Roncesvalles to Zubiri : Step By Step Guide to Stage 2 of the Camino Frances

Created by Colleen Sims | Updated : 10 February 2024 | ,

I have walked this stage numerous times both solo and leading groups and I’m well aware of the challenges (and fears) that you’ll face today.

For example, I know that many folks may be feeling tired after their walk from St Jean Pied de Port and maybe a little unsure about what to expect walking onwards. I also know that many folks fear the walk downhill trail to Zubiri.

Read on and I’ll answer both questions and doubts; today is a glorious walk.

pilgrims walking through a forest in Spring along the camino frances between Roncesvalles and Zubiri

Walking From Roncesvalles To Zubiri

This 22-km journey through the Pyrenees foothills is still no walk in the park, but it’s gentle and rewards you with glorious views. Imagine meandering through beech forests and open countryside and beautiful Basque villages with opportunities for café con leches and mid morning snacks.  You’ll cross streams and pass pastures and watch the scenery change as you walk away from the mountains and on through Navarra. 

There are still a few ups and downs between Roncesvalles and Zubiri but read on and I’ll describe the trail section by section and highlight any potential issues that you may face.

  • Roncesvalles to Zubiri Stage Distance : 22.46 kilometres
  • Roncesvalles to Zubiri Elevation : Total Ascent 431m | Total Descent 834m
map showing the route of the camino frances from Roncesvalles to Zubiri
Elevation profile of the camino frances from Roncesvalles to Zubiri

Towns And Villages You Walk Through From Roncesvalles To Zubiri

Today is a beautiful walk. I’m sure I’ll say this 100 times about the stages between St Jean Pied de Port and Pamplona but my first piece of advice is ensure that you have a bed in Zubiri before leaving Roncevalles.

This is a beautiful stage and you’ll be tired after your walk over the mountains. Book a bed, take your time and enjoy the day.

Roncesvalles / Orreaga

Starting today from Roncesvalles you can choose to have breakfast at either the Hotel, Posada or Casa Sabina. It’s worth noting that the alarm goes off at 6am in the pilgrim albergue and breakfast isn’t served until 7:30 am.

Some folks like to be on the road sooner and skip breakfast.  I recommend having a snack before setting off and maybe grab a coffee from the Pilgrim Albergue vending machine.

The nearest breakfast stop from Roncesvalles is Burguete, just 3 kilometres away but not always open.  Do ensure you’re hydrated before starting and that you’ve had something to boost your energy; a granola bar, dried fruit, nuts and chocolate all make excellent snacks.

I never recommend walking in the dark especially because as you leave Roncesvalles you’ll enter a wooded area and the light is limited in the early morning, so have a torch handy just in case.  And as you leave town make sure you get a photo taken beside the famous road sign showing the distance to Santiago de Compostela.

Top Tip : Make sure you have enough drinking water for a few hours on the trail.

Then We Walking Club group photo beside the road sign at Roncesvalles; Santiago 790 kilometres

Burguete / Auritz : 3 kms

Burguete is a small village located 3 kilometres just from Roncesvalles and there’s a café as you enter the village. This is normally open and the coffee is good but on Sundays and special holidays it has been known to stay closed; hence the need to bring snacks and water.

As you cross the road following the Camino arrows, there is a small mini-market which is also usually also open. You can stock up on provisions here.

If you prefer not to stay in Roncesvalles there are several accommodation choices in Burguete including the very lovely Lorentx Aterpea albergue.

This section is well marked and fairly flat.  The biggest issue is that pilgrims often forget they are walking in a road and walk 2 or 3 abreast.  I’m sure we really irritate locals who have to navigate around pilgrims every day when driving.  Do remember to use the pavements (sidewalks) and keep an eye out for local traffic.

Also keep an eye out for arrows on the road, you turn off to your right, a few hundred metres through the village. The turning is clearly marked on the road.  Once you turn , you’ll see ahead a small slope, leading down to a bridge over a river.  The water maybe a trickle in summer but can be a raging torrent when the snow melts.

I love the following few kilometres.  A wide easy trail for the most part, usually the early morning light is glorious, it’s well marked and you’ll be walking through a stunning rural landscape.  You’ll cross a few more streams and need to hop across a few stepping stones or old stone bridges.

There is a hill to climb in this section.  Indeed the terrain can be a little undulating after this so make sure you take your time and shorten your pace as you go up the hills. But, take your time because this is a beautiful walk.

early morning light over the fields walking from Roncesvalles on the Camino Frances in the foothills of the Pyrenees

Espinal / Aurizberri : 6.7 kms

The Camino drops you into Espinal.  Another delightful little Basque village with lots of green painted woodwork and bright red geranium pots.  This village was founded in 1296 and a notable feature is their very modern church.

There are plenty of accommodation options here if you’d prefer to spend the night.

The last time I walked a new bar had opened in town, immediately opposite you as you enter the village.  I’m sure it’s great but the I love the second bar, a little further along the village, tucked away on the right.  It gets busy but oh my it’s a great little spot.  Stop here if you’d like to see Spain on a plate with amazing tapas and glorious fruit smoothies!

breakfast in Espinal.  Berry smoothie and tortilla.  The bar offers amazing tapas too!

Once refreshed, walk on through the village but keep an eye out for more arrows on the road, you’ll be turning off left this time. 

You have another hill and as with all hills, just drop your stride and take shorter steps and keep a gentle pace.  I can’t stress enough that you should take your time today.  Remember to pause and look back as the views are amazing behind you.

walking away from Espinal Village on the Camino Frances, surrounded by fields and the Pyrenees mountains in the background

Alto de Mezquiriz : 8.6 kms

There are no services here and nothing to mark the high point but there are some wonderful views.  In the following section you’ll need to cross the N-135 road a few times.  This is a main road and the vehicles travel at speed so do keep your wits about you as you cross.

Some parts of the Camino are paved from here.  The intention was to stop the trail eroding but the steps can have an odd short rise.  It’s not difficult but it’s good to be aware and watch your footing.

As you approach Viskarret you’ll need to cross a river.  There are large blocks that act as huge stepping stones and on sunny days, pilgrims pause here and take photos and chat.  If you’re like Gerry and hate stepping stones (I know and don’t ask) you can walk around the river on the road above.

Top Tip : Many pilgrims remove their shoes and socks and cool their feet in the water but be aware the ground can be slippery and I’ve seen folks paddle more than intended. 

pilgrims crossing the Barranco Sorabil, a small river running by Viskarret

Viskarret / Guerendiain : 11.8 kms

This village is also called Biscarret and Biskaret and was even mentioned in the Codex Calixtinus as Biscarretum.  As you walk into the village the first place you’ll see is a very popular pilgrim bar.  If you think this one is too busy there is another a few minutes further on.

This is a great stop for an early lunch and I always look forward to a slice of Tortilla and a very cold coke zero.   Do expect a long stop as you’ll queue for the bar and queue for the loo but it’s worth the wait.

Once refreshed you’ll continue on through the village, cross the road which splits the village in two.  There is accommodation here and on my first Camino I spent the night in a stunning little country hotel called Casa Batit.

This is such a pretty village with a lot of history.  Take some time to look at the door lintels as you walk through as many are dated.  There is a little shop as you leave the village and it’s a good idea to buy provisions and water. 

You’ll wander on for a few more kilometres through more wonderful rural splendour.  You’ll cross the road again and walk towards the village of Linzoain.

partway up the hill out of Linzoain on the camino with stunning views behind

Linzoáin : 13.8 kms

There is a little Posada (small hotel) in this village and a 13th century church but my main memory of this village is that it’s the start of today’s toughest hill.  The saving grace of this section are the stunning views so make sure you stop and look back. 

There isn’t a lot of shade going up either so if it’s sunny put on a hat or apply sunscreen.  I enjoy this hill but I know I need to take my time and pause in the shade for a drink of water. 

The path narrows as you head higher and if you’re slower (like me) and there are fitter pilgrims behind you then simply step off the trail, have a drink and take some more photos.  It’s easy to feel you have to keep going but it’s totally fine to stop too.

The hill will soon break into a forest and level out so just take your time walking up, only move when you’re rested, stay hydrated and enjoy the views.  

The following kilometres are through forest.  It’s beautiful and the shade is welcome on a hot day but there are no services.  Every so often the forest opens with views of the foothills around. 

I know I keep repeating this advice but take your time walking through the forest. It’s a very lovely walk but there are tree roots and lose stones so watch your feet and enjoy the walk.

Eventually you’ll drop back down to the road we’ve followed all day and be greeted with the  welcome site of a food truck at Alto de Erro.

Alto de Erro food truck in 2014.  It's posher today with more chairs and a bigger van
My old photo from 2014 of the food truck at Alto de Erro, these days there’s more seating and a bigger van

Alto de Erro : 18.4 kms

Stop here.  Get a cold drink and rest your legs.  They also have a sello. You’re almost in Zubiri and today’s elevation is done.  You only have the walk down to Zubiri left.   

I’m not going to sugar-coat this next section.  Parts of this trail are very eroded, and you do need to take your time and watch your feet.  You’ll be feeling tired and it can make you a little complacent, so stay alert.

But I also want to stress this is still a beautiful walk even though the path down to Zubiri is well known for it’s rustic terrain.  I like this path, the forest is lovely you just need to go slow. 

I lead my groups down here and my advice is always take your time and watch your feet.  And remember that it’s not all terrible. 

Top Tip : If the weather is bad some pilgrims follow the road down to Zubiri but it is a busy road and not an ideal choice.  In very bad weather some pilgrims call a taxi from the food truck; this might not be a bad choice .

Gerry on the Camino Frances walking to Zubiri.  The trail through the forest is very eroded and stony

Zubiri (Puenta de la Rabia) : 21.9 kms

Well done, you’re almost there.  To enter Zubiri you need to cross a bridge which takes you off the Camino.  The trail continues onwards and upwards and I know that some pilgrims keep going but if you’re staying in Zubiri (and it’s a good choice) then turn right and go over this beautiful little bridge. 

In Basque Zubiri means “The Town of the Bridge” and the earliest documented record of this little town was in 1040.

Even if you plan to walk on you should stop and admire the bridge.  On my first Camino I paused beside the river and soaked my feet.  A lady came out of one of the houses with some cold watermelon which I shared with a French priest whilst watching children play in the little park beside the water.  It’s a lovely memory.

the bridge leading you off the camino and into Zubiri

Zubiri : 22.4 kms

I stay in Zubiri with my groups.  Walk over the bridge.  Keep walking and at the end of the road, at the T-junction, there is a lovely bar café on the left corner.  The food is great and the drinks are cold.

Zubiri is a good size town with all services and the perfect place to end your day.

There are a number of albergue in town (private and municipal) but for my groups I really love El Palo de Vellano or Hazel Stick. They have private rooms and bunks and it’s just a few steps from this bar; I love their communal dinner too. If you’d like a little more comfort then the glorious little hotel Txantxorena is stunning.

Top Tip : Zubiri often fills. There are always more pilgrims than beds.  BOOK AHEAD. I cannot stress enough how much easier your life will be if you book your first few days. 

Potential Problems Between Roncesvalles and Zubiri

Today is a good day on the trail.  There are many places to stop for refreshments and for a large part of the day the trail is relatively easy.  If you’re stopping in Zubiri the stage (at 22 kms) isn’t too long which also means you can linger and not rush.

However there are few things that you should consider.

  • Don’t under estimate the underlying tiredness from your walk over the mountains from St Jean.  Be gentle on yourself today and take your time.  This is a glorious stage and one that should be savoured.
  • Take care walking through the forest and in particular during the walk down to Zubiri.  Lengthen your poles going downhill if you use them.  Don’t overthink the walk down to Zubiri.  Just go slow and enjoy the forest.
  • Listen to your feet.  This is the day that blisters may start to appear.  If you start to feel a hotspot then stop and take care of it.  Sheeps wool, taping or Compeed work but take care of it.  A hotspot will turn into a blister and a blister can stop a hike.
  • Take a small first aid kit and blister kit with you, just in case you need anything on the trail.
  • Take all your rubbish with you; leave no trace wherever you are
  • Ensure you carry water (I usually start the day with 2 litres) and take a snack. Nuts, dried fruit, bananas, granola bars all make great snacks
  • Download What 3 Words and Alert Cop on your phone.  Both are free and both essential when hiking, especially alone.
  • If you need emergency assistance, dial 112 for the International Operator in Europe.
  • Finally if you feel tired then stop and have a good rest. Don’t push yourself too hard.  The Camino is not a race and it’s important you listen to your body.

My Final Thoughts on the Roncesvalles to Zubiri Stage

Reaching Zubiri should fill you with a sense of accomplishment. The walk from Roncesvalles is not without it’s challenges and you’ve conquered them.

The Camino de Santiago is more than just a walk to a destination, it’s an experience.  And today you will start to grow in confidence and start to make friends as you walk. 

My stage guides are intended to equip you with confidence to help you embrace the Camino and help you prepare for whatever the Camino throws your way.

Take these final reminders with you:

  • Savor the moments: Soak in the breathtaking views, savor the local cuisine and cherish the camaraderie with fellow pilgrims. 
  • Listen to your body: Pace yourself, rest when needed, and treat any emerging blisters with care. 
  • Leave no trace: Respect the environment by carrying out all your trash with you.
  • Embrace the community: Share stories, offer a helping hand, and connect with your fellow pilgrims. 

P.s. I love to hear from fellow pilgrims so hop over to my Facebook page and share a photo from your journey. 

Are You Walking The Camino De Santiago from St Jean Pied de Port?

I have a series of posts that may be of interest you and help with your Camino planning :

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Colleen in Salamanca on the Via de la Plata

Hey I’m Colleen. I’m married to Gerry, we’ve three fabulous kids and been living in France for almost two decades. I fell in love with Spain in the 1980s and I’ve walked 1000s of miles along the Camino de Santiago. Now we’re exploring and walking the world and I can’t wait to share what we’ve learned!

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