Walking the Camino de Santiago
Thirty or so trails make up a bustling network of pilgrimage routes, all meandering to a sole terminus: the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. Collectively known as the Camino de Santiago, they are some of Europe’s most sought-after long-distance hikes, putting this region in a league of its own. Discover here costs and maps and plan your trip on the right route.See Camino de Santiago Tours
How to Prepare for the Camino de Santiago
How can I get to Camino de Santiago?
This, of course, depends on the route you’re taking. Flying to the city closest to the trailhead is certainly preferable if you’re coming in from Australia, USA and the UK. However, UK travellers may travel by bus or rail to the towns of Ferrol, Oviedo and St. Jean Pied de Port. Learn more.
When should I walk the Camino de Santiago?
The absence of extreme weather changes in the area makes Camino de Santiago’s routes walkable year-round. Though June through September may be its busiest months, more than one thousand people still make the hike during the cold winter months of December, January and February. Learn more.
What permits, visas, vaccinations and insurance do I need?
Though a permit isn’t necessary, you must obtain your Credencial del Peregrino or Pilgrim Passport at the start of your trip and get it stamped along the way. The stamps are proof that you walked the 100 kms necessary to obtain the completion certificate in Santiago de Compostela. Learn more.
Do I need a guide to climb?
While you don’t need a guide to hike any of the Camino de Santiago routes, having one will reduce the burden of planning. Going on a guided hike would give you the benefits of having experienced trip planners arrange things like accommodation, food, luggage transport and airport transfers. Learn more.
What should I pack and what equipment do I need?
Along the way, you'll be able to stop in towns to refuel. Carrying a day pack of your personal essentials, change of clothes, a two-litre water bottle, a first aid kit, and your passport and Pilgrim Passport will suffice. Invest in a good pair of hiking shoes and walking poles. Learn more.
How do I prepare for Camino de Santiago?
Do your research to choose the best route for your skill level and study the rules and etiquette on the trail. Purchase and read a guidebook for your chosen route. Finally, train for several months prior and push yourself to hike farther every day until you’re fit to do 26- to 29-kilometre days. Learn more.
Camino de Santiago Routes & Maps
Camino PortuguesThe Portuguese Way, the second most popular route, starts in either Lisbon or Porto and takes hikers from Portugal to Spain. Considerably longer, the Lisbon hike starts at the Lisbon Cathedral and passes through Caldas da Rainha, the Alcobaca Monastery and Porto before crossing several rivers on its way north to Spain.Read more
Distance: 610 km (380 mi)
Average duration: 21-30 days
Average difficulty/success rate: The Portuguese Way is relatively moderate. Minor elevation gains work to your advantage, though concrete and cobblestone roads, which it has its fair share of, can put a strain on the walk. The success rate is high.
Camino PrimitivoA few ups and downs, rocky or muddy sections and the frequency of the paved roads make Camino Primitivo one of Camino de Santiago’s most challenging routes. It is, however, worth tackling, if only for the challenge and for the fact that it’s the oldest one. You will be rewarded with breathtaking views.Read more
Distance: 321 km (199 mi)
Average duration: 12-15 days
Average difficulty/success rate: Camino Primitivo has its fair share of challenging climbs and descents as well as paved sections, making it a difficult route. Still, if you take your time, the success rate is high.
Camino de FinisterreOnce you’ve reached Camino de Santiago, you might continue on to the “end of the world”. Cape Finisterrae is one of Europe’s westernmost points, thus the name. Adding 90 kilometres to the trip along an ancient route, perhaps even another 29 to Muxia, might just be an epic way to wrap up the journey.Read more
Distance: 90 km (55 mi), 117 km (73 mi) to Muxia
Average duration: 2-4 days
Average difficulty/success rate: Because it’s a shorter hike and offers spectacular views, the road to Finisterrae is a moderate route to take on. The success rate is certainly high, even if fewer people traverse it, choosing to end their trip at the cathedral.
Camino FrancesIs it a wonder why the French Way is favoured by most Camino de Santiago pilgrims? It’s not just the most traditional route, with a lot of history surrounding it. It also boasts lush landscapes, charming towns and great infrastructure along the way, taking travellers through the beautiful Iberian Peninsula for a month.Read more
Distance: 772 km (480 mi)
Average duration: 4 weeks
Average difficulty/success rate: Due to the excellent infrastructure and facilities along the way, not only is Camino Frances an enjoyable hike, it’s also a fairly moderate hike. So long as you take a couple of days to rest along the way, you are guaranteed to make it to the end.
Camino del NorteFor 827 kilometres, Camino del Norte stretches from the town of Irun in Basque Country to Santiago de Compostela, following Spain’s northern coastline. It’s not only the longest route in the network, it is also the least travelled and has fewer facilities, making it ideal for thru-hikers who prefer solitude and a challenge.
Distance: 827 km (514 mi)
Average duration: 36 nights
Average difficulty/success rate: A little more than a month and a more rigid schedule could be challenging for less experienced hikers. The success rate is generally good, so long as you train beforehand and can tackle more than 21 miles a day.
Camino InglésA favourite among hikers arriving from the British Isles and northern Europe, the English Way starts from the City of Ferrol and runs straight south to Camino de Santiago. Though short, it does boast longer sections and major elevation changes, making it a challenge for the more casual walkers.
Distance: 119 km (74 mi)
Average duration: 6 nights
Average difficulty/success rate: This ranks as medium to high in difficulty, though chances of completing are very good because of its short distance.
Camino de Santiago Distance & Facts
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, terminus ad quem to all of Camino de Santiago’s trails, is nestled in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage designated Santiago de Compostela. The trails begin and pass through different countries including France, Italy and Portugal.
The coordinates of Camino de Santiago are 42.88°N, -8.54°W
The city of Santiago de Compostela has an elevation of 260 m (850 ft). The trek to it doesn’t involve any majorly tough or steep climbs and is, therefore, great for all skill levels, although alternative routes may be taken for a bit of a challenge.
Most of Camino de Santiago’s trails traverse several mountain and hill ranges, depending on their starting points. The most notable of them all are the Pyrenees mountains.
Camino de Santiago’s trails vary in lengths, not to mention terrain and difficulty. Out of its six main routes, Camino del Norte is the longest at 827 km (514 mi), taking a little more than a month to finish. Camino Inglés, on the other hand, is the shortest at 119 km (74 mi) and takes about a week to complete.
As Camino de Santiago spans several countries, its trailheads are located all over the Iberian Peninsula, France, Germany, Italy and even as far as Poland. Your arrival depends on which trail you’re taking for your hike.
Camino de Santiago Weather
Check out the average temperatures and rainfall of Spain's Basque Country, so that you can plan the best time to walk the Camino de Santiago.
|Average High °C||11.2||12.4||15||16.1||18.6||22.2||24.3||24.7||22.8||18.1||14.1||11.9|
|Average High °F||52.2||54.5||59||61||65.6||72||75.7||76.5||73||64.6||57.4||53.4|
|Average Low °C||4.1||4.1||5.3||6.2||8.6||11.3||13||13.3||11.9||9.5||6.7||5|
|Average Low °F||39.4||39.4||40.7||43.2||47.3||52.3||55.4||55.9||53.4||49.1||44.1||41|
|Rainfall >1 mm days||15.2||12.3||13.4||14.4||12.5||7.6||5.7||5.5||8.4||14||14.9||15.9|