The route you'll take...
The most popular of the four pilgrimage routes, over 135000 people travelled on this camino in 2012. This figure equates to 70% of all walkers and cyclists who gained a Compostela that year. Because it is so popular, accommodation is at a premium, so early planning and booking is essential.
The route starts by ascending and descending the Pyrenees, the first stage being a stiff climb. Once over the mountain pass and into Spain the route enjoys the Basque countryside until Logrono and from Burgos to Leon the endless meseta before climbing the Montes de Leon and finishing the walk through the woodlands of Galicia.
The Route and places of interest on the way
The route starts at St Jean Pied de Port, 8km from the Spanish border in the French Basque province. At the Pilgrims’ Office, collect your credential that allows you to stay in the albergues, and obtain your stamps for your journey.
The first part of the walk has been described as the hardest of this route, 27km to Roncesvalles, climbing 1300 metres into the Pyrenees, crossing into Spain. Roncesvalles is little more than a village, so on to the first major city on the walk, Pamplona, site of a magnificent cathedral and famed for the “bull run” that occurs at the St Fermin festival on 7th July. The tapas here is highly recommended, but it’s not cheap.
24 km after leaving Pamplona, the route joins another Pilgrim’s Way at Puenta la Reina, “the crossroads of the ways”. Apart from its churches, the most breath-taking structure is the Romanesque bridge over the River Arga.
Continuing eastwards, for another 200 km, is the city of Burgos. Burgos itself is a wonderful city, boasting a magnificent cathedral and two monasteries; it was once the capital of Castile. Burgos Cathedral is the burial place of the 11th-century warrior Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, better known as El Cid. From Burgos the path enters the tableland or meseta which is a flat mind numbing stretch of land filled with fields of wheat and corn and very few villages to stay at.
A little over half of the walk completed and you arrive at the major Leonese city of Leon. The cathedral is famous for its original stain glass windows which cover almost 1800 square meters laid end to end.
From here over the mountain pass at at Irago and then on to Ponferrado and now you have only 200 km to your destination. Your route takes you past the Templar castle.
When to go and the weather you can expect
For weather, the best time to walk the Camino Frances is April to June or September and October. At the height of summer, it is very hot and torrential rain falls in Galicia. In the winter, it will snow almost anywhere along the route and rain heavily.
Disclaimer: Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information contained in the four Camino routes described in our DVDs. However, any subsequent changes in the services or facilities offered, after our DVD is published, is beyond our control and we cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracy in the DVD as a result, or any inconvenience caused. It is our intention to update any information in the DVDs that has changed and that we're made aware of by publishing the information in this website. We also encourage people who have completed any of these routes to contribute to the Camino Pilgrimages website using the feedback form also in this website. This information can then be shared with others in the Camino community through this website as well as in our blog and on our Facebook page.