Pilgrim mural painted on a wall in Sarria

Camino Francés five day itinerary – Sarria to Santiago

After walking the Central Route of the Camino Portugués in April 2022 I soon discovered that one Camino is never enough.

A year later I was on the road again to walk the Coastal Route of the Camino Portugués but had to call a halt to it after three days after making a few rookie errors.

Not to be deterred I decided to walk the last stretch of the Camino Francés and, to be sure that I wouldn’t succumb to the blisters from hell again, I did the first half of the Via Serrana from La Linea de la Concepcion to Ronda as my practice.

This is the itinerary for my five day trip, but each day will eventually have a link to a longer post with lots more information about the route and what you can expect.

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What is the Camino de Santiago?

The Camino de Santiago, or Way of St James, is a network of pilgrimage routes across Europe which end at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of St James are said to be buried.

What is the Camino Francés?

Although not the original Camino (that honour goes to the Primitivo), the most popular of all the Camino routes is the Camino Francés (French Way) which begins at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France, and crosses the Pyrenees, before ending in Santiago around 500 miles (800 kms) later.

As you can imagine, to walk that distance requires anything from four to six weeks (or more) so many people decide to just walk the final 100kms from Sarria, as walking this distance is the minimum required to be able to obtain the Compostela on arrival in Santiago.

Camino lingo you need to know before you go

If you’re new to the Camino you’ll need to get to grips with the Camino terminology that you’ll hear both before and during your trip.

Albergue: These are hostels specifically for pilgrims. There are two types – Municipal and Private. Municipal albergues are the cheapest but are only for use by pilgrims so you’ll need to show your credencial to stay in one. They can’t be booked in advance which is one reason so many pilgrims set off early each day. Private albergues are slightly more expensive but are open to anyone and can be booked in advance.

Buen Camino: This is the pilgrim’s greeting, and you’ll find yourself saying it a lot over the course of your journey. It simply means Good Way or Good Journey in Spanish.

Credencial: Also known at the Pilgrim Passport, this is the official document that shows you’re a pilgrim and entitles you to receive your Compostela at the end.

Compostela: This is the certificate that confirms that you’ve officially completed your pilgrimage. To be eligible to receive the Compostela pilgrims have to walk at least 100 kms to Santiago de Compostela (or travel 200 kms by bicycle) on any of the routes.

Sello: These are the stamps you collect in your credencial. You can get them in lots of places along the Camino including accommodation, bars and restaurants, tourist offices, and churches. For the last 100 kms you must get two stamps per day to be able to receive your Compostela (this is especially important if you’re only walking the final 100 kms).

Ultreia: Another pilgrim’s greeting it goes beyond a simple ‘Buen Camino’ offering encouragement to fellow pilgrims.

Camino Francés five day itinerary from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela

Unlike the Camino Portugués where I walked solo, this time I was travelling with a group of walkers, mostly from Gibraltar and southern Spain, organised by Ria from Random Fund Adventures.

If you live in southern Spain you should definitely check out the Random Fun Adventure website as Ria organises loads of trips and activities in and around the area. Have a read of my post about climbing Jebel Musa in Morocco for an idea of what to expect.

We arrived in Sarria the day before our walk started which gave us the opportunity to get everything prepared and be ready to start our walk early on day one.

This post is an overview of my five day walk from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela but I’ll be writing about each day in detail so, if you want to be the first to read my new posts, you can sign up at the end of the post to receive them directly to your inbox.

Day 1: Sarria to Portomarin

Start: Pension la Estacion, Sarria
End: Casa do Aloumiño, Portomarin
Distance: 12.84 miles (20.66 kms)

Ria had given us our credencials and scallop shells to attach to our backpacks when we arrived in Sarria so, after meeting for breakfast and having a group photo taken at the Sarria sign, we were off.

Scallop shells are the official symbols of the Camino de Santiago and, as well as hanging off the backpacks of just about every pilgrim you’ll meet, they’re also on walls, signs, and way markers, to keep you on the right path.

Despite being part of a group we didn’t all stick together and I walked with my friend Christine. It was an overcast day and it wasn’t long before the rain started which, unfortunately, set the scene for most of the week.

I was expecting it to be busy, as Sarria to Santiago is the most popular section of all the Camino routes for anyone walking the last 100 kms, but I wasn’t prepared for just how many other pilgrims there were on the road.

Having said that, by making strategic stops for coffee (i.e., avoiding the first open bar/restaurant where everyone seemed to stop, and continuing to the next) there were some moments of almost solitude as the path meandered through forests and farmland.

There was also the odd bit of sunshine along the way and by the time we reached Portomarin the sun was out again – perfect timing for exploring this small town and finding a good spot for dinner.

100 km way marker on the Camino Frances

More about Day One from Sarria to Portomarin coming soon

Day 2: Portomarin to Palas de Rei

Start: Casa do Aloumiño, Portomarin
End: Estrela do Camiño, Palas de Rei
Distance: 16.64 miles (26.78 kms)

After a wet start to this Camino I woke up to blue skies so I was hopeful for a better day.

After a group breakfast we set off and it was lovely to walk in the sunshine after all of the rain the previous day. Little did I know it was going to be short-lived!

As we headed down the hill that leads out of Portomarin we were in a long line of other walkers and, after crossing the river, they all headed right – on checking the way markers we could see that this was the Complementario route (an alternative, usually more scenic, route) so, to avoid the crowds as much as possible. we headed left on the official route – a wise move as there were very few people walking with us.

The way out of Portomarin was uphill but walking and chatting to others from the group meant that the miles flew by.

Unfortunately the rain reappeared so it was a case of more strategic coffee breaks in order to avoid the worst of the downpours before finally arriving in Palas de Rei where I’ve never been more glad of a comfortable hotel room and a hot shower!

A yellow arrow painted on a carving of a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago

More about Day Two from Portomarin to Palas de Rei coming soon

Day 3: Palas de Rei to Arzua

Start: Estrela do Camiño, Palas de Rei
End: Viviendas Uso Turistico, Arzua
Distance: 18.42 miles (29.64 kms)

This was the longest day’s walk of the week and, would you believe, it was raining again?

After breakfast at the hotel we set off in a drizzle and spent the morning walking along quiet roads through forests and small villages before we reached the town of Melide where we stopped at a bakery to buy some snacks for lunch which we ate outside the Capela de San Roque.

Back on the road it was much of the same although the rain had made some of the paths really muddy – this is where I was grateful for my walking poles to keep me upright!

Despite this being the longest stretch of the week it was also the prettiest, and it didn’t feel like I’d walked almost twenty miles. I walked similar distances a few times on the Portugués route which felt much tougher. I’m putting it down to two things – having my luggage transported for this Camino rather than carrying everything myself, and having a walking buddy.

If you plan to have your luggage transferred between your accommodation I can recommend NCS. We left our bags in the reception area of our accommodation by 8am each morning and they were ready and waiting for us when we reached our next destination later that day.

Camino de Santiago way marker in front of a house covered in wisteria flowers

More about Day Three from Palas de Rei to Arzua coming soon

Day 4: Arzua to O Pedrouzo

Start: Viviendas Uso Turistico, Arzua
End: Noja Rooms, O Pedrouzo
Distance: 12.38 miles (19.92 kms)

Back on the road again after breakfast and, yes, it was still raining!  

Much of the route reminded me of walking in Portugal through forests and small villages but at least when I walked the Camino Portugués I only had two days of rain!

On the plus side, the rain had made everything so lush and green and the smell of the eucalyptus was heavy in the air. However, the rain had also turned many of the paths to mud so, swings and roundabouts!

The sun did eventually come out once we arrived in O Pedrouzo so I did get to have a wander round in the sunshine – not to mention a delicious lunch at Taste the Way.

Muddy path on the Camino Frances between Sarria and Santiago de Compostela

More about Day Four from Arzua to O Pedrouzo coming soon

Day 5: O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela

Start: Noja Rooms, O Pedrouzo
End: Plaza del Obradoiro, Santiago de Compostela
Distance: 12.52 miles (20.15 kms)

You guessed it, it was another wet day for our final walk into Santiago!

Christine and I left early to get a good start on the day and hopefully avoid some of the big groups that we’d seen along the way throughout the week.

After a quick breakfast, where we bumped into another three of our original group who were also getting a head start on the crowds, it was best foot forward – Santiago here we come!

The route on the final stretch was through more eucalyptus forests, and it also skirts the airport at one point before reaching Monte de Gozo where, had the weather been better, we would have been able to get our first glimpse of the spires of the Cathedral in Santiago.

As it was, we couldn’t make out anything so we just kept on walking through the outskirts of Santiago and, shortly after midday, we were walking past the piper who stands under the Arco del Palacio de Xelmirez, and were standing in front of the Cathedral in Plaza del Obradoiro.

If you’re looking for things to do in Santiago de Compostela after the Camino there are plenty of ideas for things to see and do in this post.

This Camino had been a totally different experience from my first one from Porto but still, I did find myself feeling emotional as I posed for photos in front of the cathedral.

I hadn’t expected to feel that way as this was a short Camino, both in distance and number of days walked, and I didn’t feel that I’d really had time to get the full Camino experience but I guess that’s the power of Santiago.

We collected our Compostela from the Pilgrim’s Office, which only took around twenty minutes from entering the office to leaving with our certificate in hand, and then it was time for celebrations. We found an amazing vegetarian restaurant, A Corre Vexeta, and by the time we’d eaten the sun was out so we enjoyed al fresco coffee and cakes, before meeting up with the rest of the group for one final celebration dinner.

Santiago de Compostela sign on the outskirts of the city

More about Day Five from O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela coming soon

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this – I’ve got more Camino Francés posts in the pipeline, as well as other walking and hiking posts, so why not sign up below to receive them directly to your inbox?

Buen Camino

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An overview of my five day walk on the Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela

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