Cycling the Camino de Santiago along the French Way, or Camino Frances, from Roncesvalles to the cathedral and pilgrim city of Santiago, is not only the classic route but also one of the most popular with pilgrims. This 17 day epic excursion, starting in the Navarre region of northern Spain, heads west over some spectacular cycling routes, including Pyrenean passes, La Rioja wine region and an array of ancient towns such as León. Self-guided and staying in hotels, with your bags transferred for you, cycle freely, fast and, on average 50km a day.
- The city of Logroño and La Rioja wine region
- The medieval village Ribadiso
- Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
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Day 1: Arrival Roncesvalles
Start your journey in the Navarrese Pyrenees, where the medieval roads that started from the interior of Europe once met and which is now the starting point of the Camino Frances within Spain. Ancient architecture includes the 13th-century Collegiate Church of Santa María and Casa de los Beneficiados.
- Accommodation: La Posada de Roncesvalles or similar in Roncesvalles
Day 2: Roncesvalles – Pamplona | 42km
The first day of the French Way from Roncesvalles heads along a typical mountain route without too much difficult terrain, with only two uphill stretches at Alto de Mezquíriz and Alto de Erro, and the rest downhill. Cycle through the important medieval and pilgrim city of Larrasoaña, cross the River Arga several times en route to Pamplona. Once in Pamplona, take time to enjoy its medieval architecture and cultural sites.
- Cycling for the day: 42km, ↑609m
- Accommodation: Hotel Europa or similar in Pamplona
Day 3: Pamplona-Estella | 46km
The most important milestone of this stage is the Alto del Perdón, although its 260m ascent is gradual and the descent a little more rugged. The Monument to the Pilgrim is a summit landmark, as are some windmills. Once in Puente La Reina, it is worth visiting its large medieval bridge with five arches, the church of San Pedro, from the 14th century, and the convent of Comendadoras de Sancti Spíritus. After this, take a gentle 5km descent, followed by a short ascent to Mañeru. Next up is the town of Cirauqui, with a medieval Gothic church and Roman road, with some original sections preserved. Descent into Estella on today’s last stage.
- Cycling for the day: 46km, ↑857m
- Accommodation: Hotel Yerri or similar in Estella
Day 4: Estella-Logroño | 49km
Today’s stage has some manageable ascents, starting with the famous Fuente de Vino as you leave Estella. The last 12km, from Villamayor de Monjardín to Los Arcos, takes you through rural farmland and secondary roads, with hardly any shade. In summer months this can be uncomfortable ,so be prepared. The journey continues along dirt tracks, alongside olive and almond groves and vineyards, as you enter La Rioja wine region. The rest of the day’s cycling is quite challenging, rewarded with the likes of Castillo de Clavijo castle ruins and finally the wine hub of Logroño for a well earned glass of the local specialty and plenty of tapas.
- Cycling for the day: 49km, ↑809m
- Accommodation: Hotel Murrieta or similar in Logroño
Day 5: Logroño – Santo Domingo de la Calzada | 50km
Today there are two significant climbs, namely Alto de la Grajera and Alto de San Antón, although they are not too challenging. The landscapes change from vineyards to farmland once again, as you bring this 50km stretch of the Camino to a close in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, another medieval gem.
- Cycling for the day: 50km, ↑746m
- Accommodation: Hotel Pedro Primero or similar in Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Day 6: Santo Domingo de la Calzada – Burgos | 71km
Today you leave La Rioja region and head into Castilla León. This is another comfortable day on the Camino de Santiago, albeit with two climbs to La Grajera and San Antón. Arriving in Belorado, you enter the great Castilian plateau, following tracks and trails to Montes de Oca. Shortly before reaching Atapuerca, you cycle through San Juan de Ortega, a jewel of Spanish Gothic architecture. The Sierra de Atapuerca offers good views of the area and a very pleasant cycling route, as well as one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Cycle into Burgos via the river trail rather than the industrial area on its outskirts to explore the capital city of the Castilla León region, famous for its superb Gothic cathedral.
- Cycling for the day: 71km, ↑925m
- Accommodation: Hotel Cordon or similar in Burgos
Day 7: Burgos – Castrojeriz | 41km
Although cycling in the Castilian plateau is relatively easy, this is another areas of little shade, so be prepared during hot weather. There are some magnificent medieval towns en route though, and at your final stop of Castrojeriz, don’t miss a visit to the Collegiate Church of Santa María del Manzano and its Museum of Sacred Art.
- Cycling for the day: 41km, ↑639m
- Accommodation: Hotel La Posada de Castrojeriz or similar in Castrojeriz
Day 8: Castrojeriz – Carrión de los Condes | 44km
Leaving Castrojeriz, the day starts with a tough 2km ascent to the top of Mostelares, with a drop of 145m. and views across the plateau. After cycling to the ancient town of Frómista the cycling terrain flattens out, taking you through Villalcázar de Sirga, a traditional pilgrim town, finishing in Carrión de los Condes where a visit to San Zoilo monastery is a must.
- Cycling for the day: 44km, ↑456m
- Accommodation: Hotel La Corte or similar in Carrión de Los Condes
Day 9: Carrión de los Condes – El Burgo Ranero | 57km
This is a quieter section of the French Way, with fewer towns as you follow the Via Aquitania, the Roman road XXXIV or Ab Asturica Burdigalam (Astorga-Bordeaux). Leaving Calzadilla de la Cueza climb for around 2km, then cross some quiet valleys and across the River Valderaduey into the province of León. Next stop is the Mudejar town of Sahagún, one of the most unique on the Camino de Santiago, famous for the churches of San Tirso and San Lorenzo. Leave Sahagún crossing the River Cea towards Bercianos del Camino, along a fairly easy route, with your final stop of the day at El Burgo Ranero.
- Cycling for the day: 57km, ↑225m
- Accommodation: Hotel Piedras Blancas or similar in El Burgo Ranero
Day 10: El Burgo Ranero – León | 38km
A very flat stage that runs practically in a straight line following quiet dirt roads to Mansilla de las Mulas, with a perfect rest on the banks of the River Esla. Today’s cycle stage ends in one of the main hubs of the Camino de Santiago, so there are a few busier roads to content with. The hill of Portillo, with its magnificent views, marks your arrival into León, famous for its magnificent cathedral, Gaudí’s Casa Botines and the San Marcos Hospital. Take a walk through the Old Town, stopping in the Barrio del Húmedo for some top tapas.
- Cycling for the day: 38km, ↑125m
- Accommodation: Hotel Conde Luna or similar in León
Day 11: León – Astorga | 49km
Leaving León, you begin your cycle with a fairly simple stage en route to Astorga, home to one of the largest and oldest dioceses in Spain and capital of the Maragatería region. It is also the point where the Camino Frances and Camino Vía de la Plata meet.
- Cycling for the day: 49km, ↑378m
- Accommodation: Hotel Astur Plaza or similar in Astorga
Day 12: Astorga – Ponferrada | 53km
The terrain becomes more and more complicated in this second phase, as there are more climbs than descents. Head through towns such as Foncebadón, typical of the Maragatería region, up to Cruz de Fierro on Mount Irago, the highest point of the Camino at around 1,500m. After descending from Cruz de Fierro, you arrive into Ponferrada, the capital of the Bierzo region.
- Cycling for the day: 53km, ↑808m
- Accommodation: Hotel El Castillo or similar in Ponferrada
Day 13: Ponferrada – O Cebreiro | 52km
Cycle to Villafranca del Bierzo, 24 km from Ponferrada. At La Faba, there are two forks in the road. It is usually recommended to take the direction to the hostel as the terrain is less complicated. Leave the province of León and cycle through Lugo to Galicia. When you arrive in O Cebreiro, visit the church of Santa María La Real. The climb to the Cuesta de la Faba at almost 700m is one of the most daunting on the Camino, but it’s worth it, bringing you into O Cebreiro, a charming Jacobean village and gateway to the Serra dos Ancares.
- Cycling for the day: 52km, ↑1208m
- Accommodation: Casa Rural Carolo or similar in O Cebreiro
Day 14: O Cebreiro – Sarria | 37km
Cycle alongside the slopes of the Mount area taking on the ascent of Alto do Poio (1,337m). After these elevated sections the descent to Triacastela begins, where the path is divided into two routes: on the left is the LU-633 which leads to Samos, taking you past a Benedictine monastery to Sarria. Or, turn right and cycle through San Xil, which is 6.5km shorter in terms of distance, but some trickier cycling to Sarria.
- Cycling for the day: 37km, ↑917m
- Accommodation: Hotel Oca Villa de Sarria or similar in Sarria
Day 15: Sarria – Melide | 62km
This stage has some challenges. Divided by the Sierra de Ligonde, cycle through the towns of Portomarín with its Santa María church and Monterroso. Bring the day to a close first of all at at San Tirso church in Palas de Rei, with only a few kilometres to your bed at Melide.
- Cycling for the day: 62km, ↑963m
- Overnight in hotel in Melide, breakfast included
Day 16: Melide – Santiago de Compostela | 53km
This is the last stage and Santiago is closer than expected. Cycle through towns such as Arzúa and Pedrouzo on an easy route, although it becomes a bit trickier as you approach Santiago Airport. Stop at Monte do Gozo for rewarding, panoramic view including, most exciting of all, the towers of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral just a few kilometres away. The trip from Monte del Gozo to Plaza del Obradoiro flies past as you complete this extraordinary cycling adventure.
- Cycling for the day: 53km, ↑730m
- Overnight in Lux Santiago or a similar in Santiago de Compostela, breakfast included
Day 17: Santiago de Compostela
Check out and departure.
What to expect
Accommodations on this tour include a mix of welcoming country inns and comfortable hotels (ranging from 1-star to 3-star), located close to the Camino route. You will always have a private room and an en-suite bathroom. The hotel in Santiago de Compostela is 1-star but located in Santiago de Compostela’s historic centre and in front of the Cathedral, and it has been welcoming pilgrims since the late 16th century. The accommodation has been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. Below you can see some samples, but please note that the Camino is a very popular destination. Therefore, the hotels in your final booking confirmation may be different from those pictured below. 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.
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 lunches 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 three course dinner including wine for about £12-15 per person.
Difficulty and terrain
Camino de Santiago by bike allows you to take on much longer daily routes than on the Camino on foot. Although pilgrims usually walk an average of 20km each day, in the case of cycling the Camino, it is normal to do at least twice as much. In any case, the length of the stages can be adapted to the wishes and physical abilities of each pilgrim.
The terrain is mostly flat (read more about difficulty grades). It is possible to do the Camino de Santiago by bike along the traditional route or completely by road. We provide you with maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime.
When to go
This trip is available from March to November; the best months to visit are April – June and September – October, as in the summer months it may become too hot (and crowded). Mid-November – February dates are available upon request only. The flexibility of self-guided cycling holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.
FCO up-to-date travel advice about Spain
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Our recommended arrival airport for this tour is San Sebastian; alternatively, you can fly to Biarritz. The recommended departure airport is Santiago de Compostela. An alternative departure airport is A Coruña.
By train or bus
Arrival in Roncesvalle:
- The best way to reach Roncesvalles is with the daily bus service from Pamplona leaving at 12.00h. For more information, visit Alsa or use the Omio planner above.
- Pamplona is well connected by train with San Sebastian, Madrid, Zaragoza and other major cities in Spain. For more information and tickets, visit Renfe or use the Omio planner above
- Alternatively, there are many bus services to Pamplona for Bilbao, San Sebastian and other major cities in Spain. For more information, visit Alsa or use the Omio planner above.
Departure from Santiago de Compostela:
- There is a shuttle bus to the airport of Santiago from the centre of Santiago with different stops in the city. Check Freire for more details, or use the Omio planner above.
- From Santiago, there are regular train services to many destinations in Spain. For more information and tickets, visit Renfe or use the Omio planner above.
- You can also book private transfers with us
- 16 nights in private en-suite rooms
- 16 breakfasts
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all cycling days (One piece up to 20kg per person; each additional piece will be a supplemental fee)
- Galician cheese tasting in Santiago (Monday to Saturday)
- Guided tour in Santiago de Compostela (Old Town)
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches and dinners, drinks and snacks
- Bike rental
- 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 and supplements
- If you’re travelling in a group, a supplement applies to group members who would like to have a single 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
- Bike rental
You need to get your passport stamped in churches, restaurants or hotels along the way. At the end of the cycle in Santiago de Compostela, you can obtain your Compostela Certificate (the minimum route by bike will be 200km).
Important: Due to the large influx of pilgrims during summer, and to avoid long waiting times, the Pilgrim Office in Santiago has installed a numbered ticket system for issuing pilgrim certificates (the Compostela). This new system allows pilgrims to collect their tickets and, using a QR Code, to check the status of the queue and estimated waiting time to obtain the Compostela. However, the number of tickets per day is limited, so on days with high numbers of pilgrims arriving, there is a possibility that not all pilgrims will be able to collect their certificate on the day of arrival and will have to return for it the following morning.
Therefore, if obtaining a pilgrim certificate is important to you, and if you plan to undertake the Camino between 15 April and 15 October we recommend that you arrange the return travel in such a way that you will be in Santiago de Compostela during the morning after your arrival. Better still, we encourage you book a second night in Santiago so that you can collect the certificate without rushing and take time to enjoy the historic and iconic city.
We offer front suspension trekking bikes such as the MTB 29” BMC Premium hybrid or an e-bike alternative; Kross Level Boost.
Standard equipment that’s included in the hiring price:
- Pannier rack
- Bottle holder
- Safety retroreflectors
- Bicycle lock
- Tool kit containing: an extra tube, pump, bike multi-purpose Allen key, pedals key, tyre levers and a patch kit.
- Cover gel pad
- Water bottle
Total Assistance is also included on MTB 29″ and e-bikes, in case of a breakdown during the trip.