Thinking about walking the Camino de Santiago? We have compiled a list of FAQs to help you take the first Camino step.
1. What Does It Mean to Walk the Camino de Santiago?
The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, consists of a series of walking paths spanning across Europe. These various paths all converge in Santiago de Compostela, located in the North Western part of Galicia, Spain.
Dating back to the Middle Ages, pilgrims have traversed these routes, typically culminating their trek at the Santiago Cathedral. This historic destination is believed to house the burial site of St. James. For a deeper understanding of the trail’s historical significance, you might explore further here: History of the Camino de Santiago.
Although ‘The Camino’ is a common reference, there exist numerous distinct Camino paths to embark upon. The Camino Frances is the most frequented by pilgrims, yet the Camino Portugues Coastal route is gaining popularity, particularly among those who desire the refreshment of a sea breeze during their pilgrimage.
Around 65% of all Compostela certificates, issued by the Pilgrim Office in Santiago, are presented to those who journey along the Camino Frances. Despite its popularity, a variety of other Camino routes are available for selection.
2. Do I Need to be Religious to Walk the Camino?
No, you don’t have to be religious to walk the Camino. People from over 150 nationalities and various backgrounds walk the Camino each year.
Many embark on the Camino for religious or spiritual reasons. Others seek a unique experience, personal challenge, or a break from daily life.
Statistics from the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago showed that just 27% of pilgrims walked the Camino for religious reasons in 2020. Everyone has their own ‘Camino’, and each pilgrim has reasons to walk to Santiago; they are as important as each other.
3. Where is the Start of the Camino de Santiago?
That will depend on how long you want to walk and which Camino route you’ll take. The beauty of the Camino is that you can walk as much or as little as you like.
The starting point of the Camino Frances is the French town of St Jean Pied de Port at the foot of the Pyrenees, for instance, 800kms away from Santiago. This route is the Full Camino Frances and takes approximately 35 days to complete.
However, you can start walking the Camino anywhere along the route. Many pilgrims begin in Sarria (100 km away from Santiago). Walking the Camino de Santiago and Starting the Camino Frances in Sarria takes just one week of walking to reach Santiago.
4. How Long Does it Take to Walk the Camino?
It takes approximately;
- 5 weeks to walk the Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port;
- 5 weeks to walk the Camino del Norte from San Sebastian;
- 4 weeks to walk the Camino Portugues from Lisbon,
- 2 weeks to walk the Camino Portuguese from Porto for instance.
- The Camino Ingles from Ferrol takes only one week to complete.
Many French Camino routes converge at St Jean Pied de Port, including the Chemin du Puy route, so you could walk from central France or even Paris.
It should be noted that many pilgrims start their journey closer to Santiago. They customise the trip’s length to fit their physical abilities and available time.
Cycling along most of the Camino routes is also an option, which enables covering greater distances. However, this is advisable only for those who have considerable experience in cycling.
For more detailed information on how long it takes to walk the Camino, check out our dedicated blog post.
5. Which Route of the Camino de Santiago Should I Choose?
The choice is yours, but for first-time Camino walkers, you may appreciate the camaraderie and special ambience found on the Camino Frances or Camino Portugues, where you’ll likely encounter fellow pilgrims.
If you’re seeking a less-travelled Camino experience, there are many alternative routes to consider. In such cases, we recommend trying the Camino de Invierno.
6. How Fit Do I Need to be to Walk the Camino?
The Camino is accessible to all, yet if you’re planning to tackle a lengthy section (over a week), being in good physical shape is essential. We advise you to start walking regularly and gradually increase your distance in preparation for your journey.
For guidance on getting fit for the Camino, visit our Camino Fitness Plan which is full of useful tips. Additionally, you can download our Camino fitness guide for more detailed advice. For further training insights, don’t forget to check out our blog, “How Do You Train to Walk the Camino?”
7. What Types of Accommodations Can I Find Along the Camino?
Along the Camino Frances, you’ll encounter a range of lodging choices, including public and private hostels, guesthouses, and hotels. However, accommodation may be more sparse on the less frequented Camino paths.
At CaminoWays, our speciality lies in securing private en suite rooms for our clients at hotels and guesthouses along these routes. On certain trails, there are ‘superior’ lodging options available, such as luxurious Paradores, 4 and 5-star hotels, and charming boutique ‘Casas Rurales‘.
We are committed to providing you with the finest and most highly-rated accommodations available for your journey. For more information on these options, please refer to our blog post: Camino de Santiago accommodation options.
8. What is the ‘Pilgrim Passport’?
The ‘credential’, also known as the pilgrim passport, is a document provided by the Cathedral or your local St James Association. This document can be stamped throughout your journey and must be presented at the Pilgrims Office in Santiago to obtain your Compostela certificate.
If you begin your journey in Galicia, such as embarking on the final 100 km of any Camino route, you’ll need to get your credential stamped twice daily. You can acquire these stamps at various locations including hotels, restaurants, hostels, churches, and shops.
The pilgrim passport not only serves a practical purpose but also becomes a cherished keepsake from your journey. To learn more about the Camino passport and the certificates you can obtain, read further here: Camino pilgrim passport.
9. Where Does the Camino de Santiago End?
While the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela is considered the spiritual conclusion of the Camino, numerous pilgrims extend their journey to Cape Finisterra.
Reaching Cape Finisterra typically requires about 5 days of walking. This extension is referred to as the Finisterra Camino.
10. I’m Interested in Walking the Camino de Santiago. What Services Do You Provide for This?
Our role is to handle the logistical aspects of arranging a Camino journey.
The majority of our clients favour self-guided tours. We assist with detailed itineraries, pre-booked accommodations, luggage transfers, and essential information in a comprehensive holiday pack.
Additionally, we offer several guided tours that set off on predetermined dates. We can also cater to other needs, such as airport pickups and specific arrangements for groups.
Of course, many pilgrims choose to plan their Camino adventure independently. Our services are designed to simplify the process, allowing you to focus on packing your walking shoes and fully enjoying this unforgettable experience.
We have many useful tools to help you get ready for walking the Camino:
We trust you found our article on ‘All You Need to Know to Walk the Camino‘ informative and enjoyable. Should you require more details about walking the Camino, please feel free to contact us.