Stages of Camino
Learn more about the 33 Camino stages with short description recommended by John Brierley.
Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Stage 5 Stage 6 Stage 7 Stage 8 Stage 9 Stage 10 Stage 11 Stage 12 Stage 13 Stage 14 Stage 15 Stage 16 Stage 17 Stage 18 Stage 19 Stage 20 Stage 21 Stage 22 Stage 23 Stage 24 Stage 25 Stage 26 Stage 27 Stage 28 Stage 29 Stage 30 Stage 31 Stage 32 Stage 33 Santiago de Compostela
St. Jean Pied-De -Port (Pays Basque) – Roncesvalles (Navarre)
784.9 km (487.7 miles) to Santiago de Compostela
Total distance: 25.1 km (15.6 ml)
Intermediate accomodation: Huntto (5.4 km) and Orisson 7.8 km
A strenuous uphill walk is rewarded with stunning views in all directions (provided we are spared the hill fog). The first part, as far as Huntto, is through steeply wooded countryside that gives way to open hill and moorland, interspersed with some woodland (mostly beech) on the Spanish side. While the uphill section will stretch the cardiovascular muscles, injury is more likely on the steep downhill stage into Roncesvalles when mind and muscles will be tired – stay very focused.
Roncesvalles – Larrasoana
759.8 km (472.2 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 27.4 km (17 ml)
This second stage leads downhill across the fertile plain of the río Erro that flows southwards to join the río Ebro that we will meet in
Logroño. The Alto de Erro forms the ridge that separates the Erro from the Arga river valleys. There is good woodland shade and plenty of drinking fonts along this delightful section of the camino 91% of which is natural pathways running more or less parallel to the N-135 which it crosses at several points. Close gates cierren el portillo as you pass through and be careful of the steep descent into Zubiri – the exposed rock makes it very slippery, particularly in wet weather.
Larrasoana – Cizur Menor
732.4 km (455.1 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 20.2 km (12.6 ml)
The first half of this section is a tranquil walk by the río Arga. The latter half is along busy main roads leading into and through the city of Pamplona. There is plenty of shade along the tree-lined riverbanks and a number of drinking fonts along the way. Be prepared for the noise and bustle of city life after the relative calm of the camino. City folk are forever in a rush, sotread warily amongst the traffic and watch your wallet. Petty theft has always been a problem in our unequal society.
Pamplona is a beautiful city and the camino runs through its historic heart – so you can soak up some of the atmosphere and major buildings just by walking the waymarked route. Many pilgrims make an overnight stop here so they can visit the cathedral & museums and explore the lively streets and sample some of the famous cafés and tapas pintxos bars.
Cizur Menor – Puente La Reina
712.2 km (442.6 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 19 km (11.8 ml)
A short stage (add 5.2 km from Pamplona centre) with few trees and therefore little shade. Ahead of us lie a range of hills and we have a steep climb up to pass through the middle of the wind turbines parque ecológico visible on the skyline ahead at the Hill of Forgiveness Alto del Perdón. As we ascend there are wonderful views back over Pamplona and to the south the conical peak of Higa at Monreal is clearly visible, behind which are the Sierra de Leyre and the Somport Pass through which the Camino Aragonés joins the route at Eunate. As we crest the summit the view west over the Arga valley opens up with the villages we pass through now visible ahead. Be careful on the steep descent – it is easy to twist an ankle on the loose boulders.
Puente La Reina – Estella (Navarra)
693.2 km (430.7 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 21.9 km (13.6 ml)
Another quiet stage along gently rolling farmland and vineyards with few trees and little shelter. Some fine examples of Roman roadway between Cirauqui and Lorca and a glorious 85% is on natural tracks. The first section is a steep climb on a heavily eroded path before descending into Estella.
Estella – Los Arcos (Navarra)
671.3 km (417.1 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 21.4 km (13.3 ml)
The majority of this scenic route (85%) is on delightful natural paths. The first section is through native Holm oak and pine trees as we wend our way up to Monjardín. There are magnificent views southwards over the alternative route, which passes above Luquín. The two routes join for the last stretch into Los Arcos taking us through remote vineyards and open country but with little shade and few water fonts. Take food and water for the isolated day ahead.
Los Arcos (Navarra) – Logrono (La Rioja)
649.9 km (403.8 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 28.6 km (17.8 ml)
A wonderful 75% of this stage is on natural paths and dirt tracks through open arable farmland. Shade is limited to a few isolated pockets of pine and drinking fonts are few, so fill up the water bottle and protect against the sun. This is a long stage and there are some short but very steep sections into the rio Linares (Torres del Río) and Cornava river valleys so be particularly mindful when negotiating these steep paths. Just before entering Logroño we pass into the great wine-producing region of La Rioja.
Logrono – Nájera (La Rioja)
621.3 km (386.1 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 29.1 km (18.5 ml)
Waymarking out of Logroño now goes through Parque S. Miguel which increases natural pathways to 76%. However, we still have to
contend with fast moving traffic out of the city. With constant road improvements, waymarking may be disturbed, so stay fully focused or you might lose your way – or your body. If nerves become frayed, you can always take refuge in the beautifully renovate intermediate albergues in Navarette or Ventosa. The natural pathways now turn to the rich red clay soil of La Rioja – beautiful in the
sun and a nightmare in the wet as it clings to footwear like a leech!
Nájera – Santo Domingo de la Calzada
592.2 km (368 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 21 km (13 ml)
The majority of this stage (70%) is on wonderful wide country tracks passing through remote and gently undulating farmland with only the last stretch into Santo Domingo alongside the main road. Beyond Azofra the Salida camino crosses a secondary road (to Alesanco) where the new A-12 has been del Sol built – be careful not to follow old waymarks back onto the busy N-120 (right).
There is little shade and few drinking fonts on this stage so take protection against the sun and fill up the water bottle as you pass Azofra and Cirueña (both have fuentes).
Santo Domingo de la Calzada – Belorado (Castilla y León)
571.2 km (354.9 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 22.9 km (14.2 ml)
It is a strange tribute to the Saint who did so much to assist the pilgrim that today we are forced by new roads to travel closer to the
dangerous N-120 more than at any other stage of our journey so far. Waymarking may also be confusing with on-going road works and if you are not careful you might end up walking on the main road all the way to Belorado! Be prepared for half today’s walk to be parallel to the busy main road with little shelter and water, apart from the villages you pass through.
Belorado – San Juan de Ortega
548.3 km (340.7 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 24.3 km (15.1 ml)
Today is one of much variation in terrain and unlike yesterday a glorious 91% on paths and earthen tracks. From the suburbs of
Belorado the path continues parallel to the N-120 along level open countryside but with some shade provided by hedgerow and woodland. Half way along this stage, at Villafranca Montes de Oca, the path climbs through these ‘mountains’ (high point at just over 1,000m) with its cover of oak and then pine before dropping down to the remote pilgrim village of St. John of the Nettle San Juan de Ortega a disciple of Santo Domingo. Here, far from the distractions and speed of the modern world we find a slower pace and time, perhaps, to contemplate the inner journey.
San Juan de Ortega – Burgos
524 km (325.6 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 26.4 km (16.4 ml)
This stage starts along the wooded río Vena valley before ascending the lonely Sierra Atapuerca. From here we descend to the business of Burgos. Familiarise yourself with the various options available and prepare for the long hike into the city itself – after the relative tranquillity of the camino paths city life can come as something of a shock.
The situation has greatly improved since the new pilgrim hostel opened next to the cathedral and the possibility of taking the scenic riverside path to the city centre to avoid the industrial suburbs.
Burgos – Hornillos del Camino
497.6 km (309.2 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 21 km (13 ml)
Today we leave behind the built environment and enter the relative wilderness of the sublime Meseta. Over half this stage is by way of
earth track (69%) across the peace and quiet of the endless crop fields; wheat on the better ground and barley and oats on the higher and poorer soil. We might come across a shepherd and his flock or the occasional fox, otherwise you will have the birds to keep you company. There is little or no shade on the Meseta, so protect yourself from the sun.
Hornillos has limited facilities but these are already improving in response to the closure of the intermediate hostel in the parque El Parral following the opening of the new hostel in the centre of Burgos. Hornillos provides a welcome respite from the conspicuous consumerism of the city.
Hornillos del Camino – Castrojeriz
476.6 km (292.2 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 20.2 km (12.6 ml)
Today we again travel the lonely Meseta with the sounds of nature the only likely intrusion on the peace that pervades it. There is little shade and so again we need to take care with the sun and carry plenty of water. Hontanas and Castrojeriz are both classic pilgrim towns with good facilities.
Castrojeriz (Burgos) – Frómista (Palencia)
456.4 km (283.6 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 25.2 km (15.7 ml)
A glance at the map of this stage might give you a false impression. Look carefully and you will see that while the camino appears in a web of asphalt roads it seldom connects with them. A glorious 21.8 km (87%) is on earthen tracks. Be prepared for the strenuous climb out of Castrojeriz onto the Meseta. The view back over the valley floor, coupled with the knowledge that what goes up must come down should be enough to revive any flagging spirit. Apart from the trees that line the río Pisuerga and the Canal de Castilla there is little shade and few water fonts, so take precautions.
Frómista – Carrión de Los Condes
431.2 km (267.9 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 20.5 km (12.7 ml)
Today we have our first taste of the rather soulless sendas (pilgrim autopistas) that run alongside the main roads. We have entered Palencia, which along with its neighbouring province of León, has engaged in a modernisation programme built, perhaps, on the back of too much wealth and too little forethought. In today’s stage we can increase the natural paths by leaving out the senda from Salida Poblacíon to Villalcázar de Sirga and taking the scenic path via Villovieco. This recommended route follows a tree-lined riverside path offers both shade and silence away from traffic. Try and find time to visit the monumental Templar church in Villalcázar.
Carrión de Los Condes – Terradillos de los Templarios
410.7 km (255.2 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 26.8 km (16.7 ml)
We pass through a flat and somewhat featureless landscape with little or no shade. 70% is on natural paths, most of which forms the old paved Roman road known as the Via Aquitana that connected with Astorga. The few drinking fonts between the villages are often dry so make sure your water flasks are full and you either have breakfast before you leave or bring something to eat with you as there are no facilities on the first stretch to Calzadilla, a distance of 17.1 km.
Terradillos de los Templarios via Sahagún to Hermanillos de la Calzada – El Burgo Ranero
383.9 km (238.6 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 26.9 km (16.7 ml)
Many pilgrims stopover in Sahagún, a town full of ancient monuments. If you stay the night the next logical step is to El Burgo Ranero (a further 17.8 km) – both towns have a wide choice of accommodation. The alternative is to visit Sahagún and possibly stop for lunch on your way to Hermanillos de Calzada. The first section is parallel to the N-120.
Option 1 Via Romana 26.9 km, almost the entire is by rough earth tracks across remote bush country so take water, especially for the section from Calzada de Coto. The path is level but with little shade and only one water font just before Calzadilla.
Option 2 RealCamino Frances 30.7km, the most popular route by gravel path senda now with shade alongside quiet road parallel to the autopista.
Hermanillos de La Calzada – Mansilla de Las Mulas
357 km (221.8 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 24.5 km (15.2 ml)
On the Calzada Romana (Option 1) we will encounter no asphalt, no sendas, no village, no house but also no water fonts and little shade apart from the few rivers that crisscross this tranquil landscape. (Note: A good option is to access facilities in Reliegos and continue into Mansilla from there.) Classified as the longest extant stretch of Roman road left in Spain today, we follow in the footsteps of Emperor Augustus himself but he will have travelled with a retinue of servants not available to a humble pilgrim – so bring some food and water to fortify you along this remote path.
Camino Francés (Option 2) has mellowed with age and the trees alongside the senda have matured and provide some shade. Good facilites in Reliegos.
Mansilla de Las Mulas – León
332.5 km (206.6 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 18.1 km (11.2 ml)
Apart from a brief respite along a dedicated pilgrim track around Arcahueja this stage is mostly road or senda that runs parallel to the busy N-601. Tourism and industrial activity, with their requirement for rapid transport, are decidedly de rigeur. A walking pilgrim requires nothing more than a simple path and respect for the ancient camino and both are in short supply around León. From this point on you need to stay very focused so as not to miss the waymarks amongst the busy-ness of the suburbs. The reward is the sheer magnificence of the historic heart of León city centre. An extra day would allow you time to explore its many treasures.
León – Villar de Mazarife
314.4 km (195.4 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 21.8 km (13.5 ml)
The route follows the waymarked circuit past the cathedral and out of the city via San Marcos but you need to have pencil sharp eyes to see the discreet shells in the pavement that compete with the many distractions in the busy streets. Once you leave Virgen del Camino, on the recommended route, there are few facilities along this relatively isolated stretch, so take a break and stock up with fruit or snacks in Virgen del Camino for the latter part of this stage.
Villar de Mazarife – Astorga
292.6 km (181.8 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 31.2 km (19.4 ml)
The majority of this stage is relatively solitary so bring food and water (there are few villages on the way) however there are attractive sections with trees and other shade in which to rest out of the sun. The first part to Hospital de Órbigo (14.4 km) is relatively flat and easily covered. If you are planning to continue to Astorga (+16.8 km) the total distance is 31.2 km so leave early and allow some time to savour Órbigo (you could lunch here, it’s around halfway). Note the last section beyond Órbigo has some (gentle) hills.
Astorga – Rabanal del Camino
261.4 km (162.4 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 20.6 km (12.8 ml)
Today we head towards the mountains and tomorrow we climb to the highest point of the entire route. Rabanal can feed you, but it won’t clothe you for the mountain weather, which can be unpredictable at the best of times. Astorga is the last opportunity to kit-out before the ascent. However, there are several small villages on today’s stretch where you can buy food and refreshments, many bearing the suffix somoza from the Latin sub montia or under the mountain. This should be a relatively gentle day and the promise of a good nights rest in Rabanal to prepare you for the climb the following day.
Rabanal del Camino – Molinaseca
240.8 km (149.6 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 25.6 km (15.9 ml)
Today we head up through the pass of Irago to the highest point of our journey. While the ascent is steep in places and will require your determination and physical exertion remember that far more injuries (sprains, strains and breaks) are experienced going downhill. Many pilgrims stick to the asphalt road which has many blind spots and is therefore dangerous. Use the newtrack that runs roughly parallel to the road effectively making the majority of this stage (80%) a safer natural pathway. When pausing to rest or meditate, remember that body sweat will turn cold quickly at this altitude as soon as physical exertion stops – so find a sheltered spot out of the mountain breeze and dress warmly.
There are several drinking fonts along the way and the mountain villages are coming to life again supporting pilgrims with hostels and cafés but it is sensible to take some snacks and we need to fill our water bottles before leaving Rabanal.
Molinaseca – Villafranca Del Bierzo (Via Ponferrada)
215.2 km (133.7 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 30.6 km (19 ml)
There are several options to avoid the worst of the busy road network around Ponferrada. And while this stage involves some road
walking as we pass through the city, there are many cafés and bars to refresh us along the way. Remember also that waymarks through the city and its suburbs have to compete with the consumer culture and its advertising signs so extra vigilance is required. And we also have the beautiful Bierzo to look forward to with its sheltered microclimate and vineyards.
In order to make sense of the road layout into and out of Ponferrada, this stage has been shown from Molinaseca to Villafranca. If you decide to stay in Ponferrada there is much to do and see and several interesting detours that you can take from there. Alternatively, you can visit the main sites (all of which are directly along the camino) and still make your way relatively easily to the albergue in Cacabelos (22.7 km) or with greater effort to Villafranca del Bierzo (30.6 km) by evening. But in this latter case, you must leave Molinaseca early in the morning.
Villafranca Del Bierzo – O’Cebreiro
184.6 km (114.7 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 30.1 km (18.7 ml)
A strenuous stage, particularly at the end, but wide choice of hostels en route. 3 options on leaving Villafranca; choice will be determined by: prevailing weather conditions, personal level of fitness and the kind of experience you want to create. All routes are likely to prove demanding.
This stage represents one of the steepest of the whole pilgrimage but the climb is rewarded with stunning views along the Valcarce valley that will keep spirits high. The least taxing option is the noisy N-VI stretch and while the completion of the A-6 motorway has greatly reduced traffic using it, there are several dangerous bends, so stay alert.
There are shops, bars, hotels and pilgrim hostels all along the valley floor in the villages we pass through, but make sure you have water and some snacks for the Pradela route before leaving Villafranca and full provisions for the remote and poorly waymarked Dragonte route (seasoned pilgrims only).
O’Cebreiro – Triacastela
154.5 km (96 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 20.7 km (12.9 ml)
While this stage is only 20.7 kms and mostly downhill, remember most injuries are sustained going down (not up) so extra care is needed. There are several villages and drinking fonts along the way and splendid views in every direction (weather permitting). Early morning mists can give rise to the most astounding ethereal floating islands where hilltops appear above the clouds. These exotic experiences generally give way to clearer skies, as the sun burns the swirling mists away. Whatever time of year, be prepared for any weather, as the mountains, and particularly Galicia, can be very unpredictable.
Triacastela – Sarria
133.8 km (83.1 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 18.7 km (11.6 ml)
Before leaving Triacastela decide whether to take northern direct route via San Xil or the southern detour route via Samos. Recent improvements to the San Xil route (new woodland paths) have increased the natural pathways to 60%.
The road route to Samos has sections along the busy LU-633 which can be dangerous. The San Xil route is shorter by 6.4 km and has the steep climb up to alto do Riocabo with splendid views. The Benedictine monastery of Samos is one of the oldest and largest in Spain and draws large tourist numbers but the addition of several new albergues and hostels caters for the increased volume of traffic. Both routes are attractive and offer alternative accommodation en route.
Sarria – Portomarín
115.1 km (71.5 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 22.1 km (13.7 ml)
The majority of this stage is on lovely woodland paths and gravel tracks sendas. Apart from the bare flanks around the high point on the Peña do Cervo at Momientos (above Portomarín) much of the remainder is along tree-lined roads. So we have good shade from the sun or shelter from the driving rain. We will pass through many small hamlets that seem to blendseamlessly one into the next. Several new cafés offer refeshment stops along the way.
Portomarín – Palas De Rei
93 km (57.8 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 24.8 km (15.4 ml)
A day of varied terrain as we start by skirting the reservoir Embalse de Belesar climbing up through woodland to join the main road which we have to cross on several occasions before leaving it to climb the ridge beyond Ventas de Narón Sierra Ligonde, descending to Portos which offers us the detour to Vilar de Donas. Then comes a gentler climb around the side of Rosary Heights Alto Rosario to drop down finally to Palas de Rei. Prepare for an early start if you intend to take the detour to Vilas de Donas.
Palas De Rei – Ribadiso (Arzúa)
68.2 km (42.4 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 25.6 km (15.9 ml)
Today we cross 6 shallow river valleys and ¾ on pathways mostly through delightful woodland that helps to stifle the noise from the busy N-547 which we cross and re-cross all the way to Arzúa. Melide makes a good half way stop where we can sample the renowned octopus pulpo Gallega. Here also is where pilgrims walking the Camino Primitivo (via Oviedo) join. Note Pambre Castle & Pazo Ulloa are in private ownership and off route.
Ribadiso – O Pedrouso (Arca/ O Pino)
42.6 km (26.5 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 22.8 km (14.1 ml)
Over ½ this stage is on natural pathways with good shade offered by the ubiquitous eucalyptus. We start with a steep climb up into Arzúa and end with a gentle climb around the alto de Santa Irene. In between we have a largely level path with just 3 shallow river valleys.
O Pedrouzo (Arca) – Santiago de Compostola
19.8 km (12.3 miles) to Santiago
Total distance: 19.8 km (12.3 ml)
The first part of this last stage is through tall stands of the ever-present eucalyptus. Make the most of their shade and the peace they exude. As we get nearer the city, asphalt and crowds begin to take over as busloads of pilgrims join the route for this one-day into Santiago. If you are making for the pilgrim mass at 12 noon be prepared for large crowds and try and create an air of compassionate detachment – be patient and prepare for the long slog up to Monte Gozo which, while surrounded by eucalyptus, is all on asphalt.
Santiago de Compostela
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
Take time to just arrive. We each experience different emotions on entering the Cathedral that range from euphoria to disappointment. Whatever your individual reaction – honour and accept it. Gratitude for safe arrival is a frequent response but if you are overwhelmed by the crowds why not return later when you feel more composed and the Cathedral is, perhaps, quieter (open daily from 07:00 until 21:00).
Pilgrim mass at 12 noon each day (doors may close 5 minutes before on busy days). The swinging of the giant incense burner Botafumeiro was originally used to fumigate the sweaty (and possibly disease-ridden)pilgrims. The ritual requires half a dozen attendants tiraboleiros to perform it and so became an infrequent event but is used increasingly during the mass these days.
During 2004 the seating capacity was permanently extended from 700 to 1,000 so you might even find somewhere to sit but don’t hold any expectations time itself is a journey.
Santiago is a wonderful destination, full of vibrancy and colour. Pilgrims, street artists, musicians, dancers, tourists all come and add to the life and soul of this fabled city. Stay awhile and soak up some of her culture or relax in the delightful shaded park Alameda and climb to the capela de Santa Susanna hidden in the trees or stroll up the Avenue of the Lions Paseo dos Leónes to the statue of Rosalia de Castro and look out west over her belovéd Galicia and… Finis terre.
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