What are are the most popular Camino de Santiago starting points? Where do most pilgrims start their journey?
According 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 Cebreiro
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).
8 – 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.