What’s the right Camino de Santiago route for me?

If you’re reading this, congratulations, you’ve already taken the first step on your journey to Santiago de Compostela, and what could be a life changing experience. And we don’t say that lightly, almost everyone who manages to carve out enough time to walk a full Camino de Santiago seems to experience a subtle change in their outlook.  Not necessarily from a religious perspective, but there’s something about the long, slow journey that encourages deeper thought, perhaps, than we can get away with in the ‘real’ world.

That, accompanied by the fact that it’s very much a shared experience, between you and the other pilgrims, and everyone who’s walked this way in the last 1,000 years.  You’re literally walking in the footsteps of kings and popes, farmers and fishermen, artists and
authors. You’re joining that revered group of pilgrims, and you’re all equal on the Camino.

That being said, many of the Camino routes can actually be broken down into stages that people return to over the years until the whole walk is complete, so if you don’t have a month up your sleeve, don’t worry. Just read on, decide which Camino suits you the best, and you’ve taken another step to getting your Compostela. Buen Camino!



Camino Frances – The French Way 
Countries: France, Spain Distance: 812kms Days: 36 – 40
Start: St Jean Pied de Port
Finish: Santiago de Compostela

Find out more about the 38 Day Camino Frances here

Although it’s called the French Way, you’re not in France very long when you walk this particular Camino. St Jean Pied de Port is just over the border from Spain, and really sets the scene for your journey as you wander along cobbled streets, over the medieval bridge and through the Porte d’Espagne to the other side of the ancient walls.

This is the most popular Camino route, with around 33,000 pilgrims starting here every year so you’ll be in good company as you set off. The walk takes you up and over the Pyrenees to begin with, so your fitness levels have to be reasonable to take it on, but once you’ve traversed the mountains into Spain it becomes a touch easier.

Like many of the Camino routes you’ll walk through stunning countryside and quaint little villages, each with their own unique character and local delicacies, and now and again you’ll find yourself in a historic Spanish city. Before long you’re in Pamplona, an impressive city that was founded by the Roman general Pompey in 75 BC, and actually owes much of its growth over the years to the Camino itself.

Rather well-known now, of course, because Ernest Hemmingway happened to visit and write about the ‘Running of the Bulls’. Time your walk to arrive around the 7th – 14th July, and you’ll see what all the fuss is about.

Over the coming weeks you’ll stroll over the impressive Roman Bridge of Puente La Reina, take in the wonders of the 13th Century Gothic cathedral in Burgos, and probably get to know a number of people you’d never have met otherwise, eventually arriving at Santiago to complete your pilgrimage, receive your Compostela, and a well-earned rest.

Oh, and if you want to get a bit of a preview of the entire walk, you can watch a movie called ‘The Way’, where Martin Sheen completes the pilgrimage to honour his son.

Choose this Camino route if…
You’re looking for the quintessential Camino experience, with a perfect combination of historic cities and rural countryside, along with the shared experience of all the other pilgrims you’ll meet along the way. And you’ll be walking through the centre of the La Rioja wine region, which is as good a reason as any!

Bridge Roman Camino sm


Portuguese Camino de Santiago
Countries: Portugal, Spain Distance: 223 – 259 kms Days: 14 – 15
Start: Porto
Finish: Santiago de Compostela

Find out more about the 14 Day Portuguese Camino De Santiago Central Way here 

Find out more about the 15 Day Portuguese Coastal Camino here

This is the second most popular Camino route with the majority of pilgrims setting off from Porto making it a very manageable walk at approximately two weeks.

Porto and nearby Lisbon are both UNESCO World Heritage listed cities, and well worth spending a few days exploring, however, the highlights of this Camino route are to be found in the rural, off the beaten track places you’ll discover. And, just to add a bit more variety, there are two different routes you can choose from.

The Central Way takes you inland, where you’ll delve into dark forests, delightful old cities and towns to soak up the history of one of the oldest countries in Europe. Much of the architecture dates to the early 1500s, when Portugal began to establish one of the longest colonial empires in European history.

The Coastal Route, on the other hand, is the path least travelled, and will give you a more authentic experience as you walk along the rugged coastal cliffs and glorious beaches. The fresh, salty air remains a permanent feature as are the frequent stops in fishing villages to enjoy some grilled sardines, salted cod and a host of other Portuguese delights.

Whichever way you choose, however, you’ll always have the sun at your back as you journey, ever northwards towards Santiago.

Choose this Camino route if…
You’d like to spend some time in Portugal, visiting places even most of the Portuguese don’t visit very often, and you’re drawn by the prospect of all that wonderful food. Custard tarts, caldo verde soup & piri piri chicken anyone? Yum!

Coastal Camino (PGW) (14)


Camino Primitivo – The Original Way
Countries: Spain Distance: 215kms + 103km (318km in total) Days: 11 + 8
Start: Oviedo
Finish: Santiago de Compostela

Find out more about the 11 Day Camino Primitivo Stage 1 Oviedo – Lugo here

Find out more about the 8 Day Camino Primitivo Final Stage Lugo – Santiago here

One of the particularly nice things the Camino has become known for over the years is the camaraderie between you and the other pilgrims. If you prefer a more solitary journey, however, this may well be the Camino for you. It’s one of the least frequented walks, probably because it’s one of the most challenging, taking you up and down through the Cantabrian Mountains of Galicia on a route that peaks at 1100 meters above sea level. If you feel fit enough to take it on, though, it’s also known as one of the most beautiful Caminos of all.

It’s called the ‘Original’ Camino because when St. James’ remains were discovered in the 9th Century, King Alfonso II set off from Oviedo to verify the authenticity of the find. Once confirmed, he ordered the building of the original Basilica to store the relic, and a number of castles on the way to protect the original pilgrimage route.  The route changed when the capital of Asturias moved to Leon, and the ‘French Way’ took over from there.

Leaving Oviedo, you’ll hike through beautiful natural parks to begin with, and it’s pretty remote for much of the way before you finally arrive at Lugo, where many people stop for a day or two. Lugo is blessed with a wealth of ancient Roman architecture, from the World Heritage listed city walls to the Roman baths and bridge, along with a wonderful Cathedral. If you get there towards the end of October, you’ll also enjoy the Fiestas de San Froilán which is the biggest party of the year – the old quarter is filled with carnival heads, bands, markets, jugglers and a host of other medieval theatrical events.

Exhausted from all of that, no doubt, you’ll continue on and eventually merge with the Camino Frances in Melide.  The number of people on the walk will increase significantly, and by now, you’ll probably enjoy the company as you trek the final stages to Santiago.

Choose this Camino route if…
You’d like a more solitary experience, you’re not put off by the challenging walk and you appreciate the genuine history that comes from the very first, original pilgrimage of King Alfonso II.


Camino Finisterre – The Way to the End of the World
Countries: Spain Distance: 90 kms Days: 6 days
Start: Santiago de Compostela
Finish: Cape Fisterra

Find out more about the Camino Finisterre here

This particular Camino starts where the traditional one ends, right outside the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. It’s a short four day walk through the Galician countryside to Cape Fisterra, where you can treat yourself to a well-deserved swim in the sea.

This ‘additional’ Camino is actually an even older pilgrimage, dating back to the pagan days when it was believed to be the departing point for spirits, taking ferries to the islands of the dead. It’s also where the sun goes down over the Atlantic Ocean, and when the Roman Empire finally reached this ‘end point’ of the Iberian Peninsula, they discovered an ancient Phoenician temple to the sun. ‘Ara Solis’ was later destroyed by the Apostle Santiago, but the area is still full of pagan myths and legends.

If you have the time, and you might as well seeing as you’ve come this far, take another day and walk down the Costa da Morte (yes, the Coast of Death) and finish your trip in the little fishing village of Muxia. This is the point where St. James’ body supposedly arrived by boat, after being set adrift from Rome, and if you’ve seen the movie ‘The Way’ – it’s also where Marin Sheen and his friends finish their journey too.

Choose this Camino route if…
You’ve enjoyed yourself so much you just don’t want to stop! And you harbour a desire to soak in the ocean, watching the sun sink into the Atlantic.


So that’s it! As already mentioned, many of these routes can be split into shorter sections so if you don’t have the time for the whole walk, we can still work something out. Any questions in the meantime, feel free to comment below, send an email or give us a call.

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