Current as of: December 5, 2023 - 05:30
3 out of 7 - Moderate
Since the 9th century, the French Way has led thousands of pilgrims on an 800km journey across northern Spain, winding from the Pyrenees across the wheat fields of old Castile to pass through to Leon and onwards to Santiago.
Your eight-night self-guided cycling holiday begins in Leon with the route taking in the last 225km of the pilgrimage trail. Leon is the seat of the Spanish Kings and is full of soaring cathedrals and hushed convents. Your cycling route then builds through the Galician countryside to a spectacular finale at Santiago de Compostela’s majestic Baroque cathedral, the last resting place of St James the apostle.
As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. The route notes contain a 24-hour emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the local representative is normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.
Vehicle Support: This is a self-guided trip for those who prefer to cycle independently, but with our assistance to take out the stress of the logistics and planning. We arrange your accommodation, provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags are transported from one hotel to the next. The maps and route notes are provided in a link and can be downloaded to your phone via an app, RidewithGPS. A representative will be there to meet you, make sure the bikes are all set up and will be on call throughout the trip should you need.
Adult min age: 12
Arrive at the Posada Regia hotel, perfectly located in the centre of Leon. Explore the picturesque old quarter, the Barrio Humedo, which boasts narrow alleyways, traditional Spanish tavernas and breath-taking plazas.
After your morning briefing, discover the highlights of Leon, including the Panteon Real, the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo and the 13th-century Catedral de Leon, reputed to be one of the most beautiful in Spain. You can choose to take a guided tour of Leon (available for a supplement.) A late afternoon transfer takes you to to Hotel Via de la Plata in Astorga where the Episcopal Palace was designed by Gaudi.
Cycle into the Maragateria area, a wooded mountainous region where beautiful villages dot the landscape. Climb to the highest point of the tour, passing the stone cross at 1,510m, where traditionally each pilgrim leaves a stone they have brought from their homeland. Later descend into the rich valley of the Bierzo before arriving at the Hotel El Palacio in medieval Molinaseca
Cycle through the Bierzo valley, which produces excellent wines, fruit and vegetables before reaching the historic town of Villafranca del Bierzo. On to the foothills of the O’Cebreiro, a pastoral village between the mountain ranges of O Courel and Os Ancares where you have a traditional tapas dinner at the Hotel Paraiso del Bierzo.
A transfer takes you to the top of the steep O’Cebreiro mountain with breath taking views. Descend into outer lying woods and mountains, cycling through the small town of Samos where you can visit its ancient Middle Age monastery and is still inhabited by monks to this day. Cycle alongside streams and rivers arriving at the restored parsonage Hotel Rectoral de Goian in time for your included dinner.
Today cycle on narrow secondary roads through one of the most beautiful sections of the Camino. Pass through peaceful woodland and green pastures before arriving at Hotel A Parada das Bestas for your included dinner.
Time stands still in many of the pretty villages you cycle through today, each one a hidden gem with stone-built houses and quaint narrow streets. Dinner awaits at Hotel O Muiño de Pena
The final few miles of your epic pilgrimmage takes you into the heart Santiago de Compostela, the capital of northwest Spain’s Galicia region. We cycle into this unique city of pilgrims and onto the Plaza de Obradoiro overlooking the Cathedral built in honour of Saint James before arriving at the Virxe da Cerca on the edge of its legendary historic centre.
Enjoy Santiago and the cathedral before taking a taxi to the airport (pay locally approx 15 euro). Alternatively, stay on for extra nights to explore this beautiful historic city. Walking through the old streets of Santiago is a fantastic way to spend your time here, with Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings lining the old town’s streets and plazas.
You’ll stay in a diverse range of properties including converted watermills, stylish farmhouses and a restored parish house – all of them packed with period features. Please feel free to ask us for more detail about where you’ll stay.
Room upgrades may be available on request for a supplement on the final night; prices start from an additional £10 per person per night (based on 2 people sharing) – please enquire at the time of booking for further details and prices. Upgrades available at select hotels only (not for the entire duration of the tour).
All prices are based on 2 persons sharing, so if there is an odd number of people travelling in your party or you are travelling alone, there will be a compulsory supplement for a single room for the tour duration. For a solo traveller there is an additional charge to cover transfer costs.
Single supplement from £ 302
All breakfasts and 4 dinners are included.
Dinners are either taken at the hotel, or left open, where there is a good choice of restaurants.
In April and October expect temperatures in the 5-15°C with high chance of rain showers though it could also be simply partly cloudy and more temperate. Temperatures in May, June and September tend to be about 5°C warmer than April and October. Expect a combination of sun, showers and clouds. July and August are typically sunny and warm (15-25°C). Occasionally in summer there can be hot days so it is always important to make sure you have enough water.
The flight inclusive prices for this holiday include our standard transfers. If you are booking a land only package then we can usually arrange transfers for you for an additional charge.
Cycling helmet – please note that cycling helmets are a legal requirement in Spain. As we cannot provide these, we strongly recommend you bring your own
Padded cycling shorts
GPS Route Navigation
We’ve teamed up with RideWithGPS to provide our carefully researched and checked itineraries in a convenient format, similar to a car satnav, with turn-by-turn instructions all along your route.
Before you travel we’ll send you everything you need to download your route notes and the free RideWithGPS app. It’s available for iPhone and Android and the routes can also be used on any regular GPS device such as the Garmin Edge bike computers or Forerunner fitness devices.
For more details and to watch the demonstration video, please visit our GPS Route Navigation page.
Recommended Cycling Clothing
Padded cycling shorts (with loose ‘over-shorts’ where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof/windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this we recommend a large bum bag (fanny pack) or small close-fitting daysack.
Please be aware that you will be passing through some remote villages where the locals are unaccustomed to seeing people in tight lycra – we recommend you wear baggy shorts or loose ‘over shorts’ so as not to cause offence.
Exodus Policy on Cycling Helmets
Wearing a helmet is mandatory for anyone taking part in any guided Exodus cycling holiday. Group members must bring their own helmets, as they are not available for hire, even if they are hiring a bike from Exodus.
For self-guided cycling holidays wearing a helmet is highly recommended. Customers who choose to ignore our advice do so entirely at their own risk and on the understanding that it may affect the validity of their travel insurance. It should also be noted that in some countries, wearing a helmet is a legal requirement.
Cycling of all kinds has its dangers and accidents can happen from time to time. Please ensure that you are properly prepared for the riding you are going to undertake.
Local Bike Details
A quality local hire bike is included in the overall price of our cycling holidays. At the time of booking we will take your height in order to reserve equipment. There may on occasions be insufficient bikes available in the correct size; we will endeavour to find suitable alternative equipment but this cannot be guaranteed. We will tell you before you book whether suitably sized bikes are available.
1. The equipment remains the property of the supplier and you may not sell, hire out or part possession with the equipment.
2. You must not misuse the equipment and must return it in the same condition as when received (ordinary wear and tear excepted). The supplier is entitled to charge for any damage caused to the equipment during the period of hire.
3. You must ensure that the equipment is adequately secured when not in use. In the event of the equipment being lost or stolen, you may be liable for the replacement value of the equipment
4. You must not use the equipment whilst under the influence of drink or drugs and should immediately notify the Supplier in the event of breakdown or loss.
Electric bikes offer all the thrills and healthy exercise of a regular bike, but with one crucial difference – power! A tiny electric motor (capped at 20-25mph/32-40kph) assists your pedalling, allowing you to make molehills out of mountains. Cycle further, see more, have more fun. They are perfect if you want a trip with companions of differing fitness level – or a trip at a slightly harder grade – and want to know there’s a bit of motor power available if you need it.
Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Spain. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.
Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.
• Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/europe/spain
• Canada: www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/spain
• United Kingdom: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain/entry-requirements
• USA: www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Spain.html
There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for tetanus and rabies. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.
Spain's time zone: Europe/Madrid (UTC +01:00)
Spain's electricity: Plug type F (two round pins) – 230V, 50Hz
Spain's currency: Euros (EUR)
ATMs are widely available and usually the most convenient way of obtaining Euros. Travellers cheques are accepted in banks. Credit cards are widely used.
Lunch is not included in the itinerary and some dinners are left open where there are good restaurant choices, please allow some spending money for this. We recommend approximately €5-15 per lunch and €20-30 for dinner.
At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.
Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here…
Your safe participation
When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.
Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.
By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.
When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.
You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.
Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.
Trip Note validity
These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.
The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.
Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.