Have you ever dreamed of doing the classic Camino de Compostela pilgrimage? Join us and walk the millennial path to the tomb of Saint James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
You walk parts of “Camino Francés” – the French road – together with a small group and Swedish tour guide. You live in simple but comfortable hotels and have the package sent between our accommodations to really enjoy the road. In total, you hike 114 kilometers of the almost 900 kilometer long hiking trail. The French road is described as the main road and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.
It was when the earthly remains of Jesus’ disciple, the Apostle James, were found that the pilgrims began to walk to his tomb. The first to make a pilgrimage was Gottskalk, bishop of Le Puy, in 950. Saint Birgitta also wandered here in the 14th century. The Way of St. James, as it is also called, has many starting points and routes, but all radiate together with Santiago de Compostela as the end point. The apostle’s symbol – the scallop – is used to mark the route of the trail.
To get your pilgrimage certificate “La Compostela” you must have walked at least 100 kilometers of the trail and received daily stamps in your pilgrim pass. This, together with sometimes somewhat sore feet and mostly happy smiles, is proof that one walks like a pilgrim towards the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela – accompanied by many happy cries and “buen camino”!
What does it take to be able to do the hike?
You walk an average of about 20 kilometers a day. The longest hike you do is 25 kilometers and the shortest 14 kilometers. The surface shifts between sand, gravel, asphalt and cobblestones. There are both uphill and downhill slopes on the road. When you send your luggage, you only need a lighter daypack. This together with well-worn hiking boots and a good mood facilitates the hike and you do not have to be an athlete to both manage and enjoy the hike.
Day 1: Departure from Scandinavia to the starting point of our hike – the small village of Sarria
You fly to Santiago de Compostela where you are met by your Swedish tour guide and beam together with the rest of the group – you then go by bus to the village of Sarria where the hike starts the next day. After check-in, there is time for questions and reflections before those who want to go out and have dinner together.
Day 2: Sarria to Portomarín – beech forest, medieval bridges and streams; big and small
You start the day by having the pilgrim pass stamped. This is done in churches, in some hotels, restaurants, tourist offices and in the town halls. When you are in Galicia, you must have two stamps per day to then be able to receive your pilgrimage certificate. Today the hike goes through small villages and after 14 kilometers you have reached the famous 100-kilometer stone which shows that it is 100 km left to Santiage de Compostela. The hike ends in Portomarín where, after crossing the 350 meter long bridge over the Miño river, you can enjoy a cold beer (there is very good non-alcoholic one in Spain) in good company. If you are unsure of which dessert to choose tonight, we recommend the classic almond cake! Today’s hike: About 6-7 hours at a comfortable pace. 22 kilometers. ( F )
Day 3: Portomarín to Palas de Rei – good slopes that take you to the highest point of the hike
Portomarín has an exciting past. In 1960, the small town was moved from the river bank up to the hill where it is today when dams were built to the Miño River, which flooded the entire city. Several buildings were moved stone by stone, including the beautiful church of San Nicolas from the 12th century and the Roman facade to the Church of San Pedro. When the water level is low you can still see the stone walls from the old houses. Today’s hike begins with a smooth and sometimes a bit tough climb. It is today that you should go to and past the highest point of the entire hike; 772 meters above sea level in the Ligondeberg chain. Before reaching the pass, you can make a detour to an ancient Celtic fortress and settlement with an outstanding view. Just before the village of Ligonde is the stone cross Crucero de Lameiros from 1670 and from here you follow the Camino stones to the Palas de Rei where you sleep tonight. Today’s hike: About 6-7 hours at a comfortable pace, 25 kilometers. (F )
Day 4: Palas de Rei to Melide – Roman churches, medieval castles and octopus
Today a slightly shorter hike awaits you, but with some both short and long up and down slopes. This particular hike is called in Spanish “etapa rompepiernas” which can be translated to bone-crushing day, but it is not that bad. So do not panic, you walk at a leisurely pace and enjoy the day with many beautiful views on the way to Melide. You pass several medieval bridges and walk through the small sleepy villages of Casanova and Leboreirp. Melide is one of the best places to try the local delicacy Pulpo á feira – squid. There are many famous “pulperias” in the village where you can recharge your batteries and eat squid sliced and served in olive oil with peppers and boiled potatoes. Today’s hike: About 3-4 hours, 15 kilometers ( F )
Day 5: Melide to Arzúa – churches, forest paths and streams
The shortest hiking day of the trip. After you leave Melide, there are several beautiful churches along the way where you can have your pilgrim pass stamped. The road is beautiful and you cross several streams and walk through the medieval town of Ribadoso before reaching your destination Arzúa. One of the city’s fine churches; Santa Maria or La Magdalena are perfect to visit to get today’s stamps in the pilgrim pass and also well worth a stop. Today’s hike: About 3-4 hours, 14 kilometers ( F )
Day 6: Arzúa to Amenal – churches and and quiet roads
You walk parts of the day under tall trees, beautiful forest and along streams and rivers past villages and smaller towns. During the hot day take the opportunity to make a stop and look into the Santa Irena Chapel to see the beautiful Santiago statue and enjoy the cool air. After Santa Irena, walk the remaining 5 kilometers on quiet roads and paths. The closer you get to Santiago de Compostela, the bigger and livelier the cities become, but today’s goal is a still small and quiet town, Amenal. Why not honor a traditional pilgrim menu for dinner today? A good and affordable alternative that works wonders for tired bodies and empty stomachs. Today’s hike: About 6-7 hours, 23 kilometers (F)
Day 7: Amenal to Santiago de Compostela – swimming at Lavacolla and views from the Mountains of Joy
You leave the Amenal in the morning and pass the village of Lavacolla where it is a tradition for pilgrims to swim in the Sionlla River in preparation for arriving in Santiago. You hike under tall eucalyptus trees and 3 kilometers from Santiago stands Monte de Gozo – the mountain of joy. Take a break at the large sculptures that adorn the height. From here you see the towers of the Cathedral of Santiago for the first time – now you are almost there! Upon arrival in the holy city, you will be accommodated for the coming night. Now you can go to the Pilgrim Office to get your Pilgrim Certificate. During the Middle Ages, mussel shells were handed out on arrival and that is why this is the symbol of pilgrims. Now the shells are used as a symbol and signpost on the caminon itself and you see them on all the signs that show the way. Many pilgrims also buy a shell and carry it on their backpack as a sign that they are on a pilgrimage. At 12 o’clock every day, it is then a pilgrimage mass when you, together with other pilgrims, contemplate your walk and feel the joy of having completed your walk and reached your goal. Santiago de Compostela is a lovely city to visit. Unique architecture and charming little streets where you meet other happy pilgrims. The old part of the city enchants with its medieval center. There are markets, alleys and lots of cozy restaurants serving tapas and ice cold beer or strong coffee. Inside the cathedral, in addition to the tomb of the apostle James, you can see the world’s largest incense burner, which weighs 50 kilos without incense and up to 80 kilos when it is filled and ready to turn over the aisle. Today’s hike: About 4-5 hours, 16 kilometers (F )
Day 8: Return trip
Today it’s time to go home. A transfer to the airport is included and then you will soon be home in Sweden again.
One night in double room including breakfast in Sarria
One night in double room including breakfast in Portomarín
One night in double room including breakfast in Palas de Rei
One night in double room including breakfast in Melide
One night in double room including breakfast in Arzúa
One night in double room including breakfast in Amenal
One night in a double room including breakfast in Santiago de Compostela