Though the lockdown may have put an end to our travelling dreams for now, it will soon be over. We are all longing to get back to travel and be back on the roads. Why not try the Camino de Santiago for a chance to reconnect with nature and your fellow travellers?
Camino de Santiago beginners guide
The legendary Christian pilgrimage route is in fact not just one route, but rather a network of ways all leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. For the last thousand years, millions of people have made their way there on foot, horse, donkey, or in more modern times, by bike or car. But don’t be discouraged just because you happen to not be Christian, or religious or spiritual whatsoever.
The Camino de Santiago is more than that; it is beautiful views, charming small towns, delicious food and a chance to meet some incredible people, whether it is a local shopkeeper or a fellow traveller. It is whatever you want it to be.
Maybe you want to get away from the everyday hustle and bustle, maybe you´re doing it for a sense of personal accomplishment, maybe you´re doing it for the adventure, or maybe you just enjoy the walks with beautiful scenery.
Camino de Santiago Main Routes
There are many ways and routes to travel the Camino de Santiago, offering different scenery, distances and experiences.
Camino Francés, or French Way
The most popular route is the Camino Francés, or French Way, named so because most pilgrims traditionally came from France. The most common starting point on the Camino Francés is Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, which lies on the French side of the Pyrenees.
Camino Norte or North Way
The Camino Portugués or Portuguese way is the second most popular route and starts at either the cathedral in Lisbon or the cathedral in Porto.
Camino Norte or North Way
The Camino Norte or North Way is far less travelled and starts in the Basque Country. The route is believed to have been first used by pilgrims to avoid traveling through the territories occupied by the Muslims in the Middle Ages.
The oldest route is Camino Primitivo which starts in Oviedo. The history of this route goes back more than a thousand years.
Camino Clasico, the final 111 km from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela
These days, it is popular to start in Sarria and travel the final 111 kilometres of the Camino Francés to Santiago de Compostela. This is the shortest route to get the Compostela or Camino de Santiago passport, it is more manageable and less time-consuming than the entire Camino Francés. This beautiful route will lead you through the rolling hills of Galicia, arguably the most stunning landscape of the Camino, picturesque small towns, and will give you a chance to enjoy the very best of Spanish cuisine.
5 Tips for doing the Camino de Santiago
1. Invest in a pair of good walking shoes
This cannot be stressed enough. After all, even the shortest route, (from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela) is 111 km long so make sure to bring shoes that you have already worn and feel comfortable with! This goes for clothing in general, wear comfortable clothes suitable for the terrain, and prepare for all kinds of weather depending on the season you are doing the Camino de Santiago.
2. Follow your own pace
It is not a race. This is a once in a lifetime adventure, so really make sure to take it all in and make the most out of it. The Camino de Santiago has so much to offer, don´t rush and miss it!
3. Get your Pilgrim Passport
In order to get your official Camino Certificate Passport (La Compostela, as it is called in Spanish ), when you arrive in Santiago de Compostela, you’ll need to have walked at least 100 kilometres and collected two passport stamps every day along the way. The passport also makes for a great memento of all your hostels, coffee stops, lunches and dinners along the trail.
4. Start walking early in the morning
You may not be a morning person, but starting your walk early in the morning will reward you with beautiful sunrises and cooler temperatures. By getting most of your walking in early, you will have more time in the afternoon to rest and take in the sights.
The Camino de Santiago can be challenging, so make sure to truly enjoy the food, the scenery and all the great people you’ll meet on the way! There will be plenty of gorgeous small towns filled with cafés and restaurants, so make sure to stop for a moment and enjoy your break
In future posts we will talk about how to prepare for the Camino de Santiago.
Buen camino futuros peregrinos 😉
Alexander Lundquist, is a freelance writer, who studied journalism and loves travel and sports. This time he wanted to collaborate in our blog writing a brief introduction of what is the Saint James Way or Camino de Santiago.