20 Camino de Santiago facts you need to know

Getting 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.

8 -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’.

17 -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 Maria

    Dear Linda, thank you for getting in touch. Wishing you a lovely trip. There are local bus companies connecting the towns along the way. If he is looking to walk only part of the trail each day, it might be easier to arrange a taxi. Let us know if we can help. Kind regards.

  2. by linda kelley

    My husband and I and two other couples will be walking El Camino in the fall of 2019 starting in Sarria. My husband will not be able to walk as far as the rest of us. Is there a bus that could take him to the next village? We will have our hotels all pre-arranged.
    Thanks, Linda

  3. by Lisa

    Hi Ravi, thank you for your question. Usually pilgrims will wish eachother well by saying ‘Buen Camino’ and depending on what time of the year you choose to travel you will meet a lot of other pilgrims outside the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Kind wishes, Lisa from CaminoWays.com

  4. by Ravi

    How do the Santiago-pilgrims recognize each other?

  5. by Maria

    Hi Sandra, thank you for getting in touch. You can see the full Camino del Norte itinerary here: https://caminoways.com/ways/northern-way-camino-del-norte/northern-way-full-way. Our packages include accommodation in guesthouses and hotels, let us know if you would like to receive a quote or itinerary. Kind regards.

  6. by sandra valadon

    I would like to go solo but by bus alone
    not walking as I did at 20
    From San Sebastian where are the stops
    and cheap inns

  7. by Maria

    Hi Roel, thank you for getting in touch. You could start from the town of Palas de Rei and walk 65kms over four days (Palas de Rei, Melide, Arzua, Amenal and Santiago), or start closer to Santiago in Melide and walk three days (50kms): https://caminoways.com/ways/french-way-camino-frances/french-way-section-8; let us know if we can help. We can prepare an itinerary and quote for you.

  8. by Roel Goudriaan

    I want to do about 50 or sixty kilometres of the Camino de Santiago, where do I start please

  9. by Maria

    Hi Anel, thank you so much for getting in contact, here’s an overview of the Le Puy route from Le Puy en Velay to St Jean Pied de Port: https://caminoways.com/ways/le-puy-way-chemin-du-puy/le-puy-way-full-walk (33 days); you would then have to continue on the Camino Frances: https://caminoways.com/ways/french-way-camino-frances/french-way-full-way (36 days). We would recommend you include some rest days as well, as this will be quite a long trip. Rome2Rio is a great resource to find the best way to get to the starting point. Lyon airport is the closest international airport to Le Puy en Velay and from Santiago you can fly back via Madrid. The ‘access’ tab on those links include information about the closest airport to each main town. There are many female walkers and the routes are really safe. Let us know if you need anything else, always happy to help.

  10. by Anel

    Good day,

    I want to do the route from Le Puy to Santiago from August. Any safety concerns for a solo female and an approx. time to complete. Also does anyone have any advice for the best/least expensive way to travel from South Africa?
    Thanking you in advance

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