Day 1. Tuesday, April 2: Transatlantic flight
Board your flight to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Day 2. Wednesday, April 3: Santiago de Compostela – Sarria
Welcome to Spain! Upon arrival, transfer by motor-coach to the medieval town of Sarria, a common starting point for pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, which lies 110 km (70 miles) away (100 km is the minimum distance required to receive the certificate of completion of the pilgrimage). The town was established by Alfonso IX (1171-1230), who died en route to Santiago. Due to its location, Sarria had many hostels for pilgrims. The town houses the beautiful Monastery of La Magdalena, which has been transformed into a hostel. It has a Renaissance façade and a late Gothic cloister. Another building that spans Romanesque and Gothic styles is the 13th-century Church of San Salvador, beside the fortress of the same period, of which only the tower remains. Dinner and overnight in Sarria. (D)
Day 3. Thursday, April 4: Begin the walk to Santiago de Compostela: Sarria to Portomarín (13 miles)
Begin your 70-mile walk from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela. Today, journey from Sarria to Portomarín, walking along forest paths and small villages, such as Lavandeira or Ferreiros. Upon arrival into Portomarín, cross the Miño river, under whose waters lies the ancient Portomarín. There, one finds the Church of St. Nicholas of Portomarín, rebuilt stone by stone. For centuries, the town of Portomarín has expressed a special devotion to “La Virgen de las Nieves” (Our Lady of the Snows) who protects her devotees from drowning. Dinner and overnight in Portomarín. (B, D)
Day 4. Friday, April 5: Portomarín to Palas de Rei (15 miles)
Continue your walking pilgrimage, hiking first to Castromaior, a hamlet named after the large pre-Roman fortified town “castro” that once stood across the river, and then to the Sierra de Ligonde, the highest point of the day’s route, around 2,480 feet above sea level, and which offers great views over the valleys below. Then, gradually descend, passing through the villages of Eirexe (meaning “church” in Galician) which boasts a church with Roman and Romanesque remains, and Ligonde, where one finds an ancient “cementerio de peregrinos” (pilgrim cemetery). Finally arrive at Palas de Rei, “Palace of the King” named after an 8th-century Visigoth king who once ruled the lands, and stop in the Romanesque church to stamp your Camino passport. Dinner and overnight in Palas de Rei. (B, D)
Day 5. Saturday, April 6: Palas de Rei – Melide (9 miles)
Walk along the breathtaking countryside until arriving at the hamlet of O Coto, a simple village full of rustic charm, and whose name means “the top” or “the high place”. Continue to the town of Melide after crossing the beautiful medieval bridge of Furelos, a jewel of architecture. In Melide, you may wish to sample a “pulpo gallego”, one of Galicia’s specialties, which is steamed octopus prepared by the locals and enjoyed by pilgrims! Dinner and overnight in Melide. (B, D)
Day 6. Sunday, April 7: Melide – Arzúa (9 miles)
The history of Melide, since its foundation in the 10th century, is linked with the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Melide is the only town where two Camino routes meet: the Camino Primitivo (Original Way) stops in Melide and the Camino Frances (French Way) passes through Melide. Due to the two routes meeting in this town, it is well equipped and accustomed to helping pilgrims. From Melide these two routes become one to Santiago de Compostela. The 11th-century “cruceiro” – stone cross at the start of The Way in Melide – is thought to be the oldest in Galicia. Leave Melide and head to Arzúa. Walk along hills through beautiful valleys, such as the one formed by the Iso river in Ribadiso, a tiny and idyllic hamlet featuring a medieval bridge. Arrive into Arzúa for dinner and overnight. (B, D)
Day 7. Monday, April 8: Arzúa – Rúa (12 miles)
One cannot leave Arzúa without tasting its famous, smooth and creamy cheese or without having their Camino passport stamped in the Church of Santiago de Arzúa. Then continue your pilgrimage along green hills until arriving at Pedrouzo. Walk past lovely hermitages, such as St. Irene’s, until reaching Rúa for dinner and overnight. (B, D)
Day 8. Tuesday, April 9: Rúa – Santiago de Compostela (12 miles)
Ascend through Armenal and then descend into Lavacolla. There are many theories in relation to the origin of the name Lavacolla. One of the theories claims the name comes from the fact that pilgrims in the Middle Ages used to wash in the stream that crosses Lavacolla to arrive clean in Santiago. The name Lava-colla could come from the words “lavar” (to wash) and “cuello” (neck), meaning “to wash the neck”. Another theory would refer to pre-pilgrimage times and would have more to do with the geography of the place: the name Lava (low pasture or field) and Colla (hill) would mean the low pasture by the hill. Whatever the origin of its name, Lavacolla still sees thousands of pilgrims walking by every year, getting closer to their Camino final point: Santiago de Compostela. Ascend again until reaching the top of Monte de Gozo (Mount of Joy), a hill where pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago enjoy their first views of the three spires of their destination, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Only 2.5 miles more to Santiago! Cross the Barrio (neighborhood) de San Lázaro, the Puerta del Camino (Door of the Way), along the Plaza Cervantes, and through the beautiful compostelan streets until reaching the Cathedral of St. James. After receiving your “Compostela” certificate and having time to pray in the Cathedral, reach your hotel in Santiago de Compostela for dinner and overnight. (B, D)
Day 9. Wednesday, April 10: Santiago de Compostela
Today enjoy a morning guided sightseeing that includes a visit to the third most important Catholic pilgrimage site of the Middle Ages: the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the relics of St. James the Apostle are venerated. Also visit the Convent of San Martino Pinario and its Museum of Religious Art. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner to celebrate the end of a beautiful pilgrimage. (B, FD)
Day 10. Thursday, April 11: Homebound flight
Transfer to Santiago de Compostela airport for your flight back to the USA.
(B) Breakfast; (D) Dinner; (FD) Farewell dinner
* In case of unforeseen events, this itinerary is subject to change.
For more information or to register, please contact Regina Pilgrimages.