|Type of tour:||Self-guided|
|Distance:||32 Miles/day average|
|Dates:||Daily: Apr 1-Oct 30, 2015|
|Start city:||Astorga, Spain|
|End city:||Santiago, Spain|
The Camino de Santiago is a great cycling experience for several reasons. First of all, it is a tour full of history. People have been walking this route for over 1,000 years and, along the way, you will find beautiful cathedrals, churches, and quaint old villages.
It is a very varied tour, as every day you move on and see completely new scenery. The area of Castilla is very different to Galicia from a cultural as well as a landscape point of view. Enjoy great food and wine, as the Galicians are well-known for the excellent quality of their produce, including fish, seafood, and meat.
The Camino is also a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Millions of people walk or bike along the Camino and many do it solo, thus open to talking to others along the way.
In conclusion, this cycling tour is probably one of the best cycling experiences one can have. It has got a combination of factors that make it a unique experience, which goes further from a common cycling holiday!
Learn more about self-guided tours
Day 1: Arrival to Astorga
Individual arrival to Astorga. The town of Astorga is a place full of history and life. Make sure to visit the town center's impressive gothic cathedral and Neogothical Episcopal Palace, designed by Antonio Gaudi.
Overnight in Astorga.
Day 2: Astorga - Molinaseca (28 miles/46 km)
Today's ride is one the most beautiful of the whole tour. You leave the Castillian plains behind to climb progressively towards the mountains of Leon, with the highest point of the tour being the Monte de la Cruz the Ferro. Known as the 'Iron Cross', it stands tall at 4,937 feet (1,505 m) above sea level.
After only 5 miles (8 km), you come across a beautiful village called Castrillo de los Polvazares, where the strong orange colored stone defines the unique local architecture. The climb is very steady up to Rabanal del Camino, after which you cross several villages that are perfect places to rest and enjoy a coffee on a pleasant terrace. After Rabanal de Camino you climb to the Monte de la Cruz de Ferro where it is tradition to leave a small stone that you have brought from your homeland. From here the rest of the route is mostly downhill, with astonishingly beautiful views.
One the way down, you will cross the mountain village of Acebo. It is a village small full of charm in the middle of the mountains. Its main street, the Camino de Santiago itself, is a straight line of beautiful balconied houses. After Acebo you only have to cycle down steeply for another 6 miles (10 kms) to reach the town of Molinaseca. This valley has many fruit trees, especially cherries, and in late spring the locals are selling their tasty produce on the streets.
Overnight in Molinaseca.
Day 3: Molinaseca - O'Cebreiro (37 miles/59 km)
Today's cycle has an easy first 15 miles (25 km), until you start to climb first to the beautiful town of Villafranca and then to the Monte O'Cebreiro at 4,260 feet (1,300 m) above sea level, where the Galicia Region starts. On a clear day one can see magnificent views to the east and west of Galician green valleys and the Leon's wooded mountains. The first stop is the town of Ponferrada, an industrial town with interesting old quarters.
After the easy start to the route, you have a short climb to the town of Villafranca, which deserves a stop as it has many monuments and a picturesque town square. From Villafranca you have another 12 miles (20 km) of easy, mainly flat cycling before you get to the bottom of the valley on the foothills of the Monte de O'Cebreiro.
You cab have a rest in the valley before your final push of the day, a short but very steep 5 mile (8 km) climb that you can choose to walk. When you reach the very small village of O'Cebreiro you will feel on top of the world, able to appreciate the great views of the valleys that surround this high point. The village is small, but full of character with charming slate roofed black houses.
Day 4: O'Cebreiro - Sarria (31 miles/50 km)
Now be in Galicia, you will notice a big change in landscape, culture, gastronomy and language. Many little villages are spread around the countryside where subsistence agriculture is the way of life. Each family has small plots of land which they cultivate for their own vegetables. You can see old ladies with scarves on their heads working the land and taking care of their animals. The gastronomy in Galicia is well-known for using high quality products and preparing them in simple, but delicious ways. After an initial climb, you have an easy cycle heading on a slight descent.
A fantastic part of the day comes when you descend to the town of Samos, which has one of the oldest and most beautiful monasteries in Spain, the Benedictine monastery of Samos. The way to Samos runs next to the River Oribio, so you will find plenty of lovely spots to stop for a break. From Samos to Sarria you have the option of leaving the tarmac to continue the way that walkers take and to follow the river and the paths through beautiful rural countryside.
Overnight in Sarria.
Day 5: Sarria - Palais de Rei (34 miles/54 km)
Today's cycle ride runs through very nice rural Galician countryside, passing through many little villages. Most of this stage is along tree-lined roads and pathways and there is a mix of following secondary roads and old paths. About halfway through the route, you come across the town of Portomarin that was rebuilt on a hill after having to move the old town in the 1950's to construct a reservoir. You carry on till Palais de Rei, a small town full of the pilgrim spirit.
Overnight in Palais de Rei.
Day 6: Palais de Rei - Rua (30 miles/48 km)
Today's ride does not have alot of climbs, but it is a constant up and down that can be quite tiring. You will ride, enjoying the Galician countryside, never too far from the road in case you prefer to ride on the tarmac. During the day you will go through the town of Melide that is famous for its “pulperías”, where they serve superb octopus.
Overnight in Rua.
Day 7: Rua - Santiago (12 miles/19 km)
The week's last route is not long, alllowing you to enjoy the beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela. Entering the city is not the most beautiful part of the trip because you go near the airport and, even though the area gets busier, it is very rewarding arriving after all the effort. There are hard hills to climb before arriving at the "Monte de Gozo", called the 'Hill of Joy', where you first see the Cathedral of Santiago on the distance.
Overnight in Santiago.
Day 8: Individual Departure
After breakfast, individual departure or extended stay.
Daily: Apr 1-Oct 30, 2015
These are sample hotels and may vary by availability
Hotel Astur Plaza, Astorga
Hostal el Palacio, Molinaseca
Hostal Cebreiro, O'Cebreiro
Hotel Oca Villa de Sarria, Sarria
Hotel Casa Benilde, Palas de Rei
Hotel O'pino, Rua
Hotel Avenida, Santiago de Compostela
Interested in visiting other areas before or after your tour? Visit our hotels page to learn more about lodging options.
Bikes are available to be rented (in advance at the time of booking) include:
Each bike is equipped with the following at no additional charge:
The bikes will have flat pedals. You are welcome to bring your own pedals, but please also bring your own shoes and necessary equipment to change the pedals.
Although a bike helmet is included with rental, we recommend for safety and hygiene reasons that you bring your own helmet.
The tour takes place along moderately hilly terrain. All of the tour takes place along paved secondary roads, closely following the Camino itself which is occupied by walkers.
We do not cycle along the Camino itself as you would need mountain bikes as the terrain can be very technical and so we prefer to offer the route along quiet country roads very close to the Camino and on hybrid bikes.
There are two major climbs: one on cycling day 1 up to Cruz de Ferro mountain pass and the other on cycling day 2 to O´Cebreiro, entering Galicia. Other days have many small climbs and descents but not nearly as long as these two.
"I was really pleased with my experience on the Camino. Everything worked very well, and the directions were quite clear. In my view, the tour would have been better had the route been entirely on side roads, since the portions of the route that used the walking paths were crowded, and no more beautiful than the wonderful side roads. I ended up creating fabulous alternatives on the paved roads that were much more enjoyable. The quality of the bike that was rented was also pretty low. My bike had fat tires, was really heavy, didn't have an adjustable shock, and wasn't particularly well adjusted. I found the quality of the hotels to be acceptable (the biggest problem was the absence of fans or air conditioning, and it was quite hot). All in all, I was very impressed, and I look forward to doing more self-guided tours through Bike Tours Direct in the future."
In response to Don's feedback, the tour operator replied:
"Since this comment was recieved, we have changed the route to follow side roads rather than the walking paths as suggested by Don. It is unfortunate that Don recieved one of our older bikes and was disappointed by its performance. Hopefully our new models will have resoved the issues that he points out in his feedback. Heatwaves are rare in these parts of northern Spain which explains why some hotels do not have air conditioning units."
"We had a wonderful time and will be planning another trip with you for next year. We are already all over your website.
"(Operator) Sendrtos y Pueblos fulfilled their end perfectly. The hotels were always good and sometimes great. The El Capricho de Josanna was our favorite and everything from the room, the restaurant and the bar were fantastic. We were ready to move in. Again, all the hotels were very good. Our luggage arrived ahead of us without fail. The bikes were overall good.
"The guide book was great (when to the odometer was calibrated); however, I do think there is an error in the Villafranca De Bierzo. At 0,8 we couldn't ever find the church on the right. There was a religious building (a church or abby on the left). Anyway, it was the only time we were confused and spent time figuring out which way to go. However, my wife had just bought a fresh bag of cherries at a roadside stand and they made us feel better while we rode up and down the streets looking for that church! A second confusing section was approaching El Pino and crossing and recrossing the highway several times before reaching the hotel, but I chalk that up to fatigue and the odometer. But this is in not a complaint - this was some of the adventure!"
- Tom S.
Nearest airport: Madrid, Spain
Nearest train station: Astorga, Spain
Transfers to Astorga from Madrid are easy by bus. From Terminal 4 of the airport, the bus departs and takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Nearest airport: Santiago or Madrid, Spain
Nearest train station: Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Transfers from Santiago to Madrid are easy with ALSA buses. For example, they can depart at 7:00 a.m. and arrived at 2:45 p.m, taking 7 hours and 45 minutes.
Tips on getting to and from your tour
Weatherspark.com offers information on average weather conditions at most destinations throughout the globe. Type a destination in the search box, and select "Averages," and you'll find a range of information such as average high and low temperatures, precipitation, cloudy days, humidity and wind speed/direction.
Of course, if your tour is coming up in the next week, you can also select "Forecast" to get the most current information on upcoming conditions.
With more than 50 million tourists visiting each year, Spain is the second most toured country in the world. Sitting on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe, Spain is known for its miles of beautiful Mediterranean coastline ranging from the rocky Costa Brava to the white sand of Costa Blanca and Balearic Islands off the coast.
Spain’s culture thrives in its urban centers of Madrid, the capital, Barcelona and Seville. The countries history is exhibited in countless monuments, ruins, castles and cathedrals, contributing to Spain's ranking as the second country with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Amazing renowned wines from La Rioja, olive oils from Baena, paella rice from Levanta, Crema Catalana liqueur from Catalonia and more than one hundred varieties of cheese define Spain’s mouth-watering Mediterranean cuisine.
Senderos y Pueblos tour company is located in Segovia, Spain, only 62 miles (100 km) from Madrid. The small company, also known as Away from the Crowds, was founded in 2008 by two brothers. While they live in Spain, they have lived and studied in the United Kingdom for many years and are thus able to speak great English. Senderos y Pueblos tours are designed to show cyclists the real Spain. Following queit roads will allow cyclists to explore Spain's beautiful and genuine landscape and villages.
1. If you cancel your booking
Any cancellation must be notified to us in writing and will only be effective upon receipt of such written notification. The following cancellation charges apply: more that 30 days before the holiday commencement, deposit only; 15-30 days before, 50% of the full cost of your holiday; 3-15 days before, 75% of the full cost of your holiday; 2 days or less, 100% of the full cost of your holiday. Depending on the reasons of your cancellation, you may be able to reclaim these cancellation charges from your insurance company, if you have taken our travel insurance.
2. If we cancel your booking
In exceptional circumstances we may find it necessary to cancel your booking and if so, we shall make all reasonable efforts to offer a suitable alternative. If this is not acceptable we will refund your deposit, and any other sum you have paid to us which shall constitute full resettlement.
These booking conditions set out the basis upon which the holiday reservations and other travel are accepted for clients (“you”) by “Senderos y Pueblos S.L.L.” (“us”). Under the licence number CICL.40-23, “Senderos y Pueblos S.L.L.” who works under the commercial name “Away from the Crowds” outside of Spain with C.I.F.: B40225864, domiciled in: Calle de la Sierra 8, Siguero, 40590, Segovia, Spain; complies with legal, financial and insurance requirements under Spanish law and travel agencies regulations.
All prices we quote, are inclusive of our handling fees and VAT and, where published, are correct at the time of publication.
5. If you alter your booking
If you wish to alter your booking (eg, change the dates of your holiday), we will use all our reasonable efforts to comply with your request, however you will be obliged to pay for any additional expenses that are incurred as a result (eg cancellation fees payable to hotels and other suppliers). If you decide to change your holiday in any way once it has commenced (eg change accommodation or the duration of your stay) we accept no liability for any loss, damage, or additional expense and we cannot guarantee a refund of any costs already paid by you.
6. If we alter your booking
If it is necessary to alter the confirmed itinerary before departure, we shall use all reasonable efforts to notify you as soon as possible and make alternative arrangements. If this is not acceptable we will refund your deposit, and any other sum you have paid to us which shall constitute full resettlement.
7. Force Majeure
We regret that we cannot accept liability for any loss, damage or additional expense where the booking needs to be altered or cancelled or we are unable to perform our contractual obligations as a result of events of “force majeure”. In these booking conditions “force majeure” means any event which could not have been reasonably foreseen, or the consequences could not have been reasonably avoided, by us or the suppliers of the relevant services in question, even with the exercise of all due car. Such events may include, war or threat of war, civil strife, terrorist activity, industrial dispute, natural and man-made disaster, fire, adverse weather conditions and all similar events outside our or the relevant supplier’s control.
We use all reasonable efforts to try and ensure that the vacations offered by us are properly arranged and that the suppliers of the services in the holiday maintain reasonable standards. We accept responsibility to take reasonable care in the organisational aspects of the holiday but we are not liable and cannot be held responsible for actions of property owners, organisers of activities, providers of transport or any other suppliers involved in our holiday. Considering the particular nature of our holidays, while taking part in activities, each participant must comply with the advice and instructions given. We cannot be held responsible for incidents, accidents or personal injury that could result from foolhardy personal initiatives or inadequate physical condition. We are specifically not liable for any events outside of our control or if there has been no default or neglect by us and in no event shall we be liable for any special, indirect or consequential loss, including loss of profit. This limitation does not apply to fatal or other personal injury resulting from our negligence or that of our employees. We strongly recommend that all clients obtain appropriate travel and personal insurance cover.
We do not expect and certainly do not want dissatisfied customers, but in the event that you are not entirely satisfied with the service offered, you should notify any complaint to our office as soon as possible. We shall use all reasonable efforts to rectify the complaint as quickly as possible. If the problem cannot be resolved during the holiday period, you should contact us in writing within 14 days of returning from holiday and we will use all reasonable efforts to resolve the matter.
10. Law and Jurisdiction
The present General Conditions are subject to the following Spanish legislation: Law 21/1995, of 6 of July, of Combined Holidays (B.O.E. 7-7-1995), Law 7/1998, of 13 of April, about General Conditions of Contracts (14-4-98) and Law 26/1984, of 19 of July, Consumer and User Right (B.O.E. 24-7-84) y other dispositions in place. These conditions and terms of contract and all matters arising therefrom are subject to Spanish Law and to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Spanish courts.