Is It Safe Walking the Camino de Santiago Alone?

One of the most common questions I am asked – is it safe to walk the Camino de Santiago alone?  This became a question being asked more again recently when someone went missing on the Camino. However my opinion remains unchanged – yes, it is safe to walk the Camino de Santiago alone. I would think it safer than most local walking routes in most countries; safer than walking home from Dublin or any large city on a Friday or Saturday night.

Safer Than What?

Camino de Santiago shell arrow

I presume when I am asked this question it is regarding physical security.  I started two Caminos on my own and one with my partner.  She started one with only one friend.  Many, many people start each year on their own and find that they are not alone very quickly.

I, like many others, became part of a larger loose group very quickly, some refer to this group as their Camino family.  You walk each day and many people walk at the same pace, you see these same people in the morning, at cafes along the way, and in the hostels at night.  The conversations I had with these people were deeper, more open, and more honest than I would normally have with people I had just met.

Staying Safe

During the busy times of the year on the Camino Frances, July & Aug, you are rarely out of sight of another pilgrim – yes, it gets that busy – so if you want some alone time start walking late after everyone has started for the day.

Even though the Camino Frances is incredibly safe don’t be crazy.  Perhaps one of the reasons there are so few reports of any mishaps regarding pilgrims is that we are normally in bed by 10pm; and sleeping 5 minutes later, (as long as you have your ear plugs…).

Some of the misconceptions about Spain are quite funny, and being European I laugh at Americans quite a lot in this area – as we snotty Europeans tend to do.  Firstly, Spain is not a third world country, it has a very good internal travel system, its banking system is the same as the rest of the world, you will recognise the food, its healthcare system is great, (I had to use it once), most things that you forget you will be able to buy locally.

Now after all that bear in mind that the Camino Frances goes through some of the most rural areas in Spain.  Outside of the main cities, you will find it difficult to buy much apart from food – but you will not need anything, bar food.

We have the Frequently Asked Questions, on the website that covers many questions and there are some current discussions in the Camino de Santiago forum about women walking alone – here:

http://www.caminodesantiago.org.uk/threads/safety-assaults-crime-on-the-camino.1071/

http://www.caminodesantiago.org.uk/threads/walking-the-camino-alone.776/

Lastly, this is an article written by Sue Kenny back in 2006 on Women Walking Alone

Bear in mind however that most start walking alone end up as part of a loose group as they walk – this is one of the best parts of the Camino.

Do you have anything you want to add to any future newsletter?  Let me know.

Have you written any articles about the Camino?  – send them to us for publishing on the site.

Do you have questions about your trip?  – let us know, either by email to caminoadventures @ gmail.com or by joining the Camino forum.  I will not be able to answer questions individually by email but will do my best to write an answer and add it to the website.

Thanks and Buen Camino

Leslie Gilmour

2016-06-06T11:54:53+00:00 June 3rd, 2016|Camino Thoughts|14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. michael May 11, 2016 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    I found it safe and found that others, young and older women alone did as well. Except for them bedbugs.

  2. Angela May 31, 2016 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    I (a middle-aged female) walked the Camino Frances from Pamplona to Santiago in three sections over the course of three years, always starting out alone but becoming part of a “family” on the way. In fact sometimes it was a struggle to get some time alone! But, as Leslie says, one of the best and most important things about walking the Camino is the people you meet and form relationships with along the way.

  3. Susanita June 3, 2016 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    I am nearly 66 and did the Camino France in 2008 alone and loved it. You never really alone; there are always someone not too far in front of you, or behind you.

  4. kristaspurr June 6, 2016 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    I echo what others have said. You can walk by yourself, but you’re never really alone on the Camino, particularly the Camino Francès, and especially after Sarria.

  5. Brenda Carelsen June 6, 2016 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    I just came back from walking the Camino. I found it safe except for a Australian who tried to hooked up with me. Quickly put him off.

  6. lorrainetindale June 7, 2016 at 7:28 am - Reply

    I have just returned from the second leg of my Camino Frances last Friday and I always travel out to the Camino alone but always make friends and walk with someone or in sight of other pilgrims.

    Yes it reletively safe to walk the Camino alone, if you keep other pilgrims in sight. However, as I was walking with another female last Monday just before we reached Sahagun, we were nearly attacked by a local man, who seemed to be scouting pilgrims on the side of the road, 2 km in to the town. He drove a black golf, which was partially hidden in the fields.

    He was watching pilgrims as they filed past him and he then crossed the road when he saw us. We greeted him to break down his glarring stare, but that didn’t stop him. He suddenly he ran after us, we screamed and ran off. Thankfully he tripped and stopped. That was a scary moment but it taught us to stay tightly within visible grougs of pilgrims.

  7. Judith June 7, 2016 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    I went alone 2 years ago when I was a 60 year old Grandma.I did the camino Francais-Sometimes I walked with others and sometimes I walked alone.I never had any trouble or bed bugs either!I would definitely do it again.

  8. Rickyg June 15, 2016 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    I did the Camino Frances last year with our 17 year old granddaughter. While I was somewhat concerned about her safety she felt safe to the point of becoming annoyed by my caution. We walked from SJPP to Santiago then on to Finisterre. From Finisterre we bused to Porto, Portugal and hiked the Camino Portugues to Vigo, Spain and took the train from Vigo to San Sebastian. From that point, granddaughter did four more days on the Camino del Norte with some girl friends. At no time did we experience any sense of danger but the entire time we tried to remain aware of our surroundings and hike safely. We do the same when hiking anywhere else. In our opinion, the Camino is no more or less dangerous than any other hike. It is, however, way more interesting than most.

  9. Jaki scarcello December 28, 2016 at 12:38 am - Reply

    I am 65 years old and walked the Camino alone last year. In the 12 days I walked the Finisterre route including Finisterre to Murcia and back to Santiago, I walked with another pilgrim for only 4 hours.
    There were some days I never saw another pilgrim as the route from Murcia to Santiago is very seldom walked.
    I was never in danger and never nervous , it was a stunning 12 day walking meditation which I highly recommend

  10. K January 9, 2017 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    My son is (a mature) 16 year old who flew to France from the US and walked the entirety of the Camino Frances on his own this past July (2016). He never felt threatened or afraid and made wonderful connections with people from all over the world! What an amazing, life changing experience he had!

    • Leslie January 10, 2017 at 10:36 am - Reply

      My first thought is how brave of you to let him go off on his own. I think it is great that he walked on his own.

  11. Rick Greig January 10, 2017 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    My 17 year old granddaughter and I did the Camino Frances together in 2015. Some days we walked together and sometimes we “chose” (she absolutely insisted) to walk separately with friends we met along the way. Other than the anxiety a grandfather feels for a granddaughter walking alone, all went fine.

    I’ve heard the Camino del Norte (the coastal route) may be a bit different because the trail takes one through more isolated territory.

    Rickyg

  12. K January 12, 2017 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Well, I didn’t sleep well for 30 days, but I didn’t want to limit him based on my fears and felt confident that he could handle himself. He said something to me like, ‘we are supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave but it feels more like we’re imprisoned by our fear’. His openness to the world gives me hope.

  13. Aurelia March 11, 2017 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    I walked the camino from astorga to santiago in may 2012, as a silo female traveller.
    The part , which i feared most , was the first two days- as i had read some novels about the camino before- the mountain pass at the cruz de fierro between astorga and ponferrada in the montes de leon. But there were no dogs, no strange people; no dark forests- but quite a lot of police presence there and hust bo safety issue at all.
    But later on, some kilometres before the o cebreiro pass to galicia i think i had a bit of a safety problem . It was a grey and rainy day and i checked in in a hotel somewhere in the nowhere between two settlements. There were almost no pilgrims around.
    In the late afternoon i had a coffee in a nearby tiny village. There were suddenly some men sitting next to me and nobody else around. They spoke in italian , first about different possible ways to escape from milan and rome train station; which was already weird! and then going on about me saying things like “she is in her own” and “she looks like she’ s got some money” .
    Fortunately there were some pilgrims walking along the street; and i joined them in to get bak to the hotel.
    .that was the only really scary moment along the way, and i am planning to walk from pamplona to astorga this spring.

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