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Spain

The Pilgrim Way to Santiago de Compostela

We focus on the meaning of pilgrimage and for us the journey will be just as important as the arriving.

We follow the ancient pilgrim route through northern Spain for five hundred miles from Roncesvalles on the French border to Santiago. We travel by coach, but each day there is the option to walk part of The Way. There is flexibility on the number and length of the walks and non-walkers always have the option of staying on the coach.

A tour leader and local tour manager accompanies each party, bringing the history of the region and of the pilgrimage to life with their knowledge and experience.

Itinerary

  1. Travel to Bilbao

    British Airways departs Heathrow at 1540 and arrives at 1845.  Overnight stay in Bilbao at the three star Hotel Hesperia.

  2. Pamplona

    A two hour drive takes us to Pamplona where we visit the gothic cathedral. Two night stay at the four star Hotel Tres Reyes.

  3. Roncesvalles

    We drive along the Pyrenees to Ibaneta and take a 2 km walk to Roncesvalles where The Way enters Spain. Eucharist in the sanctuary. We then walk 4 kms from Roncesvalles to Burguete, legendary setting of the battles of Charlemagne and Roland against the Moslems.

  4. Santo Domingo de la Calzada

    We visit the funerary church at Eunate and cross the Puente de la Reine. We continue to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, and walk 6 km from the Ermita de Valdefuentes to the church of San Juan de Ortega. Overnight in Burgos in the Almirante Bonifaz Hotel.

  5. Burgos

    Visit Burgos Cathedral and the Monastery of Huelgas Reales. We walk 4 km from Iglesias to Hontanas.  Continue to Fromista visiting the Romanesque church of San Martin. Two nights in León at Los Infantas Hotel.

  6. Leon

    Visit the church and Royal crypt of Saint Isidoro and Leon cathedral. Afternoon at leisure. 

  7. Mountain Top Experiences

    Leaving Leon, we walk from the deserted spot of Foncebadon to Cruz de Hierro, The Way’s highest point. Eucharist at O Cebreiro, a Celtic-like mountain village. Overnight stay at the Hotel Alfonso IX in Sarria. 

  8. The Heavenly City

    We visit the church of San Nicolas in Portomarin then walk 6 kms from Melide to Boente. We arrive in Santiago de Compostela via the viewpoint at Monte del Gozo and walk to the cathedral of Saint James. Two night stay in Santiago at the Compostela Hotel.    

  9. Santiago de Compostela

    We join the Pilgrim Mass at the cathedral and see the Botafumeiro swing.  Afternoon free. In the evening, a traditional farewell dinner including the traditional Quiemada ceremony.

  10. Homeward Bound

    We visit La Coruna and have some free time by the sea. Vueling flight departs La Coruna at 1815 and arrives at Heathrow Airport at 1915.

  11. Alternative Ideas

    We also offer a shorter itinerary with two nights in Sarria and two nights in Santiago including walks.

Essential Information

Included 

Flights, Hotel accommodation, Breakfast, dinner daily, Sightseeing programme, Entrance fees & guiding, Gratuities

Not included

Travel Insurance, Single Room supplement, Lunches

Travel Insurance

The McCabe recommended insurance policy is designed for the older traveller.  The premium for a Spain pilgrimage is £49.  Travellers over 75 pay £74 and we also recommend that older travellers obtain a note from their doctor stating that they are fit to travel.  Do feel free to shop around as there are many suitable insurance options including annual policies on the market.  We do insist that all travellers take out medical insurance.    

A key feature of our recommended policy is that there is no requirement to call a Medical Help Line as most pre-existing conditions are covered.

You can read the full policy wording here.

Airline

Please check the individual tour itinerary for flight details.  Groups fly from Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick.

Tuesday is our recommended departure day but other days are possible.

Hotels

We are not using “pilgrim” hostels on our journey but have selected three and four star hotels so that you can expect comfortable, clean accommodation and rooms with private facilities. We have also interspersed overnight stops with more relaxing two night stays, avoiding the need to pack and unpack on a daily basis as a traditional traveller on The Way would do. Our chosen hotels are well tried-and-tested by past McCabe pilgrims and have been selected based on their location or facilities and quality of food and service.

You can click on the hotel websites below:

Hotel Hesperia in Bilbao

Hotel Tres Reyes in Pamplona

Almirante Bonifaz Hotel in Santo Domingo

Los Infantas Hotel in Burgos

Hotel Alfonso IX in Sarria

Compostela Hotel in Santiago

Touring information

Days generally start at 9 and finish around 6 with dinner served around 8. Lunches are not included as we like to keep flexibility of each day’s timings, but our tour managers are expert at recommending options each day.   

Most groups celebrate the Eucharist at a key point on the journey and at your destination we join in a pilgrim Mass in the cathedral of St James, where the great  Botafumeiro is usually swung.  Our final celebratory dinner includes the traditional end of pilgrimage “Quiemada” experience.  The rhythm of this pilgrimage is not readings and prayers as in the Holy Land, but typically a great time of sharing.   

Our Walks

Our walks along The Way will vary in length and degree of difficulty but they have been planned with the expectation that most people will be able to participate. There will always be a coaching option for non-walkers. 

No special footwear or other equipment is required. Think in terms of stout walking shoes and a day pack to carry water, a camera and the like.

Practical information

Passports, visas and health

Check that your passport is valid beyond the return date of this tour.  If you need a new passport apply early as there can be considerable backlogs at the passport offices.  There are minimal formalities for British passport holders entering Spain.  If you are holding a non-British passport, or require further advice, please consult the McCabe office.  No inoculations are required. We do, however, advise you to consult your doctor regarding your own personal requirements.  

Travelling Alone

Many of our passengers travel alone and object to expensive single room supplements. McCabe Pilgrimages will accept individual bookings on a 'guaranteed share' basis.  We charge the basic price and accommodate you with a person of the same sex also requesting shared accommodation.  If we do not find someone to share with you, you will be accommodated in a single room at only 50% of the usual single room supplement. For single travellers who do require single accommodation this should be requested when booking and, if available, the normal supplement will be payable. 

The McCabe Educational Trust

For many, meeting the ‘Living Stones’ of The Land becomes a real highlight of their pilgrimage. The McCabe Educational Trust is an independent registered charity with the aim of helping inspiring people we meet on pilgrimage.  On your pilgrimage you will meet some of these people.  As ‘the haves’ encounter the ‘have nots’ the Trust has become a practical tool for one to help the other. 

McCabe Pilgrimages invite all travellers to become partners in this work. A £15 voluntary donation to the Trust’s work is added to every pilgrim’s invoice and all money raised in this way is given in full to the projects the Trust supports. This scheme is voluntary and confidential with nobody put under any pressure to participate.

Full Financial Security

All money paid to McCabe is fully secure. Holidays including flights are covered by our ATOL license from the Civil Aviation Authority, and holidays without flights are protected by our membership of the ABTOT bonding scheme.  If a pilgrimage is cancelled, for instance through lack of numbers or for political considerations, McCabe will promptly refund all monies paid.

AITO Quality Statement

McCabe Pilgrimages is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The Association represents Britain’s leading independent tour operators and encourages high standards of quality and service. McCabe abides by the Association’s Code of Conduct and adheres to the AITO Quality Charter.

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Dates

Upcoming Pilgrimages

We have no tours scheduled to this destination at present.

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