesel truck groaning up the valley on the freeway above. The climax comes at touristy O Cebreiro, first town of Galicia and an introduction to the unique history of this northwest Spanish region.
June 1, 2023 Walk 21.2km from O Cebreiro to Triacastela. A day of sweeping views during steady up- and downhill climbs, almost entirely on paths of dirt and gravel. A steep climb to Alto do Poio is followed by sometimes-steep descents to Triacastela.
June 2, 2023 Walk 17.3km from Triacastela to Sarria. A short and pretty stage that climbs over a forested ridge before descending into the valley of the Sarria River on a mixture of quiet country roads, sunken paths and forest trails.
June 3, 2023 Walk 23.0km from Sarria to Portomarín. A mellow day among pastures, stone fences and cornfields, bookended by a tall staircase at the beginning and another at the end. The highlights are the medieval churches along the way.
June 4, 2023 Walk 25.3km from Portomarín to Palas de Rei. But for a few diversions onto forest paths, today’s walk takes a business-like trajectory on roadside pathways and through small dairy-centered villages.
June 5, 2023 Walk 29.6km from Palas de Rei to Arzúa. Although today’s route hugs the path of the N-547 highway, the Camino track touches it only near the settlements, allowing for pleasant walking on well maintained trails among pastures, cornfields and gardens. Highlight of the day is the old town of Melide, with its restaurants, bars and shops.
June 6, 2023 Walk 19.7km from Arzua to O Pedrouzo. An easy day of minor climbs and descents through countryside and villages with the ever-present N-547 highway as companion and sometime daunting obstacle. Small dairy farms and tracts of eucalyptus trees cover the low, rolling hills which are dotted with ample rest stops, although there are few villages of interest. Fountains and cafes make for an easy walking day with little preparation necessary.
June 7, 2023 Walk 20.0km from O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela. A surprisingly green and peaceful entry into urban Santiago – at least until the final 5km which wind along seemingly never-ending city streets. Two tall hills make the day a moderate workout. The view from Monte do Gozo and the final entry into Praza do Obradoiro can be a deeply emotional climax to a week, a month or season of walking toward this historic pilgrimage destination.
June 8, 2023 Rest Day in Santiago de Compostela Explore the Cathedral, obtain your compostela certificate or just hang out in Plaza Obradoiro and welcome other pilgrims as they arrive(Option 1 and Option 1.d conclude the next morning)
Option 1 concludes. Option 2 Extension from Santiago to Finisterre begins
June 9, 2023 Walk 21.2km from Santiago de Compostela to Negreira. A pleasant and sometimes serene day’s walk among leafy suburbs, forests, ridges and valleys. One serious hill stands in the way, and a few highway crossings are the only negatives, while sparse but sufficient cafes and bars ease the way. The pilgrim community shrinks after Santiago, so the new-found solitude adds to the charm.
June 10, 2023 Walk 34.5km from Negreira to Olveiroa. A beautiful, quiet and green day among forests and farms as signs of the nearby ocean begin to pervade. Highway walking is balanced with footpaths under forests and between fields.
June 11, 2023 Walk 19.7km from Olveiroa to Cee. There are lovely views over the Xallas River dam, but some stiff, forested uphills until O Logoso make for a hard start. After Hospital the quiet forest is followed by spectacular views overlooking Cee, Corcubion and Finisterre, making this an unforgettable walk.
June 12, 2023 Walk 12.7km from Cee to Fisterra. In good weather the day has two extraordinary endings – a stroll in the surf along Langosteira Beach and a walk to Cape Finisterre for a sunset celebration.
June 13, 2023. Depart for Santiago. Congratulations on an outstanding accomplishment. Your bus ticket is reserved for your return to Santiago de Compostela to continue your travel or return home (Option 2 concludes after the bus ride to Santiago).
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