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Spain

Bilbao to Santiago

Self-Guided Road Bike Tour

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

10 days

Prices from

$2,465 P.P.

Save on Self-Guided Tours

Book your summer cycling escape before 30 April and save $100 or get half-price bike hire, including upgraded road bikes, where available. Applies to departures until 31 August 2024.

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We're thrilled to be introducing a self-guided version of our exciting road cycling journey across northern Spain.
Travelling along the beautiful and dramatic Atlantic coastline and staying in traditional fishing villages with seafood to die for, you'll pass through the foothills of the Picos de Europa national park, where its serrated peaks reveal themselves without you having to go over them.
You'll take in the great cities of Oviedo, Lugo and Santiago; each with their own unique charm and history. The wild Cordillera Cantabrica mountains with ancient settlements and way of life, and the provinces of the Basque Country, Cantabrica, Asturias and Galicia all as strong in tradition and as proud as each other.
By design the route follows a variation of the Camino de Santiago. Travelling along the Camino del Norte that runs along the coast, then joining the Camino Primitivo, a wild route across the mountains to Santiago.
For centuries, arriving into Santiago has marked the end of a special journey for countless pilgrims and the Plaza de Obradoiro, Santiago's impressive cathedral square will also mark the end of our journey across northern spain. 
Choose your own start date and go at your own pace, and join us in northern Spain for this road riding challenge. 
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Highlights

  • Riding along the stunning and dramatic Cantabrian coastline
  • A stunning start in the Basque city of Bilbao
  • Enjoying a fabulous seafood platter in San Vicente de Barquera
  • Pouring cider in the old town of Oviedo
  • Arriving at the roof of the ‘Camino Primitivo‘, Puerto Palo
  • Cycling through beautiful, rural, enchanting Galicia to arrive in historical Santiago to collect a pilgrims’ certificate

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Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival: Bilbao
Non Riding Day

You’ll be met on arrival into Bilbao airport for the transfer to your first hotel. Bilbao is one of the great treasures of the Basque Country. With an eclectic combination of remarkable architecture, a buzzing gastro scene and stunning landscapes of rolling green hills, it’s the perfect place to start your journey across northern Spain.

If time permits, a visit to Gehry’s Guggenheim is a must. This modern architectural landmark is the unmistakable emblem of Bilbao itself. A stroll along the river front will afford you spectacular views of the museum’s sculptural exterior and a visit inside will offer a perspective of Bilbao that is both futuristic and deeply connected to its past.

As you prepare for your tour ahead, relax and sample some typical food as you wander the narrow streets of the charming old quarter and the 19th-century arcaded Plaza Nueva which is a rewarding pintxo haunt. No tapas to be found here – that’s Spanish rather than Basque! Instead delicious toppings are placed on fresh bread held together by cocktail sticks.

Day 2
Bilbao to Santander
63 Miles / 102 Km Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 1,610 Metres Approx.

The journey starts today at the cathedral where you can claim your pilgrim’s stamp and begin the route west to Santiago de Compostela.

You’ll begin steadily meandering out of the city along the river until reaching the glorious Cantabrian Sea with views stretching along the dramatic rugged coastline. Passing the coastal village of Onton you leave the Basque Country and pass into the next province west, Cantabria.

The climbs and descents are relatively short, keeping the vistas of the ocean in full view and passing through hamlets and pueblos as you traverse each valley side. The seaport of Castro Urdiales is a great stop for a mid morning coffee break to watch the bustling harbour in action beneath the 13th century castle.

The route continues to hug the coastline and drop in and out of deep valleys until descending to the resort of Laredo and the Bahia de Santoña. This dramatic estuary, a natural park, hemmed in by the Cantabrian mountains and the imposing Monte Buciero is famed for producing the best anchovies in Spain.

A passenger boat will take you across the estuary to Santoña fishing port, leading to great riding on country lanes until reaching the surf village of Somo and the Bahia of Santander.

Another short ferry hop across the bay completes the journey and you can sit back and enjoy fabulous views of the city, coast and mountains before disembarking close to your hotel on the edge of the bustling old town and the centre for fabulous Cantabrian cuisine.

Day 3
Santander to San Vicente de la Barquera
46 Miles / 76 Km Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 1,100 Metres Approx.

You’ll leave Santander and Playa de Sardinero and enjoy cycling the quiet lanes along the coast, past the dramatic setting of the Cabo Mayor lighthouse and towards the beautiful setting of Liencres Natural Park, with its huge dunes and estuary, a lovely spot for a morning coffee break.

The route meanders through settlements and rolling pastureland to reach the beautifully preserved medieval village of Santillana del Mar. Interestingly the world famous Altimira caves were discovered here in the late 19th century, containing paintings over 15,000 years old. Santillana is an interesting spot for lunch, soaking up times gone by!

You’ll then pass the monumental Comillas, home to a Gaudi treasure, before you cross the beautiful natural park of Oyambre, climbing above cliffs giving magnificent views east and west along the coast.

You’ll cross the impressive Maza bridge to arrive at the fishing port of San Vicente de la Barquera, the final town on the western Cantabrian coast before you enter Asturias, sits handsomely on a point of land between two long inlets, backed by dramatic Picos de Europa mountainscapes.

A stay in San Vicente wouldn’t be complete without heading out for a delicious seafood dinner, known to be of the best quality in Spain, so make sure you do!

Day 4
San Vicente de la Barquera to Ribadesella
50 Miles / 83 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 1,000 Metres Approx.

Today’s route meanders between the fabulous coastline and the foothills of the dramatic Picos de Europa. You’ll first take in the steady back road that traverses the side of the deep blue Tina Menor Estuary with expansive white sand beaches. The route crosses the River Deva at Unquera and enters the province of Asturias.

Beautifully smooth paved lanes climb past dairy pastures with magnificent views of the mountains beyond as you arrive in the curious village of Columbres, which houses a museum dedicated to emigration to the Americas.

The route is enchanting as you pass beautifully preserved stone villages and wind from valley to valley to reach the view point above Andrin where the Atlantic coastline unveils itself to you.

A thrilling descent above dramatic cliffs will bring you to the pretty fishing village of Llanes for a beach side picnic of local specialties. Inhabited since ancient times, Llanes was for a long time an independent minded town and whaling port with its own charter, awarded by Alfonso IX of León in 1206.

All that’s left of the day are some easy miles along the coast to the fishing town of Ribadesella. Today, with a small medieval centre, a bustling harbour and some sensational beaches within easy reach, not to forget the fabulous seafood on offer in the restaurants around the harbour!

Day 5
Ribadesella to Oviedo
56 Miles / 97 Km Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 1,650 Metres Approx.

The route starts with fast undulating kilometres along the Asturian coast under the El Fitu mountain range. This stretch of coastline is known as the Jurassic coastline where many fossils and footprints of dinosaurs have been found.

A dramatic section of road hugs the coast to drop us into the ancient fishing village of Lastres, with a bird’s eye view east and west along the coast. The bustling harbour is a great spot to watch the world go by over refreshments.

It’s a short ride to Villaviciosa, which rivals Nava as Asturias’ cider capital, where you’ll turn south and upwards through green hillsides clad with oak and eucalyptus to reach the Alto de Campo pass at just over 400 metres.

The route then drops gently linking villages and farmlands to reach the proud city of Oviedo, Asturias’ civilised capital. Its compact and historic casco antiguo (old town) is fun and sophisticated, with a stash of intriguing sights and some excellent restaurants!

Day 6
Oviedo to Tineo
40 Miles / 78 Km Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 1,600 Metres Approx.

Oviedo is the true starting point for the Camino Primitivo. In the early morning light you will see pilgrims, like yourself, setting off on their journey across the mountains to Santiago. After having had your passport stamped in the cities imposing Gothic Cathedral, you’ll head out along back-lanes taking in some heavenly riding on ancient roads down to the River Nora.

A climb over the Alto de Carbunrana will set you up for racy roads along the Nalon riverside, passing the rock pinnacle of Penaflor and entering the picturesque market town of Grado for a well-earned coffee and local cake!

You are now definitely heading into the mountains with your first meaty climb taking you over the Alto de el Fresno into the Cordillera through ancient hamlets where time seems to have stood still. You pass through historical Salas, famed for its cookies, to the small, isolated settlement of Espina, with amazing views over the forested valleys and heathered mountainsides.

The final 15km eases as the road gently undulates to Tineo our mountainside village to refuge you for the evening. The area is renowned for its succulent beef, so it could be steak and wine night!

Pola de Allande is a part of the Region de Vaqueiros which passes from coastal to inland towns and is linked by the tradition of the seasonal migration of the livestock trade. The Vaqueiros, or cattle drivers, began to inhabit this part of Asturias in the medieval times and the most distinctive aspect of this that exists today are the Brañas, or highland pastures, where they used to breed their cattle.

Day 7
Tineo to Las Grandas
44 Miles / 73 Km Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 1,600 Metres Approx.

Another short day on paper but with significant height gain that will see you riding through some spectacular scenery on an epic day in the Asturian mountains.

First, easy roads take you to the Alto de Guardia to gain a lengthy descent through pastures, forest and isolated villages. Your arrival at Samblismo throws up an important decision for all travellers on their way to Santiago, whether to drop into the valley to Pola de Allande or take on the wild of the isolated mountains to the roof of the Camino Primitivo, the Palo Pass at almost 1,200m.

I’m sure you’ve guessed, being on a road bike, you’ll drop into the bottom of the valley to Pola before the rewarding climb up to the pass and the highest point on your route. On a clear day you can see back to the Atlantic Ocean, hidden behind layer upon layer of rolling sierras.

Day 8
Las Grandas to Lugo
52 Miles / 84 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 1,600 Metres Approx.

The profile today, although not without it’s large climbs, is far gentler as you head out of the mountains.

The ride gently descends and undulates through pine and deciduous woods along enchanting dry-stone wall lined roads, passing isolated chapels and hermitages. At historical Fonsagrada you’ll take a rest and sample our first taste of Galician hospitality. Sitting at just under 1,000m it’s the highest town in Galicia and a place, they say, wolves never dare come down to!

You’ll gain height to reach the emblemic Alto de Cerredo and the ruins of an ancient pilgrim’s hospital beside an impressive Celtic burial chamber. It’s a wonderful place to contemplate past times before a terrific descent down to Paradevilla.

The road snakes its way through numerous ancient settlements. In Galicia much of the terrain is made up of smallholdings where it’s not uncommon to see people scything grass by hand or ploughing fields with oxen.

A bit of effort is needed to reach the Alto de Fontaneira, offering amazing vistas down to the rolling green valleys of Galicia, then your route begins to descend for the last 20km to the fortified city of Lugo, your home for the night.

The grand Roman walls encircling old Lugo are considered the best preserved of their kind in the world and are the number one reason visitors land here. Within the fortress is a beautifully preserved web of streets and squares, most of them traffic-free and ideal for strolling.

Lugo is a great place to overnight with excellent restaurants. It’s probably time to try the Galician dish of pulpo a la feira, octopus with spicy paprika to be washed down with a crisp Albarino white!

Day 9
Lugo to Santiago
66 Miles / 112 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 1,650 Metres Approx.

Today’s ride is pure Galician! No big climbs but continually descending into and climbing out of small valleys through the complex and beautiful rolling hills of Galicia.

Leaving Lugo, you first descend to cross the snaking Rio Mino, which further west is the natural border between Portugal and Spain.

Once over the open moorland of Hospital das Seisas you’ll take a long snaking descent passing Celtic castros (settlements) and interesting horreos (grain stores) to arrive in the small bustling town of Melide.

As you rejoin the Camino Frances the journey to Santiago is full of fun, with a party atmosphere filling the trail, pilgrims with the end in sight! A steady climb brings you to the artisan town of Arzua, where, according to legend, a local woman who denied a tired, hungry pilgrim a piece of bread had her head turned to stone! So please be in a sharing mood!

There is a quiet rest area in Santa Irene where you can stop and rest for lunch, refuelling for the final pedal to Santiago. After riding through Lavacolla you’ll take on the last climbs of the Camino as you head up to Monte del Gozo (Mount Joy), so called as the long-awaited sight of Santiago comes into view for the first time. From here it’s downhill all the way to a place declared a World Heritage Site in its entirety by UNESCO, Santiago de Compostela. Your sights will firmly be set on the Plaza de Obradoiro, Santiago’s impressive cathedral square, which houses its greatest treasures. It’s a special moment, signifying the end of a truly memorable ride!

Day 10
Departure: Santiago de Compostela
Non Riding Day
  • Meals: Breakfast

After a relaxing breakfast it’s time to pack those bags one last time ahead of the transfer to the airport.

Santiago de Compostela is a beautiful city to explore at your own pace and it is well recommended if you wish to stay for longer. The cathedral never fails to impress and delight, especially the impressive incense bearing Botafumerio as it swings from the rafters. Other sights of particular interest include Convento de San Paio de Antelares, which houses the Museo de Arte Sacro, the Praza de la Azabacheria and Museo do Pobo Galego. The Hospital Real (now a luxury hotel) is worth a visit, even if it’s for a quick drink in the bar. Or why not take a few moments to relax and reflect on the trip and watch the world drift by in a plaza – a fantastic place to end the trip, relax and unwind.

The final stop on the epic Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail, Santiago is a unique city imbued with the aura of a millennium’s worth of journeys. Long-gone centuries live on in its arcaded streets and magnificent stone architecture, of which the famous cathedral is the jewel in the crown.

Today some 300,000 Camino pilgrims and many thousands of others venture here each year, giving Santiago a greater international dimension than ever. Yet this is also the capital of the Spanish autonomous region of Galicia, with a strong local character – a place where the skirl of bagpipes wafts across plazas and the countless restaurants and bars specialise in fine Galician seafood and local wines.

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The Cycling

Terrain

A 100% tarmac route entirely suitable for racing style road bikes. The route is varied and includes some significant climbs and a number of long and occasionally technical switchback descents.

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Road Cycling Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 3: Moderate

45-60 miles / 70-95 kms per day

For riders with experience, good fitness & a decent level of skill

Some features that may be experienced more frequently in a higher grade tour

Most days include a couple of significant climbs

Some long days & some steep to very steep sections

Not for beginners

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

You’re definitely not a novice rider, you’re fit, you ride regularly at weekends, sometimes staying on the bike for much of the day, you love your bike! You also enjoy a challenge and if you haven’t already done so you’re keen to attempt a semi-serious to serious mountain pass or two. You’re as comfortable with the prospect of descending from the top of a col as you are with the idea of climbing it and you’re confident that you have the skills to do so safely. You’re not necessarily a “racer” but you can crank up the pace a little when it’s necessary and you don’t mind forgoing a coffee stop if the schedule demands it occasionally. You probably own and use clipless pedals. You have good control of your bike and can take a drink from a water bottle without having to unclip and put your feet on the ground. Whilst you find a full day in the saddle fulfilling you’re not obsessed and as much as you are looking forward to the riding on your holiday, you’re also looking forward to a little local culture and cuisine. Grade 3 would be a good option for you.

For more information about the grading of this holiday in particular, please check out the terrain section which will give you some specifics of what to expect on this tour.

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Dates & Prices

SPRING SAVINGS! Save on Self-Guided Tours

Book your summer cycling escape before 30 April and save $100 or get half-price bike rental, including upgraded road bikes, where available. Applies to departures until 31 August 2024. Apply the promo code SKEDADDLE24 when you book.

Daily departures available. The season prices below are per person and are applicable for all start dates between and inclusive of the stated dates.

2024 02 Apr – 12 Oct

Season 1 – $2660 02 – 22 Apr / 03 – 31 May / 14 Sep – 12 Oct

Season 2 – $2465 23 Apr – 02 May / 01 Jun – 30 Sep

Secure Your Holiday With A Deposit

Book now with a $250 deposit and nothing more to pay until 60 days before departure. Choose a date to start your booking and see all prices, including bike hire and single room supplements.

Select a date to view prices and book
Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
Return Date
--/--/----
Duration
10 days
Price
$2,465.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en suite rooms)

B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) Local representative (with welcome meeting)

D) Access to an app for holiday information and navigation

E) Luggage transfers

F) Airport transfer from Bilbao Airport (BIO) on scheduled arrival day

G) Airport transfer to Santiago de Compostela Airport (SCQ) on scheduled departure day

H) Financial Protection through ABTOT

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike rental (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Single room (available if required)

E) Travel insurance

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route

I) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days

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The Essentials

Travel Options

This tour starts in Bilbao and finishes in Santiago. Airport transfers are included in the cost of your holiday. We ask that you fly into Bilbao (BIO) and back from Santiago de Compostela (SCQ).

For those flying from the UK, easyJet offer direct flights from London Gatwick (LGW) and Manchester (MCR). On your way back, Ryanair offer direct flights to London Stansted (STN) and Vueling have flights to London Gatwick (LGW). Other airlines, non-direct, and regional options may be available, please chat to our team.

Please check with Skedaddle before making any travel arrangements to ensure they fit in with the holiday schedule, and to avoid any additional charges.

Accommodation

As with all of our trips we aim to use accommodation which showcases the style and hospitality of the area you are visiting. We always have comfort and convenience in mind when selecting such places.

Bike Hire

Rental bikes will typically be a Giant Defy Advanced 2 (or equivalent) with a carbon frame and hydraulic disc brakes.

Our bikes come equipped with a phone mount, two bottle cages and water bottle, a seat post bag containing: puncture repair kit, multitool, inner tube and pump, one lock (between 2 bikes).

If you do decide to rent and would like us to provide a helmet, please let us know at the time of booking, otherwise you should bring your own helmet with you.

Please also let us know if you plan on bringing your own clip-in pedals, or if you will use the flat pedals which our rental bikes come fitted with.

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News, Reviews & Stories

Cycle the Camino

Regular Camino guide Dan Hirst shares his favourite food and wine recommendations, as well as the story behind the route.

7 kit bag essentials

Let's talk about your cycling kit! Make sure you have everything you need for multiple days in the saddle!

12 hours in... Santiago!

The capital of northwest Spain’s Galicia region, a city steeped in culture, culinary delights and captivating sights...

Reviews

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