For over a thousand years, pilgrims have hiked the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain. Whether you’re on a spiritual journey or simply want the thrill of hiking this famous pilgrimage route, join us on this new Active Journey.

Starting at: $5,995 Register Interest
 Shell symbol for El Camino de Santiago  The cathedral at Santiago de Compostela  The road to Roncesvalles  Travelers along the Camino de Santiago  Monument to the running of the bulls in Pamplona  The town of Burgos, along the Camino de Santiago  Statue of El Cid in Burgos  Medieval bridge outside Burgos  Landscape of Leon Province  Scallop shells, symbol for the Camino de Santiago  Landscape near O Cebreiro  Village of O Cebreiro  Arriving at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela  Interior of the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela  Cabo de Finisterre  Sunset over the Atlantic, Finisterre

Hiking and History Along El Camino de Santiago

11 days from $5,995

For over a thousand years, pilgrims have hiked the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain. Whether you’re on a spiritual journey or simply want the thrill of hiking this famous pilgrimage route, join us on this new Active Journey.

Overview

Activity Level 3:  Moderate / Active 

Expectations: This trip is part of the Smithsonian Active Journeys collection. These trips feature a daily schedule of physical activities—such as walking, hiking, kayaking, rafting, or bicycling—in addition to activities designed to offer cultural or historical context. Each trip entails a different level of physical expectations. Please review the following activity level description—and feel free to contact an Active Journeys Specialist to discuss the trip at more length—to ensure this Active Journey is right for you.

Almost anyone who is reasonably fit should be comfortable on a Moderate/Active tour (Level 3). On this trip, daily hikes of approximately 3 to 6 miles (2 to 5 hours a day) are taken at a leisurely pace. You will hike nearly 40 miles of the legendary Camino, focusing on the most scenic sections and bypassing others by mini buses. The terrain will vary from cobblestoned village streets to good trails, though trails might be muddy or rocky at times. Almost every day features a cultural site associated with the hike, such as a castle visit, historic site, meeting with local people, or such. Hikes are not long enough to require support vehicles but it is always possible to skip a hike and ride in the mini bus to the next destination. Leisure time is limited to the evenings.

Hiking boots and day packs for daily necessities are a must and hiking poles can be very helpful for some travelers. Transport between hotels and to some sites is by 9-person mini buses. Accommodations feature upscale historic properties or luxury paradores.

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, expect a slightly vigorous pace, are comfortable participating in up to five hours of hiking per day, and enjoy challenging themselves physically.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Spain

Day 2 — Arrive in Pamplona, Spain and Transfer to Roncesvalles

Arrive in Pamplona this morning. Depending on your arrival schedule, meet your guide at the airport or train station, and drive to the nearby town of Roncesvalles for an introduction to the history of pilgrimages along the Camino de Santiago.

Join your guide for a walking tour of the historical sites of Roncesvalles. Before your welcome dinner, gather for the first of our lectures. Tonight, trace the roots of Spain from 1500 BC to AD 711. (D)

Day 3 — Roncesvalles to Viscarret and Pamplona

Today you'll begin your pilgrimage, hiking from Roncesvalles to Viscarret in Nararra. Stop to enjoy a lovely lunch before driving back to Pamplona. Founded by the Roman General Pompeius, Pamplona is the first big city that the pilgrims discovered when they arrived in Spain.

Take a walk through the old city, including the streets where the famous "running of the bulls" takes place. Your lecture this evening will focus on the history of the Basque people. Hiking 5 miles, 3 hours (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Pamplona to El Alto del Perdon and La Rioja

Today’s hike begins right from your hotel in Pamplona. You will follow the Camino to El Alto del Perdon. Following a picnic lunch, we will transfer by van to La Rioja, where you will visit a local winery for a tour and tasting. Check in to your hotel before joining your guide for a talk on Spanish History.

Tonight, you'll focus on the years from 711 to 1492 and La Reconquista, the period when Christianity expanded throughout Spain, leading to the era of exploration. Hiking 6 miles, 3 hours (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Burgos and El Cid

After breakfast this morning, continue to follow the Camino into the city of Burgos, the main capital of the Kingdom of Catilla in the 9th century. Situated on the Rio Arlanzon, Burgos was home to El Cid, famed warrior Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, whose statue still guards the Puente de San Pablo. Check into your hotel then enjoy a guided tour of the Gothic-style cathedral and the old town.

Tonight’s talk will focus on the legacy of El Cid. Hiking 5-6 miles, 2-3 hours (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Carrion de los Condes

This morning, a short transfer takes you from Burgos to the start of your hike in Boadilla del Camino. You'll follow the Camino today to the village of Fromista in the Province of Palencia. Before lunch, visit the Romanesque Church of San Martin de Fromista then continue by coach to the charming Castillian town of Carrion de los Condes. Take a guided tour of the old town, then settle into the hotel, impressively located within a restored medieval monastery.

Your lecture tonight will focus on the famous kings and queens of Spain and their dynasties. Hiking 4.5 miles, 2-3 hours (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Leon and Christian Spain

After a week of hiking as pilgrims along the Camino, you can give your legs a break today. After breakfast this morning, transfer by coach to the capital of Christian Spain: the city of León. Take a historical tour of the city and its early Gothic-style cathedral, one of the most famous in Spain. Visit the Colegiata de San Isidoro and learn about its fascinating history dating back to its original incarnation as a temple to the Roman god, Mercury.

Your talk tonight will focus on the history of the Jews in Spain. Dinner tonight is free for you to choose from one of the many excellent restaurants and bistros in León. Walking, 2-3 hours (B,L)

Day 8 — Monforte de Lemos and the Celts

Today, continue your pilgrimage along the Camino. A short drive brings you to the village of las Herrerias en El Bierzo. From the town square, hike to the hilltop hamlet of O Cebreiro, the oldest church and village along El Camino de Santiago. Be sure to leave a coin at the village cross for good luck! This is the northwestern region of Galicia, known for its Celtic history and rolling hills. Soak in the beauty of the surrounding countryside before transferring to Monforte de Lemos.

Our hotel tonight is a Benedictine monastery. Join your guide for a short walk in town to visit the tower and monastery before our evening lecture. Tonight we will discuss Spanish history from the 1900s: the Civil War and Franco. Hiking 6 miles, 3-4 hours (B,L,D)

Day 9 – Santiago de Compostela

Embark this morning on the final stretch of El Camino. It’s a special feeling to catch your first glimpse of the towers of Santiago’s cathedral and know that your pilgrimage is near its end. Depending on the interests and fitness of your group, there will be two trailheads to choose from.

Continue by foot into the heart of the city to Plaza del Obradoiro, arriving at the foot of the cathedral the same way countless pilgrims have before you. Take a moment to meditate on your achievement before checking into the hotel.

Your final lecture tonight will trace Spanish history from the time of Franco through today. Hiking 6-10 miles, 3-5 hours (B,L,D)

Day 10 – Finisterre and Farewell

Journey this morning to Cabo Finisterre, the westernmost tip of Spain and an extension of El Camino for many pilgrims. Return to Santiago after lunch and a guided tour of the cathedral and the city’s old quarter, a World Heritage site.

For those who wish, join a Pilgrims Mass at the cathedral this evening before gathering with your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner. Walking 2-3 hours (B,L,D)

Day 11 – Departure

After a final breakfast, a transfer is provided to the Santiago de Compostela airport for your flight home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)