Camino de Santiago – Spain Hiking

Camino de Santiago – Spain Hiking

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Trip Length 9 Days
Group Size 4-14
Difficulty
3

Starting from

$4,299

for REI Members

$4,699 for non-members

Departures

Apr 2019-Oct 2020

There are many routes to reach the holy city of Santiago de Compostela, but this 9-day journey takes us on some of the oldest and least-traveled paths.

The Camino del Norte and the Camino Primitivo bring spectacular ocean views and scenic inland trails, but the journey holds so much more than scenery. For thousands of years, pilgrims have made their way to the tomb of the apostle St. James. It is a chance to journey within while journeying forward, a retreat for spiritual growth. We trek in their footsteps, traversing breathtaking coastal cliffs in search of this holy city and UNESCO World Heritage site.

Hike along the northern coast of Spain into Asturias, where traditional lifestyles and fierce Celtic legacy prevail. Entering the Galicia region, travel over rolling hills into Lugo to see third-century Roman walls that surround the city’s old town. Having finally made our way to Monte del Gozo —known as Mount of Joy for the emotion felt by pilgrims upon their first sight of the city—we, too, are filled with the joy of the journey. We complete our sojourn at Cape Finisterre, taking in epic views of ocean, beaches and sky.

Trip highlights

  • Hike the Camino del Norte and the Camino Primitivo—the oldest and least traveled routes
  • Discover Northern Spain’s hidden coves and charming fishing villages
  • Explore one of Spain’s most uninhabited regions and home to wild horses
  • Enjoy a guided tour of Santiago de Compostela and its famous cathedral
  • Dine on fresh seafood, tapas, and Jamón ibérico (ham)

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. Trip members should be experienced hikers capable of hiking 2–10 miles (4–6 hours) most days.

The terrain includes forested trails, grassy tracks, quiet paved country lanes and sandy beachside paths. Terrain can be wet, muddy, uneven, rocky, steep and/or hilly in sections. Hiking shoes with good tread and lateral support are important. Trekking poles may be helpful for hiking on rocky or muddy sections of the trail.

  • Hiking

What's Included

Hotel accommodations based on double occupancy for eight nights; all meals as noted in the daily itinerary; wine with included dinners; guide/leadership; luggage transportation; all transportation as noted in the itinerary.

Accommodations

Hotels, 8 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Welcome to Bilbao, Spain.

Our trip begins in Bilbao, Spain with a 5:30pm group rendezvous at our hotel. Following introductions and an orientation, we stroll along the river and through the old city center to a local tavern. Tonight we dine on Basque pintxos, small plates of traditional foods made with local, fresh ingredients. Dinner included.

Day 2

Explore the Costa Verde, known for its spectacular coastal scenery.

Departing Bilbao, we drive westward along the rugged Atlantic coast and cross into the province of Asturias. Enroute to Llanes, we visit a cave with prehistoric art; it's part of the UNESCO World Heritage collection of cave sites throughout this region of Spain. In Llanes, we explore the town’s twisting streets and have lunch by a seaside market. A historic and traditional fishing port, Llanes had an economy based on whaling for eight centuries. This afternoon's hike begins our journey along the Camino del Norte. We follow scenic clifftop paths over rolling pastureland and sandy coves to stretch our legs and become acquainted with the terrain. All meals included.

Cave visit: 1 hour; Hiking: 5.6 miles, 3 hours; elevation gain/loss: 525’; Driving: 2.75 hours.

Note: Approximate total vehicle transfer times are listed for each day; these drives are typically broken up with a morning transfer, hiking and lunch, and an afternoon transfer.

Day 3

Follow the scallop shell past hidden coves before heading to Oviedo.

This morning a short transfer brings us to the start of today's hike on the Camino. We walk along coastal paths and gently undulating green meadows that link hidden coves, rocky bays and beautiful beaches. We enjoy lunch at a spot overlooking a pretty inlet and then transfer to Oviedo, the capital of Asturias. We meet a local guide to tour Oviedo’s impressive San Salvador Cathedral. This UNESCO World Heritage complex is home to several revered relics of the Kingdom of Asturias, including the Cloth of Oviedo (also called the Sudarium). The cloth is believed to have been wrapped around Jesus’ head in the tomb. We overnight in Oviedo. Breakfast and lunch included.

Hiking: 7 miles, 3 hours; elevation gain/loss: 755’. Walking/sightseeing: 1 mile, 1.5 hours; Driving: 1.5 hours.

Day 4

Join up with the Camino Primitivo and traverse the countryside of Asturias.

We begin our hike along the Camino Primitivo, the oldest of all the Camino pilgrimage routes. The landscape becomes increasing hilly and forested, with country lanes creating patterns through the pastureland. Our hike takes us towards Tineo (2,139’), set high in the hills above the Narcea River valley. Following a picnic lunch, we resume our hike uphill through dense, mixed forest, ending at an abandoned 12th-century Benedictine Monastery that once played an important role in providing aid and support to pilgrims on their way to Santiago. After exploring the ruins we transfer to our hotel in Tineo. All meals included.

Hiking: 10.3 miles, 4.5 hours; elevation gain/loss: 1,350’/1,590’; Driving: 1.25 hours.

Day 5

Discover Spain’s most uninhabited regions.

Today's trail is perhaps the most spectacular of the entire Camino Primitivo. Our hike takes us uphill through one of Spain's most uninhabited regions. Heather and gorse bracket the forested mountain trail as we make our way up to an isolated pass (3,760’) where we enjoy sweeping views and may see wild horses grazing on the hillsides. We then transfer to the tiny parish of Berducedo for lunch. We finally enter Galicia on our way to Lugo, whose 3rd century Roman walls surrounding the old town are a UNESCO World Heritage site. We tour the historic walls and take in the panoramic views of the city before visiting the cathedral. A mix of Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque and Neoclassic styles, the basilica is an outstanding example of the architectural influences that shaped the buildings of Galicia. Overnight in Lugo. All meals included.

Hiking: 4.1 miles, 2.75 hours, elevation gain/loss: 1,795'/321’; Walking/sightseeing: 1 mile, 1.5 hours; Driving: 3 hours.

Day 6

Explore Lugo and hike through the Galician countryside.

We begin our day with a visit to a museum and the aging ruins of a Celtic-Roman hillfort settlement. Our last hike on the Camino Primitivo follows forest paths through tiny hamlets that are scattered about the Galician countryside. We have lunch in Melide, a town where the Camino Primitivo and Camino Frances merge into a single Way. In Melide's historic center, we are often greeted by the aroma of fresh-baked melindres (sugar-topped pastries), and amendoados (almond cakes). Our afternoon hike on the Camino takes us through eucalyptus and oak forests, and past small churches and tiny villages. This section of the Way highlights the difference in the numbers of pilgrims on the Camino Frances compared with the two northern Caminos we've experienced so far. All meals included.

Hiking: 6 - 7.9 miles, 3 hours; elevation gain/loss: 755-935'/558-705'; Driving: 2.5 – 3.5 hours.

Day 7

Hike the final section of the Camino arriving at Santiago de Compostela.

After a morning hike on the Camino, we transfer to Monte del Gozo (Mount of Joy). Located on the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela, this hilltop viewpoint provides pilgrims with their first glimpse of the city’s famous cathedral spires. Our hike continues to Plaza del Obradoiro, Santiago's grandiose square. The afternoon is free for a late lunch and exploration. We regroup later in the day to tour the area surrounding the cathedral with a local guide. And this evening, we have the option to attend the pilgrim’s mass at the cathedral, and perhaps witness the swinging of the Botafumeiro. At just over five feet in height and 180 pounds, this incense censer is one of the largest in the world. Dinner is on your own tonight, allowing more time to explore the wonders of the city. Breakfast included.

Hiking: 5.9 miles, 3 hours; elevation gain/loss: 730’/930’; Driving: 1.25 hours.

Day 8

Visit Santiago’s bustling market and walk trails out to Cape Finisterre.

An early visit to Santiago’s bustling market allows us to see, smell and taste fresh produce of every imaginable variety. There is an incredible selection of seafood, meat, poultry, vegetables and fruit. We drive to Cape Finisterre, the final destination for many pilgrims who walked the Way of St. James. The Cape is also the historical “Land’s End” reached by pagan pilgrimages predating Christianity. Hillside trails lead out to the cape and lighthouse. We marvel at the spectacular views of the Costa da Morte (Coast of Death), so named for the innumerable shipwrecks over the centuries. After a hearty seafood lunch we return to Santiago, and the afternoon is free to discover the sights of the city. This evening we meet for a celebratory dinner at one of the area’s finest restaurants. All meals included.

Hiking: 3.2 miles, 2 hours; elevation gain/loss: 705’/410’; Driving: 3 hours.

Day 9

Our journey ends in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Our tour concludes with breakfast. Transfer on your own to Santiago’s airport, or continue your explorations of this marvelous region of Spain. Breakfast included.

Camino de Santiago – Spain Hiking Departures

Adventure Expert

Janel

I wanted our members to experience the best of the Camino without having to hike some of the boring sections that other itineraries follow. The Northern route is the best way to reach the magnificent Santiago de Compostela.

Fatima HE

Best parts of Camino de Santiago


We saw REI's itinerary and loved it. You get to see the best parts of 3 Caminos (Camino del Norte, Camino Primitivo and Camino Frances). We wanted to join a group that had all the details already arranged for us.

Read more reviews