Camino de Santiago travel guide

The Camino is a vast network of tributary roads and paths along which pilgrims flow from across Europe, before being channelled across northern Spain to the ancient city of Santiago de Compostela and the shrine of Saint James, Spains patron saint. The pilgrimage began in the 9th century, but it has not always been popular; in 1976, just seven pilgrims were awarded the Compostela certificate of completion. Now, over 200,000 pilgrims make the journey on foot, bicycle or horseback each year and there are as many reasons for completing the route as there are pilgrims.
Everyone who walks this ancient trail is a pilgrim though not all are religious. The trip, however, is always spiritual it is a journey into rural Spain, of simple pleasures, of pushing limits, of making friends, of self discovery.
Trekking for a week or longer is a kind of meditation for many; a chance to escape the distractions of the modern world, to be immersed in the beautiful landscapes of Galicia and Castilla y Len. The scallop shell, with its grooves all leading to a single point, lines the route guiding modern pilgrims to their final destination. Buen camino!
Read on in our Camino de Santiago travel guide.

Is the Camino de Santiago for you?

Walk the Camino if

you want to feel like a pilgrim. It may be hugely popular, but this is no walk in the park. Youll cover distances of 15-21km per day over varied terrain, and the weather is notoriously changeable in northern Spain, so be prepared for sunburns and soakings sometimes all in one day. It all adds to the sense of pilgrimage though and this is one of the worlds truly iconic walks. you want a challenge. Your stamp-filled Pilgrims Passport, along with the Compostela certificate, are pretty unique as far as souvenirs go. Even more rewarding is the sense of achievement youll feel on walking into Santiagos cathedral after a week or more of challenging terrain, and sharing the special moment with the other exhausted yet exultant pilgrims. youd like to improve your Spanish. You wont be short of company on the Camino Francs its the most popular route, and youll be trekking alongside others the whole way. Its a great chance to practice your Spanish with other pilgrims from Spain, or further afield. Alternatively, take a Spanish course in the Picos de Europa and head out each day after class to walk selected sections of the Camino del Norte.

Dont walk the Camino if

youre not in shape. You dont need to be super fit to walk the Camino de Santiago, especially if choosing one of the shorter sections but if youve done no exercise at all, this may not be the trip for you. The hilly nature of the route is a challenge, with knees, feet and toenails all suffering. If you want to enjoy rather than endure your vacation, then planning long walks at weekends, wearing in your walking boots and hiking up a few hills is advised. you want to walk in the wilderness. The Camino Francs is a well trodden route passing through cities, towns and villages and lined with albergues and thousands of other pilgrims, especially in summer. This is all part of the experience. If you want to be immersed in nature, try another route or perhaps forget the Camino altogether and head to one of Spains many true wilderness areas. youre more of a cyclist. There are options to traverse the route by bike instead covering the route from Len in just one week.

Our top Camino de Santiago Vacation

Learn Spanish & hike the Camino de Santiago, Spain

Learn Spanish & hike the Camino de Santiago, Spain

Spanish Course + walking in the Camino del Norte

From 630 7 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2019: 4 Mar, 11 Mar, 18 Mar, 25 Mar, 1 Apr, 8 Apr, 15 Apr, 22 Apr, 29 Apr, 6 May, 13 May, 20 May, 27 May, 3 Jun, 10 Jun, 17 Jun, 24 Jun, 1 Jul, 8 Jul, 15 Jul, 22 Jul, 29 Jul, 5 Aug, 12 Aug, 19 Aug, 26 Aug, 2 Sep, 9 Sep, 16 Sep, 23 Sep, 30 Sep, 7 Oct, 14 Oct, 21 Oct
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Brief history of the Camino de Santiago

This pilgrimage trail is otherwise known as the Way of St James, or St James Way and dates back over 1,000 years, with worshippers walking from various points to eventually congregate at the Santiago de Compostela cathedral, where the much revered apostle, Saint James the Great is believed to have been buried. Read more
Written by Catherine Mack
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