Of all the Camino de Santiago route possibilities, the Camino Francés, otherwise known as the French Way, is by far the most popular. Walked and biked by thousands of pilgrims each year, the infrastructure and network of on-route services are highly developed compared to lesser trekked routes. Departing from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the route travels over 484.7mi, finishing in the holy city of Santiago de Compostela. This revered route travels through ever-changing landscapes—from the French Pyrenees and rugged mountains of León to the remote Galicia countryside and vineyards of La Rioja. Boasting beautiful scenery and challenging terrain, this lengthy adventure is optimal for intrepid spirits.
Though there are diverse motivations for conquering the sundry pilgrimage, the French Way often attracts walkers seeking a spiritual journey. With ample time to reflect, pilgrims can disengage from the real world and focus on reconnecting with themselves. Ironically, the Camino Francés is also one of the most energetic and lively routes. Ideal for meeting fellow pilgrims, this busy Camino is great for solo travellers seeking a companion. Connect with like-minded adventurers and conquer the lengthy pilgrimage. No matter the incentive, ending at the Santiago de Compostela will undoubtedly provoke a sense of personal achievement. Planning a grand adventure such as this one can be time-consuming, so let us help!
Camino Francés Itinerary
The Camino Francés travels through several terrains, exhibiting the diversity and beauty of the area. Unfortunately, the initial segment of the French Way is the most challenging, hiking over the foothills of the Pyrenees, but don’t let that discourage you—refer to our guide on how to prepare for the Camino de Santiago for suggested conditioning. Following the technical terrain, the route will reward you with treks through woodlands, luxuriant meadows, and charming villages. Eventually climbing the mountains of León, the Camino will travel into Galicia. From here, the incredible route will pass through rural roads, along forestland paths and expansive grasslands, before delivering pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. Challenging and lengthy, you need to be prepared for this pilgrimage. Use this itinerary for suggested stages and check out our Camino de Santiago packing list to ensure you are all ready for this life-changing adventure. If planning an epic expedition like this intimidates you, consider a Camino Francés walking tour, and let us do all the heavy lifting.
Day 1: Arrival in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
The first day of your adventure entails voyaging to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. If you are coming from France, get to Bayonne then take a train to the small French town. When travelling from Spain, get to Pamplona, then travel by bus to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Once you arrive, check into your albergue and get some rest before your exciting adventure begins!
Accommodations: Refuge Municipal Ospitalia
Day 2: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles
Day 2 is one of the toughest, if not the toughest stage along the French Way. Gaining over 4000ft of elevation, this walk is exhausting. The expansive vistas of the French Pyrenees provide the perfect distraction.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Roncesvalles
Day 3: Roncesvalles to Zubiri
Again, today you will be rewarded with wonderful views of the Pyrenees. Walk the undulating path over rolling hills and through Espinal, a charming village. Once in Zubiri, make sure to check out the ancient, medieval bridge!
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Zubiri
Day 4: Zubiri to Pamplona
Hike alongside the Arga River and revel in the ever-changing scenery on your journey to Pamplona. Enjoy the inviting restaurants of Pamplona- eat tapas and sip on a glass of vino and after your long day.
Accommodations: Albergue Jesús y María
Day 5: Pamplona to Puente de la Reina
Today you will be hiking through sunflower fields, meadowlands, and past El Alto del Perdón, a famous sculpture that represents pilgrims walking the Camino. End your day in Puente de la Reina.
Accommodations: Albergue de los Padres Reparadores
Day 6: Puente de la Reina to Estella
Today is a relaxing day. Pilgrims will be guided through farmlands and charming vineyards. Wander Estella, and explore the old basilicas and monasteries at the end of your walk.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Estella
Day 7: Estella to Los Arcos
Day 7 is an exciting trek. After departing Estella, you will arrive at the famous wine fountain! Drink some vino, then meander through wheat fields, olive groves, and vineyards.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos Isaac Santiago
Day 8: Los Arcos to Logroño
Walk through luxuriant meadows, through lush woodlands, and past olive plantations before entering La Rioja region. In Logroño, enjoy sampling the region’s famous wine at one of the many pilgrim-filled bars.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Logroño
Day 9: Logroño to Nájera
Day 9 will return you to the wilderness. Wander beneath the shade of fruit trees and vineyards. Travel past the historic town of Navarrete and end your day in Nájera.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Nájera
Day 10: Nájera to Santo Domingo de La Calzada
Boasting wonderful views of the La Rioja region’s vineyards, this trek will leave you craving a glass of wine. Enjoy the countryside before arriving in the bustling city of Santo Domingo de La Calzada.
Accommodations: Albergue de la Cofradía del Santo
Day 11: Santo Domingo de La Calzada to Belorado
Congrats, you’ve made it 10 days! Walk through lovely sunflower fields and enjoy views of the encompassing rolling mountains before arriving in the charming town of Belorado.
Accommodations: Albergue Municipal El Corro
Day 12: Belorado to San Juan de Ortega
Today’s walk will guide pilgrims through the Orca Mountains. This lovely section of the pilgrimage ends in San Juan de Ortega, a charming town that has a beautiful monastery and ancient church worth visiting.
Accommodations: Albergue Parroquial de San Juan de Ortega
Day 13: San Juan de Ortega to Burgos
Day 13 will end in Burgos. This stage guides pilgrims through enchanted pine forests and the Atapuerca Mountains before ending in Burgos. Make sure to explore Burgos’ vibrant city center.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos Casa del Cubo y de los Lerma
Day 14: Burgos to Hornillos del Camino
Escaping the hustle and bustle of Burgos, pilgrims will be rewarded with a walk through grain fields and lush grasslands. Be sure to wear sunscreen and a sunhat, as the sun is unbearably hot in the summer months.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Hornillos del Camino
Day 15: Hornillos del Camino to Castrojeriz
Like yesterday, day 15 travels through exposed landscapes. Before arriving in Castrojeriz, you will pass the ruins of San Anton Monastery.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos San Esteban
Day 16: Castrojeriz to Frómista
Today pilgrims will walk through the meseta before ascending to the highest point of the Castilian Plateau. End your day in the mountain town of Frómista.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Frómista
Day 17: Frómista to Carrión de los Condes
This charming route treks along the flows of the Ucieza River. Walk through the countryside to Carrión de los Condes, a quaint historical town laden with monasteries and churches.
Accommodations: Albergue Parroquial Santa María
Day 18: Carrión de los Condes to Terradillos de los Templarios
Today is a day of trekking through the rural countryside. Without much to see along this stage, it’s a good idea to surround yourself with friendly adventurers to make the time go by quickly.
Accommodations: Albergue Jacques de Molay
Day 19: Terradillos de los Templarios to Bercianos del Real Camino
Day 19 will guide pilgrims through the countryside before intersecting with Sequillo, Valderabuey, and Cea rivers. End your day in Bercianos del Real Camino.
Accommodations: Albergue Parroquial Casa Rectoral
Day 20: Bercianos del Real Camino to Mansilla de las Mulas
Unfortunately, today is a mundane one. Walking along a road, you will be in the company of cyclists and cars. Eventually, you will descend into Mansilla de las Mulas, a town famous for its tomato fighting festival.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Mansilla de las Mulas
Day 21: Mansilla de las Mulas to León
As you hike towards León the route will become increasingly urban. When you arrive in León, wander around the historical centre and grab a bite at one of the city’s many tapas bars.
Accommodations: Albergue del Convento de las Carbajalas
Day 22: León to San Martín del Camino
This tranquil day of walking passes the church of Virgen del Camino. Hike through grainfields and meadowlands to San Martín del Camino.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de San Martín del Camino
Day 23: San Martín del Camino to Astorga
Today’s walk will gently climb towards the Mountains of León. Now hiking through Galicia, the trail will become increasingly forested and rainy.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos Siervas de María
Day 24: Astorga to Foncebadón
Climbing out of the meseta, pilgrims will pass Rabanal del Camino. Enjoy the change of scenery as you hike through the now mountainous landscape.
Accommodations: Albergue Parroquial Domus Dei
Day 25: Foncebadón to Ponferrada
Day 25 is a scenic section of the pilgrimage. Soon after your departure from Foncebadón, you will pass the Cruz de Ferro, a symbolic place where Camino adventurers leave rocks, shells, and letters.
Accommodations: Albergue Parroquial San Nicolás de Flüe
Day 26: Ponferrada to Villafranca
You’re almost there; keep going! Intersecting with several rivers and passing lovely vineyards, this is an easy day before a difficult trek tomorrow.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Villafranca del Bierzo
Day 27: Villafranca to O Cebreiro
Today warrants a strenuous climb to O Cebreiro. Enjoy epic views of the verdant landscape as you near the final leg of the French Way pilgrimage.
Accommodations: Albergue De peregrinos de O Cebreiro
Day 28: O Cebreiro to Triacastela
Today is another day with great elevation change. Revel in the panoramic vistas of Galicia as you descend the mountain to the charming town of Triacastela.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Triacastela
Day 29: Trisacastela to Sarria
Hike through lovely Galician forests on Day 29. End your day in Sarria, a popular pilgrim convergence.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Sarria
Day 30: Sarria to Portomarín
You will likely be joined by many other pilgrims in Sarria, as many walkers hop on to satisfy the last 62.1mi to the Compostela. The final push of your adventure begins here—how exciting!
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Portomarín
Day 31: Portomarín to Palas de Rei
Travel in the company of cars as you walk along the road and birds as you trek through the lush woodlands. Nearing the end, you will be in the company of many pilgrims.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Palas de Rei
Day 32: Palas de Rei to Arzúa
Today’s scenery is stunning. Stop in Melide and try ‘pulpo a feira’, cooked octopus tentacles!
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Arzúa
Day 33: Arzúa to Pedrouzo
Nearing the end, your excitement will motivate you. Pilgrims will be guided along roads and Galician forestlands along this route.
Accommodations: Albergue de Peregrinos de Arca – O Pino
Day 34: Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela
Today is your final day of hiking, so savour every step of the way! You will be in the company of fellow pilgrims on your walk to Santiago de Compostela. Note backpacks are not allowed inside the cathedral, so drop them off at your albergue! Take a trip to the Pilgrim’s Office and get your official Compostela!
Accommodations: Albergue Parroquial Fin del Camino
Day 35: Departure from Santiago de Compostela
Sadly, today is your last day. Explore the city, drink plenty of vino and eat lots of tapas—you deserve it!
Camino Francés Map
When is the best time to hike the Camino Francés
Choosing the best time of the year to hike the Camino Francés can be tricky. The length and diverse topographies of the route warrant ever-changing weather conditions and seasonal closures. Though the French Way is the most popular route, many albergues close in the winter months. Additionally, the altitude of the initial segment of the trek through the Pyrenees is subject to seasonal closures due to extreme conditions. Check out our article about the best times of the year to walk the Camino de Santiago if you are seeking a more in-depth guide of the seasonality. We suggest walking the French Way in the late spring or early autumn for the best weather. If you would like to find out more about the pilgrimage in general, check out our extensive guide to the Camino de Santiago.
About the Camino Francés
Follow in the footsteps of so many pilgrims before you along the French Way. Though it’s not the oldest route, the Camino Francés was developed by King Sancho the Great and King Alfonso VI not long after the Original Way was founded. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port was a popular convergence place for thousands of pilgrims travelling from France and other regions of Northern Europe on their way to Santiago de Compostela.
Even today, as pilgrims walk the religiosity of the region becomes evident, passing countless ancient monasteries, chapels, and cathedrals. Travelling through charming towns full of stories such as Pamplona, León, and Ponferrada, there is no shortage of cultural experiences, stunning scenery, and epic treks along the Camino Francés. Whether you hike or bike, there are several ways to experience the Camino de Santiago. If you are seeking to explore the Camino in a unique way, check out our tours of the Camino de Santiago in France and hop off the beaten path. Seeking a more extravagant way to experience the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela? We urge you to consider a Camino de Santiago luxury tour– trading hostels for comfortable hotels with luggage transportation, what a treat!
Frequently Asked Questions about the Camino Francés
How long does it take to walk the Camino Francés?
The Camino Francés takes between 33-36 days, walking from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela.
How long is the Camino Francés?
The French Way travels over 484.7mi from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela.
Is it safe for women to walk the Camino Francés?
There are inherent risks in walking the Camino Francés alone, both male and female. Many solo travellers prefer the French Way as it is the busiest route and you can usually find a companion.
How busy is the Camino Francés?
The French Way is the most popular Camino Route, with over 60% of pilgrims hiking this route in 2017.
When is the best time of the year to walk the Camino Francés?
Though the trek can be ventured outside of peak season, the best times to walk the Camino Francés are in the late spring and early fall.
How much should you budget when walking the Camino Francés?
When walking the Camino Francés it is a good idea to budget 25-50€ per day, assuming you are staying in public albergues.