Things to do in Rioja: Be a pilgrim for a day on the Way of St James
A must-visit while you’re in Rioja has to be the Way of St James (Camino de Santiago), the ancient pilgrimage route that serves as a both fascinating and scenic hiking route to this day. And here’s your chance to recreate the life of one of the early pilgrims who first blazed the trail on this tour experience with Rioja in Style…
Starting at a residential Cistercian monastery, get endowed with your official pilgrim credentials. Here, you will be given access to a private monastery room to get changed into comfortable clothes and shoes for our walk along the Way of St James.
We can walk a route of up to about 7 or 8 miles (12km), adaptable according to your available time or fitness levels!
We will pass through pine and oak forests, and fields of cereal crops before stopping to collect a stamp on our pilgrim passport and enjoy a well-earnt refreshing drink break.
We will finish at the beautiful ancient town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, where the Way of St James actually runs all the way through the town centre. So as you can imagine, Santo Domingo is an important stop on the pilgrimage route, and has buckets of heritage and things to see. You can go on a guided city tour and visit the breath-taking cathedral. The cathedral is built on the site of a temple that sheltered St Domingo’s remains. Designed by the maestro Garçión, the Romanesque architecture showcases exceptional reliefs and sculptures carved by masters who also worked on the Portico de la Gloria in Santiago de Compostela.
Reflect on your day’s adventures over dinner, served in the humbling surroundings of a Cistercian abbey, and then it’s time to hunker down for the night in a pilgrims-only hostel run by the oldest active brotherhood on the Way of St James and founded by St Domingo himself.
Alternatively, you can sleep in a 4-star luxury hotel that occupies a former 12th-century pilgrim hospital located near the cathedral and erected by St Domingo to take in pilgrims travelling on the Way of St James. Nowadays it has a regal, elegant style with majestic reception rooms and a lobby filled with gothic arches and wood-coffered ceilings.
Now time to relax – your pilgrimage into the past is complete!