Walk our handpicked highlights, along the coast, in the mountains and across the plains, following three ancient pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela.
All of our trips can be lengthened or shortened to suit you - what we show here is an example itinerary to give you a starting point. Please get in touch to discuss a personalised proposal.
This is a realistic guide price per person, based on you travelling at an optimum time for this holiday. Please see 'What's Included' for full details and contact us for a personalised quotation.
This is a broad indicator of when you might realistically take this holiday. Please do ask us if you'd like to chat through your options in more detail - getting the timing right is important. We'd love to help.
Helping you find the right holiday for you is important to us, so here's a few common questions about this trip to help. If there's anything you'd like to know that's not covered here, send us over a message or you can also give us a call on +44 1273 676 712 and we'd be only too pleased to help.
What flexibility will I get with any Covid-19 restrictions?
First thing to say is that throughout the pandemic we have frequently been praised by Which? as a tour operator to trust, so you're in good hands. Your safety is always our top priority and we want you to be able to fully look forward to and enjoy your holiday with peace of mind.
Even as restrictuons ease, our policy remains as it always has - we view quarantines as a travel restriction on a par with lockdown, in-country restrictions at your destination or FCDO advice against travel, and we will offer the same flexibility as in those situations; defer to new dates or a full refund at the point at which your trip is imminent. In these cases, we define imminent travel as a month prior to departure.
What is the payment process and is my money completely safe?
We take a 15% deposit to secure your holiday, with the remainder due four weeks before your departure, rather than the usual eight weeks.
Your money is 100% protected through our ATOL licence if your trip includes a flight booked through us, or through our ABTOT bond if it does not. Either way, this protection provides a cast iron financial guarantee and helps you book with complete peace of mind. Because the contract between us exists here in the UK, you get this protection regardless of where you live
When is the best time to go?
This trip can start any day of the week, from April into early July, and September through October.
What will the weather be like?
Since you are travelling essentially the width of northern Spain over the course of this trip, the weather will change from day to day. During the months we run this trip, you can expect the weather to be variable along the coast and into the Picos de Europa, then mainly dry until you get into Galicia where rain is most common. September and October are usually the driest months throughout the route.
During these months, daytime temperatures should be comfortable, low to mid-20°c being a normal average.
When is peak season?
Peak season is from mid July to end of August but we do not generally offer this trip during that period as the area is busier with summer holiday makers from Spain, and it is too warm for this trip to be enjoyable. September is particularly popular with pilgrims doing the Camino Francés but this doesn't really impact this trip - beyond seeing lots and lots of people around the 100km marker stage.
How far ahead should I book?
We guarantee only one departure every two days, so if you have a limited travel window and specific dates we suggest you book around nine months ahead. If you are flexible with dates, then three – four months ahead should be fine.
How much carbon is produced on this trip and how is it mitigated?
Total carbon generated on this trip: 448kg per person Carbon mitigated by us: 717kg per person
As Yvon Chouinard, of Patagonia, Inc. rightly declared: “To do good, you actually have to do something.”
Therefore, for every kilometre travelled by road, air and sea on your Pura Aventura holiday, we carbon balance it by a mile - i.e. by 160% of your trip's carbon, from your front door and back again, irrespective of whether we book your international travel or not.
If you prefer to travel by ferry, see below for more details on how this can cut the footprint of this trip.
Can I do this trip without flying?
Yes, if we break up the return journey from Santiago with a relaxing stop or two along the lovely north coast, this is a great option for a No Fly Holiday.
Travelling by sea with Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth or Plymouth would cut the carbon footprint for this trip by around 50%.
Because you wouldn't be paying for flights, luggage or seat selection, the cost is comparable with flying back from Santiago. That includes your own sleeping cabin and usually breakfasts and dinner. Do keep in mind though that you'll likely want two or three extra nights to take advantage of the 'return' journey and go the scenic route. Cost-wise, this works out best if we give you a hire car in Santiago to hand in at Santander or Bilbao, as opposed to private transfers.
There are regular sailings between Portsmouth and Santander/Bilbao, and between Plymouth and Santander, and we will happily advise on your options. Note that you can't travel as a foot passenger to/from Bilbao until 2022.
Timed right, in 2021 you will spend one night aboard the ferry in each direction. As of 2022, outbound sailings from Portsmouth will take around 30 hours and require two nights on board. The pay off for this is that the new ferries will cut carbon emissions by a further 25% compared to the current boats. The return journeys are usually then just one night. There are no planned changes for the Plymouth route, so it's one night both ways.
In common with all of our inn to inn walking holidays, most of the costs of this holiday are fixed so going solo will usually mean you pay nearly the same for one person as you would for two.
If you enjoy walking alone and time to yourself then the experience itself will be absolutely lovely, and safe.
What is the walking like?
The nature of the walking depends on the region you are passing through, but by and large, it is on good, wide paths and tracks.
The way the trip works is that you travel some distance by road to be dropped off at the start of a section, you are then picked up at the end of the walk to drive to your next hotel.
By and large these road transfers take between 30 minutes and two hours. By doing this it allows us to walk just the best bits. Walking through the outskirts of cities for instance, is never a lovely prospect, nor are the hundreds of kilometres over the plains of Castile!
How long will I be walking each day?
You walk on nine days of this trip with distances varying from 7-17km. There is a good deal of flexibility on most days to allow you to walk as much as suits you. You should be comfortable with the idea of walking at least 10km on consecutive days, around four hours per day, in order to make the most of this journey. For good walkers, you can expect to be walking the longer distances and being out for five or six hours each walking day.
Are there any steep ascents or descents?
A few, yes, but they tend to be relatively short so up and down coastal ridges, up and over a pass in the Picos mountains. On one of the days the walk is almost entirely uphill as you cross into Galicia but the gradient is steady and slow, rather than steep.
How do I navigate?
We provide detailed OS maps, walking notes and a smart phone with a GPS-enabled navigation device - your route is pre-loaded.
Most of our guests like to navigate using maps and written notes but appreciate having the reassurance of the GPS just to check if they feel unsure at any point.
What if I get lost?
With all of the navigational tools at your disposal, and the friendly locals, you are unlikely to get lost but if you do get into any difficulties, simply call the local support number - we are always on hand 24/7. Your driver won't be too far away in any case.
What happens to my bags?
Your main luggage is transferred ahead for you each day you move on. You just carry a day pack with what you need for the day.
Can I opt out of a walk if I feel tired?
Yes, absolutely, it's usually possible to skip a walk on any given day if you are tired, the weather is being unkind or you want to give your knees a rest.
It's best to let us know the night before if you can so we can let everyone know and help make a plan for you.
How comfortable will I be?
The accommodation on this journey is very comfortable, always en-suite, and always with lots of personality. Although star ratings are not particularly helpful when it comes to small hotels in rural Spain, you should expect good 3*+ or 4* standard.
What about the local cultures?
This trip takes you through three distinctive language regions of Spain, so you will hear both Basque and Galician language on top of the ubiquitous Castilian.
You will experience different ways of life as you move from the fishing villages of the coast to the agricultural hamlets of the mountains and the cereal fields of the plains. You will also witness the many layers of history as you will walk on top of Roman walls and follow paths walked by millions before you.
You will see different artistic styles as you move from ancient cave art to Roman mosaics, Romanesque cloisters to medieval stained glass and baroque palaces, Guadi´s modernism to Bilbao's Guggenheim.
And finally, there's the city of Santiago de Compostela itself. Since the 9th century pilgrims have been coming here to venerate the remains of St James. By the 11th century it is reckoned that 10% of the population of Europe was involved in this pilgrimage in some aspect. There was no more important cultural phenomenon in Europe.
What haven't I thought of?
The little-known town of Astorga. It's a remarkable town with extensive Roman remains, a striking medieval cathedral and the bishop's palace designed by Gaudí. It is also the home of chocolate, said to be the first place in the world where cocoa was processed into chocolate - the tradition remains strong to this day.
Can I make changes to this trip?
Given the private driver which forms part of this trip, we can tailor the holiday in lots of ways.
Extending the trip is perfectly possible. It’s easy to take in more of Spain with time in the Pyrenees, La Rioja or Andalucia. You can also cross into Portugal and across to Porto. In short, we have lots of options and ideas, just call to start the conversation!