22 Beautiful Places You Will See On The Camino De Santiago

Grab your hiking boots, start walking, and remember: it’s about the journey, not the destination.

1. The Ancient Abbey Church of Vezelay

900 years ago an abbey was built atop a rough hillside in Burgundy. Some genius architect decided to set the axis of the church so that when the sun rises in the morning the interior is blazed in light. From Vezelay to Santiago de Compostela it’s about 1,600 km, or 1,000 miles.

2. Endless Fields of Sunflowers in Burgundy

No matter what the weather is like, seeing nothing but rolling hills covered in sunflowers will put a smile on your face.

3. The Soaring, Aesthetically Perfect Cathedral of Bourges

Imagine walking into a building that soars 38m (125 feet) above you, with an endless nave flanked by two correspondingly smaller vaults to either side. What do you do? You take a seat and let your mouth hang open, transfixed by this 800 year old marvel of epic geometry.

4. This Impossibly Quiet Forest near Chateauroux

“Woods are not like other spaces. To begin with, they are cubic. Their trees surround you, loom over you, press in from all sides. Woods choke off views & leave you muddled & without bearings. They make you feel small & confused & vulnerable, like a small child lost in a crowd of strange legs. Stand in a desert or prairie & you know you are in a big space. Stand in the woods and you only sense it. They are vast, featureless nowhere. And they are alive.” - Bill Bryson

5. The Dizzying Heights of Val de Creuse

Extra reason to love this place: the granite cliffs in this area are a natural echo chamber, so you can make gross fart noises that will be heard from miles away.

6. An Amazing Art Studio in the Tiny Village of Saint Goussaud

Ask for a guy named Bernard.

7. The Soaring Vaults of Limoges Cathedral

The graceful cathedral of Limoges isn’t as cohesive as Bourges, but it will still take your breath away.

8. Waking Up at Dawn and Walking Through This Field in Les Cars

You don’t need coffee when everything around you is bathed in the iridescent light of a glorious sunrise.

9. This Charming Canal Near Perigueux

There is nothing better than stopping by the side of an idyllic canal and reading a good book.

10. Crossing the Dordogne River at Sunset

On the way into the charming town of Ste. Foy-la-Grande, you emerge from a mountainside vineyard onto the bank of the Dordogne.

11. This Superbly Carved Hunter About to Kill a Leaping Tiger

When you visit the amazing abbey church of Saint Sever, make sure you walk a little down the aisle and then look up to your right. You won’t know what hit you.

12. This Rusting Grain Silo Near Orthez

And the best part is that you can climb it.

13. The oh-so-charming foothill village of St. Jean-Pied-de-Port

It has a really cool fortress at the top of a hill, steep cobblestoned streets, and it’s nestled in a valley, literally “at the foot of the gate” of the Pyrenees.

14. Crossing the Pyrenees from France into Spain

Take a steep mountain, add a cloud-covered valley below, a perfect sunrise, and the thousand-years-plus history of the Camino de Santiago and not only is this place beautiful, but it’s pretty badass as well.

15. The Perfectly Symmetrical Puente la Reina

Not only is Puente la Reina an exquisite example of Romanesque bridge design, the town itself (also called Puente la Reina) smells amazing in the morning.

16. All the Food and Wine in Logroño

Logroño is the capital of La Rioja, the most famous wine-growing region in Spain. It’s a city that you should see—but not with your eyes. Let your mouth do all the looking.

17. The Gaudy and Ostentatious Cathedral of Burgos

This cathedral houses El Cid, who was pretty much the Chuck Norris of medieval knights in Spain. Make sure to tremble when you pay this place a visit. You wouldn’t want El Cid to think you didn’t respect him.

18. The Desolate Meseta

You actually walk through the Meseta for about a week, so it does start to look the same. But the boredom is more than worth the searingly beautiful loneliness of this desert-like plain.

19. The Misty, Cloud-Covered Cruz de Ferro

Pilgrims take something from home and leave them here. Photographs, rings, seashells, rocks with names on them—you name it, someone has brought it. This place is beautiful because of its location in the mountains, and also because you can feel the weight of so many memories left here by people over many hundreds of years.

20. The Isolated Footpaths of Dragonte

Dragonte is not for the faint of heart, nor for the faint of body. Most pilgrims choose a different, lesser path that skips the multiple ascents and descents that make Dragonte so difficult. Yet the steep, difficult terrain of Dragonte is also the most rewarding in the end.

21. The Monastery of Samos, Nestled into A Valley

The final part of the Camino crosses through Galicia, a region known especially for its torrential rains. So chances are when you see this beautiful monastery tucked into the valley below, your heart will soar at the prospect of shelter from the cold, wet rain.

22. This Quiet Road on Your Last Day

On the last day of your Camino, you will be tired of sharing the road with people. Trust me on this—it’s cool meeting other pilgrims and getting to know them, but when you’ve walked about a thousand miles and are finally on the last stage, you’ll be appreciative of one final empty section of the road to keep to yourself. For me, that was here, at first light, in the village of Salceda. Soon the road becomes crowded with others, but savor the beauty of solitude one final time before you make your way into Santiago de Compostela and finish your epic journey.

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