Do I Need a Guide to Walk Camino de Santiago?
Unlike places like Kilimanjaro and Everest where an expert guide is either necessary or could mean the difference between life and death, hiking one of the routes of Camino de Santiago is certainly easy enough to tackle on your own. The trails are clearly marked and very walkable, so much so that hikers and pilgrims hardly need hiking gear.
In fact, many hikers do so, planning it and arranging everything on their own. Some, on the other hand, do a self-guided tour during which they simply have a tour company arrange accommodations and luggage transfers, while a few others actually join a guided tour not only for convenience but also for company and for a more informative experience.
Is it safe to walk the Camino de Santiago alone?
Independent travellers along the Camino de Santiago do everything on their own. They secure their own transport, accommodations and meals, as well as plan the actual hike and route segments on their own. It isn’t a difficult thing to do. As we mentioned earlier, the trails are marked well, and there are many people as well as towns to pass through, that it’s harder to lose your way.
If you’re looking to spend time with yourself on a journey of self-discovery, or if you prefer to travel with friends and loved ones, it’s certainly an option to consider. However, do realise that in the summer and winter months when available accommodations are few and far between, you’re on your own, so be sure to plan for that.
Self-guided walking tours
Much like with any other type of holiday, tour operators offer self-guided options to travellers who seek convenience and more security. Self-guided tours are essentially a compromise between an independent hike and a guided one wherein, most commonly, you get to hike a route on your own and largely in your own terms.
However, the tour operator is able to make arrangements for you for things such as meals, accommodations, and even transfers and pickups. Additionally, they can transfer your luggage for you from one section to another, allowing you to enjoy your modern conveniences without having to carry a heavy pack on your back.
Full service guided Camino tours
Guided tours are essentially tours when everything is taken care of for you. Plus, you’ve also got a knowledgeable guide who will not only share with you some insider information about spots you’re passing or visiting but also take care of any emergencies or issues that may arise during your hike, allowing you to simply focus and immerse yourself in the hike. Additionally, guided hikes along the Camino generally means that you’re travelling and bonding with a group of like-minded people.
If you’d rather travel with a group for security or if you are not used to travelling alone, it’s certainly a great option.
Camino routes by difficulty
Here the best time to walk the Camino de Santiago
|Camino Frances||Easy||772 km (480 mi)|
|Camino Portugues||Easy||610 km (380 mi)|
|Camino de Finisterre||Easy||90 km (155 mi)|
|Camino Ingles||Medium||119 km (74 mi)|
|Camino del Norte||Medium||827 km (514 mi)|
|Camino Primitivo||Medium||321 km (199 mi)|
Camino de Santiago tours & reviews
Camino de Santiago Trek
9 days from $1,879
- Follow one of the world's oldest pilgrim routes
- Explore cathedrals and medieval monasteries
- Collect stamps for your pilgrim's passport along the way
- Stroll through the historic Santiago de Compostela
St James (The Camino)
19 days from $8,487
Following St James' Way, Self-Guided Walking
13 days from $2,979
A Week on the Camino (self-guided)
8 days from $1,197
"Camino de Santiago" (Way of St James): Original Way
7 days from $627
"Camino de Santiago" (Way of St James): Fisterra Epilogue
5 days from $556
Guided Camino Walk - Sarria to Santiago
8 days from $1,399
Best of the Portuguese Way
10 days from $2,490
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.
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.
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.