The Camino de Santiago is a wonderful pilgrimage through Northern Spain and the most frequently asked questions are always travel related, so we have put together a guide which will hopefully help in the initial planning stages of this once in a lifetime journey! The best websites to research travel information in Northern Spain are the RENFE (train) and the ALSA (bus) websites. Some people find these sites not very user-friendly, so you could also give these sites a go Seat 61 (for a step by step guide to booking on these sites) or Rail Europe (for safe and secure booking for all European Railways).
NB: This was first posted in 2011. We now have a more recently updated version of this blog post, which you can visit at http://www.macsadventure.com/walking-holidays/camino-de-santiago-travel-guide/
1. St-Jean-Pied-de-Port is located near the border of France and Spain and if coming from the UK and Europe it is easier to reach from the French side. The cheapest and easiest way to get here is to fly to Biarritz, France. Ryanair have direct services from London Stansted and Dublin airports, Easyjet also fly to Biarritz from London Gatwick airport. If you are coming from Europe then please have a look at the airport website to check which flights and airlines suit you best.
From Biarritz Airport you can catch the airport bus to Bayonne (around 30 minutes). You should take bus line C to Bayonne which runs every 12 or so minutes, timetables can be found here: http://www.chronoplus.eu/. From Bayonne you can catch the mountain railway to St-Jean-Pied-De-Port and you can check times on the following website: http://www.voyages-sncf.com/. The journey takes just under an hour and a half. Alternatively a taxi from Biarritz airport will cost around 100 Euros and take about an hour, great if you are a group.
2. Another option from the UK is to fly into Pau, France with Ryanair from London Stansted, you can then connect to St Jean-Pied-de-Port by train via Bayonne (3.5h-4hs).
3. Flying into Paris is another option as you can catch the train (TGV) down to Bayonne (approx 5hrs) and then take the mountain train to St Jean Pied de Port as above.
4. The other option is to fly into Northern Spain, Bilbao (Easyjet from London Stansted). From Bilbao you have to take a bus to San Sebastian (just over 1 hr) and then take the train to Hendaye, then to Bayonne and then on to St Jean Pied de Port. There are quite a lot of changes required from here so not the easiest option.
If you are coming into St Jean Pied de Port from outside of Europe then you are best to either fly into London and catch a flight to Biarritz or fly into Madrid, Paris or Barcelona where there are onward connections available. Try the RENFE (train) website or the ALSA (buses) website for onward connections to help plan your route.
The best way to reach St Jean is to catch the train or bus to Pamplona, approx 3hrs (from Madrid) and 3hrs 45 (from Barcelona) and then a local bus to Roncesvalles and then a taxi to St Jean Pied de Port. You will find that there will be many pilgrims in Roncesvalles and you can often share a taxi with them.
If you are starting or finishing your Pilgrimage in Logrono (La Rioja wine region) then the best way to reach here is to get the train from either Madrid (3hrs 20) or Barcelona (4hrs) or the bus from Madrid (4hrs) or Barcelona (6hrs). The closest airports are San Sebastian which you can reach by local bus (2hrs 15 mins) : http://www.laestellesa.com/servicios/index.asp and also Bilbao airport which you can reach by bus (2hrs) http://www.termibus.es/horarios.php?idi=en. Please note that on these websites it is often the case that tickets cannot be reserved until it’s at least less than 3 months, or sometimes even 1 month, before your departure.
Burgos, with its famous and very impressive cathedral is easy to reach. It is a large town and both bus and train connections are available. From Madrid by bus it takes approx 2hrs 45 mins. Santander airport is the closest airport and you can catch a bus to Burgos from here in approx 2hrs 45 mins. See ALSA website for timetables. Ryanair serve Santander airport and fly here from London Stansted airports, as well as from Edinburgh. They also run internal flights from Barcelona and Madrid. Vueling is another airline which operate internal Spanish flights and is worth looking at for travel to and from internal Spanish airports.
Leon can be reached easily from Madrid by train (approx 2hrs 45 mins) or by bus (4hrs). The closest airport is Santander and can be reached by bus (approx 4 hrs 30 mins).
O’Cebriero is best reached from Santiago de Compostala. You can fly into Santiago Airport from London Stansted with Ryanair, they don’t fly every day so best to check out their website. You can also fly to Santiago with Easyjet from London Gatwick. The ALSA bus runs from Santiago to O’Cebriero and takes approx 3hrs. NOTE: On the ALSA website O’Cebriero is called ‘Piedrafita do Cebreiro’ and from here it’s 5km walk or taxi ride up the hill to the village of O’Cebriero.
Sarria is a small town in Galicia and is approx 103km from the end of the Camino in Santiago de Compostela. It is a very popular village as it is the last place where you can walk to Santiago and collect your Compostela (passport to prove you have walked the last 100km into Santiago, which is issued by the catholic church and needs to be stamped along the way). The best way to reach Sarria is to fly into Santiago de Compostala airport and then catch the ALSA bus to Lugo (2hrs 15 mins) and then another local bus to Sarria (35 mins) http://www.monbus.es/index2.htm
Santiago de Compostela is easily reached from the UK by Ryanair who operate a regular direct service 3 times a week from London Stansted. Easyjet also run this service to Santiago from London Gatwick. If you are coming from Europe then please look at the Santiago Airport website and check what airlines suit you best.
You have a few options here. You can fly into London and catch a Ryanair flight to Santiago but remember they don’t have much weight allowance. Alternatively you can fly into Madrid and catch an internal flight or a train from here will take approx 7-8 hrs. You can catch internal flights with either Ryanair or Vueling airlines to the main hubs of Madrid and Barcelona if you are flying here from overseas.
I hope this helps with the planning stages of your trip and if you have any more questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We offer many itineraries on the Camino de Santiago where we include Hotel/B&B accommodation, a guidebook and maps, information pack and an emergency contact and baggage transfer is also an option. Please visit the website for details of the different walks we offer.
Our Comprehensive Camino Guide
For more information on the history and culture of the Camino, plus advice on which route to take, a helpful kit-list and some further reading suggestions, download our full Guide to the Camino:
Kath joined Macs Adventure in 2008. As operations manager she is responsible for ensuring that everything runs exactly as it should.
Kath has travelled extensively and our biggest problem is keeping her at her desk instead of travelling the world.
Recent adventures include climbing Mount Kinabaloo in Borneo, walking the West Highland Way, Hadrian’s Wall and tackling Ben Nevis.