14. Melide to Santiago de Compostela 51.80 km

Many cyclists are tempted to cycle on the road instead of the Camino for the last stages of the Way of Saint James. My advice is – do not. The very end of the Camino is challenging but skipping this part might leave you with the feeling that your Camino is incomplete. When you stand in front of the Cathedral in Santiago, you don’t have to ask the fellow pilgrims what their starting point was. It’s just obvious. Those looking homeless walked from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, those in clean clothes are pilgrims from Sarria. Obviously, not everyone can walk from the Pyrenees, but all pilgrims will tell you that they would love to. The same applies to the cyclists – individuals covered with mud and dust are those who cycled on the Camino from Melide, those in clean clothes on shiny bikes are those who cycled on the road. And trust me that at the very end you will want to be in the first category. So, unless you have an injury or serious problems with your bike, cycle on the Camino. From now on just follow the yellow arrows.

Cycle along Rua San Antonio that branches off the main square. Behind the albergue municipal first turn left and then right. Cycle up the hill, passing the cemetery on your way. When you get to the main road turn left towards “Iglexa de Santa Maria” at the crossing. Less than a minute later turn right towards the church, as the Camino way-marking indicates.

Iglexa de Santa Maria de Melide is a 12th-century Romanesque temple. It has two portals with floral and animal decorated capitals. Just like many other churches from this era, Santa Maria de Melide is modelled on the cathedral in Jaca, Aragon. It is clearly visible if you take a look at its apse. Inside above the beautiful stone altar, there are 15th-century frescos with a representation of the Holy Trinity as a Throne of Grace. This popular 12th to 16th century iconographical representation shows God the Father who holds his crucified Son in his hands while the Holy Spirit represented as a dove hovers above them. There are many meanings and interpretations of this deception. One of them evokes the great pain that the Holy Trinity, the Father, his crucified Son and the Holy Spirit, underwent during the Crucifixion.

Melide to Arzua
Melide to Arzua

While writing this guidebook I realised that up to Melide my memories of the route are vivid and the notes I made clear. I can honestly say that I know the Camino by heart. This dramatically changes sometime near Santa Maria de Melide. My memories of the track start to be as vague as those of the main altar in Navarette, apparently a masterpiece of Baroque art. What I remember for sure however is that it is challenging. Since we’re on the subject- while cycling the Camino in 2018 I discovered that all those amazing although knackering dirt roads have just disappeared – Spanish built a ‘highway” for pilgrims instead. It is not hard anymore. Shame, but it is still an amazing day on the Camino.

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By the 12th century Iglexa de Santa Maria de Melide Photography: Katarzyna Kostrzewska

Pass the church and cycle on the gravel road among greenery, farmland, and villages. Then turn towards the forest and cycle at the bed of the dry brooklet. Cross the creek over the huge stones, placed there instead of a bridge. After a while, the Camino joins the main road and leaves it again and 5.50 km later you get to Boente (428m; 5.50 km2 km to Castaneda), a small village with a church where with great joy the local priest writes down the names of the pilgrims going to Santiago. The church is obviously dedicated to Saint James and is open to pilgrims the whole day long. It also has a touching statue of Saint James on a piebald horse. Albergues in Boente have rather mixed reviews:

Albergue Boente, 30 beds, open all year round, heating, 10 – 12 Euros

Albergue Os Albergues, 30 beds, opens from March to November, heating, outdoor stand for bikes, 11 Euros

The Camino leaves the main road in Boente and gracefully meanders among the greenery. Then there is that tiny sandy hill where I always fall off my bike (must be the tyres) and after this, the Camino joins the small tarmac road. Minutes later you will pass through Castaneda (420m; 7.50 km3 km to Ribadiso do Baixo):

Albergue Santiago, 6 beds, opens from February to December, 10 Euros

The local tarmac road is comfortable to cycle on, on the way you will pass next to the small hamlets of Rio and Pedrido. Soon the surface changes and the Camino turns towards a eucalyptus forest. Then when you get to a built-up area after passing through another Galician hamlet, there will be a bar with sun umbrellas on your right. Minutes later after the cobbled street and slippery bridge with a very short railing you enter Ribadiso do Baixo (310m; 10.50 km3 km to central Arzua), a small, but a lovely hamlet with albergues and pleasant restaurants/bars. The steep Ponte de Ribadiso is a proud successor of a Roman bridge. The albergue municipal is organized in a remodelled medieval hospital for pilgrims:

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Ribadiso do Baixo Below: Arzua cheese Photography: Katarzyna Kostrzewska

Albergue de Ribadiso da Baixo, 70 beds, open all year round, heating, a kitchen, 6 Euros

Albergue Los Caminantes, 56 beds, opens from the beginning of April to 1st November, heating, a kitchen, 10 Euros

Albergue Milpes, 28 beds, open all year round, heating, microwave, outdoor stand for bicycles, 10 Euros

The local tarmac road crosses the N-547, then curves round passing next to horreos and houses of Ribadiso do Baixo to again join the busy road. A special gravelled path was designed for the pilgrims so use it until it becomes a pavement; then switch to the road. Now you are in Arzua (3km) a town famous for its artesian cheese.

Arzua (393m; 13.50 km5.50 km to Calzada) is a small town where all the northern routes to Santiago de Compostela meet. In Melide the Camino Frances is joined by the Camino Primitivo and pilgrims are already pretty surprised that it is so busy on the route; then in Arzua the third main track, the Camino Norte attaches to the other two. The albergue municipal is built next to the 14th century Chapel of Saint Magdalene, formerly part of the Augustinian monastery that in the past ran a pilgrim’s hospice. Arzua parish church is dedicated to Saint James and is a 20th-century structure with period altars. Every evening mass is celebrated with a blessing for the pilgrims. Arzua is a modern town that lacks vintage buildings but is busy with pilgrims and has a feel-good atmosphere. It is a good place to stay overnight or at least to stop and try its famous cheese. Arzua is known for its dairy products since the 19th century. Its cheese is protected by the Designation of Origin since 1995 and is produced from the milk of cows grazing on both banks of the river Ulloa. It has a pale-yellow colour and a characteristic conical shape. The matured version of Arzua-Ulloa cheese is aged for 6 months. This tasty product of Arzua has its own festival that takes place every year in March. 246

Personally, I always stop in “Venta de Queixos” (to your left on the main street, Rua Lugo 72), a café that specializes in artesian cheese and cured meat. You can try Arzua cheese and other Galician products there. The portions are fair, so two raciones and a side order of bread will satisfy anybody and will keep you going until Santiago de Compostela.

In Arzua cycle on the road until you see a cobbled street on your left. Cycle this street, passing the albergue municipal, Chapel of Saint Magdalena, parish Iglesia de Santiago, and a private albergue. If you miss the cobbled street, next to the white church turn left and minutes later turn right onto the other part of the cobbled street.

Most of the albergues are on the Camino. On the main street, Rua Lugo:

Albergue de Selmo, 50 beds, opens from Holy Week to mid-October, heating, microwave, 10 – 12 Euros

Albergue Don Quijote, 50 beds, open all year round (may be closed in the wintertime), heating, microwave, 10 Euros

Albergue Ultreia, 39 beds, open all year round, heating, a kitchen, 10 Euros

Albergue Santiago Apóstol, 72 beds, open all year round except in wintertime, heating, a kitchen, 10-12 Euros

A side road on the left called Rua Rosalia de Castro:

Albergue Turistico Arzua, 20 beds, opens from February to November, heating, a kitchen, 10 Euros

On the cobbled street:

Albergue Pensión Cima do Lugar, 14 beds, open all year round, heating, no designated space for the bicycles, 10 Euros

The Way Hostel Arzúa, 56 beds, opens from April until mid-November, heating, microwave, 10 – 12 Euros

Albergue de peregrinos de Arzúa, 46 beds, open all year round, heating, a kitchen, no indoor space for bikes, 6 Euros

From the cobbled street turn left:

Albergue Vía Lactea, 120 beds, open all year round, heating, a kitchen, 10 Euros
Or right, and then at the crossing left onto Rua Santiago (an extension of Rua Lugo):

Albergue Los Caminantes II, 28 beds, opens from the beginning of April to 1st November, heating, a kitchen, 10 Euros

On the other part of the cobbled street:

Albergue da Fonte, 20 beds, opens from the beginning of April to October, heating, a kitchen, no designated space for bikes, 10-12 Euros

Albergue Da Camino doesn’t have rave reviews on Internet.

Arzua to Lavacolla
Arzua to Lavacolla

The cobbled street will soon change into a lane and lead you out of the town. The 18 km stretch between Arzua and Arca is just cool, there are plenty of descents, cycling on the flat, a few ascents and a variety of surfaces – sand, gravel, and rocks. It is technically a bit difficult at times, so everybody is satisfied. You will cycle at the bottom of deep ravines, in forests, among greenery and stony Galician villages. Just to let you know, you will cross some local touristic trails that are also marked by yellow and white signs. The Camino, however, is mostly marked by stone pillars in this area so in case of doubt, look out for them.

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Eucalyptus forest, Arzua to Santiago de Compostela Photography: Katarzyna Kostrzewska

The lane descends to the bottom of the valley, then crosses the river and climbs up to the village of Preguntono. On leaving the village the Camino goes through a small tunnel under the N-547 and climbs up the hill among the meadows. Taking a look at Arzua from here is a must. When you pass through the village A Peroxa the path will meander among the greenery until 5.50 km from Arzua you reach Calzada (387m; 19 km5.80 km to Salceda), a small village with a bar. Then 2.20 km long comfortable path overgrown with trees will take you to Calle, a village with cobbled streets and a pleasant bar serving food and drinks:

Albergue A Ponte de Ferreiros, 30 beds, open all year round, heating, 13 Euros

Cross the small river by the narrow stone footbridge, then cycle on the gravelled track, pass yet another village and turn into the forest and meadows. When the Camino joins the main road, it means you are in Salceda (369m; 24.80 km4.90 to Santa Irene) a village with bars and two albergues:

Albergue Turístico Salceda, 8 beds, open all year round, heating, 13 Euros

Albergue de Boni, 30 beds, opens from March until the ned of October, heating, microwave, 10 Euros

Albergue Alborada, 10 beds, open from Holy Week until the end of October, heating, a kitchen, 12 Euros

 

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Arzua to Santiago de Compostela Photography: Katarzyna Kostrzewska

The Camino runs parallel to the N-547 first on the right, then on the left-hand-side, where it turns into the forest. The trail goes under the road, passing A Brea village and returns to the N-547 again. At the big yellow restaurant on a corner, the Camino turns right onto a small tarmac street. The trail meanders for a short while and then enters the small but charming village of Santa Irene (370m; 29.70 km2 km to Pedrouzo Arca) with its 18th-century chapel dedicated to her by a cobbled street. There are two albergues and a picnic space:

Albergue Privado de Santa Irene, 15 beds, opens from Holy Week to the end of October, heating, 13 Euros

Albergue de Peregrinos de Santa Irene, 36 beds, open all year round, heating, a kitchen, 6 Euros

On leaving Santa Irene the trail is on the right of the main road but soon switches to the left side through yet another small tunnel. After cycling for a few minutes through the forest you will get to A Rua, a village with a nice restaurant. When you get to the main road turn left if you would like to stay for the night in the next town, Pedrouzo (Arca) or cross the road and turn into the forest if you would like to continue the Camino.

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Cycling at the bottom of a ravine, Arzua to Santiago de Compostela Photography: Katarzyna Kostrzewska

Pedrouzo (Arca; 270m; 31.70 km9.50 km to Lavacolla) is a small town that sits on the N-547 with shops, bars, restaurants, and albergues. Many walking pilgrims choose Arca to stay for the night before entering Santiago. My own memories of Arca are not bad at all:

The three first albergues are on the main road. The first is by the petrol station:

Albergue O Burgo, 24 beds, opens from March to November, heating, 10 Euros

Very close to first, on the right and below the road:

Albergue de Arca do Pino, 120 beds, open all year round, heating, a kitchen, 6 Euros

On the right:

Albergue Porta de Santiago, 54 beds, opens from the beginning of March to the end of November, heating, microwave, 10 Euros

Opposite Albergue Porta de Santiago:

Albergue O Trisquel, 78 beds, opens from March to October, heating, a kitchen, 10 -12 Euros

When you pass Casa de Concello on your right, turn immediately left onto a narrow one-way street Avenida Iglesia. Then turn left onto Rua da Fonte:

Albergue Edreira, 48 beds, opens from 1st March to 30th October, heating, microwave, 10 – 12 Euros

Or keep on cycling on Avenida Iglesia:

Albergue REMhostel, 50 beds, open all year round, heating, 12 Euros

Albergue Cruceiro de Pedrouzo, 94 beds, open all year round, heating, a kitchen, 10 Euros

Or at Casa de Concello turn right and then left onto the second street:

Albergue Otero, 36 beds, opens from the end of March to November, heating, microwave, 10 Euros

A final 20 kilometres to Santiago are left in front of you. Turn into the forest and when you get to the tarmac street, turn right and then left into the following eucalyptus forest, as the Camino way-markings indicate. Arca to Lavacolla is 9.50 kilometres; the first 4 km are downhill, then about 2 km uphill and the rest is downhill again. Pass the village of San Anton and turn into the forest again.

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The greenery makes a marquee above your head, Arzua to Santiago de Compostela Photography: Katarzyna Kostrzewska

When the track leaves the forest, it meanders along farmland and meadows. The descent to Amenal is really pleasant; the narrow tarmac road you are cycling on will then cross the N-547 through a small tunnel.

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Typical Galician architecture, Arzua to Santiago de Compostela Photography: Katarzyna Kostrzewska

The trail starts to climb up to Cimadevilla and continues going up to the top of a lovely hill and later on down to a large roundabout. The pilgrim’s path is now parallel to the main road to Santiago, nice and easy to cycle.

A fence separates you from Santiago’s airport in Lavacolla, so don’t be surprised to see planes taking off above your head. The Camino is now clearly marked by hanging wooden signposts. The trail moves away from the main road and runs parallel to the local tarmac road until it turns right to San Paio, a pleasant village with a bar. As soon as you pass the church there is yet another, completely unnecessary hill. Cross the main road by the tunnel and after a few minutes of cycling in the forest you enter Lavacolla (305m; 41.20 km5.60 km to Monte do Gozo) with bars and albergue:

Albergue Lavacolla, 34 beds, open all year round, heating, a kitchen, 12 Euros

Lavacolla to Monte do Gozo
Lavacolla to Monte do Gozo Copyright OpenStreetMap Contributors

Lavacolla where according to Aymeric,

Pilgrims travelling to St James are accustomed, for love of the Apostle, to take off their clothes and cleanse not only their private parts but whole of their body.

The small river where pilgrims took a bath to welcome St James with all due respect is on the Camino on the other side of the N-634; go across the tiny bridge and start your final series of ascents to Santiago de Compostela.

Lavacolla to Monte do Gozo. Elevation
Lavacolla to Monte do Gozo

I have to admit that I feel a deep resentment towards the first hill that in my opinion should be wiped out. Since unfortunately, it is not you will have to climb it until you reach Villamaior village; pass through the village, on the right, there are buildings of the Galician TV, at the camping in San Marcos turn left and almost immediately right. Climb up the penultimate hill and after the ascent gently cycle up the Monte do Gozo (377m; 46.80 km5 km to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela).256

Translated the name of the hill means Mount of Joy because from its top you can see for the first time the towers of the Cathedral. It is a place where everybody stops for a while before entering the city of Santiago. Many are deeply moved standing on top of Monte do Gozo. For me, the hill feels special because when I walked the Camino de Santiago for the first time I had, among other things, a big job dilemma. As I was on the verge of reaching the top of Monte do Gozo, I realized that I should take up journalism I gave up three years earlier. It wasn’t an easy decision. I was standing at the top of Monte do Gozo trying to accept it. It took me some time, but as soon as I had done it I felt ready to enter the city of Santiago de Compostela.

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Monte do Gozo Above: At the top you will be by yourself, Monte do Gozo Photography: Katarzyna Kostrzewska

At the top of the hill, there is a modern sculpture dedicated to Camino de Santiago with Saint John Paul II, who greatly contributed to the revival of the Way in the 20th century. On the panel facing the cathedral, you can see him giving a traditional hug to the sculpture of Saint James. At the bottom of the hill there is the snug Chapel of Saint Mark:

Albergue del Monte do Gozo, 400 beds, open all year round, heating, a kitchen, pilgrims only, open 24 hours, bike stands outside, 6 Euros

    Now you have your final 5 km to the Cathedral

Monte do Gozo to Santiago 1
Monte do Gozo to Santiago Copyright OpenStreetMap Contributors

Cycle down the hill and when you get to the main road turn left. From now on you will cycle on a busy road to the centre of Santiago. At the roundabout keep going straight towards “centro historico”. A hundred or so meters later, just before the next roundabout, you will see on your right a road sign with

SANTIAGO

written on it.

There is an albergue by the roundabout, on your right in a low white pavilion

Residencia de Peregrinos San Lázaro, 80 beds, open all year round, heating, a kitchen, garden, pilgrims only; 10 Euros for the first night, then 7 Euros, you can stay up to 3 nights.

Keep going straight on passing the consecutive roundabouts; the Camino is and will be on the pavement on the left, parallel to the road you are cycling on (if there is heavy rain in Santiago, don’t hesitate to switch to the pavement). As soon as you go past Sanctuario de San Lazaro on the left by the white tower-sculpture on the traffic island, the road forks. You have to turn left onto the street parallel to the one you were on. Go straight ahead passing the blocks of flats; when you get to the big crossing keep going straight on to a street between two rows of buildings. The street is cobbled and leads to the historical centre of Santiago.

Camino in Santiago
The Camino in Santiago de Compostela Copyright OpenStreetMap Contributors

When you see the road sign ‘no cycling’ dismount from your bike and walk for the last kilometre or so to the cathedral. I have to admit that originally, I tried to design a route that would enable you to cycle up to the cathedral. But then I realised that it actually feels right to walk to the cathedral those last hundred meters instead of taking a detour through the labyrinth of side streets. You want to enter the cathedral via the route pilgrims have walked on for the last thousand years. In the past horse riders also dismounted at this last stage of the Camino because it felt like the right thing to do. So, do the same and walk down the cobbled Rua San Pedro.

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The Camino in Santiago de Compostela and Pilgrim’s Office. Copyright OpenStreetMap Contributors

Cross the street and walk straight on as the Camino way-marking indicates, now you are entering the historical centre of Santiago; the route to the cathedral is clearly marked with Perspex boards above your head. Pass the church and through the narrow passage get to the square with the monument of Cervantez; take the street on your right that branches off the square as the board indicates. Minutes later you will see a side portal to the cathedral, don’t enter through this one, go past and walk down the stairs or go around by the street on your right. Turn right onto the cathedral square.

You achieved your final destination; you are in the front of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (267m; 51.80 km).

          790.70 km – Congratulations, well done!!!

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Cyclists in front of the main cathedral façade,  Obradoiro Square, Santiago de Compostela

Obviously, you want to go inside, but don’t leave your bike on the cathedral square, leave it safely in the post office or any luggage office instead. The closest post office is 3 minutes away, on Rua de Franco, street that radiates from Obradorio Square; to the right. Post office is open whole day long from 08:30 am to 8.30 pm, Monday to Friday and on Saturdays between 09.30 am and 1 pm. On Sundays and bank holidays is closed. You can leave a bike there together with the panniers for only 3 Euros per day

Your other option is going towards the Pilgrim’s Office, that is situated on the first street below Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos; stunning building to your left. On Rúa Carretas you will find another post office and private luggage offices. Pilgrim’s Office is 5 minutes walking distance from the cathedral.

Now return to the main cathedral square, called Plaza do Obradorio.

Go up the monumental stairs and then go inside through Portico de la Gloria (it is still in restoration); the figure in the centre is Saint James. Traditionally pilgrims stop there, touching the column on which the Apostol is standing.

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A statue of Saint James, James is waiting for the pilgrim and is the first the pilgrim sees when he/she enters the cathedral, In one hand he holds a scroll with the inscription “Misit me Dominus” (God has sent me) and in the other a pilgrim’s stick, the Portico de la Gloria, the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela

Currently Plaza do Obradorio entrance is closed. Go around the cathedral on the right side; at the entrance with the fountain join the queue. There is security on the door, so if you would like to come for a mass bear in mind that getting inside may take 30-40 minutes. However, during the day, you will be inside in five maximum ten minutes.

When you get inside you will see the main altar with a sitting statue of Saint James; his tomb is beneath. Walk to the main altar from the right-hand side and at the small entrance go upstairs to the seated statue of the Apostol, give him a hug and go downstairs. And then at the other small entrance go downstairs to his tomb.

When you are ready to leave the cathedral, leave by the left-side entrance, as this entrance is closer to the Pilgrim’s Office. Turn left, walk down the stairs, pass Praza do Obradoiro (Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos is to your right) and turn right onto the first street (Rúa Carretas) below the Hostal. There is a Pilgrim Office at the end of the street, also post office and other luggage offices.

Pilgrim’s Office 33 Rúa Carretas; over Easter and from 1st April until 31 October open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm; from 1st November until 31 March (except during Easter) open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Join the queue of happy pilgrims, have your ID and pilgrim’s passport ready and soon you will be given a short questionnaire to fill in. After that, you receive your compostela (if motives for your Camino are religious/spiritual, only or partly) or a certificate of welcome (if your motives are all but religious/spiritual), these official documents issued by the cathedral confirm that you completed the Camino de Santiago.

The Compostela is a document with a long history. Some time ago it was alleged that many young Spaniards try to obtain a compostela in a dishonest way because completing an 800-kilometer-long trail looks good on a CV. It is nothing new; this illegal practice has dragged on for centuries. With the first influx of pilgrims reaching Santiago offenders appeared at the gates of the city selling scallops, at that time proof of a completed pilgrimage. The Church excommunicated fraudsters at the same time looking for more effective ways of protecting genuine pilgrims. In the 13th century ‘proving letters’ were introduced and soon after the first compostela was issued; the oldest remaining compostela dates back to the first quarter of the 14th century. The compostela was not only conclusive evidence of completing the Camino de Santiago but granted its owners specific privileges like staying free of charge for three days in a hospital founded by the Catholic Monarchs. The famous hospital gave pilgrims their board and keep.

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Group of Spanish cyclists with their compostelas (the old version). We met somewhere around Astorga Photography: Katarzyna Kostrzewska

The problem of fake compostelas returned in the 20th century when Santiago de Compostela became a popular tourist destination. Many motorized pilgrims appeared, also shops started selling certificates imitating compostelas.

That’s when the Cathedral set rules that to receive a compostela a person has to prove that they walked or rode a horse for at least 100 kilometres or cycled at least 200 kilometres to Santiago (it has to be last 100 or 200 km before the city, otherwise it doesn’t count). This model of compostela was in effect for the last 30 years but was changed in 2014. Now it is a printed version in full colour and the Latin text is framed by a flower decoration taken from the Breviary of Miranda. On the left-hand side is the most famous image of Saint James from Codex Calixtinus. As stated on the Pilgrim Office’s website the translated meaning of the Latin text is:

The Chapter of this Holy Apostolic Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint James, custodian of the seal of Saint James’ Altar, to all faithful and pilgrims who come from everywhere over the world as an act of devotion, under vow or promise to the Apostle’s Tomb, our Patron and Protector of Spain, witnesses in the sight of all who read this document, that: Mr/Mrs/Ms…………………has visited devoutly this Sacred Church in a religious sense.
Witness whereof I hand this document over to him, authenticated by the seal of this Sacred Church.
Given in Saint James of Compostela on the (day) …… (month) …… A.D. ……”

Out of respect for those who come/cycle to Santiago for non-religious reasons the Cathedral prepared a document with a different text called the Certificate of Welcome. The conditions to receive this one are exactly the same for obtaining a compostela. The document, also designed in 2014, is written in Latin and in a frame of flowers from the Breviary of Miranda is the beautiful medieval image of the discovery of Saint James’ tomb.

On both certificates, your name will be written in Latin and they are given to you free of charge.

A novelty is a commemorative diploma that states where you started your Camino and how many kilometres you did. This Certificate of Distance is a kind of souvenir of your journey and costs 3 Euros.

Now you need to find accommodation. There is a wide choice of albergues, hotels and private rooms. Santiago de Compostela is a very popular tourist destination and for the pilgrim who just cycled or walked the countryside for over 800 km the hustle and bustle of the city can be overwhelming. That’s why I highly recommend you choose a pilgrim’s accommodation to have around you people who just like you walked or cycled for 800 km to get here rather than tourists. I have to admit that I always stay in an albergue, as I can’t get to sleep in a hotel. In the city of my favourite saint, sleeping in a modest hostel seems like the right thing to do.

Personally, I stayed numerous times in ‘Roots and Boot’s which is a backpackers’ hostel in a 19th-century house that I like because of its huge walled garden, excellent views from the window and close proximity to Park Alameda and the cathedral. The cons are that place can feel pretty crowded and just like many other places in Santiago is quite expensive for an albergue.

Recently I discovered Albergue ‘Fin del Camino’ that unlike most other places receives pilgrims only. This one is very spacious, modern, clean, has a huge garden and friendly staff who truly like pilgrims. Surprisingly for its high standard, it is the cheapest one in Santiago. Personally, I love it. The con is that it’s not open 24 hours and closes at midnight.

If you would like to stay by the cathedral try to get one of the single rooms for pilgrims in the Monasterio de San Martin Pinario, 20 meters from the cathedral. The Monasterio is beautiful; the rooms look like a cloister cell, breakfasts are huge and excellent…or so I heard, as personally, I didn’t manage to get in. I only wonder if they really didn’t have space or did we, meaning the bike, and I look homeless after cycling for three consecutive days in torrential Galician rain. If the latter I can very honestly say that I understand and don’t feel any resentment.

I list all of the albergues, noting their walking distance from the cathedral. Just to let you know that many pilgrims chose the albergues in Monte del Gozo or San Lazaro that I mentioned before (both can easily be reached not only by bike but also by bus). By writing ‘open 24 hours’ I mean that you can get back anytime. To check in you have to stick to their business hours. Many albergues are closed for cleaning for a few hours in the morning or early afternoon that means that you have to leave the hostel for a certain amount of time (of course your luggage stays in).

These two albergues are about 15 and 10 min walking from the cathedral. Cycle to the end of the street with the Pilgrim’s Office. There is a park in front of you.

To get to the first albergue, cross the street and cycle the park lane on your right, at the end of the park when the lane curves, turn right onto the first lane and seconds later you will get to Rua do Cruceiro do Gaio 7:

Albergue Roots and Boots, 48 beds, open all year round, heating, a kitchen, garden, pilgrims, and tourists, open 24 hours, 18 -20 Euros (16-18 Euros out of season)

To get to the second albergue, turn right onto the street by the park, start to cycle around the park and at the car park turn right onto Rua de San Clemente 18:

Albergue Mundoalbergue, 34 beds, open all year round, heating, a kitchen, garden, pilgrims and tourists, open 24 hours, 17 Euros (12 Euros out of season)

Cycle the Camino backward; return to Plaza de Obradoiro, go around the cathedral and stop at the Azabacheria façade. Opposite there is Monasterio de San Martin Pinario that has a few single rooms for pilgrims:

Monasterio de San Martin Pinario (Seminario Manor, not to be confused with Seminario Menor), open all year round, book in advance over the phone (+34) 981 56 02 82; special price for pilgrims 25 Euros (single room with bathroom; breakfast included).

Continue cycling along Calle Azabachería, at number 15 there is an albergue , according to some pilgrims, rather noisy:

Albergue Azabache, 20 beds, open all year round, heating, a kitchen, pilgrims, and tourists, they might not have a space for bikes, open 24 hours, 16-18 Euros (14 Euros out of season)

Keep on cycling and a minute or so later you will get to Cervantez square; turn right onto Rua Preguntorio 10, 5 min walking 

Albergue The Last Stamp, 62 beds, opens from 23rd February to 21st December, heating, a kitchen, pilgrims and tourists, 24 hours, 18 Euros (15 Euros out of season)

These two albergues are 5 minutes or even less walking distance from the cathedral.

If you don’t wish to stay in any of those in Cervantez Square, turn left and when you get to the street with the traffic lights you can either

a) Turn left and cycle up the hill, at the Monastery of Saint Clare turn right into Rúa de Tras Santa Clara, an albergue will be on the right. This one is about 10 min from the cathedral.

Albergue Turístico La Salle, 84 beds, opens from February to mid- December, heating, microwave, pilgrims and tourists, open 24 hours, 17-19 Euros

Or alternatively, go past the monastery of Saint Clare on your right, the albergue is on Rúa dos Basquiños, 67, and is about 15 min walking distance:

Albergue Meiga Backpackers, 30 beds, opens from the beginning of March until the beginning of December, heating, a kitchen, garden, pilgrims, and tourists, open 24 hours, 15 Euros (13 Euros out of season)

Or b) cross the street, still following the Camino backwards and cycle up the cobbled Rua San Pedro (the one you on walked before). If you want to stay in the seminar, turn right at the church and keep going straight on as the signpost for Albergue Menor directs:

Albergue Seminario Menor La Asunción, 199 beds, opens from March to the beginning of November, heating, a kitchen, garden, pilgrims, and tourists, closes at midnight, 15 Euros or 20 in a single room (13 or 16 Euros out of season)

When Rua San Pedro turns into Rua dos Concheiros, also cobbled, you will have a choice of two albergues at n° 10 and n° 36-38. These two alberges and the one in the seminar are about 15 min walking distance:

Albergue Porta Real, 24 beds, open all year round, heating, microwave, pilgrims, and tourists, open 24 hours, 12 -16 Euros

Albergue La Estrella de Santiago, 24 beds, open all year round, a kitchen, pilgrims only, 24 hours, 10 – 15 Euros

When you get to the roundabout, go around it and turn onto the last street before the dual carriageway, flanked by two low white buildings (Camino). The Three albergues you can choose from are about 2 km from the cathedral that means about 25 minutes of walking. After a few minutes of cycling you will see an albergue on your left:

Albergue Santo Santiago, 40 beds, open all year round, heating, pilgrims, and tourists, open 24 hours, 10 – 12 Euros

Just opposite there is a signboard for another albergue that is in a big block of flat, below the road you are cycling on:

Albergue Acuario de Santiago de Compostela, 60 beds, opens from March to the end of November, heating, paying kitchen, pilgrims, and tourists, closes at midnight, 12 Euros

Pass the two albergues and when you get to the roundabout turn right and cycle downhill. Turn left onto the first street called Rua Moscova:

Albergue Fin del Camino, 110 beds, opens for Holy Week, then from May until the end of October, heating, microwave, garden, pilgrims only, closes at midnight, 9 Euros

There is one more albergue (Rúa Xoana Nogueira 14) about 500 meters from the train station but getting there on the bike is a nightmare as you have the dual carriageway on all sides. This one is about 30 min walking distance from the cathedral:

Albergue La Estación, 24 beds, opens from mid-March until the end of November, heating, a kitchen, pilgrims and tourists, closes at midnight, 12 – 15 Euros