Roncesvalles to Zubiri : Step By Step Guide to Stage 2 of the Camino Frances
Created by Colleen Sims * 10 February 2024
I have walked this stage numerous times both solo and leading groups across the mountains and onwards to Santiago de Compostela and have a great understanding of the day you’re about to walk.
I’m well aware of the challenges and uncertainties that first time pilgrims may face as they start today. For example, I know that many folks may be feeling tired after their walk from St Jean Pied de Port and they might be feeling a little unsure about what to expect walking onwards.
Fear not, this post will help guide you through the difficulties you may encounter, such as where to find refreshments and how to tackle the very rustic trail down to 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.
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.
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.
You can tell I love this walk. In my April 2017 journal I was in a poetic frame of mind : The trees are zinging in their spring colours. My mind wandered back to another walk when the leaves were falling and one by one the trees slept. Today I thought they were waking. The wind was shaking them out of their slumber. The young trees were already awake and the older trees creaked and yawned, trying to grab a few more moments before stretching and unfurling their leaves. It was a beautiful morning.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 : 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 .
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.
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.
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:
I love my days in the mountains and in these Basque villages. The Camino is not just a walk; it’s a journey of self-discovery, community, and connection. So, Buen Camino. Keep walking, keep exploring, and keep your heart open to the magic of the Camino.
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 :
- Zubiri to Pamplona: Step by Step Guide to Stage 3 of the Camino Frances
- St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles : How Hard is Day 1
- Camino De Santiago : Roncesvalles Hotels And Pilgrim Albergue
- St Jean Pied de Port Pilgrim Accommodation : 10 Albergues, Hostels and Hotels
- How to Get to St Jean Pied de Port to Start Your Camino de Santiago
- The Pilgrim Office : St Jean Pied de Port
- St Jean Pied de Port : A Guide for Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago
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