Cycle the Camino de Santiago

This 500 mile route stretching through the north of Spain has been witness to thousands of pilgrims each making their way to Santiago de Compostela’s Cathedral, the final restring place of St James.  The pilgrimage is believed by some to be one of three pilgrimages for which the sins of the pilgrim will be forgiven.

Many people will choose to walk the route and complete in several stages or join it at a later point just in time to earn the compostela (certificate of accomplishment).  The minimum you need to complete to earn this is 100 km (walking) or 200 km (cycling).

santiago

Cathedral Santiago de Compostela. Photo by Jose Luis Cernadas Iglesias

We have found the perfect cycling itinerary which covers the last 200 km and takes 7 days although you will actually cycle 280 km in total.

Day 1

Arrive in Bilbao and if you have time, take in the wonderful Guggenheim Museum and then off to El Pero Chico for a delicious meal with friendly service (and also popular with Frank Gehry while he oversaw progress on the Guggenheim).

Day 2

Make your way to Leon just in time for lunch which you could take at Alfonso Valderas, the city’s most famous restaurant for salt cod prepared around 25 different ways!  We love the pil-pil version.  After lunch, you will cycle to Astorga across a section of the Meseta Plains.  A great place to head for food in the evening is La Peseta which serves local dishes but with cheaper menus for pilgrims!

Day 3

You will cycle across the Biezro Hills stopping at the Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross) at 1482m, the highest point along the trail.  It’s traditional at this point to leave a stone in prayer.

Day 4

Make your way to O’Cebreiro where you will find unusual stone houses with thatched roofs which mark the entry to Galicia.  You will then cycle to Tricastela and on to Samos.  Samos is a lovely village built around the very fine Benedictine Monasterio de Samos and well worth a visit when you’re there.

Days 5 & 6

The next 2 days will be spend cycling through the unspoilt landscape of Galicia through medieval villages, taking in Portomarin and Azura.  You may want to see San Nicolas in Portomarin, the church which was re-built stone by stone to rescue it from the reservoir which was to be flooded.  In Azura, head to Casa Theodora, run by brothers Jesus and Gabriel, for a well earned home cooked meal.

Day 7

Today you will reach your destination: Santiago!  Santiago de Compostela (Old Town) in a UNESCO World Heritage site and so there is lots to explore, including of course its Cathedral.  Around every corner you will discover something new and so you may want to extend your tour to relax and take in the sights at a more leisurely pace.

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