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3601
Spain

The Greatest Road in Europe: Camino De Santiago

Experience one of the world’s great walking routes as you learn about ancient cathedrals, religious icons and medieval Europe along the wondrous Camino De Santiago.
Rating (4.94)
Program No. 3601RJ
Length
14 days
Starts at
4,629
Flights start at
750
Spain

The Greatest Road in Europe: Camino De Santiago

Experience one of the world’s great walking routes as you learn about ancient cathedrals, religious icons and medieval Europe along the wondrous Camino De Santiago.
Length
14 days
Starts at
4,629
Flights start at
750
Program No. 3601 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 7 - Sep 20, 2021
Starting at
4,629
Sep 14 - Sep 27, 2021
Starting at
4,629
Oct 5 - Oct 18, 2021
Starting at
4,629
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 7 - Sep 20, 2021
Starting at
5,449
Sep 14 - Sep 27, 2021
Starting at
5,449
Oct 5 - Oct 18, 2021
Starting at
5,449

At a Glance

Over Roman causeways, medieval roads, wooden bridges and mountain passes, people for centuries have made their pilgrimage across northern Spain to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela -- the purported resting place of the apostle James -- to seek forgiveness of their sins. Following in footsteps that are more than 1,000 years old, walk the Camino de Santiago and experience the legends, architecture, food and wine along the greatest road in Europe.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Hiking 4-8 miles over mixed terrain; rocky and steep at times. Sturdy walking/hiking shoes are required. Elevations up to 4,900 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Experts discuss the mysterious legends of the Camino de Santiago and the medieval architecture of Leon.
  • Seek out the “Holy Galician Grail” in O'Cebreiro.
  • Savor Castilian cuisine in Leon.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Roads to Santiago, A Modern-Day Pilgrimage Through Spain
by Cees Nooteboom
An exhilarating but erudite portrait of modern and historic Spain. Nooteboom writes quite brilliantly of Spanish art, philosophy, history, architecture and culture, as well as of the people he encountered.
Wanderlust, A History of Walking
by Rebecca Solnit
Solnit's wide-ranging, literate and thoroughly enlightening essays on the multiple means of walking touches upon, among many things, the origins of bipedalism, famous flaneurs and walking as a form of rebellion. Terrific.
The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela
by William Melczer
This is the original guide used by 12th-century pilgrims along the sacred way, reprinted with an introduction by a professor of Medieval Studies, plus endnotes and a gazetteer. It's an excellent, hugely informative presentation of this curiosity.
The Camino Made Easy: Reflections of a Parador Pilgrim, Three Walking Tours on the Way of St. James through Spain and Portugal to Santiago de Compostela and Finisterre
by Olivia Pittet
A fascinating, detailed account of the author’s three walking tours to Santiago de Compostela and Finisterre on the path of St. James. Olivia Pittet describes her personal experience as well as thoughts and feelings, some quite intimate, of those she encounters. The book is rich in historical background, sprinkled with quotes from the likes of Keats, Dickens and Stevenson and contains several black and white photos.
Off the Road, A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim's Route Into Spain
by Jack Hitt
An American abroad, popular NPR contributor Hitt unleashes his wit and wonder in this account of his trek, 500-miles across Spain to Santiago de Compostela. Naturally, he falls in with an odd assortment of fellow pilgrims, and adventures ensue.
Pilgrim Stories, On and Off the Road to Santiago
by Nancy Louise Frey
The sights, sounds -- and meaning -- of modern journeys along the "Camino de Santiago," according to interviews with those who travel it.
Eyewitness Guide Northern Spain
by Eyewitness Guides
A literate, visually rich guide to Northern Spain from Galicia across Asturias and the Basque Country to La Rioja to the Pyrenees.
The Finest Wines of Rioja and Northwest Spain, A Regional Guide to the Best Producers and Their Wines
by Jesus Barquin
A detailed and informative guide to ancient and contemporary winemaking in Spain's most prominent wine region.
Pilgrimage to the End of the World, The Road to Santiago de Compostela
by Conrad Rudolph
An engaging, literary account of 11 weeks of travels from Le Puy along the way of St. James, 1,000 miles all told.
Steps Out of Time
by Katharine B. Soper
In her reflective memoir Soper recounts a secular pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago, detailing the fascinating history and traditions of the ancient way along with its breathtaking beauty, great food and extraordinary camaraderie.
Northern Spain Adventure Map
by National Geographic Maps
A nicely detailed, overview map of the western (coastal) part of Northern Spain and the Way of St. James at a scale of 1:500,000. Extends as far east as San Sebastian. One Side. 33x49 inches.
The Miracles of St. James, Translations from the Liber Sancti Jacobi
by Thomas Coffey (Editor)
The English translation of a Medieval writings on the pilgrimage to Santiago, and the miracles of St. James, from the Codex Calixtinus.
The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago, The Complete Cultural Handbook
by David Gitlitz, Linda Kay Davidson
A kilometer-by-kilometer guide to the route of St. James across northern Spain with copious information on the historical and artistic sites along the way. You probably won’t want it in your daypack, but in your suitcase it will be invaluable for previews of the following day and reflections on the preceding one.
Spain, A Traveler's Literary Companion
by Peter R. Bush (Editor)
A collection of 30 stories from a who’s who of contemporary Spanish literature, including writers from Galicia, Leon, the Basque Country, Madrid and Barcelona.
Pilgrimage: A Very Short Introduction
by Ian Reader
A quick, authoritative survey of the pilgrimage: its history, meaning and ongoing evolution.
A Traveller's History of Spain
by Juan Lalaguna
This survey of Spanish history features a useful chronology, historical gazetteer and a long section on contemporary life. It covers early settlements through the Romans, Goths and Moors to the present.
The Birds of the Iberian Peninsula
by Ernest Garcia, Eduardo De Juana
This definitive book on the birds of Iberia covers the status and distribution of each species in the region and also includes photos and introductory chapters on climate, habitats and the history of Iberian ornithology.
Travels with My Donkey
by Tim Moore
In this wickedly comic account of grand adventures on the 500-mile pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela with a French-speaking donkey, Moore salts his anecdotes of fellow travelers and grand adventures with an account of the history and culture of the medieval Way of St. James.
The Sun Also Rises
by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway's great novel, which encapsulates the angst of the post-WWI "Lost Generation," is the story of unmoored American and British expats travelling from Paris to Pamplona.
The Camino, A Journey of the Spirit
by Shirley MacLaine
The much-reincarnated, ever-brave entertainer treks 500-miles across Northern Spain on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, interweaving travelogue, commentary and journeys both actual and interior in this personal journal.
The Basque History of the World
by Mark Kurlansky
Kurlansky's engaging portrait of the seven provinces of Basque lands takes in everything from language to culinary heritage, role in the Spanish Civil War and seafaring traditions.
Paris to the Pyrenees
by David Downie
David Downie's spirited book is haunted by the Gallo-Roman forebears of modern France. On ancient trails through the forests of the rugged Morvan, they continued across the celebrated wine country of Burgundy and the centuries-old Via Podiensis on the Way of Saint James.
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14 days
13 nights
33 meals
12 B 9 L 12 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive & Transfer, Check-In, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Burgos
D
Hotel Rice Palacio de los Blasones

Activity note: Transfer time is approximately 2.5 hours. Hotel check-in is at 2:00 p.m. Up to 1.5 miles of city walking for 2 hours.

Afternoon: We will meet our Group Leader at 2:00 p.m. in the Burgos hotel lobby. If time permits, we will take an orientation stroll through the center of the city and visit the magnificent Gothic Cathedral. Orientation 6:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Unless otherwise noted, you can expect a wide array of types of meals including picnics, buffets, 3 course meals, tapas, etc. Breakfasts will offer a typical European-style breakfast buffet with breads, cheeses, cold cuts, yogurt, fruit, cereals, juice, milk, coffee, tea, and water. Please note that water is included in the program cost at all meals. The Group Leader and a local expert will lead the hikes and walks. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: We will enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Rioja District
Burgos
B,L,D
Hotel Rice Palacio de los Blasones

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 100 miles, around 2 hours roundtrip. Up to 3.1 miles of walking for 2 hours in villages and countryside trails.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will drive by motorcoach to Cirueña, and walk to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. We will enjoy a field trip of the town center and visit the cathedral.

Lunch: We will enjoy a light lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll continue by motorcoach through the Rioja region and take in its stunning landscape. We’ll stop to pay a visit to a traditional local wine cellar, where we will learn about its operations and enjoy a Rioja wine tasting before returning to Burgos.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
The Oca Mountains & the Shrine of San Juan
Burgos
B,L,D
Hotel Rice Palacio de los Blasones

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 30 miles, under 1 hour. Up to 7.8 miles of walking for 4 hours on mountain trails (the longest walk of the program).

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will drive by motorcoach to the edge of the Oca Mountains and set out to walk to the shrine of San Juan de Ortega, with its beautiful Romanesque church and monastery ruins.

Lunch: We will enjoy a picnic lunch while the trail.

Afternoon: Free Time in Burgos. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: Hotel meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Castrojeriz, Meseta, Fromista, Transfer to Leon
Leon
B,L,D
NH Plaza Mayor

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 110 miles, around 3 hours total. Up to 5.6 miles of walking for 4 hours through the flat lands and rolling hills of the Meseta.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will depart Burgos by private motorcoach to Castrojeriz. Along the way, we will view the evocative landscape of the great plains of Castile. From Castrojeriz, we will walk through the flat lands and rolling hills of the Meseta (the plateau) to the border of the province of Palencia.

Lunch: We will enjoy a picnic on the trail.

Afternoon: We will continue by private motorcoach to visit one of the architectural gems of the program, the perfect Romanesque church of Fromista. After observing the church, we will continue on to Leon and check into our next hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
The Treasures of Leon, Free Time
Leon
B,D
NH Plaza Mayor

Activity note: Up to 2 miles of city walking for 3 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will set out to walk through the former Roman garrison of Leon, including a stop at the Gothic cathedral. With its impressive stained glass windows that rival that of Chartres, it is the purest example of Gothic style in Spain. We’ll also see the Pantheon of the Kings, which contains some of the finest medieval frescoes in Europe, remarkably preserved and still in their original setting. We’ll view the exterior of the Casa Botines, an uncharacteristically restrained modernist building by the great Catalan architect, Gaudí.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own in Leon.

Afternoon: Enjoy Free Time in Leon. Your program staff will give you additional ideas of what to see and do.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Natural Park of Somiedo, Brana de Mumian
Leon
B,L,D
NH Plaza Mayor

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 130 miles, about 4 hours roundtrip. Up to 4.7 miles of walking for 4.5 hours on trails through the natural park.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will drive to the beautiful region of Austurias for a field trip to the memorable Natural Park of Somiedo. We will walk the foothills of the Picos de Europa to a most picturesque shepherd’s village, Branade Mumian, with a magnificent view from the mountain range of the Cordillera Cantabrica. This reserve has the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation, and it is one of Spain’s most breathtaking settings.

Lunch: We will enjoy a picnic on the trail.

Afternoon: We’ll descend into the town of Coto de Buenamadre, then return to Leon by motorcoach.

Dinner: Hotel meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Puente de Orbigo, Paso Honroso, Molinaseca, Ponferrada
Ponferrada
B,L,D
Hotel Aroi Bierzo Plaza

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 65 miles, over 1 hour total. Up to 5.8 miles of walking for 3 hours in villages and on dirt trails.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will depart Leon to Puente de Orbigo, where we will walk across the impressive medieval bridge Paso Honroso. We’ll continue by motorcoach for a field trip to the walled city of Astorga, where we will have some free time to explore this city on our own. A good place to begin is at the neo-gothic Episcopal Palace, built by Gaudí, which houses a museum on the Camino de Santiago.

Lunch: We will enjoy a picnic on the trail.

Afternoon: We will continue to the edge of the Leon Mountains, one of the main natural barriers of the road. Over the pass Cruz de Hierro, or the Iron Cross, we will find one of the oldest monuments on the Camino. We will make a stop to walk through the wildest scenery of the program to the village of Molinaseca. We’ll then continue on to the hotel in Ponferrada.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Ponferrada.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Villafranca del Bierzo, Iglesia de Santiago, Free Time
Ponferrada
B,L,D
Hotel Aroi Bierzo Plaza

Activity note: Minimal driving. Up to 5.9 miles of walking for 2.5 hours through vineyards and villages.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will transfer to Camponaraya for a field trip walk on an effortless trail through vast vineyards to Cacabelos. Continuing by motorcoach to Pieros, we will walk to Villafranca del Bierzo. Before entering the town, we’ll see the Iglesia de Santiago, a place where pilgrims who could not continue on to Santiago de Compostela due to health reasons could receive a special absolution.

Lunch: We’ll enjoy a light meal at a rural restaurant and shop producing and promoting local products like wine, grappa, bottled vegetables, and fruits.

Afternoon: We will then return to Ponferrada for Free Time.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Ponferrada.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
O'Cebreiro, Samos Monastery, Transfer to Sarria
Sarria
B,L,D
Hotel Alfonso IX

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 50 miles, over 1 hour total. Up to 7.5 miles of walking for 4 hours on trails in nature over rolling hills.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will set out for Galicia by motorcoach through O’Cebreiro. We will stop in this mystical place to discover its pre-Romanesque church and learn about the harsh traditional way of life in the Galician mountains, exploring its typical dwellings and thatched stone huts that now house an ethnographic museum. After a short drive, we will start walking along the pilgrim’s way.

Lunch: We will enjoy a picnic on the trail.

Afternoon: We will continue our walk towards Triacastela. From here, we’ll continue by motorcoach to the hotel in Sarria.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Sarria, Portomarin, Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela
B,L,D
Hotel Virxe da Cerca

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 160 miles, around 2.5 hours total. Up to 4.4 miles of walking for 4 hours on the pilgrim's path through undulating and picturesque countryside fields and meadows. Town walking in Santiago de Compostela.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will start the walk on the pilgrim's road right from the hotel in Sarria, the starting point of the most popular section of the pilgrimage: the Last 100 Kilometers. We will walk some steep uphill, and then follow the undulating terrain in a picturesque countryside along cultivated fields and cows grazing in the meadows. The lane is flanked by chestnut and oak trees. Arriving at Lavandeira, we will pick up the motorcoach and drive to the pretty town of Portomarin, located on the banks of the Rio Mino.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will check into our next hotel in the center of town and walk to the Cathedral of Santiago, where the steps of pilgrims have aimed for centuries. We’ll then continue by motorcoach to the center of town and walk along a paved road, the final modest stretch to the Cathedral of Santiago.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Santiago de Compostela.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Free Time
Santiago de Compostela
B,D
Hotel Virxe da Cerca

Activity note: Up to 1.5 miles of walking for 2 hours in town.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Today’s walking field trip includes a visit to the magnificent Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, one of the finest examples of both Romanesque and Baroque art in Spain, set in the monumental Praza do Obradoiro. Led by an expert, we will explore the cathedral, reputed to be the burial place of Saint James the Great, one of the apostles.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: Enjoy Free Time in Santiago de Compostela. Your program staff will give you additional ideas of what to see and do.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Cabo Finisterre
Santiago de Compostela
B,L,D
Hotel Virxe da Cerca

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving approximately 100 miles, around 2 hours roundtrip. Up to 2.1 miles of walking for 1 hour on coastal roads and in town.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will transfer to Finisterre, which translates literally to “end of the world.” After only a few miles, we’ll pass the picturesque fisherman's village Fisterra, then reach the cape Cabo Finisterre.

Lunch: At a local seafood restaurant.

Afternoon: We will return to Santiago by motorcoach. The remainder of the day is free for packing or one last walk around Santiago.

Dinner: We will enjoy a farewell reception and tapas dinner at the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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