How Long did a trip from France to Jerusalem take?

I'm curious how long a pilgrimage took by sea or by land. A little brief research brings up a lot of info, but nothing thus far with a definitive length of time that a typical pilgrimage took.

That said, I assume pilgrims travelled relatively slow as they saw important religious sites along the way.

Does anyone have any resources or information on this?

Thank you!


Depends. What do you want to know? How long would it take to make the pilgrimage or to run like hell from one place to the other "DHL style"?

For sea travel times, there is some info in city & guild IIRC, and in the old mythic seas (Yes, that infamous book, even if I liked it) there should be something as well.


Crossing "France" will take a while so the answer changes depending upon where you start.

Using city and guild ... my map (p. 88) ends west of Jerusalem.

But I can guess based on other sea and land routes.
Here are two trips as City and guild does them:
Trip one: 100 days
start at Dijon and travel by river to Marseilles 36 days
Across the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas to Messina 11 days
at this point I'm certain where you'd go because my map doesn't have Jerusalem so how about heading to Constantinople by boat in 16 days.
Now taking a guess from the distance between Messina and Constantinople I'd say Constantinople to Jerusalem by boat would be about the same (16 days).
I'd also put in on average a week at each port (Marseilles, Messina, and Constantinople) for an additional 21 days

Trip 2 300 days
Start in Reims go up river 29 days to Strasburg (There's a line on the map saying that this can be done. Perhaps you're jumping from river to river)
Go down the Danube all of the way to Constanta 161 days (it can be made more quickly if you leave the boat every once in a while and go on land but I'm assuming that you don't)
By land to Constantinople 14 days
Then I'm going to pull a number out of thin air for how long it takes to travel from Constantinople to Jerusalem by land. According to City and Guild you can go from Venice to Kiev in 75 days that seems OK to me.
Add in another 3 weeks of downtime for 21 days

Isnt that rather the time for going UP-stream? Or by foot? While i dont know the exact route taken in this case, unless extremely convoluted, its less than 15km per day.

Considering how well-travelled these routes and places are, half that is probably more than enough unless the pace is intentionally lesiurely (historical pilgrimages managed to get hundreds even thousands of people moving in less than a week sometimes even without preparation).

Sigeric the serious ( archbishop of canterbury ) went to the pope in Rome in 990 as pilgrimage to be consecrated, travelling around 20km per day for 80 days.
You can find a short version of his travel route here:

Egeria took 3 years for her pilgrimage to Jerusalem from (probably) NE France, but she was the archetypical sightseeing tourist with a complete lack of haste and seems to have taken every guided tour she could find on the way.
The "Bourdeaux pilgrim" went to Jerusalem and back in around ( less than IIRC ) a year. He made full use of the horse change waystation system speeding things up though.
Both above in 4th century.

The German pilgrimage in 1064-65 seems to have managed to get to Jerusalem and back in that time despite consisting of "over 12000 rich and poor" both on foot and on horse (and more than a little "fighting with the natives" on the way).

Anyway, onland travel speed of 10-60km/day(over 100km possible under special circumstances) and 20-200km/day by boat, keeping to the lower end for pilgrims.
Averaging 20km/day like Sigeric mostly overland is probably a decent base. Double or triple that for seatravel unless bad weather or a bad route. If catching the proper seasonal winds, double or triple again for sea travel.

(I've edited this several times to make it more useful from a Saga perspective)

This site might be useful:
internationalschooltoulouse. ... ourney.htm

Also this book, which has a section on the pilgrimage routes and conditions (try your library): ... 862&sr=8-1

City & Guild p87-90 details Land and Sea Travel and has the various maps and rules for adding new destinations etc.

  1. Land travel would be complex to calculate. PM me if you want a rough map. A History of the Crusades Vol. I: The First Crusade and the Foundations of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Volume 1) (Paperback) ~ Steven Runciman would be worth picking up if you're serious this has a pretty good set of maps of the land route (Balkans, Anatolia to Antioch/Acre) which you could use to calculate distances - I managed to borrow the original hardback from the library. In the 13th century the land route is closed in any case (it was open briefly in the 11th/12th centuries until Asia Minor fell to the Seljuk Turks - possibly helping to spark the Crusades after Manzikert). Various crusaders tried traveling overland from Germany down the Danube valley via Vienna and Belgrade and then overland to Constantinople. They would then cross / be shipped across the Bosphorous to Chalcedon and then follow one of several roads after Nicea. The journey was perilous even when open due to the dry climate. Once they reached the Cilician Gates, they might cross into Lesser Armenia and then pass via the Syrian Gates near Alexandretta / Iskenderun to Antioch. Frederick I Barbarossa made this journey, only to drown when swimming in a Cilician stream! Otherwise the continued east, passing the Ammanus Gates in the north towards Edessa and the travelled south to Antioch. From Antioch onward down the coast to Acre, Tyre etc and then inland from jaffa via Ramleh to Jerusalem.

Or they could just disembark from Constantinople (now in Latin hands since the sacking in 1204 by the 4th Crusade forces) on a ship to Acre or Cyprus...

  1. The only real alternative for someone leaving from France was the sea route - typically this leaves from Venice in Spring (although there was sometimes a Summer voyage and private individuals could charter a ship anytime if rich enough). This apparently took about 4-6 weeks to get to Acre according to one of my sources, hugging the northern Mediterranean coast to avoid the Muslim privateers and Egyptian war fleet. It curved around the south of Asia Minor and Lesser Armenia, sometimes with a stopover at Cyprus and then on to Antioch or more likely Acre, the capital of the rump Kingdom of Jerusalem following the defeat by Saladin in 1187.

Distance from Venice to Acre is given as 26 days (to Cyprus is 25 days, Antioch is probably 25 or 26 also). Getting to Venice from wherever in France varies...

Some ships sailed from Barcelona, Marseilles, Norman Sicily or Genoa rather than Venice and presumably took a bit longer and/or more dangerous due to pirates.
(Barcelona to Messina Junction is 13 days. Marseilles to Messina Junction is 11 days. Genoa to Messina Junction is only 9 days. Messina Junction to Acre is 19 days.)

BTW Constantinople to Acre is 16 days by ship, but only 12 days (my estimate) to Antioch.

Timothy's Chapter on Travel in C&G says divide distance in miles by 12 for land or by 60 for sea. Very little river trade in the Holy Land IIRC except down the Euphrates / Nile.

Acre to Jaffa is ~60 miles. Jaffa to Jerusalem is ~30 miles. So by land this is about 7-8 days or 4 if taking ship to Jaffa and then travelling by land to the Holy City. Antioch is about 240 miles north of Acre - 4 days by ship hugging the remaining Crusader cities or 20 days along the coast but through some Ayyubid controlled territory south of Tripoli.

This makes Venice to Jerusalem (via Acre and then overland via Jaffa) is 33-34 days / 5 weeks. A bit longer if you disembark at Antioch and travel down the coast by ship, 3+ more weeks by land. (Barcelona to Jerusalem 39-40 days. Marseilles to Jerusalem 37-38 days. Genoa to Jerusalem 35-36 days.)

So if you can get to Barcelona, Marseilles or Genoa or Venice by the end of Winter and leave near the start of Spring with the usual pilgrimage/trade fleet, you will arrive in Acre and be able to travel to Jerusalem by about half way through the season. In practical game terms this means for a Saga that it takes about a Season to get from Europe to the Levant (I don't know when the date the fleet actually left and there's the time taken to travel to Venice). Keep it simple - 1 Season traveling. Normal play for Winter, travel for Spring (get to Venice, Venice to Acre and then to Jerusalem), restart normal play in Summer...

Hope this helps,