Leon to Hospital de Orbigo on the Camino Frances

Leon was a fabulous city to visit on the Camino Frances and one of my favourite places to visit along with Burgos.  I will definitely be back to visit and spend some more time time in this energetic city.

We are walking on Day 18 of the Camino Frances and heading from Leon to Hospital de Orbigo which is a really interesting village with a special story I’ll tell you about shortly.

Camino Frances Day 18 Overview

  • Distance – 32 km
  • From – Leon
  • To – Hospital de Orbigo
  • Min/Max Elevation – 818m/918m
  • Elevation gain – 204m
  • Steps – 45,000
After a great visit to Leon we slept in for once as we had a few beers last night. The beer and tapas was cheap so we had to indulge a little bit 🙂
Enjoying a beer in Leon

We left at 7am and walked through the outskirts of Leon and knew we had a day ahead of us of walking mainly through wheat fields. 

The elevation gain wasn’t big and the route was relatively easy. This was one of the main reasons we decided to stretch our route and get to Hospital de Orbigo which was just over 32km.

What is the weather like on the Camino in May

The weather was cloudy and windy which actually is really nice to walk in instead of the hot baking sun.

The month of May is a fantastic month to walk the Camino. The weather is typically really nice with hot daytime temperatures and some cooler evenings and mornings. Perfect weather for walking any of the Camino routes to Santiago de Compostela.

Weather on the Camino de Santiago in May

The walking on this stage of the Camino is pretty easy as we passed through the small villages of Trobajo del Camino and La Virgen del Camino.

After 12 km we walked through a lovely little village of Valverde de la Virgen and had to take some time out to take pictures of the architecture and Camino symbols.

interesting church on the camino frances
interesting church on the camino frances
a church on the Camino Frances

Lunch on the Camino Frances

I get asked a lot of questions about lunch on the Camino such as:

  • How much does lunch on the Camino cost ?
  • Can you bring your own lunch each day ?
  • Are there Cafes in each village ?
  • Are there Supermarkets along the trail ?

The simple answer is anything goes. There are cafes and bars in each village if you want to sit and have some lunch and relax in the sunshine. 

There are also grocery stores (supermarcado) in most towns and cities that a lot of Pilgrims on a budget use and buy food on a daily basis to carry on route.

Top Tip – buy your food and snacks on the evening before you set off walking in the morning as the grocery stores don’t open very early in the morning.

On this day on the Camino Frances we had decided to buy our food the night before and had cheese, bread, a chorizo and a fat beef tomato to make our own Spanish camino bocadilla’s.

We sat by the side of the trail near Villadangos del Paramo and had a feast.  it was fantastic !

Pilgrims eating lunch on the Camino Frances

We walked and walked for what seemed like all afternoon. The sun had come out and it was very hot but we still had another 5km to go until we get to the fabulous little town of Hospital de Orbigo and the story of Don Suero de Quinones.

Hospital de Orbigo

We arrived at our destination about 3pm weary and thirsty after covering nearly 33km. Hospital de Orbigo is a historic village and at first glance looks fantastic. I powered my way over the medieval bridge in search of a good albergue.

crossing the bridge in Hospital de Orbigo

Hospital de Orbigo is a medieval town on the Camino Frances route and is a traditional stopping point for Pilgrims on their journey to Santiago. It is one of the longest and best preserved bridges in Spain.

Originally the Romans built the bridge over the river Orbigo connecting Leon with the provincial capital of Astorga. By the year 1184 there was multiple hospitals on either side of the river aiding Pilgrims on their pilgrimage to Santiago.

The main tourist landmark of Hospital de Orbigo is it medieval bridge which is really amazing. Tradition has it the most famous passage of arms took place here in 1434.

In 1434 the medieval knight Don Suero de Quinones was scorned by a woman he loved so organised a jousting tournament challenging all men of an equal rank to a joust which would enable them to cross the bridge. If he defeated them he would then maintain his honour.

The tournament was a serious affair and lasted for nearly a month of which Don Suero claimed he broke over 300 lances defeating everyone that challenged him whilst defending the bridge. He then travelled to Santiago to give thanks for the honour of defending the bridge.

In 1468 Don Suero de Quinones was eventually killed by a knight he had defeated in 1434 called Gutierre de Quijada.

To this day there is still a jousting tournament every year when the town celebrates the fiesta of Passo Honrosso at the beginning of June.

On the weekend of the festival the local residents of Hospital de Órbigo put on medieval clothing and recreate typical 15th century scenes. There are Knights armed with swords and shields as well as monks, peasants, waitresses, archers and maidens in beautiful velvet dresses. 

There is a jousting arena and a medieval market in the town which is visited by tourists and pilgrims alike. 

If you are lucky enough to be in Hospital de Orbigo when the festival is in full swing it is an amazing Camino experience. In the picture below you can see the jousting arena and watching stand.

The bridge in Hospital de orbigo

After such a long walking day we found a fabulous bar with a hidden garden and we sat, talked and chilled all afternoon. Check out Bar El Puente for a lovely beer in the garden.

Accommodation in Hospital de Orbigo

There are some really good Albergue and hostels to stay in when visiting Hospital de Orbigo and I have selected 3 below that I’ve either stayed in and visited for coffee etc. 

I recommend staying here at the end of stage and enjoying all the town has to offer.

Casa de los Hidalgos

Albergue de Peregrinos – San Miguel

B&B El Caminera

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