Cycling the Camino de Santiago
The Way of St James - Camino Frances
By Mike Wells
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Guidebook detailing the 850km cycle route from St Jean-Pied-de-Port in southern France to Santiago de Compostela, following the original pilgrim route, with optional road variants. Suitable for most abilities and bikes, the route is presented in 19 stages averaging 45km each, with notes on the religious significance and local sites of interest.
SeasonsBoth routes can be cycled between April-October, though as it is very hot (up to 40 degrees) in July-August these months are best avoided. Snow can fall on higher parts between November-March.
CentresSt Jean-Pied-de-Port, Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, León, Astorga, Ponferrada, Sarria, Santiago de Compostela
DifficultyThe off-road route is best ridden on a mountain bike or trail bike. It has steep ascents and descents on rough off-road trails. The road route, while reaching the same altitudes, ascends steadily on quiet asphalt roads with no undue difficulty for touring cycles. Less experienced mountain-bike riders can mix and match, using the road route to avoid the toughest off-road sections.
Must SeeRolling green hills, high chalk downland, vineyards, historic churches, architecture, local cuisine, Santiago cathedral housing the shrine of St James
The Camino de Santiago de Compostela (Way of St James) is among the world's most famous pilgrimages: Christian pilgrims have travelled to the shrine of St James in Santiago, northern Spain, since the ninth century. This guide provides all the information you need to successfully cycle the Camino.
The Camino Francés is the most popular variant of the Camino, linking St Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French-Spanish border with Santiago via Pamplona, Burgos and León. The guide presents the journey in 18 stages. Two versions of the route are described, the first (770km) based closely on the walkers' route and suitable for hybrid or mountain bikes; the second (798km) a 'road route' for road and touring cycles. It can be cycled in around 10–14 days and is very well provisioned. Clear route description and mapping are accompanied by notes on local points of interest, as well as background information on Spanish history and the history of the Camino. The practicalities are also thoroughly covered, including travel to and from the route, accommodation, facilities, kit and how to qualify for and obtain your Compostela (pilgrims' certificate).
Whether you're seeking a spiritual journey, a physical challenge or just a holiday, the Camino promises an unforgettable experience – from the beautiful landscapes, historic towns and rich culture of northern Spain to the famed camaraderie with other wayfarers. Blending information with inspiration, this guide is an ideal companion to cycling this UNESCO-listed route.
Pilgrim credentials and information
Getting there and back
Food and drink
Amenities and services
What to take
Safety and emergencies
About this guide
Navarre and La Rioja
Stage 1 St Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles
Stage 2 Roncesvalles to Pamplona
Stage 3 Pamplona to Estella
Stage 4 Estella to Logroño
Stage 5 Logroño to Santo Domingo de la Calzada
León y Castile
Stage 6 Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Villafranca Montes de Oca
Stage 7 Villafranca Montes de Oca to Burgos
Stage 8 Burgos to Castrojeriz
Stage 9 Castrojeriz to Carrión de los Condes
Stage 10 Carrión de los Condes to Sahagún
Stage 11 Sahagún to León
Stage 12 León to Astorga
Stage 13 Astorga to Ponferrada
Stage 14 Ponferrada to O Cebreiro
Stage 15 O Cebreiro to Sarria
Stage 16 Sarria to Palas de Rei
Stage 17 Palas de Rei to Arzúa
Stage 18 Arzúa to Santiago de Compostela
Appendix A Facilities summary table
Appendix B Tourist information offices
Appendix C Cycle shops
Appendix D Pilgrim information
Appendix E Useful contacts
Appendix F Language glossary
Appendix G Spanish architectural styles
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Mike Wells has been a keen long-distance walker and cyclist for over 20 years. He has walked all the major British trails, the GR5 through the Alps from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean and has explored the Italian Dolomites' Alta Via routes. He has also walked in Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Norway and Chilean Patagonia.
Mike has cycled the C2C route across northern England as well as the Camino and Ruta de la Plata to Santiago de la Compostela. He has completed an end to end traverse of Cuba, a circumnavigation of Iceland and a trip across Lapland to the North Cape.
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