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20 Camino de Santiago facts you need to know

French-Way-o-cebreiro-caminoways.comGetting ready for your Camino? Here are 20 interesting Camino de Santiago facts you should know before you set off:

1 -Camino de Santiago means Way of St James and refers to the different routes leading to Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia.

2 -Santiago de Compostela means St James of the field of stars.

3 -There are many Camino de Santiago routes, starting in France, Portugal and Spain.

4 -Traditionally pilgrims used to start their ‘Camino’ from their own homes.

5 -The yellow scallop shell and yellow arrows mark the way to Santiago. Careful: the scallop might be facing different ways depending on the regions.

6 -The Camino Primitivo from Oviedo is the oldest Camino de Santiago route.

7 -However, the most famous Camino route is the Camino Francés or French Way starting in St Jean Pied de Port, in the French Pyrenees.

scallop-shells-camino-de-santiago-caminoways8 -The trail from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago is 800kms long and takes approximately five weeks to complete but you can start your Camino at any point.

9 -You need to walk at least 100kms into Santiago to receive your Compostela certificate.

10 -This makes Sarria (111kms away from Santiago) the most popular starting point for walkers.

11 -You will need to cycle at least 200kms to Santiago to receive your Compostela certificate. Cyclists on the Camino are known as ‘bici-grinos’ (bike-pilgrims).

12 -Over 200,000 pilgrims arrive in Santiago each year and receive their Compostela certificate. Many more walk different sections of the routes. You have to travel for religious/spiritual reasons in order to receive the Compostela.

13 -If you walk the Camino for cultural or non-religious/spiritual reasons, you can receive a certificate of welcome.

14 -The pilgrim passport (credencial) needs to be stamped at least once a day; or twice a day if you are starting your Camino in Galicia.

15 -The stamped pilgrim passport is required to stay in first-come first -served ‘albergues’ (public hostels), and walkers take priority over cyclists. Public albergues can not be booked in advance. At we book accommodation with local guest houses and hotels so you don’t have to worry!

16 -The 12th century Codex Calixtinus is the oldest Camino de Santiago ‘guidebook’.

cycling-the-camino-de-santiago-tips-pete-caminoways17 -The Camino is a long-distance trail with thousands of kms across Europe. The ways will combine off-road tracks with country trails, small roads and pavement, particularly getting in and out of bigger towns and cities.

18 -KM 0 of the Camino is actually not in Santiago but in Cape Fisterra, by the Atlantic Ocean, considered to be the ‘end of the world’ and a place of magical powers for pre-Christian communities.

19 -25th July is St James Day, a holiday in Santiago and Galicia. If 25th July falls on a Sunday, it will be considered to be a ‘Holy Year’ or Ano Xacobeo.

20 -Santiago de Compostela old town is a UNESCO-listed heritage site since 1985 and its University dates back to 1495. The Council of Europe named the Camino de Santiago as the first European Cultural itinerary in 1987 for its important role encouraging cultural exchanges since the Middle Ages.

You might also want to download our free Camino de Santiago Beginners Guide.

For more information about the Camino de Santiago routes or to book your Camino adventure, contact our travel specialists


Writer at
Marketing Manager Maria Golpe is from Viveiro, in the misty and beautiful northern coast of Galicia. She loves Santiago, where she studied Journalism at Santiago de Compostela University. She also loves good food, travel and all things arty crafty.
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13 Responses to “20 Camino de Santiago facts you need to know”


Hi Erin, thank you for your question. September is a great time to do the Camino and you will meet many other pilgrims along the way. The end of September to the end of October will still be quite busy but the weather might not be as warm. We would always recommend checking the weather forecast at least one week prior to your departure to get an idea of the temperature. Even if the forecast is for bright skies bring a raincoat as you will be in the North of Spain. If you have more detailed questions about the route itself you can contact our travel team anytime on Buen Camino, Lisa from


Hi, I am planning on traveling the camino starting the last week of September and finish the last week of October (mas or menos). How is the weather and the crowds then?


Brilliant article, these are some great tips! I cycled the Camino de Santiago last year and really enjoyed it. The amazing landscapes and super friendly people make it an experience to remember. I actually made a list of The 7 Things I wish I knew Before I cycled Camino de Santiago. Check it out if you’d like to!


Hi Neil, thank you for your comment. With our packages your accommodation is pre-booked for the route. You can find your own accommodation also. Be mindful that the albergues/hostels cannot be pre-booked in advance so if you are planning to stay in some along the way you will need to get an early start each morning to secure a place. September is quite a busy month on the Camino and I would suggest talking to one of our travel specialists before you go. You can reach out to them at The Camino de Santiago is an incredible journey. Kindest regards, Lisa.


Planning to walk the Portugal Coastal route in early September, how easy would it be to find our own accommodations? Thanks! N


Hi Cesar, April is a great month to walk the full French Way route. The route Napoleon over the Pyrenees should be open again, although this year for instance there was snow until April and it was recommended pilgrims take the Valcarlos route instead ( If you’d like to be sure, we would suggest waiting until later in the month. If you don’t mind taking the lower route, then anytime in April should be good! We hope this helps, let us know if you need any additional information. Kindest regards.

Cesar Arias

I want to walk the French way all 800 km. I want to go in April, is that a good month to travel?


Hi Raphael, any particular route you’d like us to quote? Let us know and our Customer Care team will prepare an itinerary for you. Kind regards.

LD Raphael

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Hi Zsuzsanna, it will depend on the route you are taking, the French Way can be very busy in August so booking accommodation will make it easier.

Zsuzsanna Komlodi

If I would like to go by my own (not with a travel agency) do I need to book the accommodations before the trip? I am planning to go last week of August. Best regards


Hi John, that is a good question but always a difficult one to answer! May/June would be a good option for you, since you are looking to avoid the crowds but have good weather. Bear in mind the weather will change a lot from the Pyrenees all the way to Galicia but September would also be a great month. That way you will avoid July and August across the Meseta, which will be the hottest months. See our busiest months on the Camino blog/graphic: I hope this helps!

John Sirianni

Probably an open question; when is a good time to start? Decent weather, others on the trail, but not peak season. Starting at #7 & #8 (see above). Thanks. Ps, any recommended books or trail journals,

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