Camino de Santiago FAQs

Is there a set route?

Is there a set route?

Many routes have been established over the centuries, and the most popular is the Camino Francés – the French Way. It has various starting points in France, but most walkers pick up the route in northern Spain – anywhere between Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees, and Sarria in Galicia – and continue along the route to Santiago de Compostela. As this is the most popular trail, there is plenty of lodging along the way and you’ll be walking alongside many other pilgrims, which is all part of the Camino experience. Other routes include the Portuguese Way, beginning in Lisbon or Porto, and the Northern Way – the Camino del Norte – a challenging route along Spain’s wild north coast.
How far do I have to walk?

How far do I have to walk?

While some routes cover hundreds of kilometres, the minimum distance you need to walk to say you have “officially” completed the Camino is 100km. You can do this by starting in the town of Sarria, Galicia. If you have the stamps in your Pilgrim’s Passport to show you have walked at least 100km, you can receive a ‘Compostela’ certificate, issued by the church. This religious document, issued in Latin, was once a way for pilgrims to prove they had paid their penance; for some it was seen as a guarantee to enter Heaven. Today, non religious pilgrims will receive a simpler certificate in Spanish.
Can I choose which sections I walk?

Can I choose which sections I walk?

Tailor made Camino de Santiago vacations allow you to skip sections of the trail if you choose – such as industrial areas on city outskirts and along major roads. It is also possible to do centre based vacations where you walk a different section of the Camino de Santiago each day, but return to the same village at night – this gives you a taste of the route, and may help you decide whether or not to take on a longer Camino vacation at a later date.
Do I have to stay in hostels?

Do I have to stay in hostels?

No. Plenty of municipal hostels with shared dorms – known as albergues – line the popular Camino Francés. Traditionally, pilgrims seek out a dorm bed at night with nothing booked in advance, but this is getting trickier during peak walking months as the Camino becomes more popular. However, there are many private hotels and guesthouses which offer a welcome level of extra comfort after a long day walking, and these will be booked in advance by your vacation company. Another advantage of staying in a hotel is that you won’t need to carry a sleeping bag or towel with you – both are often necessary in the hostels.
What is the Pilgrim's Passport?

What is the Pilgrim's Passport?

This “passport” is available from tour operators and from many of the towns and villages along the Camino de Santiago. Pilgrims need to obtain a minimum of one or two stamps in it per day to prove they have completed the route – stamps can be obtained in hostels, bars and cafes all the way to Santiago. For many walkers, the passport is essential to prove they are genuine pilgrims; without the stamps they are ineligible to stay in the municipal or parish-run albergues each night, although privately owned accommodations do not usually require proof of your route. You will need the passport stamps to obtain your Compostela certificate in Santiago to show you have walked a minimum of 100km, however; and for most walkers the passport is a prized souvenir of their trip, a testament to their achievement on what is an increasingly popular but still very challenging journey.

Our top Camino de Santiago Vacation

Kayaking the Camino de Santigo sea route, Spain

Kayaking the Camino de Santigo sea route, Spain

Experience the Camino de Santiago in Galicia by Kayak!

From 750 8 days ex flights
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How far each day?

How far will I be walking each day?

Most organised Camino vacations will plan stretches of around 14-27km each day, which allows you to enjoy the scenery, explore towns and villages along the way and not have to push yourself too hard on steeper or more challenging sections of the route. The first day is often a little gentler to allow you to warm up for the long walk ahead.
Why book an organised trip?

Why book an organised trip?

People have been walking along the various Camino de Santiago routes for over 1,000 years – but there are many reasons why modern pilgrims may opt for an organised tour. The first is ease: everything is planned out for you, accommodation is booked, you can arrange transfers at the beginning and end of your vacation and you’ll have the peace of mind of 24/7 support throughout your trip, should you require it. It also gives you more flexibility with accommodation, as you can stay in hotels or guesthouses outside the main towns – with transfers included. Crucially, your luggage can be transferred for you each day, leaving you to carry your daypack. On small group vacations this is included as standard; on a tailor made tour you can usually opt for this at extra cost. Tailor made tours let you choose your own route, duration and accommodation – skipping sections if preferred.
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Fresco Tours] [Is there a set route?: Fresco Tours] [How far do I have to walk?: Fresco Tours] [which sections?: josemaria] [Do I have to stay in hostels?: Fresco Tours] [Pilgrim's passport: Fresco Tours] [How far?: Fresco Tours] [Why book an organised trip?: Fresco Tours]
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