St James' Way self-guided bicycling tour - Cycle the Camino de Santiago on your own departing Léon
This is the best of self-guided bike tours for any experienced bicyclist wanting a taste of the traditions and history of the "Camino de Santiago". For centuries, it has been used by pilgrims. One needs no religious beliefs, just curiosity and the wish to learn. On the route, the pilgrims are united by their course.
St James' pilgrimage Way or "Camino de Santiago" is listed as the main European Cultural Itinerary and scattered with delightful monuments such as old pilgrims' hospitals in Leon and Santiago de Compostela, we are constantly reminded that this route is the oldest, most celebrated and most frequented in Europe. It crosses the north of Spain beginning from the Pyrenees and provides views of breathtaking landscapes in the following regions of Navarra, Castile and León and Galicia, ancient monuments and most typical villages and cities from Pamplona to Burgos, Leon and to Santiago. Your accommodations are charming 2 and 3-star hotels, you may also choose some of the the highest quality: of three state-run Paradores on the bicycle route, two are very luxurious and the other hotels are of superior quality with a special charm. Savor the best of Spanish cuisine, traditional to the regions and accompanied by excellent wines from La Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. Your luggage will be transported from hotel to hotel.
You will get to know Spain´s most spectacular landscapes, historical monuments and charming villages pedaling on a bike.
FULLY SUPPORTED BIKE TOUR ITINERARY:
Day 1. Madrid-Léon
Meeting point our office in Juan Alvarez Mendizabal, 19 (The exact map location of our office will be sent to you) There, we give the bikes and provide transfer to the bus station in Madrid. All the necessary documents and information to do this memorable trip will be also given: a complete package including hotel vouchers, your touring bike with all accessories, detailed documentation with maps and a road book. Léon is 327km (207 miles) northwest of Madrid.
The bus ride takes 4 hours and a half.
León has abundant gastronomic and architectural richness - dinner is best enjoyed by having tapas in the bars located along the narrow streets of the Barrio Húmedo. The cathedral is a gem from the Gothic period with the 125 awesome stained-glass windows dating from the 13th century. Léon today is the gateway to the north-western routes of Galicia. Upon arrival there will be time for a stroll around the city, visiting the cathedral and collect our Pilgrim's Passports by bike accompanied by a glass of good regional wine.
Day 2. Astorga
49kms (31 miles) flat & rolling terrain.
Following a solid buffet breakfast, we leave today´s 49-km route takes us through classic Castilian landscapes, abundant in helm oaks, golden wheat fields and gentle ups and downs.
It is hard to get lost: the route never strays far from the N120 highway. The landscape in the first half of the route is relatively dry, but gets greener the further west you get; you will cross fields
full of diverse crops, such as wheat, corn, hops and wine grapes.
Wildlife is not a big feature of this first part of the trip, though you will see geckoes, birds of prey and lot of dairy cows!
Astorga was an important Roman centre, capital of the Maragateria region had as many hospitals as the much bigger city of Burgos. It hosts the Episcopal palace designed by Gaudi and today the pilgrim´s museum.
It is also worthwhile to visit the cathedral.
Day 3. Villafranca del Bierzo
75 kms(47miles) first big climb, rolling terrain.
Bicycling start after breakfast, we head from Astorga to Rabanal del Camino. There, the Camino starts to climb gently until it meets the first mountain on the way. Once you've reached the top leaving behind Foncebadón and Cruz de Ferro, you will enjoy a memorable downhill ride enjoying fantastic landscapes first to the mountain village of Acebo, then Molinaseca and finally Ponferrada. From there you will ride through the wine country of El Bierzo to Villafranca del Bierzo, where you will stop for the night.
The town is a historical and artistic monument, it was created to give refuge and sanctuary to the pilgrims before initiating the most difficult part of their pilgrimage. The monastery cloister is a jewel of the Renaissance.
Day 4. Portomarín
85 kms(53 miles) strenous uphill, descent and rolling terrain.
This is the most challenging day.
From Villafranca you ride slowly towards the mythical O'Cebreiro pass, the most demanding peak along the western section of the Camino. With a little patience it's more than possible to reach the top, but in any case, a taxi, for those on the self-guided trip can be an idea. From the top it's downhill all the way to Sarria, and on a rolling route you will reach Portomarín.
The older neighbourhoods once belonged to the
Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, but now lie submerged, covered by the waters of the Miño River dam.
Day 5. Arzua
51 kms(32 miles) Rolling terrain.
This day provides a lovely alternative to the previous day's hard work. Several easy and long up hills and down hills go through rolling terrain, giving cyclists a view of Galicia's rural landscape.
Day 6. Santiago de Compostela
40kms (25 miles) rolling terrain
Don't let the short length fool you; the final stage is short, but rather demanding! After approximately four hours of riding, cyclists become pilgrims upon arriving at the Pórtico de la Gloria ("The Façade of Glory") at the Cathedral of Santiago. After taking a breath (and celebrating with others arriving by foot and on horseback!), you can visit the Pilgrims' Office where you can obtain the "Compostela" Certificate which certifies you as an official pilgrim. Accommodation is centrally located, giving you the opportunity to explore the streets and bars of the historic centre after dark.
This city, without any doubt, is the most important of the Christian Middle Ages. It is world-wide renowned and each year, thousands of travelers come to visit its treasures.Santiago de Compostela, in the middle ages, the third most important city of Pilgrimage after Jersualem and Rome, attracts pilgrims from all over the world. Thousands of travelers come to visit its treasures each year. The now luxurious Parador, once a pilgrim´s hospital, was built by the Catholic Kings in 1501. It is adjacent to the Cathedral, in the Obradoiro Square which is the final meeting point for all roads that lead to Santiago.
Day 7. End of trip
Return to Madrid by bus or night train. Approximate transit time is 9 to 10 hours by bus.
Day 8. Madrid
Why not book on one of our exciting half-day Madrid City Tours or full day tour with the time you have to spare before your departure!
Total bicycling distance of the tour 298 kms (186 miles)
! Buen Camino!