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 CaminoWays.com 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



  1. by brian

    I hope to start the Camino from Tui on 24sept if anyone wants join me?

    Best wishes

  2. by Maria

    Thank you for getting in touch Sergio. Many pilgrims organise the Camino independently and perfectly doable. The Camino Frances for instance has many albergues (public hostels) along the way and they work on a first come, first served basis (no prebooking). Here’s a blog post we have written about all the accommodation options on the Camino: https://caminoways.com/types-of-camino-de-santiago-accommodation, I hope this helps! Buen Camino!

  3. by Sergio Palomo

    I intend to solo hike the 700km Camino de Santiago, no package tour, just me. I want to know if there are information that I can obtain such as, accommodation without prebooking. One reason I want to do it alone is because of the prohibitive cost of package tour. I will appreciate any advise. Thank you

  4. by Maria

    That’s no problem, Ellen. I’ll get our Customer Care team to prepare a quote for both routes for you. Let us know if you need anything else! Kindest regards. Maria

  5. by Ellen

    For Maria . . . I commented earlier about a mother / daughter trip in 2 years. I was looking for an approx qoute from Porto, yes. As far as guest housing and hotels is another route recommended more? If possible i wouldnt mind a qoute from Burgos as well!!

  6. by Maria

    Thank you for getting in touch, Ellen, that sounds like a great plan for a very special mother and daughter trip. Our customer care team will send you some details. Are you looking at walking from Porto? Kind regards

  7. by Ellen

    Im looking to take the Portugal route in 2 yrs when my duaghter graduates college. Can you give an approximate quote on booking thru you with guest houses and hotels? Ive been reading and gathering information on training and how to prepare for this trip. Thank you!

  8. by Lisa

    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 info@caminoways.com Buen Camino, Lisa from CaminoWays.com

  9. by Erin

    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?

  10. by Nick

    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! http://whitleytravels.com/7-things-cycled-camino-de-santiago/

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