Based in Spain since 2006

A Fresco Start 200 km Tour

For the more hearty souls, the A Fresco Start 200 km walk begins from the Knights Templar town of Ponferrada and takes us along the mountain pass that has been used for the past millennium by pilgrims to enter the northwest corner of Spain - welcome to Galicia!

Private Bed & Bath

We understand that people do want to walk the Camino, but would rather not sleep in albergues, the communal dormitories available along the trail. Some pilgrims enjoy having their own bedrooms with a door, an en-suite bathroom, and plenty of hot water!

Freedom From Your Bags

Our self-guided clients do not want or cannot carry all their belongings with them. In fact, they enjoy being able to add some extra weight to their load and have some creature comforts, such as that Ipad!

Meals with Friends, IF you wish

Independence can be great when traveling, but it is also nice to have some occasional companions to share those tales from the trail and a meal or two!

A Live Person to Help

Are you nervous and scared? Coming to a foreign country to walk for a couple of weeks is daunting no matter how many books and web forums you’ve read. You want more than just an Orientation Packet sent to you in the mail – you want a LIVE person to answer your questions and help you take those first steps on your journey.

La Compostela

Our itinerary qualifies you for the Compostela certificate upon your arrival to Santiago.

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The Knights Templar Castle in Ponferrada on the Camino de Santiago.

Day 1

Ponferrada

Accommodations: Ponferrada (D)

Meeting time: 7:30pm

In the evening, we meet the group in the town of Ponferrada, home of the Knights Templar's amazing 12th century castle. Your Fresco Tours guide will hand out your Orientation Packets and review all the materials to get you ready for your Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago! Afterwards, we'll take you to get your first stamp in your Pilgrim's Passport before enjoying a traditional meal from the Bierzo Valley.
The Church of Santiago in Villafranca del Bierzo.

Day 2

Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo

Accommodations: Villafranca del Bierzo (B)

Walking: 24 km / 15 mi

With our boots and scallop shells on, your Fresco Tours guide escorts you out of town following various Camino markers and the famous yellow arrow. Shortly after, we find ourselves among the vineyards of this up-and-coming wine region. Here we bid you a last "Buen Camino" as you continue on your own along the Way to Santiago! You finish the walk in the town of Villafranca del Bierzo, where you first come upon the 12th century Romanesque church dedicated to Santiago.
The mountains entering Galicia.

Day 3

Villafranca to Ambasmestas

Accommodations: Ambasmestas (B)

Walking: 15 km / 9 mi

Today is a short day to give your feet some relief. You have a gentle walk along the Valcarce River Valley passing through serene hamlets of classic slate roofs and tiny gardens. As you walk through shady stretches, you see evidence of the lumber industry that is helping to support this area. Although you have yet to enter into Galicia, this area certainly feels very Gallego/Galician, the Ireland of Spain. Listen carefully and you'll note the melodic rhythms of the locals as they speak and go about their day.
The Church of Santa María de O Cebreiro.

Day 4

Ambasmestas to O Cebreiro

Accommodations: O Cebreiro (B)

Walking: 13 km / 8 mi

Have an extra coffee at breakfast, as today you walk up to O Cebreiro! Fortunately, today is another light day, which will give you plenty of time to meander up to the top at a leisurely pace. Make sure you enjoy the hamlets along the way - perhaps a stop in Herrarias to dip your toes in its refreshing river! Once in O Cebreiro, sit on the stone wall and watch the setting sun. After a magnificent view, visit the tiny church of Santa Maria.
Camino de Santiago Tour

Day 5

O Cebreiro to Triacastela

Accommodations: Triacastela (B)

Walking: 21 km / 13 mi

After breakfast, get the blood going with a steady climb to the Alto do Poio, the highest point on the Camino de Santiago in Galicia. Keep an eye out for Carmen, a local villager who sells freshly made crepes to the pilgrims that pass by her door! After a stamp and a coffee, you begin your steady descent down to the town of Triacastela, named after the three castles that once stood watch over the village.
The Monastery of Samos on the Camino de Santiago.

Day 6

Triacastela to Sarria (via Samos)

Accommodations: Sarria (B)

Walking: 25 km / 16 mi

Today is the day of the difficult decision! What to do? The Camino de Santiago has two paths to reach Sarria - take the high road through San Xil (shorter: 17 kms) and enjoy the beautiful views from atop the ridge or visit the ancient monastery of Samos along the river valley. You'll have to choose one or the other, or maybe do both! By day, walk along the hills of San Xil and in the evening, catch a taxi to visit one of Spain's oldest monasteries!
The church near Mercadoiro after the 100 kilometer marker on the Camino de Santiago.

Day 7

Sarria - Portomarín

Accommodations: Portomarín (B)

Walking: 22 km / 14 mi

Sarria is a large market town filled with small shops that cater to both locals and faraway pilgrims. Strolling through the countryside on a combination of tiny backroads and country footpaths, you will pass the 100 km marker, a milestone (or kmstone!) for the millions of pilgrims who have traversed this same spot during the last millennium. Onward, we continue to Portomarín, where we see the 12th-century Church of San Juan, a fortified church, standing guard over the River Miño.
Pilgrims on their Way to Santiago after leaving Portomarin.

Day 8

Portomarín to Lestedo

Accommodations: Lestedo (B)

Walking: 20 km / 12 mi

More than halfway to Santiago, leaving Portomarín the walk begins with a gentle climb out of the river valley and through typical Galician villages, decorated with hórreos, raised corncribs, and the occasional carved granite cross that marks the way to Santiago. In the hamlet of Lameiros, pay special attention to the 17th century Cross showing the Crucifixion of Christ. As you work your way into Palas de Rei, you'll begin to notice the many eucalyptus forests of Galicia.
The hamlet of San Xulain on the Camino de Santiago.

Day 9

Lestedo to Melide

Accommodations: Melide (B)

Walking: 19 km / 12 mi

Following the yellow arrows, you continue to ramble up and down gentle rolling hills along quiet forest paths. Little has changed in this quiet corner of Spain, and the peaceful rural environment of local farmers in stone houses accompanies us back to another time. You quickly arrive to the present-day at the bustling market town of Melide, where octopus (pulpo) is boiled in large copper kettles next to the street!
A pilgrim crossing the stepping stone bridge after Melide on the Camino de Santiago.

Day 10

Melide to Boente to Arzúa

Accommodations: Arzúa (B)

Walking: 14 km / 9 mi

On the outskirts of Melide, stop to admire the 12th century church of Santa Maria, a gem of the Romanesque period. Following the Camino through eucalyptus forests, you quickly come into Boente, whose tiny Santiago Church has a simple, but lovely wooden altarpiece.
Two pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago holding hands.

Day 11

Arzúa - Arca

Accommodations: Arca (B)

Walking: 18 km / 11 mi

Today, you start to get closer to Santiago and the excitement starts to build! Get a feel for the people and greet a local villager with a “Buenos dias" or “Hola". You’ll see how these quiet and reserved people quickly wish you well on your journey to Santiago. On this trek, you’re no longer a tourist, but a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago! Just a few steps from Santiago...
The statue of a pilgrim at the Monte de Gozo on the Camino de Santiago.

Day 12

Arca to Santiago de Compostela

Accommodations: Santiago de Compostela (B)

Walking: 20 km / 12 mi

11 days, 205 kilometers, and you have arrived to Santiago de Compostela. Congratulations! Head to the Pilgrims' Office for your last stamp in your passport and request that well-deserved certificate, the Compostela, for having walked to Santiago. You are going to love this magical city filled with fantastic monuments and with the lively buzz from the international pilgrims and university students that fill its medieval streets.
The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Day 13

Santiago de Compostela & its Cathedral

Accommodations: Itinerary ends (B)

After breakfast, our local historian gives us a closer look at the amazing Cathedral that has seen so many transformations since the original chapel built in the 9th-century. After the tour, we sadly say our last Buen Camino! as we leave you at the Cathedral in time for the Pilgrims' Mass at noon.

 

*Please note: This itinerary is subject to slight modifications due to hotel availability, weather, festivals, and other occurences.

Orientation Meeting

A Fresco Tour guide will hand deliver your Orientation Packet and give you a detailed meeting on the first night in Ponferrada. Your Welcome Packet is filled with all the materials you’ll need to transform into a pilgrim: Your credentials (Pilgrim’s Passport), a scallop shell, daily maps of the route, a guide book with historical information of the villages that you will pass through, and a few other goodies for the trail! We’ll answer any questions that you have before starting your journey to Santiago and on the next morning lead you out on The Way! Minimum of 3 people for this service to be provided.

Accommodations

12 nights in a combination of 3 & 4 star hotels, restored manor homes, and small inns located on the Camino. All rooms have their own bathrooms. We’ve chosen places for their hospitality, comfort, and location.
*Keep in mind that you will be walking specific distances through rural countryside; therefore, 3- and 4-star hotels are not always available along the route.

Meals

All breakfasts are included with your hotels. We have arranged that they will be supplemented from the standard Spanish breakfast of coffee & toast. The first night of the itinerary, our guide will take you for dinner to one of our favorite places in Ponferrada – wine and beer included. Afterwards, we will provide you with a list of recommendations along the Camino. Let us know if you have any dietary restrictions and we can ask our hotels to accommodate for those as well!

Limited Group Size

Although this tour is self-guided, we’ve limited the size of each departure to 16 participants. Availability is on a first come, first-served basis.

Luggage Transport

We will arrange for the transfer of 1 suitcase / piece of luggage (20 kg / 45 lbs MAX) per person between your hotels on your walk along the Camino. If the weight of your bag exceeds the limit, you will need to divide it into 2 pieces. Please contact us for details for rates for extra bags.

Guided Visit

In Santiago, our local art historian will provide you with a guided visit of the Cathedral and the surrounding squares. Minimum of 5 people for this service to be provided.

Additional Services

We are here to help! Need assistance with hotels prior to or after your trip? Questions about what to wear? Need a taxi while on the trail?

Based in Spain, we are here to make sure that your trip runs smooth as can be – we are available!

* Please note that any additional services purchased will have the following conditions:
Hotel reservations – can be cancelled up to 1 week before arrival without penalty
Extra luggage/Private transfers – can be cancelled up to 72 hours before without penalty

Table of Contents

Getting There & Back 

How do I get to A Fresco Start 200 km Tour starting point? 

Ponferrada (Spain) is the official starting point of A Fresco Start 200 km tour and can be reached via train or bus. Traveling from either Madrid or A Coruña (Galicia), one can choose between the train (RENFE) or the bus (ALSA). For an example of prices and timetables, please see: 

RENFE (Train) – Madrid to PonferradaA Coruña to Ponferrada 

Bus (ALSA) – Madrid to Ponferrada & A Coruña to Ponferrada 

How can I purchase my bus or train tickets beforehand?

Train tickets can be purchased online on Spain’s leading rail provider, RENFE. Keep in mind that the sale of train tickets depends on RENFE’s scheduling and some routes cannot be purchased until approximately 30 to 60 days prior to departure – please be patient. Schedules and availability are also subject to change based on train maintenance needs.

For bus tickets, these can be purchased on ALSA .

Both of these websites have an English language option that accept most major credit cards. Tickets are issued as PDFs and are sent to the email address used to purchase the tickets.

How do I get from Santiago de Compostela to Madrid and other cities?

There are now RENFE trains that will get you from Santiago to Madrid in less than 6 hours. While routes and availability may vary upon time of booking, there are several daily trains from Santiago to Madrid. The direct trains are listed as Alvia. If you are looking to fly, there are excellent internal flights that fly Santiago to Madrid 

How do I get from Madrid Airport to the city center?

If your flight flies into Madrid’s T-4 (Aeropuerto T-4) terminal, you have a local Cercanias train that will get you from the airport to the Atocha and Chamartín train station in 25-30 minutes. These trains leave the T-4 station more or less every half an hour. For more information, please visit RENFE Train 

In addition, there is an express bus that services all terminals at the airport with the Atocha Train Station. 

On the Road 

What is the weather like on A Fresco Start 200 km Tour? 

A Fresco Start 200 km covers the last 200 km of the Camino in the Northwest region called Galicia. Here we enjoy a more temperate climate, and it is generally cooler than other parts of the Camino de Santiago and Spain in the summer. 

Visit this link or current and average monthly temperatures of Ponferrada and Santiago de Compostela. 

What is the terrain like on A Fresco Start 200 km Tour? 

In Galicia, the region where you will walk, the terrain is green rolling hills – there are neither steep climbs nor treacherous descents. The trail itself is a combination of very well-maintained compact dirt and stone footpaths and small country roads.   

What is the change in elevation on A Fresco Start 200 km Tour? 

You will be walking from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela, the last 200 km of the Camino de Santiago. For a detailed map of the distances between towns along the Camino and their respective altitudes, please click here. This data has been kindly provided to us by Arturo Murias. 

How many kilometers are walked each day on A Fresco Start 200 km Tour? 

The number of kilometers scheduled for each day varies from 13 km to 23 km. You will walk the last 100 km to Santiago, which is the requirement by the Pilgrims’ Office in Santiago if you are going to ask for the Compostela Certificate. 

Before You Go / Preparing 

What type of shoes do I need to walk A Fresco Start 200 km Tour? 

Footwear is a very personal question – depending on how active you are and how much support you will need. Since we will be walking on a daily basis on the Camino de Santiago, I believe that comfort is key – you do not want to get blisters. You probably won’t need a full high boot that covers your ankle (unless you need this support), but rather light trail walkers or even running shoes if you are used to walking. In the spring, there may be mud and water along the trail, so keep that in mind. Most important: Make sure that they are well broken in! 

What sort of conditioning do I need to undertake before A Fresco Start 200 km Tour? 

We encourage you to walk before and be prepared for your own enjoyment. As you will be walking from inn to inn, you should be prepared to cover the day’s full stage. They say your Camino begins once you decide to do it, so enjoy your “training” walks and get those km’s in before your arrive to Spain! As a bit of insurance, we will also provide you will a list of taxi phone numbers…just in case! 

Booking a Tour

Thank you for choosing to travel with Fresco Tours! We are very excited for you to join the ranks of our Happy Customers. If at any moment you should have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you again and we look forward to sharing memories of a lifetime with you.

Reservations and Payments

To join us on a Fresco Tour, please visit our Secure Online Reservation Form or download and print a PDF version of the Reservation Form, one for each participant. To reserve your space on a tour, a 15% deposit per person is required and payment should be made via credit card (Visa or MasterCard only), bank transfer or via Wise transferThe balance of your tour payment is due 60 days prior to the departure date. If the tour that you selected begins within 60 days of booking, final payment is due at that time. Failure to receive the remainder of your trip balance by the due date will be considered a cancellation.

Confirmation

Once Fresco Tours has received your registration form and tour deposit, we will send you an email with an invoice of payments received and your remaining balance, a copy of our Assumption of Risk / Liability Waiver Form and a link to your Guest Questionnaire. These last 2 items must be returned 60 days prior to the start of tour. In addition, we will send you a Confirmation Packet with information regarding suggestions on preparation, a packing and reading list and other tips to get you excited and prepared for your Fresco Tour.

Final Registration

Once we have received final payment, the signed Assumption of Risk / Liability Waiver Form and Guest Questionnaire, you will be sent a receipt and final details regarding your tour, including a detailed itinerary and the hotel contact list.

Single Supplement Fee

Due to the nature of the accommodations we use, there are a limited number of single rooms available. Requests for these rooms are based on availability. Please see the tour itinerary for the cost of this fee. In some cases, it may imply a room smaller in size than a standard double room. If you are traveling alone, and would like to share a room, we will do our best to match you with a same-gender roommate.

Cancellation / Refund Policies

All cancellations must be made in writing. No refunds will be issued due to late arrival, early departure, or any unused portion of a tour. The Assumption of Risk / Liability Waiver form must be signed and received 60 days prior to tour departure or the reservation will also be treated as a cancellation. Cancellation fees are outlined below:

Time Price
Cancellations received 121 or more days prior to trip start
10% of trip price
Cancellations received 120 - 61 days prior to trip start
15% of trip price
Cancellations received 60 - 31 days prior to trip start
50% of trip price
Cancellations received 30 days or less prior to trip start
100% of trip price

Fresco Tours reserves the right to change, modify, or cancel a tour prior to departure for any reason, including lack of participants (tour minimum: 3-6 passengers with 1 guide, 7 passengers or more with 2 guides) or acts of nature and/or circumstances beyond our control. In this case, any payments received will be refunded in full, and this will constitute full settlement. Fresco Tours is not responsible for any additional expenses due to a canceled tour, such as the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets.

Fresco Tours reserves the right to accept, refuse, or decline any tour member’s participation at any time for any reason. In such a case, Fresco Tour’s liability is limited to the actual cost of the unused services.

Changing Tour Dates

If we are notified of a change to your scheduled tour date 6 months prior, you can apply your tour deposit to another departure date without penalty. This change can be up to 1 calendar year in advance and is subject to availability. Otherwise, the above Cancellation Fees will be applied.

As Spain-taneous Private Tours are custom built and created with specific dates in mind, any modifications will incur a 15% surcharge.

Insurance

In accordance with Spanish law and for the duration of your tour with Fresco Tours, you are covered by a basic insurance provided by Intermundial.  We  strongly advise the purchase of a more comprehensive travel insurance that includes trip cancellation / interruption. We suggest using Travelinsurance.com, which allows you to compare and assess top insurance provider policies and their different coverage plans.

Traveling Safely and Responsibly

Traveling during these complex times requires a bit more planning and a lot more reassurance. We believe that the Fresco Tours style of travel is particularly well-suited to safe activities: walking in the outdoors, small group sizes, strong reliable relationships with our local partners and, most importantly, we have the local knowledge of our home – the Camino de Santiago and the Spanish culture.

Self-Guided

13 days / 12 nights

200 km / 124 mi

Camino Frances

Oct 3 - 15, 2024
Available
Oct 17 - 29, 2024
Available
May 1 - 13, 2025
Available
May 15 - 27, 2025
Last Spots
May 29 - Jun 10, 2025
Available
Jun 12 - 24, 2025
Available
Jun 26 - Jul 8, 2025
Available
Jul 17 - 29, 2025
Available
Sep 4 - 16, 2025
Available
Sep 18 - 30, 2025
Available
Oct 2 - 14, 2025
Available
Oct 16 - 28, 2025
Available

Price per person

1595 €

1,752.75 $

* USD$ price based on current exchange rate

Single Supplement Fee

595 €

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