Top Camino Starting Points
Choosing where to begin your Camino de Santiago is an important step in your planning process. Where to start your Camino can be a big question and can sometimes reflect how long your journey will be, especially if you are hoping to reach Santiago and receive your Compostela.
Over 300 thousand pilgrims received their Compostela certificate in Santiago each year, according to statistics from the Pilgrims Office. This reflects the number of pilgrims walking at least the last 100km of any of the Camino routes or cycling at least the last 200km.
Below we’ve shared the top Camino starting points for the various Camino de Santiago routes and these will hopefully help you decide which section of a Camino route you would like to do.
Sarria is a lovely town along the Camino Frances and serves as the starting point for the last 100km of the French way into Santiago de Compostela. There are many cafes and restaurants in Sarria so it’s a great place to socialize before your walk. There is beautiful street art dotted along the town and the narrow streets are decorated with flags and full of beautiful historic buildings. It’s a wonderful place to begin your Camino adventure.
Discover The Route: Camino Frances From Sarria to Santiago
This town at the foot of the Pyrenees in the French Basque Country marks the very beginning of the Camino Frances, 800km from Santiago! The town itself was founded in the 12th century after the original nearby town of Saint-Jean-le-Vieux was razed to the ground by Richard I of England. St Jean Pied de Port might be small in size but has great charm. The medieval cobbled streets are lined with beautiful and unique red and white buildings inside the old town walls.
Discover The Route: Full Camino Frances From Saint-Jean to Santiago
The city of Porto is a popular Camino de Santiago starting point for pilgrims walking or cycling the Camino Portugues. Porto is a pocket-sized city, full of charm and colour. With both sides of the Douro river stacked with buildings of all sizes and colours, Porto is a visual wonder. Some highlights include the Cathedral Se do Porto, the Ribeira, Avenida dos Aliados, Clerigos Tower and sipping the famous port wine.
Discover The Route: Camino Portugues From Porto to Santiago
Baiona on the Camino Portugues is a postcard-perfect village with narrow cobblestone streets inviting you to explore. While in Baiona, visit one of the town’s attractions such as the Museo de la Carabela Pinta and the Monumento Encuentro entre dos Mundos. A great way to finish a day in Baiona is to wander down to the harbour and watch the sunset.
Discover The Route: Camino Portugues
A fantastic historic city, Leon is another favourite starting point on the Camino Frances, approximately 300km from Santiago. Leon is one of the most historic regions of Old Castile. It’s a large province, bordering Galicia and Asturias, Palencia and Zamora. The city’s old town is a treasure trove of Roman and medieval history. A real highlight of Leon is its magnificent cathedral.
Discover The Route: Camino Frances From Leon – customise using our route planner
The port city of Ferrol in Northern Galicia is a classic starting point for Camino pilgrims from Britain and Ireland walking the Camino Ingles to Santiago. Ferrol, one of the most critical shipyards in Europe, started life as a small fishing village. Its strategic location at the end of an estuary led it to grow into the city it is today. Ferrol is also home to one of Spain’s most elaborate Easter processions, so it’s a great time of the year to experience the Camino Ingles.
Discover The Route: Camino Ingles From Ferrol to Santiago
The tiny mountain village of O Cebreiro is also a popular starting point for pilgrims completing sections of the French Way. Nestled, at 1,300m altitude, the village is home to traditional mountain dwellings of pre-Roman origin, called ‘pallozas’. These homes are unique and are only found in this region of Galicia. Though small, there are quite a few attractions in the village and some local cheese (Queixo do Cebreiro) that’s well worth a try.
Discover The Route: Camino Frances
King Alfonso II was the first pilgrim to make the journey from Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, to Santiago, on what is known as the Camino Primitivo. The Camino Primitivo is the original way of the Camino de Santiago. Oviedo is a beautiful and historic city, with the Holy Chamber in the city’s cathedral serving as an important destination for Christian pilgrims. Oviedo is also the cider capital of Spain so be sure and sample a glass while exploring the city.
Discover The Route: Camino Primitivo From Oviedo to Santiago
Home to the impressive medieval Templars Castle, Ponferrada is a popular starting point on the Camino Frances. It’s located 200km away from Santiago so is also a common starting point for those hoping to cycle the last 200km and receive their Compostela certificate in Santiago. While in Ponferrada, make sure to visit the Templars Castle. The 12th-century castle was constructed by Ferdinand II to protect pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago.
Discover The Route: Camino Frances From Ponferrada to Santiago
We hope you enjoyed this article about the top Camino starting points. For more information about the various Camino de Santiago routes or if you would like some help planning your own Camino adventure, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You can also stay up-to-date with our latest events on our Facebook page.
I would recommend San Sebastian (Basque Donostia) as a starting point. My wife and I flew into Barcelona, spent a couple of lovely days there, then took an express train to San Sebastian, a world-famous resort town with fine beaches and cuisine, from high-class Michelin restaurants to a lively tapas scene. This was a good farewell to the self-indulgent life before the start of our 800 km walk on the Camino del Norte and the Camino Primitivo.