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Camino de Invierno | Winter Way

A challenging and authentic route, less traveled and full of discoveries at every step.

The Winter Camino de Santiago invites you to venture on a challenging and authentic journey. A less crowded route to discover Galicia and connect with nature in its purest state. Each step is an adventure in itself. Get ready for a unique and unforgettable experience!

Top Stages for the Winter Way

Camino de Invierno
255 Km
Ponferrada
11 Stages
12 Nights
from 990 €
See Tour
Camino de Invierno Fácil
250 Km
Ponferrada
13 Stages
14 Nights
from 990 €
See Tour
Camino de Invierno
138 Km
Monforte
6 Stages
7 Nights
from 495 €
See Tour

Where to start Camino de Invierno | Winter Way ?

DISTANCIA: ETAPAS: DURACIÓN: DIFICULTAD: INICIO:
255 Km 11 Etapas 12 Noches 4/5 Ponferrada

Ponferrada on the Winter Way
Ponferrada’s timeless charm it’s captured in its stone streets and medieval grace.

Ponferrada is a municipality and city in the province of León, capital of the region of El Bierzo. Surrounded by mountains and located in the heart of the Camino de Santiago, it is also known as “The city of the Templars” because of its castle, one of the most spectacular fortress in Spain, declared a National Monument. It is said that on of the reasons why the castle was modified on numerous occasions was in order to provide greater security for the route and for pilgrims passing through the city.

DISTANCIA: ETAPAS: DURACIÓN: DIFICULTAD: INICIO:
138 Km 6 Etapas 6 Noches 4/5 Monforte de Lemos

Monforte de Lemos on the Winter Way
Between mountains and stone, Monforte de Lemos stands out as a town with historic atmosphere.

Located in the Ribeira Sacra, a land where the mencía grape reigns supreme, is this town that still conserved echoes of the great city it was in the Middle Ages. Monforte de Lemos also preserves the medieval walls of the old castle of San Vicente and boasts an impressive Parador de Turismo, which was the palace of the powerlful Counts of Lemos.

Route map Camino de Invierno | Winter Way

Map of the Winter Way

Stages Camino de Invierno | Winter Way

Stage 1
28 km
3/5
7h15m
Stage 2
27 km
3/5
6h45m
Stage 4
27 km
3/5
7h
Stage 5
33 km
4/5
7h20m
Stage 6
30 km
5/5
7h30m
Stage 7
25 km
3/5
6h45m
Stage 8
22 km
2/5
5h30m
Stage 9
16 km
1/5
4h
Stage 10
20 km
2/5
5h
Stage 11
25 km
2/5
6h

Difficulty level Camino de Invierno | Winter Way

The Winter Way is an itinerary of intermediate difficulty and more physically demanding than other routes of the Camino. However, keep in mind that the level of difficulty may vary depending on your physical condition, how you decide to plan your stages and the weather conditions.

Difficulty of the Winter Way

Distance

The Winter Way has a distance of 263 km from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela. Like other routes of the Camino de Santiago, the starting point can vary, being Monforte de Lemos an alternative, with 120 km remaining to the holy city.
Most pilgrims who walk this route walk an average of 20 km per day, but it will be important to plan the stages according to your level of fitness so that the sense of difficulty is not affected.

Gradient

The Winter Way has steep slopes, with continuous descents to the river Sil and ascents to the mountains, since the Ribeira Sacra is one of the main areas that the Way crosses. One of the most demanding stages due to the steepest climbs is the seventh stage, which will take you from Chantada to Rodeiro.

Pavement

Along the route, you will find different types of terrain such as asphalt and dirt roads. In some sections, it is possible to find stretches in the form of Roman roads.

Climate

The Winter Way runs through areas where the predominant climate is continental. With scarce rainfall during the winter and temperatures that can drop below 0ºC on some winter days.

At the same time, it is also possible to find, on the route from Ponferrada to the Ribeira Sacra, areas influenced by the Mediterranean climate, with wet winters and mild temperatures between 10º and 15ºC.

On the other hand, as we get closer to the coast, in the Deza area, a coastal Atlantic Oceanic climate predominates, characterised by winters with a higher probability of rain and milder temperatures.

Signposting

The most common signposting on the Winter Way are cairns with tiles and arrows painted at the crossroads. Although in urban and rural sections you can find signs between the geography and buildings. Thanks to the work of the Asociación de Amigos do Camiño de Santiago por Valdeorras, this route is correctly signposted, making it easier for pilgrims to follow.

Look carefully. Sometimes they may be hidden or covered by something like cars or people, making you follow the wrong path. If you reach a junction without any indication and do not know how to continue, we recommend you return 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 shell. If it is not accompanied by a yellow arrow, you should follow the shell along its open side, i.e. the semi-circular part with the largest diameter, as if it were an imaginary arrow.

What is the best time of year to do this route?

Our recommendation is to do the Winter Way in spring, autumn or summer, as temperatures are more pleasant.
In spring, temperatures are mild but there is a greater chance of rain. Nevertheless, it is, together with autumn, the best time to do the route.

The summer months are the most popular time for pilgrimages, as temperatures are milder and make the long walks more bearable. The north of Spain, due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Galicia’s own latitude, has milder temperatures, preventing it from being too hot.

What to see and do in Camino de Invierno | Winter Way?

Where does the Winter Way go through?

The Winter Way is the only route of the Way of St. James that runs through the four Galician provinces: A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense and Pontevedra. It starts in the region of Valdeorras (Ourense) and the Ribeira Sacra, both known for their spectacular landscapes full of vineyards and the amazing Sil Canyons. The final section of the Winter Way runs through the Deza region, in Pontevedra, and ends in the province of A Coruña with the last two stages of the Silver Route.

If you follow this route, you can pass through towns such as Ponferrada, O Barco de Valdeorras, Monforte de Lemos, Ponte Ulla and Santiago de Compostela.

O Barco de Valdeorras

O Barco de Valdeorras is located in the Sil valley and at the foot of the Eje mountain range. Known for its mining tradition and for the production of wine under the Valdeorras Designation of Origin, it also has a rich historical heritage with vestiges of Roman and pre-Roman culture and several stately manor houses.

Ponte Ulla

In the parish of Vedra, we find the medieval village Ponte Ulla.
It is sheltered by the magnificent bridge of Gundián, part of the old railway line that connected Santiago de Compostela with Ourense and considered one of the most important civil works of the 20th century. Among its cultural heritage, the hermitage of Gundián, a chapel dedicated to the Virgin, and the manor house of Rivadulla, in the vicinity of the city, stand out.

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela, a place where spirituality, history and culture converge, is one of the most important centres of Christian pilgrimage along with the cities of Jerusalem and Rome.
Its historic centre of cobbled streets was declared a World Heritage Site in 1985, and is home to numerous monasteries, temples and stately manor houses that reflect the very essence of the city. In the heart of the Old City you will find the emblematic Obradoiro square. The end point of the Way of St. James, this is where all the pilgrim routes converge and is a meeting place for pilgrims and locals alike. Here you will find the Cathedral of Santiago, where the remains of the Apostle rest.

Places and Monuments not to be missed on the Winter Way

Ribeira Sacra

Ribeira Sacra

Bathed by the rivers Miño, Sil and Cabe, lies the Ribeira Sacra, one of the greatest treasures of the Iberian Peninsula.
Its hillsides and lush forests hide the highest concentration of Romanesque churches and monasteries in Galicia and its ancient vineyards give rise to the famous DO Ribeira Sacra.

Montefurado Roman Tunnel

Also known as Boca do Monte, this is one of the great landmarks of the Roman Empire in Galicia. This tunnel was ordered to be built by the emperor Trajan in the 2nd century to extract the gold brought by the river Sil, but a flood caused its collapse centuries later.
Legend has it that a fortress reigned at the top of the tunnel, known as the castle of Pena do Corvo. However, the collapse led to the disappearance of the archaeological remains of the castle.

The Médulas

Considered the largest open-pit mine and declared a World Heritage Site, Las Médulas is one of the greatest engineering works of antiquity.
This area was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1996 for its archaeological interest; it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Natural Monument in 2002.

Carucedo Lake

This artificial lake has its origins in the gold washing places from the mining excavations of Las Médulas. This place is endowed with a certain mysticism, as legend has it that the Sword of Roland, nephew of Charlemagne, is found in its waters.

Sacred Peak

This mountain is 12 km from Santiago de Compostela, from where the holy city can be seen. It is closely linked to the Jacobean tradition, as it was the site of one of the episodes of the Traslatio of the remains of the Apostle St. James from Palestine to Finisterre.

This mountain is also related to Queen Lupa, an enigmatic protagonist of Jacobean history and legend, as it is said that one of her residences was located on the summit.

Monastery of San Vicente do Pino

Monastery San Vicente do Pino

At the highest part of the town of Monforte de Lemos is this monumental complex, which also houses the Homage Tower and the Palace of the Counts of Lemos.

It was originally built by the Benedictines in the 10th century and is considered one of the first monasteries built in Galicia after the Arab invasion.

Other places of interest that you can visit if you do the Winter Way are the Sierra del Caurel, in Lugo, or Cornatel Castle, in El Bierzo.

Alternative places to discover on the Winter Way

Covas de Valdeorras

On your way through Valdeorras, deep in the heart of the region, you will find these caves that were used as wine cellars. They were used to make and produce D.O. Valdeorras wine, one of the oldest Designations of Origin in Galicia, recognised by Ministerial Order in 1945.

Church of Santo Estevo de Ribas de Miño

On the sixth stage, on your way through the Ribeira Sacra, if instead of passing over the river you follow its course towards the north, you can admire the church of Santo Estevo de Ribas de Miño, one of the Romanesque treasures hidden in this fascinating region.
It is located on a hillside with privileged views of the river Miño and has a crypt under its façade reminiscent of the Pórtico de la Gloria of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, made by Master Mateo.

Toxa Waterfall

On your way through Silleda you can visit the Fervenza da Toxa, one of the highest waterfalls in Galicia. It is surrounded by a forest of oak, chestnut and other species, evoking the authentic native forest of Galicia.
In the upper part of the valley, a viewpoint was built on some huge rocks from which you can observe the environment surrounding this natural phenomenon.

If you wish to visit the Fervenza da Toxa, you should bear in mind that it is located 15 kilometres from Silleda, so it will require additional time. To get there, you can consider taking transport from Silleda, such as a taxi or renting a car.

Pazo de Oca

Pazo de Oca

Very close to Silleda, in A Estrada, you can visit the Pazo de Oca, also known as the “Galician Versailles”. This is the best preserved and most visited manor house in Galicia. It dates from the second half of the 15th century, when the Galician nobleman Don Álvaro de Oca ordered the construction of the pazo on the remains of an old 12th century fortress.

Its gardens, considered one of the 10 most beautiful gardens in the world, are a product of the French landscape tradition and feature various species of maples, magnolias, camellias, among others.

You can visit the Pazo de Oca on your way through Silleda. A Estrada is 20 km from this city, so we recommend you to go by transport, such as a car or taxi.

The History of Camino de Invierno | Winter Way

The Winter Way is a millenary route that was, over the centuries, the natural entrance to Galicia from the
natural entrance to Galicia from the plateau. This route is the result of the bifurcation of the original route of the French Way at Ponferrada, when an ancient Roman road was taken to access Galicia in a simpler way. This new route was much travelled by Roman legions, medieval muleteers and Napoleon’s troops, which led, in 1883, to the construction of the first railway line that would connect Galicia with the rest of the Peninsula.

During the winter, especially in mountainous areas, weather conditions can be extreme on some sections of the French Way, which makes the pilgrimage more difficult and dangerous. Instead of continuing to Villafranca del Bierzo, pilgrims would detour through Las Médulas until they reached Ponferrada, to avoid the heavy snowfalls of O Cebreiro and the overflowing rivers of the Valcarce valley. From there, the Winter Way follows the natural course of the mighty river Sil through the Valdeorras region of Ourense, through the south of the province of Lugo and through the Deza region (Pontevedra). In Lalín, the route joins the Vía de la Plata and the Sanabrés Way, sharing the route to Santiago de Compostela.

Tips if you are going to do Camino de Invierno | Winter Way

Good hydration and nutrition are essential. Make sure you stay hydrated during the Camino and eat energy foods to maintain your energy level.

Bring a raincoat. Weather conditions in northern Spain are varied, so we recommend that you always carry a rain jacket in your backpack.

Clothing should be light, breathable and insulating. As for footwear, we recommend waterproof trekking boots, with good cushioning and that you have not worn before to avoid chafing.

If you need detailed information to start preparing your trip, you can access here.

Buen Camino!

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