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Walking the Camino Frances from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Pamplona

5 days
Starting From

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Pamplona Map

This route is the starting point of the Camino Frances. It begins in France at the town of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port and finishes in Pamplona, the town famous for its ‘Running of the Bulls’ festival in San Fermin each July, described by Ernest Hemingway in his novel The Sun Also Rises. At first, it follows the Route de Napoleon over the Roncesvalles Pass (at an elevation of 1,500m) into the Basque country, and then crosses into more gentle terrain in the great region of Navarra.



Your first stop on the Camino Frances is the quaint French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port – the traditional starting point of the Camino Frances. Before you set off through the Pyrenees, explore this scenic gem and soak in the excitement of the town as pilgrims flock to start their pilgrimage.


Here you will find the beloved Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Roncesvalles, which has been receiving pilgrims since the 12th Century. It is here also in Roncesvalles you will see a monument commemorating the defeat of Charlemagne’s army and their commander Roland at the battle of Roncesvalles in 778.


The city famous for it’s running bulls! Once you arrive in one of Spain’s most famous and historical cities, take in the gothic-style architecture and walk through the streets that inspired Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’. From Medieval city walls to impressive La Catedral de Santa María la Real de Pamplona.  You can easily spend time wandering the streets and working up an appetite to enjoy either a traditional Basque influenced dish or a more modern fusion style dish, Pamplona has it all!

Saint Jean Pied De Port to Pamplona
Camino Frances
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Included in this package
  • Bed & Breakfast
  • Specially Hand-Picked Accommodation
  • Our Holiday or Pilgrim Pack
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Virtual Face-to-Face Pre-Departure Briefing
  • Premium Accommodation
  • Airport Pick-Up
  • Additional Nights
  • Dinners
  • Luggage Transfers from Hotel to Hotel
  • Day Tours to Local Sites of Interest
Not included
  • Flights/trains
  • Insurance
  • Drinks/Lunch


Day 1


You’ll be booked into a hotel in the heart of the small town. While in town, you should visit the 14th Century Gothic church, Notre-Dame-du-Bout-du-Pont, the hilltop citadel (remodelled in the 17th Century), and follow the cobbled Rue de la Citadelle downhill and over the river for views back over St-Jean-Pied-De-Port.

Day 2


This first day is considered the most difficult as the Camino crosses the Pyrenees. The ‘Camino Napoleon’ kicks off with a steep climb, on through orchards and then, later, through Alpine-style meadows, before weaving its way alongside leafy beech woods towards the Spanish border. The Valcarlos Camino mainly follows the road which runs through the valley alongside the River Nive or River Valcarlos. Don’t miss the Collegiate Church as you descend into Roncesvalles.
If you would like to walk at a more relaxed pace, we can arrange one of 3 options:
  1. A stay in the Refuge Orisson (basic accommodation but welcoming) halfway to split the day into 2.
  2. Stay 2 nights in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and use a taxi lift from/to Refuge Orisson. 
  3. An alternative route via Valcarlos that splits this walking day into two stages (12km and 14km). Here you will be staying in a 2-star hotel. This route through Valcarlos is not part of the usual Camino Frances itinerary and the walk is not as rewarding as it follows the main road.
    IMPORTANT: The Napoleon Route over the Pyrenees is closed for pilgrims from the 1 November until the 31 March. Pilgrims need to use the alternative route via Valcarlos if they are travelling within these dates. Travelling on the Napoleon Route at this time is forbidden and all pilgrims going over the Pyrenees and having to be rescued before that time will be fined €5,000.

Day 3


The Camino crosses two beautiful mountain passes and continues on through woods and meadows before coming to Espinal, where the panoramic views of the countryside, with the Pyrenees in the background, are a sight to behold. The River Arga runs alongside this part of the Camino and continues its course all the way to Larrasoana.

Day 4


The Camino runs along the River Arga, at the foot of a group of hills covered in beech, oak and Scots pine trees. As we approach Pamplona, the town famous for its ‘Running of the Bulls’ festival in San Fermin each July, the landscape shows more signs of civilisation, with reforested planted conifers and farmlands increasingly prevalent.

Day 5


After breakfast, we bid you farewell. There is a lot to see and do in Pamplona, but we recommend just walking through the city’s streets, admiring the architecture, food, and wonderful people that inspired the great Ernest Hemmingway.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Pamplona Elevation

How to Get There

Getting to St Jean Pied de Port, France

It is best to fly to France (Biarritz or Paris), then come back from Spain (Bilbao, Santander or Madrid).

Fly into Biarritz

Ryanair, easyJet, Air France (via Orly). Biarritz airport info

1 – Train to Bayonne train station

Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz Airport is located just 3 Km from Biarritz. However, it is a much better option to go to Bayonne train station (not Biarritz). Take the train to Bayonne train station (direct). The journey takes approx. 15 minutes and will cost from 3.70 to 6.70€. The bus stop is in front of the terminal.

2 – Train to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port

There are direct trains from Bayonne to Saint Jean Pied de Port (1h09 travel).

Fly into Paris

Virtually all companies fly to Paris. Take a train to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

Getting home from Pamplona, Spain 

Fly from Bilbao 

A large amount of the passenger traffic at Bilbao Airport comes from internal flights and you can fly from Bilbao to any of the following Spanish Airports: A Coruna, Alicante, Barcelona, Badajoz, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Jerez, Lanzarote, Madrid, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Tenerife, Valencia and Vigo. European flights to Brussels, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Milan, Munich, Paris, and Stuttgart are also available.  At the moment, EasyJet, Iberia and Aer Lingus fly from the UK and Ireland to Bilbao. EasyJet offers daily flights to Bilbao from London Stansted Airport, Iberia flies from Gatwick or Heathrow via Madrid and AerLingus operates out of Dublin.

The Burundesa bus company links Pamplona with Bilbao

Fly from Santander

Ryanair is the only low-cost airline that currently offers direct flights to Santander. They offer flights from London Stansted and now Dublin, Frankfurt, Milan and Rome, as well as Reus and Madrid in Spain. Iberia offers a good selection of internal flights from Alicante, Barcelona, Gran Canaria, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Seville and Valencia.

Some busses link Pamplona with Santander (4h). From the bus station in Santander, then simply get a direct city bus to the airport (15min), and Ryanair operates flights from there.

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