The Camino de Santiago, or Route to Santiago de Compostela, is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe that have existed for over a thousand years, all leading to the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, north-west Spain. It was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times, together with Rome and Jerusalem, and a pilgrimage route on which a plenary indulgence could be earned.
Today tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims and many other travellers set out each year from their front doorstep, or popular starting points across Europe, to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle, and a few travel as some of their medieval counterparts did, on horseback. In addition to people undertaking a religious pilgrimage, the majority are travellers and hikers who walk the route for non-religious reasons: travel, sport, or simply the challenge of weeks of walking in a foreign land. Also, many consider the experience a spiritual adventure to remove themselves from the bustle of modern life. It acts as a retreat for many modern “pilgrims”.
The route from Portugal is one of the oldest, possibly originating in medieval times, and passes many culturally and architecturally important monuments. While it can be ridden from Faro (30d) or Lisbon (20d) (please enquire), the most popular start points are Tui (6d) and Porto(11d) located in the north of Portugal. This route passes ancient bridges, rural chapels, sanctuaries and historic cities before reaching the banks of the river Miño in Tui, and on to Santiago de Compostella. There is also the option to follow the sea route which provides some spectacular coastal scenery.
Overnight stays are in charming hotels and guest houses, twin rooms with en suite bathroom to guarantee a comfortable night. The pilgrim hostels cannot be reserved in advance and are not utilized on our trek. Riders interact with other pilgrims all day on the route and over lunch. It is possible to go the Coastal Route as well which adds a few days and some spectacular coastal scenery.
This is a fully supported trip, where your luggage is transported by 4x4 leaving you free to explore the remote villages, historic remains and outstanding landscapes, crossing some of the best preserved natural environments of Southern Europe.
The horses are fit and in excellent condition, riding is at all paces where the terrain allows, and each night is spent in comfortable guesthouse or hotel accommodation. Non-riders are also welcome and can choose to walk parts of the route or go along in the back up vehicle, meeting with the riders at meal times.
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The itinerary varies depending on the length of your trip. Below are the route options and lengths with their respective meeting points and a more detailed description of the last 6 days of the route from the Spanish border at Tui to Santiago de Compostella describing the places visited on this historical adventure. On average you will ride between 30-35 km per day.
|Riding Start Point||Duration||Meeting Point|
|Tui||6 days /5 nights||Vigo (Spain)|
|Ponte de Lima||7 days /6 nights||Ponte de Lima|
|Barcelos||8 days / 7 nights||Porto|
|Porto||10 days / 9 nights||Porto|
|Viana do Castelo (along the Coast)||12 days / 11 nights||Porto|
|Lisbon||21 days / 20 nights||Lisbon|
|Faro||30 days / 29 nights||Faro|
From the chosen pilgrimage starting point in Portugal all rides converge at Tui on the northern border of Porutgal, the gateway to Galicia in Spain.
Tui to Santiago
Going forwards from there (in Galicia, Spain) we reach A Ponte das Febres where there are two options: continue directly and cross in front of the bridge (a difficult pass in winter), or take a little deviation around ‘the link’, both arriving to A Madalena.
Then following the roman route, we join the N 550, at the level of Vilavella à Redondela´s convent. At Redondela the Route crosses the middle of the city, where we can observe an historic inn of the XVI century called “ Casa da Torre “, one of the key inns on the Portuguese Pilgrimage Route.
After Redondela, passing the railway, our route continues in the direction of Soutoxusto. Circling through pines, we descend to Setefontes and cross Arcade. The area is known for its delicious river products which we will of course stop to sample. Once we have filled up on the local specialties we will continue to the historic Pontesampaio. Here the route crosses the river Verdugo by the bridge where the Napoleonic army suffered a significant loss against the local people during the Independence War.
We leave Pontevedra by la Rua da Santiña. The path, lined with chestnuts trees, continues parallel to the railway until Pontecabras, and finishes between pines and eupcaliptus at the church and the rectorat of Santa Maria de Alba.
From here the route continues by Casal de Eirixio and O Pino, discovering deep forest scattered with white waters and old mills. The path now turns back towards Volga, following until Padron, in A Coruña.
In Santiaguiño do Monte we take a moment to enjoy the charming view, and a chapel dedicated to Santiago containing an altar with a picture of the saint in one of the stones.
In O Obradeiro we are close to our destination and can make our way along the principal route to the Saint James basilique, the Portique de la Gloria. Another way into the basilique, prefered by the pilgrims, is to follow the street Fonseca, along the méridional wing of Claustro, to the place of As Praterias, situated at the cathedral entrance.
After the cathedral visit, we will transport you to the Airport or train stations, where we say farewell. There is a 4 day coastal path extension available on all rides.
Typical daily schedule
On your day of arrival you will be transferred from the airport, train / bus stations in Santiago or Vigo or a previously agreed point closest to the stage where you will start your pilgrimage on horseback. From here you will taken to your hotel in Tui. There will be time to visit Tui City and the Cathedral before a delicious evening meal back at the hotel.
From day 2, to the penultimate day
Breakfast will be served at 8am and by 9 we will be on horseback. We will stop for a short break at 11am, a chance for a snack and drink before setting off again at 11:30am. At 2pm we will stop for a long lunch and rest. We are back on horseback by 4pm and should arrive at our accommodation between 6-6:30pm. In the evening you are free to rest before dinner which is served between 8-8:30pm.
We have an early start as we are only able to enter the PLAZA DO OBRADOIRO (Cathedral of Santiago) on horseback between 7 and 9am. After our visit to the cathedral we will return to the hotel for breakfast. After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport / train or bus stations of Santiago de Compostela were you will start your journey home.
Groups of 4 or more can opt to do these rides at a slightly slower pace, covering 20-25km per day (13-16 miles). This is not a beginner option! This slower option is best in the hotter months, particularly July and August, and will involve setting out at 8am to cover most of the distance before lunch with the afternoons as free time to relax. Please enquire for more information on the these rides.
If a large number of people book the same date then the ride may be split in to two groups or there will be an extra guide present.
Non-riders can walk parts of the route and/or travel in the support truck, joining riders for meals and in the evening. Please enquire for pricing.
An additional 4 day trip from Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre can be added on to the end of this ride.
Thisextension is an official Camino in itself - the Camino Finisterre - and it is the only Camino that departs from Santiago (all the other routes end there, of course). Both the routes to Finisterre and then onto Muxia are uniquely beautiful. Despite its current affiliation with the Camino de Santiago, the Camino Finisterre route likely predates Christianity itself. It is believed that pagan pilgrims made their way to Finisterre on Galicia’s Costa da Morte—the Coast of Death—to pay homage to what was viewed in ancient times as the extremity of the known world, beyond which lay—they hoped—the likes of Elysium and the Land of Eternal Youth. There remain hints and signs of this pagan past along the route and around Finisterre itself. Muxia is a traditional pilgrimage spot in its own right, as it houses the Santuario da Virxe de Barca—the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Boat—occupying a stunning location bordered by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The sanctuary honours the legend that the Virgin Mary came to Muxia in a boat made of stone to help Saint James during his ministry in Spain.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
There are 30 horses to choose from, all Andalusian or Andalucian Arab cross who are experienced over the local terrain. The horses are all well schooled responsive and have brakes! A support team which follows the riders includes spare horses in case of injury. English tack is provided.
Rides are usually 30-35km per day with Jesus as the main guide. The riding is at all paces with plenty of cantering. Groups of 4 or more booking together can opt to do these rides at a slightly slower pace, covering 20-25km per day. This slower option is best in the hotter months, particularly July and August, and will involve setting out at 8am to cover most of the distance before lunch with the afternoons as free time to relax. Please enquire for the prices and timings of slower rides as the website outlines the faster ride only.
You should be comfortable at a walk, trot and canter, be fit enough to ride for 6 or 7 hours per day, and secure riding in open spaces. Minimum age on this ride is 9 years, children must be competent riders, riding fit and are encouraged to do the slightly slower route.
The weight limit for this ride is 220 lb/100 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation is in twin or double rooms in a selection of good quality country houses, inns and hotels located along the route, all with a private bathrooms and the best available are selected. Luggage is transported each day.
Due to the areas' lengthy shoreline and its traditional fishing communities, typical meals are in true Galician style and include vaious shellfish and octopus dishes. Octopus is the most iconic dish in the whole of the region. Often eaten at restuarants with a vairiety of first and second courses to choose from.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.
NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures
Passport and Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.
Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.
In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain
In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Spain.html
In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/spain
July is the hottest month in Galicia with an average temperature of 18°C (64°F) and a high of 24°C (75°F) and the coldest is January at 7°C (45°F) with the most daily sunshine hours at 8 in August. The wettest month is December with an average of 135mm of rain. Due to its exposed north-westerly location, the climate is still very cool by Spanish standards.
COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.
You should always bring any regular prescription drugs you may need with you.
Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Spain and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.
In Spain the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.
There will opportunities to charge phones, cameras etc. each night at your accommodation.
It is recommended to take a riding helmet or broad rimmed hat which must stay on firmly and sunglasses with string. There are a selection of riding hats available on site. You should bring 2 pairs of riding trousers, half chaps are recommended, riding gloves, jersey/fleece, warm jacket (depending on time of year), shorts, long trousers (evenings) long sleeve shirts, T-shirts, sarong or wrap, swimsuit, waterproofs, sun block, camera, binoculars, a pair of short riding/walking boots and trainers. On a practical level a bottle of water for refilling and the all essential loo paper (for outdoor emergencies only!) are handy.
This programme is available with a variety of lengths from 6 to 30 days, depending on which options are chosen or up to 30 days on request. Departures are available throughout the year, on request for groups of 4 or more. Please enquire to join a confirmed departure.
Available all year round, best between 15 March - 15 October.
2023: Confirmed 6 day trips (from Tui) on 1 - 6 April; 12 -17 June; 10 - 15 July; 3 - 8 Aug; 1 - 6 Sept
Other dates/lengths on request.
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2023 - 6d Tui||6d/5n||5||double pp||1,589|
|2023 - 7d Ponte de Lima||7d/6n||6||double pp||1,819|
|2023 - 8d Barcelos||8d/7n||7||double pp||2,089|
|2023 - 10d Porto||10d/9n||9||double pp||2,725|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2023 - 6d Tui||6d/5n||5||double pp||1,749|
|2023 - 7d Ponte de Lima||7d/6n||6||double pp||1,999|
|2023 - 8d Barcelos||8d/7n||7||double pp||2,299|
|2023 - 10d Porto||10d/9n||9||double pp||2,999|
|Riding days||Product item description||US $|
|2023 - 6d Tui||6d/5n||5||double pp||1,969|
|2023 - 7d Ponte de Lima||7d/6n||6||double pp||2,249|
|2023 - 8d Barcelos||8d/7n||7||double pp||2,589|
|2023 - 10d Porto||10d/9n||9||double pp||3,375|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2023 - 6d Tui||6d/5n||5||double pp||20,569|
|2023 - 7d Ponte de Lima||7d/6n||6||double pp||23,505|
|2023 - 8d Barcelos||8d/7n||7||double pp||27,035|
|2023 - 10d Porto||10d/9n||9||double pp||35,259|
`The New Spaniards’ –John Hooper,
‘Driving over Lemons’- Chris Stewart,
‘The Story of Spain’- Mark Williams,
‘South of Granada’ – Gerald Brenan,
'For Whom The Bell Tolls’ – Ernest Hemmingway,
'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’- Laurie Lee
‘Don Quijote de la Mancha’ – Miguel de Cervantes.
For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
Galicia's woodlands and mountains are home to one of the largest populations of wolves in western Europe, though it is unlikely you would see any. Common animals in the woodlands include rabbits and hares, wild boars, and roe deer. The area is thick with oak, holm oak, birch and chestnut trees and many wild flowers. Along this route you will also pass through open meadows and pass through old towns and villages. If you have chosen to included the coastal path extension you will ride along coastal paths with Spectacular views of the ocean.
Spain is a beautiful and diverse country, the second largest in Europe. The official language is Castilian Spanish but Catalan, Galician and Basque are also spoken. Territory includes two island archipelagos – the Balearics and the Canaries – and two enclaves on the North African coast, bordering Morocco – Ceuta and Melilla. The African influence can be found throughout Spain but especially in the south, for example the guitar was invented by the Spanish when they added a sixth string to the Arab lute. Music and art permeates Spanish culture, most obviously displayed in the fire and passion of the Flamenco and the stunning modern architecture found in the cities.
The famous siesta is still enjoyed by the majority of Spaniards, most shops close at lunchtime for two or three hours so everyone can escape the often scorching afternoon sun. Evening meals are served late into the evening with plenty of wine or sangria. Often meals can last two or three hours, especially if your host is serving Tapas, small and varied dishes of meats, bread, vegetables. Paella is also a delight and very popular across the country.
Spain is one hour ahead of GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram. The international dialling code for Spain is +34.