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The Camino Francés | French Way

Camino de Santiago from Astorga

Astorga

Tour Description

Astorga is a key place for pilgrims on the French Way. Located in the province of León, Astorga is the second town with more hospitals for pilgrims and one of the great historical centres of the Pilgrim’s Routes to Santiago de Compostela. Furthermore, this Castilian town is the meeting point of two major routes on the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago: the French Way and the Via de la Plata. Both are of Roman origin and among the oldest.

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Experience details

Included Services

Lodging in private room with private bathroom
Luggage transfer between stages
Half board: breakfast and dinner
Travel insurance
Walking notes
Pilgrim passport
24/7 telephone assistance

Astorga to Santiago de Compostela

Astorga is one of the most important cities on the French Way and a popular starting point.

The distance of this route is approximately 254 km. The standard itinerary is 11 stages to be completed in 12 days. However, if you are worried about the stages being too long or if you prefer a more relaxed pace, remember that our itineraries are totally flexible, so we can split them in two or add extra nights for you to rest.

Stage 1: Astorga - Rabanal del Camino (19 km)

The French Route enters the region of La Maragatería and crosses lands of unique architecture and gastronomy. On this route you can take a detour to visit Castrillo de los Polvazares, a village of Maragatería architecture declared a Historic-Artistic Site. After crossing the old municipality of Santa Catalina de Somoza we arrive at Rabanal del Camino. Here you can visit the church of La Asunción and the house of the Cuatro Esquinas, where Philip II is said to have spent the night during his pilgrimage to Santiago in the 16th century.

Stage 2: Rabanal del Camino - Ponferrada (32 km)

From Rabanal del Camino, the ascent to the mountains of León begins, which will involve a significant climb to an altitude of more than 1,400 m, where the Cruz de Ferro is located. This stage is harder than the previous ones, because although the kilometres close to Ponferrada are on flat terrain, the slopes after the descent from the Cruz de Ferro are significant. The end of the route takes us to Ponferrada, which has been closely linked to the Pilgrims’ Route to Santiago de Compostela since the 11th century. It has a great cultural and religious heritage where the imposing Castle of the Templars and the baroque church of San Andrés are a must-see.

Stage 3: Ponferrada - Villafranca del Bierzo (23 km)

Leaving the urban layout of Ponferrada behind, the Bierzo region offers a change of scenery where orchards and aromatic vineyards will be the protagonists of this stage. We arrive at Villafranca del Bierzo, a charming medieval village, dominated by a feudal fortress. Its old quarter has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest and its Jacobean character has turned it into an important tourist centre.

Stage 4: Villafranca del Bierzo - O Cebreiro (28 km)

This route is more demanding, as it enters a mountain pass with a steep slope, the hardest ascent being the stretch between Hospital and La Faba. The municipality that ends this stage is O Cebreiro, the first stop on the French Route in Galicia and located in the region of Os Ancares Lucenses, a beautiful natural area that has been declared a Biosphere Reserve. Here you can discover the legend of the miracle of O Cebreiro and the statue of the pilgrim woman at the viewpoint of the village.

Stage 5: O Cebreiro - Triacastela (21 km)

The route between O Cebreiro and Triacastela continues with constant ups and downs, so we recommend taking it easy and enjoying the scenery during the walk. The end of the stage, Triacastela, is the first Galician village on the Camino and has an archaeological heritage of great interest, as there were three important castles, hence the name Triacastela.

Stage 6: Triacastela - Sarria (18 km)

From Triacastela to Sarria, we will enjoy a pleasant walk through rural areas, small forests and valleys. Sarria is the starting point of the French Way for many pilgrims, as the last 100 km is the minimum required to obtain the Compostela.

Stage 7: Sarria - Portomarín (22 km)

In this section you will find some sections with frequent slopes but they will not be a difficulty on your way. During the route, you will be able to enjoy the most rural Galicia through its beautiful forests of carballeiras. Various Romanesque remains, rustic footbridges and medieval bridges are some of the other charms of this stage.

Stage 8: Portomarín - Palas de Rei (25 km)

Its layout is characterised by paths parallel to the road and asphalted tracks for pilgrims. Along the route, we will come across small villages and places of great interest such as the Os Lameiros crossroads or the Castromaior archaeological sites.

Stage 9: Palas de Rei - Arzúa (29 km)

This stage marks the final stretch of the French Way. Several sections of the stage are hard, as they have numerous climbs and descents, on poorly preserved tracks. It is one of the longest in Galicia, so we recommend splitting it in two and spending the night in Melide. It is also one of the stages with the greatest number of places of historical and cultural interest, such as Melide or Arzúa, where we will meet the pilgrims of the Primitive Way.

Stage 10: Arzúa - Pedrouzo (19 km)

The stage between Arzúa and O Pedrouzo is of low difficulty, moving along forest tracks, woods and fields. We recommend extreme caution during the route, as you will have to cross the N-547 road several times, which has heavy traffic.

The route of the French Way from Astorga presents a moderate level of difficulty, where you can find some mountain sections and significant slopes at the entrance to Galicia. It is not an extensive route, 254 km, so it is an affordable route for all pilgrims.

Layout

The terrain of the French Way from Astorga varies along the route. From this point, the route runs through the mountains, so you will find sandy and stony terrain, characterised by its irregularity.

In certain sections of the route, as you get closer to towns and cities, you will walk on tarmac roads and paths. This will be a relief for your feet after having previously walked on such challenging terrain.

The difficulty of the terrain can influence fatigue and walking speed, so we recommend adapting your pace to the conditions of the terrain.

Slope

The French Way from Astorga has different characteristics along the route, as it crosses different regions and landscapes. As you enter the León region, you will encounter hilly and mountainous terrain, with quite steep areas, especially in the Montes de León.

As you progress along the route, as you approach Galicia, the landscapes present gentle slopes between valleys and forests. Alternating ascending and descending stretches with little steepness.

Signposting

You can follow the route without any problem by following the signs that indicate the route: stone cairns, the iconic scallop shell tile on the facades of buildings or urban constructions, yellow arrows or bronze scallops embedded in the floors of the streets.

We recommend you to look for these signs among the rural urban geography to be able to follow the Camino to Santiago, as sometimes they can be hidden or covered by some element such as cars or people, making you follow the wrong way. If you arrive at a crossroads without any indication and you do not know how to continue, we recommend you to go back to the last sign you have seen to try to reorient yourself.

Important note: 
You may come across signage in the shape of the iconic scallop but it may not be accompanied by a yellow arrow pointing the way forward. If this is the case, you should follow the open part of the shell, i.e. the semi-circular part with the largest diameter, as if it were an imaginary arrow.

Standard Category Accommodations on The Camino Francés | French Way

1* and 2* hotels

These hotels offer private rooms with private bathrooms as well as other additional services that may vary depending on the type of category: restaurant service, television, room service, dry cleaning, ironing service, etc. It is common to stay in this type of hotels in the cities along the Camino.

Hostels and pensions

These accommodations have the necessary services to cover the basic needs of cleanliness and rest at a more moderate price than the hotels . Officially, hostels and guesthouses are 1-star accommodations. However, this rating should not be taken into account when evaluating the level of comfort and quality of their services.

Trip cancellation insurance
Upgrade to superior room
Extra night at the beginning of the tour
Extra night at the end of the tour
Private transfer airport-starting location
Private transfer Santiago-Airport
Other private transfers
Organized visits and excursions
Pilgrim massage

Route map

Touristic information

History of the French Way from Astorga

The Camino de Santiago dates back to the 9th century when the remains of the apostle were discovered in the holy city of Santiago de Compostela. News of this discovery spread quickly and it is now an important centre of pilgrimage.

The town of Astorga, a city of great historical and cultural wealth, has been closely linked to the Camino since its origins, becoming a place of passage for hundreds of pilgrims every year. Astorga appears at the confluence of two important routes: the Via de la Plata, of Roman origin, and the French Way. The latter crosses the Iberian Peninsula from East to West, while the Vía de la Plata descends southwards to Zamora on its way to Santiago de Compostela.

In Roman times, Astorga was an important capital for the trade in gold extracted from the mines of Gallaecia and Asturica. For this reason it was built at a communications junction, at a central point crossed not only by the Vía de la Plata, but algo by eight other Roman roads.

During the Middle Ages it once again experienced a period of splendour thanks to the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela. From this period, its walls stand out, of which part of its Roman foundations and other vestiges with inscriptions have been preserved. In addition, its urban layout features a masterpiece by the modernist architect Antonio Gaudí: the Episcopal Palace, which currently houses the Museum of the Pilgrims’ Route, dedicated to the history and tradition of the Camino de Santiago.

Today, thousands of pilgrims from all over the world undertake the Camino de Santiago journey every year in search of a unique experience in search of personal purpose and spiritual connection.

Villages to visit on the Camino de Santiago from Astorga

The French Way from Astorga passes through several charming villages as pilgrims make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Here are some of the most outstanding villages along this stretch.

Rabanal del Camino

Rabanal del Camino

A small village that conserves traditional Maragat architecture and religious heritage, where the Church of the Assumption, which velonged to the Order of the Temple, stands out.

Ponferrada

Capital of the region of El Bierzo, it has an imposing historic centre with a castle founded by the Templars and a wide range of monuments and culture.

Villafranca del Bierzo

A town in León whose emblematic monuments and Jacobean character have made it an important tourist centre.

O Cebreiro

O Cebreiro

A village made up of pallozas and closely linked to the legend of the miracle of the Holy Grail.

Sarria

It is one of the most popular places to start the Camino, as it is 100 km away, the distance required to obtain the Compostela.

Portomarín

A small village located at the foot of the river Miño, where the Romanesque churches of San Juan and San Pedro stand out.

Palas de Rei

A small municipality in the region of Ulloa, of great importance in the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

Arzúa

Also known as the “land of cheese”, it is one of the most important stops before reaching Santiago de Compostela.

O Pedrouzo

It is, together with Monte do Gozo, the last stop for pilgrims before their arrival in Santiago de Compostela. Its cultural heritage includes the parish church of Santa Eulalia and its numerous Roman forts from the Iron Age.

Places of interest on the French Way from Astorga

Belesar reservoir

El embalse de Belesar

Located in Portomarín, crossing a medieval bridge, you can contemplate the Belesar reservoir and its natural environment surrounded by mountains and lush vegetation.

Although it is not directly on the route of the French Way, many pilgrims choose to visit this impressive place for its historical importance and natural beauty.

Monumentos más importantes en el Camino desde Astorga

Cruz de Ferro

Cruz del Ferro

Also known as La Cruz de Hierro, Cruz do Ferro or Cruz de Fierro, it is located between the villages of Foncebadón and Manjarín, in the province of León. It is a mound of stones deposited by the pilgrims who pass through this place during their pilgrimage, and is crowned by a large wooden mast.

Castle of the Templars

Approaching the end of the route, we reach the municipality of Ponferrada. Situated on a hill, we find the Templars’ Castle, a Romanesque-style building dating from 1187 and one of the wonders of the Middle Ages, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest and a National Monument. This historic site has a special relationship with pilgrims. During the Middle Ages, the Knights Templar were known for their work protecting and lodging travellers on their way to Santiago de Compostela.

Alto de San Roque

During the stage that runs through O Cebreiro to Triacastela, located at an altitude of 1270m, is the monument to the pilgrim. It is one of the most emblematic points of the French Way where you can enjoy unique views of the Sierra de O Courel and Os Ancares.

What to do on the French Way from Astorga?

It is not only about walking. You can add extra activities to your trip to make the experiences even more enriching.

Schedule cultural visits

You can visit monuments such as churches or monasteries and visit renowned places such as the Castle of the Templars or the Alto de San Roque.

Enjoy a wine tasting

Many of the places that make up the routes of the Camino de Santiago have a long tradition in the production of wines of exquisite quality. This is particulary notable in the wine.growing areas of the Ribeira del Duero, Tierra de León and Ribeira Sacra designations of origin.

Taste the local gastronomy

The Camino de Santiago is also a gastronomic journey that will introduce you to the flavours of each region.

Frequent questions

From León airport

By car: It is 45 km to the centre of Astorga, approximately 30 minutes.
By bus: You can take a bus from the airport to Astorga with an average duration of 40 minutes.

From Madrid

By train: You can take a RENFE train from Madrid-Chamartín train station to Astorga train station with an estimated duration of 3 hours. You can consult their timetables and more information at www.renfe.com

From Barcelona

By train: You can take a train from Barcelona-Sants train station to Astorga train station, which takes between 7-8 hours. You can consult the timetable and more information at www.renfe.com
By plane: If you prefer to fly, you can take a flight from Barcelona-El Prat Airport to León Airport and then use a bus to get to Astorga.

Our costumers reviews

Astorga

TOUR SUMMARY

DISTANCE: 254 Km
STAGES: 11 Stages
DURATION: 12 Nights
DIFICULTy: 3/5
START: Astorga
PRICE: desde 935€

Why book with Galiwonders?

Taylor-made Camino

We will design an itinerary tailored to your needs, preferences and budget and book all services for you. You enjoy the road.

We are on the Camino

Galicia is our home. We have traveled all the routes of the Camino and we have direct contact with the service providers on the Camino.

We are also travellers

We speak several languages, have lived abroad and have years of experience organizing trips for people from all over the world.

An unforguettable experience

Hundreds of pilgrims repeat year after year the experience of traveling with us. We want you to be one of them. And that is why we will strive to make your trip unique and unforgettable.

If you have any questions or want to plan your Camino de Santiago trip, our team will assist you in a personalized way!

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