The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is the spiritual destination for most of the Camino routes. However, the Camino Finisterre and Camino Muxía extensions of the pilgrimage to the Atlantic Coast supplies its own dose of mysticism. No wonder, before Columbus discovered America, Finisterre (Fisterra in Galician) represented the end of the world, the last habitable piece of earth known to men.
Pilgrims have extended their journey to wash off the dirt of the road in the ocean since Middle Ages. Nonetheless, the origins of this tradition significantly pre-dates Christianity and remain rather vague and wrapped up in secrets of pagan traditions. Historians agree that the coast was most likely a place of worship where the pagans gave a salute to the dying sun. As if that wasn’t enough mystery, the coast has been given the name La Costa da Morte (The Coast of Death), as the treacherous rocky waters surrounding it caused innumerable shipwrecks.
In any case, if you feel that your pilgrimage is not over yet and need to add the last chapter to your story, walking to the end of the world makes for a perfect epilogue. There are two different ways you can go about it.
Overview Camino Finisterre from Santiago
The route starts where your pilgrimage has ended, at Santiago Cathedral. Deciding to walk to Finisterre adds a respectable 89 km to your journey. You can conquer the distance either in 3 long and tiring days of walking or 4 comfortable stages. The path takes you through municipalities of Ames, Negreira, Mazaricos, Dumbría, Cee, Corcubión, and at last Fisterra.
Before you arrive at the coast which represents the last stage of the journey, you will cross picturesque small towns, farmlands, and shady eucalyptus forests. Although the terrain has its ups and downs, there are no significant ascents or descents to be conquered.
The signs that guide you on the road alternate between the familiar yellow arrow, concrete milestones with the blue and yellow Council of Europe ceramic plaques, and more modern road signs with distance indicators. They lead you all the way to the legendary lighthouse that towers over the rocky and treacherous La Costa Da Morte.
The way is marked fairly well and leaves little space for doubt. The only common point of confusion is at the very beginning, leaving the Plaza del Obradoiro. At first glance, it is not quite clear which way to go. Nonetheless, head down the Rúa das Hortas and you should find your way out. If you are truly not sure, just ask how to get to Carballeira de San Lorenzo, from which the marking is really straightforward.
Interestingly, the route is waymarked both ways from and to Santiago as some pilgrims return from Finisterre to the city by foot. Therefore, do not be surprised if you encounter a pilgrim walking in the opposite direction.
From Santiago the Camino Muxía Overview
You can also opt for a less-common route and reach the coast through Muxía, an equally enigmatic place with both pagan and Jacobean roots. The distance is slightly shorter that the route to Finisterre and rounds up to around 80 km. You should have no trouble completing the way in 3 to 4 days depending on your pace.
The pilgrimage to Muxía shares a major part of the path with Camino Finisterre. It splits after 58km (a few kilometres after Hospital) where a fork in the road forces you to choose your direction, (Finisterre or Muxía). After the split, the rest of the way to Muxía will be much more solitary as it is the less popular of the routes.
Naturally, there is not much difference in the terrain from the route that goes directly to Finisterre. Small drops and climbs along the route are no trouble, and the rural areas along with the pine and eucalyptus woods are perfect for quiet contemplation. The first glimpse of the ocean comes after emerging from the pine forest after passing the Chorente village.
Except for the before mentioned hustle of getting out of Santiago de Compostela, the waymarking along the route is decent all the way to the end. Although, beware if you decide to walk back from Muxía to Santiago. The Muxía-only section of the road does not have marks in the opposite direction, only from the point it rejoins Camino Finisterre.
Finisterre to Muxía (Or Vice Versa)
Many pilgrims who reach the coast either in Finisterre or Muxía decide to walk along the coast to the other “end”, getting the real taste of this wild coastal area.
Overview of the Route
Additional 29 km lie between these two spiritual havens. They are unlike any kilometers you have walked so far, no matter from what direction you arrived in Santiago. Facing the Atlantic Ocean unprotected, the rocky shore offers exceptional views.
It passes through thirteen coastal villages, many of which have deep Roman roots.
For example, the village name San Martiño de Duio is a reference to the legendary town of Dugium, submerged deep underwater, where Santiago’s disciple’s requested the burial of the Apostle.
This two-way route is an up and down rocky adventure. Thus, although fairly short, some pilgrims prefer to split the walk into two stages. The terrain is full of ascends and descends through pine forests, cliffs, and beaches. The section between Lires and el Facho de Lourido is probably the hardest since its climbs (or descends depending on which direction you are walking) for 9km without rest.
The waymarking on this route is a little bit different. The concrete milestones with a yellow shell on a blue background facing down indicates a change in the direction of your route. Look on the ground for sprayed yellow arrows with a capital M (for Muxía) or F (For Finisterre) next to them. It is quite easy to follow, so you do not need to be afraid of getting lost.
Albergues & Services: Santiago Finisterre Muxía
Back in 2000, there were almost no albergues to speak of after leaving Santiago de Compostela. However, today there is a number of albergues, refugios, and hospitals de peregrinos along the way allowing you to be more flexible with the stages. Regarding the services, even though you will be walking through many towns and villages, the route has a few wilderness-only sections, so it is best you walk with a decent supply of water and food.
The route to from Finisterre to Muxía does not have any pilgrim-exclusive accommodation, but if you need to break it down into two stages, Lires offers a good choice of reasonably priced accommodation. This is also the best place to refill your supplies.
Travel Along The Route
If you do not have more time or enough energy to walk the additional kilometers, you can take a quick bus trip to Finisterre or Muxía. You can use services provided by MONBUS or Buses Costa De Morte. Alternatively, you can ask for timetable information in any of the pilgrim offices in Santiago, Finisterre or Muxía.
What to See
Although there are no grand architectural monuments in your way after you leave Santiago behind, rural Galicia offers a lot of clandestine sightseeing delights. There are a number of picturesque Galician country houses (pazos), fairytale-like old bridges, traditional raised granaries (hórreos) and old churches.
Of course, the highlights of the Camino “epilog” are the lighthouse in Finisterre facing the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean and the church on the coast in Muxia that stands above an oddly shaped rock that is whispered to have healing powers.
One of the best guides on the market is the Camino Pilgrim’s Guide Sarria-Santiago-Finisterre (including Muxía Circuit & Camino Inglés) – 3 short routes to Santiago de Compostela written by John Brierley and published by Camino Guides. The book covers the route from Sarria (100km before Santiago) until the coast. It includes comprehensive stage maps, terrain description, accommodation information as well as many curiosities. Make sure to purchase the newest edition.
Why Go to Finisterre?
Walking all the way to the ocean gives your journey another dimension. Walking on your own all the way to the ocean and watching the sunset over the horizon is an experience as intense as reaching the cathedral in Santiago. If you have the option, do not hesitate!
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I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.