Start Leon. We may have time to visit the city's beautiful gothic cathedral and stroll around its charming winding narrow streets.
We head into the countryside riding across the plains of Castilla through cultivated countryside and quaint villages, with adobe houses and wine caves. We will take lunch in Hospital del Orbigo and on entering the village we cross a stunning mediaeval bridge (one of the longest pilgrimage bridges in Spain). We then ride the final 15km to the beautiful walled town of Astorga, with views of the mountains of Leon in the distance. 48 km
Today's ride is the most beautiful of the trip as we leave the Castillan plains behind and climb gradually into the mountains of Leon to the Monte de la Cruz de Ferro (1505m). En route we pass through Castrillo de los Polvazares, known for its very special architecture created by strong orange coloured stone. After lunching in the charming mountain village of Acebo (the main street is a straight line of beautiful balconied houses) we enjoy the rest of our descent into Molinaseca, with stunning views of the surrounding valley. 46 km
The highlight today is the ride to the beautiful town of Villafranca with stunning views across the green valleys of Galicia and wooded mountains of Leon. After the first easy and mainly flat 25km we have a short climb to Villafranca, which is worth a look for its many monuments and picturesque town square. Once we reach the bottom of the valley on the foothills of Monte de O'Cebreiro we will have a rest before our final push to the top of the mountain and the small village of O'Cebreiro. Here we will be able to appreciate wonderful views of the valleys that surround this peak and admire the charming slate roofed black houses. 60km
As we enter Galicia the landscape changes dramatically and the area is populated by a number of traditional agricultural villages. Each family has small plots of land, which they cultivate for their own vegetables and we will pass by many of the locals working the land and tending to their cattle. As well as a change in culture, landscape and language, the gastronomy of Galicia is famous for using products of high quality and preparing them in simple and not elaborate, but delicious ways. Before ending the day at Sarria there is time to visit one of the oldest monasteries in Spain at Samos. 50km PREMIUM DEPARTURES: we end the day in Portomarin. Distance: 69km
Today's ride runs through beautiful rural Galician countryside and along tree-lined paths to the town of Portomarin, which was rebuilt on a hilltop in the 1950s in order to construct a reservoir. After trying the local speciality of octopus we head to Palas de Rei, a small town full of the pilgrim spirit. 54km PREMIUM DEPARTURES: we end the day near ArzÚa. Distance: 48km
Our final day involves a number of short ascents and descents as far as Monte de Gozo, where we take in our first views of the towers of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. As the pilgrims have done for centuries, we wind our way through the city's streets and crowds to Plaza del Obradoiro, dominated by the impressive Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
We then move onto the Pilgrim's Office for those who wish to obtain the 'compostela' (certificate of accomplishment). 67km
End Santiago de Compostela.