Walking el Camino de Santiago: Routes, Costs, and Maps

By Rintsje Bosch

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Walking el Camino de Santiago: Routes, Costs, and Maps
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El Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James in English, is one of the oldest pilgrimage routes in the world. Dive deep in the Mediterranean culture and walk through vineyards, dine in little bistros and meet like-minded pilgrims while walking el Camino de Santiago. A glass of Rioja is well deserved after a good day of trekking along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Find out about how long does it take to walk the Camino de Santiago, what is the best month to do it, the routes of the Camino, the food along the way, the distance, a map, and more!

When walking the Camino de Santiago, there are several options to choose from in order to get to Santiago de Compostela. The French way is by far the most popular route, but, having said that, the Portuguese, English, and Finisterre way gained a great number of trekkers as well over the last few years. Below we will tell you about the different options, the costs of the trek, the best month to do it, and a lot more! Go for a 7-day trek to complete the last 100 km or go the long way and become a true pilgrim during the three-week trek. Vamos!

What is the Camino de Santiago?

The Camino de Santiago is an ancient trail that leads to Santiago de Compostela. The Camino de Santiago was born in the Middle Ages, when the tomb of the apostle James the Great was discovered. The discovery of the remainings brought about a wave of Catholic pilgrimages eager to visit the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where its crypt is located. Although it did begin as a religious pilgrimage route, it has also played a key role in the development of the European identity, its communication, and the exchange of ideas and projects.

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Where is el Camino de Santiago?

All the Camino routes end in Santiago de Compostela, province of A Coruña, Spain. However, pilgrims would travel from all over Europe to visit the cathedral. Most trekkers walk the last 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the routes, which start and end within Spain.

Where does the Camino de Santiago start?

As we mentioned earlier, all routes lead to Santiago. However, the routes being from all directions. For example, the French Way starts in Sarria, while the Portuguese Way starts at the Spanish border with Portugal, in Tui. Here is a list with the starting and ending points of each route:

French Way: Sarria - Santiago de Compostela

Full French Way: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port - Santiago de Compostela

Primitive Way: Lugo - Santiago de Compostela

Long Primitive Way: Oviedo - Santiago de Compostela

Portuguese Way: Tui - Santiago de Compostela

English Way: Ferrol - Santiago de Compostela

Finisterre Way: Santiago de Compostela - Santiago de Compostela

Map of the Camino de Santiago

If you are looking for a map with the different routes, here is a map by one of our trekking partners, Pilgrim Travels:

Map of the Camino de Santiago

Did you know that we can book all overnight accommodation for the Camino de Santiago for you? Check out all our options here.

Camino de Santiago: distance and how long does it take to walk it

Now, this is a tough question. Most routes have a 1-week version which usually consists of the last 100 kilometers (62 miles) of that specific road. So an easy answer would be: the Camino de Santiago is 100 kilometers long and you will need 7 days to complete it. However, as we explained above, you can do the full roads too. In that case, you will need more days. The longer versions usually last 2 weeks, but if you want to be a true pilgrim, you can do the full, 31-day version of the French Way, which covers 765 kilometers (475 miles).

What are the routes of the Camino de Santiago?

As mentioned above, there are several routes that lead to Santiago de Compostela. Here is a quick description of each of them:

French Way

The French Way is one of the most popular trails and it is not difficult to understand why. If you choose to start your hiking tour in France, then your starting point for this trek will be in the heart of the vineyards in France, followed by the mountains of Galicia in northern Spain and will end in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The splendid landscapes and the hospitality of the people will make your trip unforgettable. You can also start the trek withing Spain and do a shorter version of the French Way.

Portuguese Way

The Portuguese Way is a good alternative to the French Way if you are looking for an experience through more rural areas and less traveled paths. You can do the last 100 km of the Way, from the border between Portugal and Spain, or you can choose the complete pilgrimage from Lisbon. Enjoy breathtaking landscapes of the countryside, taste the best Port wine in the world, and visit historic cities and towns.

English Way

The English Way does not begin in the United Kingdom or England, as you might think. This is the traditional hiking route followed by pilgrims from overseas (from the British Isles and Ireland), starting from the Spanish port cities of A Coruña and Ferrol. It follows an epic coastal route through the forests and countryside of northern Galicia. Since this is one of the shortest routes, make sure you walk at least 100 km to receive the Official Certificate of Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

Finisterre Way

The Finisterre Route is the only route that starts in Santiago de Compostela and leads west to the Galician coast. The trek to Cape Finisterre will take you through ancient villages, forests, and along the rugged coast where you will enjoy the fresh sea breeze. Curious fact: Finisterre was thought to be the end of the world. In fact, it is the origin of the term: Finis (end) Terre (world).

Primitive Way

This route is considered the original Camino de Santiago. King Alfonso II of Asturias was the first to walk from Oviedo to Santiago to worship the remains of Santiago. In the first stage, you will walk through the same places as Alfonso II did. On the 12th day, you will join the French Way from Melide.

What are the routes of the Camino de Santiago?

What is the best month to walk the Camino de Santiago?

If you are trekking in Europe, the best season to go trekking is pretty much the same for all the treks. It doesn't matter if you are trekking in Crete or walking the Camino, Spring and Autumn are always the most advisable options, that is to say from March to May and from September to November. During these seasons the weather is not too extreme and all hotels and restaurants along the Camino are open. If you prefer fewer pilgrims on the trails, you can also walk the Camino in Winter, but bear in mind that during this season, rain, wind, and frost are frequent, and it is even possible to find snow in the higher stretches, such as in Roncesvalles or O Cebreiro. Also, some restaurants and hotels choose to remain closed during these months. Summer is the most popular time to do the Camino. If you choose this season, get ready for crowded hotels and restaurants, fuller trails, and hot temperatures.

What is the Pilgrim's Passport on the Camino de Santiago and how does it work?

The Pilgrim's passport or credential accredits the traveler as a pilgrim and certifies his or her orderly passage through the different towns and villages on any of the Jacobean routes. It includes the personal details of the pilgrim, space for the stamps, and useful information about the Way of Saint James, with maps and routes.

You can get the Pilgrim's passport at one of the many Pilgrim's associations, hotels, churches, or in one of the Confraternities of the Apostle James. You won't have trouble getting it at the start of your trek, they are very easy to get. You can also ask at the tourist information point, they will tell you the closest place to get it.

The passport is full of blank boxes in which the pilgrim will have to put the stamps that certify their passage through the different towns of the route. You can get these stamps in hostels, Pilgrim's associations, parishes, and also at the post office of each town.

What is the Pilgrim's Passport on the Camino de Santiago and how does it work?

At Bookatrekking.com, we not only book your accommodation and luggage transport, we also send you on your way with a comprehensive hiking guide with the most important information for your Camino de Santiago, including interactive Komoot maps. Browse all our options here and turn your dreams into reality.

A typical itinerary on the Camino de Santiago - The French Way

This 8-day route from Sarria to Santiago is the most popular Galician part of the popular variant of the Camino de Santiago, the French Way. Read on to see the daily itinerary for the entire route.
Day
1

Arrival in Sarria

You arrive in Sarria the day before you start on the Camino Francés. This contributes to a relaxed start of the trip.

DP Cristal (Sarria)

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DP Cristal (Sarria)
Day
2

Sarria - Portomarín

Duration: 05:10 h
Distance: 23.2 km
Ascent: 370 m
Descent: 440 m
The tour starts with a gentle route from Sarria to Portomarín. Along the way, you will walk through small villages, beautiful landscapes and past Romanesque churches. Also, near Ferreiros you will pass the mark indicating that it is exactly 100 kilometres to Santiago, popular for a short stop. At the end of the stage, you will arrive in Portomarín, one of the most beautiful villages on this part of the Camino Francés.

PortoSantiago (Portomarín)

Info
PortoSantiago (Portomarín)
Day
3

Portomarín - Palas de Rei

Duration: 05:40 h
Distance: 25 km
Ascent: 520 m
Descent: 320 m
After the start, you soon hike up through dense forests, the route taking you through many picturesque villages and along stone paths. Along the way you will pass Castromayor, among others, where you will find remains of an old fortress and a Romanesque church. At the end of the stage, you will arrive in Palas de Rei, one of the most characteristic places on the Camino Francés.

Pensión Palas (Palas de Rei)

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Pensión Palas (Palas de Rei)
Day
4

Palas de Rei - Melide

Duration: 03:20 h
Distance: 14.9 km
Ascent: 220 m
Descent: 320 m
Today you have a beautiful stage ahead of you, covering 15 kilometres this day. You will walk over an old medieval bridge after a few kilometres, which may even have survived from Roman times. The trail takes you along ancient paths, trees and green meadows. The finish today is Melide, popular with pilgrims for its many facilities. You can also see the medieval remains of the town there.

Pension Esquina (Melide)

Info
Pension Esquina (Melide)
Day
5

Melide - Arzúa

Duration: 03:00 h
Distance: 14 km
Ascent: 240 m
Descent: 310 m
Today the route continues along gravel paths, several old bridges and the medieval town of Ribadiso, just before Arzúa, one of the pilgrims' favourite places. Once you arrive in Arzúa, we recommend tasting the typical local cheese!

Hotel Arzúa (Arzúa)

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Hotel Arzúa (Arzúa)
Day
6

Arzúa - O Pedrouzo

Duration: 04:30 h
Distance: 20 km
Ascent: 280 m
Descent: 390 m
Today is a relaxing hiking day, nice after the effort of the previous day. The walk takes you through eucalyptus forests, charming villages and along small rivers. We highly recommend visiting the chapel of Santa Irene, a popular attraction among pilgrims. According to legend, James' body was meant to be buried in the tomb of this church instead of Santiago, until it was discovered that dragons lived on nearby Pico Sacro. Who knows what else you might encounter along the way...

Pensión Residencial Platas (O Pedrouzo)

Info
Pensión Residencial Platas (O Pedrouzo)
Day
7

O Pedrouzo - Santiago de Compostela

Duration: 04:30 h
Distance: 20 km
Ascent: 300 m
Descent: 310 m
The last walking day of the Camino has arrived. From the top of 'Monte do Gozo', you have a view of Santiago de Compostela and its magnificent cathedral. A special moment. When you arrive in Santiago, don't forget to go to the Pilgrims' Office for your final stamp and official compostela. A special journey is complete, now you can explore Santiago and perhaps attend the pilgrim mass at the cathedral.

PR Campanas de San Juan (Santiago de Compostela)

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PR Campanas de San Juan (Santiago de Compostela)
Day
8

Departure from Santiago

Your Camino has come to an end, today you will leave Santiago to travel home or to another destination.
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What do you eat on the Camino de Santiago?

This is one of our favorite topics. You must bear in mind that you will be walking for days and you will need energy. However, try not to get too full every time you sit at a table so that when you have to get back on your feet, you won't be too heavy. It is very important to manage what you eat along the trails.

Now, let's talk about the fun part: the food. Along the trails, you will find plenty of restaurants and bistros with typical dishes from the region like empanadas, caldo Gallego, lacón con grelos, or pulpo a feira. Get ready for delicious wine, bread, and lots of seafood! We recommend taking your time to take a break from all the walking, have a chat with other pilgrims, enjoy the surroundings, and try traditional dishes each day. If you are worried about the prices, many restaurants have a special daily menu for the pilgrims doing the Camino at a reasonable price.

What do you eat on the Camino de Santiago?

How hard is the Camino de Santiago?

This trek is an easy one, children and old people complete the trail, and you probably won’t have problems. Let's be honest, it is not like you will be climbing mount Everest. However, you will be trekking for many days, so it is better if you get ready for it. Try walking a few hours a day the weeks before your trekking and try wearing the same shoes you will be wearing during the trek, that way you prevent getting blisters or hurting your feet. Another good idea is to walk with a backpack on your shoulders so that your back gets used to the weight.

Not sure yet or want to discuss your plans for the Camino de Santiago with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turn your dreams into memories!

Packing List for the Camino de Santiago

No matter where you go hiking or for how long, bringing the right equipment is of utmost importance. For your hike, the first thing you need is a good backpack. The size of it will depend on the number of days you will be trekking, the season and the clothes you take with you. If you have luggage transport, the comfort level of your daypack is most important. We have compiled a packing list with a few essential items of clothing you should bring and some extras you might find useful:
  • Essentials

  • Extras

Do I have to carry my own luggage?

You can, but you don't have to. If you want to carry your luggage in a backpack along the trails, that is fine, you can do it. However, most trekking companies arrange the luggage transfer for you from one hotel to the next. The weight limit is usually around 20 kilos per trekker. Your bags will be picked up every morning from the hotel lobby and will be waiting for you at your next stop once you get there. That way you only have to worry about enjoying the walk. Practical, isn't it?

Safety tips for the Camino de Santiago

Although this is far from being a trek in the Himalayas, unexpected things can always happen and you might also find obstacles on the hiking trails along the way. The Camino de Santiago is safe, the trails are quite straight forward and there is not an extreme difference in altitude. However, for your safety, every hike deserves a level of respect; respect for the terrain, the trails, wildlife and vegetation, local rules and regulations, and above all, your physical capabilities and safety. Therefore, for an unforgettable and safe hiking memory, please keep the following safety recommendations in mind:

  • Know your limits

    Always prepare each stage carefully to use your energy wisely, respect your physical and mental limitations, and avoid taking unnecessary risks. When ascending or descending, if applicable, always use the aids provided, such as handrails and ropes. Is this trek suitable for you? Well, familiarize yourself with the grading system and figure out if this trek matches your capabilities. If you still need professional advice you can always contact Bookatrekking.com experts.

  • Stay on marked trails

    The most important thing is to never leave the marked paths. For easy navigation we work with our trusted partner Komoot, whose interactive maps, also available offline, provide you with the necessary digital means to get from A to B in the Camino de Santiago. As a backup, make sure to bring a hiking guide or a paper map with you.

  • Fully equipped

    Make sure you have the necessary gear for the conditions you'll be facing, including appropriate clothing, footwear, and any necessary equipment for the terrain you'll be hiking on. Always wear clothing adapted to the weather of Camino de Santiago and protect yourself from cold and wetness or heat and sun. Besides, make sure you carry enough food and water for the duration of your trek. On the way, you might (or might not) be able to buy snacks.

  • Stay reachable

    If you are hiking solo or in small groups it is advisable to inform people back home about your plans, what route you are taking and when you plan to return. Even small incidents can lead to unpleasant emergencies so make sure you are available at all times. Bring a charged phone containing at least the phone numbers of immediate family members, your accommodations en route and the emergency phone numbers operating in the Camino de Santiago.

  • Respect for nature

    Do not litter, prevent noise, stay on the marked trails, do not disturb wildlife or grazing animals, and respect protected areas.

Where Can I Book the Camino de Santiago?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided Camino de Santiago and many other treks. We take care of all the details for you, including arranging accommodations, organizing luggage transportation and providing you with relevant information well in advance of your trek. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is the Camino de Santiago not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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