Firstly, you might not know that there is more than one route. The most popular Camino is Camino Francés but there are others which are becoming really well-known such as Camino Portugués, Camino Primitivo, Via de la Plata, Finisterre way…
Pilgrims and secular travelers alike, following the yellow painted arrows and iconic scallop shells that way mark the route. Each day walk brings the traveler to a new hamlet or village, town or city, always heading west, towards the Cathedral city of Santiago de Compostela. Many will take 6 to 8 weeks walking the Camino de Santiago in its entirety, but most people spend a week or two on the final section through Galicia. Here you have some options:
- Walking The Full Camino Frances (approx. 800 kms / 500 miles)
The Camino Frances starts from just across the French/Spanish border at the small French town of St Jean Pied de Port. From here, a fairly tough climb takes you over the Pyrenees, and down into Spain. The major cities of Pamplona, Leon and Burgos are spread at equal intervals along the road to Santiago de Compostela, with many small hamlets, villages and towns peppered in between. The entire route is brimming with culture, history and many sights to be seen. Many festivals take place through the year and you may be lucky enough to encounter one on the Camino. Tackle the full Way as one journey, or break it up into smaller sections to be completed at your leisure, year on year.
- The Camino Portugués
They are not one route but three routes through Portugal into Spain finishing in Santiago de Compostela. The Camino in Portugal is quieter than the Camino Francés, though it is the second most popular Camino.
The main starting points for the Camino Portugues are:
Lisbon – 612km/380miles
Porto – 240km /150 miles
Tui – 119km/ 73 miles – about half of all pilgrims start at this point.
- The Camino Monacal ( 265km/165 miles)
As an alternative to the interior Portuguese Route we offer you the Portuguese Route which leads by the Atlantic coast from Porto to Santiago. Magnificent landscapes, undiscovered places, very few pilgrims, so if you would like to escape from more crowded routes, this one should be yours.
- The Camino Primitivo, the original route. (approx 260km/160miles)
The Camino Primitivo is an ideal way to explore the first known way to Santiago de Compostela. It owes its origin to the King Alfonso II of Asturias who walked this route to visit the newly discovered tomb of the Apostle Santiago in the 9th century.
The way starts in Oviedo and winds through central Asturias and Galicia, and although originally not that famous, it has become increasingly more popular over the past few years. Nonetheless, the experience has little to do with the overcrowded Camino Francés as well as the overwhelming solitude of the other routes.
- Via de la Plata (112 kms / 70 miles)
This Camino can be longer but most pilgrims start it in Ourense, Galicia. On the Quiet Camino you’ll witness a rural Spain still largely unchanged by modern times. This route crosses a more varied terrain than the Camino Francés but also less frequented. The route crosses Galicia from south-east to north-west, through an ancient land with its own peculiar language and customs. From Ourense to Santiago you’ll be following a delightful route through wooded rolling countryside, passing through countless hamlets and stone built villages.
- The Final Section to Santiago (approx. 118 kms / 74 miles)
Some Caminos become the same route when you walk into Galicia.The Way enters Galicia through the foothills of the Ancares mountains range. This is an area that still preserves a traditional way of life. This is evident by the “Pallozas” ; the circular, stone-built dwellings with thatched roofs you’ll see in O’Cebreiro. Galicia is the green corner of Spain and it’s lush meadows support many family-run dairy and beef farms. The many wooded paths and lanes here have an enchanted quality, as you wind your way through green valleys with steep sides, through ancient villages and across stone bridges.
- Finisterre way (97 kms / 60 miles) and Muxia (add 31 kms / 19 miles)
As an extension to walking the Camino to Santiago, having rested for a couple of days in Santiago, some pilgrims wish to undertake the final leg of the route to Cape Finisterre or even further to Muxia on the Atlantic Coast. Another option is to simply choose to transfer here by bus or taxi from Santiago and enjoy a beautiful day walk to the ocean, with an additional night or two spent locally, before your return home. A walk on the beach, searching for your own scallop shell makes for a superb ending to the whole experience. Walk the 97 km route to Finisterre over 7 days. You can also continue to Muxia over 2 extra days. This path makes for a stand alone journey for those that are looking for a new Camino, or seek a quiet and more remote route.
Pilgrims can pick different sections of each Camino with transfers in between if they want to. So you can get a tailored journey that fits your requirements. Moreover, the ease of train travel makes it possible to combine your walking experience with added cultural highlights of the Camino.
Buen Camino, amigos!