Walking the Camino de Santiago has been on my bucket list since I first heard about it on a podcast in 2014 or 2015. I’ve been part of a Camino women’s Facebook group since 2017, yet I still have not walked the pilgrimage. So, I decided the best way to satiate my hunger for the hike was by researching and listing all of The Way filming locations here.
Father-son duo Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen respectively direct and star in The Way (2010). Sheen is a semi-retired ophthalmologist called Tom and Estevez is his carefree, responsibility-shirking dreamer of a son called Daniel. When Daniel dies early in the hike (not really a spoiler, it’s the premise of the film), Tom spontaneously continues the hike in his name. Along the way (pun intended), he meets several characters who help him open his mind and his heart.
It is one of the only (and the best) movies about the Camino de Santiago (or “The Way of St James”) and a must-watch before you venture on the pilgrimage yourself. And when you do, you can look out for all of The Way film locations as you go. I’m sure you don’t care about the locations in the USA so we’re diving right into the (very authentic) locations in France and Spain.
Where Was The Way Filmed on the Camino de Santiago?
The Way Filming Locations in France
1. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port Train Station
Of course, the Camino does not start in Spain so the first The Way filming location isn’t there either. Tom arrives at the Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port train station where he meets the local policeman handling Daniel’s case. It actually is the station in real life as you can see the white walls and red window trim is the same as the building in the film.
2. Restaurant Oillarburu, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Tom is just sipping on a coffee having just identified his son’s body when Dutchman Joost strides up to him and asks to share his table. He is dining at Restaurant Oillarburu in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port which is a traditional Basque restaurant in the city.
3. Hotel Continental, St-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Tom decides to walk the Camino de Santiago with Daniel’s ashes strapped to his backpack. Well, it’s Daniel’s backpack but same-same. He leaves his hotel, the Hotel Continental in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, at the crack of dawn and gets off to a good start by heading in the wrong direction.
4. Porte Notre-Dame, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Just after he sets off, the police officer greets Tom by wishing him a “Buen Camino” which is the standard pilgrim greeting. They pass through the Notre-Dame Gate which continues onto the Rue d’Espagne in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. The men turn left which is weird because you’d think Tom would need to take the road going to Spain!
The Way Filming Locations in Spain
5. Albergue La Posada, Roncesvalles, Navarra
Tom crosses the border! This next filming location is Albergue La Posada in Roncesvalles which is another main Camino town in Spain. This is the place where he turns up really late (why would he stay on the mountain that his son fell off after dark?!) and runs into Joost.
“Albergues” are hostels specifically for pilgrims, but this one doesn’t appear to be an actual Albergue as the beds are over £100 per night?! Though it may be an Albergue and a hotel as they’ve apparently hosted pilgrims here since the 1600s.
6. Hotel Akerreta, Akerreta, Navarra
Tom decides to call it a night whilst Joost wants to push on to Pamplona so they bid each other adieu. Tom heads to an Albergue which, in real life, is Hotel Akerreta in Akerreta. I think it’s more of a guesthouse or BnB and not an Albergue. Here, the pilgrims (or “peregrinos” in Spanish) are dining on a delicious communal meal outside. Tom meets Sarah, a Canadian pilgrim with a lot of baggage and a bad habit.
And yes, Sarah also has a huge backpack which would be so uncomfortable (and unnecessary) for this trip and she wears jeans. No self-respecting pilgrim IRL would wear jeans on the Camino. But I think her costume is an extension of her “unlikely pilgrim” character.
7. Puente de Aoiz, Aoiz, Navarra
Unfortunately, this The Way film location is not actually on the Camino de Santiago. When Tom wants to take a breather, he sits his backpack on the edge of the bridge and it falls into the river and succumbs to its rapid flow. Luckily, he manages to chase it down but because the water needed to be quick, the production team had to search for a bridge and a river that matched these criteria.
They found it in Puente de Aoiz in Aoiz. Many people think it’s a famous Camino landmark called Puente Románico de Puente la Reina but you can instantly see that it isn’t because that bridge is by a town and the one in the film is remote.
8. Mesón del Caballo Blanco, Pamplona, Navarra
Tom only has to spend a couple of nights without his new pal Joost from Amsterdam before they reunite in Pamplona. And of course, Joost is eating a huge plate of food (pintxos not tapas. Yes, it’s that scene) when he shouts at the American across the square. This The Way location is Mesón del Caballo Blanco, a bar/restaurant in Pamplona.
9. Mirador Alto del Perdón – Erreniaga gainko Behatokia, Navarra
Joost and Tom run into Sarah the jean-wearing, chain-smoking Canadian and continue on as a threesome. This is one of the most iconic Camino landmarks and The Way locations. It is Mirador Alto del Perdón, a sculpture on top of a mountain with a stunning view. The sculpture is of pilgrims through the ages with donkeys, dogs and children. I think it’s simply a silhouette sculpture (erected in 1996) that honours peregrinos. There’s an inscription on the metal figures, too.
Donde se cruza el camino del viento con el de las estrellas | Where the path of the wind crosses with that of the stars.
10. Iglesia de Santa María de Eunate, Muruzábal, Navarra
Just after the priest with the yarmulke gives Tom a rosary, we see the gang briefly walk past a church which is called Iglesia de Santa María de Eunate in Muruzábal.
11. Monastery of Santa Maria de Irache, Irache, Navarra
The gang washes their clothes and bunks down for the night at an Albergue which, in real life, is not an Albergue at all. It is the former Monastery of Santa Maria de Irache in Irache. While it isn’t a pilgrim hostel, apparently it is being turned into a Parador, which is a luxury hotel. Also, the beds are literally placed outside the building in this scene. OUTSIDE. They’d find more shelter in a tent.
I’ll pause for a second here to explain a scene that happens in the film which is based on real characters. The threesome becomes a foursome when they meet “Jack from Ireland” (James Nesbitt) and they call in at an Albergue run by an eccentric character called El Ramon.
The film based this character on a real person with the same name who used to host peregrinos in his home called Casa Santa Barbara in Torres Del Río. Sadly, the Albergue no longer exists and I don’t know where The Way shot this scene. The filming location does just look like a regular house.
12. CVNE Winery, Haro, La Rioja
Jack, Sarah, Joost and Tom end up a little far north of the Camino. Because this next The Way filming location is in Haro, a town famous for its wineries in the La Rioja region of Spain. Though I’m sure it’s just supposed to be a fancy bar somewhere on the Camino (probably the nearby city of Logroño) that stores a lot of red wine casks. In actual fact, they are sitting in the courtyard of CVNE Winery. Tom gets very drunk and disorderly so he spends a night in a Spanish jail.
The police station was apparently shot at an actual Policía Local Station in Logroño, but the police stations that exist in the city now do not match the one in the movie. Seemingly, it was near the Logroño Cathedral but it might not be anymore.
13. Arco de Santa Maria, Burgos
The dream team have made it to Burgos! They pass through the Arco de Santa Maria, a rather extravagant-looking archway, on their way into the city.
14. Burgos Cathedral, Burgos
Then, they admire the grandeur of Burgos Cathedral in Burgos. Wait until you get to Santiago de Compostela, lads! The cathedral is pretty sweet there, too.
15. Rincón de España, Burgos
And to complete the trilogy of these short and snappy The Way filming locations in Burgos, the foursome bump into two of Sarah’s Peregrino friends. They do so outside a restaurant called Rincón de España on C. Nuño Rasura and go inside for a drink. This is where the child steals Tom’s backpack and they all desperately run after it.
They don’t actually enter the restaurant for their drinks, however. You might notice that Rincón de España is quite a nice looking restaurant but, in the film, the place they enter is a dark, claustrophobic bar down some basement steps. To the right of the restaurant, there is a dark door with panelled window glass with “Bar Tapas” written above it. This is the door they enter, though it has “Cafeteria” written above it in the movie.
16. El Molino del Camino, Carr. Estepar, 8, Villavieja de Muñó, Burgos
These few minutes of the movie are a montage of regular pilgrim life. Eating, sleeping, checking in, checking out, peeing, washing clothes, shaving and everything else in between. In one part of the sequence, Joost cooks for the crew. The house where he cooks is known as El Molino del Camino and it is situated in the small village of Villavieja de Muñó in Burgos. It is a renovated holiday cottage and looks absolutely gorgeous.
17. Bar La Torre (Bar Elvis), Reliegos, León
Tom and his gang don’t hit up every famous Camino site en route. They skip the wine fountain and don’t comment on the maseta. But while on the outskirts of León in Reliegos (during the montage) they head to Bar La Torre otherwise known as Bar Elvis. This is the bar covered in graffiti on the outside and is something of a Camino institution.
18. Parador de León, León
Tom decides to be generous to his band of merry gentlemen (and woman) by treating them all to a night in the Parador de León hotel in León on his ophthalmologist salary. Remember, I said that Paradors are luxury hotels. Though Tom does give himself the biggest suite, which is fair.
This is one of my favourite scenes in the whole film. Despite them all enjoying their own little luxuries (room service, pedicures, etc.) and private rooms, they all somehow end up in Tom’s room for a natter. That’s what I imagine finding your Camino family is like! And that’s just what Tom needs right now.
19. Cruz de Ferro, León
The Cruz de Ferro outside of León is the highest point on the Camino Frances and one of the most iconic The Way filming locations and Camino landmarks. There are many routes to the city of Santiago de Compostela, and the Frances is the classic, most popular one. It is essentially just a very tall cross where pilgrims lay stones. Tom lays the stone that the police officer gave him here, and Sarah lays the one she’s been carrying around with her, too.
20. Pedrafita do Cebreiro, O Cebreiro, Lugo
Jack and Tom discuss what is in store for them after the Camino as they walk along a road called Pedrafita do Cebreiro in O Cebreiro. It’s a tiny village where some of the houses still have thatched roofs and the road they walk down offers gorgeous vistas.
21. Monumento al Caminante, Monte do Gozo, A Coruña
Just outside of Santiago de Compostela, the four pilgrims stop at a statue called the “pointing pilgrims” which have been looking over the holy city since The Holy Year of 1993 (which I can attest was a very special year, for this was the year of my birth) from Monte do Gozo. The statues on Google maps are called Monumento al Caminante.
This is the place where most pilgrims first spy the city, hence the statues to commemorate it.
22. Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña
I’ve said that one or two The Way filming locations are “iconic” or “landmarks” but none are so iconic or, erm, landmark-y than the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The pilgrims arrive, have a look around and attend mass in this sacred building. During the service, the priests at Santiago swing a giant vial of incense through the church. I don’t know if this has a symbolic, religious meaning or if the pilgrims just stank the place out. Maybe both.
23. Virxe da Barca Sanctuary, Muxía, Galicia
Only Tom initially said he would carry onto Muxía but you can’t break up the band! Joost, Sarah, and Jack join him to finish spreading Daniel’s ashes at the “end of the world” AKA the Spanish coastline AKA the last of The Way filming locations in Spain.
The film almost ends on this poignant note, but not before we witness Tom strolling through a street in Marrakech, Morocco. The busy alley is very reminiscent of the chaos in Pamplona earlier in the film. It also proves he was listening to his son when Daniel said he wanted to visit India, Nepal and Morocco.
And those are all the top The Way filming locations on the Camino de Santiago in Spain and France. Have you walked The Way of St James or watched the movie? Let me know in the comments below!