way of st. james path santiago de compostela spain hiking tour

The Way of St. James, Hontanas, Spain

Pilgrims have walked the Way of St. James for centuries, a journey of serene countryside, great regional cuisine, and some of the finest Romanesque architecture in all of Europe.

Photo by Brian McGilloway

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Pilgrim's Way

Ancient Trails and Paradors of Northern Spain’s Camino de Santiago

Pilgrim's Way route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $3995  
Length: 9 days
Arrive: Burgos, Spain
Depart: Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Lodging: 8 nights inns, manor houses, and paradors
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 7 hiking days on easy to moderate trails, some steep sections, 3-8 hours a day,


  • Hike the best sections of Europe’s most revered pilgrimage route
  • End the hike at Finisterre, the westernmost point on the Iberian Peninsula
  • Enjoy Galician cuisine, famous for its seafood, and some of Spain’s most delicious meats and cheeses
  • Overnight in historic hotels and inns, including the 5-star Parador Los Reis Católicos, a 15th century monastery on Santiago’s main square

I so enjoyed this trip. Spain has romanced me. I will be coming back.Paige W.—Tucson, AZ

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Buen Camino!, Helmut Kapczynzki

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Trace a thousand-year-old pilgrimage route—the Way of St. James—to the holy city of Santiago de Compostela through some of Europe’s most intriguing landscapes, from the ancient kingdom of Castile to lush, mystical Galicia, a hidden corner of Spain alive with legends and Celtic heritage. We’ve selected the most evocative portions of this footpath for your journey, along sunny country lanes marked with the scallop shell, the symbol of St. James, through mist-shrouded forests of gnarled oaks, and along the beach at Finisterre, the mythical spot of Kilometer 0 on the pilgrim trail. Along the way you’ll relish superb Romanesque architecture, meet fellow pilgrims, and enjoy splendid accommodations in quaint guesthouses and spectacular paradors.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Burgos / León / Astorga

After meeting in historic Burgos, head to the Castilian meseta (high plain) above the remote village of Hontanas. Here we begin to see the trail markers of El Camino (signs displaying stylized yellow scallop shells, the symbol of St. James, with star-rays pointing the way), and join other pilgrims to approach Hontanas on foot. After exploring León’s leafy squares and 12th century frescoes, we continue to the walled city of Astorga.

Days 3-5
Cruz de Hiero / O’Cebreiro / Portomarin

Entering rural Galicia, our trail leads through woods to emerge on a dramatic moor of heather and scotch broom, typical of this wild landscape. We’ll hike past ancient thatch-roofed houses, thriving farmsteads, and tiny abandoned villages to Cruz de Hiero, a towering iron cross where for a thousand years pilgrims have carried a single stone from their homeland to make a wish (don’t forget to bring yours!). In the ethereal mountaintop village of O’Cebreiro, we visit a tiny church whose chalice is linked in legend with the Holy Grail, then hike along the green, gently rolling countryside to the whitewashed village of Portomarin.

Days 6-9
La Coruña / Santiago de Compostela / Finisterre

Hike backroads that pass through hamlets and farms flanked by ancient grain silos to arrive in Santiago, a medieval city of golden granite, where you’ll join the spectacle of the Pilgrim’s Mass in the extraordinary twin-towered cathedral containing the remains of St. James. The next day, we complete the pilgrimage with a hike to Finisterre—the “End of the Earth”—walking the last part of the Santiago pilgrim trail barefoot along the beach, as tradition dictates. Depart on Day 9 via Santiago de Compostela.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 3, moderate, according to our trip grading system, and involves 3-8 hours of hiking daily. Trip participants carry a daypack only, as luggage is transported by vehicle between overnight stops. Your feet should be fully prepared for the hikes—you should be accustomed to walking in sturdy, well broken-in hiking boots. Please note it is not possible to create alternative hiking or touring programs on any given day. If you are not up for walking on certain days, there is the possibility of skipping the hike and continuing to the next stop in the van.

On some days, only continental breakfast (coffee, tea, and rolls) will be available at the hotels. Lunches are enjoyed in cafés along the way, incorporating local foods including cheeses, fresh vegetables, salamis, copa, and ham, fresh fruit, and delicious bread. We often don’t convene for our lunches until around 1:00 pm. Fruit, cheeses, yogurt, and bread are widely available in Spain, but if you prefer, bring favorite snacks from home. Please note that in Spain, the dinner hour is considerably later than what it is in the US. We do our best to secure early reservations for our groups, but most often the evening meal will be at 9:00 pm.

Galician Cuisine: With its proximity to the sea, Galicia is famed for its seafood, including the famous scallops of Santiago as well as lobster, mussels, and squid. This province also produces Spain’s best veal and a number of fine cheeses made from cow and goat milk.

Our hotels are chosen for their local history and central location. Since they are often in historic buildings, the rooms may not conform to the international standards you may be accustomed to in more cosmopolitan areas. We hope you will be able to enjoy them for their charm and local color. Although the rooms are not always of uniform size, our leaders always try their best to assign rooms in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip as a whole. On three nights (Days 3, 7, and 8), we enjoy overnights in beautiful paradors, historic buildings of distinguished architecture that have been transformed into luxurious hotels. Trip members requesting single rooms may be required to share a room on Days 4, 5, and 6 where our small hotels have a very limited number of single rooms available. If you require a single room, please make the request as early as possible. European single rooms are often smaller than US singles.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

May 10-18, 2016

May 31-Jun 8, 2016
Jun 14-22, 2016
Aug 26-Sep 3, 2016
Sep 6-14, 2016
Sep 16-24, 2016

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016
$3995 (11-15 members)
$4495 (6-10 members)
Single supplement: $490
more on pricing

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $600
90 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Up to 91 days prior to departure: No charge!
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations in hotels, small comfortable inns, and parador
  • All meals included except 1 dinner
  • A glass of wine or beer with dinner
  • Ground transportation throughout from meeting until departure

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, hotel transfers to/from airports, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expense of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance or passports; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Monasterio San Zoilo

Monasterio San Zoilo

Day 1 (1 night), Carrion de los Condes, Spain

This atmospheric Benedictine monastery has been artfully transformed into a unique 45-room hotel. It was founded in the 10th century and rebuilt in ...
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Hotel Spa Ciudad Astorga

Hotel Spa Ciudad Astorga

Day 2 (1 night), Astorga, Spain

Just steps from Antoni Gaudi's Episcopal Palace of Astorga, the Hotel Spa Ciudad Astorga is a lovely place from which to explore the churches, ...
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Parador Villafranca del Bierzo

Parador Villafranca del Bierzo

Day 3 (1 night), Villafranca del Bierzo, Spain

Located near the pilgrim town of Villa Franco del Bierzo, this 28-room hotel has been refurbished into completely modern style, with large, spacious ...
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Hotel Alfonso IX

Hotel Alfonso IX

Days 4 to 5 (2 nights), Sarria, Spain

Set beside the Rio Sarria on the appropriately named Rua do Peregrino (Pilgrim Street), this large 60-room hotel is centrally located and convenient ...
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Pazo Santa Maria

Pazo Santa Maria

Day 6 (1 night), Arzua, Spain

Nestled in the countryside just outside Arzua, this restored historic manor house dates back to 1742. Guestrooms are well appointed, and it's an ...
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Parador Dos Reis Catolicos

Parador Dos Reis Catolicos

Days 7 to 8 (2 nights), Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Staying at this parador, a renovated medieval building right next to Santiago’s venerated cathedral, really makes you feel you are living a ...
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Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

David Atela

Departure Dates: May 10-18, 2016, August 26-September 3, 2016, September 16-24, 2016

David Atela, a graduate of the Universidad del País Vasco in northern Spain’s Basque country, has written several guidebooks on the Picos de Europa and has studied the geology and ecology of many of Spain’s mountain regions. He has also worked as a climbing guide in the French ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Santiago Bejarano

Santiago Bejarano trained in Environmental Sciences in his native Ecuador and began his guiding career by bringing visitors to the jungle and highlands of Ecuador and the storied Galapagos Islands, where he worked as a naturalist. He later moved to Britain, where he lives with his British wife and ...
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Marian Gibert

Departure Dates: May 31-June 8, 2016, June 14-22, 2016

Marian Gibert has been a world traveler from a young age. She was born in Bilbao, Spain, grew up in Venezuela, and later lived in Britain, where she studied Business Administration at Cambridge. She also lived and worked in Engelberg, a resort in the Swiss Alps, picking up the Swiss-German and ...
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Mark Gordon

Having lived in Marrakesh, Morocco, since 1982, Mark Gordon has led numerous expeditions and journeys for us throughout West and North Africa, and we’re excited to have him lead our expedition to Oman in 2016. Originally from America, Mark fell in love with Morocco after serving in the ...
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Rob Noonan

Departure Dates: September 6-14, 2016, September 16-24, 2016

Rob Noonan came by his love of nature and the mountains early, adventuring throughout most of the Americas from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego and later earning a degree in Environmental Studies from Prescott College in Arizona. He has guided our Patagonia hiking journeys since 1994, but his love of ...
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Patricia Raczkowski

Departure Dates: May 10-18, 2016, May 31-June 8, 2016, June 14-22, 2016, August 26-September 3, 2016, September 6-14, 2016

You may say it was divine forces that led Patricia Raczkowski to be a Trip Leader. Her first taste of mountaineer life came in high school, when she would attend monthly hikes with the nuns in Madrid. After practicing as a veterinary nurse in England, she found herself back in Spain where she ...
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Client Comments

I so enjoyed this trip. Spain has romanced me. I will be coming back. Paige W., Tucson, AZ Starting in the flat cropland and moving through the heather, then the rolling hills and on through the Galacian forests was to us the perfect survey of the countryside. Linda M., New Bern, NC Hiking the Pilgrim's Way was an awesome, humbling, spiritual experience. Kelly H., Honeoye Falls, NY I cannot say enough good things about this trip. Everything was expertly organized, every day was different, I felt extremely well looked after! Janet W., Calgary, Alberta Thank you so much for a life changing adventure. It is one I will never forget. Joan W., Owen Sound, Ontario An unforgettable experience! I thought the itinerary was an excellent blend of culture, history, and hiking. Mattie V., Tampa, FL The trip was a fabulous experience—physically, socially,and spiritually. We're impressed with the entire organization and can't wait to travel with Wilderness Travel in 2014. I am already perusing the catalog! Gwen M., Houston, TX Great trip, great company, great way to see northern Spain! Mike C., El Dorado Hills, CA This was a wonderful trip that more than met my expectations. The accomodations were more than adequate, the meals were delicious, and I couldn't have asked for better guides. Sara C., El Dorado Hills, CA I had high expectations for this venture, but it was so much more than I had imagined. It was a fantastic experience that will stay in the forefront of my memories. Jan P., Portland, OR Another well designed WT journey—from the itinerary, lodges, timing on the trail and at the historic sites. This was a spiritual journey for me, and it will stay in my heart forever. Dorothy F., Basalt, CO Absolutely EVERYTHING about this trip was perfect:  itinerary, food, lodgings, trip leaders, educational opportunities.  A perfect example of why Wilderness Travel will always be our first choice when planning adventures. Susan W., Albuquerque, NM
A fantastic experience! Our Trip Leaders were both wonderful—always on top of everything, with great personalities. J. Robertson, Houston, TX A very interesting hiking trip with lots of history and legend attached to it. Great guides and good food made for another memorable WT adventure. Johanna T., La Jolla, CA I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the Trip Leaders were a very positive part of the trip. Denice W., Portland OR This was a most enjoyable experience! Everyone had a great time. Linda G., Wilton, CT Would do it again! Ken B., Gig Harbor, WA What a fabulous experience We loved the trip. The guides were well prepared and extremely knowledgeable. Ann and John L., Beaverton OR Loved this trip! It was great, every minute of it. Wonderful hotels, and loved the picnics. Julie A., Little Rock AK It was a fascinating and inspiring trip. We would recommend it highly. Judith S., Chevy Chase MD This was my very first WT experience and it far exceeded my expectations. Exceptional value! Marjorie G., Montgomery, AL This was just what I like in a trip—being out and about in the countryside and towns.  The Trip Leaders were exceptional in having local cuisine and wines arranged at our meals. I really enjoyed the variety of hotel accommodations. Jon D., Montgomery, AL I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the guides were a very positive part of the trip. Denise W., Portland OR The trip was the perfect mix of culture, hiking and cuisine with a truly outstanding leader. Joseph C., Campbell PA

Recent Photo Blog Posts

Buen Camino!, Helmut Kapczynzki