IF you have decided to travel the Camino de Santiago, here you will find all the info you need to plan your trip. Take a look at this index to ease the reading. Safe travels!
We have traveled all the routes of the Camino de Santiago to know exactly what are the conditions you will find . We can recommend the best way according to your conditions and requirements so that everything is perfect. You can also walk short routes to meet the minimum 100 kilometers to get the Compostela.
Remember you don't have to travel the Camino with an entire route. You can complete as many stages as you want, for instance starting from a intermediate point or walking just the final stages. Just keep in mind that you will be given the Compostela only if you have walked at least 100 km.
Choosing the right way is important to ensure you have a good experience. There are many factors that can help you decide on a route and it is important that you consider them all. Let's see some points that you should keep in mind before choosing the Way of Saint James.
» Choosing a route according to the places you want to see
The Way of Saint James is a pilgrimage, but also a touristic ad cultural route. As such, you must take into account the locations and points of interest you will visit. If you already know several points of the Bay of Biscay, you may be more interested in touring the south, for example. Take a look at the areas you will go through and the heritage of each one and consider which one attracts you the most.
» Choosing a route according to duration and difficulty
Not all the ways to Santiago are the same. It is obvious that each one passes through different locations, but also their durations in days and miles are different. To give you an example, the Via de la Plata is the longest way to Santiago, with 596 miles (960 km). Before choosing a path, you must make sure that you have enough free days to dedicate yourself to the Camino. In addition to the total duration in miles or kilometers, each way has its own number of stages. To continue with the same example, although the Via de la Plata is the longest, it is also the one that consists of shorter stages. Analyze these data and think about how you prefer to travel your Jacobean route.
»Choosing a route according t the starting point
The starting place is an important factor when deciding which way to choose. Choosing a starting point close to where you live will save you time and money. If you live in Seville, it may be best for you to do Via de la Plata. If you live in Irún, the Camino del Norte. The same happens with the intermediate locations of each Way. Choosing a departure point with good connections will easy the planning and will make you trip more economic. Discover the locations of each route and choose the one that suits you best in this regard.
The Way of Saint James has always been a route that can start from different starting points, in different parts of Europe. Today, there are several different routes you can follow to get to Santiago. All of them have their own pros and cons and they are properly marked. You simply have to choose the one that suits you better, either by the points of, by the duration and difficulty of the stages or by the place from which you want to start.
The French Way to Santiago de Compostela is one of the most important. There is a great amount of documentation about this route, its heritage is particularly rich and it is highly and properly signposted throughout every stage. These are some of the reasons why this way is one of the most populars among pilgrims.
The French Way links the French town of Saint Jean de Pied de Port (south-western France) with Santiago de Compostela and passes through countless places, all along the north of the Iberian Peninsula. We ca say the the main route starts in Saint Jean de Pied de Port, passing through Navarra, Aragón, La Rioja, Burgos, Palencia, León, Lugo and A Coruña.
This is the Way with more documents about it: there are manuscripts from the Calixtino Codex dating from 1135, already mentionning the importance of the French Way. It stands out for the richness of its cultural heritage. On this route you can discover places like Atapuerca, the Roman medulas, the Celtic castros and the ancient Roman roads. All this, without counting the natural beauty of its landscapes. The entire French Way has a length of 475 miles (764 km) and consists of 14 stages, between 55 miles (89 km, the longest stage) and 15 miles (24 km, the shortest).
The Way of Saint James from Sarria is well-known, because it covers the minimum number of miles needed to get the Compostela: 100 km or 62 miles. There are many pilgrims who start their Jacobean route from Sarria, in Lugo. In addition, this is also the last of many other ways, such as the French Way and the North Way.
Due to this last confluence of ways, the Camino de Santiago from Sarria is always full of pilgrims from all starting points. It is one of the last routes in which you will enjoy a good atmosphere, you will find many services as well as good signposting.
These last miles or kilometers of the Way of Saint James from Sarria are divided into 5 stages, about 12 miles each. It is therefore a light path, ideal for beginners who want to get a taste about what the Camino is about. Throughtout the different stages, you will visit the towns of Sarria, Portomarín, Palas de Rei, Arzúa, O Pedrouzo and Santiago.
The Camino del Norte or Northern Way runs through the north of the Iberian Peninsula (as its name suggests), crossing coastal towns from Irún to Santiago. If you choose this route, you will pass through places of great tourist, scenic and cultural interest, such as San Sebastian, Gernika, Bilbao, Portugalete, Santander, Comillas, Gijón, Ribadeo or Arzúa.
The cultural heritage of the Northern Way offers cultural gems such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Church of San Pedro de Gijón and the Monastery of Sobrado dos Montes. In addition, you can enjoy the unique beauty of the locations with balconies to the Cantabrian Sea, such as Comillas, San Vicente de la Barquera or Playa de las Catedrales.
The Northern Way stretches along 512 miles (824 km), divided into 33 stages between 25 miles and km and 6 miles (41 and 10 km).
The English Way is the path that runs from Ferrol or A Coruña to Santiago. The name "English" comes from the Middle Ages, when the English pilgrims arrived at the port of Ferrol and from there they started their route on foot towards Santiago.
Historically, the English Way reached its peak of popularity in the 15th century. Specifically, there are many documents reporting massive landings of pilgrims from the British Isles during the holy years in the 15th century: 1428, 1434 and 1445.
The English Way is characterized by having little affluence. If you want to choose a short route without crowds, this is one of the best options. You must bear in mind that, although the Camino is well marked, there are more private establishments than public ones.
The English Way is only 74 miles long (119 km) and it consists of 6 stages. In this route only Galician towns are visited: Ferrol, Neda, Pontedeume, Betanzos, A Coruña and Santiago.
Historically, the Portuguese Way was an important commercial and cultural route between Portugal and Spain. In fact, the popularity of this route reaches a peak after the indepence of Portugal, which occurs in the 12th century by the hand of King Alfonso I. Thus, the Portuguese pilgrims not only came to Santiago out of devotion, but for commercial and cultural reasons.
The Portuguese Way starts in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. This vertical route runs from south to north, throughout Portuguese and Galician cities, such as Lisbon, Coimbra, Porto, Ponte da Lima, Pontevedra, Caldas de Reis or Padrón.
The Portuguese Way has a lenght of 385 miles (620 km) and it is composed by 25 stages, between 21 miles and 8 miles (34 and 13 km).
The Vía de la Plata or Ruta de la Plata is the only Way of Saint James that starts in Seville and crosses the Iberian Peninsula until Santiago de Compostela. This route is as extensive as full of charm..
This route has become one of the main axes of communication in Spain, and a benchmark for the Way of Saint James. It is one of the preferred itineraries for pilgrims, since more than 4,000 people travel through it every year, due to its rich culture, tourism and architecture
The route of the Via de la Plata is 596 miles (960 km) and it is divided in 38 stages. There is an alternative route that passes through Portugal, although the original route travels exclusively through Spain.
The Primitive Way gets this name because it follows the route that Alfonso II traveled, considered as the first pilgrim of the Jacobean route. Although its distance in miles seems small, you should bear in mind that the difficulty of the routes is greater than in other routes. You will find steep slopes that make the road difficult and the orography of the terrain is complex. The road gets harder if the weather is unfavorable, since the rains usually produce mud.
The length of the Primitive Way is 200 miles (321 km), and it consists of 13 stages that go from Oviedo to Santiago.
WE KNOW that the Way of Saint James is a pilgrimage with many centuries of history. But where does it come from? Who were the first pilgrims? Why did they make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela?
The history of the Camino de Santiago can be traced back to Roman times, more specifically around the 9th century. Many theories assure that the road to Santiago already existed in pre-Christian times, it is not until 812 when the Way becomes a way of devotion to the Apostle Saint James the Greater.
According to some theories and studies, the Way of Saint James already existed as a route for some pre-Christian peoples, such as the Celts. According to the archaeological remains and the studies that have been carried out of them, it is known that Santiago de Compostela was already a pre-Christian necropolis: that is to say, that in Santiago there were dolmens and other funerary elements of previous times before Christ. These funerary monuments typical of the Celtic culture, reveal that some Celtic peoples already visited Santiago for religious reasons, unconnected to the Christian religion.
The remains of Saint James are discovered in 812, so many people take this year as the starting date of the Way of Saint James as we know it nowadays. At the end of this century, Christian cultures in Europe echo this historical finding. This is how many devotees begin to show interest in the remains of Apostle James and, moved by religion, begin their pilgrimage to Santiago from different parts of the Christian Europe.
The date when these remains were found is pretty certain, but the history behind the finding is not so clear. At the time of the discovery, there was already a belief that the remains of Saint James the Greater were located in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. The most widespread legend about how the remains of the Apostle were discovered involves the hermit Pelayo and Iria Flavia as a location. According to this theory, a hermit named Pelayo would have seen a star over the forest of Libredón and communicated it to the bishop of Iria Flavia, Bishop Teodomiro. Both went to the place where Pelayo had seen the star and, upon arrival, discovered an old chapel where the remains were found.
The Way of Saint James became a crossroad of cultures, increasing the cultural contacts bwwteen different parts of Europe.
It is remarkable how in less than two centuries, the pilgrimage to Santiago increased considerably. Already in the 11th century, the number of pilgrims to Santiago is really high. It is an exceptional increase for the time, due to the precariousness of the communication routes in Europe in these years. In fact, the Way of Saint James itself became a way of crossing between cultures, increasing cultural contacts among different parts of Europe.
One of the key aspects of the Way of Saint James is, obviously, the Cathedral of Santiago - the final point of this long pilgrimage to Santiago. Like many other historical cathedrals, its construction process was very long - it took many centuries to build it and many changes in its architecture were mad during this time.
In the case of the Cathedral of Santiago, its origin first dates back to the 11th century, around the same time that the remains of the Apostle Saint James are found. Alfonso II was the King of Asturias and he certified between 820 and 830 that the remains found were belonging to the Apostle James. In these years, it was considered that kings and queens were chosen by the God. Thus, the fact that Alfonso II certified that these remains were Saint James' meant that this truth was irrefutable.
Alfonso II, also known as Alfonso The Chaste, is considered the first Jacobean pilgrim to Santiago. He was the one who ordered the construction of a church in the place where the remains of the Apostle James were located. Thus, under his mandate, the first germ of the Cathedral of Santiago was originated. Throughout time and little by little, the church of Santiago became an important center of Christian pilgrimage throughout Europe./p>
Apart from the authority of the King of Asturias Alfonso II, the finding of the remains also had the confirmation and consent of Charlemagne, the great emperor of Europe during this time. During his government, Charlemagne faced the Arabs, who threaten to cross their borders. Thus, the discovery of the remains of Saint James was used as a Christian campaign against these religious conflicts in Europe. Thanks to Charlemagne's action, the Way to Santiago became even more popular and reached practically every corner of the Christian Europe.
SINCEthe beginning of the Way of Saint James, many things have changed. Over the centuries, the reasons for pilgrimage to Santiago have changed - the Camino has undergone changes, but also many aspects of the Jacobean are still intact.
The Way of Saint James is a route that runs from different points in Europe and in all cases ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. This route is traveled by pilgrims from many parts of Europe. Although it has always had a strong religious component, the Way of St. James is a cultural way, a point of contact among different Europea cultures. Actually, it has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
The Way of St. James is a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela from different parts of Europe and the reasons for doing it may lie in religion or cultural interest.
Since its origin in the 11th century, the Way of Saint James has been a crossroad among different cultures. Already at that time, devotees from different parts of Europe walked to Santiago. Thanks to this multicultural movement, ideas, news and culture were exchanged between different countries. Did you know that the Camino contributed to the arrival of artistic styles from Europe into Spain?
Today, many things have changed, but the spirit of the Way of St James remains the same. Pilgrims from all over the world decide to start this journey from countless countries from all corners of the world: United States, France, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, China, Argentina, and many more. Embarking on this adventure is a cultural experience, where you can meet people of all kinds, discover the history of Santiago and Galicia and fall in love with all the culture you will find along the Way.
Although the religious side of the Camino has lost importance in comparison with its Christian origins, we must not forget that the origin of the Way of St. James falls in the devotion to the Apostle Saint James the Greater.
Religion is an important reason for making a pilgrimage. Both the historical origin of the Way and the importance of the Cathedral are important incentives to walk the Way of Saint James.
In addition, the Way has a strong spiritual factor. It is a long route to Compostela. We have time to think and to develop our own spirituality. Many people consider that the Way of Saint James is the best way to know oneself and develop a spiritual side.
In case its rich history is not enough, the Jacobean route also has an immense touristic value. It does not matter what route you choose: in all of them you can go through the most fascinating points of the peninsular geography.
The Way of Saint James is positioned as the ideal way to get to know countless places in Spain: big cities, charming towns, nature areas, corners with almost forgotten legends and much more.
In addition to points of cultural interest, we must not forget the intangible cultural assets, such as gastronomy. In short, the Way of Saint James is a way of doing original tourism, since it is a mixture between tourism and experience.
Whatever your motivation, talk to us to plan your trip.
YOU should be fit before starting the Camino, although this depends on many factors, such as the route you choose, your age and physical condition, among others. The Way of Saint James is a long pilgrimage route that requires both physical and mental training.
» Being fit to walk the Camino
The Way of Saint James is a route that can be long and tedious. There are really long routes, which go through corners of complex orography, for which you have to be prepared. If you are going to walk the Way of St. James, we strongly recommend that you prepare well in advance. In addition, you must bear in mind that you must prepare according to your own physical conditions and that it is a type of exercise with very specific needs. Even if you are an expert runner or a swimmer, for example, it is very likely that your body is not used to long walks and complex orographies. Try working out during the months prior to starting the Way and your experience will be the best possible. Given that training (of any kind) depends on many personal factors, we recommend that you opt for a professional trainer, so that your experience is the best it can be.
» Mental preparation for the Way of Saint James
Walking the Way of Saint James also depends on mental energy. In order not to neglect the physical effort involved, it is important to plan the stages realistically and in accordance with our limitations. It is also important that you reserve time to relax and clear your mind. The Way of Saint James must not only be a physical effort, but you must also leave time to appreciate the environment, connect with nature, enjoy the culture and appreciate the cuisine. A good balance between body and mind will guarantee a good experience in your trip to Santiago.
We have already seen briefly which are the routes to reach Santiago, but what about the weather? The weather influences a lot when it comes to walking the Camino de Santiago. Being an outdoor walking trip, the weather can greatly affect your experience and the difficulty of each stage. So, what is the best time to walk the Camino? There are no seasons that are better than others. The important thing is that you take into account what factors influence when choosing the season. If you are well prepared and you know what you are going to encounter, you will enjoy the Camino both in summer and in winter.
The Way of Saint James has basically the same seasons as any other touristic trip in Spain:
» Peak season
» Off season
» Shoulder season
Even though the majority of pilgrims travel the Jacobean route on foot, there are many other ways of doing the Camino de Santiago: on foot, by bike or even on horseback. The concept is the same, although some routes may vary slightly .
The Way of Saint James can be enjoyed alone or as a group, depending on the type of trip you want to enjoy. Doing the pilgrimage to Santiago by yourself is a more spiritual experience, in which you will enjoy some time for yourself. Also, even if you walk by yourself, you will find lots of pilgrims along the way so you will never really be alone. If you want to find groups and join them during the Camino or if you want to hire an agency to organize the Camino, feel free to contact us.
Doing the Camino as a group is a great experience, but requires some organization. The best thing in these cases is to have the support of an agency, which would be responsible for booking the best dates and managing all the services that the group will need.
If you walk the Way of Saint James in a group, you have to consider a series of extra factors. Hiring some services, like backpack transportation or a support car can be really useful so that the experience is perfect for all the members of the group. Either if you go by yourself or as a group, you can count on a Official Guide of the Way of Saint James. The guides are qualified professionals who guide the pilgrims through the best routes, explaining the importance of each one. Thus, not only can you save time by going through the best roads, but you will also learn everything there is to know about them.
When going in a group, it is also useful to hire a support car. These vehicles ensure that pilgrims reach their destination even if they suffer a incident. If a member of the group twists his ankle or if he simply feels unwell, the support car will take him to the accommodation of that stage and the rest of the group can follow his path and meet at the end of the stage.
Doing the Camino as a group is a great experience, but it requires some organization. The best thing is to have the support of an agency, which is responsible for booking the best dates and managing all the services that the group will need.
If you want to have an organized trip to do the Camino or if you want to get an estimate on the Camino de Santiago, just leave your data and our experts will contact you for free and without obligation.
Wearing a suitable kit is essential to walk the Way of Saint James.
The most suitable shoes to walk the Way of Saint James are good high hiking shoes, to protect your ankles. If it's winter, you can opt for special hiking boots. If you already have sports shoes that you find very comfortable to walk with, they can also be useful, but they should be breathable and waterproof.
It is important that you have previously used the shoes you are going to wear. If you use the shoes on the Camino de Santiago for the first time, it is very likely that your feet will get blisters and wounds.
Bringing two different pairs of shoes will give your feet a break, although you have to bring the extra pair in your backpack. You should also consider bringing a pair of flip flops for showers or to go to the beach or the river.
Packing your bag for the Way of Saint James is crucial, because everything you have inside will be everything you use every day. Normally, pilgrims carry backpacks of at least 35 or 40 liters capacity. In addition to the clothes that we have already mentioned, you should include this:
You have several options to spend the night during the Way of Saint James.
The most popular option is usually the hostels, "albergues" in Spanish. This is the most abundant accomodation, they are located in key points of every route and it is the most economical option. They offer the perfect environment to share your experiences with other pilgrims.Hostels can be different, depending on the entity they belong to.
» Municipal hostels
It is the most frequent type of hostel throughout the Way of Saint James, you will find one in each stage for sure. Being the cheapest option (from 5 euros per night), it is possible that they will be filled soon. Do not wait until the last moment to book it.
» Parish hostels
The parish hostels belong to the Catholic Church. They are also a very economical option, because you can use them by just leaving a donation
» Private hostels
They are another kind of albergue, which works as a private business. Basically the concept is the same, because you will sleep in a group with other pilgrims. In some cases, in a private hostel you can enjoy some extra services, such as a washing machine or a pool.
If you prefer to do the Camino more comfortably, you can always choose to book your nights in a hotel, a hostel or a pension. The prices are more expensive, but you will also have better beds, a private room and a private bathroom. Do not let the opinion of other pilgrims affect your decision: not everyone is able to sleep with so many people and rest is important. If you need to book a night out of the albegue or if you prefer this option for the entire Camino, it is a valid way to live the experience.
The prices are higher, but they have the great advantage of offering more privacy and better services. You can enjoy a single room (or double or triple), with a better-equipped bathroom.
As in any other kind of trip, here you can choose between different services: Wi-Fi, air conditioning or heating, meals included and much more.
This type of accommodation is not so easy to find on the Way. You may have to deviate a bit from your route.
A rural house or "casa rural" is another good option to spend the night, especially if you are going to walk the Camino as a group.
These houses are typical, charming Galician houses. They are usually characterized by being in very good conditions, without forgetting that rural side that gives them their personal touch. Depending on the number of people and the conditions of the house, it can be an economical option to spend the night throughout the Way.
This type of accommodation is very typical and characteristic of Galicia. If you choose to spend the night here, you can enjoy a more intimate and comfortable experience than in the hostels.
The great advantage of the rural houses is that they are much more comfortable than hostels. Also, you keep that rural touch typical from the Camino. If you travel in a group, they can be an economic option.
If non of the above options suits you, you can camp and sleep outside. If you like sleeping in a tent, you can always sleep outside.
The great disadvantage of this option is that weather conditions will greatly affect your rest. In addition, the rest level will be worse and you will have to carry the tent with you.
The good thing is that you can stop wherever you want, because you always carry your house with you. You have your own privacy and it's free!
Whatever you prefer, you can contact us to plan your camino.