The Camino de Santiago de Compostela across northern Spain is one of the world's oldest pilgrimage routes. Also known as 'The Way of St James', it originated in the region of Galicia where the tomb of the Apostle James the Great was discovered in the 9th Century. The way is marked by the symbol of the scallop shell and the grooves that join together are said to represent the many different ways pilgrim's travel from to reach Santiago. It's the Gothic cathedrals, medieval monasteries and miles of beautiful rural scenery that make this section of the ancient route so popular.
- Visit impressive Gothic and Romanesque cathedrals
- Enjoy thevaried and beautiful landscapes of Castilla and Galicia
- Follow the famous pilgrimage route to Santiago
Trip starts in Len; here we may have time to visit the city's beautiful gothic cathedral and stroll around its charming winding narrow streets before having a trip breifing and our first meal as a group.
We head into the countryside riding across the plains of Castilla through cultivated countryside and quaint villages, with adobe houses and wine caves. We will take lunch in Hospital del Orbigo and on entering the village we cross a stunning mediaeval bridge (one of the longest pilgrimage bridges in Spain). We then ride the final 15km to the beautiful walled town of Astorga, with views of the mountains of Len in the distance.
Today's ride is the most beautiful of the trip as we leave the Castillan plains behind and climb gradually into the mountains of Leon to the Monte de la Cruz de Ferro (1505m). En route we pass through Castrillo de los Polvazares, known for its very special architecture created by strong orange coloured stone. After riding through the charming mountain village of Acebo (the main street is a straight line of beautiful balconied houses) we enjoy the rest of our descent into Molinaseca, with stunning views of the surrounding valley.
The highlight today is the ride to the beautiful town of Villafranca with stunning views across the green valleys of Galicia and wooded mountains of Leon. After the first easy and mainly flat 25kmthrough vineyards we have a short climb to Villafranca, which is worth a look for its many monuments and picturesque town square.Then after having lunch in Villafranca we will cycle about 20 km to the always green and peaceful rural valley of Herrerias de Valcarce in the foothills of Monte OCebreiro.
After breakfast we will cycle to the top of the mountain and the small village of O'Cebreiro. This climb is one of the most challenging of the tour as we ascend 650m over 8 kilometres, the climb is a very gentle ascent with a steady gradient and we will break it up with plenty of stops. At the top we will be able to appreciate wonderful views of the valleys that surround this peak and admire the charming slate roofed black houses. From Ocebreiro, as we enter Galicia, the landscape changes dramatically and the area is populated by a number of traditional agricultural villages. Each family has small plots of land, which they cultivate for their own vegetables and we will pass by many of the locals working the land and tending to their cattle. As well as a change in culture, landscape and language, the gastronomy of Galicia is famous for using products of high quality and preparing them in simple, but delicious ways. We have lunch in Samos, home to one of the oldest monasteries in Spain, and cycle through chestnut forests to Sarria.
Today's ride runs through beautiful rural Galician countryside and along tree-lined paths to the town of Portomarin, which was rebuilt on a hilltop in the 1950's in order to construct a reservoir. After lunch, a 13km climb, followed by a welcome 12km downhill, takes us to Palas de Rei, a small town full of the pilgrim spirit. As usual, during the climb there will be plenty of stops opportunities to take pictures and everyone is welcome to ride at the preferred pace.
Our final day involves a number of short ascents and descents towards Monte de Gozo. From here, as pilgrims have done for centuries, we wind our way through the citys streets and crowds to Plaza del Obradoiro, dominated by the impressive cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.We then move onto the Pilgrim's Office for those who wish to obtain the 'compostela' (certificate of accomplishment).
After breakfast the trip ends in Santiago de Compostela.
About the operator
It's all about adventure That is what Exodus was founded upon over 45 years ago, and what the company is still all about. Discovering countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles; exploring this amazing planet we all live on. At Exodus, we know what makes you tick when it comes to holidays. It’s a desire shared by so many others. A yearning to visit new places and come home with a real sense of what they’re all about. This means delving into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to its unique identity. At the same time, we always remember that we are only guests. So we travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise our impact, to ensure that every Exodus holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved.