Burgos, Spain is a key spot on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage as it’s located smack dab on the Camino Frances. Starting the Camino de Santiago from Burgos (as I did in 2014) can be a great choice. And even if you are doing the full Frances from St. Jean, you’ll want to spend some extra time in Burgos to explore its history (and maybe rest up).
This guide for the Camino’s Burgos location will give you reasons why to start there, tips for getting there, some cool things to do in Burgos and suggestions for places to stay. We’ve also got a rough outline for how you can plot yourself from Burgos to Santiago de Compostela.
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Why Start Your Camino de Santiago from Burgos?
I’ve done several Caminos (always solo), but my started my first Camino de Santiago from Burgos. I chose it as my start point because I had a 25 day limit for walking and found that Burgos was convenient for that timeframe and its public transportation options from Madrid.
But I really fell in love with Burgos as a destination. And on my second Camino, I spent several days there exploring its history.
Burgos was originally populated in the 9th century. During the build-up of Castilla’s power base, development was encouraged and Burgos quickly became a major population center. The city is completely stuffed with medieval architecture throughout its pedestrian-friendly city center. The historic center of Burgos is perfect for strolling, shopping and soaking up Gothic Spanish atmosphere.
Burgos is also a well-stocked city with grocery stores, pharmacies, sporting goods stores and other crucial services that help to keep the healthy pilgrim well supplied.
Top Things to do in Burgos
Yes, yes…you are in a hurry to start your Camino at Burgos. Or perhaps in you are just passing through from elsewhere on the Frances. But it’s worth spending a day in the city to explore it’s historic and anthropological charms. Here are a few top spots:
The Burgos Cathedral
The Burgos cathedral is an absolute wonder. Seriously, Burgos clearly didn’t get the memo about that whole “vows of poverty” thing, because this cathedral is stuffed with treasure. It’s a UNESCO protected site and a florid example of Gothic architecture. Construction was begun in the early 1200’s. But like many cathedrals, it was expanded throughout the ages. The basic floorplan is a Latin cross, but what matters is the ornamentation. The cathedral has 15 chapels, gold and brass plated tombs, and ornate choir stalls. All of which takes up a full city block.
If you do nothing else in Burgos, please visit the cathedral. It’s quite worth it, even for religious skeptics like me.
The Castillo de Burgos (Burgos Castle) Ruin
The Castillo de Burgos is just up the hill west of the cathedral. There is a lot that isn’t known about this ruined fortification. But it’s believed to date back to 960 and was credited with providing some safety and security to Burgos as it grew into a major city.
The fortifications are not only an interesting historical stop, but they also provide stunning views of the cathedral and the whole city.
The Museum of Evolution
A mere 15 kilometers from Burgos, Atapuerca houses one of the most important archeological sites on human evolution.in Western Europe (and possible the whole world). The Museum of Evolution houses key artifacts from Atapuerca but it also generalizes evolution with fascinating exhibits on our human presence on earth.
El Arco de Santa Maria (St. Mary’s Arch)
You’ll pass through this lovely arch as you head west on your Camino de Santiago from Burgos. It’s one of 12 medieval gates that once ringed the city. Today, the arch stands alone, but its ornate sculptures and architecture provide a dramatic gateway into or out of the city.
Where to Stay in Burgos
Budget albergues for pilgrims. These cannot be pre-booked, just show up on-the-fly. Most municipal and parochial albergues have check-in at 2pm.
- Casa del Cubo (Municipal): €10
- Albergue Casa de Peregrinos de Emaús (Parochial): Donativo, suggested €5
- Albergue Santiago y Santa Catalina: €6
Private albergues and mid-range places that can be booked ahead. All of these are pretty central to the historic center.
- Hostel Cathedral Burgos: ~€23, book it here.
- Hostal Cuéntame Evolución: ~€43, book it here.
- Happy Hostel Carrales: ~€45, book it here.
- Hotel Gotica: ~€46, book it here.
- Hostal Lar: ~€39, book it here.
- Hotel Norte y Londres: ~€45, book it here.
- Hotel Cordón: €63, book it here.
- Hotel Mesón el Cid: €128, book it here.
How to Get to Burgos
There is not an airport in Burgos, and the closest major airport is the Madrid Barajas (MAD) airport. Your best bet is to catch a bus or train from MAD to Burgos. You can save some $$ by booking ahead but it’s not strictly necessary to do so.
Alsa buses run hourly from Central Madrid and every 4 hours from the Madrid Airport. The trip takes 2.5 hours and costs ~€19. The bus drops off in central Burgos just across the river from the old town and cathedral.
The train runs from Chamartin station every two hours. It takes 2.5-3 hours depending upon routing and costs ~€21. To get to Chamartin from the airport, you can take the C1 airport train to Chamartin, which runs every 18 minutes.
The Burgos train station is 5 kilometers outside of town. It’s an easy walk, but there are also taxis at the station.
Your best option from Barcelona is a 6 hour, €40 train ride.
Key Stages from Burgos to Santiago
We have articles that will help you find the best Camino guidebooks and apps. That said, it’s not necessary to doggedly stick to the stages recommended in the guidebooks and apps. You’ll learn pretty quickly to do your Camino de Santiago from Burgos at your own pace. That said, here are two sample sets of stages, designed to give you an idea of how much time to plan for.
Distance from Burgos to Santiago de Compostela: 500.5 kilometers (311 miles)
Distance from Burgos to Leon: 182.2 kilometers (113 miles)
Some particularly nice towns for rest days, museums or historic stops include: Carrión de los Condes, Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada and the alternative routing to the Samos Monastery.
Stages From Burgos to Santiago (Slower Pace)
A slower pace is usually 20/k (12.5 miles) per day.
- Burgos to Hornillos 21.1
- Hornillos to Castrojeriz, 20
- Castrojeriz to Boadilla, 19.5
- Boadilla to Villacálzar de Sirga, 19.5
- Villacálzar to Calzadilla de la Cueza, 23.2
- Calzadilla to Sagagún, 22.9
- Sagagún to El Burgo Ranero, 17.8
- El Burgo Ranero to Mansilla de las Mulas, 19.2
- Mansilla to Leon, 18.9
- Leon to Villar de Mazarife, 21.5
- Villar de Mazarife to Villares de Órbigo, 17.6
- Villares de Órbigo to Murias de Rechivaldo, 19.2
- Murias de Rechivaldo to Foncebadón, 21.5
- Foncebadón to Molinaseca, 19.4
- Molinaseca to Cacabelos, 23.1
- Cacabelos to Trabadelo, 18.5
- Trabadelo to O Cebreiro, 18.6
- O Cebreiro to Triacastela, 21.2
- Tracastela to Sarria, 25.2
- Sarria to Vilchá, 20.1
- Vilchá to Ligonde, 19.3
- Ligonde to Melide, 23.6
- Melide to Arzua, 14.4
- Arzua to O Pedrouzo, 18.6
- O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela, 20.3
Stages from Burgos to Santiago (Faster Pace)
A somewhat faster pace would be 25/k (15.5 miles) with a few longer days thrown in.
- Burgos to Arroyo San Bol, 26.9
- Arroyo San Bol to Itero de la Vega, 25.5
- Itero de la Vega to Villarmentero de Campos, 23.5
- Villarmentero to Calzadilla de la Cueza, 27.5
- Calzadilla to Sagagún, 22.9
- Sagagún to Reliegos, 30.7
- Reliegos to Leon, 25.2
- Leon to San Martín del Camino, 25.3
- San Martín to Astorga 24.4
- Astorga to Foncebadón, 26.3
- Foncebadón to Ponferrada, 27.4
- Ponferrada to Villafranca de Bierzo, 24
- Villafranca to La Faba, 23.4
- La Faba to Triacastela, 26
- Triacastela to Sarria, 25.2
- Sarria to Gonzar, 30.7
- Gonzar to Coto, 25.9
- Coto to Salceda, 32
- Salceda to Santiago de Compostela, 27.7
However you do your stages, we wish you a Buen Camino. Here are a few additional resources to help you plan your pilgrimage.
- Your complete packing list, including everything you need to keep it light.
- Plus more gear advice on how to find the perfect pack and popular trail shoes for the Camino.
- How to train for the Camino, which has practical tips on how to get ready, but also advice on how not to obsess about it.
- How to budget for the Camino, which options for a low cost and mid-range option and a link to a spreadsheet for doing your own budget (because I live by the the spreadsheets).
- Find inspiration by reading Camino books or watching Camino movies.
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