Update 2021: Monbus has recently started the direct service between Sarria and Santiago. Bus leaves from the new bus station in Santiago :-). You can find the bus station at… the train station. Well done Santiago!
To see complete schedules, check it out here: http://www.monbus.es/es/rutas-puntos-de-venta/193/viajar-santiago-de-compostela-sarria/#seleccion
How to get from Santiago Airport to Sarria
If you are starting in Sarria to do the, probably most popular, last stretch of the Camino Francés, chances are you’ll arrive at Santiago Airport (Labacolla). If you’re from outside Europe you’ll probably have a connecting flight from Madrid. The next step in your planning is to figure out how to get to Sarria. Some people ask around in a forum or Facebook page (hello fellow Camigas, as promised!!!) how to get from Santiago Airport to Sarria.
The most popular answer that fellow pilgrims give is a reference to the website ‘Rome2Rio’ – which is a great site for high-level planning, no doubt – but in this case it will give you the wrong idea, not enough options and even incomplete information:
Option 1 in R2R guides you towards a bus + train combo that makes no sense at all. Look at the map below.
I mean, sure, all roads lead to Rome (or Sarria in this case) but come on… this is way off.
First of all, the bus from the airport to Curtis just has twice daily a connection. Not really the wiggle room you want if you are searching for some decent connection options, right?
Secondly, the train from Curtis to Sarria is only 3 times a day and is way more expensive than going by bus. This is because two of them are long-distance trains which happen to stop in smaller locations like Curtis and Sarria. These ‘trenhotel’ are much more expensive. Looking for ‘Curtis to Sarria’ in the Spanish Train website (RENFE) shows you what I’m talking about:
The only real ‘normal’ connection is at 20.43 with a ‘MD’ train (medium distance) which will cost you a decent 9.25 Euro. However, 22.01 hours is not a nice time to arrive at your destination. So only for folks that do not want to travel by bus for some reason and who are willing to pay 20 Euros it might be an option to take the 18.34 train.
No, if you must go by train, there are other options, but that will be subject for another blog.
Assuming you want to have more and better options by bus, leaving directly from the airport, read on.
Option 2 in R2R is on the right track (2 buses, one to Lugo, then one on to Sarria).
However, the schedule given is not the right one.
First of all, for the first bus to Lugo, it gives you a link to a site that is not the right one from the bus company and is very user unfriendly for non-Spanish speaking folks. A site where you will get lost trying to find the options I’m about to present.
Secondly, for the bus to Sarria it states that the bus leaves 6 times a week with the company Monbus. The right company….wrong schedule. Not wrong – the connection exists, but there are more options, really…
For the sake of being complete…
Option 3 in R2R is not worth discussing. You have to leave the airport, search for some vague bus stop at a cross-roads to go first to Santiago city (bus station) and then take a direct bus to Sarria with the bus company Monbus…which is indeed a special connection that only is available 6 times a week…
Option 4 in R2R is to take a taxi. That’s really not necessary. Even if you find the maximum numbers of pilgrims to share the taxi with (4?) you’ll still be spending at least 30 or 35 Euro per person…that’s 3 nights worth of accommodation in a private albergue, 3 Pilgrim menu’s, or a lot of snacks. If you’re going ‘the-luxe’ and want to grab a taxi: it’s your Camino, by all means!
Now, if you have less money to spend, and you simply want to get asap to Sarria after arriving at Santiago Airport here’s what you need to do, step by step:
You arrive in Santiago Airport and pick up your luggage if applicable. Santiago Airport is small. Once you go through the doors and arrive in the main lobby, you’ll see a bar/café corner just in front of you. Proceed to the right to the main entrance/exit.
The bus to Lugo picks you up at the doorsteps, right in front of the entrance. The bus is sometimes a tiny bit later than the schedule indicates. If you get nervous: go inside to the information desk and ask for the bus to Lugo (they’ll point you to outside and will tell you when to expect it). You need to buy your ticket in the bus.
The bus is from the company FREIRE, and it will have their name on the bus, so that’s an easy one. Just ask the driver “bus to Lugo?” and you’ll get your needed confirmation that you’ll be hopping on the right bus.
This is their website: empresa freire
This is the search window where you’ll need to do a search for: ‘Labacolla Airport (SCQ)’ to ‘Lugo (Bus Station)’.
As you can see from the results (always check your own dates!) there are 7 connections a day (3 less on Sundays), all arriving at decent times in Lugo. It’s a less than 2 hour ride and it will cost you 9.45 Euro. This is by the way the reason R2R does not work in this case. It searches the web and will not find ‘Labacolla airport’- which is the name Freire uses in their online schedule. Details matter apparently ;-).
Luggage (your backpack) goes in the lower compartments, just remember to ask the driver in which side (left or ride) you have to put your luggage, and remember on which side you put it, so you can retrieve it easily once you arrive in Lugo.
It’s a pleasant ride and you’ll be stopping a couple of times in villages along the Camino. So you’ll see plenty of pilgrims walking (and taking the bus ;-))!
In Lugo, you will arrive at the final destination of this bus: the bus station. Get off, get your backpack and walk to the entrance where you’ll see an info desk/window. Ask for the bus to Sarria. They’ll point you to the ticket sales window of the company ‘Monbus’. Depending on the time, you might get referred to the bus itself, in that case: you buy your ticket in the bus once again.
To make sure you get on the right bus, ask the driver again ‘bus to Sarria?’. You’ll be more relaxed if you do I bet! I’m Galician, do this every year and I even ask for confirmation. You never know if they changed anything right?
This is the website of the company Monbus
In the search window, search as follows:
As you’ll see, you have a lot of connections every day. The ticket will cost you 3.70 Euro and it’s a 35 minute ride.
Here’s an example for the date I searched for (always check your own date!):
As you can see, the connections between the bus arriving from Labacolla Airport and the bus leaving for Sarria, are plenty. You’ll be just fine!
You’re in Sarria now and it only cost you about 13 Euros
Welcome on the Camino!
You get off at the endpoint of this bus: the bus station.
You’ll need to make your way to the accommodation now. Sarria is a small village. Check out in Google maps where you need to go, or ask around – anyone will help you.
Here’s a small map from Sarria, so you know where the bus station is where you’ll be arriving:
If you don’t know yet where your first stay will be, consider ‘Albergue Monasterio de la Magdalena’. Run by the monks, with a nice church as your neighbor. Private albergue, about 10 euros for a bunk bed in the old monastery – but very modern installations. It’s right on the Camino. It’s a nice stroll to downtown Sarria where you can have a nice dinner before turning in.
I hope this blog helps a lot of pilgrims to get to Sarria in a very easy and economic way.
This post is also available in: Dutch