Discover sights both ancient and rural as you drive between León and Santiago de Compostela
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- Follow the Way of St. James, one of the world's oldest pilgrimage routes
- Take in Northern Spain's wealth of architecture, from grand Gothic cathedrals to Gaudí's modernist whimsies
- Break the journey with vineyard visits and seaside strolls
- Stay in a collection of historic Parador hotels
- 2 Nights Argómaniz
- 2 Nights Santo Domingo de la Calzada
- 2 Nights León
- 1 Night Villafranca
- 2 Nights Santiago de Compostela
City | History & culture | Self-drive
Travelling between Bilbao, León and Santiago de Compostela and staying mainly in a collection of meticulously converted castles, palaces, monasteries and convents known as Paradors, this tailor-made driving holiday will take you through the heart of rural northern Spain. Following the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, also known as the Way of St. James, you'll discover a wealth of historical treasures and architecture ranging from severely Gothic to strikingly modernist. And, it's all interspersed with some of the county's finest vineyards and wineries.
Day by day itinerary
UK > Argómaniz
Begin your holiday with complimentary airport lounge indulgence before your flight out to Bilbao, collect your car and head south to the small village of Argómaniz, the perfect location to enjoy the Basque Country and Rioja wine country. Check into the Parador de Argómaniz, your accommodation for the next two night - situated on top of a hill with breathtaking views across to Vitoria and the Rioja Alava wine region, the 17th century Renaissance style palace was originally owned by the influential Larrea family in the 17th Century.
Enjoy typical Basque dishes, such as La Merluza Koskera (hake served with asparagus, peas and egg) and Goxua (sponge cake with syrup and whipped cream) served in the Parador's restaurant. Take time exploring historic Vitoria, or an hour south into the Rioja Álava wine region, home to the famous Marques de Riscal vineyards designed by Frank O. Gehry.
Stay: Parador de Argómaniz
Santo Domingo de la Calzada
After breakfast continue south to Santo Domingo de la Calzada set on the old pilgrims' route of the Camino de Santiago. The Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada is located in the main square in a former pilgrims’ hostel established in the 12th century by a local saint, Dominic, who is commemorated in the next-door cathedral and in the name of the town. The building that once provided shelter for tired pilgrims now offers very comfortable accommodation to the modern traveller, while maintaining a strong historic atmosphere.
Regional specialities on offer at the Parador's restaurant include Menestra de Verduras de la Ribeira (vegetable soup), Bacalao a la riojana (salt cod with Rioja peppers) and Tarta de Santo Domingo (a tart with almonds, raisins and candied fruit), all washed down with local Rioja wines. Less than half an hour away is the wine town of Haro, where many of the best-known Rioja names are established.
Stay: Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Today travel to León and check into your Parador, one of the most important Renaissance buildings in Spain dating back to the 12th century. The building has served several different roles in its time, including as a prison, and pilgrim’s hostal, and is a recognised route marker for the Camino de Santiago. Spend the following day taking in the city's fascinating array of architectural styles. Be sure to visit the Gothic cathedral and the Basilica San Isidoro, home to the tombs of the Kings of León and some fine example of Romanesque paintings. The Casa de los Botines is equally impressive, a late 19th-century merchant house designed by Catalonian modernist architect, Antoni Gaudí.
In the restaurant you can enjoy dishes such as: Sahagum lamb rice with "Botillo" sausage and salt beef terrine with goat cheese and reineta apple.
Stay: Parador León Hostal de San Marcos, León
After breakfast, depart León and drive to Villafranca, an important milestone along the Camino de Santiago and the last part of the route in the province of León. At one stage hundreds of thousands of pilgrims were passing through each year, as a result the town has numerous churches and former pilgrim’s hospitals. The 12th century Church of St James recognisable by its semi-circular apse and its Romanesque style meant that it was once among the most important churches along the pilgrimage route. One of the entrances to the church, known as the ‘Puerta del Pardon’, is a fascinating display of craftsmanship and welcomed pilgrims who, due to illness, could not continue on the route to reach the tomb of St. James.
Stay: Parador de Villafranca del Bierzo
Santiago de Compostela
This morning you'll drive one hour to the town of Santiago de Compostela, a world heritage sight and the finishing point of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Plaza de Obradoiro and the city's stunning cathedral are highlights, as are the many museums, galleries palaces and churches, cafes and restaurants that line the Santiago de Compostela's old ancient cobbled streets. Then, in the afternoon, check into the Parador de Compostela, considered to be the oldest hotel in the world, built in 1499 by order of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Once a royal hospital, which provided lodging and shelter for many pilgrims who arrived in the city following the ‘Camino de Santiago’ the impressive building along with the Romanesque cathedral beside it and the Plaza de Obradoiro have now been named a UNESCO Heritage site.
The Parador de Santiago de Compostela's restaurant offers "Calderada dos Reis" (turbot, lobster and scallops cooked in their own juices, served with turnip greens and creamed potatoes), shellfish, free-range rooster cooked with oysters, and "Filloas" (egg and flour crepes filled with a caramelized apple cream).
Stay: Parador de Santiago de Compostela
After a final breakfast in Santiago de Compostela, head for the airport to return your car hire, and check-in for your flight back to the UK.
Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.
April / October
from £1,350 pp. incl. flights
May / Jun / Jul / Aug / Sep
from £1,585 pp. incl. flights
- Complimentary UK airport departure lounge access
- Return flights into Bilbao and back from Santiago de Compostela
- 2 nights Parador de Argonmaniz on a BB basis
- 2 nights Parador Santo Domingo de la Calzada on a BB basis
- 2 nights Parador Hostal de San Marcos, León on a BB basis
- 1 night Parador de Villafranca on a B&B basis
- 2 night Parador di Santiago de Compostela on a B&B basis
- 10 days car hire in a Economy car - one way drop-off fee applicable and paid locally
Half board (evening meals) can be added to any of your Parador stays - please ask your Wexas consultant for details
Low Season : April / October
High Season : May / June / Jul / August / September
Terms & Conditions
Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.
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