Camino Francés in 32 Days

Waymarker near NájeraPublic Health Warning! Take all measurements of distance between places with a pinch of salt – no matter what the author might claim. The Pilgrim Office in Santiago lists 775km on its certificates as being the distance from St. Jean to Santiago, yet guidebooks proclaim otherwise (John Brierley – 785km / Cicerone 778km / Sergi Ramis 677km). The truth is that nobody is certain, nobody knows precisely from a scientific measurement point of view and to be honest, nobody should care!

Even the stone waymarkers in Galicia aren’t accurate, for example, km111 is on the main street in Sarria, yet we estimate Sarria to be 115km from Santiago. Someday soon, these distances will be standardised, but in the meantime, what you have here is as good as you’ll get.

The distances below add up to 774km, corresponding to the official certification of 775km allowing for rounding off distances, and having walked the Camino and estimated distances against the time taken to cover them, they are as accurate as you need.

Roughly speaking, walking at a brisk pace on even ground, you can expect to cover about 5km an hour. This reduces dramatically when climbing steeply, such as into O Cebreiro, at the Alto del Perdón or approaching the Cruz Ferro while different people walk at different paces.

While we are suggesting 32 stages as a possibility here, we also have a couple of suggestions as to how you might shorten or lengthen the walk, depending on the time available to you.

Paella Finally, the stages and stopping points below are completely subjective – stop where you want and when you want. These stages allow for stopping in the largest towns and cities on the way, by and large, while trying to keep the daily distances evenly balanced. Half of the fun is plotting your way as you go and the most delightful treats often present themselves when least expected. Walking in 2014, we weren’t going to stop in Foncebadón (day 22) – but upon arriving in Rabanal del Camino (the previous village) we just decided to keep going a bit more and ended up high up in the mountains with stunning views, no wifi, an albergue owner who wouldn’t let us watch the World Cup semi-final between Brazil and Germany but ended up sharing a group dinner involving the most amazing paella ever cooked, the evidence of which is in the photo on the right! (Hint – use monkfish bones and shrimp heads when creating your stock!)

¡Buen Camino!

St. Jean Pied de Port to Logroño (7 days, 164km)

  • Day 1 St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles, 25km
  • Day 2 Roncesvalles to Zubiri, 23km
  • Day 3 Zubiri to Pamplona, 22km
  • Day 4 Pamplona to Puente La Reina, 23km
  • Day 5 Puente La Reina to Estella, 22km
  • Day 6 Estella to Los Arcos, 21km
  • Day 7 Los Arcos to Logroño, 28km

Logroño to Burgos (5 days, 124km)

  • Day 8 Logroño to Nájera, 29km
  • Day 9 Nájera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, 21km
  • Day 10 Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Belorado, 23km
  • Day 11 Belorado to San Juan de Ortega, 24km
  • Day 12 San Juan de Ortega to Burgos, 27km

Burgos to León (7 days, 180km)

  • Day 13 Burgos to Hontanas, 30km
  • Day 14 Hontanas to Boadilla del Camino, 29km
  • Day 15 Boadillo del Camino to Carrión de los Condes, 26km
  • Day 16 Carrión de las Condes to Terradillos de los Templarios, 26km
  • Day 17 Terradillos de los Templarios to Bercianos del Real Camino, 23km
  • Day 18 Bercianos del Real Camino to Mansilla de las Mulas, 27km
  • Day 19 Mansilla de las Mulas to León, 19km

Villafranca del Bierzo León to Sarria (8 days, 192km)

  • Day 20 León to Hospital de Orbigo, 30km
  • Day 21 Hospital de Orbigo to Astorga, 16km
  • Day 22 Astorga to Foncebadón, 27km
  • Day 23 Foncebadón to Ponferrada, 27km
  • Day 24 Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo (in photo), 22km
  • Day 25 Villafranca del Bierzo to O Cebreiro, 30km
  • Day 26 O Cebreiro to Triacastela, 21km
  • Day 27 Triacastela to Sarria, 19km

Sarria to Santiago (5 days, 114km)

  • Day 28 Sarria to Portomarín, 21km
  • Day 29 Portomarín to Palas do Rei, 25km
  • Day 30 Palas do Rei to Arzúa, 29km
  • Day 31 Arzúa to Arca, 19km
  • Day 32 Arca to Santiago de Compostela, 20km

Shortening your itinerary by 1 day

Here are a few suggestions as to how you might “save” a day if you are under pressure of time. The most obvious one is to walk from Sarria-Santiago in 4 days instead of 5 and with your walking legs well-established at this point on your journey, you should find this well within your capability.

  • Sarria-Santiago in 4 days: Sarria-Gonzar-Melide-Arca-Santiago. This reduces 5 days to 4 by spreading the extra kms across the first 3 days.
  • Sarria-Santiago in 4 days: Sarria-Portomarín-Arzúa-Santiago. Simply put the last 2 stages together, giving a final stage of close to 40km. Yes, you will be very tired coming into Santiago, but there’s a perverse pleasure in arriving into Santiago feeling battered and bruised!
  • Mansilla De Las Mulas-Ponferrada in 4 days: By the time you pass the half way point, you’ll begin to have a better idea of how many km you feel like doing in a day. Or maybe you just have a plane to catch. Mansilla – Virgen del Camino (26km) – San Justo de la Vega (35km) -Rabanal del Camino (25km) – Ponferrada (33km) gets you there in 4 days instead of 5. One disadvantage is that you skip through the cathedral city of León and the Roman town of Astorga without stopping, but you could always plan for a lengthy lunch in these two places.
  • O Cebreiro-Portomarín in 2 days: Instead of stopping in Triacastela, continue on the Samos route out of Sarria and stop in Samos, then continuing on to Portomarín on day 2. This has the effect of combining 3 short days into 2 longer days, with Samos roughly half-way on the 61km stretch from O Cebreiro to Portomarín. (There are 2 different routes from Sarria to Portomarín.). For somebody under pressure of time, you could combine this with adding the final 2 stages together (see above) to make it from O Cebreiro to Santiago in 5 days instead of 7.

Adding a day

  • Take a day off: Always an option if you have the time to spare. Occasionally, this might be a necessity for reasons of  discomfort, but if you have a choice of days to take off, our recommendation is to spend a free day in León. Why? You’re already covered 60% of the journey from St. Jean to Santiago when you reach León so you feel like you have already reached an important milestone. Aside from the great cathedral with its stunning stained glass windows (our favourite cathedral on the entire Camino), León has lots to see and do. Seeing as you have one morning to lie in, treat yourself to a tapas bar crawl in the Barrio Húmedo in the old quarter of the city!
  • Sarria-Santiago in 6 days: For those looking for a gentler approach to the final stage of the Camino, you might consider splitting the Palas Do Rei-Arzúa stage in half, stopping off in the town of Melide. This would apply in particular to walkers who are starting off in Sarria and just completing the final stage of the Camino.
  • St. Jean Pied de Port-Roncesvalles in 2 days: The first stage is probably the toughest of the entire Camino for 2 reasons – the level of climbing involved allied to the fact that you haven’t built up any stamina in your legs. You might consider taking the alternative route via Valcarlos and stopping there overnight, before continuing on to Roncesvalles on your second day. Not as scenic but not as much climbing!
  • Logroño-Nájera in 2 days (Stage 8): Split the stage into 2 short stages by stopping off in Navarette.