All Camino pilgrimage routes lead to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain where the remains of St James were discovered in the ninth century. The pilgrimage was popular in the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries and then slowly declined in popularity. The Camino de Santiago is known in English as the Way of St James.
By the 20th century, almost no one was walking any of the Camino de Santiago routes. Then in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the routes became of interest to a few. They wrote about their pilgrimage and mapped the routes again. This trickle of pilgrims has become a steady river of more than 100,000 per year.
In the 21st century, the idea of a pilgrimage is perhaps quaint. However, the exertion of walking for a month and being disconnected to modern devices is immensely liberating.
I walked the Camino Frances in 2004 and 2005, then during 2012, I walked the Le Puy route in France. Each time my experience was different. Many pilgrims go back and walk the same route again and again. Some pilgrims are unable to take enough time off to hike a whole route and walk for a week each year finishing their Camino over 4 or 5 years.
It is your Camino – do it whatever way you want.
The Camino Frances is by far the most popular and well known of all the pilgrimage routes. It starts at St Jean Pied de Port and runs the breadth of Spain to Santiago.
The Camino Portuguese is the second most popular pilgrimage route on the Iberian Peninsula. The full route starts in Lisbon, but many prefer to start at Porto.
I would say the Camino del Norte is the most beautiful of all the Camino routes, and maybe the toughest in Spain. 825km of rugged coastline – bliss.
At only 261 km the Camino Primitivo or Camino Original as it is also known can look like a breeze. But, it is a tough hilly 261km – it is wonderfully quiet.
The route to Finisterre is referred to as a Camino, but it does not lead you to Santiago – rather it leads you to the coast and the end of the world. A great circular route.
The shortest of all the Caminos, the English way starts on the north coast at Ferrol or A Coruna. But, still, more than 7,000 walk this each year.
Where to Start Exploring
Click on the map to the right, and it will expand to the full page.
These pages are intended to help you plan your pilgrimage, and hopefully, keep you in contact with other pilgrims after you have gone back to your daily life. The best place to start on the site is the Camino Routes page as there are quite a few routes. Once you decide on your hiking route you can start to plan.
During June and July, the Camino Frances is very busy, the other routes are better. But, if you can choose when to go spring and autumn are the best.
You can start anywhere along the routes and custom your pilgrimage to suit the time you have. All the route lengths are on this page, along with common start points.
If you intend to stay in pilgrim accommodation or collect a Compostela in Santiago you will need a pilgrim’s passport. There are many places at home and in Spain.
It is easy to spend little on the Camino and just as easy to spend a lot. The biggest costs are food and where you decide to stay each night.
Welcome to the Camino de Santiago our aim is to help you with all the information you need for any of the Camino routes. The most popular Camino pilgrimage route in Spain is the Camino Frances; this route starts in St Jean Pied de Port, France. It is the busiest and best-supported route.
Santiago de Compostela is the destination for all the Camino routes; you can walk, cycle, or even ride these walking paths. Most pilgrims walk and plan and organize everything themselves.
This is where we can help – we are not a tour company – but we pass on our experience of walking, how hard it was, what walking gear we needed and how fit we had to be before setting out – see all the frequently asked questions.
The Camino history page introduces you to some of the legends and there are few pages listing the major cities along the Camino Frances. I hope this is enough to get you interested and started. The Camino Directory lists other Camino websites and a full list of Confraternity sites where you can sometimes get a pilgrims passport before you go,
Camino Guide Books for a list of good books, Packing lists for essential advice about feet, good boots and how little to pack, Albergues (hostels) – explains what they are and provides a full list, Travel – how to get there and back often a bit of a challenge, and Photos to give you a bit of a taste of Spain.
Camino de Santiago FAQ’s
This section is a new addition. I expect it will never be finished as I keep getting sent questions that I would never have thought of. If you have any other questions a quick search will usually turn up helpful results.
The Camino de Santiago is for everyone, young, old, fit, unfit, religious or otherwise. One of the surprising observations I had was that people I thought would drop didn’t – and most of the people I saw with problems were younger people – perhaps trying to push their walking too fast.
One great bit of advice I got was – slow down – a Frenchman I met kept telling me this – I listened after a while and traveled as far, but with much less pain and strain.
Camino de Santiago Guidebooks
There are a few great guidebooks on the Camino Frances, all are reviewed here.
I have a request for pilgrims walking or cycling. Keeping this site up to date is a must, a few pilgrims email me information on new hostels and I add them to the list. My request is this – if you can send me by email, (caminoadventures @ gmail.com), or post any information you collect along the way about new Albergues – Refugios – Hostels or anything else you think should be included for information for other pilgrims. Scan and email would be easiest or email me and I will send you my postal address here in Ireland.
Get used to the sound – Buen Camino – it can be a beautiful journey.
In 1985 2,491 pilgrims completed the Camino de Santiago. In 1995 there were 19,821, then in 2005, there was 93,921.
These are only the pilgrims that asked for and received a Compostela, therefore many more completed the routes. Figures compliments of the Office de Acogida al Peregrino. More Camino maps
If you have an interest in long-distance walking holidays another route that may be of interest is the West Highland Way – this is a 7/8 day long-distance hiking route from Glasgow into the Highlands of Scotland. And lastly, I write on my own blog at lesliegilmour.com
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