We fly to Bilbao and transfer to our hotel in the city.
Day 2 – Bilbao & Guggenheim Museum
We start the day with a guided city tour of Bilbao. Situated on the banks of the River Nervion, this Basque port city is a wonderful mix of old and new with a quaint Old Town and striking 21st century architectural buildings.
The major landmark of the city is the Guggenheim Museum. Opened in 1997, architect Frank Gehry's spectacular twisting titanium-clad art museum has an outstanding collection of modern art with both permanent and temporary exhibitions which we have time to discover.
Tonight we enjoy dinner together in a local restaurant.
Day 3 – La Rioja, Santo Domingo de la Calzada & Burgos
We check out of our hotel in Bilbao and head to La Rioja, a region renowned for its wine. The rolling hillsides are perfect for growing the grapes for this eponymous wine and we enjoy a visit to a local wine cellar for a tasting of this famous red wine.
We continue to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, one of the Rioja towns along the Santiago bound pilgrimage route. The town boasts a partially walled old quarter, a labyrinth of medieval streets and beautiful Romanesque cathedral. There’s also the option to join a leisurely three mile walk along the Camino de Santiago.
Afterwards we travel to our hotel in Burgos, our base for the next two nights.
Day 4 – Burgos
This morning we enjoy a guided tour of Burgos. The city is on the main pilgrimage route and is steeped in history. The attractive centre has narrow streets lined with painted buildings and open squares while the main attraction is the extraordinary Gothic cathedral – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Just outside the city stands the monastery of Miraflores and we have the option to take a leisurely walk along the River Arlanzón to this 15th-century Carthusian monastery (approximately two miles).
Day 5 – León
Leaving Burgos, we travel to León, originally settled by the Romans and another important staging post along the Camino de Santiago. Some of the city's most prominent historical buildings are the Gothic cathedral with its beautiful stained glass, the Basilica of San Isidoro built into the old city walls, the Monastery of San Marcos, and the Casa Botines – a Modernist creation of the architect Antoni Gaudí. We enjoy a guided tour of the city followed by time at leisure or the option to join a two mile walk along part of the pilgrimage route.
Later we check in to our hotel in León where we stay overnight.
Day 6 – Astorga, Bishop’s Palace, Castrillo de los Polvazares, Cruz de Fierro, Molinaseca & Ponferrada
We check out of our hotel and head first to the historic city of Astorga, another key point of the Camino de Santiago. Here we visit the fairytale Bishop’s Palace, a modernist building designed by Antoni Gaudí which houses a museum of the pilgrimage to Santiago.
After free time for lunch, we continue to the charming village of Castrillo de los Polvazares, with its houses and cobbled streets built with the same russet-coloured stone. From here our coach climbs up to the Cruz de Fierro, the highest point on the Camino de Santiago and a symbolic place where pilgrims traditionally leave a rock. From here there is the option to walk along the pilgrimage route for approximately two miles.
We travel on to the village of Molinaseca where we enjoy dinner together in a local restaurant before continuing on to the town of Ponferrada, one of the major staging posts on the pilgrimage route, and our overnight hotel.
Day 7 – O Cebreiro, Portomarín, Monte de Gozo & Santiago de Compostela
Our first stop today is the beautiful mountain village of O Cebreiro. This rustic village is home to a series of pallozas, traditional round stone houses with thatched roofs, and a pre-Romanesque church, the oldest remaining fully intact church on the pilgrimage route.
We then head to the riverside town of Portomarín where there’s free time for lunch before making our way towards Santiago de Compostela. We stop at the Monte de Gozo (Hill of Joy), the last stage of the pilgrimage route, from where we get our first glimpse of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. There’s the option to walk into Santiago from here (around 2 ½ miles), finishing the walk in the city’s square, or rejoin the coach to reach the city. Later we check in to our hotel where we stay for two nights.
Day 8 – Santiago de Compostela
The Galician capital of Santiago de Compostela is the final destination on the epic Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail and we start the day with a guided tour of this fascinating city. The historic centre is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site with arcaded streets, Baroque squares and magnificent stone architecture, of which the famous cathedral is the jewel in the crown.
After an afternoon at leisure in the city, we enjoy dinner together in a local restaurant.
Day 9 – Santillana del Mar & Santander
Leaving Santiago we head towards Santander, stopping en-route in the beautiful medieval town of Santillana del Mar. We have time to wander the picturesque, cobbled streets lined with attractive stone buildings or browse the craft shops and galleries. The town also has a lovely medieval church with a walled cloister.
We continue to the Cantabrian capital of Santander. Some of the highlights of this beachside city include the historic Old Town with its narrow lanes and elegant cathedral and the Magdalena Palace, which was used as the summer getaway of Spanish royalty. There are also plenty of fine beaches lining the shorefront. Later, we check in to our overnight hotel in the city.
We check out of our hotel and transfer to Bilbao airport for our flight home.