Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Pamplona

Stage 1 of 8


5 days


Moderate plus

Popular time


Starting from




21.3 min | 22.4km average | 24.5 max


438.4 min |817m average | 1529.2 max


3   3.7   5

Follow the Camino Preview Map Trip 277

This route is the starting point of the Camino Frances. It begins in France at the town of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port and finishes in Pamplona, the town famous for its ‘Running of the Bulls’ festival in San Fermin each July, described by Ernest Hemingway in his novel The Sun Also Rises. At first, it follows the Route de Napoleon over the Roncesvalles Pass (at an elevation of 1,500m) into the Basque country, and then crosses into more gentle terrain in the great region of Navarra.



Your first stop on the Camino Frances is the quaint French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port – the traditional starting point of the Camino Frances. Before you set off through the Pyrenees, explore this scenic gem and soak in the excitement of the town as pilgrims flock to start their pilgrimage. A must-see in the town is the 14th Century Gothic church.



Here you will find the beloved Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Roncesvalles, which has been receiving pilgrims since the 12th Century. You will also see a monument commemorating the defeat of Charlemagne’s army and their commander Roland at the Battle of Roncesvalles in 778 at the hands of the Basque Army.



The city is famous for its ‘Running of the Bulls’ festival each July! Once you arrive in one of Spain’s most famous and historical cities, take in the Gothic-style architecture and walk through the streets that inspired Hemingway’s novel 'The Sun Also Rises'. From mediaeval city walls to the impressive La Catedral de Santa María la Real de Pamplona, you can easily spend hours wandering the streets and working up an appetite to enjoy either a traditional Basque-influenced dish or a more modern fusion style!

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Pamplona

Starting from € 406



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Included in this package

Bed & Breakfast

Specially Hand-Picked Accommodation

Our Holiday or Pilgrim Pack

24/7 Customer Service

Virtual Face-to-Face Pre-Departure Briefing


Premium Accommodation

Airport Pick-Up

Additional Nights


Luggage Transfers from Hotel to Hotel

Day Tours to Local Sites of Interest

Not included: Flights/trains, Insurance, Drinks/Lunch






You’ll be booked into a hotel in the heart of the small town. While in town, you should visit the 14th Century Gothic church, Notre-Dame-du-Bout-du-Pont, the hilltop citadel (remodelled in the 17th Century), and follow the cobbled Rue de la Citadelle downhill and over the river for views back over St-Jean-Pied-De-Port.



24.5 km


This first day is considered the most difficult as the Camino crosses the Pyrenees. The ‘Camino Napoleon’ kicks off with a steep climb, on through orchards and then, later, through Alpine-style meadows, before weaving its way alongside leafy beech woods towards the Spanish border. The Valcarlos Camino mainly follows the road which runs through the valley alongside the River Nive or River Valcarlos. Don’t miss the Collegiate Church as you descend into Roncesvalles.
If you would like to walk at a more relaxed pace, we can arrange one of 3 options:

  1. A stay in the Refuge Orisson (basic accommodation but welcoming) halfway to split the day into 2.
  2. Stay 2 nights in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and use a taxi lift from/to Refuge Orisson. 
  3. An alternative route via Valcarlos that splits this walking day into two stages (12km and 14km). Here you will be staying in a 2-star hotel. This route through Valcarlos is not part of the usual Camino Frances itinerary and the walk is not as rewarding as it follows the main road.
    IMPORTANT: The Napoleon Route over the Pyrenees is closed for pilgrims from the 1 November until the 31 March. Pilgrims need to use the alternative route via Valcarlos if they are travelling within these dates. Travelling on the Napoleon Route at this time is forbidden and all pilgrims going over the Pyrenees and having to be rescued before that time will be fined €5,000.



21.5 km


The Camino crosses two beautiful mountain passes and continues on through woods and meadows before coming to Espinal, where the panoramic views of the countryside, with the Pyrenees in the background, are a sight to behold. The River Arga runs alongside this part of the Camino and continues its course all the way to Larrasoana.



21.3 km


The Camino runs along the River Arga, at the foot of a group of hills covered in beech, oak and Scots pine trees. As we approach Pamplona, the town famous for its ‘Running of the Bulls’ festival in San Fermin each July, the landscape shows more signs of civilisation, with reforested planted conifers and farmlands increasingly prevalent.





After breakfast, we bid you farewell. There is a lot to see and do in Pamplona, but we recommend just walking through the city’s streets, admiring the architecture, food, and wonderful people that inspired the great Ernest Hemmingway.

How to Get There

Getting to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France

It is best to fly to France (Biarritz or Paris), then come back from Spain (Santiago, Bilbao, Santander or Madrid).

Fly into Biarritz

A number of airlines from Ireland, the UK and across European capital cities – including Ryanair, EasyJet, and Air France (via Orly) – fly into Biarritz Airport.

1 – Train to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz Airport is located just 3km from Biarritz. However, it is a much better option to go to the train station in the city of Bayonne (not Biarritz), just a few kilometres further away. Take the train from Biarritz Airport to Bayonne train station. The journey takes around 15 minutes and will cost around €5. The bus stop to the train in Bayonne is in front of the airport terminal.

From there, there are direct trains from Bayonne to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (this journey lasts approximately 1 hour).

    Fly into Paris

    Virtually all airlines fly to Paris from Ireland, the UK and across European capital cities. From there, you can take a train into the centre of Paris and, from Paris Montparnasse, you can take a train to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port (which travels via Bayonne).

      Getting home from Pamplona, Spain

      Fly from Bilbao

      You can fly from Bilbao to any of the following Spanish Airports: A Coruna, Alicante, Barcelona, Badajoz, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Jerez, Lanzarote, Madrid, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Tenerife, Valencia, and Vigo. European flights to Brussels, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Milan, Munich, Paris, and Stuttgart are also available. At the moment, EasyJet, Iberia/BA and Aer Lingus fly from the UK and Ireland to Bilbao. EasyJet offers daily flights to Bilbao from London Stansted Airport, Iberia flies from Gatwick or Heathrow via Madrid and AerLingus operates out of Dublin.

      The Burundesa bus company links Pamplona with Bilbao, with the journey taking around 2 hours.

        Fly from Santander

        Ryanair is the only low-cost airline that currently offers direct flights to Santander. They offer flights from London Stansted, Dublin, Frankfurt, Milan, and Rome, as well as Reus and Madrid in Spain. Iberia/BA offers a good selection of internal flights from Alicante, Barcelona, Gran Canaria, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Seville, and Valencia.

        Some buses link Pamplona with Santander (this is a 4 hour journey). From the bus station in Santander, simply get a direct city bus to the airport (this will take 15 minutes).

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          Napoleon route forbidden from the 1st of April to the 1st of November. Alternative route via Valcarlos must be taken.
          January Off season
          February Off season
          March Off season
          April Good time
          June Good time
          July Good time
          August Good time
          October Good time
          November Off season
          December Off season