3 Top Camino de Santiago Bike Routes

Ever heard of the Camino de Santiago? We’ve met many travellers who’ve followed this UNESCO-listed trail, dedicating weeks and even months to the task. Also known as the Way of St James, the hike consists of various routes, some starting in France and Portugal, all leading to the northern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of St. James the apostle are entombed in an ornate cathedral. What we didn’t know until recently, though, is that you can travel the Camino by bike – here’s how.

Biking the Camino de Santiago

Why tackle the Camino de Santiago by bike?

While many people choose to hike the Camino, following in the literal footsteps of medieval pilgrims, these days, you can travel by bike instead. This obviously speeds up the process, allowing you to cover more ground and stop off at various places of interest. Roughly, there are around 11 key bike routes for the Camino de Santiago.

The options can be mind-bending, so if you want to skip the planning process yourself, enlist the help of an expert to plan your Camino de Santiago bike route. They’ll plot the journey for you depending on the length of your trip and riding abilities. They can also book your accomodation, organise meals, and even arrange for your luggage to be transferred between stops, so you can concentrate on simply enjoying the scenery.

Top 3 Camino bike routes

Ourense to Santiago

Distance: 97km

Duration: 8 days

Follow ancient Roman roads on this trail, which traverses the Via de la Plata route. You’ll begin in southeast Galicia, in the city of Ourense, which is known for its healing thermal waters and well-preserved old quarter. This lesser-travelled route takes you through the region’s verdant mountains to the Trasfontao Forest, through the Ulla River valley, across farmland and through the tiny towns of Bandeira and San Fiz.

From Ourense, you’ll cycle over a Roman bridge and along paved roads, stopping to visit the Church of Santa Maria in Tamallancos. Spend your first night in Cea, where you can taste its artisanal bread, then head on to your next stop Casarellos. The journey continues across mountains to Lalin, then on through thick forest to Silleda and Ponte Ulla. End your pilgrimage in classic style, at the tomb of St James in Santiago.

Santiago to Finisterre

Distance: 90km

Duration: 6 days

This is the only route that snakes along the wild Atlantic coast, tracing the path that pilgrims in the Middle Ages followed all the way to Finisterre on Costa da Morte. Pagans believed this marked the end of the world and would come here to worship the sun and leave offerings to the gods. In fact, several sun temples here were thought to have been destroyed on order of St James, who believed they were operated by non-Christian cults.

The route begins where most others end, in the Galician capital Santiago de Compostela. Many pilgrims opt to tackle this section as an extension to their Camino experience. For biking, it has few up and down hills, making it suitable for all abilities. You’ll cycle for six days stopping in the medieval city of Negreira, then pedalling to the untamed Serra de Castelo to Olveiroa, continuing along the river bed through pine forests to Cee, finally heading along a cliffside trail to watch the sunset from Finisterre lighthouse.

Ferrol to Santiago

Distance: 126km

Duration: 7 days

This route is better known as the Camino Ingles (English Way) because it was frequented by pilgrims from Ireland and Britain, who disembarked at Ferrol’s 18th-century port to begin their journey. From here, the trail heads through Galicia’s lush interior, through forests and countryside dotted with medieval towns. Not many people choose to bike this route, so it’s a peaceful one, with many flat, asphalted sections for easy riding.

Highlights en-route include Bruma’s gothic capital and the 16th century Church of Santo Domingo in Betanzos. For overnight stops, you’ll cycle first to Pontedeume, then travel along the coast to the River Lambre estuary and spend the night in Betanzos. Cross fields scattered with quiet villages to your next stop, Bruma, then strike out across the countryside to the ancient pilgrim rest stop of Meixonfrio. The trip ends in sacred Santiago de Compostela.

Would you bike the Camino de Santiago? Which route did you follow?

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