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Top 10 Camino de Santiago starting points

What are are the most popular Camino de Santiago starting points? Where do most pilgrims start their journey?

sarria-caminowaysAccording to statistics released by the Pilgrims Office in Santiago de Compostela for 2012, these are the Top 10 Camino starting points (top 5 are in the French Way). These figures only reflect those walking to Santiago AND registered by the Pilgrims Office (meaning they received their Compostela or certificate). These statistics don’t take into account the number of pilgrims walking sections of the Camino but not finishing in Santiago or those walking to Santiago but not applying for the Compostela. However, the figures give us a good indication of the most popular spots to begin your Camino journey:

1 – Sarria

40,734 (21,16% of the total) pilgrims started the Camino de Santiago in Sarria in 2012. Sarria is just over 100km away from Santiago so it is the minimum distance required to receive the Compostela.


2 – Saint Jean Pied de Port

22,214 (11,54%) started over the French border, in Saint Jean Pied de Port, at the foot of the Pyrenees and starting point of the French Way / Camino Francés.

3 – León

10,406 (5,41%) chose the city of León, approximately 300km away. The Montes de León are one of the highlights along this section.

4 – O Cebreirocebreiro-caminoways

10,315 (5,36%) started in the mountain village of O Cebreiro, Galicia.

5 – Roncesvalles

8,468 (4,40%) skipped the most challenging day walking across the Pyrenees and started in the village of Roncesvalles (790kms from Santiago), still in the Pyrenees.

6 – Tui (Portuguese Way)

8,436 (4,38%) began their Camino de Santiago in the border town of Tui, separated from Portugal only by the River Miño. Tui is 100km from Santiago, on the Portuguese Way.

7 – Ponferrada

7,765 (4,03%) started in Ponferrada, capital of El Bierzo region, roughly 200km away from Santiago. From Ponferrada to Galicia, you’ll get some stunning (but challenging) mountain walking and you will pass the famous ‘cruz de ferro’ (iron cross).

porto-caminoways8 – Porto (Portuguese Way)

Picturesque Porto, UNESCO world heritage city, and home of Port wine is another very popular starting point for the Portuguese Way. 7,641 (3,97%) pilgrims chose it as their departing point in 2012.

9 – Astorga

Astorga, 30km outside León, marked the beginning of the Camino journey for 5,666 (2,94%) people. From there, the French Way heads up to the stunning Montes de León, El Bierzo and then Galicia.

10 – Pamplona

Pamplona, in Navarra, famous for its run bull, was the starting point for 4,172 (2,17%) pilgrims.

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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3 Responses to “Top 10 Camino de Santiago starting points”


Dear Anne, thank you for getting in touch. Have a look at our full French Way itinerary to give you an idea of distances: We generally recommend taking rest days if possible. Taking this into account, as well as the split days available (to break down the longer days) it should take you 40 days approximately. Our stops are chosen to balance the distances covered each day as much as possible but they also adapted to accommodation being available locally. Let us know if you would require a quote or any additional information. Kindest regards.

Anne Nelson

If I leave from Saint Jean Pied de Port and traveled 15 miles per day, how long would it take me to complete “The Way” at Santiago de Compostela? Are there sleeping accommodations along the way?

Bill Hoopes

If I leave from Lourdes, France is the route as well marked as if I leave from St Jean Pied de Port?

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