Camino Francés trail with San Juan de Ortega, northern spain, in the distance, photographic, sunshine

Camino Francés: Belorado to San Juan de Ortega - Stage 11

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Reading time: 16 minutes

Camino Francés: Belorado to San Juan de Ortega - Stage 11

Posted: | Updated:
Reading time: 16 minutes

Simon Kemp Camino de Santiago author

By: Simon Kemp, Editor

Camino Francés trail with San Juan de Ortega, northern spain, in the distance, photographic, sunshine

The 24km (15 mile) Belorado to San Juan de Ortega stage begins with a leisurely stroll through flat farmland, moving from Belorado to Tosantos and Villambistia. The route then progresses to hillier terrains, taking pilgrims through the charming village of Espinosa del Camino and the woodland areas around Villafría.

The stage concludes with a challenging uphill climb to the peaceful sanctity of San Juan de Ortega, known for its dedicated monastery. As this is also a popular local route, I have included instructions on how to make the journey by bus from Belorado.

Map of Belorado to San Juan de Ortega Route

Route Description: Belorado to San Juan de Ortega

Stage Distance: Approximately 24 kilometers (15 miles)

A. Detailed Breakdown of the Route

  • Belorado to Tosantos (6.8 km, 4.2 miles): Leaving Belorado, the Camino winds through flat farmland, following a path parallel to the road to Tosantos.
  • Tosantos to Villambistia (2.5 km, 1.5 miles): From Tosantos, the route continues through more farmland, leading to the small village of Villambistia.
  • Villambistia to Espinosa del Camino (3.5 km, 2.1 miles): After Villambistia, the Camino heads towards the hillside village of Espinosa del Camino.
  • Espinosa del Camino to Villafría (4.2 km, 2.6 miles): The trail continues uphill through forested paths to Villafría.
  • Villafría to San Juan de Ortega (7 km, 4.3 miles): The final stretch of this stage is a steady climb through beautiful woodland before reaching San Juan de Ortega.

B. Terrain and Elevation

The terrain varies in this stage, starting with flat farmland and transitioning into hilly woodland. The path is mostly dirt and gravel, with some sections of road walking.

C. Highlights

Belorado: A charming village with its beautiful churches and a cliffside filled with hermitage caves.

Tosantos: Home to a cave-church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

San Juan de Ortega: Known for its monastery dedicated to Saint John the Hermit.

D. Potential Challenges

The main challenge in this stage is the steady uphill climb towards San Juan de Ortega, which can be physically demanding. Also, depending on the weather, some paths may be muddy.

E. Rest Stops

There are several small towns along the route where you can rest, grab a snack, and refill your water bottle. These include Tosantos, Villambistia, and Villafría.

Departure Point: Belorado

Belorado, nestled in the picturesque landscape of northern Spain, invites you to experience its captivating blend of history, natural beauty, and warm hospitality. This stage of the Camino Francés takes approximately 5-7 hours to walk and covers a distance of 24 kilometers. The route consists mostly of flat terrain and passes through beautiful countryside and charming villages.

Location and History

Belorado is situated in the enchanting province of Burgos, within the Castilla y León region. As a vital stop along the renowned Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, the town has welcomed countless pilgrims throughout the centuries. Its streets and landmarks bear witness to the footsteps of those who have embarked on this sacred journey.

Points of Interest

Belorado boasts a collection of remarkable attractions that highlight its rich history and cultural heritage. The awe-inspiring Church of Santa María, a stunning example of Gothic architecture from the 14th century, stands tall as a testament to the town’s legacy. Its intricate design and breathtaking stained glass windows captivate visitors with their timeless beauty. The medieval Bridge of San Antón, spanning the Tirón River, serves as a poignant reminder of Belorado’s historical significance as a crossing point for pilgrims.

Natural Surroundings

Embraced by rolling hills, Belorado is a haven for nature enthusiasts seeking tranquility. The idyllic countryside offers mesmerizing hiking trails that beckon exploration and invite you to immerse yourself in the serenity of the surroundings. The nearby Montes de Oca mountain range, with its lush forests and babbling streams, offers a serene retreat where you can reconnect with nature and find solace.

Pilgrim Services

Belorado, a popular stop on the Camino de Santiago, caters to the needs of pilgrims with its range of essential services. The town provides a variety of accommodation options, including comfortable hostels and guesthouses, offering a welcoming respite for weary travelers. Local restaurants and cafes serve delightful regional cuisine, providing nourishment and a taste of the local flavors. Meanwhile, shops cater to pilgrims’ needs, supplying essential supplies and keepsakes to commemorate their pilgrimage.

Local Festivals and Traditions

Belorado celebrates its vibrant cultural heritage through exuberant festivals and cherished traditions. The Fiesta de San Pedro, a lively event held in honor of the town’s patron saint, immerses you in the infectious energy of the community. From traditional music to spirited dances and colorful religious processions, these festivities offer a glimpse into the town’s authentic spirit and cultural pride.

Fiesta de San Pedro, Belorado, La Rioja, Spain
Fiesta De San Pedro Belorado La Rioja Spain


Belorado, with its captivating blend of history, natural beauty, and genuine hospitality, invites you to embark on a remarkable journey. Whether you’re a pilgrim following the Camino de Santiago or a traveler seeking to explore the enchanting landscapes of northern Spain, Belorado promises an unforgettable experience. Discover the town’s historical landmarks, immerse yourself in the tranquility of the surrounding countryside, and embrace the warm welcome of its inhabitants. Belorado awaits, ready to leave you with cherished memories and a deep appreciation for its distinctive allure.

Taking the Bus from Belorado to San Juan de Ortega

As one of the most popular and efficient means of transportation in Spain, bus travel offers a cost-effective and scenic route between these two delightful destinations. This article provides a step-by-step guide for those planning to travel by bus from Belorado to San Juan de Ortega.

Getting to the Bus Station in Belorado

The bus station in Belorado, known for its accessibility and central location, is nestled in the heart of the town, close to the intersection of Calle Mayor and Calle Emilio Serrano. If you’re staying in or near the town center, reaching the bus station by foot is often the most convenient option. The town’s grid layout and pedestrian-friendly streets make for an easy and enjoyable walk.

For those with luggage or those who prefer a quicker ride, taxis provide a convenient mode of transportation. Taxis in Belorado are known for their punctuality and can be hailed on the streets or booked in advance using a local taxi service such as Radio Taxi Belorado. For the more eco-conscious or adventurous, the town’s bike-friendly paths provide a unique way to reach the bus station.

Once at the bus station, you’ll find several amenities designed to ensure a comfortable start to your journey. The station boasts a spacious waiting area with seating, ideal for resting before the bus arrives. Clean restrooms are available for use, and the ticket office offers services ranging from ticket purchases to inquiries about bus schedules and routes. There’s also a small café adjacent to the station, perfect for grabbing a quick snack or a cup of coffee before your trip.

The Journey from Belorado to San Juan de Ortega

The journey from Belorado to San Juan de Ortega is a showcase of the breathtaking scenery of rural Spain. Meandering through a route that touches the Sierra de la Demanda mountain range and rolling farmlands, the trip provides a feast for the eyes, making the approximately one-hour travel time fly by.

Comfort is a priority for the bus services operating this route. For instance, ALSA buses typically feature reclining seats with ample legroom, individual reading lights, and overhead storage compartments. Most buses also come equipped with a restroom located at the rear of the vehicle.

Your luggage will usually be stored in the undercarriage of the bus. It’s important to note that many bus companies have a luggage allowance policy. As an example, ALSA permits one free piece of luggage per passenger, up to 30kg, and charges a small fee for additional or oversized items.

Delays can occasionally occur due to unforeseen circumstances like road construction or heavy traffic. However, bus companies often communicate any potential delays or changes in schedule through their mobile app or onboard announcements.

Arriving in San Juan de Ortega

The arrival in San Juan de Ortega is the start of your exploration of this historic village. The bus station, although smaller in comparison to other cities, is equipped with essential facilities. A small waiting area provides shelter, and a public restroom is available for passengers.

Located just off the main road, Avenida de Logroño, the bus station is within walking distance of many of San Juan de Ortega’s attractions. A short stroll will take you to the iconic Monastery of San Juan de Ortega, a must-visit site known for its architectural beauty and historical significance.

Taxis are usually available near the bus station. These can be a good option if you’re carrying heavy luggage or if your accommodation isn’t within walking distance. Keep in mind that San Juan de Ortega is a small village, and taxi availability may be limited during off-peak hours.

Local maps of San Juan de Ortega, often displayed at the bus station, are handy resources to help you orient yourself and plan your itinerary. Digital maps are also available via various travel apps, and can offer real-time navigation, points of interest, and even restaurant recommendations.

San Juan de Ortega’s compact size and the warm hospitality of its residents make it an enjoyable destination for travelers who appreciate a slower pace and an intimate connection with local culture. Your journey

Duration and Stopping Points

The bus journey from Belorado to San Juan de Ortega, under ideal conditions, takes approximately 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes. This travel time, however, can be affected by various factors such as traffic conditions, weather, and the specific timing of the bus service chosen. Buses often run on a schedule with multiple daily services, allowing travelers flexibility in choosing a departure time that best suits their itinerary.

The direct route from Belorado to San Juan de Ortega is relatively straightforward and doesn’t typically include many stops. However, depending on the specific bus service you choose, there may be brief stops in small towns or villages along the way. These stopping points usually allow for the pickup and drop-off of passengers, and the exact locations can vary based on the route and time of the bus service. Please note, these are not typically rest stops, and passengers are generally expected to remain on the bus.

The bus route from Belorado to San Juan de Ortega may include stops at several small towns or villages depending on the specific service and time. The following are common stopping points along this route:

  1. Villafranca Montes de Oca – Known for its captivating landscapes and the remarkable Iglesia de Santiago Apóstol, this town is a typical stop on the journey, offering a brief taste of Spain’s rural charm.
  2. Ages – This small village, with its quaint houses and welcoming community, is another common stop on the route, offering a glimpse into the serene pace of life in Spain’s countryside.

Please note that the specific stopping points can vary and it’s always recommended to check the exact route of your chosen bus service when purchasing your ticket.

Camino Francés Diary: Route segment: 11

Saturday 7th October 2000

I start off today with Carlos, Olga, Geordie and Lisa. Olga has problems with her knee. Initially the walk takes us past many fields that have been burned and the stink is horrendous. There is quite a climb today after we reach Villafranca Montes De Oca on the main road. There is a truck stop place but we do not go in. The last time I went to a place like that it was not too pleasant. Olga and Carlos decide to get the bus to San Juan De Ortega but we do not realize that the bus will only drop them off on the main road and they end up having a 6 KM walk anyway.

Geordie and Lisa are so fast that they quickly leave me behind. It is going to be another day, or at least afternoon, on my own. There are a few other walkers stopped by the path having lunch. I do not remember what lunch was but probably whatever I brought, so probably a banana, pastry and something else.

The walk today is through thick forest which centuries ago were notorious for wolves and bandits. The monastery at San Juan De Ortega was built to help pilgrims half way through the forest, which stretches from here close to Burgos. As yesterday, I start to meditate on the nature of love. At the summit of the walk there is a set of GSM antenna masts and a long climb down.

It eventually dawns on me that some of the difficulties I have had have been because metaphorically, my heart is enclosed in a sealed strong box to which I lost the combination as a young man and I cannot unlock it myself. I understand and accept that, for me, the love of a woman is only ever going to happen by chance. That she will need to possess the right combination to free my heart from its bonds. I cannot realistically expect to find such a woman and should not spend my life looking for one. It is a realization, which ought to trouble me but it does not. I accept it as a fact. Of course anyone who has read the introduction page, now knows that I finally met my heart love, Antje on my second Camino in 2001. She is a miracle to me still.

I find the forest very much like the New Forest in Dorset, England and start to have strange feelings that I am no longer in Spain but back in England. There are no signs whatsoever to tell me I am in a foreign country. The track is wide and seems to go on and on further than I want to walk. I eventually reach San Juan De Ortega and find that I was only half an hour behind Geordie and Lisa.

I meet up with Carlos and Olga again and discover their unfortunate extra walk. I sympathize. We all go for a meal together in the only place to eat here, a bar. The meal is good and looks and tastes remarkably like Scottish Haggis. I am told that the ingredients are similar except that it is pig based instead of sheep based.

This monastery is a very cold place indeed, colder than Belorado. Both places were heavy stone buildings. I am so cold that I get into my sleeping bag and notice that several others have done the same. There is no hot water here for a nice shower and no toilet paper! A huge team of cyclists turn up. I will be kept awake at night by their flashlights and female laughter from outside.

Destination: San Juan de Ortega

San Juan de Ortega, nestled in the breathtaking landscapes of northern Spain, offers a captivating blend of history, spirituality, and natural beauty.

Location and History

Located in the province of Burgos, San Juan de Ortega enchants visitors with its serene setting along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. The town is named after the revered medieval saint, San Juan de Ortega, who played a significant role in the development of the Camino de Santiago. Pilgrims have passed through this town for centuries, following in the footsteps of those seeking spiritual enlightenment.

San Juan de Ortega’s historical importance can be traced back to the 12th century when the saint himself, a skilled architect and benefactor, constructed the Iglesia de San Juan de Ortega. This Romanesque church stands as a testament to the town’s rich heritage and showcases exquisite architectural details that have withstood the test of time. Pilgrims from around the world pause here to pay homage to San Juan de Ortega and seek solace in the tranquil atmosphere.

Points of Interest

San Juan de Ortega boasts notable points of interest that reflect its historical and spiritual significance. The Iglesia de San Juan de Ortega, with its stone facade and graceful arches, invites visitors to explore its interior adorned with delicate artwork and religious iconography. The dimly lit sanctuary provides a sacred space for contemplation and reflection.

Adjacent to the church, the Monastery of San Juan de Ortega offers pilgrims a place of rest and solace along their journey. Originally built to accommodate weary travelers, the monastery continues to welcome pilgrims, providing basic facilities for rest and spiritual nourishment. Its tranquil cloister and peaceful courtyard offer a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the pilgrimage, allowing pilgrims to rejuvenate their spirits.

A Monk at the entrance of the Monastery of San Juan de Ortega
Monk Entrance Monasterio De San Juan De Ortega Burgos Spain

Pilgrim Hospitality

As a vital stop on the Camino de Santiago, San Juan de Ortega extends its warm hospitality to weary pilgrims. The town provides essential services, including comfortable albergues (hostels) that offer a place to rest and recharge. Pilgrims find solace in the camaraderie of fellow travelers, sharing stories, meals, and experiences, creating lifelong connections along the pilgrimage route.

The local community in San Juan de Ortega embodies the spirit of hospitality, embracing pilgrims with open arms. Volunteers and residents offer assistance and support, ensuring that pilgrims feel welcomed and cared for during their stay. The kindness and generosity of the locals leave a lasting impression on pilgrims, fostering a sense of community and reinforcing the spiritual journey.

Natural Beauty

Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, San Juan de Ortega offers a tranquil retreat for nature lovers. The town is nestled amidst rolling hills, lush forests, and picturesque meadows, providing an idyllic backdrop for relaxation and contemplation. The peacefulness of the countryside and the harmony of nature create a serene atmosphere that resonates with pilgrims and visitors alike.

The nearby Montes de Oca mountain range presents an opportunity for exploration, with its scenic hiking trails that wind through dense forests and along babbling streams. Pilgrims can immerse themselves in the beauty of nature, enjoying the therapeutic effects of fresh air and scenic vistas. This connection with nature enhances the pilgrimage experience, offering moments of reflection and introspection.

Spiritual Significance

San Juan de Ortega holds deep spiritual significance for pilgrims and those seeking a connection to their faith. The town is known for the Miracle of the Light, a legendary event where San Juan de Ortega, in an act of divine intervention, miraculously provided light for a pilgrim in need. This miracle has become a symbol of hope and inspiration for those embarking on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

Pilgrims visiting San Juan de Ortega often pause at the Capilla de la Virgen de la Peña, a small chapel where they offer prayers and seek spiritual guidance. The chapel’s peaceful atmosphere and sacred relics create a space for introspection and devotion. The pilgrimage journey, combined with the town’s spiritual significance, deepens the pilgrims’ connection to their faith and reinforces the transformative power of the Camino de Santiago.


San Juan de Ortega, with its rich history, spiritual significance, and serene surroundings, offers a profound experience for visitors. Whether you are a pilgrim on a spiritual journey or a traveler seeking solace in nature, San Juan de Ortega welcomes you with open arms. Explore its historical landmarks, immerse yourself in the warm hospitality of the community, and find solace in the tranquility of the natural surroundings. San Juan de Ortega promises a unique and memorable experience that will leave you inspired and refreshed.