Along with covering countless miles on the Camino de Santiago, there are other plans and sights to take in. While some pilgrims only choose to walk and rest, others take advantage of all the activities available along the entire Camino de Santiago.
Depending on how much time you have, you can choose from among the many various Camino de Santiago route options, which range from simple 120 km walks to difficult 800 km & even 1000 km treks. We must forewarn you that the Camino may become addicting; after finishing their first Camino trip, many individuals return time and time again.
No matter who joins you, if you intend to walk the Camino de Santiago, keep reading because, in this post, we describe everything you can do and see while walking the Camino de Santiago, as well as when you take a break in the afternoons. Plans and pursuits for various pilgrim types!
Arrangements & activities for the Santiago Camino
Many of the tasks that must be completed on the Camino de Santiago are mostly marked by the pilgrim’s regimen. The everyday activities of a pilgrim are getting up early, walking, and eating; however, on the Camino de Santiago, there are several programmes interspersed that will ensure you have the best possible time.
Camino de Santiago
Santiago de Compostela, the city in Galicia, is reached by the Camino de Santiago, often known as the Way to Saint James (Spain). The body of Saint James is thought to have been interred in Santiago’s cathedral. The first pilgrimage towards Santiago de Compostela was made by Spanish King Alfonso II from Oviedo in the ninth century, which is when the Camino de Santiago first became known. These days, people refer to this route as the Camino Primitivo.
If you find yourself overwhelmed when you first start planning your Camino and have a lot of questions, we’ve written a piece specifically dedicated to answering your questions regarding the Camino de Santiago.
1. Routes on the Santiago Camino
In contrast to what some people believe when referring to the most well-known route, the Camino Frances, the Camino de Santiago is actually a network of pathways. In fact, the Camino can be started from anywhere in Europe, but outside of the traditional Camino routes, it will be challenging to find a pilgrim infrastructure, such as lodging, route markings, etc.
There are numerous recognised Camino routes, all of which begin in various locations and conclude in Santiago de Compostela. The most well-known route is the Camino Frances, or “the French Way,” which is used by around 55% of all pilgrims. Seven hundred ninety kilometres total distance. Only the final 100 kilometres from Sarria are walked by 50% of travellers who finish this trip. Any Camino must cover the last 100 kilometres to Santiago in order to receive the Compostela.
Although most people walk it from Porto, it begins in Lisbon. Depending on which route you follow, Porto is 260 kilometres or 280 miles away from Lisbon, for a total distance of 616 kilometres. There are two distinct routes that depart from Porto: the Coastal path, which is taken by just 4% of pilgrims, as well as the Central route, taken by 20% of them.
The Northern Way, or Camino del Norte, is becoming more and more popular. In 2019, 6% of all pilgrims that arrived in Santiago finished this Camino. A fantastic alternative to the French Camino is the Northern Way. Both routes were walked to me, but you preferred the Camino del Norte scenery.
2. The Camino Primitivo, or “Original Way”
5% of all pilgrims walk one of the less popular Camino routes. Despite being only 321 kilometres, the route is regarded as one of the hardest because of the numerous steep ascents & descents. Spain’s Oviedo is where the Camino Primitivo begins.
The Via de la Plata, sometimes known as “the Silver Way,” is one of the least travelled (3% of the routes in St. James), and it is the longest established route. Since it has less infrastructure and longer stages than the original Camino, it is not the finest path to walk. It begins in Spain’s Seville.
The 120 km Camino Inglés (the English way) begins in A Corua/Ferrol, Spain. one of the Camino paths that are least walked (3,5%). It’s perhaps the finest choice for individuals who are just starting off. More Camino routes are available (basically, you can start walking to Santiago from any more or less large Spanish city); from Valencia, take the Camino de Levante; from Almera, take the Camino Mozárabe (joins the Via de la Plata after Merida); from Barcelona, take the Camino Catalán; and from Madrid, take the Camino de Madrid.
Imagine how few facilities they have, considering that less than 1% of pilgrims travel all of these routes each year. One “special” route exists. Unlike other routes, the Camino Finisterre-Muxa departs from Santiago de Compostela & travels to the Galician coastal villages of Finisterre and Muxa. After finishing one of the other Camino routes, people typically walk it.
3. The best walking Months
Some Caminos are fantastic in the summer, like the Via de la Plata and the Portuguese Camino (Lisbon portion), when it’s beautiful and warm, and there isn’t much rain. On other Caminos, the heat is intolerable.
The busiest months for most routes are July and August, but we’ve never walked a Camino during these times because we simply don’t enjoy crowded places. The finest walking months, according to our observations, are May, June, and September (save for the Via de la Plata, which is still too hot in September).
Months for Experiencing the Best Hike
You can experience excellent weather on the Portuguese Camino in May, ok conditions on the Camino Primitivo in June (it was mildly warm, but we received a lot of rain, which wasn’t typical for June), excellent conditions on the Camino del Norte in October, and unfavourable (rainy and windy) conditions on the Camino Finisterre in November. We advise travelling along the Via de la Plata between late March and early May since the weather is mild, dry, and not yet oppressively hot.
Considering that the French way has the greater infrastructure (more allergies) & some of them are open all year round, it is perhaps the finest Camino route to walk from November to February. Most allergies are closed during the off-season on other routes, like the Camino del Norte.
Winter is not the ideal season weather-wise because it can be cold and rainy, there may be snow in the mountains, and some passes may be closed. Winter is an excellent time to walk the Camino if you want it to be completely empty of people; otherwise, aim to do it between March and also the beginning of November.
4. The Benefits and Drawbacks of Hiking the Camino
However, most of the time, they didn’t even bother to do any research on the Camino de Santiago; instead, they started walking the French way, the highest traffic route in high season, and then came to their conclusion well about Camino in general.
Even after completing six Caminos, you still have a strong desire to walk more. Here are our arguments in favour and against the Santiago Camino.
1. Benefits of travelling the Camino
You don’t need to have any specialised training or be particularly athletic. It will be difficult for many people, especially during the first week or so. The fact that it is definitely possible is what matters. Choose a shorter Camino or walk the final 100 kilometres to Santiago on any Camino if, for any reason, you can’t or don’t want to walk for a month.
There are usually populated cities and villages along the route, so it is safe to stroll there. The infrastructure is present, the route is defined, and there is no need to make previous reservations or secure specific permissions; you can simply show up and begin walking.
You may visit many interesting locations and attractions without spending a bunch of money because it is not pricey.
When you only move by walking for a few weeks, it changes how you see supposedly slow travel. There are no restrictions on how far or how quickly you may walk; you can take your time & cover 15 km every day or attempt to break a record by finishing it in the quickest amount of time.
Reducing carbon footprint involves riding bicycles or walking instead of cars or buses.
2. The Drawbacks of the pilgrimage walk
There will be other people, automobiles, cities, & noises along the path, so it’s not your typical wilderness trip. Just be aware that the Camino wasn’t intended to be a hiking trail; rather, it was intended to be a pilgrimage and still is. There are several paths around the world where you can go on a wild hike (away from infrastructure, cities, and people).
Not because the scenery is monotonous, but rather because you follow the same daily routine: wake up, pack your belongings, start walking, continue walking, arrive at the albergue, take a shower, unpack your belongings, and then repeat the process every day. You do grow weary of this pattern, but the Camino is not to blame. Sometimes you walk alongside the road, on some routes more (such as the Camino Frances) and on others less (such as the Camino Primitivo).
5. The cost of Walking
Depending on your comfort, you can give up; walking the Camino is neither expensive nor cheap. The most affordable way to travel the Camino is;
Should mostly stay in communal (public) albergues, prepare your own meals, and avoid stopping along the way for coffee or other refreshments. Not to go out for an alcoholic beverage. Your Camino budget might be as low as 15-20 euros per person per day if you follow these guidelines. Just keep in mind not to make too many sacrifices to save more, and try to make the walk enjoyable.
6. Budget Breakdown
The average cost of an albergue for a pilgrim is between 6 & 7 euros per person for a public albergue and 10 to 12 euros per person for a private albergue. Budget 8 euros per person per day for lodging; occasionally, public albergues may already be full when you get there, and occasionally, there may not be any public albergues in a town, so you’ll have to alternate between staying in public & private albergues along the way hotels.
You may expect to pay between 25 & 50 Euros for a private double room, depending on the region and time of year. Our research indicates that the typical cost is around 30 euros.
Purchasing food from supermarkets and preparing your own meals is the most affordable method of eating. A kitchen that has at least a microwave, basic utensils, and cutlery is present in the majority of the albergues. Depending on what you buy and where you shop (local stores are typically more expensive than huge supermarkets), it costs roughly 10 Euros per person to buy groceries and two or three meals.
Carry less clothing and wash them more frequently to reduce the weight of your pack. Machines for washing and drying clothes are common in albergues and are quite helpful. If you’re too exhausted to wash by hand or if your belongings need a full cleaning since they’re too dirty. Typically, drying costs 2-4 Euros and washing costs 3-4 Euros for each load. Some of them can fit up to 15 kilogrammes.
If you don’t want to spend additional money on laundry, you can wash your clothes by hand in the majority of albergues, which also provide special washing basins. You can dry your clothing for free with spin dryers at some locations. Once a week, we typically performed large-scale machine laundry.
Spanish cities & towns are very well connected with one another. Depending on your location and the time, you can select the most practical and affordable alternative from a variety of transportation options, such as local, low-cost flights, trains, and buses. Budget flights may be less expensive than taking the bus if you book in advance, but keep in mind that typically just carry-on luggage is included in this fee.
For instance, a rail ticket from Santiago to Barcelona will cost you 30 Euros (economy class), whereas a bus ticket will set you back 30 to 35 Euros. Train tickets to Madrid from Santiago cost between 30 & 40 euros. Note! Typically, purchasing tickets online is more affordable because there are frequently special discounts available for both trains & buses.
7. Advice for the Camino de Santiago
Our key Camino advice is to walk at your own speed, avoid pushing yourself too hard in the beginning, allow your body time to acclimatise, and become accustomed to walking rather than following guides and other people’s itineraries. Stick to walking 20 to 25 kilometres per day at first; if you find these distances uncomfortable, reduce your daily mileage to 15 kilometres. Take your time and enjoy the walk; don’t rush. Arriving in Santiago a few days later and in good health is preferable to arriving sooner but hurt.
This will make your pilgrimage more comfortable. If you wish to walk the Camino but lack time to do so all at once, divide your journey into months or years. This is how many people do it: they begin the walk, make it as far as they can (or can in the time they have), stop, start again from where they left off, and so on and so forth until they reach Santiago.
For the Camino, bring only what is necessary and don’t overpack. Many walkers reevaluate their luggage after the first day and decide to leave some items in the albergues or simply throw them away. Aim for a 6kg bag for men and a 5kg backpack for women; neither is excessively hefty and still allows you to load everything you need.
For the Camino, make sure you have sturdy footwear. The pair that you can comfortably stroll in for several hours. Even if they are excellent, avoid wearing brand-new shoes because blisters are almost certain to develop.
Never leave your valuables unattended, such as in restaurants or albergues; always bring them with you when you leave the house or secure them in a locker (if one is available). Having a pouch or even a small foldable backpack to store your cash, phone, and camera is quite convenient.
We advise purchasing a local SIM card so you may access the Internet and telephone as necessary, such as to make an albergue reservation. In Spain, you may purchase a Vodafone SIM card with 2GB of data and 200 local phone minutes.
Make sure you have the proper converter for charging your gadgets because Spain, like the majority of European nations, uses Europlug (type C outlets).
You used public water everywhere throughout Spain and Portugal and never experienced any problems. However, you came across several French Way residents who became ill after drinking tap water somewhere near Meseta. Carrying a LifeStraw and using it to filter tap water is considerably better (less expensive and more environmentally friendly) if you have sensitive stomachs than purchasing plastic water bottles on a daily basis.
On Sundays in Spain, the majority of stores are closed. It’s quite unlikely that you’ll find everything open on Sundays, particularly in smaller towns, so if you need to buy something, do it on Saturday.
If you don’t want to carry your rucksack on the Camino, you can arrange to have it delivered from albergue to albergue each day. Several businesses provide this service, along with the Spanish post office. Each bag costs between 4 and 5 euros. Note: Public albergues do not accept backpacks; delivery is typically only possible between private albergues.
If you think you might need a break along the way, plan a few extra days. Accommodation on the Camino de Santiago Albergues are the name for the pilgrims’ lodging on the Camino. Municipal (public) or private options are available. The municipality manages the municipal albergues with the assistance of volunteers. There will be either one or two private albergues in which you can stay for an additional 4 euros even if you don’t receive a spot.
There are albergues available for donation; they may be private or public. There is no set amount; pilgrims can give whatever they can or wish to. Be aware that many people exploit this and fail to leave a donation or even just one euro. Because of this, there are getting to be fewer and fewer donation albergues along the Camino de Santiago. Albergues that accept donations are only available to pilgrims with credentials, cannot be reserved, and often offer the same amenities as public & private albergues.
8. How are Albergues Located?
You shouldn’t worry; they will locate you. Municipal albergues always have clearly defined entrances; simply follow the arrows & you’ll most likely arrive there. The majority of private albergues have signs pointing in their direction because they want visitors to find them; a few may be a little off the Camino, but for the most part, they are close to it.
It is best to reserve a private albergue in advance during the busiest months of July and August if you wish to stay there (because it is particularly nice, someone has suggested it to you, etc.). Some albergues can be located on booking.com, while others can be reserved over the phone.
9. Food on the Camino de Santiago
Finding a spot to dine on the Camino is not difficult; most routes, particularly the more well-travelled ones, offer an abundance of eateries and taverns. The most well-liked meal on the Camino is Menu del Da. The fixed menu consists of a salad or soup, a main dish (meat, chicken, or fish), a choice of wine, water, or a cool beverage, bread, cappuccino, or dessert. The menu is between 10 & 12 Euros, and the portions are typically substantial.
It is offered at many restaurants, bars, & private albergues for lunch; some locations also provide a dinner menu, albeit it is slightly more expensive.
A lot of taverns and cafes serve breakfast. Typically, it consists of an orange juice glass, a sandwich or other baked goods, and a cup of coffee. A large English and American breakfast are available in some tourist locations, although it is not a custom in Spain.
Depending on the location, tapas or pinchos are particularly well-liked throughout Spain. Anything can be served as tapas or pinches, including a tiny sandwich, a piece of tortilla, a small serving of paella, etc. Some pubs offer tapas with your drink for no additional fee. Typical in Northern Spain are pinchos. Pinchos are always extra; the cost is around 2 euros.
You adored pinchos at San Sebastian and Logroo (Camino Frances) (Camino del Norte). There are a few excellent tapas bars in Santiago de Compostela that provide the tastiest fish tapas. In Santiago, partake in tapas and local wine as you mark the conclusion of the Camino. Petiscos do Cardeal & Taberna do Bispo on Rua do Franco street are two of the popular bars in this area.
If you follow a particular diet, such as a vegetarian or vegan one, you will have the most dietary problems on the Camino. It may be challenging to locate vegan and vegetarian menus in smaller towns, but it is common in large cities.
Finding a hotel with a kitchen that allows you to prepare your own food is the best choice. For a donation, several private albergues serve communal dinners that are typically vegetarian or vegan.
10. Community on the Camino
Individuals have various experiences, so if you’re looking for peace and alone, nobody will annoy you or try to get in your way. You can find folks to talk to in albergues if you’d like to do so on the way there or after. We observed individuals staying to themselves while strolling alone, establishing groups & spending all of their time together, etc.
11. Ways to get ready for the Stroll
The Camino can be difficult even for reasonably fit people because of the long distances, carrying a backpack, sleeping inside a different bed (typically a bunk bed) each night, packing & unpacking a backpack each day, and using shared facilities. Some of these difficulties call for both physical and mental training.
It is not required to perform any extra training for the Camino if you are an active person who regularly goes hiking, running, or to the gym; all you need to do is make sure the shoes are comfortable and have seen a lot of use. The only thing we would advise is to prepare your Camino bag and go for a stroll or climb with it.
It is preferable to begin training in advance if physical exercise is not a regular part of your routine. Start with walking for 5 km without a backpack a few times per week, then increase the distance to 10 km. If you get the chance, go on a 2-3 day hike to evaluate how you feel about carrying a backpack for a few days.
The greatest thing you can do if you don’t have time to train is packed your rucksack lightly and start your Camino by hiking short days, no more than 15km.
12. Route Indicating
You rarely had trouble locating the way because all known Camino paths are clearly marked. Sometimes the path was marked with steel scallop shells on sidewalks in large cities, but most of the time, it was extremely simple to follow. Yellow arrows and scallop shells have been painted on sidewalks, walls, poles, etc., to identify the Caminos. The route markers in Galicia indicate the remaining distance to Santiago’s cathedral.
13. Vérigé d’ Orisson
Day 1 of the Camino Francés from St. Jean Pied de Port through the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles is unquestionably one of the toughest hikes. In roughly 20 kilometres, you travel from a height of 170 metres to one of 1450 metres. You are essentially scaling a mountain. You reach the 1095-meter-high Pic D’Orisson point about halfway up the ascent.
A monument of the Virgin Mary holding her infant is situated just off the Camino. She is thought to have been transported from Lourdes to keep an eye on the mountain-climbing pilgrims.
This backdrop has the potential to make an enduring impression, depending on the weather you experience at the top & how your body is feeling. Whether you consider yourself to be religious or not, Mary offers a relaxing and reassuring assurance that you won’t be walking the Camino alone after overcoming that challenging uphill climb and understanding that only the legs and strength would get you to Santiago.
14. Alto del Perdón
There is a fair climb to the Alto del Perdón after you leave the bustling city of Pamplona for around 13 kilometres. This is known as the “height of forgiving” in Spanish.
You are surrounded by huge wind turbines and the renowned structure of pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostela when you reach the top. The 1996 installation of the statue symbolises the movement of pilgrims over the years. The first traveller represents the beginning of the Camino because he seems to be searching for the Way.
A group of three pilgrims standing in front of him demonstrates the increase in popularity. Then, merchants on horses demonstrate how the road was used by mediaeval traders. These pilgrims are followed by a big area. This area portrays the pilgrimage’s downfall as a result of political, religious, and social issues. Two contemporary pilgrims present the revived interest in the Way towards the conclusion.
Check out the artwork once you reach the summit. However, getting a bird’s eye perspective is our favourite reason to ascend the 790 metres.
In actuality, it is challenging to become bored while walking the Camino de Santiago. We advise you to make an effort to partake in a few of these while travelling. From Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, the Camino de Santiago seems to be a pilgrimage route that weaves its way through the top of northern Spain. From beginning to conclusion, it is about 790 kilometres long and takes about 30 days to walk. It has gained popularity recently and is now travelled by individuals of all ages & skill levels.