El Camino de Santiago, The Way of St James

El Camino de Santiago de Compostela (in English: The Way of St. James) is a network of routes across Spain and Europe which all lead to Santiago de Compostela, in the northwest of Spain. In the Middle Ages, these routes were walked as a pilgrimage to the tomb of the apostle St. James.

Nowadays, tens of thousands walk or cycle the Camino de Santiago every year in an epic journey of 500 miles. People from all over the world with all kinds of motivations: sport, culture, religion, nature, adventure etc., travel El Camino de Santiago, or parts of it, in a lifetime experience. El Camino de Santiago has been declared World Heritage by UNESCO and the First European Cultural Itinerary.

 The main routes of El Camino de Santiago – The Way of St. James are:

The French Way (in Spanish: Camino de Santiago Frances) which goes from the French side of the Pyrenees through the interior of northern Spain as far as Santiago de Compostela, in the Spanish region of Galicia. It’s the most famous and followed route of El Camino de Santiago.

The Northern Way (in Spanish: Camino de Santiago del Norte) which from the Basque Country follows the northern coast of Spain and the mountains of Asturias until Santiago. It has breathtaking landscapes and it’s less crowded.

The Silver Way (Via de la Plata) starts in Seville in Andalusia, southern Spain, and follows an ancient Roman route merging with El Camino Frances in its final part.

The Primitive Way or Original Way (Camino de Santiago Primitivo) crossing the high mountains of Asturias.

– The Portuguese Way (Camino de Santiago Portugues) from the Portuguese city of Porto.

This website covers general aspects of planning your pilgrimage along Camino de Santiago – The Way of Saint James and provides information and tips for future pilgrims. We focus especially on the French Way and also on the Northern Way because they are the most popular but we hope to add further information on the other routes in time.

Map of El Camino de Santiago or The Way of St. James

Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James: A long tradition

For centuries and centuries, indeed since the very beginning of Christendom many pilgrims have followed St. James’s footsteps across Spain and they still continue to arrive in Santiago de Compostela.

Camino de Santiago means freedom, culture, sport, nature, tradition, challenge, peace but above all it is freedom. Numerous emperors like Charlemagne, popes like Calixtus II, kings like Alfonso II, brave knights like the Spanish “El Cid” or the Knights Templar, noblemen, thousands of priests, farmers, beggars, travelers, the healthy, the sick, the blind, the lame, the rich and the homeless; all of them were pilgrims in el Camino de Santiago and all of them were treated the same, because no one knew if the dirty, tired and blistered pilgrim that just arrived in the village before sunset was a king, a bishop or a pauper. They were and still are all pilgrims always looking for something, always bringing new ideas.

104 thoughts on “El Camino de Santiago, The Way of St James”

  1. I’m interested in joining a group. I’m from south Africa.

    I look forward to hearing from you


    1. Hi Steve.

      I am thinking of doing the way of St. James next August. I have already done three times. The first time i walked from Roncesvalles to Lolgroño. The second and the third time I walked from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela. I am 44.
      I won´t be sure if I do it this summer ´til I talk to my wife because she wouldn´t like me to do it alone.
      Shall we chat about the possibilty of doing a part of the WAY together?

      1. Hello Jose!

        A friend and I are planning on doing it sometime in June 2016. This is the first time we do it. Do you mind chatting with me so you can give me some tips. I’m really not sure where to start planning this trip. I will appreciate your help and may be we can join you. Hope to hear from you Jose

      2. Good day. I am planning to walk the last 200 km to Santiago starting 1 August 2016.
        Have you made your plans yet?

    2. Hi Steve, I am also from SA, although in the Uk this year. I will be doing the French Way around Mid September this year. Have you done your Camino yet? Would love to chat to anyone, especially if you are going around my time in September. I may go mid June depending.

      1. Leaving from Florida May 31st to walk part of the St. Frances, from Triacastela and Samos . I’m so excited. I’ve got two weeks so not really sure exactly where I’ll begin. Buen camino, folks!

      2. Yes, I’ll be there in September. Starting on 7th from St Jean. Maybe see you on the way!

    3. Groups can be good and a hinderance, depending on your purpose and ability. Some are fast hikers, others more leisurely, shall we say. You will meet new folks and lose them and regain them along the way. Look for John Brierley’s guidebooks: http://www.caminoguides.com/guide.html most excellent intro and what to expect on the Camino. Mine is well used. Keep a small journal for yourself, and to remind you of all the pictures you took!
      Watch “The Way” movie, very well done and much underappreciated. Filmed on the trail, you will recognize some spots.

      1. I am embarking on my first ever trip out of South Africa.
        I am terrified and so excited and full of joyous anticipation!

    4. Steve, best to you when you do go. I’m interested in going to Africa. It’s been on my heart since March. If you know of any opportunities that could use a missionary for a week or two, please let me know. I am totally new at this, but if doors open, I’ll be there. Liz

    5. Hi Steve,

      I’m considering doing this later in the year, likely around November …. What’s your timeframe for this?

      1. Hello Diana,

        Would love to join you. Its my first time and i am planning do it Porto-Santiago in 5 days. Do you think that is ambitious? Lets talk as i am planning to do it Last week of November. I am so clueless as well.

    6. i am from Philippines but currently working in Middle East. I am traveling alone and I would like to join as well a group. I read someone wanted to do it like late November. My timetable is to do it in 5 days walking 50 kms a day. I just hope i can do it. What about your plan?

      1. hi felix!
        i just gathering info and found u here. have u executed the above plan? im hoping to do it next year wanted to check and wondering about the visa?

    7. Whats your time frame. I am also traveling alone would like to have some company. I am from Philippines. Lets chat and so we can plan with Diana.

    8. Have you done it yet? I’m in NJ and trying to plan this pilgrimage. Hoping to find people prepping for the same.

      1. Im new at this . i would like to do it in june but dont have a Clue where to start. . Any suggestions. I need help.

      2. Hey Guys,
        Just got back to South Africa from my Camino.
        Walked from Leon to Santiago.

        Need any help or info please don’t hesitate to contact me.
        Buen Camino.

      1. I am going on my first Camino next year and was thinking about starting in Leon. How long did it take you, and any unknowns or interesting spots?
        Thank you so much

  2. I would like to know the distance from Leon to Stgo. I’m about to celebrate my 88th birthday, and apart from being quite deaf, I’m fine.
    I’ll only have one problem when I get there, and that is that I’m allergic to Incense, so how do I overcome the bota Fumeiro at the pilgrim’s 11 o’clock Mass on arrival?
    Que Dios os bendiga, M.E.Y-C.

    1. Although it will compromise your view a bit, if you are terrifically sensitive I suggest you sit well to the rear of the enormous church. The incense stays mostly up front in the crossing, and if you are still bothered anyway you can easily escape. You won’t miss the Mass in this case, as the BF is deployed at the very end. Also, it isn’t necessarily used–I was made to understand that it was a bit of luck to see it in action on a random weekday.

    2. I grew up in a catholic school and remember faithing with incense, but now days l can tolerante it, I guess after so many years I build up a resistance to it….I praise you for at the age of 88 and still eager to do it…when are you planning to go? My husband and are going to be there around tepee 20th of April, we plan to do the last leg to Santiago…

  3. Hi to all of you.

    I’ve made a desicion to do mine pilgrimage.

    I am 25 years old, never did anything simulat but for last two I have a wish to do so.
    Unfortinately I do have two weeks free time and only what I can do is Original way.
    Please help me how to make my trip easier!?!?

  4. I don´t mind chatting with you.
    Well, about where you can start, it depends on two heads.
    The first point, it is how long both of you will be walking. I mean If you want to walk about 10 days you will start closer than if you walk 3 weeks.
    The second point, it is where you would like to arrive. Of course, I strongly recommend you to arrive to Santiago.

    1. Thanks for replying to my message Jose!! 🙂 We are planning on spending there the entire month of June. We don’t want to rush. Shoot me an email joseduran482@hotmail.com I’ll tell you more about what we are thinking on doing. Gracias otra vez Jose.

      1. Get a good guidebook. I can heartily recommend John Brierley http://www.caminoguides.com/guide.html , it might even be available locally. It will show you what to expect and is well worth the money and effort to get before you go. And break in you r boots early! Wool Sox!

        See you on the Trail…

  5. Hello my name is John
    Im wanting to do the camino starting in France ending in Santiago
    Im 52 years old
    I would like to know which if any are easier ways to go
    and also best time of of year to be there
    I dont mind people so if its busy time i dont mind because im planing this trip alone and want to meet people
    Look forward to your reply
    please email me

    1. Hi Im Alex, I just wanna ask when do plan to do the trip?…my plan is May 2017…though it is still a long ways from now…im already doing some preparation, logistic wise and physical conditioning…and im also planning to go by myself…i will be 58 by then…so if you r sked will be same as mine…so if you are interested to have a hiking buddy, shoot me an email and we can discuss more about it….abaisa747@gmail.com

      1. Hi anon. I too am planning the trip in mid May 2017 from St Jean in France and then to St Jacques. Planning to take 5 to 6 weeks. I know the region so want to enjoy it all by foot. I really want to do it all on my own as its spiritually more meaningful. The combination of solitude and Mother Nature is quite powerful. Having said that, I am happy to talk to people for short periods along the way. Keep an eye out…I am Italian but can speak English, and French. I’m 6’2 thick black hair blue eyes.

    2. U went El Camino in 2015, or U are still thinking of going?
      I am 54, and I have plans to go in May/Jun this year.


  6. El camino Francés (The French route ) is the only one I have done. It has lots of facilities and there are quite a lot of people. I think the best time of the year is from June to September.

  7. Hello, I am starting El Camino on August 16, 2015 and wanted to get an idea of what temperatures am I expect to encounter from SJPP to Burgos?

    1. Just got back from Burgos today (2nd August)…you’ll love it there. Temperature will be very hot. Probably range between high 20’s to mid 30’s.

  8. Hi all! I am starting my research and would really love to make this trip happen but I can’t start the camino till mid October. Would that be a bad time to begin?

    1. I think it would be a terrific time to go, and I wish my schedule would allow me the same. Summer crowds dispersed, awful summer heat over. Just remember to reckon with fewer hours of daylight and increased chance of rain.

    2. Dress warm. Variety of clothing. Be in shape for mountain snow, rain, sleet. Via con Dias…

    3. Great time, started my Camino 15 October 2015 weather was great fellow pilgrims were champions and I’m am going back in September October to carry on at Burgos to complete another part of this amazing trip Greg

  9. Does anyone know of companies that can transfer and hold luggage at the other end of the walk??? A bus service maybe?

    1. Once you get to the albergue ( look for the envelop) and call the company before 9 pm they come pick up your bag and drive it to your next stop Cost 5 to 7 euros

      1. Hi, I would love to start my walk in St Jean and I was wondering what airport I should fly into. Where do I go to start the walk once I arrive?

    2. Do you mean you want to send luggage on to Santiago to be picked up when you finish your Camino? Or do you just want to send your backpack on to the next stop every day? If the first, I have no idea.
      If the latter, Luggage transfer companies—generally just a guy who happens to own a van and may well operate a local albergue—are popping up all over the Camino. They advertise heavily by way of signs stuck to every flat surface and sometimes have people handing out flyers at busy stopping places. In any case, you can’t miss’em. The disadvantage to this is that it forces you to commit to a destination every morning, which denies you the chance to change plans or get held up for any reason.

  10. I am planning a winter pilgrimage, departing Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on or about Tuesday, 8 December 2015. Anyone else planning a departure at that time, please leave a message here.

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  14. Hi, I made a decision of doing the franch route in september next year. I never did any thing similar, and if anyone want ti join me let me know. Need advice – what is the best way to arrive ti SJPDP?

    1. It really depends where you’re starting from. I flew into Paris and took the train, with a change in Bayonne. This took me straight to St Jean Pied de Port and the ticket can be purchased at the Gare Montparnasse. September’s a great time to go – less crowds, weather’s good and lots of festivals you may encounter along the route.

  15. Dear pilgrim, the journey has began as soon as you commit to doing it. The best way to reach SJPP is by bus from Pamplona.
    You can reach Pamplona by train from most anywhere and then all you got to do is to make your way to the bus station from the train station in Pamplona and you can do that on the city bus. Buen camino

  16. How wonderful! Are you doing the pgilrim walk? It’s supposed to be amazing and is high on my list of things to do.How fun that Abisal lives there. Will you girls catch up?Hugsx Charlotta

  17. hoping to go on the walk in early may 16 , i have been walking the quantock hills. hopping may is a good time go , has i finished working i have no time table

  18. I will be flying into Barcelona …has anyone one else flown into barcelona ? What can I expect getting to the starting stage. I’ve given myself almost 6 weeks for my trip…booked my flights for march yesterday…so excited!

    1. I plan to walk the French route starting mid march. I will book my ticket this week. This will be my first time and I am so looking forward to the walk and the people!

  19. Hi! I was thinking about doing the trail sometime next year. What time is the best to go, and what do I need to know and do before I decided to make this trip?

  20. Id love to go on this in 2016 but were do i start at. Wher will i start what gear will i need what are the costs n what stops are along the way. Any info or links to go to. Im excited
    Thank you from sallie from california

  21. Hey I’m Amber from New Zealand,
    This is my first time doing the casino, but it’s been calling me for a while. Is it possible to walk less than 20km per day and still find refugios to stay along the way. I’m moderately fit, 30year old.

    Will be starting in Pampolona on May 12th this year. Giving myself 5 weeks to complete, so I can enjoy it all. Take it all in.

  22. I will be walking with my 24 year old daughter the Via de Plata starting in Zamora June 1st. Just beginning my research and have so many questions. How long will it take, how many average miles per day. I know it is not as traveled, will it be safe for two women? Is it too hot that time of year? Are there pelnty of auberges and stops for food and water along the way.
    Any guidance will be appreciated.

  23. I am planning to do this pilgrim trip early July this year. I’ll be traveling from Jakarta – Indonesia. Only for 12 days. I wonder if it will be very difficult to do 25k every day since from every stop the distance will be around 15-25k. Appreciate advice from all of you.
    Any of you will be traveling in the same time around 4-14 July?

    Muchas Gracias,

  24. Hi Folks, having supported my youngest son Jake (17) through 2 major brain operations, most recently in February 2016, he, his brother Harry (19) and I (51) are planning to attempt The Way in early April 2017 allowing up to 31 days. Probably starting on or leaving Uk on 1 April……but we don’t want to make a ‘fool’ of ourselves! We don’t particularly want to travel with an organised group as such, but would be happy to tag along with other independent walkers for some of it. If this interests you please drop me a direct message via my Twitter account @martin_moorman or the email address below.

    1. Hi Martin,

      Many families do the Camino together. You’ll meet them along the way. If no-one here replies don’t worry you’ll meet lots of people along the way for short greetings and exchange of info. You part with them but then somewhere along the way you eventually see them again. It’s wonderful how everybody respects your way of doing things. Enjoy the journey and don’t worry about the destination …it will find you.

    2. Hiya Martin, fair play to you, just go with the flow, go at your own pace, and what you are happy with, you will meet pilgrims along the way, but you will go at your own pace, so no hassle, enjoy the craic, and get there, Greg Slan abhaile Belfast

  25. Can anybody give me some advice on persuading my family that I have to do the El Camino this year in August. I feel if I don’t do it this year an opportunity won’t be there in the future. I’m starting to dream of my pilgrimage at least a couple times a week and think of the El Camino daily. My wife and family don’t want me to go alone and they can’t come either because of their work schedules or disinterest in my pilgrimage. I’m also scheduled to graduate College this year but I want to do the El Camino in the fall when my graduation is scheduled. It just seems like everything in the world is preventing me from doing this which to me is a sign I should be doing it. Any advice on my situation would be helpful. I don’t want to come across as a self-centered, selfish son, father, or husband to my family.

    1. Brian, I did the camino this year from May 10-June 14, the French path, starting in St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago (about 480 miles). I turned 63 during the journey. It’s fine that no one can go with you… I did part with my wife and part by myself, and my most meaningful part was the part I was alone. If I do it again, I will only do it alone. The most meaningful part is the people you meet and the one on one conversations you have with them. When you are with someone else or in a group it changes the dynamics and you don’t get as much. By all means try to do it… Its an incredible experience. Don’t worry about safety… it’s safe… and you’ll make good friends and find that you’ll meet up with people intermittently that you meet along the way. I would not go in August. That’s when the most people go (Spain and much of Europe is on vacation in August). I found the May-June timeframe spectacular (cool, things green and in bloom, etc.) Otherwise, I’d go in Sept-Oct for similar reasons (climate and less crowds). Hopefully you can do more than the Sarria-Santiago portion (100km)… crowds are higher and just not the same spiritually. Try to at least do Leon to Santiago. Bottomline, a good time to do it is when you have a long enough break in your life to have the time (between job changes; between school years; when you lose a job and have a few months to spare before you start a new job; in retirement; etc.). You won’t regret doing it. I’ll probably do another route (the Silver Route) within the next 3 years.

  26. I am a high school senior from Las Vegas, NV in the United States. I am very interested in this pilgrimage, but I don’t know very much about it. What preparation needs to be done, if any? And do many people make this pilgrimage alone?

  27. Hi there,
    It is also possible to start from Lourdes.
    The way is called “piemont pyreneen”.
    It takes 8 days to go from Lourdes to St Jean Pied de Port and 6 days to go to Col de Somport and then join the wonderfull “aragonese” way in spain.

  28. For anyone interested, having done the “Camino” twice , from Samport to Galicia and St Jean to Santiago, your BEST friends are ear plugs and a jar or tube of Zinc Oxide for blisters (available at pharmacy’s)
    Buen Camino

  29. Hi All!

    Has some of you got a plan to go Camino April/ May 2017? Maybe not full Camino – I am planning to go for 2 weeks ( the only possibility) and I can join or start together. I am 29 and for me it does not matter the age or gender – just a nice company 🙂

  30. Hi All

    I am planning to do the walk from st jean pied de port starting from this week. I have lot of questions as this is my first time and im doing it alone. As well i would like to know if there is anyone else doing the walk within this week or next? Once you reach the santiago de compostela how do you go back? you walk all the way back or take a train or bus? Would really appreciate if i can talk to any pilgrims who have already done the walk.

  31. Writtle Singers in Chelmsford, UK will be performing Gabriel Jackson’s To the Field of Stars on 20 November at All Saints Church. Beautiful work telling the story of the journey to Santiago de Compostela with ancient and modern words and some sublime music. We would love to see you there.

  32. Hola,

    I am thinking of doing part of the Camino in December (around Christmas, through to the New Year) is this feasible and how will the weather be?

  33. Hi my name’s René and I’m from South Africa. My husband and I are looking to walk In April 2017. Has anyone ever done this with a small child? We’re considering taking our 2 year old son along and taking turns carrying him in our back. Is this out right crazy or do able? If anyone has any advice I’d so much aplreciate it…and if anyone else is considering doing the same thing at the same time please let me know! Thabks so much in advance! René

    1. I walked briefly with a couple that had a stroller for a young one. Just after Sarria I don’t know whether they finished but I remeber thinking along the way it would have been doable. A toddler on the back witht the other cartying the necessary supplies would not be ideal. Footing qould be difficult in spots. Better to have a troller with big wheels. Plus the weight would shorten your days.

  34. Hello,
    A few of us from our Cursillo group have considered organizing a trip. We are thinking of spending 5 days on the trail. Is that a decent amount of time? We considered two weeks, but it would be harder to have more people commit to that much time off work. What do you all think of five days?

    1. Hello, 5 days is just fine and you should make it well from Sarria to Santiago,if you want to stay a day in Santiago and sight see then 6 is the ideal. Basically the five stages are,14,15,18,12,12, miles, Buen Camino

  35. Hi im trying to do el camino for the first time. But i dont have a clue. I want to start in Spain. But dont know where. Or how. Please help

  36. Hello,
    We are an Asian couple from Singapore, who has El Camino De Santiago on our ‘bucket list’ after hearing our Australian friend talk about it. I am starting my planning now and found your website most informative. We hope to start “The French Way”.
    Where do I begin with? The route, the cost, the accomdation … where to start, some tips would be great.
    Selinna from Singapore

  37. Hi, just to ask how safe it is for a woman to walk the camino alone in the summer months?

  38. I am 80. Would anyone recommend that I attempt this? Does anyone how long it is in miles? Thank you for your help.

  39. Buenas estoy interesada en hacer el camino de santiago este agosto ,quisiera saber si estoy a tiempo o es muy tarde.Vivo en Estados Unidos y deseo mas informacion de las rutas,precios qque se debe llevar,cuantos dias dura en general el recorrido y todos los pormenores.Gracias por la informacion.

  40. Hi Steve
    I notice quite a few South Africans commented on your blog. I would like to tell them that there is a very active Camino group in South Africa: http://www.csjofsa.za.org. I walked my first Camino September 2015 and found a lot of information, contact people and tips on the website. You can also get your pilgrims passport through them.
    There is also a Facebook group.

  41. It’s my plan to do the Camino French way starting the end of April 2019
    What weather should I expect and what is the starting point and how to get there from Paris ?
    I’m canadian and will fly to Paris or best city to start the Camino based on suggestions

  42. I am from USA and would like to join a group. I am thinking of Sept 2019.
    I have no idea which path to take and would like some advice as how to train, carry etc.

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