Camino de Santiago Guides

Ultimate Guide to Sarria, Spain: Everything You Need To Know About the Camino Starting Point

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

Are you looking for info on Sarria, Spain? If so, you’ve come to right place!

Whether you’re starting the Camino de Santiago from Sarria or simply passing through, we’ll tell you everything you need to know from where Sarria is located and what to expect to accommodations and how to get there.

Keep reading this Sarria guide to find out everything you need to know about Sarria, Spain.

Where is Sarria?

Royal crown mosaic on monument in Sarria (Credit: Daria Soleil)

If the first time you heard of Sarria was when you started planning your Camino, you’re probably wondering, “Where is Sarria, anyway?”

Sarria is located in Lugo, Galicia in northwestern Spain (See our Spain guide). With a population of 13,200 people, it’s one of the bigger towns along the Camino Frances route of the famed Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

Being a part of the autonomous community of Galicia, you’ll find cultural differences from the rest of Spain to be pronounced in Sarria, including food and traditions — even Celtic ones! Their language differs, too: Galicians (gallegos) speak Galician (gallego). But don’t worry, they also speak Spanish so you’ll get along just fine with your high school Spanish! (Psst: Want to brush up on your travel Spanish before you go? Look at Michele’s Spanish for travel course.)

What is Sarria known for?

Rocky pathway in the middle of grassy fields between Sarria and Portomarin on the Camino
First Day on the Camino from Sarria (Credit: Ruben Perez Gil)

Sarria is known as the most popular starting point for the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. To explain, roughly 36% of pilgrims started their Caminos in Sarria in 2021. It’s popularity a starting point largely depends on it’s location: it’s located just over 100 km (62 mi) from Santiago de Compostela. And, 100 km is the minimum distance that pilgrims need to walk to receive a certification of completion upon arrival at the pilgrim’s office in Santiago.

Additionally, Sarria is located on the Camino Frances route (The Camino de Santiago is made up of a system of trails.). The Camino Frances has the most infrastructure for pilgrims such as hotels, eateries, and backpack transport. Thus, if you’re looking for a place to start the Camino, Sarria has proven to be an excellent choice!

How long is the Camino from Sarria to Santiago?

The walk from Sarria to Santiago is typically done in 5-6 days. At this pace, pilgrims can expect to walk 12-14 mi mi (19-22.5 km) per day. Those looking for a “Camino-lite” for any reason, such as injury or just wanting to walk less each day, can stretch their Camino to 10 days.

How hard is the walk from Sarria to Santiago?

The walk from Sarria to Santiago is relatively easy. At an elevation of 1594 ft (486 m), Sarria sits just at the other side of a mountainous decline. In fact, pilgrims entering Sarria by foot along the Camino Frances will experience spectacular views at 5,305 ft/1337 in the two days prior to reaching Sarria. Even though the worst of the Camino Frances’ elevation gains and losses is over before Sarria, it’s certainly no cake walk! It requires a fair amount of training, the right gear, and comfortable trail runners. You can expect to walk on combination of rolling hills, farmland, forest paths lined with eucalyptus, and concrete/asphalt.

Editor’s Note: Travel insurance is a must anytime you travel and is an especially important consideration when walking the pilgrim’s road to Santiago. It can cover trip interruptions, unexpected injuries, and other mishaps. Don’t walk the Camino without it; we certainly don’t! Get a quote.

What to Expect in Sarria

View from Mirador de la Cárcel (Credit: Daviles)

Being a smallish town, Sarria is completely walkable. But, it’s quite hilly, which is a bit of a surprise upon arrival — especially if your legs are jelly from having walked previous legs of the Camino! And you can’t avoid the hills either: to head to Santiago de Compostela, you must climb the steep Rúa Maior (the main street that runs through the old town). Luckily, you’ll be rewarded with a view and photo ops at the Mirador de la Cárcel, one of the best things to do in Sarria.

In addition to fascinating structures (some dating to the 13th century) and Galician traditions, Sarria is quite modern: it has many shops, eating establishments, a well-connected train station, and grocery stores. So, if you’re worried about getting there, extra hiking supplies or snacks, there’s no need to worry!

When to Visit Sarria

Waymarker along the Way of St. James in Galicia (Credit: Lamberto Jesus)

If you’ve ever visited sunny Andalucía, you’re in for quite a difference when it comes to visiting Sarria! 

The weather in Sarria as well as it’s landscape is much different from the rest of the country. Characterized by a cool, wet, and cloudy climate, northwestern Spain is lush with green hills and mountains before backing up to its coastline.

Thus, the best time of year to visit for warm-weather activities like hiking the Camino de Santiago is during its short summer season (late June to early September). It’s during this time that you’ll find the warmest, driest weather with average temperatures of 75°F (24°C). Of course, summer is also when Sarria will be the busiest, so you may want to take that into account when planning your Camino.

Many people prefer to walk the Camino in the spring and fall which is certainly doable. Whenever you decide to go, check out our packing list for tips on what to bring on your Camino.

What is there to do in Sarria?

Ponte Aspera bridge, outside of Sarria (Credit: lkonya)

Owing to its history with pilgrimages, Sarria is intimately linked to religious orders that once showed hospitality to pilgrims. Today, that centuries-old legacy is unmistakable. Immediately, you notice that Sarria doesn’t lack for Camino signage (yellow arrows) and churches dating back centuries.

Thus, your first stop may be to visit the many churches in the area. Most notably, the Iglesia Santa Marina. Here, you may pick up a pilgrims’ passport (credencial) and receive a pilgrim’s blessing at evening mass before starting to walk on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route.

There’s plenty to see and do aside from soaking up Sarria’s history. Get to know life in this small Spanish town by experiencing Sarria’s food, antiques, natural landscapes, and culture. Find out more in our top 10 things to do in Sarria post!

Pilgrims’ Tip: If you’d like to get a certificate of completion for your Camino, remember to get two sellos (stamps) in your credencial (pilgims’s passport). Even if you start your Camino earlier on the Camino Frances, you must show that you walked the last 100 km by getting two stamps per day from Sarria. Learn more about signs, symbols and sayings on the Camino.

What to Eat in Sarria

Pulpo a la feira, traditional Galician octopus, served over potatoes and sprinkled with paprika (Credit: Studioimagen73)

When it comes to eating along the Camino, we are big fans of just about everything we’ve tried! In Sarria, you’ll find typical Spanish, Galician, and Mediterranean food — and a few surprises, too!

First off, at many restaurants and albergues (pilgrim’s hostels) along the Camino, you may order a Pilgrim’s Menu. This is a prix fixe meal usually consisting of three courses, bread, and wine. Typical Spanish fare is usually on the menu, and the cost is 10-12€.

Here are some yummy things to try in Sarria that may very well be on your Pilgrim’s Menu:

  • Pulpo a la feira/pulpo a la gallega – Galician style octopus, boiled to perfection and lightly seasoned w/paprika (See recommendations for the best pulperia in town.)
  • Carne gallega Flavorful, tender, and juicy beef that has been humanely raised and treated with processes that date 3.700 years.
  • Cocido a stew made of pork, octopus, pasty and wild game, partridge, boar, and hare
  • Ensalada mixta – Simple salad greens with tomatoes, tuna, and olives
  • Estrella Galicia – a pale lager beer and a tradition since 1906
  • Queso de membrillo – freshly made Galician cheese and quince paste, served for dessert
  • Filloa – a Galician crepe, sweet or savory

Whatever you’d like to eat — Spanish, pizza, or vegetarian — there’s something yummy in Sarria for you! Look here for our recommended restaurants in Sarria.

How to Get to Sarria

Now that you’ve determined that Sarria is where you want to go, how do you get there? Here are your best options for getting to Sarria to start the Camino.

Where do you fly into for Sarria?

The nearest airport to Sarria is the Santiago de Compostela Airport (SCQ). From Santiago, you can easily take a bus, operating daily from the airport. Tickets cost 7-14€, and the journey takes around 2 hours.

A Coruña (LCG) is a smaller airport that’s also nearby; the bus journey takes under 3 hours to get to Sarria. Two other options are Oviedo (OVD) and Porto, Portugal (OPO), but the bus and/or train journeys could take you most of the day to get to Sarria, so choose wisely.

If you’re coming from overseas, it may be easier and cheaper for you to fly into Madrid (MAD). In which case, you can easily hop a train (4.5 hrs/daily) from Madrid’s Chamartín station.

Walking to Sarria on the Camino Frances

Although some people think that Sarria is the only starting point to the Camino de Santiago, it’s actually a stop along the Camino Frances pilgrimage to Sanitago. Here, you’ll find pilgrims who have walked up to 500 miles (800 km) and are in the home stretch of their Camino as well as pilgrims just starting out on the final 5-6 stages of the Camino!

Where to stay: best Sarria accomodation

Stay at historic Convento de la Magdalena, a 13th century monastery turned hostel (Credit: Booking.com)

Because Sarria is so intimately linked with the Camino, you’ll find many suitable albergues (pilgrims hostels) in which to stay, including the old monastery. For those looking for some privacy, Sarria has a few hotels and apartment rentals as well.

Top accommodation in Sarria

  • Best Albergue: For the true pilgrim experience, book a bunk in the old monastery, the Convento de la Magdalena. This pilgrim’s hostel has room for 100+ and is immaculate. Check price & book.
  • Best Guesthouse: Aqua Rooms Sarria is a sweet guesthouse with friendly owners located in the Old Town just steps off the Camino. Check price and book.
  • Best Hotel: Hotel Alfonso IX: Arguably the most popular hotel in Sarria, the Hotel Alfonso IX is basic but clean, has bathtubs in which to soak, and is located near a peaceful garden in walking distance to the town center. Check prices & book.

Visiting Sarria, Spain

Sarria, Spain is a small yet very well-equipped town along the Camino de Santiago. Famous for being a wonderful place to start the Camino de Santiago in order to obtain a certificate in Santiago, it’s the perfect place to spend 1-2 days. Plan to book an extra night prior to starting your Camino to acclimate, grab any extras you need, and explore what Sarria has to offer!

Now that you’ve learned about where Sarria is, things to do, what to eat, the nearest airports and more, we hope you every second of your stay!

Camino de Santiago Essentials

Packing Guide: Gear is half the battle when it comes to the Camino. Check out our Camino de Santiago Packing List for Women and How to Choose the Best Backpack for the Camino.

Accommodation: Finding a place to stay along the Camino is made easier with our guide to accommodation on the Camino.

Insurance: You never know what might happen on the Camino trail, so don’t forget to insure your trip. Travel insurance can cover trip interruptions, physical injuries, etc. and is a must-have! Get quote now.

Planning Your Camino de Santiago? You may also like…

Check out these useful Camino articles:

Click image to pin to Pinterest!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *