What Camino de Santiago Route should I choose?
The path of the Camino de Santiago is chosen based on a number of factors. The most common factors are ease of access, weather, environment, and the amount of traffic. The first portion of the Camino Frances can be very mountainous, while the majority of the Portuguese Coastal Way is by the sea, and the final sections of both the Camino Frances and the Camino Portugues are well-traveled. Some pilgrims want to walk the entire Camino from beginning to end, and some pilgrims prefer to walk it in sections of a week or two.
Camino Frances Route
The Camino Frances or French Way, to Santiago de Compostela is the most well-known road and the richest in history. It begins in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees and crosses about 770km (about five weeks on foot) to Santiago de Compostela. It is the most recommended Camino de Santiago for pilgrims walking the Camino for the first time, or for those walking with children. Since the apostle’s tomb was discovered in the 9th century, this path has been active, and the current course was developed in the 11th century. It is a milestone in history, architecture and sociology. If you have only 1 week, and you want to see Santiago, we recommend the Camino Frances last 110km, 1 week starting from Sarria.
The Camino Portugues or Portuguese Way promises a quieter and flatter experience for walkers and cyclists, it splits in the city of Porto. The section that follows the Coast is called the Camino Portugues Coastal. A beautiful alternative to the Portuguese Way, the Portuguese Coastal Way takes you along northern Portugal’s Atlantic coast, past quaint seaside towns and picturesque beaches, before encountering the typical Spanish road to the end of Santiago de Compostela. The one that continues inland is called the Camino Portugues Central. This is the traditional Camino Portuguese road, is stunning and full of history, taking you through World Heritage-listed sites and rural regions that you would not otherwise see.
The Camino Finisterre or Finisterre Way is the Camino de Santiago that leads you in reverse, from the small fishing ports of Fisterra and Muxía on the dramatic coast of Galicia to Santiago. This is a perfect Camino if you want to continue your journey and experience the ‘real Galicia’ and spectacular scenery. You will need four to six additional days to Fisterra or Muxía. Finisterre you will meet the cliffs, lighthouse with a strong end-of-the-world. Muxia’s impressive Mary church perched on a rocky seashore commemorates the arrival of the Virgin Mary on a stone boat.
Camino del Norte
The Camino del Norte or Northern Way is the third most popular Camino de Santiago Route. It runs along Spain’s North Coast. This is the second-longest path to Santiago de Compostela (800km). This Camino provides amazing stretches of beaches and cliffs that draw more pilgrims each year. It provides a variety of landscapes, country lanes, Mountainous trails and Coastal path. The section after Santander is one of the quietest Camino. Top sights: San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, Gijón and Ribadeo.
Via de la Plata
The Via de la Plata is the longest Camino (1000km), it begins in Seville and finishes in Santiago de Compostela. This Camino during the middle ages was used by pilgrims from the South of Spain and North Africa. It is a more quiet choice than the Camino Frances or the Camino Portugues. This path weaves through a beautiful area known for its forests and lakes with many Roman ruins and UNESCO World Heritages. From the picturesque Ourense, renowned for its hot springs, the road gets hillier with pine and oak forests. The final leg leads north through common Galician farmland villages and hamlets.
The Camino Ingles or English Way was one of the main Camino de Santiago Routes for pilgrims from the British Isles and Scandinavians who sailed to the northern Spanish coast and walked to Santiago de Compostela overland. Nowadays, there are 2 ways: The Original Camino Ingles starting in Ferrol that allows getting your Pilgrim Certificate Ferrol and the so-called Celtic Camino Starting in A Coruna. For the first few days, you walk along the coast with wonderful sea views, then it follows a path inland, past ancient chapels and churches and green, tree-lined pathways to the city of Santiago.
The first pilgrimage to the Apostle’s tomb, that of King Alfonso II of Asturias in the 9th century followed. A very scenic yet challenging walk, the Camino Primitivo or Original Way, starts in Oviedo and travels for about 328km in a south-westerly direction towards Santiago. It has fewer amenities along the way and the route has a lot of steep ascents, so we recommend it to those that have some experience and look for a quieter Camino Experience. The Route, however, is wonderful as it takes you from mountainous Asturias to lush Galicia across beautiful valleys, mountains, and scenic viewpoints. The last 100km of the Camino Primitivo starts in the Roman city of Lugo, which is still completely surrounded by 2000 years old Roman walls and towers. This final section is not particularly difficult, but it is still more remote than its counterparts in Galicia, meets the Camino Frances, on the second walking day, in Melide, and continues for the next 50 kilometers to Santiago.
Handpicked accommodations on our Camino de Santiago Routes
With all of our Camino tours, your accommodation is booked in handpicked hotels, your luggage is transferred each day and you will receive all of your walking notes and maps in advance.
Travel light on the Camino, without Camino Luggage transfers. Leave your bag at reception by 8 am, then it will be delivered by 4 pm. Simple and it works! This service is available on all our Camino de Santiago Routes.
If you would like to learn more about the Camino de Santiago routes, including the history, the trails, and travel planning you can download our Camino Beginners Guide. If you are in the planning stages you can download our free 6 month Camino fitness guide