There are eight main Camino de Santiago routes in Spain that finish in Santiago de Compostela.

  1. Camino Frances
  2. Via de la Plata
  3. Camino del Norte
  4. Camino Ingles
  5. Camino Portugues
  6. Camino Primitivo
  7. Camino Finisterre
  8. Camino de Madrid

There are many more Camino de Santiago routes than this in Spain, but these are the eight most hiked. In the map below the long route marked in red is the Camino Frances.

Camino de Santiago Routes

1. Camino Frances / The French Way

Camino Frances Route outside Pamplona

The Camino Frances is the most popular of all the Camino de Santiago Routes.  The French route traditionally starts in St Jean Pied de Port and runs for 780km west to Santiago de Compostela.  It has the best infrastructure for pilgrims; I highly recommend this route for all first-time pilgrims.  Read more on the Camino Frances.

The Camino Francés is by far the busiest route and often during the peak months of July and August, it can be difficult to find somewhere to sleep at night without booking ahead. Outside of Spain, St Jean Pied de Port is considered the start, within Spain Roncesvalles is considered the start.

A much quieter alternative start is the Camino Aragones.

Read more information on the Camino Frances here.

2. Via de la Plata / Silver Route

Via de la Plata Camino

The Via de la Plata runs south to north starting in Seville, although it is possible to start the route in Granada.  The Silver Route is about 1000km and normally takes 6/7 weeks walking.  This route is becoming more popular as the infrastructure improves and as the Camino Frances becomes increasingly busy.

The Via de la Plata follows an old Roman Road all the way from Seville to Astorga where the route joins the Camino Frances.  There is an option after Montamarta to go west through Galicia towards Santiago de Compostela, currently, there are few hostels on this route.

3. Camino del Norte Route

Camino del Norte

The Camino del Norte is also referred to as the Northern Route. It has the great advantage of traveling along the northern coast of Spain where there are opportunities to swim sometimes at the end of a day’s walking.  The Camino del Norte is one of the most challenging of the Camino routes here due to the rough terrain and continuous climbs and descents along the coast.

The Northern Route is also considered more dangerous due to the unclear signposting and stretches along winding roads with little visibility.  However, it is said the level of satisfaction increases with the level of difficulty.

The Northern Route begins by crossing the Santiago Bridge into Irun, the start of this route has few pilgrims hostels.  The route is about 825km.

4. Portugues Route / Road

Camino Portuguese

The main Camino Portuguese Route starts in Lisbon, but most start in Porto; although there are many other Camino Routes in Portugal.  From Porto, it is clearly waymarked all the way to Santiago.  From Porto, this is one of the shorter Camino Routes at about 230km and it is known as the Portuguese Coastal route. This route is well signposted and there are enough pilgrim hostels along the way.

The much quieter route is the Portuguese central route. A diversion can also be made to the Catholic pilgrimage site of Fatima.

5. Camino Ingles / The English Road

Camino Ingles

The Camino Ingles has two possible starting points; both are ports in Northern Spain: A Coruna and Ferrol.  This would have been the traditional start for pilgrims from Ireland the United Kingdom. From Ferrol to Santiago it is about 110km and from A Coruna only 75km this is not enough to claim a Compostela in Santiago.  Both of these routes meet up near a village called Hospital de Bruma.

There are few pilgrim hostels on this short route and there has been much road building during the last few years.  This is not a route to get away from it all. If you want a short route perhaps consider the Camino Portuguese or just walk part of the Camino Frances as you can start and stop anywhere you wish.

6. Camino de Madrid

The end of the Camino de Madrid

This is not for the faint of heart during the summer as it can be extremely hot. The Camino de Madrid route starts in Madrid and joins the Camino Frances at Sahagún. It is 660 km to Santiago de Compostela and the last 368 is actually walked on the French Way. If you want to get away from it all this is one of the routes to choose.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long is the Camino?

There is no single answer the total distance of each route is listed below and this article lists the distance of all the Camino de Santiago routes along with the number of people walking them each year. The shortest is 110 km and the longest is over 1,000 km.

It is possible to start and stop your Camino anywhere along the route. In the middle ages, pilgrims would have started their pilgrimage from wherever they lived. Every route has its traditional starting point, but many people will not have the time to walk the full way.

How Long Does it Take to Walk the Camino?

One month is a reasonable time to take to walk the main Camino de Santiago route called the Camino Frances. However, you can start anywhere along the way. But, there are easy points in northern Spain to get to like Pamplona, Leon, Burgos, and many will start at these easy to get to locations.

The last 100 km on the Camino Frances From Sarria is the most popular short hike that allows people an experience of walking the Camino. Many who walk these short routes come back again and walk for longer distances.

This page lists all the best one week start points on the Camino and this page lists all the best start points for two weeks on the Camino.

Which Camino de Santiago is Best for You?

If you only want a taster consider starting at Tui or Sarria and walk the last 100 km into Santiago de Compostela. The Camino Frances is very busy between May and October, therefore, it will not give much quiet time for reflection. The Camino del Norte is the most challenging and can be very peaceful all year round.

Whatever route sparks your interest – go – just go – it will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. If you are not able to walk Camino de Santiago or you are searching for similar hikes, check the article of 12 alternatives to Camino de Santiago.

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