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Camino Frances Stage 4: León to Sarria

Camino Frances Stage 4: León to O Cebreiro

Overview

The Camino Frances is the most famous Camino route, walked by millions of pilgrims from all over the globe since the Middle Ages. More than just a pilgrimage, the Camino is a unique social and cultural experience and a truly memorable adventure.

Follow in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims, walking the fourth stage of the French Way. Starting from the elegant León, with its impressive cathedral and Roman walls, you will reach the city of Ponferrada, where the Templars settled in the 12th century to protect pilgrims on their way to Santiago. From here, you will be heading to Villafranca del Bierzo, a gorgeous mountain town surrounded by idyllic countryside. After Villafranca, a challenging ascent takes pilgrims to the mountains of O Cebreiro. O Cebreiro is a quaint mountain village of centuries-old thatched cottages in a region of outstanding natural beauty.

Highlights

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in León

Your journey on the fourth stage of the Camino Frances begins in the beautiful city of León with its impressive cathedral and Roman walls, the Romanesque Royal Basilica of Saint Isidoro and the neo-Gothic Casa de Botines, built by Gaudí. Treat yourself to the exquisite local cheeses and cured meats.

Day 2: León to Villadangos | 20 km

After your night in León, your Camino will continue through the beautiful Spanish countryside. The Camino from León is pretty flat and easy. You will walk along crop fields, and you will see pretty apple orchards along the way to Villadangos.

  • Walking for the day: 20 km, 4-5 hours
  • Accommodation: A family-run hotel in Villadangos

Day 3: Villadangos to Astorga | 28 km

From Mazarife, with the suburbs of León city long behind you, you will start a pretty hike along footpaths and dirt tracks towards one of the prettiest villages on the Camino: Hospital de Órbigo, where you will cross the famous and picturesque ‘Puente de Órbigo’ bridge, before continuing onto Astorga.

  • Walking for the day: 28 km, 7 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Astur Plaza or similar in Astorga

Day 4: Astorga to Foncebadón | 26 km

From the lovely city of Astorga, you will gradually make your way up towards the stunning León Mountains and the lush Bierzo region, taking paths surrounded by broom, heather and oak trees.

  • Walking for the day: 26 km, 6 hours
  • Accommodation: A family-run hotel in Foncebadón

Day 5: Foncebadón to Ponferrada | 27 km

Today is one of the most rewarding days ahead on the Camino as it climbs to Mount Irago. Stop at the Iron Cross on top of the mountain, one of the most special places on the French Way, where you can place a memento and visit the St James chapel before descending to the lush area of El Bierzo. On your way to Ponferrada, pass through the lovely town of Molinaseca. Once in Ponferrada, you should explore the old town, its impressive 12th century Templars Castle, and make sure you try the local specialities, such as botillo and some of Spain’s most delicious cured meats.

  • Walking for the day: 27 km, 7 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel El Castillo or similar in Ponferrada

Day 6: Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo | 24 km

After your night in Ponferrada, the Camino takes you across the heart of the lush region of El Bierzo, nestled in the mountains. Take the opportunity to taste the local delicious cherries if you are travelling in summer, exquisite cured meats and other regional delicacies. In Villafranca, known as ‘the little Compostela’, visit the garden of the Iglesia de Santiago, St James Church. The church has a ‘Forgiveness Gate’, Puerta del Perdón, that only opens during Holy Years.

  • Walking for the day: 24 km, 5 hours
  • Accommodation: Casa La Llave Rural or similar in Villafranca del Bierzo

Day 7: Villafranca to Vega de Valcarce| 16 km

After your night in Ponferrada, the Camino takes you across the heart of the lush region of El Bierzo, nestled in the mountains. Take the opportunity to taste the local delicious cherries if you are travelling in summer, exquisite cured meats and other regional delicacies. In Villafranca, known as ‘the little Compostela’, visit the garden of the Iglesia de Santiago, St James Church. The church has a ‘Forgiveness Gate’, Puerta del Perdón, that only opens during Holy Years.

  • Walking for the day: 16 km, 4 hours
  • Accommodation: A family-run hotel in Vega de Valcarce

Day 8: Vega to O Cebreiro | 12 km

After your night in Villafranca, visit the garden of the Iglesia de Santiago, St James Church. The church has a ‘Forgiveness Gate’, Puerta del Perdón, that only opens during Holy Years. Your route passes by the ranges of ‘Os Ancares’ and ‘Serra do Courel’, and it should be noted that this stage to O Cebreiro holds a steep climb in only a few kilometres, but the views are truly spectacular.

  • Walking for the day: 12 km, 3 hours
  • Accommodation: Casa Rural Carolo or similar in O Cebreiro

Day 9: Departure

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before heading back to the airport.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodations on this tour include a mix of welcoming country guesthouses and comfortable tourist hotels located close to the Camino route. You will always have a private room and an en-suite (attached) bathroom. The accommodation places have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. Extra nights can be booked at any of the accommodations along the way.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included (usually a simple buffet breakfast/coffee and toast/bread/croissant) on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. Where no dinner is included, most places serve hearty pilgrim menus – you can get a 3-course dinner including wine and water for about GBP 10-15 pp.

Difficulty & terrain

This walk is graded moderate and includes walks of 4-7 hours, and up to 32 km a day (the longest days can be split on request); the terrain is mostly flat, rarely undulating with some occasional steeper ascents (read more about difficulty grades). You will follow a mixture of farm/dirt tracks, minor roads and footpaths. The routes are perfectly waymarked with yellow painted arrows and a yellow shell on a blue background, and the itinerary is very easy to follow. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available to depart from 1 March till 15 November; the best months to visit are April – June and September – October, as in the summer months it may become too hot (and crowded). The flexibility of self guided walking holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Santander. The alternative airports are Santiago de Compostela and Madrid.

By train or bus

Arrival in Leon:

  • Santander Airport 256 km, the bus takes 3.5 h, check Alsa.es
  • Madrid Airport 337 km, the train takes 4 h (check Renfe), the bus takes 4.5 h (check Alsa.es)

Departure from Sarria:

  • Santiago de Compostela Airport 120 km: Fastest is to take a combination of two buses: First, to Lugo bus station, then from Lugo to Santiago, see: www.empresafreire.com. There is also a direct bus between Santiago de Compostela bus station and Sarria but only departing once a day (except Saturdays and Sundays), approx. 2.5 h travel time. See www.monbus.es
  • A Coruña Airport 120 km:  There is a direct train from Sarria to A Coruña four times a day (2 h-2,5 h). See www.renfe.com
  • Madrid Airport 487 km: There is a train from Sarria to Madrid Chamartin once a day, as well as three other trains per day. For details, times and tickets, see www.renfe.com

Inclusions

Included

  • 8 nights in private en-suite rooms
  • 8 breakfasts
  • Maps
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (1 pc up to 20 kg per person)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches and dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes & entry fees (payable on the spot)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights
  • Airport transfers
  • Split of day 3, day 5 and/or day 7

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