Camino Francés in León | Wise Pilgrim Guide to the Camino de Santiago

Castilla y León / León

The unceremonious crossing into the province of León is by way of the bridge over the Río Valderaduey.

León, tucked into the far northwest corner of Castilla and León, was formed from the old Kingdom of the same name. The Meseta begins to wind down, and soon the mountain ranges that form its border with Asturias and Galicia will come into sharp focus.

Leon Flag

Sahagún

Distance to Santiago: 
360.70
10.10km
5.10kms.
Altitude: 
824

If you choose to spend the night in Sahagún do your best to explore the town, it is not the prettiest of places but there are a few gems hiding about that give you a glimpse of its illustrious past. At one time it rivaled Burgos and León in importance and grandeur.

For reasons unknown the town hall has drawn the camino path through town in a way that skips nearly every building worth seeing, and which bypasses the plaza mayor entirely. If you want to explore you will have to leave the marked path.

Fiesta: 

Market day is Saturday. Winter pilrims can celebrate San Tirso on the 28th of January. San Juan de Sahagún on the 12th and 13th of June. Fiesta de Peregrina on the 2nd of July, and San Lorenzo on the 9th and 10th of August.

Notice: 

A very nice certificate is available from the Santuario de la Virgen Peregrina on your way out of Sahagún, a type of half-way Compostela. See the map for the location as it is not on the camino proper.

History: 

Sahagún owes its name to the 4th century martyr San Facundo, who along with San Primitivo were buried nearby. Because of this it has seen more than its share of battles between Christians and Muslims. Although the Christians ultimately won out, it was not before the town changed hands no fewer than five times. Each turnover saw the destruction of churches and their reconstruction. Today only 4 of the original 9 churches survive.

Photo in Sahagún on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue de Peregrinos Cluny
Arco, 2 Antiguo Iglesia de la Trinidad

Municipal
64 5 Photo in Albergue de Peregrinos Cluny on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue Viatoris
Arco Travesía, 25

Private
50 7 Photo in Albergue Viatoris on the Camino de Santiago
3 Hospederia Santa Cruz
Antonio Nicolas, 40

Parochial
12 8 Photo in Hospederia Santa Cruz on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Hospederia Santa Cruz on the Camino de Santiago
4 Pedro Ponce
Tineo

Camping
3.35
5 Hostal Domus Viatoris
Sahagún-Arriondas

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Domus Viatoris on the Camino de Santiago
6 Hostal Alfonso VI
Antonio Nicolás, 4

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Alfonso VI on the Camino de Santiago
7 Hostal La Codorniz
Constitución, 97

Hostal
Photo in Hostal La Codorniz on the Camino de Santiago
8 Hotel Puerta de Sahagún
Ctra. de Burgos

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Puerta de Sahagún on the Camino de Santiago
9 Casa Rural Arturo I
Arco, 72

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural Arturo I on the Camino de Santiago
10 Casa Rural Los Balcones del Camino
Constitución, 53

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural Los Balcones del Camino on the Camino de Santiago
11 Hostal Escarcha
Regina Franco, 12

Hostal
12 Hostal La Bastide du Chemin
Arco, 66

Hostal
Photo in Hostal La Bastide du Chemin on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Hostal La Bastide du Chemin on the Camino de Santiago
13 Albergue El Labriego
Doctores Bermejo y Calderón, 9

Private
20 8

Straight along the Camino Real or turn Right for the Via Trajana

0.60kms.

Leaving Sahagún cross over the Río Cea. The camino becomes something of a confusion just short of Calzada de Coto, which lies to the north of the A-231. You will find yourself standing at a large highway interchange (4.4km from Sahagún) with a brick bus-stop and very little signage to point the way. Distances indicated below are from Sahagún to Reliegos, though the Via Trajana can also bypass Relíegos and go directly to Mansilla de las Mulas without adding any distance The two options rejoin in Reliegos, or Mansilla de las Mulas.

‌The Camino Real - 30.3

Photo of △ on Modern Route ▷ for Via Trajana on the Camino de Santiago

Calzadilla de los Hermanillos

Distance to Santiago: 
348.20
23.70km
Altitude: 
894
The Road: 

The camino from Calzidalla once went directly to Mansilla de la Mulas, bypassing Reliegos. The route proved to be less desirable than going first to Reliegos which is close enough. The split occurs 1km before arriving at Reliegos and there may still exist conflicting arrows: to get to Reliegos keep straight at a four-way intersection or to go to Mansilla turn right. Both routes are the same distance to Mansilla.

Name Beds Price
1 Albergue de Calzadilla de los Hermanillos
Mayor, 28

Municipal
22 Donativo Photo in Albergue de Calzadilla de los Hermanillos on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue Vía Trajana
Mayor, 57

Private
20 15 Photo in Albergue Vía Trajana on the Camino de Santiago
3 Casa Rural Casa El Cura
La Carretera, 13

Casa Rural
17

Bercianos del Real Camino

Distance to Santiago: 
350.60
7.50km
Altitude: 
855

The name of the town tells us that the original inhabitants came from the Bierzo area, and that it is situated along the Camino Real, or Royal Camino. This designation has nothing at all to do with royalty but is rather a term given to primary roads that met a certain metric for size; much like versions of our modern day National highways.

The Iglesia de San Salvador contains a sculpture of St. John the Baptist. The original church tower very nearly lasted into the 21st c., but not quite. The replacement is an uninspiring steel bell tower.

Name Beds Price
1 Albergue de Peregrinos de Bercianos
Santa Rita, 11

Parochial
46 Donativo Photo in Albergue de Peregrinos de Bercianos on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue Santa Clara
Iglesia, 3

Private
19 10* Photo in Albergue Santa Clara on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Santa Clara on the Camino de Santiago
3 Hostal Rivero
Mayor, 12

Hostal

El Burgo Ranero

Distance to Santiago: 
343.10
12.70km
Altitude: 
879

As far as the eye can tell the only thing keeping El Burgo Ranero on the map is the business brought in by the camino; the wheat and wool business that once sustained it has been replaced by mechanization.

Although the church in town was robbed of its treasures long ago (some are preserved in the León Cathedral Museum) the bells still ring, and an ever aging congregation turns up daily.

Notice: 

If you are passing through at the right time of year (late May) take a close look at the stork nests on the tower. If you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of the babies waiting for lunch.

The Road: 

The camino between El Burgo and Reliegos is along a manicured path lined with trees. Those trees, unfortunately, are on the wrong side of the path, so on sunny summer days you are exposed: bring ample amounts of water.

History: 

El Burgo Ranero owes it’s existence to both wheat and wool. Of the two it was the wheat (and the granaries that came with) that gave the town its name; though other historians say the name is derived from the same root that gives us the word frog, rana; the wetlands at the far end of town are full of them. In the 10th century sheep were introduced in massive quantities, so much so that it was the largest source of business for most of the region. Migration of the herd started north of here in the mountains and continued south to the extremes of Extremadura.

Photo in El Burgo Ranero on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue de Peregrinos Domenico Laffi
Mayor, 3

Municipal
28 Donativo Photo in Albergue de Peregrinos Domenico Laffi on the Camino de Santiago
2 Hospedería Jacobea El Nogal
Fray Pedro, 44

Association
30 8 Photo in Hospedería Jacobea "El Nogal" on the Camino de Santiago
3 Albergue La Laguna
La Laguna, 12

Private
18 9
4 Hostal El Peregrino
Fray Pedro del Burgo, 36

Hostal
Photo in Hostal El Peregrino on the Camino de Santiago
5 Casa Rural Piedras Blancas
Fray Pedro del Burgo, 32

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural Piedras Blancas on the Camino de Santiago
6 Hotel Castillo El Burgo
Autovía A231 km 34

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Castillo El Burgo on the Camino de Santiago

Reliegos

Distance to Santiago: 
330.40
5.90km
Altitude: 
832

Bar Elvis, quite possibly the most famous bar on the whole of the camino, is located in the main square. The owner is quite a character and if you’ve brought your sharpie marker get to scribbling, this is one of the few places where graffiti is sanctioned.

Photo in Reliegos on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price
1 Albergue de Reliegos D Gaiferos
Escuela

Municipal
45 5 Photo in Albergue de Reliegos D Gaiferos on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue La Parada
Escuela, 7

Private
16 9 Photo in Albergue La Parada on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue La Parada on the Camino de Santiago
3 Albergue Piedras Blancas II
Cantas

Private
10 9 Photo in Albergue Piedras Blancas II on the Camino de Santiago
4 Albergue Gil
Cantas, 30

Private
14 8 Photo in Albergue Gil on the Camino de Santiago
5 Albergue de Ada
Real, 42

Private
10 8 Photo in Albergue de Ada on the Camino de Santiago
6 Albergue Vive tu Camino
Real, 56

Private
20 9 Photo in Albergue Vive tu Camino on the Camino de Santiago

Mansilla de las Mulas

Distance to Santiago: 
324.50
4.80km
Altitude: 
798

There is a nice place for a swim in the river in the northwest corner of Mansilla. Cross over the small pedestrian bridge towards the camping place (not the road bridge that the camino crosses) located in the northwest corner of town. Getting there will take you through several of Mansilla’s small plazas.

The Road: 

Mansilla still has large sections of its defensive walls, turn back when leaving town to get the best view of them.

Much of the way between here and Puente de Villarente is adjacent to the road.

History: 

Mansilla traces its history back to Roman times, and the walls that continue to surround most of the city bear evidence to its importance; it was both a layover on the Roman road to León and a market town (mostly mules).

Photo in Mansilla de las Mulas on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue de Mansilla de las Mulas
Puente, 5

Municipal
76 5 Photo in Albergue de Mansilla de las Mulas on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue El Jardín del Camino
Camino de Santiago, 1

Private
32 5/10 Photo in Albergue El Jardín del Camino on the Camino de Santiago
3 Camping Esla
Fuente de los Prados

Camping
4 La Pensión de Blanca
Picos de Europa, 4

Pension
14 Photo in La Pensión de Blanca on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in La Pensión de Blanca on the Camino de Santiago
5 La Casa de los Soportales
Arrabal, 9

Hotel Rural
6 Hostal Alberguería del Camino
Concepción, 12

Hostal
7 Albergue Gaia
Constitución, 28

Private
18 5 Photo in Albergue Gaia on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Gaia on the Camino de Santiago
8 Casa Rural Las Singer
José Álvarez, 6

Casa Rural
Things to see
Fortified Walls Photo of Fortified Walls on the Camino de Santiago

Villamoros de Mansilla

Distance to Santiago: 
319.70
1.70km
Altitude: 
799
The Road: 

If you want to escape the busy road for a bit, bear left at the start of town and follow the arrows through the village. Doing so doesn’t add any distance to your journey but spares you 500m of the road.

When entering Puente de Villarente it is now the bridge, not the river; that poses the greatest threat to pilgrims. Be sure to follow the arrows before the road bridge, they will direct you towards a smaller pedestrian crossing which is a great deal safer.

Puente de Villarente

Distance to Santiago: 
318.00
4.10km
Altitude: 
811
The Road: 

As you are leaving Puente behind you, keep an eye out for arrows pointing you along a trail to your right-hand side, and up a small hill towards Arcahueja. It is fairly well marked but is along a service road that is often lined with parked trucks and the way might be obscured.

History: 

The river here once posed a serious threat to pilgrims when waters ran high and as a result it became home to several pilgrim hospices.

Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue San Pelayo
El Romero, 9

Private
56 8 Photo in Albergue "San Pelayo" on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue El Delfin Verde
carretera general 601, 15 B

Private
24 5 Photo in Albergue El Delfin Verde on the Camino de Santiago
3 Hostal La Montaña
Camino de Santiago, 17

Hostal

Valdelafuente

Distance to Santiago: 
312.60
3.90km
Altitude: 
864

Valdelafuente is not directly on the camino, but rather a few hundred meters off.

Photo in Valdelafuente on the Camino de Santiago

Alto del Portillo

869

It is from the Alto del Portillo that you get your first glimpse of León. It is customary at such a height to search for the spires of León's magnificent cathedral.

Puente de Castro

Distance to Santiago: 
308.70
3.00km
Altitude: 
826

Puente Castro, notable for its bridge, has now grown large enough to merge with one of León’s outer barrios (Santa Ana). There are plenty of places to take a rest and enjoy a beverage; there are still a few kilometers to go before arriving at the center of León.

History: 

The barrio and the bridge derive their name from the old Jewish quarter that was once here.

Name Beds Price
1 Albergue Santo Tomás de Canterbury
La Lastra, 53

Private
59 8 Photo in Albergue Santo Tomás de Canterbury on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Santo Tomás de Canterbury on the Camino de Santiago

León

Distance to Santiago: 
305.70
3.70km
Altitude: 
842

León is now a fully modernized city home to more than half of the population in the province and like Burgos it is worthy of more time than the average pilgrim spends here. To explore in full would take many days, to cover the basics at least two. If you are keen to keep your feet moving every day, consider spending an extra afternoon in León and setting out after lunch for a half day of walking. Between here and Astorga there are two routes to choose from and plenty of albergues.

The Catedral de Santa María de la Regla is a magnificent example of Gothic architecture whose multicolored windows are not to be missed, particularly on a sunny day when the interior is filled with light. The Virgen Blanca on the main portico is a reproduction, the original is in a chapel behind the main altar. You’ll also notice that quite a few sculptures have been removed for restoration.

The Iglesia de San Isidoro is the other not to be missed church; it houses the relics of San Isidoro and is the site of the Panteón de los Reyes where 23 of the Leonese monarchy are resting. It also preserves some of the best, and most intriguing, 13th century Romanesque frescoes as well as the easternmost Holy Door on the Camino Francés.

Fans of Gaudi will not want to miss the Casa de Los Botines, just a short stroll from the Cathedral, and perhaps capture a selfie with a bronze statue of the architect seated on a bench in front.

The best food and the liveliest crowds are in the Barrio Humedo, a twisted knot of narrow streets near the Plaza Mayor whose well-earned name implies that the drinks are overflowing. The region of León is unique in Spain as the only one that grows hops for the production of beer. A few new breweries have appeared on the scene in recent years (Four Lions is recommended) and most produce a local wheat beer known as Zerep.

As you walk around town you will notice several types of plaques embedded in the pavement. One is the impression of the left foot of a Roman soldier (their marches begain with the left foot) and marks the boundary of the original Roman settlement and wall. The other, seen closer to the Plaza Mayor, is a symbol of the peninsula and bears the Hebrew word ספרד which translates as Sefarad, the Jewish name for Spain. It was that Jewish population that was expelled from Spain under the Alhambra Decree in 1492. The marker indicates the start of what was once the original Jewish barrio of León.

Fiesta: 

León hosts one of the more specacular Semana Santa celebrations to be seen along the Camino Francés.

The Road: 

Perhaps the best place to get your bearings is the Cathedral, and the familiar yellow arrows are visible directly opposite the principle facade. The journey through town is short, passing first the Church of San Isidoro and later the Parador (once hospital) of San Marcos before crossing over the Río Bernesga and leaving the city limits. That said, it is several more kilometers through the suburbs of Trobajo and La Virgen.

History: 

Nearly one thousand years ago, the city of León was the jewel in the crown of the most powerful king in the Iberian peninsula, at the time a fractured version of what would not become a unified nation for several hundred years. One thousand years before that, it was a Roman settlement critical in protecting the wealth of gold that came from the mines to the west of Ponferrada. Only briefly was it under Muslim control and it holds the distinction of being the seat of Europe’s first democratic parliament.

Photo in León on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in León on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in León on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue Ciudad de León
Campos Góticos

Closed
64 5 León - Albergue Ciudad de León León - Albergue Ciudad de León
2 Albergue de Peregrinos de las Benedictinas - Sta. María de Carbajal
Pl. Santa Maria del Camino, 11

Parochial
132 5
3 Albergue San Francisco de Asis
Alcalde Miguel Castaños, 4

Parochial
90 10 Photo in San Francisco de Asis Fundación Ademar on the Camino de Santiago
4 Albergue Unamuno
San Pelayo, 15

Private
85 10
5 Albergue Leon Hostel
Ancha, 8

Private
20 12/14 Photo in Albergue Leon Hostel on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Leon Hostel on the Camino de Santiago
6 Hostel Urban Río Cea
Legión VII, 6

Private
20 18/20* Photo in Hostel Urban Río Cea on the Camino de Santiago
7 Albergue Muralla Leonesa
Tarifa, 5

Private
80 10 Photo in Albergue Muralla Leonesa on the Camino de Santiago
8 Hotel NH Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor, 7-11

Hotel
Photo in Hotel NH Plaza Mayor on the Camino de Santiago
9 Parador San Marcos
Plaza San Marcos, 7

Parador
Photo in Parador San Marcos on the Camino de Santiago
10 Albergue Check in León
Alcalde Miguel Castaño, 88

Private
40 10
11 Hostal Albany
Paloma, 13

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Albany on the Camino de Santiago
12 Hostal Alda Casco Antiguo
Cardenal Landázuri, 11

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Alda Casco Antiguo on the Camino de Santiago
13 Hotel Le Petit León
Pozo, 2

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Le Petit León on the Camino de Santiago
14 Pensión La Torre
La Torre, 3

Pension
Photo in Pensión La Torre on the Camino de Santiago
15 Hotel Real Colegiata de San Isidoro
Plaza Santo Martino, 5

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Real Colegiata de San Isidoro on the Camino de Santiago
16 Hostal Quevedo
Quevedo, 13

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Quevedo on the Camino de Santiago
17 Hostal Londres
Roma, 1

Hostal
25 15 Photo in Hostal Londres on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Hostal Londres on the Camino de Santiago
18 Hostal Misericordia
Misericordia, 15

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Misericordia on the Camino de Santiago

La Virgen del Camino

Distance to Santiago: 
298.70
0.60km
3.60kms.
Altitude: 
910

La Virgen del Camino is named for the miraculous sighting of the Virgen by a local shepherd. His vision has been translated into sculptures several times by artists. One is here in the modern looking church, and another is in the León Cathedral (in the Chapel where the daily mass is held).

The sculptures are stunning and bear a resemblance to La Piedad by Michelangelo, with the notable exception that Jesus is facing downwards.

Photo in La Virgen del Camino on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue D.Antonino y Dña. Cinia
Padre Eustoquio, 16

Municipal
40 7
2 Hotel Villapaloma
Astorga, 47

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Villapaloma on the Camino de Santiago
3 Hostales Plaza y San Froilán
Astorga, 98

Hostal
Photo in Hostales Plaza y San Froilán on the Camino de Santiago
4 Hostal Central
Astorga, 85

Hostal
5 Hostal Plaza
Astorga, 96

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Plaza on the Camino de Santiago
6 Hostal Julio César
Cervantes, 6

Hostal

SPLIT: Scenic Route or Road Route

3.80km
1.60kms.
890

When you get to the Basilica de la Virgen del Camino you will cross the busy road and continue on a small access road. In 300m you are presented with the choice between two routes. The painting of yellow arrows here is confusing, and there is zero official signage to indicate your options. Distances are indicated from La Virgen del Camino to Puente de Órbigo where they converge.

‌The SCENIC ROUTE - 27 (green below)

Photo of SPLIT: Walkers Route or Road Route on the Camino de Santiago

Oncina de la Valdoncina

Distance to Santiago: 
297.30
5.70km
Altitude: 
871

Manuel runs a small donativo and geodesic kiosk in town. Drinks and snacks available, as well as some souvenir stuff.

Chozas de Abajo

Distance to Santiago: 
291.60
4.30km
Altitude: 
882

One bar, located 50m off the camino to the left and well signed in both directions.

Villavante

Distance to Santiago: 
277.70
4.30km
Altitude: 
837
The Road: 

The camino turns right and into Villavante, though some old yellow arrows continue straight ahead (painted on the elevated irrigation canal). The reason for the detour around town is to avoid a surface crossing of the dangerous rail lines at the edge of town. The distance added is worth the elevated crossing, as the trains pass deceptively fast.

Photo in Villavante on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price
1 Albergue Santa Lucía
Doctor Vélez, 17

Private
29 9 Photo in Albergue Santa Lucía on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Santa Lucía on the Camino de Santiago

Hospital de Orbigo

Distance to Santiago: 
273.50
4.90km
Altitude: 
823
Fiesta: 

A medieval jousting competition is held in early June, recreating the saga of Don Suero.

The Road: 

‌Minor Detour via Villares de Órbigo

When leaving town, the camino once again splits. The preferred (though unofficial) path is to the right, passing through nearby Villares de Órbigo and scenic countryside. Both routes now rejoin in Santibañez, though if you take the road route it is also possible to stay on the road all the way to San Justo de la Vega. Unless it has been particularly rainy the route through Santibañez is the recommended and most scenic route. For either option, take plenty of water when departing Santibañez.

History: 

Where there are rivers with bridges there is always history to be found. Not much exists on paper, but historians theorize about Suevi and Visigoths battling in the 5th century as well as a few other skirmishes during the 10th century. All of these have been overshadowed by the much more romantic and noble story of Don Suero.

Don Suero de Quiñones was a Leonese knight who made history here in the summer of 1434, though the feats were not recorded until 1588. During that 150 years, we can assume that exaggerations were made, but that is of no matter when you are standing on the bridge and imagining a scene out of Don Quixote.

It was here that Don Suero and nine of his fellow knights defended this pass against all challengers; the event was staged but very much real and was approved by the king as a means for Don Suero to prove his love his lady, Leonor de Tovar. He and his men were determined to break 300 lances but after 166 of the 700 scheduled battles they were too injured to reach their goal. Don Suero, also injured in the event, ultimately set off for Santiago on his own pilgrimage.

Photo in Hospital de Orbigo on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Hospital de Orbigo on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue Parroquial Karl Leisner
Álvarez Vega, 32

Parochial
90 5 Photo in Albergue Parroquial Karl Leisner on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue San Miguel
Alvarez Vega, 35

Private
36 7 Photo in Albergue San Miguel on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue San Miguel on the Camino de Santiago
3 Albergue Verde
Fueros de León, 76

Private
26 9 Photo in Albergue Verde on the Camino de Santiago
4 Albergue La Encina
Suero de Quiñones

Private
22 9.5 Photo in Albergue La Encina on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue La Encina on the Camino de Santiago
5 Hotel El Paso Honroso
Carraterra N-120

Hotel
Photo in Hotel El Paso Honroso on the Camino de Santiago
6 Hostal Don Suero de Quiñones
Álvarez Vega, 1

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Don Suero de Quiñones on the Camino de Santiago
7 Bed & Breakfast El Caminero
Sierra Pambley, 56

Casa Rural
8 Casa Rural Nuestra Señora de Lourdes
Sierra Pambley, 40

Casa Rural
Things to see
Puente de Órbigo Photo of Puente de Órbigo on the Camino de Santiago

Santibáñez de Valdeiglesias

Distance to Santiago: 
268.60
7.70km
Altitude: 
848

The church is often locked up, but if you ask around for the key the locals are always happy to unlock it for pilgrims.

The Road: 

Between here and San Justo de la Vega there are no facilities, but a small kiosk run by pilgrims operates during the busier seasons. Just before the steep descent into San Justo de la Vega is the Cruceiro de Santo Toribio overlooking Astorga in the distance. From this vantage point, you can see the Cathedral of Astorga and the string of towns that dot the camino as it crosses the mountains ahead.

Photo in Santibáñez de Valdeiglesias on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price
1 Albergue Parroquial Santibánez Valdeiglsias
Caromonte

Parochial
20 5 Santibáñez de Valdeiglesias - Albergue Parroquial Santibánez Valdeiglsias
2 Albergue Camino Francés
Real, 68

Private
14 7 Photo in Albergue Camino Francés on the Camino de Santiago

Astorga

Distance to Santiago: 
256.90
2.40km
Altitude: 
878

In Astorga you may notice a sudden increase in the number of pilgrims, new faces will appear amongst the regular crowd you have grown accustomed to. They are likely Spanish, as this is a common starting point for Spaniards, or they have come from Sevilla along the Via de la Plata. A quick peek at their boots will tell the two apart.

Here you will take first notice of the Maragato culture, the ancient tribe of red-headed Iberians that served as the muleteers between the coast and the interior of Spain. They maintain several curious customs by modern standards, doing most thing the exact opposite as we are accustomed. One of these is their cocido, which is served meat first and greens last. It is a hearty meal and one not to be tackled alone. Grab a group of pilgrims and head off to one of the restaurants serving “Cocido Maragato” for a taste. Be warned, this is not a vegetarian-friendly option.

Later on down the road you have the choice of passing through a well preserved Maragato village where only recently have the locals abandoned their old way of locking their doors: it was their custom to leave the key in the outside door when they left town as a sign to their neighbors that they are gone and as an invitation to the same neighbors to let themselves in if they need anything.

Three buildings of note: 1. The Ayuntamiento (whose animatronic sculptures ring in the hours), 2. The Palacio Episcopal, which was never occupied by the Bishop and which was designed by Gaudi, and 3. the Catedral de Astorga. The last two can be visited on a joint ticket for 5 euros but the opening hours are not always clear.

Fiesta: 

Market day is Tuesday.

The Road: 

The camino here leaves the last of the plains behind and begins, slowly at first, to climb. The ascent is slow and gradual until Rabanal, where it begins a more steep ascent to the alto and an equally quick descent into Molinaseca. On the way up it passes through several small but equipped towns (no ATM’s but plenty to eat).

History: 

At the junction of several Roman roads it is no wonder that Astorga is full of Roman ruins. Several dig sights are ongoing and can be toured, and nearly every structure in town has some Roman foundation. This was an important crossroad for the Romans and the gateway into El Bierzo.

Photo in Astorga on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Astorga on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue San Javier
Portería, 6

Private
95 10 Photo in Albergue San Javier on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue San Javier on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue de Peregrinos Siervas de María
Plaza San Francisco, 3

Association
165 5
3 Albergue Camino y Vía

Closed
22 6
4 Hotel Gaudí
Ingeniero Eduardo de Castro, 6

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Gaudí on the Camino de Santiago
5 Hotel Astur Plaza
Plaza España

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Astur Plaza on the Camino de Santiago
6 Hostal Coruña
Ponferrada, 72

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Coruña on the Camino de Santiago
7 Hostal La Peseta
Plaza de San Bartolomé, 3

Hostal
Photo in Hostal La Peseta on the Camino de Santiago
8 Hotel SPA Vía de la Plata
Padres Redentoristas, 5

Hotel
Photo in Hotel SPA Vía de la Plata on the Camino de Santiago
9 Hotel SPA Ciudad de Astorga
Sitios, 7

Hotel
Photo in Hotel SPA Ciudad de Astorga on the Camino de Santiago
10 Hostal Delfín
Carretera N-VI, 417

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Delfín on the Camino de Santiago
11 Pensión García
Bajada de Postigo, 3

Pension

Valdeviejas

Distance to Santiago: 
254.50
2.10km
Altitude: 
878

Valdeviejas sits adjacent to the camino and most pilgrims never go into town. There is not much cause to do so unless you plan to stay at the municipal albergue here.

Name Beds Price
1 Albergue de Peregrinos Ecce Homo

Municipal
10 5

Murias de Rechivaldo

Distance to Santiago: 
252.40
4.60km
2.80kms.
Altitude: 
880

The town is one of a dozen that is considered to be a part of the Maragatería, whose inhabitants are characterized by their red hair, their hard work ethic, and their honest reputation.

Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue de Peregrinos Murias de Rechivaldo
Santa Colomba, 52

Municipal
20 5 Murias de Rechivaldo - Albergue de Peregrinos Murias de Rechivaldo
2 Albergue las Águedas
Camino de Santiago, 52

Private
40 9 Photo in Albergue las Águedas on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue las Águedas on the Camino de Santiago
3 Albergue Casa Flor
Carretera Santa Colomba, 54

Private
15 10 Photo in Albergue Casa Flor on the Camino de Santiago
4 Casa Rural La Veleta
Plaza Mayor, 1

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural La Veleta on the Camino de Santiago
5 Hostería Casa Flor
Carretera Santa Colomba, 52

Casa Rural
Photo in Hostería Casa Flor on the Camino de Santiago

‌Detour from Murias to Maragato village of Castrillo de los Polvazares

881

With the recent addition of albergues in Castrillo this deviation has become popular for more than just its cultural itinerary. It is a fully restored Maragato village well worth a visit and perhaps a meal. Napoleon is reputed to have spent the night there, where a battle was fought and where the mayor and priest were captured and subsequently rescued.

Castrillo de los Polvazares

Altitude: 
899

Castrillo has been declared a Historic-Artistic site and the restored village is off limits to non-resident vehicles. The main street has a cross at the beginning and at the end of town, and is lined with large houses. The village dates back to the 16th century, and is a replacement for the old town of Castrillo that was destroyed by a flood.

Photo in Castrillo de los Polvazares on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Castrillo de los Polvazares on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Castrillo de los Polvazares on the Camino de Santiago
Photo in Castrillo de los Polvazares on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue municipal de Castrillo de los Polvazares
Jardín

Municipal
8 5 Castrillo de los Polvazares - Albergue municipal de Castrillo de los Polvazares
2 Albergue Hostería Don Álvaro
Magdalena, 1

Closed
30 8
3 Casa Rural Casa Coscolo
El Rincón, 1

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural Casa Coscolo on the Camino de Santiago
4 Los Polvazares
Real, 18

Casa Rural
Photo in Los Polvazares on the Camino de Santiago
5 Hotel Cuca la Vaina
Jardín

Hotel

Santa Catalina de Somoza

Distance to Santiago: 
247.80
4.30km
Altitude: 
981

The town is the only one on the whole of the Camino Francés to be named after a female Saint (St. Catherine of Alexandria). A relic of St. Blaise is kept in the parish church, and the town was known to have a pilgrim hospital. The ‘Somoza’ part of the name is a simple description of its geographical position at the foot of the hill. The hill, of course, lies ahead.

Name Beds Price
1 Hospedería San Blas
Real, 11

Private
24 5 Photo in Hospedería San Blas on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Hospedería San Blas on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue y Centro de turismo rural El Caminante
Real, 2

Private
16 6 Photo in Albergue y Centro de turismo rural El Caminante on the Camino de Santiago

El Ganso

Distance to Santiago: 
243.50
6.60km
Altitude: 
1017

Water fountain adjacent to the church. Surrounding the town are several low stone walls that used to hold cattle and sheep, you will be forgiven for thinking that the village was falling down around you.

Home of the Cowboy bar, and that other bar.

Name Beds Price
1 Albergue Gabino
Real, 9

Private
30 8* Photo in Albergue Gabino on the Camino de Santiago
Things to see
Cowboy Bar

Rabanal del Camino

Distance to Santiago: 
236.90
5.20km
Altitude: 
1141

Now home to 4 albergues and many pensions, Rabanal is a common (and wise) stopping point along the way. Ahead is a high mountain pass that demands a bit of rest.

Vespers are sung by the monks every night at 7pm at the small parish Iglesia de Santa María and a benediction for pilgrims is held afterward.

The town has always enjoyed a level of prosperity because of the camino, and in recent years has developed a slightly bohemian feel.

The Road: 

The camino leaves town along the same cobbled path that you found at the start of town, which leads past the church. It does NOT leave along the road.

History: 

As the camino leaves Astorga, the terrain becomes more rugged and the risk to pilgrims (historically speaking) increased. It is for this reason that the Knights Templar settled here and in the larger town of Ponferrada on the other side of the mountain.

Photo in Rabanal del Camino on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Refugio Guacelmo
Plaza del Peregrino

Association
44 Donativo Photo in Refugio Guacelmo on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue Nuestra Señora del Pilar
Plaza de Jerónimo Morán Alonso

Private
72 5 Photo in Albergue Nuestra Señora del Pilar on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Nuestra Señora del Pilar on the Camino de Santiago
3 Albergue Municipal de Rabanal del Camino
Plaza de Jerónimo Morán Alonso

Municipal
34 4
4 Albergue La Senda
Real

Private
34 5 Photo in Albergue La Senda on the Camino de Santiago
5 Apartamentos Rurales Las Carballedas
Ganso, 1

Casa Rural
Photo in Apartamentos Rurales Las Carballedas on the Camino de Santiago
6 Hostal El Refugio
Real, 74

Hostal
Photo in Hostal El Refugio on the Camino de Santiago
7 La Posada de Gaspar
Real, 27

Casa Rural
Photo in La Posada de Gaspar on the Camino de Santiago
8 Posada El Tesín
Real

Pension
9 Casa Indie
Calle del Medio

Casa Rural
10 La Candela
Carretera de Rabanal

Casa Rural

Foncebadón

Distance to Santiago: 
231.70
2.30km
Altitude: 
1410

Various guidebooks (and a few novels) have given Foncebadón a reputation for being the home of rabid dogs eager for a tasty pilgrim snack. While this may once have been true, it no longer is.

In fact the mountain outpost has experienced something of a renaissance. In between utterly ruinous piles of stone are a smattering of lovingly restored old homes, most of them converted into accommodation for pilgrims.

This elevation is typically shrouded in fog or buried in deep snow; both have their charm.

The Road: 

The Cruz de Fierro, or Iron Cross, is a steady climb ahead. If you stopped at the road-side bar be sure to get back to the camino and avoid following the cyclists as they take the road.

History: 

Foncebadón is perhaps best known as the home of the hermit Guacelmo. He cared for pilgrims as they navigated their way over the often treacherous mountain pass and was protected by King Alfonso VI. This pass was, until the mid 18th century, the preferred route into Galicia and the townspeople of Foncebadon dedicated themselves to marking the way and serving as guides.

Photo in Foncebadón on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Foncebadón on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue Parroquial Domus Dei
Real

Parochial
18 + 12 Donativo Photo in Albergue Parroquial Domus Dei on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue Monte Irago
Real

Private
35 8 Photo in Albergue Monte Irago on the Camino de Santiago
3 Albergue Roger de Lauria

Private
20 8 Photo in Albergue Roger de Lauria on the Camino de Santiago
4 Albergue La Cruz de Fierro

Private
40 10 Photo in Albergue La Cruz de Fierro on the Camino de Santiago
5 Albergue La Posada del Druida

Private
20 7 Photo in Albergue La Posada del Druida on the Camino de Santiago
6 Pensión El Trasgu de Foncebadón
Real

Pension
9 Photo in Pensión El Trasgu de Foncebadón on the Camino de Santiago

Cruz de Ferro

2.30km
1499

The Iron Cross marks the highest part of the mountain pass and has become the place where pilgrims the world over leave behind a stone brought with them from home or elsewhere on the camino.

Cruz de Ferro

Manjarín

Distance to Santiago: 
227.10
6.80km
Altitude: 
1440

Manjarín wins the prize for the least inhabited inhabited town on the whole of the camino. Exactly one person lives here year round, joined occasionally by friends and pilgrims.

His name is Tómas, and he holds himself to be the last of the Knights Templar. No services beyond a cup of cowboy coffee from Tómas and his animal pen turned refugio for pilgrims.

The Road: 

There are a few stretches of road ahead, just before arriving in Acebo, that are rugged and slippery in wet weather.

Photo in Manjarín on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Manjarín on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price
1 Refugio de Manjarín - Albergue Templario de Tomás

Private
25 Donativo Photo in Refugio de Manjarín - Albergue Templario de Tomás on the Camino de Santiago

El Acebo

Distance to Santiago: 
220.30
3.40km
Altitude: 
1150

Acebo is a typical mountain village, with rickety wooden balconies suspended over the road. All stone construction and slate roofs are common, the slate coming from a quarry not far off.

The Road: 

You will first make sight of Acebo (from holly, as in the hardy evergreen shrub) as you descend from above. It is a single road town and typical of the area.

History: 

This mountain pass was maintained by the villagers of both Acebo and Foncebadón. They installed several hundred stakes to mark the way during heavy snowfall. For their efforts they received an exemption from the tax man.

Photo in El Acebo on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue Parroquial Apóstol Santiago
La Iglesia

Parochial
23 Donativo Photo in Albergue Parroquial Apóstol Santiago on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Parroquial Apóstol Santiago on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue Mesón El Acebo
Real, 16

Private
23 7
3 Albergue La Taberna de José
Real, 19

Closed
7 5
4 Albergue La Casa del Peregrino

Private
103 10 Photo in Albergue La Casa del Peregrino on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue La Casa del Peregrino on the Camino de Santiago
5 Casa Rural La Trucha del Arco Iris
La Cruz, 10

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural La Trucha del Arco Iris on the Camino de Santiago
6 Casa Rural La Rosa del Agua
Real, 52

Casa Rural

Molinaseca

Distance to Santiago: 
212.40
4.10km
Altitude: 
582

Molinaseca is a popular weekend destination for ponferradinos, who make the short drive to swim in the dammed up Río Maruelo. The riverfront makes for an excellent place to swim, cool down, and mingle.

Fiesta: 

If you are in Molinaseca on the 17th of August, beg borrow or steal a bucket and prepare for the citywide water fight. The day prior celebrates San Roque and the day after celebrates the Fiesta de las Angustias with a more traditional procession through town.

The Road: 

Between Molinaseca and Ponferrada you will be almost exclusively on the sidewalk adjacent to the road. Three kilometers from the center of Molinaseca the camino splits. The camino technically turns left at the curve in the road and passes through Campo on the way to Ponferrada. Turning right to follow the road will get you to Ponferrada just the same and is a shorter path to the Municipal albergue.

Photo in Molinaseca on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue de Peregrinos de Molinaseca San Roque
Manual Fraga Iribarne

Municipal
28 6 Photo in Albergue de Peregrinos de Molinaseca on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue Molinaseca - Santa Marina
Manual Fraga Iribarne

Private
59 7 Photo in Albergue Molinaseca - Santa Marina on the Camino de Santiago
3 Casa Rural Pajarapinta
Real, 30

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural Pajarapinta on the Camino de Santiago
4 Posada de Muriel
Plaza de Cristo

Hostal
Photo in Posada de Muriel on the Camino de Santiago
5 The Way Hostel Molinaseca
El Palacio, 10

Hostal
Photo in The Way Hostel Molinaseca on the Camino de Santiago
6 Hotel de Floriana
Manuel Fraga Iribarne

Hotel
7 Casa Rural María
La Iglesia, 25

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural María on the Camino de Santiago
8 Casa Rural La Torre De Babel
Real, 42

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural La Torre De Babel on the Camino de Santiago
9 Hostal El Palacio
El Palacio, 19

Hostal
Photo in Hostal El Palacio on the Camino de Santiago
10 Hostal Casa San Nicolas
La Iglesia, 43

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Casa San Nicolas on the Camino de Santiago

△ on Camino via Campo or ▷ to Ponferrada by road

605

Between Molinaseca and Ponferrada you will be almost exclusively on the sidewalk adjacent to the road. Three kilometers from the center of Molinaseca the camino splits. The camino technically turns left at the curve in the road and passes through Campo on the way to Ponferrada. Turning right to follow the road will get you to Ponferrada just the same and is a shorter path to the Municipal albergue.

Campo

Distance to Santiago: 
208.30
3.20km
Altitude: 
566

Campo was once the Jewish quarter of Ponferrada.

Ponferrada

Distance to Santiago: 
205.10
3.20km
Altitude: 
539

Ponferrada’s Templar castle is one of the best-preserved examples of its kind and offers a glimpse into what castle life must have been like in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The Iglesia de Santa María de la Encina is named for a Templar legend according to which her image was found in the trunk of an Oak tree. It is located in the oldest part of town, near the castle.

Fiesta: 

Saturday is market day. The Fiesta de La Encina begins on September 8th and celebrates the patron Saint of El Bierzo, La Virgen de La Encina (oak), and lasts a week.

The Road: 

Exiting Ponferrada takes you past the castle and briefly through the old town before crossing over the Río Sil. At the end of that bridge turn right. The way curves left and at the next large intersection turn right. Keep straight through the first roundabout, and turn right at the second. From here the camino follows temporary signage through construction.

History: 

Ponferrada was at one point one of the most important of the Roman settlements due to its location at the junction of two rivers (The Sil and Boeza) in a valley both fertile and rich in minerals. Its name derives from the construction of its original bridge. Built in 1082 it was one of the first to be decorated with iron and so Pons Ferrata became Ponferrada. The original bridge no longer exists.

Photo in Ponferrada on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Ponferrada on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Ponferrada on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue de peregrinos San Nicolás de Flüe
Loma

Parochial
175 Donativo Photo in Albergue de peregrinos San Nicolás de Flüe on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue de peregrinos San Nicolás de Flüe on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue Alea
Teleno, 33

Private
18 10
3 Hostal Nirvana
Lago de Carucedo, 12

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Nirvana on the Camino de Santiago
4 Hotel Madrid Bierzo
La Puebla, 44

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Madrid Bierzo on the Camino de Santiago
5 Hotel El Castillo
El Castillo, 115

Hotel
Photo in Hotel El Castillo on the Camino de Santiago
6 Hostal San Miguel
Juan de Lama, 14

Hostal
7 Hotel Los Templarios
Flórez Osorio, 3

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Los Templarios on the Camino de Santiago
8 Hotel Aroi Ponferrada
Marcelo Macías, 4

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Aroi Ponferrada on the Camino de Santiago
9 Hostal Río Selmo
Río Selmo, 22

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Río Selmo on the Camino de Santiago
10 Albergue Guiana
Castillo, 112

Private
90 12

Compostilla

Distance to Santiago: 
201.90
1.80km
Altitude: 
530

Compostilla is a curious place. It was largely built by a private mining and energy company and its rectilinear streets, complete with football pitches and schools, is reminiscent of something out of an upper class North American neighborhood.

On your way through you will pass Nuestra Señora del Refugio, an indication that Compostilla had a place for pilgrims long ago.

The Road: 

You will pass underneath the highway, and past the Ermita de San Blas and San Roque before arriving at Columbrianos where a large zebra crossing takes you over the busy road.

Photo in Compostilla on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Compostilla on the Camino de Santiago

Columbrianos

Distance to Santiago: 
200.10
2.70km
Altitude: 
526
The Road: 

You will pass through Columbrianos quickly and continue along a quiet country road, bypassing much of the industry around Ponferrada. Along the way, you will pass along the outskirts of Fuentes Nuevas and you will get your first good glimpse of the mountains ahead.

Photo in Columbrianos on the Camino de Santiago
Name booking.com
1 Casa Rural El Almendro de María
Real, 56

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural El Almendro de María on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Casa Rural El Almendro de María on the Camino de Santiago

Fuentes Nuevas

Distance to Santiago: 
197.40
2.60km
Altitude: 
507

The road here begins to enter vine country, and soon the source of El Bierzo’s delicious products become evident. Resist the urge to sample the grapes; they are frequently sprayed with insecticides. So too are the cherry trees, but that doesn’t stop most pilgrims.

Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue Turístico El Camino
Médicos sin Fronteras, 8

Closed
16 10 Photo in Albergue Turístico El Camino on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Turístico El Camino on the Camino de Santiago
2 Hostal Monteclaro
Antonio Cortés, 24

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Monteclaro on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Hostal Monteclaro on the Camino de Santiago

Cacabelos

Distance to Santiago: 
189.40
1.70km
Altitude: 
484

Cacabelos is best known for the production of wine, you’ll notice a modern building at the start of town that was built to promote the region.

Take the time to wander the lateral streets and you will be rewarded with several out of the way restaurants. The municipal albergue here has a curious design; horseshoe in shape it wraps around the church and enjoys semi-private two person rooms.

The Road: 

The camino leaves town along the road over the Río Cúa and past the church and albergue.

History: 

Cacabelos owes its prosperity to the once Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela Diego Gelmírez who gave the instructions that it be rebuilt in 1108. Very few of the churches remain, but the Iglesia de La Quinta Angustia near the river houses a positively unique sculpture of Baby Jesus and Saint Anthony of Padua playing cards.

Although most of his men were drunkenly sacking nearby Villafranca, Sir John Moore’s retreating army scored a small victory here during the Battle of Cacabelos. One of his riflemen, the talented Thomas Plunket, managed to put a bullet in the head of the French cavalry Brigadier General Auguste Colbert from 500m, and another into the head of the officer that came to Colbert’s aid. The balance of the Peninsular War didn’t quite go to Moore’s advantage and following this victory he resumed his retreat towards A Coruña.

Photo in Cacabelos on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Cacabelos on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue de Cacabelos
Plaza del Santuario

Municipal
70 6 Photo in Albergue de Cacabelos on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue La Gallega
Santa María, 23

Private
30 10
3 Hotel Moncloa de San Lázaro
Cimadevilla, 97

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Moncloa de San Lázaro on the Camino de Santiago
4 Hostal Santa María
Santa María, 20

Hostal
5 Hotel Villa de Cacabelos
Constitución, 12

Hotel
6 Hostal La Gallega
Santa Maria, 23

Hostal
7 Hostal Siglo XIX
Santa Maria, 2

Hotel

Detour to Monasterio de Carracedo

A 6.5km detour (3+ each way) south of Cacabelos can be taken to the Cistercian (originally Benedictine) Monastery of Carracedo. It is in a state of partial repair, after being sacked by Almanzor in 997.

To get there, head south from the Plaza Vendimia along the Carretera de Villadepalos Elias Iglesias passing through San Juan (2km). To return, retrace your steps back to Cacabelos.

Pieros

Distance to Santiago: 
187.70
2.40km
Altitude: 
536

The Iglesia de San Martín de Tours still bears the inscription indicating that it was commissioned by the bishop of Astorga. San Martín of Tours was, prior to the popularization of Santiago (and his battle at Clavijo), the patron saint of most of the peninsula.

Name Beds Price
1 Albergue El Serbal y la Luna
El Pozo, 15

Private
18 5 Pieros - Albergue El Serbal y la Luna

‌VARIATION through Valtuille de Arriba

568

Shortly after leaving Pieros the camino splits near a set of power lines. The detour through Valtuille, favored for its safety and scenery, is to the right. The road route continues straight for several kilometers before turning off onto a dirt track. This track will rejoin the Valtuille route.

Note that the distances shown are for the route, as it is now considered the primary route.

Villafranca del Bierzo

Distance to Santiago: 
180.90
5.30km
7.70kms.
Altitude: 
519

Villafranca del Bierzo is one of the prettiest towns along the camino in El Bierzo. It is full of narrow streets that twist and turn and dare you to not get lost.

Located along the Burbia and Valcarce rivers it can be difficult to navigate and steep climbs seem to be obligatory no matter the destination.

Fiesta: 

The Fiestas del Cristo are held on the 14th of September.

Notice: 

The Municipal and Ave Fenix albergues are at the very start of town. The latter is adjacent to the Iglesia de Santiago, one of only two churches along the way to have its own Holy Door for the benefit of pilgrims too sick to make it to the Santiago Cathedral.

History: 

San Francisco de Assisi passed through 800 years ago and is said to have founded the Iglesia de San Francisco, do pay it a visit as it often doubles as an exhibition hall (plus its elevation affords a good view as the sun sets in the valley).

During the Peninsular War Villafranca was used as the headquarters for the Galician army and was sacked not once but three times by the English before finally falling into the hands of the French. It is a wonder that any part of it remains.

The most famous Villafranquino in recent centuries is Enrique Gil y Carrasco, a beloved author and world traveler.

Photo in Villafranca del Bierzo on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Villafranca del Bierzo on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Refugio Ave Fenix de familia Jato
Santiago, 10

Private
80 5 Photo in Refugio Ave Fenix de familia Jato on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue Municipal Villafranca del Bierzo
Campo de la Gallina

Municipal
62 6
3 Albergue de la Piedra
Espíritu Santo, 14

Private
38 10 Photo in Albergue de la Piedra on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue de la Piedra on the Camino de Santiago
4 Albergue Hospedería San Nicolás El Real
Travesía de san Nicolás, 4

Private
150 8
5 Albergue Leo
Ribadeo (del Agua), 10

Private
24 10 Photo in Albergue Leo on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Leo on the Camino de Santiago
6 Hostal Burbia
Fuente Cubero, 13

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Burbia on the Camino de Santiago
7 Hostal Méndez
Espiritu Santo, 1

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Méndez on the Camino de Santiago
8 Hostal La Puerta del Perdón
Plaza de Prim, 4

Hostal
Photo in Hostal La Puerta del Perdón on the Camino de Santiago
9 Parador Villafranca del Bierzo
Calvo Sotelo, 28

Parador
Photo in Parador Villafranca del Bierzo on the Camino de Santiago
10 Hotel Las Doñas del Portazgo
Ribadeo, 2

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Las Doñas del Portazgo on the Camino de Santiago
11 Hostal El Cruce
El Salvador, 41

Hostal
12 Posada Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor, 4

Hotel
Photo in Posada Plaza Mayor on the Camino de Santiago
13 Hotel San Francisco
Plaza Mayor, 6

Hotel
Photo in Hotel San Francisco on the Camino de Santiago
14 B&B La Casa de Leo
Pena Picón

Casa Rural
Photo in B&B La Casa de Leo on the Camino de Santiago
15 Albergue El Castillo
Castillo, 8

Private
24 10

‌ALTERNATE ROUTE to TRABADELO, via PRADELA +1.7km

498

Leave town by way of the bridge over the Río Burbia. At the end of the bridge, the camino splits. Most pilgrims keep along the road which winds along the valley floor following the old National VI road, in the shadow of its replacement which soars above. The camino here is on paved asphalt, the old road surface, but is separated from the road by a barrier wall. There are numerous places where it crosses the road, and you are encouraged to watch out for traffic here; it is infrequent but speedy.

Pradela (Bierzo)

Distance to Santiago: 
173.60
3.00km
Altitude: 
929

The bar and albergue are both in the town of Pradela, which sits just off the camino before it descends towards Trabadelo. You do not need to go into town unless you are after a drink or a bed. Otherwise follow the arrows to keep along the camino. The forests here are thick with chestnut trees. If you see piles of prickly looking spheres at your feet, look out from above.

The Road: 

Pradela sits on the hillside just above Trabadelo. The descent along the trail is quick and will deliver you into a side street half way into town; it is also possible to follow the road for a longer but less steep journey.

Name Beds Price
1 Albergue Lamas
Calella

Private
10 5 Photo in Albergue Lamas on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Lamas on the Camino de Santiago

Trabadelo

Distance to Santiago: 
171.20
4.30km
Altitude: 
572
Photo in Trabadelo on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue Municipal La Casa del Peregrino

Municipal
36 6 Photo in Albergue Municipal "La Casa del Peregrino" on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue Crispeta
Camino Santiago, 162

Private
48 8 Photo in Albergue Crispeta on the Camino de Santiago
3 Albergue Camino y Leyenda
Camino de Santiago

Private
16 10 Photo in Albergue Camino y Leyenda  on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Camino y Leyenda  on the Camino de Santiago
4 Albergue Parroquial de Trabadelo
La Iglesia

Parochial
22 5 Photo in Albergue Parroquial de Trabadelo on the Camino de Santiago
5 Hostal Nova Ruta
Carretera N-VI

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Nova Ruta on the Camino de Santiago
6 Pensión El Puente Peregrino
Camino de Santiago, 153

Pension
Photo in Pensión El Puente Peregrino on the Camino de Santiago
7 Casa Rural Os Arroxos
Camino de Santiago

Casa Rural
8 Casa Susi
Camino de Santiago

Private
12 5

Ambasmestas

Distance to Santiago: 
166.00
1.60km
Altitude: 
625

Ambasmestas is named for the confluence of the two valley rivers, the Valcárcel (“valley of the prison,” so named because of its width) and the Balboa. Soaring above you is the A-6 highway connecting A Coruña with Madrid.

Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue Das Animas
Campo Bajo, 3

Private
17 7
2 Albergue Camynos
Carretera N-VI, 43

Private
10 10 Photo in Albergue Camynos on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Camynos on the Camino de Santiago
3 Casa Rural Ambasmestas
Carretera N-VI

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural Ambasmestas on the Camino de Santiago
4 Hostel El Rincón del Apóstol
Carretera N-VI, 1

Hostal
Photo in Hostel El Rincón del Apóstol on the Camino de Santiago
5 Albergue Casa del Pescador
Carretera N-VI

Private
12 10/15

Vega de Valcarce

Distance to Santiago: 
164.40
2.10km
Altitude: 
628

The nearby truck stop of the same name has a full restaurant, as well as a co-op boutique selling local delights like wine, honey, and chocolate. There is also a fruit stand.

The ruins of the Castle of Sarracín are located high on the hill on the other side of the river.

Notice: 

This is the last town with an ATM or a pharmacy until you reach Triacastela.

Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue El Roble
Carretera N-VI, km 426

Closed
17 5 Photo in Albergue El Roble on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue El Roble on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue de Vega de Valcarce
Pandedelo

Municipal
92 5 Photo in Albergue de Vega de Valcarce on the Camino de Santiago
3 Albergue Santa María Magdalena
Carretera N-VI, 57

Private
16 9 Photo in Albergue Santa María Magdalena on the Camino de Santiago
4 Albergue Sarracín
Carretera N-VI, 32

Closed
12 10 Photo in Albergue Sarracín on the Camino de Santiago
5 Albergue Virgen de la Encina
Juan Pablo II

Parochial
26
6 Casa Rural El Recanto
Camino de Santiago, 38

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural El Recanto on the Camino de Santiago
7 Refugio Vegetariano ISANA
Carretera N-VI, 23

Private
12 5
8 Albergue El Paso
Carretera N-VI, 6

Private
28 10
Things to see
Castle of Sarracín

Ruitelán

Distance to Santiago: 
162.30
1.40km
Altitude: 
667

San Froilan lived as a hermit in a nearby cave during the 9th century. At the behest of the people of León, King Alfonso III named him as Bishop, a position which he held for only 5 years.

Name Beds Price
1 Refugio Pequeno Potala
Carretera N-VI, 20

Private
34 5 Photo in Refugio Pequeno Potala on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Refugio Pequeno Potala on the Camino de Santiago

Las Herrerías

Distance to Santiago: 
160.90
1.00km
Altitude: 
722

Las Herrerias, and the conjoined hamlet of Hospital, are at the base of the mountain that has been lurking on the horizon for a few days.

At the end of town, just past Casa Polin, is a small picnic area and the Fuente de Quiñones (named after the famous jouster of Hospital de Órbigo).

Notice: 

A local service offers to take you to the top of the mountain on horseback, an alternative to the 6km ascent and a taste of what luxury would have felt like 900 years ago.

The Road: 

The climb begins as a gradual ascent along the paved road. The camino will eventually leave this road in favor of a footpath which descends to your left. Arrows at the turn-off indicate that the camino for cyclists remains on the road and if you are on a bike this is the preferred route. When it trail begins to climb again the path is rocky and steep and slick with mud and horse shit. Tread carefully and think happy thougths.

Photo in Las Herrerías on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue Las Herrerías

Private
20 7
2 Pensión Casa Polín
Camino de Santiago, 6

Pension
Photo in Pensión Casa Polín on the Camino de Santiago
3 Hotel Rural El Capricho de Josana
Camino de Santiago

Hotel Rural
Photo in Hotel Rural El Capricho de Josana on the Camino de Santiago
4 Casa Rural Paraíso del Bierzo
Carretera N-VI

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural Paraíso del Bierzo on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Casa Rural Paraíso del Bierzo on the Camino de Santiago
5 Albergue and Pensión Casa Lixa
Camino de Santiago, 35

Private
20 11 Photo in Albergue and Pensión Casa Lixa on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue and Pensión Casa Lixa on the Camino de Santiago
6 Casa Rural do Ferreiro
Camino de Santiago, 41

Casa Rural
Photo in Casa Rural do Ferreiro on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Casa Rural do Ferreiro on the Camino de Santiago

Turn downward for walkers, or up road for cyclists

757

The climb begins as a gradual ascent along the paved road. The camino will eventually leave this road in favor of a footpath which descends to your left. Arrows at the turn-off indicate that the camino for cyclists remains on the road and if you are on a bike this is the preferred route. When it trail begins to climb again the path is rocky and steep and slick with mud and horse shit. Tread carefully and think happy thoughts.

La Faba

Distance to Santiago: 
157.40
2.40km
Altitude: 
912

A small hamlet on the way up to O’Cebreiro, there is little more than a collection of houses, a parochial albergue (run by a German confraternity) and the adjacent church which has a daily evening Mass. Two other bars are in the center of the village, one distinctly Gallego in feel and the other distinctly not. The latter also functions as a small albergue.

History: 

Sir John Moore’s very unlucky British army, having been run out of Villafranca by the French, and suffering terrible weather, retreated through these hills on his way to Coruña. Moore would never leave the peninsula, and is buried in Coruña.

Photo in La Faba on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in La Faba on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price
1 Albergue Ultreia Antigua Casa Parroquial

Parochial
66 5 Photo in Albergue "Asociacion Alemana Ultreia" Antigua Casa Parroquial on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue "Asociacion Alemana Ultreia" Antigua Casa Parroquial on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue El Refugio
Camino de Santiago, 9

Private
8 5