Updated: January 2022.
In this post we talk about how to get to Sarria or Tui because they are two of the most common starting points of the Camino de Santiago. After all, they are towns that are just over 100km from Santiago on the French Way and the Portuguese Way respectively. And that is why many pilgrims choose to begin their adventure in these towns, thus fulfilling the distance requirement of the Camino de Santiago. compostela.
Both are towns with a great Xacobean tradition, but unlike other places that are also common starting points (such as León, Oviedo, A Coruña and Ferrol or Porto), Tui and Sarria are medium-sized towns, with a less integrated public transport service than the big cities.
In addition, the mobility restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic have led to the suspension of many frequencies and even entire lines, without it being known exactly when — or if — they will be resumed. On top of this, public transport in Galicia — which is not the easiest in the world due to the dispersion of the population — is going through a phase of restructuring.
Due to these circumstances, much of the information circulating on the internet is simply outdated. Even that of many websites of agencies and publications specialised in the Camino. And that is why we have set ourselves two challenges: 1) to update that information; and 2) to keep it up to date.
First step: getting to Galicia
Assuming that the people who will most need this information are those who live outside Galicia, the first step is to get there. Depending on where you are, you can choose train, bus or plane.
Getting to Galicia by plane
If you do it by plane, the best place to fly is undoubtedly Santiago de Compostela airport, which is known as A Lavacolla and has recently changed its name to Santiago-Rosalía de Castro (code SCQ). Although the pandemic is keeping some routes closed, you can get to this airport in direct flight from around twenty points of origin: Madrid-Barajas (MAD), Barcelona-El Prat (BCN), Valencia (VLC), Seville (SVQ), Bilbao (BIO), Malaga (AGP), Alicante (ALC), Lanzarote (ACE), Las Palmas (LPA), Tenerife (TFN), Palma de Mallorca (PMI), Milan-Bergamo (BGY), London-Stansted (STN) and London-Gatwick (LGW), Paris (CDG), Brussels (BRU), Amsterdam-Schiphol (AMS), Frankfurt Hahn (HHN), Zurich (ZRH), Basel (BSL), and Geneva (GVA).
Not all of these airports connect with Santiago de Compostela every day, so defining when you will be able to travel (if you are flying) will have a direct impact on when you will be able to start your Camino adventure. And this is especially relevant if you plan to do it in bookable accommodation. If so, let us know and we will certainly be able to help you.
Before finishing with the airports: in addition to Santiago airport, there are two other airports in Galicia. A Coruña-Alvedro (LCG) and Vigo-Peinador (VGO), which have direct connections to the same Spanish airports as Santiago de Compostela. Vigo airport may be a good option if you are starting your journey at Tui, by the way, as this town is relatively close to Vigo. If you are heading to Sarria, our recommendation is to opt for Santiago de Compostela.
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By train or bus
Train travel can also be an alternative if you live on the Iberian Peninsula, although if you buy your tickets in advance, flying can be cheaper — and will always be much faster. In the case of the train, as the casuistry is much more varied and it would be impossible to indicate here all the combinations, we recommend you to check the website of Omiowhere you can find information about the two companies that travel to Galicia from other parts of Spain: Renfe and DB.
Now, if you live in Madrid, Segovia, Zamora or nearby, you have the option of travelling by train to Lugo, stopping in Sarria, which is the previous station. For this train, which departs from Madrid-Chamartín, (Renfe) you have three daily frequencies, with journeys ranging from 5 to 6 hours.
If you are coming from Portugal, it is also possible to arrive from Porto-Campanha to Vigo-Guixar directly, by means of the company Comboios de Portugal. However, the line is currently suspended due to cross-border transit restrictions. By the way, this line has a stop in Valença do Minho, so if your destination is Tui you could get off at this station and cross the Miño river on foot over the international bridge. It's a nice walk of just over half an hour... following the arrows of the Portuguese Way. And it is more confortable than go to Vigo just to go back to Tui by bus.
Finally, there is the bus option. As with the train, there is a wide variety of options, so we recommend that you consult the options directly on the website of Alsa, the company that offers most of the lines that connect with Galicia from abroad.
By your car
Another option that has been gaining strength in recent times, especially for people who live within a reasonable distance and prefer to avoid public transport, is to drive your own car. That is to say: to get to Sarria or Tui by your own car. Or to get to Santiago, then taking one of the public transport options described below in this article.
The biggest difficulty in these cases is to find a place to leave the car for the duration of our Camino. Some accommodations in Sarria offer the option to store the car in a private garage and take it to Santiago coinciding with our arrival on foot, but it is not a cheap service. Therefore, when our clients talk to us about arriving by car, our recommendation is always to leave it in Santiago. But where?
The public transport company of Santiago (TUSSA), which manages the Xoán XXIII car park (see on the map), just 400m from the cathedral, offers tourist cards that allow you to park for 7 days for 31.31€ or 15 days for 62.62€. This is undoubtedly the cheapest and most convenient option, and is managed directly at the car park when you leave your car. The advantage: our car will be waiting for us at the end of our Camino.
How to get to Sarria from Santiago de Compostela
Now let's assume that you have arrived in Santiago de Compostela as the gateway to Galicia, whether by plane, train, bus or private car. The next step is to get to Sarria. You can opt for the train, with a transfer in Monforte de Lemos (total journey time would be 4h30min). Or by bus.
If you opt for the bus, you have several options. The fastest is the direct Santiago-Sarria travel, departing from the Santiago Intermodal Station (11:00h) or from A Lavacolla airport itself (11:21h) and arriving at Sarria at 13:00h. The route is covered by the company Monbus, Monday to Sunday, all year round. And it is the only direct option.
If you cannot arrive in time for that direct travel, the alternative is a Santiago-Lugo-Sarria journey. For this option there are more frequencies. The last one leaves Santiago at 18:30h, changes at Lugo at 19:55h and arrives in Sarria at 21:00h. We recommend you to check the information of the different frequencies on the website bus.gal.
By the way, if this is not your first time travelling by bus to or from Santiago, please note that the old San Caetano Bus Station is no longer in service and that from 22 May 2021 arrivals and departures will be made to/from the Intermodal Station, closer to the city centre.
How to get to Tui from Vigo or Santiago
If your pilgrimage will run along the Portuguese Way and you have Tui as a starting point, arriving at Vigo by train or plane, instead of Santiago de Compostela, may be a good option (taking into account that Vigo-Peinador airport has fewer connections than Santiago-A Lavacolla airport).
From Vigo to Tui the best option is to take the bus that goes to A Guarda (by the way, one of the starting points of the Coastal Portuguese Way), and get off in Tui. This way, it is a 45min trip and there are several frequencies every day operated by the company Lugove. You can also opt for the train. At the time of writing Renfe has stopped selling the Vigo-Tui ticket, but you can opt to go to Valença do Minho and cross the international bridge, as mentioned above, arriving in Tui centre after a leisurely stroll of just over half an hour.
However, please note that for this option there is only one departure at 8:58h from Vigo-Guixar (note that there are two train stations in Vigo). So our recommendation, for convenience, is to take the bus.
If you have arrived in Santiago de Compostela, to get to Tui you will have to pass through and stop (yes or yes) at Vigo. After all, Vigo is on the route, so you will have to change trains there. There are several frequencies throughout the day, with various waiting times for the transfer. The last one leaves Santiago Intermodal at 18:05h and arrives in Tui at 21:16h after a transfer at Vigo bus station and a 55min wait.
Finally, let's talk about the direct transport option. If you have come this far you will have seen that getting around Galicia by public transport is no easy task. That's why some people who travel with us ask us for private direct transport options.
In these cases, we will take care of the arrangements. The transfer is made on demand, generally from the airport of arrival to the starting point of the Camino. Not only for the Caminos from Sarria or Tui, but for any of them. As it is a tailor-made service, 100% adapts to the requirements and schedules to avoid all the hustle and bustle.
Obviously, this is a more expensive service, although for groups of 2-4 people it can be a good option. To give you an idea, private transport from Santiago to Sarria costs around 135,00€ per trip and Vigo-Tui 55,00€ per trip (up to 4 passengers).
Many people start their route in Sarria or Tui for various reasons: time available for walking, physical fitness or simple preference. But getting to these locations may not be too easy. In this article we have tried to explain all the most comfortable and logical options, taking into account the enormous variety of cases that can occur.
In any case, our commitment is to keep this information up to date. So, if you are thinking of doing the Camino de Santiago, please save this page or else contact us so that we can discuss your specific case and advise you more precisely.
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