A Day on the Trail

The trail follows everything from country roads to cow paths as we travel through rural regions that see few outsiders aside from pilgrims. Of course, all hiking days are a bit different, and the weather always has the final say, but the following is a sense of a typical day on the trail. On Days 1 and 2, there are a great number of fascinating cultural sites, and we’ll stop to meet with local experts as we explore the Old Quarter and Cathedral in Burgos, the exquisite Romanesque church of San Martin in Frómista, and the 9th century San Isidoro Basilica in Leon. This makes for a gentle start to the trip, as the hiking on these days is limited. There will be cultural sites all along the way, but on the following days there is significantly more hiking. This can be tailored to your preferences, adding more hiking time when possible or, with our van support, you can shorten the hiking time as you wish.

From 7:30 am, a buffet breakfast is served by our hotel, with fruit, bread, whole grains, cold cuts, cheese, butter, ham, olive oil, tomato, yogurt, as well as coffee and tea. Our drives to the trailheads are relatively short, about 20 minutes, and we’re off!

9:30 am to 1:00 pm: Our morning hike is usually about 4 hours, with stops along the way for interesting architecture, a coffee stop, and photo ops of the beautiful landscapes—this is a wonderfully photogenic part of Spain. We usually hike until 1:00 pm, although when the van meets us mid-morning with water and snacks, folks can catch a lift if they wish.

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

Lunch starts late in Spain—no earlier than 1:00 or 1:30 pm, and is usually enjoyed in a small restaurant close to the trail. These are the typical restaurants where pilgrims stop to eat, and they give us a great chance to be part of the community. Pilgrims come from all over the world to hike El Camino, and are always very friendly and willing to share their experiences. Some of the items you’ll see on the menu are hearty soups, a variety of cheeses and hams from the region (including jamón serrano), salads, pimientos del padrón (roasted green peppers), trout served the Spanish way (expect to see the whole fish!).

Afternoon hiking is a bit shorter, from 2:30 or 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, though you can catch a ride in the van if your legs are tired. Our total hiking time and distance each day is about 7-8 miles, or 5-6 hours. On Day 5 we’ll encourage everyone to hike the full 14 miles. This is the traditional length of a hiking day on the pilgrimage. We’ve chosen the most beautiful day of scenery to do this, and we’ll hike from hotel door to hotel door as true pilgrims do—though the van is always available to give you a lift.

We have a couple of hours in the afternoon to explore our new location, and our Trip Leaders love to walk the back streets and share the architectural wonders—our route is filled with some of the finest Romanesque architecture in Europe. We may even stop in at a bar for tapas—a late afternoon snack is always welcome as the dinner hour is notoriously late in Spain!

Dinner is at 8:30-9:00 pm, and this is about the earliest we can get reservations. It is normal in Spain for people to go out to dinner at 10 pm or later. While we know you’ll need your rest, we urge you not to miss experiencing the great cuisine of these regions, from lamb to fresh seafood.

Our hotels are often in historic buildings and because of this the rooms are not always of uniform size. Our Trip Leaders always do their best to assign rooms so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip. Single rooms, as is common throughout Europe, are always much smaller than double rooms.

Contact our Europe Specialists

Our Europe Specialists know every detail about our European itineraries, and will be happy to answer any questions about our trips and help you choose the journey that’s right for you!

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Pilgrims Ways 2018 itinerary

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