CAMINO FRANCES FROM ST JEAN ITINERARY
DAY 1 – ARRIVE IN SAINT JEAN PIED DE PORT
Make your way to St Jean Pied de Port. This picturesque walled town in the French Basque Country is the official starting point of the famous Camino Frances route of the Camino de Santiago.
Over 30,000 pilgrims start their journey here each year, making it the second most popular place to start this fantastic adventure on the Way of St James. Many other pilgrims arrive in St Jean following Camino routes from further afield such as the Le Puy Camino or the Vezelay Camino.
We can organise flights and transport, please let our travel experts know if you require this service.
DAY 2 – WALKING FROM SAINT JEAN PIED DE PORT TO RONCESVALLES – 24.2 KMS
This first stage from Saint Jean to Roncesvalles is probably the most challenging of the whole route, due to its elevation, as the trail steadily climbs up the Ruta Napoleon across the Pyrenees, before reaching the village of Roncesvalles at 1500 metres, where you should visit the 13th century St James Chapel and the Real Colegiata.
It is also possible to avoid the hard climb by taking the valley option through the village of Valcarlos. This is the route recommended in winter months and early Spring, when access to the Ruta Napoleon is not possible, due to snowfall and weather conditions.
OPTIONAL STOP: You can choose to stay one night in Valcarlos to break this walking stage into two.
DAY 3 – WALKING FROM RONCESVALLES TO ZUBIRI – 21.4KMS
The village of Roncesvalles, 790kms away from Santiago de Compostela, is another popular starting point for pilgrims looking to avoid the challenging stage across the Pyrenees.
Today’s stage on the Camino Frances is much easier than the previous one, taking you across wonderful woodland and up two mountain passes but not as challenging. You will cross the medieval bridge known as ‘Puente de la Rabia’ to enter the village of Zubiri (in Basque language or Euskera), your stopping point for tonight.
DAY 4 – WALKING FROM ZUBIRI TO PAMPLONA – 20.4KMS
From Zubiri, the Camino Frances trail continues along the River Arga, with many bridges built over it and taking you all the way to the first city of the Camino de Santiago: Pamplona.
Writer Ernest Hemingway famously wrote about Pamplona and its San Fermin Running of the Bulls festival, turning it into the internationally known event that is today. There is much more to Pamplona than bulls though…
The historic city center with its citadel, medieval streets, wonderful squares and lovely cafes and restaurants is very easy to explore on foot, getting a feel for this place that Hemingway fell in love with.
DAY 5 – WALKING FROM PAMPLONA TO PUENTE DE LA REINA – 23.9KM
Leaving Pamplona city and its suburbs behind, the Camino de Santiago takes pilgrims towards Alto del Perdon (the Hill of Forgiveness), a mountain pass and beauty spot with wonderful panoramic views of Pamplona and the valley. It is also the location of an iconic pilgrim sculpture.
From here, the Camino trail continues downhill towards Puente de la Reina (Bridge of the Queen), a charming medieval town named after the Queen who ordered the building of the town’s bridge to protect pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela in the 11th century.
DAY 6 – WALKING FROM PUENTE DE LA REINA TO ESTELLA/LIZARRA – 21.6KMS
From Puente de la Reina, your Camino de Santiago route continues along tranquil tracks and farmland. The vast fields of cereal crops gradually turn into olive groves and vineyards, as the trail approaches the famous La Rioja wine region.
In the medieval village of Cirauqui (Zirauki in Basque) you will find one of the best preserved stretches of Roman road on the whole Camino Frances route. Your stop for tonight is the town of Estella-Lizarra where you can explore its historic old quarter.
DAY 7 – WALKING FROM ESTELLA/LIZARRA TO LOS ARCOS – 21.3KM
As you head out of Estella-Lizarra, Camino pilgrims are treated to a free sip of the local wine, at the famous ‘wine fountain’ of Bodegas Irache, which is also home to a Wine Museum. On your way to Los Arcos, The Camino Frances trail continues along vineyards, olive groves and fields of cereal crops.
The last stretch from Villamayor Monjardín doesn’t offer any shelter from rain or sunshine so it is important to bring the right equipment, as well as packing enough food and water until you reach Los Arcos, your stop for the night.
DAY 8 – WALKING FROM LOS ARCOS TO LOGRONO – 28KM
Today, the Camino Frances takes pilgrims across the rolling countryside from Los Arcos and into the city of Logroño, which is the capital of wine-making region La Rioja.
Logroño is a lovely small city with an old quarter where you can visit wonderful Romanesque Churches, including one dedicated to Saint James; and go for tapas in the famous Calle Laurel. Logroño celebrates its grape harvest festival in late September, with many events taking place to honour its most famous produce: wine.
OPTIONAL STOP: It is possible to break this walking day in two, staying in the charming hilltop town of Viana.
DAY 9 – REST DAY IN LOGRONO
Today you will enjoy a rest day in the city of Logroño, capital of La Rioja, so you can explore the Old Town or simply have a relaxing day before continuing your Camino journey.
DAY 10 – WALKING FROM LOGRONO TO NAJERA – 29KM
This morning, you will leave Logroño by the arch known as ‘Camino Gate’ or Puerta del Camino. Leaving the outskirts of the city behind, this stage of the Camino Frances is quite an easy one, despite the distance. The many vineyards along the way will remind you that you are in the heart of La Rioja wine making region, famous worldwide.
Along the way, you can stop for a break and refreshments in the town of Navarrete, built in the 12th century by the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre; before continuing to Najera, also a town of medieval origin. The Monastery of Santa Maria la Real, built in 1032 is a must-see.
DAY 11 – WALKING FROM NAJERA TO SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA – 21KM
Today the Camino Frances takes you from Najera to the wonderful walled town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. It is quite an easy walking stage, taking small country roads and passing farmland and vast cereal fields. The history of Santo Domingo de La Calzada, like many others on the route, is intertwined with that of the Camino de Santiago.
The Cathedral and the Old Pilgrims Hospital, today a Parador hotel, are the best examples of a medieval town that was built and grew with one purpose: hosting and protecting pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela.
DAY 12 – WALKING FROM SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA TO BELORADO – 22KM
From Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Belorado, the Camino Frances trail leaves La Rioja and its vineyards behind and enters Castilla y Leon with its vast cereal fields.
You will pass a few villages with services and pretty churches along the way, such as Granon and Redecilla del Camino. As you approach the village of Belorado you will catch a glimpse of the Oca Mountains, the last mountain range before La Meseta.
Belorado has a lovely town square, Plaza Mayor, and many churches as well as the remains of a 10th century castle.
DAY 13 – WALKING FROM BELORADO TO SAN JUAN DE ORTEGA – 24KM
Scenic mountain views and peaceful tracks await the pilgrim on this stage walking from Belorado into San Juan de Ortega. Up to Villafranca, the Camino trail is an easy stretch, passing small villages. From Villafranca, we’ll start walking into the woodlands of the Montes de Oca mountains.
Your stop for the night is the tiny village of San Juan de Ortega, where you should visit its Monastery.
DAY 14 – WALKING FROM SAN JUAN DE ORTEGA TO BURGOS – 25.8KM
The stage from San Juan de Ortega to Burgos city takes Camino pilgrims through the Sierra de Atapuerca mountains and the village of the same name, which is home to a UNESCO listed archaeological site, where the remains of the earliest human beings in Europe were discovered.
The last stretch into Burgos has an alternative path along the river to get you into the city and its spectacular Santa María Cathedral, originally built in the 12th century but a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.
DAY 15 – REST DAY IN BURGOS
A well deserved rest in the city of Burgos, known as the Gothic capital of Spain where you can explore its wonderful historic centre and taste delicious tapas.
DAY 16 – WALKING FROM BURGOS TO HORNILLOS DEL CAMINO – 21KM
Leaving the outskirts of Burgos city behind, the Camino Frances trail continues among classic Castilian landscapes with vast plains and cereal fields criss crossed with dirt tracks. We are entering the wide open spaces of the La Meseta plateau.
There are a couple of stretches with small woods but in general there aren’t many places for shade or shelter so it is important that pilgrims bring all the essentials needed for the day, such as food and protection for the sun and/or rain, depending on the season you are travelling.
Your stop for the night is the medieval hamlet of Hornillos del Camino.
DAY 17 – WALKING FROM HORNILLOS DEL CAMINO TO CASTROJERIZ – 19.9KM
From Hornillos del Camino to Castrojeriz, the vast open landscapes and fields of La Meseta continue to be the pilgrim’s companion for the day, again with very little shade. The hilltop village of Castrojeriz is a lovely stop for the night, with its medieval charm. Here you can visit the Churches of San Esteban and San Juan.
DAY 18 – WALKING FROM CASTROJERIZ TO FROMISTA – 24.7KM
Today we continue our journey on the Camino Frances and across La Meseta, walking from Castrojeriz to Fromista.
As you reach the River Pisuerga, you are entering ‘Tierra de Campos’, the land of fields, and it is easy to see where this name comes from: cereal crops and vast fields are everywhere. The 14th century Asuncion Church is worth a visit in Boadilla.
From here, it is only a few more kms to Frómista, walking along the Canal de Castilla, a canal built in the 18th century to facilitate the transport of grain produced in the area. In Frómista, admire the 11th century Church of Saint Martin.
DAY 19 – WALKING FROM FROMISTA TO CARRION DE LOS CONDES – 18.8KM
From Frómista, the Camino Frances trail is quite an easy stage and offers pilgrims two options: you can either continue parallel to the road for most of the day or take an alternative route, from Población de Campos, following the River Ucieza to Villovieco where you can visit the 16th century Church of Santa María.
If you opt for this more scenic option, you will rejoin the traditional Camino de Santiago trail at Villalcázar de Sirga to continue on for 5kms to Carrión de los Condes. Carrión de los Condes was a very important city in the Middle Ages, when it was the domain of the powerful Infantes of Carrión.
There are many Romanesque churches and monasteries to admire, dating from its glorious and royal past. The patron saint San Zoilo is celebrated in the second half of August with a big festival.
DAY 20 – WALKING FROM CARRION DE LOS CONDES TO CALZADILLA DE LA CUEZA – 17KM
Today, the Camino de Santiago journey continues and our destination is Calzadilla de la Cueza, a tiny village of 50 inhabitants, 17kms away. It is a relatively easy and short stretch. On the outskirts of Carrion de los Condes, you will pass the impressive Royal Monastery of San Zoilo, today a luxury hotel.
On the way to Calzadilla pilgrims will be following the old roman road known as Vía Aquitania, which used to connect Bordeaux, in France, with Astorga.
DAY 21 – WALKING FROM CALZADILLA DE LA CUEZA TO SAHAGUN – 23KM
From Calzadilla de la Cueza, the Camino continues along little valleys known locally as ‘cuezas’. The Camino Frances trail takes pilgrims today through wonderful oak woodland and the cereal fields we are now so familiar with. You will reach the province of León having crossed the River Valderaduey.
Your stop for the night is the town of Sahagún where we recommend visiting the churches of San Lorenzo, San Tirso and de la Peregrina; as well as the ruins of the Royal Monastery of San Benito; all of them examples of ‘mudejar’, moorish architecture style.
DAY 22 – WALKING FROM SAHAGUN TO EL BURGO RANERO – 17KM
After Sahagun, the Camino trail continues parallel to the road for a few kms, on a track lined with trees. You will head towards Bercianos del Real on a track created specifically for pilgrims, passing the Chapel of Our Lady of Perales. Your stop for the night is El Burgo Ranero.
DAY 23 – WALKING FROM EL BURGO RANERO TO MANSILLA DE LAS MULAS – 19KM
The stretch for today is quite easy, from El Burgo Ranero to Mansilla de las Mulas, your stop for the night. In the village of Reliegos, Bar La Torre is a classic stop for pilgrims, where they leave mementos and words of encouragement for other pilgrims.
You will enter the walled town of Mansilla de las Mulas by the Puerta del Castillo, Castle Gate. One of the main celebrations in town takes place on 25th July, St James Day; and it also hosts a ‘tomato fight’ in late August.
DAY 24 – WALKING FROM MANSILLA DE LAS MULAS TO LEON – 19KM
From Mansilla de las Mulas, it is 19kms to the city of Leon, your destination for today and one of the main cities on the Camino Frances and capital of the Old Kingdom of the same name. From Portillo Hill you’ll get wonderful views of the city ahead.
DAY 25 – REST DAY IN LEON
As well as the Gothic Cathedral, there are many other wonderful monuments to admire in Leon, including its 10th century Basilica de San Isidoro, the Casa Botines designed by Gaudí and 16th century San Marcos Monastery, today a luxury Parador hotel you might remember from The Way movie.
DAY 26 – WALKING FROM LEON TO VILLAR DE MAZARIFE – 21KM
Today’s stage of the Camino Frances from Leon to Villar de Mazarife is relatively easy and flat, with the trail continuing along fields of crops, cereal and fruit orchards most of the day.
DAY 27 – WALKING FROM VILLAR DE MAZARIFE TO ASTORGA – 31KM
31kms separate Villar de Mazarife from Astorga, making it quite a long stage. You have the option to break the day in two, staying for one night in Hospital de Orbigo if you wish. Let our travel experts know.
The 13th century Orbigo Bridge will take you into the town Hospital de Orbigo, which takes its name after the hospital that the Knights of Malta built for pilgrims on their way to Santiago.
It is 17kms from Hospital de Orbigo to the city of Astorga, perched on a hilltop. Not to miss in Astorga’s Old Town: the city walls, the ‘Pink’ Cathedral, the Gaudi Palace and Pilgrimage Museum and the chocolate museum.
OPTIONAL STOP: It is possible to break this walking day in two, staying in Hospital de Orbigo.
DAY 28 – WALKING FROM ASTORGA TO RABANAL DEL CAMINO – 20KM
From Astorga, the Camino Frances trail heads towards the Mountains of Leon and the region known as ‘El Bierzo’. Oak trees, heather and broom are the pilgrim’s new companions in this beautiful mountain region. Your stop for the night is the quaint village of Rabanal del Camino.
DAY 29 – WALKING FROM RABANAL DEL CAMINO TO PONFERRADA – 32KM
From Rabanal we will keep walking in the beautiful and lush Mountains of Leon to Fontebadon and up to the iconic Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross), a very special stopping point for pilgrims.
Many leave a stone at the cross to remember loved ones. From here, the trail continues downhill towards Ponferrada, passing the pretty medieval town of Molinaseca first, with its Pilgrims Bridge a popular stop to relax.
Your stop for tonight is the city of Ponferrada, where you should visit the Templars Castle, an impressive castle-fortress where the Knight Templars kept a close eye on the city and looked after passing pilgrims in the Middle Ages.
Ponferrada is the capital of El Bierzo and a charming city with plenty to see and taste! It is also where you will find the spectacular Templars Castle.
The city was home to the Knight Templars in the Middle Ages, who fortified the city and made sure pilgrims had a safe passage on their way to Santiago. The Torre del Reloj, Clock Tower, was the old gate into the city.
It is quite a long walking day so you have the option to stop in the mountain village of El Acebo to split the stage into two, shorter walking days.
OPTIONAL STOP: It is possible to break this walking day in two, staying in the lovely village of EL ACEBO.
DAY 30 – WALKING FROM PONFERRADA TO VILLAFRANCA DEL BIERZO – 24KM
From Ponferrada city to Villafranca del Bierzo, the Camino Frances trail continues across the lush and fertile region of El Bierzo, home to many regional food specialties as well as wines, fruit and vegetables. The historic village of Villafranca del Bierzo is also known as ‘Little Compostela’ and has many wonderful monuments to visit.
The 12th century St James Church in town has a door known as the Door of Forgiveness, Puerta del Perdón, which is open only during Holy Years. This means, pilgrims that can’t continue all the way to Santiago can still get their plenary indulgence, once they reach Villafranca.
DAY 31 – WALKING FROM VILLAFRANCA DEL BIERZO TO HERRERIAS – 20KM
Today, the Camino Frances trail leaves picturesque Villafranca del Bierzo behind and heads towards Galicia and the mountains of O Cebreiro. Your stop for the night will be the last village in El Bierzo: Las Herrerias, so you can tackle the climb to O Cebreiro tomorrow.
DAY 32 – WALKING FROM HERRERIAS TO O CEBREIRO – 9KM
The scenery and views along the route are truly magnificent on today’s stage, tackling the short but steep climb of 1000 meters to O Cebreiro, the first town in Galicia. O Cebreiro is an enchanting mountain village with thatched round cottages or pre-Roman origin known as ‘pallozas’, one of the most magical on the whole Camino Frances.
DAY 33 – REST DAY IN O CEBREIRO
DAY 34 – WALKING FROM O CEBREIRO TO TRIACASTELA – 21KM
The Camino Frances continues from O Cebreiro along tracks between the mountain ranges of O Courel and Os Ancares. It is a much easier stage after yesterday’s challenge but still with a couple of climbs.
Stop at the pilgrim statue at Alto de San Roque to enjoy the wonderful views and have a rest. The climb to Alto do Poio will be short but steep before starting your descent into Triacastela, down in the valley.
DAY 35 – WALKING FROM TRIACASTELA TO SARRIA – 18KM
From Triacastela pilgrims can choose between two trails to reach Sarria: the ‘San Xil’ option is very scenic, taking pilgrims through native oak woodland; but if you wish to visit the impressive Samos Monastery, you should take the trail along the river valley.
Either way you will reach the market town of Sarria, your stop for the night and a very important stop on the Camino Frances, as it is here where many pilgrims start their journey, just over 100kms away from Santiago de Compostela.
DAY 36 – WALKING FROM SARRIA TO PORTOMARIN – 22KM
The market town of Sarria is the most popular starting point for pilgrims walking the Camino Frances, so you are likely to encounter more pilgrims this morning than in previous stages.
The stage from Sarria to Portomarin is quite easy, walking forest trails and along small country lanes, passing tiny hamlets and small holdings. Portomarin town is up the steps, across the River Mino, Galicia’s longest and most important river.
The town was originally located at the bottom of the valley but it was moved up the hill in the 1960s when a dam was built on the river.
DAY 37 – WALKING FROM PORTOMARIN TO PALAS DE REI – 24KM
Today’s stretch on the Camino Frances from Portomarin is a little hillier than the day before, particularly as you head out of the town, gradually climbing up from the river valley and up to the Serra de Ligonde.
This section takes pilgrims mainly along country roads, passing little villages and Romanesque churches such as Santa Maria in Castromaior. There are plenty of places to stop for a rest.
Your stop for the night will be the town of Palas de Rei.
DAY 38 – WALKING FROM PALAS DE REI TO ARZUA – 28KM
From Palas de Rei to Arzua, you have 28kms to walk, so if you’d prefer to make it a bit shorter, you can opt to stop the night in Melide, breaking the long walk into two shorter days.
Some wonderful forest and country trails await today as you leave Palas de Rei behind. About 3kms from Palas, you will pass the pretty hamlet of San Xiao (or San Xulian) do Camino, one of the prettiest of the route. Spot the iconic Galician granaries (known as ‘horreos’), used to store grain and a constant feature in rural Galicia.
More Romanesque churches, farmland and country lanes make today’s journey. Melide is famous for its ‘octopus’ restaurants so make sure you taste this traditional dish. Another wonderful hamlet is Ribadiso you will pass today. Pilgrims stop here for refreshments and to get their feet in the River Iso in an idyllic place by a medieval bridge.
Arzua is a market town famous for its local ‘tetilla’ cheese; it even hosts a cheese festival each year.
OPTIONAL STOP: It is possible to break this walking day in two, staying in the town of MELIDE.
DAY 39 – WALKING FROM ARZUA TO PEDROUZO – 19KM
From Arzua, the Camino de Santiago trail takes pilgrims again through more woodland and quiet little hamlets in rural Galicia. Don’t forget to stamp your pilgrim passport twice each day, you can do that at churches (stop at the Santa Irene Chapel with the figure of St James), cafes, shops and hotels and guesthouses.
The trail to the pretty hamlet of Rúa and Pedrouzo, your stop for the night, offers pilgrims a good mix of country roads and forest tracks.
DAY 40 – WALKING FROM PEDROUZO TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA – 19KM
Today is your last day walking the Camino de Santiago and the excitement is palpable among all pilgrims. Only 19kms to go. The terrain is quite easy, without major difficulties.
From Monte do Gozo you will catch your first glimpse of Santiago Cathedral. Walking down Rua de San Pedro and getting closer to the Old Town, the atmosphere is of vibrant jubilation. As you walk down the steps into Praza de Obradoiro this is the culmination of your Camino journey: you have arrived at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Pilgrims congratulate and hug each other; there are smiles and tears of joy. This is a wonderful and emotional moment for pilgrims, a day to remember, enjoy it!
Don’t forget to get your Compostela certificate at the Pilgrims Office.
DAY 41 – EXPLORE SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
We highly recommend spending at least a couple of days in Santiago de Compostela, to give you time to rest and explore this wonderful city. It is also possible to continue your walk to Cape Fisterra. Talk to our travel experts for advice and to adapt your Camino de Santiago tour.
Read our blog: Things to do and see in Santiago de Compostela.
DAY 42 – SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA AIRPORT
These is an overview of all the stages of the Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port, the most famous Camino de Santiago route.
Our itinerary includes a rest day after each week, which is what we recommend to allow your body to have a break. It can also be adapted to break the longer walking stages into two, talk to our travel experts to help you plan your trip.