Walking the Camino Frances from Leon to Ponferrada
You’ll start in Léon, one of the greatest cities in Spain and finish in Ponferrada, built by the Templars in the 12th century. The Camino de Santiago, or Way of Saint James, starts on the central high plateau and traverses the untouched Leon Mountains.
As with all of our tours, you’ll be treated to the very best local gastronomy, and stay in comfortable hotels and traditional guesthouses.
FREE This trip createstonne(s) of CO2, we offset it for free
A major city in the north of Spain and on the Camino, Leon is worth an extra night stop over so you have time to explore this fascinating city. From the many historical sights to visit during the day to the lively night life this city provides experiences for all age groups and interests. Two major standout attractions are located within the Roman walls of the city, the Cathedral with its magnificent Gothic sculptures and stained glass windows and the Basilica of San Isidoro that is renowned for its ‘Sistine Chapelesque’ frescos. Wander the streets to discover many cafes and restaurants with local gastronomy a specialty on the menus accompanied by the local El Bierzo wine.
Within the Medieval walls of Astorga you will find a vibrant and attractive city. From Roman ruins to neo-Gothic Episcopal Palace designed by Gaudi there is a wealth of different architecture to take in. Be sure to visit the Cathedral with its Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements, learn more about the Camino in the Pilgrim Museum located in the Episcopal Palace and when the clock strikes on the hour be at Plaza Mayor to witness the chimes on the Bell Tower where two small figures of a man and woman in traditional dress strike the bell. Having worked up an appetite walking around this compact city try some of the local cuisine in the many cafes and restaurants or for those with a sweet tooth a visit to the Museum of Chocolate!
Cruz de Ferro - High Point of the Camino
1,504, above sea level this is the highest point of the Camino, Cruz de Ferro. Here you will find the simple iron cross atop a tall weathered pole. Marking the entrance to the Leon Mountains this cross has guided pilgrims on the Camino, particularly in the winter when the pass can be covered in snow. Some historians believe the placing of the cross here originates from Roman times as way of marking the boundary between territories. For pilgrims walking the Camino Frances it is hear that the traditions hails of leaving a rock at the foot of the cross that they have carried from the start of their journey. The rock symbolises any sins that the pilgrim has committed, and the undertaking of carrying and leaving the rock is supposed to absolve them of the sins.
Leon to Ponferrada
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Specially chosen 2-3* hotels or equivalent
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Day Tours Available
The historic centre of Leon is well preserved and worth visiting. Over the course of time, Leon became the capital of the kingdom in the Middle Ages; a historic enclave on the pilgrim’s road to Santiago de Compostela. Don’t miss The Pulchra Leonina (the ‘Sistine Chapel’ of Spanish architecture) & the old Hospital de San Marcos.
Day 2 20.5km
VILLAR DE MAZARIFE
Leaving Leon, the urban area continues almost as far as Virgen del Camino (7km). From this point on, the route becomes more interesting as you follow the historical Camino along the Plateau of Leon.
Day 3 31.6km
VILLAR DE MAZARIFE
You pass the famous "Puente de Orbigo" and leave behind the Plateau of Leon. The Leon Mountains can be seen up ahead and the end of this stage will bring you to Astorga, the capital of Maragateria. Not to miss in Astorga: Episcopal palace, the cathedral, and the city walls.
Day 4 19.7km
Rabanal de Camino
We are now deep in the region as we gradually make our way up to the first foothills of the Leon Mountains. This part of the countryside is characterised by broom, oak trees and conifer plantations.
Day 5 31.2km
Rabanal de Camino
One of the most rewarding days. Enjoy the beautiful broom and heather surroundings as you ascent to “Mount Irago”. Witness the “Iron Cross” on the mountain pass before making your way downwards to the wealthy area of Bierzo NOTE: An option to split into two days 24km /8km. Accommodation is in a superb chalet hotel in Molinaseca.
After breakfast we bid you farewell.
How to Get There
Getting to Leon, Spain
It is best to fly to Madrid or Santiago de Compostela. More info.
Ryanair and Iberia/BA fly direct to Santiago de Compostela from the UK. Ryanair flies from Stansted, Nottingham East Midlands and Liverpool and Aer Lingus operates from Dublin. Many of the flights that arrive at the airport are from internal Spanish destinations. Iberia offers the best selection of flights and you can fly to and from Santiago De Compostela from: Frankfurt, Paris and Rome and Barcelona, Bilbao, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Madrid, Malaga, Palma, Seville, Tenerife and Valencia.
The train to Leon takes 4h30, several per day. The bus takes 6h.