Self-Guided Cycle Camino de Santiago

Spain - Trip code CSCS Cycling
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237Kg of CO²e
Average carbon footprint per person
Carbon Footprint
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We've partnered with ecollective to measure the carbon footprint of this tour based on an average group size. Find out more about how we calculate this and why we think it's important here.

Why book this trip?

Cycle the legendary pilgrimage trail from Leon to Santiago de Compostela. On this scenic ride through northern Spain pass historical monuments and pretty villages along the way, often in the company of other pilgrims.

  • Leon - Imposing Gothic Cathedral with stunning stained glass windows
  • O'Cebreiro - Charming mountain village with cobbled streets and round stone thatched houses
  • Historic Camino de Santiago - Receive your Compostela pilgrim's certificate.
  • Included meals

    Breakfast: 9

    Dinner: 4

  • Trip staff


  • Transport


  • i


    4 nights premium hotel

    5 nights comfortable hotel

  • i

    Cycling grade:



Day 1 - Holiday starts in Leon

After arriving in Leon and checking into your hotel, we recommend spending time exploring this historic city. Situated in the heart of the Spanish Meseta (high plateau), Leon was once the centre of Christian Spain, at a time when two thirds of the peninsula was under Muslim rule. The city's great Gothic cathedral and the equally superb Romanesque Basilica de San Isidoro are among the finest examples of their architectural style to be found in Spain. The cathedral, in particular, is unique for the quality and magnificence of its stained-glass windows, which span seven centuries and cover subjects as diverse as religion, mythology and even medieval life.

Your included rental bike will be delivered today or tomorrow morning depending on your arrival time and you will be required to sign an agreement of care upon receipt of the bike.

We are able to offer private transfers from Oviedo Airport (OVD) for an additional cost. Please contact our self-guided team for further information.


Grade: Premium Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: None

Day 2 - Gentle ride to the historic town of Astorga

After you have tested and adjusted your rental bike, you start your Camino journey with a gentle ride through the plains of Castille to the small town of Astorga. Once a strategically important staging post on the Roman route to Andalucia, it was from Astorga that the Romans controlled the traffic of gold from mines in the nearby Las Medulas hills. The town is home to some fine medieval architecture, including a superb cathedral that is worth exploring. However, it is the Palacio Episcopal that is its most famous asset. Designed by Antoni Gaudi, the Modernista architect at the end of the 19th century, the magnificent palace was built to replace its predecessor, destroyed by a fire. Unfortunately, its radical design and horrendous costs resulted in it never being used and it now houses a unique collection of artefacts and treasures devoted to the town's history. Tonight's accommodation is the first of many gems on the trip. Once the Earl of Tepa's glorious residence, when Napoleon came to Astorga during the French siege of the town, he stayed at this home after the conquest.

Your total cycling distance today is approximately 48 kilometres.


Grade: Premium Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 3 - Bike to Molinaseca via the famous Cruz de Ferro

As you leave Astorga, the scenery takes a dramatic change, from the expansive high plateau of La Meseta, towards the rolling landscapes of the Bierzo Mountains. Your route will take you through Castrillo de Los Polvazare, one of the finest Medieval villages in Castille, before ascending higher into the hills to reach the Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross). This is the highest point of the Camino at an altitude of 1482 metres. As one of the most significant points on the route, pilgrims have been leaving stone offerings here for centuries, in the hope that they would offer protection for the rest of the pilgrimage. In good weather, you are likely to be able to see the mountains of Galicia for the first time in the distance. From here, it is mainly downhill to the small village of Molinaseca, where you will spend the night.

Your total cycling distance today is approximately 49 kilometres.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 4 - Peddle to Vilafranca del Bierzo via Ponferrada

Today's more leisurely ride heads for the city of Vilafranca del Bierzo - an important gateway to Galicia. En route, you will pass through Ponferrada - another town founded by the Roman gold mining industry and home to an impressive 12th century Templar castle which occupies an area no less than 8000 square metres. Tonight's hotel accommodation is ideally located in Vilafranca del Bierzo's pretty and historic town square. On the ground floor, you will find the oldest pharmacy in Spain, which has been converted into a museum.

Your total cycling distance today is approximately 30 kilometres.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 5 - Climb to the historic village of O Cebreiro

Today's ride into Galicia is small on distance but big on gradients as you face a six-kilometre climb up a dirt road to your night stop in O Cebreiro. If you prefer, this steep climb can be avoided by following the old national road to the Pass Pedrafita and then taking the tarmac road to O Cebreiro. Sitting high above a patchwork quilt of green valleys, O Cebreiro is a remarkable and emblematic village, full of legends and stories related to the Camino. The village is famous for its 'pallozas' - traditional circular thatch-roofed houses. Its impressive Romanesque church dates from the 11th century. Your hotel is just next door.

Your total cycling distance today is approximately 29 kilometres.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 6 - Cycle to Sarria, via Samos' Benedictine monastery

After an initial short ascent, today's ride is mostly downhill. Deep in the rural heart of Galicia, the scenery takes on a mantle of lush vegetation, ancient forests and small rural hamlets. Cycling through the village of Samos, you may choose to stop and visit the delightful Benedictine monastery - one of the most important in Galacia. Although founded in the 6th century, it was continuosuly reformed until the 18th century. From here, you will pedal on to your nightstop in Sarria - Galicia's principle town. Situated on a hilltop with a river on either side, the town commands great views of the region.

Your total cycling distance today is approximately 47 kilometres.


Grade: Premium Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 7 - Bike to Palas de Rei; Stay in an old Galician farmhouse

On today's ride, you will accomplish a total ascent of 725 metres, but this will be staggered with climbs of no more than 200 metres at a time. The rural landscape that you cycle through continuously changes and you will pass plenty of village cafés and restaurants in which to meet fellow pilgrims.

Your total cycling distance today is approximately 52 kilometres if staying in Palas de Rei or 59 kilometres if staying at Parada das Bestas.


Grade: Premium Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 8 - Cycle to Arzua; Stay in a converted Galician manor

Today's ride is gentle and undulating day as you cycle from one village to another. Dairy production is the main industry in this area, although the pilgrimage trade is also important. At our night stop in Arzúa, we can look forward to more characterful accommodation. Here, our hotel is a converted traditional Galician manor house, known as a Pazo.

Your total cycling distance today is approximately 33 kilometres.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 9 - Reach your journey's end at Santiago Cathedral

Your final day's cycling sees the landscape flatten for your last push to Santiago. If you choose the standard route, you will peddle through the outskirts of Santiago and via the famous Monte del Gozo. This hill translates as the 'Hill of Joy' as it is the place where pilgrims catch their first glimpse of the cathedral. If you would prefer to take a more scenic route, you can cycle via Touro, adding about 11 kilometres to your day's total distance.

Cycling into the heart of Santiago, your journey ends at the gates of the 12th century Baroque cathedral that towers over the surrounding city streets and is one of Christendom's holiest shrines. Indeed, after Jerusalem and Rome, this city was once the most important place of pilgrimage anywhere in the Christian world. The tomb of St. James is believed to lie in the crypt beneath the cathedral altar, part of the original 9th century foundations of an earlier basilica. After checking into your hotel, you may choose to explore more of Santiago on foot. Alternatively, you may prefer to relax with a well-earned glass of something, reflecting on the incredible journey you have undertaken in the footsteps of so many before you.

Your total cycling distance today is approximately 39 kilometres (with optional extra 11 kilometres).


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 10 - Holiday ends in Santiago

After breakfast, the organised part of your holiday comes to an end.

There are public transport options to get you to Coruna Airport (LCG) or Santiago Airport (SGQ). Alternatively, we are able to offer private transfers to both airports. Please contact our self-guided team for further information.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Trip information

Climate and country information



Overall, spring, early summer and autumn are ideal times for a Spanish trip - though the weather varies enormously from region to region. The high central plains suffer from fierce extremes, stiflingly hot in summer, bitterly cold and swept by freezing winds in winter. The Atlantic coast, in contrast, has a tendency to damp and mist, and a relatively brief, humid summer. The Mediterranean south is warm virtually all year round. Spain's Islands the Canaries and Balaerics experience very mild winters and warm summers making them ideal year round destinations.

Time difference to GMT



2 Pin Round


Roman Catholic


Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque

Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract.

There are numerous opportunities throughout this trip to stop of at monuments and religious historical sites. The following are particular places to note.
Day 1 - In Leon visit the Gothic cathedral & Basilica of San Isidoro (entrance cost around €8).
Day 4 - Visit the Castillo de los Templarios on your way through Ponferrada.
Day 6 - It is well worth stopping in Samos to see the monastery (entrance cost around €10).
Day 9 - Spend time at the end of the cycling to explore the Romanesque Santiago cathedral. Perhaps eat tonight at a Tapas bar.


Bring cycling gear such as quick drying cycle tops, padded cycle shorts and cycle gloves. Remember that the weather is slightly more changeable in northern Spain, and it can be cool, especially at night and at the start and end of the season, so bring a warmer jacket/fleece. A waterproof cycle jacket is recommended in case of rain. A light windproof jacket is always useful.


If you are not bringing cycle shoes then try to bring stiff-soled shoes as these are better for cycling - transmitting your energy into the pedals more efficiently. This becomes more relevant and recommended the more demanding the grade and distances to cover. SPD cycle shoes are not well suited to tours that combine sightseeing with cycling.
Comfortable shoes, trainers, sandals or flip flops are useful when not on the bike.

Luggage: On tour

Bring one main piece of baggage as per your airline luggage allowance, maximum 20 kg per person. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage if using public transport so don't overload yourself. Luggage transfers between hotels are normally arranged by the hoteliers. Please note luggage transfers are restricted to 15 kg per person, any additional weight will need to be packed in your day bag or pannier bag. Mark your bags clearly and leave them at the place and time arranged with them. When travelling on public transport you should always take your luggage with you.

Luggage transfer

Included between each hotel.


On all Explore cycle holidays we strongly recommend you bring along and wear your cycle helmet. It is a legal requirement in Spain to wear a helmet that meets current safety criteria. In case of an accident resulting in personal injury, certain insurance policies are invalidated in cases where a helmet was not being worn.

Cycle glasses (to protect against dust, insects, pollen, sun etc) , cycle gloves (padded for more comfort) and a water bottle or water delivery system (eg camelback or platypus). You may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. If a handle bar bag or pannier is not provided (check bike details) then you may like to bring a small rucksack to wear while cycling. Please carry some or all of your cycling equipment e.g. helmet as part of your hand luggage.

Maps - Along with the destination manual and route notes you will be sent a set of maps that have been created specifically for this trip to help you navigate. The route is marked on each map together with a series of numbered waypoints which correspond with instructions in the route notes. Should you wish to purchase a more detailed commercially produced map we recommend the following:-

General Map
Michelin Zoom Map 160 - Camino de Santiago (scale 1:130.000 / 1:200.000)


Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.

Lunch price
£8.00 - 12.00
Dinner price
£16.00 - 20.00
Beer price
£1.50 - 3.50 (depending on the region/area in Spain)
Water price
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Recommended Currency For Exchange
We recommend you take the majority of your spending money in Euros cash.
Where To Exchange
We recommend that you change any currency into Euros prior to arrival. Bureau de Change are generally only found in major cities and large airports.
ATM Availability
In cities and most major towns.
Credit Card Acceptance
Visa and Mastercard are generally accepted in larger restaurants and some shops.
Travellers Cheques
Not recommended.
Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information


Recommended airport

Arrival - Madrid Airport (MAD), Valladolid Airport (VLL) or Asturias Airport (OVD).

Departure - Santiago de Compostela Airport (SCQ) or A Coruna Airport (LCG).

Flying to your destination

We'd recommend outbound flights into Oviedo (Asturias), Madrid or Valladolid Airports which are served by both budget (including Easyjet, Ryanair) and non-budget airlines (including British Airways) from multiple airports in the UK. We'd recommend return flights from Santiago or La Coruna Airports which are served by budget (including Vueling) and non-budget airlines (including Iberia).

Accommodation notes

Premium - Hand-picked and chosen for their character, location or local importance, these properties have excellent facilities and a higher level of comfort and service. They provide the perfect wind down after an active day.

Comfortable - Our mid-range accommodation offers a good level of service often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Generally rooms will be comfortable with en-suite facilities.

Arrival and departure information

At the start of your trip you can fly into Oviedo (Asturias) Airport (OVD), Madrid Airport (MAD) or Valladolid Airport (VLL).

By public transport from Valladolid
From Valladolid to Leon there are 5 buses per day to Leon city centre. Duration 1.30-1.45hrs. See

By public transport from Oviedo
From Oviedo (Asturias) Airport to Leon there are 15 buses per day. Duration 3 to 4 hrs depending on traffic. Often you have to change buses in Oviedo or Gijon.

By public transport from Madrid
There are 4 to 5 daily buses from Madrid Airport to Leon. Duration 3.30 to 4.30hrs.

At the end of your trip you can fly back from either Santiago or A Coruna Airport.

By public transport to Santiago Airport (Labacolla)
Between Santiago bus station and Santiago Airport there are daily buses every 30 mins that run from 6.20am to 11.50pm.

By public transport to A Coruna airport (Alvedro)
From Santiago bus station you first travel to A Coruna bus station: daily buses run hourly between 10am and 10pm. Duration 1-1.20hrs depending on traffic.
From A Coruna bus station you travel by city bus to A Coruna airport: weekdays every 30 min. between 7.15am and 9.45pm; weekends every hour beteen 8.30am and 10.30pm. Duration 30 min.

A private departure transfer can be arranged (at additional cost) from Santiago to either Santiago Airports. This must be booked in advance.

Essential Information

Government Travel Safety Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.

Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

Spain: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, US, New Zealand, US or Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.

All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant Embassy prior to departure.

If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.

Minimum age restrictions

For our group tours, the minimum age is 16. The minimum age on Family trips varies between 7 and 11 - please check the 'Family information' section of the trip page for more information. 


Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.

Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.

The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Polar, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  

For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here


It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.

Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.


Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.



Nothing compulsory but Tetanus is usually recommended as a precaution. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

Cycling information
General cycling information
On this journey you cycle 324 km over eight days (an average of 41 km per day). The terrain is mostly undulating with gently rolling hills and some steeper ascents. On three of the days there are prolonged steep ascents. We cycle mostly on quiet interior roads and about 10% is on wide gravel tracks. We have graded the route as moderate.
Bike included
24 gear Mountain Bike with lockable front suspension. Electric bikes (e-bikes) are available for an additional cost.
Bike information
Your included bike is a 24 gear mountain bike with lockable front suspension and will be the correct frame size for your height. Various models are possible, each of a similar standard, eg Orbea Dakar, Mondraker Concept, Merida Matts. Each bike is fitted with a lateral pannier bags (20 litre capacity) as well as a 3-litre handlebar bag that doubles as a map note holder. A water bottle holder and new water bottle is provided as well as the facility to fit your own pedals or saddle if you wish to bring them. A lock, pump, spare inner tube and puncture repair kit with tyre levers is included. All you need to bring is your own helmet. You will be required to sign an agreement of care upon receipt of the bike.

Electric bikes (e-bikes) are available for an additional cost for the duration of the holiday. A pannier can also be hired at extra cost. You will be required to pay a refundable deposit upon collection of the e-bike in country. Please contact us for more details or to request your e-bike.
Cycling grade
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Airport Transfers
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