DAY 1: Start your Camino journey
It is time to start your Camino journey! After your flight to Santiago de Compostela – Rosalia de Castro Airport, the group will meet the guide at the arrivals hall and travel to the hotel in Lugo city where you will be staying for three nights.
Lugo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is the only city in the world to be surrounded by completely intact Roman walls. It is also on the Camino de Santiago: on the Camino Primitivo route, so you will spot yellow arrows and shell markings in the old town.
Over dinner, you will get to know other members of the group.
DAY 2: Walking from Sarria to Portomarin (22km/6hr approx.)
After breakfast, the group will travel by bus to the town of Sarria to start the Camino walk, approximately 30 minutes away. Sarria is a small market town and the most popular starting point for the Camino de Santiago, as the distance from here (111kms) allows walkers to request the Compostela certificate.
Today you will walk 22kms from Sarria to Portomarin, entering rural Galicia, through one of the most wonderful oak woods (‘carballeiras’) on the route. It is a relatively easy stretch of the Camino trail, taking in forest tracks and quiet country roads, passing tiny hamlets and pretty Romanesque buildings such as Barbadelo Church before arriving in Portomarin.
After a little time to explore Portomarin, the group will be collected and travel to the hotel in Lugo (approximately 30 minutes).
DAY 3: Walking from Portomarin to Palas de Rei (24km/6.5hr)
After breakfast, the group will be picked up at the hotel in Lugo and travel back to Portomarin (approximately 30 minutes) to continue the journey. Today’s stage is 24kms long, leaving Portomarin and the river Miño behind and walking across the countryside to the town of Palas de Rei.
There is some uphill walking to be done on your way to the beautiful Serra de Ligonde,the highest point of today’s stage. You will get to admire some of the wonderful churches, tiny villages and scenery along the way. In Os Lameiros, you will get to admire its wonderful stone cross ‘cruceiro’, built in 1670 with one side depicting the crucifixion of Christ and the other side featuring an image of the Virgin.
After spending some time exploring the town of Palas de Rei, the bus will collect the group again and travel back to the hotel in Lugo (approximately 30 minutes).
DAY 4: Walking from Palas de Rei to Arzúa (29km/7.5hrs approximately)
This morning the group will be picked up after breakfast to continue the Camino walk from Palas de Rei a Arzúa.
At 29kms, the longest walking stage of the week awaits today, however the path is downhill for most of the day with just a few ascents. The path begins through a forest track from Palas to San Xulián or San Xiao do Camino, a very pretty stretch and one of the most wonderful of the trail. San Xulián or San Xiao do Camino is a picturesque little hamlet with a wonderful Romanesque Church and a ‘cruceiro’ stone cross in the centre of the village.
Halfway to Arzua you’ll find the market town of Melide, which is famous for its octopus restaurants known as ‘pulperias’ serving Galicia’s most traditional dish. A perfect place to stop for lunch.
The second part of the day you will walk through lovely countryside and charming little hamlets such as Leboreiro with its traditional ‘cabazo’, Boente and Ribadiso by the medieval bridge over the River Iso.
Once in Arzúa you will have time to relax and explore for a bit, even try some of the local cheeses, before being picked up and traveling to the hotel in Santiago.
DAY 5: Walking from Arzúa to O Pedrouzo (20km, 5.30hr)
Today the group will check out of the hotel in Lugo and be picked up after breakfast to continue the Camino walk from Arzúa to Pedrouzo. Today’s stage is a very manageable, comfortable stretch of approximately 20kms.
Arzúa is the dairy capital of Galicia and home to some of its best cheeses. The group will leave the market town by the pretty Rua do Carmen street, with its wood-cladded dwellings. After the Fonte dos Franceses (the Fountain of the French) we leave the town behind, replacing the urban landscape with lush meadows and cows happily enjoying the green pastures.
Wonderful forest tracks, quiet country roads and farmland make our Camino path for the day.
Our finish line is the village of O Pedrouzo, where the group will be picked up and travel to the hotel in Santiago de Compostela.
DAY 6: Walking from O Pedrouzo to Santiago (18km/5hr)
After breakfast, the group will be picked up and travel by bus back to O Pedrouzo to complete your last walking day into Santiago de Compostela. This is a very exciting day as you will finally walk into the old town in Santiago de Compostela and its magnificent cathedral.
It is also possible to start a bit earlier today in order to try to arrive into the city for the Pilgrim Mass, which takes place at 12pm.
From O Peddrouzo, pilgrims continue the walk through the last great oak wood of this ancient Camino trail to the hamlets of Amenal before walking up the hill to Cimadevila.
Next on the trail you will pass the village Lavacolla, a place where pilgrims used to stop to wash in the stream, hence its name. The path then continues on to Monte do Gozo, the Mount of Joy, where you will catch your first glimpse of the city and the spires of the cathedral.
We are only about an hour away from Santiago Cathedral and as you approach the city, the quiet path and country roads give place to an excited atmosphere as the group enters the city outskirts. Walking down Rua de San Pedro and entering the Old Town, the excitement of all pilgrims is palpable. Walking down the steps under the archway and into Obradoiro Square, you will finally reach Santiago Cathedral and Praza do Obradoiro where the atmosphere of exhilaration and jubilation is something special, a memory that you will treasure forever. Enjoy and savour this moment, you have arrived!
Your guide will bring the group’s pilgrim passports to the Pilgrim Office to collect your certificates.
DAY 7: Exploring Santiago de Compostela
Today, you will have the day free to explore Santiago de Compostela at your own pace. The city has been a destination for pilgrims for centuries and the capital of Galicia is a city full of wonders, with beautiful cobbled squares, arched streets and cosy nooks and crannies.
Originally built in the 9th century on the spot where the remains of Saint James were found, the Cathedral is the city’s most important landmark and monument but there are many other wonderful places not be missed in Santiago’s Old Town such as the Abastos Market, the Alameda Park, the University Buildings and its many museums.
In the lively streets of the Old Town such as Rua do Vilar, Rua Nova and Rua do Franco you will find a vibrant mix of pilgrims, locals and students enjoying the many cafes, bars and restaurants. Galicia’s traditional cuisine can be found everywhere; the famous Galician octopus, empanadas (savory pastries), Padrón peppers, caldo galego and Tarta de Santiago almond cake are just some of the region’s many unmissable delicacies you should sample.
Santiago city is split in two areas: the Old Town (Zona Vella), and the New Town (Zona Nova). You can also venture into the New Town, wrapped around the historic quarter and a short walk away where you will find many stores..
DAY 8: Guided city tour and return to Dublin
On your last morning you will have breakfast in the hotel and check out at 10am. Your local guide will then meet you at the hotel to take you on a guided tour of a the city; the best way to discover this magnificent UNESCO-listed Old Town. You will then have a visit to the cathedral after the city tour. Your bags can be left at the hotel reception while you go on the tour.
Following the tour, you will have a little free time to get lunch and so some last minute souvenir shopping, before returning to the hotel to collect your bags. The group will then be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Dublin.