Our most favorite Camino Tour
The Best of the Camino de Santiago is a fully supported walking tour along the Camino de Santiago. That means that from beginning to end we will be there to make sure everything goes smoothly. This is one of our absolutely favorite tours to run as for this special tour we have selected the very best of the Camino Francés!
This tour is for those who want to experience the Every of the Camino Frances but may not have the time (36 days) to do the entire tour. On this fully-guided Camino tour, you will cover every section of the Camino de Santiago through Navarra, La Rioja, Castilla y León and Galicia.
On our Best of the Camino de Santiago Tour, we take you slightly off the Camino for a very special wine tour and tasting in the most famous wine region of Spain, La Rioja, set in the stunning Cantabrian Mountains.
After celebrating our arrival to Santiago de Compostela, we finish the tour with a visit to the “end of the world” at Finisterre and Muxía!
Highlights of the Best of the Camino Guided Walk:
- Being part of the Camino de Santiago! You will be walking with people from all over the world, all heading to the same place. Just one of the things that make the Camino Francés so special.
- The changes in landscape, architecture, language, cuisine, and climate as you move through this vast and amazing country. The great food and wine of all the varied Spanish regions we will sample on our way!
- The many monuments, chapels, churches, and cathedrals along the way. From the magnificent Gothic cathedrals of Burgos and León to Romanesque gems such as Santa María de Eunate in Navarra and Vilar de Donas in Galicia.
- The great expanse of the Meseta between Burgos and León with its haunting beauty, immense skies and vast plains of wheatfields.
- The beautiful Bierzo region of Castilla y León with views of heather-covered moors and tiny villages filled with slate-roofed houses.
- Great camaraderie with other pilgrims as you walk the most popular sections of the Camino de Santiago. This section ending at the Plaza de Obradoiro to see the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela!
- Guided winery tour and tasting in La Rioja, the famous wine region.
- Private guided tour of the cathedrals of Burgos, Leon and Santiago de Compostela.
- Discover Finisterre a seaside town, which until the Middle Ages was considered to be the “End of the World”. In the 1st Century BC Finisterre was used as a place of sun worship by the Romans.
Alto del Perdón
We climb to the Alto del Perdón which means the “height of forgiveness.” As you reach the top, you are surrounded by large wind turbines and the famous structure of pilgrims walking to Santiago de Compostela. Written on the structure is the phrase – “donde se cruza el camino del viento con el de las estrellas.” Where the path of the wind meets the stars.
The statue was placed in 1996 and represents the progression of pilgrims throughout the centuries. The first pilgrim depicts the start of the Camino as he appears to be looking for the Way. In front of him is a group of three pilgrims showing the rise in popularity. Next, are tradesmen on horseback showing how the medieval merchants utilized the trail. Following these pilgrims comes a large space. This space depicts the decline of the pilgrimage due to politics, religion and social troubles. At the end, are two modern pilgrims, presenting the renewed interest in the Way.
We take you slightly off the Camino for a very special wine tour and tasting in the most famous wine region of Spain, La Rioja. We visit the famous winery Marques de Riscal*. This vineyard originated in 1858 and is home to over 8 million bottles of wine; some dating back as far as 1862.We join a tour in English, learning the entire process from grapevine to finished product. This tour, of course, ends with a delectable wine tasting
The winery stands out amongst the rolling vineyards in La Rioja due to the hotel attached. This impressive hotel was completed in 2006 by Canadian Frank Gehry who also created the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, USA. Gerhy’s signature style of postmodern rejects formal and austere architect guidelines, creating magnificent and whimsical pieces. The Hotel Marques de Riscal is one of these and upon entering the hotel you find yourself surrounded by uneven and bevel walls, winding windows and towering ceilings.
Burgos is formerly the capital of Old Castile. On the Best of the Camino Tour we visit this amazing city that has Jewish settlements dating back to 974. We have a private guided tour of the Cathedral of Burgos.
The construction of Our Lady of Burgos began in the 13th century and was finally completed in the 15th and 16th centuries. This Gothic Cathedral boats fascinating architecture with further Gothic style pieces including paintings, choir stalls, reredos, tombs and stained-glass windows.
Upon entering old town Burgos, stands the Saint March Archway. This one of the original and main entryways into Burgos old town. It is from 12th-century and is part of the wall which encircled Burgos, keeping the city safe. It is a site not to miss and our Burgos hotel sits just outside of this archway.
We take in all of these famous Burgos sites on our Best of the Camino Tour!
Cathedral in Leon
The proper name of the cathedral is Santa María de León Catedral. It’s nickname is the House of Light or the Pulchra Leonina. It has this name due to the striking stained glass windows. There is over 1,764 square meters of surface, most of that being windows. Thus, it is one of the oldest and best conserved collections of stained glass throughout Europe.
The completion of the windows did not take place until the 15th Century. There are 130 windows, three of those being large rose windows. Many suggest the quality of the windows was well before it’s time. This is due to the amount of light the designers could capture. Over the centuries some of the original windows have been lost. A restoration project took place in the 19th century to bring life and light back into some of the stained glass windows that were lost.
Our group on our Best of the Camino Tour, has a private tour of the Cathedral and of old-town Leon.
La Cruz de Ferro or the Iron Cross. This is probably one of the most known symbols of the Camino de Santiago on the French Way. Since the 11th century pilgrims along the Camino de Santiago have left stones at the Cruz de Ferro to symbolize the sins that pilgrim committed. Leaving the rock absolves them of these sins. Today, people also leave prayers and well-wishes at the bottom of the Iron Cross. You can come with something to leave; or you can collect something on your walk to the Iron Cross.
Our group walks to La Cruz de Ferro on our Best of the Camino Tour and our guides meet you there to help capture this magical moment on camera.
On our Best of the Camino Tour, we also walk the important “Last 100 kilometers” of the Camino de Santiago, you will also qualify to request your Compostela certificate in Santiago.
Andaspain will provide you with a credencial, or “Pilgrim passport.” This is the booklet which certifies the genuine pilgrim status of the bearer. It is used to collect official stamps along The Way to demonstrate that you have walked the last 100kms. The Credencial is the modern equivalent of the “letters of safe-conduct” carried by medieval pilgrims that permitted them passage through the different kingdoms along the route. Our modern version is a document printed and issued by the Cathedral authorities in Santiago de Compostela.
Pilgrims can get a stamp at the hotels, bars, churches, etc. Our guides will remind you of this while you are walking and even point out some of our favorite stamps! Once you arrive in Santiago de Compostela, our guides take your completed credencial to the Pilgrim´s Office to request your Compostela.
Walking the Last 100km of the Camino de Santiago means that you can request your Compostela, or certificate of completion of the pilgrimage. There are two documents which contemporary pilgrims may receive upon arrival at the Pilgrim´s Office in Santiago. One is the Compostela, a document written in Latin that confirms the completion of pilgrimages undertaken for religious devotion or of spiritual searching. The other is a certificado, or certificate, confirming completion of the journey by those pilgrims who have undertaken the journey for recreational motives. At the end of our group walking tour, our guides will make sure you have your Compostela or Certificate and will provide you with a protective tube to safely carry it home.
SUPPORT ON OUR BEST OF THE CAMINO TOUR
All of our fully guided walking Camino trips have at least 1, though normally 2 English/Spanish speaking guide/s. Generally, on these trips we aim to have one guide walk along the trail when possible. Although, this does not mean the guide will be walking next to you. Our other guide drives our support vehicle doing checkpoints along the trail.
Checkpoints on Guided Walking Tours:
Our guides check in with you during your walking group tour about 2-3 times a day along the trail. These check-ins will include time to fill up your water bottle and/or pick up a snack. One of the check-ins will be at lunch time, whether that be a picnic lunch or our recommendation location to help with ordering. At all of the check-ins, we will have our support van if you need to pick up/up drop off a jacket, collect your walking stick, or change into a different pair of shoes.
Daily maps of the walking day:
Each day our guides will give you a daily map and overview of the walk ahead. This map will include information such as the daily terrain, checkpoint locations, lunch spots, and highlights to see along the way. Also, other important items such as the best place to get a fun stamp!
On our guided walking tours, if you need to shorten your walking day, our guides can tell you the best part of the trail to walk that day. Whether you need to avoid the steep incline/decline, or if you need to stick to softer walking paths. Our guides can also make sure they provide extra checkpoints for you throughout the day.
We take care of all luggage handling and transportation. This means leaving your bags with your guide and starting your walk. We handle the details of getting them into the next hotel room. We also find it handy to keep a small bag in the van with stuff you might need throughout the day. We have our support vehicles which means being able to take a rest by shuttling ahead to the lunch spot, or if the need arises to get you straight to your room.
Maximum of 15 persons:
We keep our guided walks to a maximum of 15 persons. This means we can ensure you experience a personalized and intimate experience with our guides and your fellow pilgrims. We have found any group larger than this, means we are not able to provide the level of care and quality of service that Andaspain aims to do. If you have a private group that is larger than 15 we do accommodate this number with a private guided group walk.
The Best of The Camino de Santiago covers the full breadth of Spain and bisects four of its more colorful autonomous regions (Navarra, La Rioja, Castilla y León, and Galicia). Each region does food differently and all of them cook with great pride. Along the way we also cross the Meseta, a highland plateau known as Spain’s breadbasket.
From the world famous wines of La Rioja, to the equally famous cheeses of Galicia, and everything in between (Burgos is renowned for a particular blood sausage) we go out of our way to track down the best to share with you.
Picnic Lunches on our Guided Walks:
We provide gourmet picnic lunches prepared by your Andaspain guides on the Camino. Our picnics include fresh salads and lighter options, all taking into consideration any food allergies or lifestyle choices as vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free, etc. We use local products so you are always tasting the typical foods of the area. We also ensure you are discovering any fresh vegetable and/or fruit that are in season at the time of your Camino walk.
Andaspain provides water and snacks at our “checkpoints.” Our snacks consist of fresh local fruit, a variety of granola bars, mixed nuts, delicious pastries, and anything else specific to our group’s needs. Walking with Andaspain also means you do not need to carry lots of water or fill up from the public fountains. (We do not know how often the fountains are treated, thus we do not advise to drink from them.) We provide water at our checkpoints to fill up your water bottle.
WALK AT YOUR OWN PACE
This is our MOST important Camino de Santiago information and advice! We encourage everyone to walk at their own pace. The Camino is not a race and you want to enjoy yourself. When you slow down or speed up to walk with others, you find you may have issues with your body and/or feet.
We plan our days so that everyone can walk in their own way. The only set times we have for the day are breakfast times and the times we set off for walking. If we walk out of our hotel directly onto the Camino, you are able to start when you need. Some days we have a short drive to the Camino which means we all need to be ready at the same time.
There is never a set time to arrive for our checkpoints or our lunches on our guided walking tours. We ensure you can walk your pace and our guide will be there to check in with you.
There is never a set time to finish your walking day on our guided walking tours. If we drive to our home that night, this means we may do 2 or 3 shuttles to our hotel at the end of the day. Or you may have a short wait at the end of the day if someone is shortly behind you. Our guides will have a good idea of the walking paces of your fellow pilgrims to plan the day out that is best for the group.
Even though this is a guided walk along the Camino, you will have the time and the resources with Andaspain to make sure your Camino is your own personalized journey. We will be with you on all the climbs, twists and turns; supporting you to the fullest as your Camino story unfolds. Buen Camino Peregrinos!
*If the Marques de Riscal winery tour is unavailable, we visit a winery of equal value.
*All photos by RCI Photography.
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