Camino Francés (The French Way)

Ponferrada - Villafranca del Bierzo

Foncebadón - Ponferrada Villafranca del Bierzo - O Cebreiro
24 km

Ponferrada is left behind via a detour of almost 4 kilometres heading towards Compostilla, which features the church of San Esteban, and onto the village of Columbrianos. There are housing clusters until Fuentes Nuevas. where pilgrims can find all the necessary services to continue their journey.

The next village,10 kilometres on from the day’s starting point, is Camponarayara. Here the typical landscape of El Bierzo, with its vineyards that produce this region’s splendid wines, becomes more and more prominent.

The Camino continues towards Cacabelos, passing by the Santuario de la Quinta Angustia and onto the ascent towards Pieros. In order to follow the official route, you have to pay attention to the stone signs leading to Villafranca del Bierzo, a place with a rich artistic heritage. Villafranca, listed as a Historic-Monumental Town, has many historic buildings and streets, such as La Calle Ribadeo or La Calle del Auga. Notable buildings include the Colegiata, the castle, the churches of San Francisco and San Nicolás, and the Convento de la Anunciada, where you can find the tallest (33m) and oldest (400 years) cypress in Spain, and the Romanesque church of Santiago. The latter is especially relevant for the Camino as pilgrims who are impaired by illness to get to Santiago can seek forgiveness for all of their sins here. The Puerta del Perdón is only open during the Holy Years (Años Santos Compostelanos), and is opened by the Bishop of the diocese of Astorga himself. 

How to get to Ponferrada

The closest airport to Ponferrada is in León, with daily flights from Madrid and Barcelona. From there, you can take a taxi to the city (around 14 Euros) and then other means of transportation to Ponferrada.
There are buses from different Spanish cities and towns arriving at Ponferrada’s bus station daily. You can check the different routes and timetables calling +34 987 401 065. Other connections are available from León (+34 987 211 000).
From Madrid, there are two trains to Ponferrada departing from Chamartín station. They are the “Regional” and the “Atlántico”, you can check prices and timetables at Renfe (Ph: 902 240 202).
There are 114 kilometres from León to Ponferrada, it takes one hour and a quarter by car, driving on the A-6, then on the AP-71 and going past Astorga. From Madrid to Ponferrada there are 390 kilometres, you need 3 hours and 40 minutes on the A-6.

Tips from our postmen and women

What to do and see in Villafranca del Bierzo?

 Javier González
Javier González Correos Villafranca

“Villafranca del Bierzo is known as Little Compostela. Apart from its monuments, the food is amazing and inexpensive, abundant in variety as well as in the generosity of the portions served.

I recommend trying our traditional dishes with wine of the “Bierzo” denomination of origin. There are several wine cellars in the area who organise guided tours and have shops where they sell their wine to the general public”.

Accommodations Ponferrada - Villafranca del Bierzo

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