8 days

Cycle the Camino - Leon to Santiago (self-guided)

Cycle the Camino - Leon to Santiago (self-guided)

Galician countryside and Romanesque architecture

Walking pilgrims

Santiago de Compostela - UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cathedral and beyond

Trip rating
  • Whether it’s spiritual enlightenment you seek or an exhilarating experience in Spain’s beautiful northwest, you’ll cycle among picturesque hamlets, historic sites, rolling hills, and warm Galician hospitality at every turn. An unforgettable experience!

    Why we love it


    Day 1 - León

    • Your trip starts with your arrival in the city of Leon in the northwest of Spain.
    • There are a number of ways to reach Leon. There are various direct trains from Madrid to Leon. Journey time is about 2 hours, 50 minutes. Alternatively you can take a bus from Madrid city or Madrid Airport to Leon (3.5 hours). There are also flights to Leon from Madrid and Barcelona.
    • There is no cycling scheduled for today, so you can arrive at anytime; however, we recommend you arrive with ample time to collect your Pilgrim Passport. (See the ‘Important Information’ section of your pre-departure document for more information on the Pilgrim Passport).
    • There is a lot to see in Leon, a historic city founded by the Romans. Highlights include the gothic cathedral, the Church of San Marcelo and the city walls.
    Posada Regia or similar

    Day 2 - León - Astorga (aprox 40 km. Mainly flat.)

    • Through the course of your cycle you will become very familiar with the yellow arrows and scallop shell symbols that guide you. For centuries the shell has been the symbol of the Camino and there are a few interpretations of its meaning - from mythical and metaphorical to practical. Perhaps it’s simply a souvenir that pilgrims like to take back to their place of origin?
    • We head into the countryside riding across the plains of Castilla through cultivated countryside and quaint villages, with adobe houses and wine caves. You might want to 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 Leon in the distance.
    • During your visit to Astorga you should visit the impressive cathedral, the Bishop's Palace (designed by the famous architect, Gaudi) and the various remnants of the city’s Roman heritage.
    • Astorga is located in the Maragatería district, which is renowned gastronomically for its ‘mantecadas’ (small cakes) and the 'cocido maragato' - a succulent and filling dish of mountain cuisine based on boiled meat and vegetables.
    Hotel Astur Plaza or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 3 - Astorga-Cacabelos

    • After a short descent begins a climb via Rabanal del Camino until Foncebadón and Cruz de Ferro (1.140 meter above sea level) From here steep descent across El Acebo and Molinaseca to the city of Ponferrada. A short ride through vineyards takes you to Cacabelos. Total distance 68 km.
    Posada de Gaspar or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 4 - Cacabelos-O Cebreiro

    • From Cacabelos the route goes along the river Valcarce via the historical Villafranca del Bierzo. Passing Herrerías steep uphill section during 8 km, reaching Galicia in O Cebreiro (1.300 m) one of the most mystical places in Galicia, also known by the fresh cheese. Total distance is 35 km. Today is slightly more relaxing and an easier stage for the journey, except for the last 10 km.
    Hostal El Palacio or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 5 - O Cebreiro-Portomarín

    • After two hills it begins a steep descent to Triacastela. From Triacastela, via the High of Sanxil, descent to Sarria. From here, the last 20 km consist on a hilly landscape to Portomarín, after crossing the river Miño. Total distance today is 62 km.
    Hotel Villa de Cacabelos or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 6 - Portomarín-Arzúa

    • The landscape of the Galician countryside is the major attraction of this route, on the way villages like Palas de Rei or Melide, known by its pulpo á feira (octopus). Before Arzúa is located the beautiful spot Ribadiso. Hilly landscape. Total distance is 53 km.
    CTR Paraiso del Bierzo or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 7 - Arzúa-Santiago

    • Today you will embark on the final and key stage of the Camino de Santiago with your ultimate goal, the city of Santiago de Compostela, in your sights. 39 km (hilly landscape). You'll reach your final destination, Santiago, a little earlier than on most other cycling days and will have the afternoon free to enjoy the city.
    • This is a great spot to sit back, reflect and enjoy a well-earned rest before leaving the rural landscapes behind and heading into the urban sprawl of the city.
    • As you come to the end of the final leg you will cycle through the town to the magnificent Plaza del Obradoiro and then to the gates of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The cathedral during medieval times was considered the third most important place of pilgrimage after Jerusalem and Rome. Today it is the jewel of the city and an exquisite example of Romanesque architecture.
    • After you’ve rested and rejuvenated yourself, you can take the time to enjoy a wander around the old historic quarter of this culturally rich city. Other fine buildings of note in the Plaza de Obradoiro include the 15th century Hostal de los Reyes Católicos, which was once a pilgrim hostal and then a hospital, but today used as a ‘parador’ hotel. The 18th century Pazo de Raxoi is another impressive building in the plaza.
    • You may wish to collect your Compostela certificate when in Santiago today, which is obtainable if you have stamps in your Pilgrim’s Passport as proof that you completed the last 200 kilometres of the Camino de Santiago by bike. (Further details on obtaining this certificate and directions on finding the Pilgrim’s Office can be found in your detailed route notes).
    Hotel Bonaval or similar

    Day 8 - Santiago de Compostela

    • Your rewarding journey will come to an end after breakfast in Santiago de Compostela.
    • You may wish to book additional accommodation to further explore this city.
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Accommodation
    • Luggage transfers
    • Detailed route notes and maps
    • Bicycle (MTB ORBEA DAKAR 2012, 24 gears) including: rear panier bags, water holder, pump, lock and a helmet.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Arrival and departure transfers
    • Departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Insurance
    • Other meals
    • Drinks
    • Optional additional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips
  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

  • From our Blog

    People, stories & questions: a week on the Camino de Santiago

    By Robyn Galvin, Peregrine traveller

    At the train station, we met a man who in the last year had lost his daughter and three of her best friends in a car accident. He was then made redundant after serving 30-odd years for the same global company. I asked what brought him to the Camino de...

    Read on...

    Europe on two wheels: the Old Continent's best cycling spots

    Photo c/o Decar66, Flickr

    By James Shackell

    European cycling is like riding through an old movie: the warm Provencal sun on your face, pedalling down old country lanes and sun-dappled roads, stopping only for a boutique wine tasting or a spot of French cheese.

    Southern France,...

    Read on...

    Our picks: Hotspots for 2013

    Take a look at two of our favourite, can't-miss destinations for 2013. The hardest part is choosing where you'll go first!

    Hidden Europe
    Peregrine's Managing Director, Glenyce Johnson, will walk Spain's Camino Trail with her partner in 2013. She's inviting people to join...

    Read on...

    Why We Love It: Spain

    Here's the next in our Why We Love It series. In each of these blogs, we ask a Peregrine team member to tell you about their favourite place in the world. Today's blog has a focus Spain:

    Spain moves to a different rhythm than the rest of Europe. ‘Africa begins at the Pyrenees...

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    Backpack or suitcase: your responses

    We recently posted a blog about one of the most common questions a traveller must ask themselves: backpack or suitcase? You can read it here.

    We asked the question on Facebook, and got an overwhelming response. So we thought we'd lay it out for you here, and let you weigh up some of the...

    Read on...
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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PECC
Group size 2 - 16
Start City: León
End City: Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain
Style: Independent

What to know

You'll need to be in good health, physically fit and able to cycle for a few hours, with some up-and-down, and on varied terrain, from well-defined paths to rocky trails.

This is a self-guided tour and does not include the services of a tour guide.

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