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Camino Frances Stages 1 & 2: St Jean Pied de Port to Burgos

Camino Frances Stages 1 & 2: St Jean Pied de Port to Burgos

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, combining the first two stages from St Jean Pied de Port in the French Pyrenees to Burgos. The first week is the most demanding stage of the Camino de Santiago, but it is also one of the most rewarding ones. Walk through the high mountains and deep valleys of the Pyrenees, then across undulating fields and olive groves to Logroño. Then continue from Logroño through undulating vineyards and fields dotted with small brooks and oak woods until you reach the Oca Mountains. Then you descend into the valley of the Pico river and reach the medieval city of Burgos, with its impressive Gothic Cathedral.

Highlights

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Saint Jean Pied de Port

Today you will arrive in the pretty town of St Jean Pied de Port, at the foot of the Pyrenees, in the French Basque Country, the starting point of the famous Camino Frances. Overnight in Saint Jean Pied de Port.

Day 2: St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles | 25 km

This is one of the most challenging but beautiful parts of the route, especially if you take the ‘Napoleon Route’ over the Roncesvalles Pass. The ‘Napoleon Route’ starts with a steep climb past country houses before reaching mountain meadows, the cross and some spectacular mountain views. The views of the Pyrenees are worth the effort! An alternative route is available along the valley for those who prefer a more gentle option.

Day 3: Roncesvalles to Zubiri | 21 km

From Roncesvalles, the Camino route continues through beech and oak woods before entering Espinal. You will also cross two mountain passes: Alto de Mezquiriz and Alto de Erro. You will then descend towards the village of Zubiri and its medieval bridge ‘Puente de la Rabia’ over river Arga.

Day 4: Zubiri to Pamplona | 21 km

From Zubiri, the Camino de Santiago follows the river Arga to the town of Larrasoaña, an important stop for pilgrims in Medieval times. The second half of the day will get busier as you approach the bustle of Pamplona city. Famous for its Running of the Bulls festival, San Fermín, taking place in July, Pamplona has many other attractions to visit. Explore the city’s medieval streets, visit the cathedral, taste some fantastic local food and wine, and Hemingway fans can go for a coffee in one of the writer’s favourite haunts in the main square: Plaza del Castillo.

  • Walking for the day: 21 km, 6 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Europa or similar in Pamplona

Day 5: Pamplona to Puente de la Reina | 24 km

From Pamplona, you will leave this beautiful city behind you as the Camino takes pilgrims towards the ‘Alto del Perdón’ (Hill of Forgiveness) pass. Get your picture taken with the photogenic pilgrim sculpture at the ‘alto’ and enjoy fantastic 360-degree panoramic views of Pamplona and the valley. From there, you will begin your descent towards Puente la Reina (Queen’s Bridge) with its quaint medieval alleys and impressive 11th-century bridge over the River Arga.

  • Walking for the day: 24 km, 5-6 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Bidean or similar in Puente de la Reina

Day 6: Puente la Reina to Estella | 22 km

From Puente de la Reina, the Camino de Santiago route continues along peaceful tracks for most of the day to Estella. You will walk along rolling farmland, passing small towns and villages nestled among olive groves, cereal crops and vineyards. Estella-Lizarra is your finish point for today, a nice historic town with plenty to do and see.

  • Walking for the day: 22 km, 5 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Yerri or similar in Estella

Day 7: Estella to Los Arcos | 21 km

From Estella, your Camino journey continues to the town of Los Arcos. Just outside Estella, you will find Bodegas Irache, the Wine Museum and its free wine fountain, stop for a rest and sip of the local Rioja! Most of your walk today will be along nice tracks, among vineyards, olive trees and cereal fields. From Villamayor de Monjardín to Los Arcos, you will cover approximately 12 km without passing a single village, so make sure you have plenty of water and a few snacks.

  • Walking for the day: 21 km, 5 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Monaco or similar in Los Arcos

Day 8: Los Arcos to Logroño | 28 km

From Los Arcos, you will continue your Camino on a very enjoyable trail across rolling countryside, leaving Navarra and entering the world-famous winemaking La Rioja region. You will pass the dramatic ruins of Clavijo Castle before entering the city of Logroño.

  • Walking for the day: 28 km, 7-8 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Murrieta or similar in Logroño

Day 9: Rest Day Logroño

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and explore Logroño, capital of La Rioja and home to some of the best tapas scenes on the Camino. Head for Calle Laurel to sample the local Rioja-style specialities.

Day 10: Logroño to Nájera | 28 km

From Logroño, you can expect a long day, but it should not be too challenging. Leave Logroño by the old pilgrims’ gate ‘Puerta del Camino’. The first part of the day takes you out of the city, but you will eventually get back to the vineyards of La Rioja. Your first stop is Navarrete, a 12th-century town built by the “Knights of the Holy Sepulchre”. You will finish the day in Nájera, another medieval town with a history with a strong link to the Camino, where you will enjoy get great panoramic views of the whole region.

Day 11: Nájera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada | 21 km

After your night in Nájera, your Camino takes you along some quiet country roads with the La Demanda Mountain to the South. You will pass the small village of Azofra, dedicated to the La Rioja patron: La Virgen de Valvanera. Azofra is also the starting point for the ‘Monasteries route’, off the Camino de Santiago route, but it is worth visiting if you have additional days, particularly the Yuso and Suso monasteries of San Millán de la Cogolla, considered the birthplace of the Spanish language. You will finally arrive in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, a town with a beautiful Medieval centre.

  • Walking for the day: 21 km, 5 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Pedro Primero or similar in Santo Domingo

Day 12: Santo Domingo to Belorado | 23 km

From Santo Domingo de la Calzada, you will be walking on uneven terrain through woodland and then crop fields. Part of today’s trail runs parallel to busy main roads. As you get closer to Belorado, you will start catching a glimpse of the Oca Mountains, the last mountain range before the Meseta (the central Spanish Plateau). Your stop for the night is Belorado, a small and pleasant village in the Burgos province. Visit the Santa María Church, where you will find images of St James.

  • Walking for the day: 23 km, 5 hours
  • Accommodation: Casa Verdeancho or similar in Belorado

Day 13: Belorado to Atapuerca | 29 km

From Belorado, most of your journey today will be along earthen tracks and peaceful trails on your way to the little town of Villafranca Montes de Oca, the Camino weaves its way through gorgeous woodlands of fragrant oak and pines.  Pass through the hamlet of San Juan de Ortega where you can visit its famous mausoleum before continuing onto Atapuerca famous for its UNESCO World Heritage prehistoric caves where fossils and stone tools of the earliest known hominins in Western Europe have been found.

On request this walking day can be split with an overnight in Villafranca Montes de Oca, thus walking 11 km/18 km.

  • Walking for the day: 29 km, 6-7 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Papasol or similar in Atapuerca

Day 14: Atapuerca to Burgos | 20 km

After your night in Atapuerca, you will continue following your Camino trail to the town of Burgos. Take some time to explore Burgos: admire the beauty of its historic centre, enjoy a stroll along the magnificent promenade by the river and taste delicious local tapas in the old town. Burgos has been referred to as the Gothic capital of Spain, and the city’s cathedral is probably one of the most impressive in the country.

  • Walking for the day: 20 km, 5 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Cordon or similar in Burgos

Day 15: Departure

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before heading back to the airport. We highly recommend booking additional nights in Burgos to explore this great city.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodations on this tour include a mix of welcoming country inns 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.

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*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 stage of the Camino is graded moderate to strenuous as it involves a rather demanding crossing the Pyrenees and includes daily walks of 16-29 km (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 all year round, but the best months to visit are April – June and September – October, as in the summer months, it may become too hot (and crowded). September is a great time to enjoy the Fiesta de la Vendimia Riojana, the Rioja Grape Harvest Festival in Logroño.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 about France and Spain

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By plane

Our recommended arrival airport for this tour is Biarritz; alternatively, you can fly to San Sebastian. The recommended departure airports are Bilbao, San Sebastian, Santander and Madrid.

By train or bus

Arrival in St Jean: From Biarritz, you should take the bus from outside the airport to Bayonne rail station (20 min) and then from there take the mountain railway up to St Jean (1.5 hours) which you can book in advance with SNCF.

Departure from Burgos: From Burgos, you can take the train to Bilbao (159 km), Santander (181 km) or Madrid (249 km) with Renfe which takes respectively 3 h / 1 h / 3 h. Alternatively, you can take the bus to Madrid with ALSA which takes around 3 hours.

Inclusions

Included

  • 14 nights in private en-suite rooms
  • 14 breakfasts
  • Detailed journey documentation and practical information, all provided in digital formats prior to the departure date
  • 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)
  • Airport transfers
  • Extra nights
  • Split of day 13 – on request

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