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Camino de Santiago Training Guide

Walkers on the Camino de Santiago need to prepare for long distances, harsh path conditions and carrying a pack. Read here how to train for this hike, what to pack and how to plan your trip.

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Camino de Santiago Training Plan

Though some part of Camino de Santiago are harder to walk than others, it is largely hikeable to most skill and physical fitness level. Climbing requirements, therefore, are minimal. 

You absolutely need to invest in a good, comfortable and sturdy pair of hiking shoes, of course. Especially if you’re doing the longer hikes, spending good money on shoes that will protect your feet and will last is better than a cheaper one that will destroy your feet and fall apart along the way. Do remember that you’ll be hiking on different types of roads, from dirt country paths to cobblestone streets and concrete highways. As far as climbing requirements for Camino de Santiago go, this is the main and most important one.

Pair those boots with an equally sturdy and comfortable pair of hiking sandals, which you use to give your feet a bit of respite and for showering in communal facilities. If you don’t let your feet breathe, you might end up with a serious infection at the end of your journey. To help protect your feet, choose socks that are not only comfortable durable and comfortable, but also odour-resistant.

While hiking poles are not absolutely essential, they will come in handy for extra support, stability and balance, as well as to take some of the weight off your legs and feet. Be sure to use a pair that fits your height, allowing your elbows to form a 90-degree angle when you’re using them.
If you are hiking in the wintertime, find out if sections of your route will be covered in snow. If so, you might need snow boots that are good for hiking, wool socks to keep your toes warm, gloves to protect your hands, and insulated snow pants.

And finally, while the Camino de Santiago routes are well marked and well-populated, it might also be a good idea to invest in a compass, a GPS app on your phone and a map, in case something happens and you lose your way. If you’re tackling a quieter route with less accessible parts, find out if there’s a need for an emergency phone or device that allows you to call for help when your regular phone isn’t getting a signal.

Camino Training Guide

Of course, while easier, it doesn’t mean that a Camino de Santiago hike doesn’t require a certain degree of preparation. Any hike that takes several days to complete, several weeks even, is already demanding and requires a level of health, physical fitness and skill. Just because you walk to a railway station from your office every day doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be able to take on the Northern Way.

Though you won’t need to train hard for a Camino de Santiago hike, you still need to develop a bit of strength and some leg muscles so that you can hike anywhere from 20 to 35 kilometres a day. To prep takes months in advance. Hiking every day, perhaps with a pack on your back, increasing the length, difficulty and level of ascents/descents as you feel yourself getting stronger is best.

Camino de Santiago Route Planner

Depending on the amount of time you have, your physical fitness and your general preference, consider each of the major routes carefully before you commit to one. Every one of them has their pros and their cons, some are longer and more challenging, some are considerably short and a breeze, others have better sceneries and a few offer better facilities. 

Read about the advantages and challenges of each route, and decide on the one that best matches your needs and preferences. There’s no right or wrong route to take, one isn’t necessarily better than the other; it all boils down to what you think is best for you and your journey.

Camino de Santiago Distance Planner

The major routes have their established sections or stages that many hikers and peregrinos follow for convenience. However, you can opt out of following these stages and do your hike your way at the pace you’re comfortable with. If you’re doing so, account for everything including making sure that there are available accommodations, cafes and ATM machines at your chosen stops, at the very least.

If you’re having your luggage transferred to your stops daily, be sure to let them know in which towns you’re planning on ending your days. If you’re not, be sure you are carrying some extra clothes and have the means to wash them every few days.

Finally, be sure you’ve got enough money to last you during your trip. Also, carry a little more than enough cash to last you until the next ATM machine, and it would be a good idea to carry a credit card, just in case, since some establishments along the routes do accept them. You wouldn’t want to run out of funds and not have a bed to sleep in at night before you get to the terminus.

Camino de Santiago training guide
Camino de Santiago training guide

Useful Spanish phrases and words

My name is...
Me llamo...
It’s a pleasure to meet you
Where are you from?
De dónde eres?
I am from...
Soy de…
Can I have a beer please?
Una cerveza por favor?
Can I have a glass of wine please?
Un vino por favor?
I am vegetarian
Soy vegetariano/a
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Puede ayudarme, por favor?
I’m allergic to…
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Camino de Santiago Statistics 2018

Here some statistics about the starting points of Camino de Santiago in 2018.

Saint Jean Pied de Port5,89116,55%
Oporto Costa9372,63%

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Camino de Santiago Information

  • 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 walk the Camino?

    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.
  • Can I walk the Camino during Christmas time?

    While most pilgrims prefer to walk the Camino de Santiago from Spring to Autumn, the number of pilgrims who walk during winter time is increasing. But be aware there will be less pilgrims on the way around those dates so you might miss out on the social aspect of the Camino.

Camino de Santiago Routes & Maps

  • Camino Portugues

    The 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.

    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.
    Read more
  • Camino Primitivo

    A 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.

    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.
    Read more
  • Camino de Finisterre

    Once 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.

    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.
    Read more
  • Camino Frances

    Is 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. 

    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.
    Read more
  • Camino del Norte

    For 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 Inglés

    A 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.

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