Camino de Santiago routes
As medieval pilgrims started their journeys from their own countries, different routes developed over time. Today, thousands of people from all over the world walk these ancient trails to Santiago across Europe.
While the Camino Frances is the best known of all, attracting the majority of pilgrims, there are many other wonderful Camino de Santiago routes to discover and experience.
These are the pilgrims’ favourite Camino de Santiago routes, according to the Pilgrims Office in Santiago de Compostela, which compiles statistics on all pilgrims arriving in Santiago and receiving the Compostela certificate:
1- CAMINO FRANCES
The Camino Frances is ‘The Camino’ as it is the best known and most famous of all the Camino de Santiago routes, featuring in many movies and books such as Martin Sheen’s The Way and Paulo Coelho’s The Pilgrimage.
The route stretches for nearly 800kms (500 miles), from the French Basque town of Saint Jean Pied de Port at the foot of the Pyrenees; across the La Rioja wine region, the vast landscapes of La Meseta, the mountains of Leon and El Bierzo and into green Galicia to reach Santiago de Compostela.
It takes approximately five weeks to walk the full route but many pilgrims walk the last section, starting their journey from the market town of Sarria, in Galicia, 111kms away from Santiago. Nearly 55% of all pilgrims arriving in Santiago have taken the Camino Frances route*.
*Figures from the Pilgrims Office annual statistics.
2- CAMINO PORTUGUES
Approximately 20% of pilgrims take the route known as Camino Portugues or Caminho Portugues, which is the trail traditionally taken by pilgrims from Portugal, including many royal pilgrims in the past.
This is a 600km-long route that starts in Portugal’s capital city Lisbon, although many pilgrims choose to start in Porto and walk the last two weeks across the beautiful North of Portugal and into Galicia, which is approximately 250kms.
3- COASTAL CAMINO PORTUGUES
The Camino Portugues along the coast, Caminho Portugues da Costa, is a very scenic and increasingly popular alternative route to the classic Camino Portugues.
It is 260kms long and starts from the city of Porto but instead of taking the central tracks of the Camino Portugues, pilgrims follow the Atlantic shores of Northern Portugal and into Galicia, dotted with beautiful sandy beaches and stopping in lovely coastal and seaside towns such as Povoa de Varzim, Viana do Castelo and Baiona.
The coastal trail joins the classic route from Portugal at the market town of Redondela.
4- CAMINO DEL NORTE
The Camino del Norte is another classic Camino route that takes several weeks to complete, all the way from Irun, on the French/Spanish border in the Basque Country.
It used to be a route also favoured by pilgrims from Nordic countries who would arrive by boat to some of the towns and ports along the Northern coast of ‘Green Spain’, in the Basque Country, Cantabria and Asturias.
The Camino del Norte hugs the Bay of Biscay from the Basque Country to Galicia and takes pilgrims through wonderful cities like Bilbao, San Sebastian and Santander; as well as lovely fishing towns and villages, each with their own traditions, rich heritage and delicious local gastronomy.
5- CAMINO INGLES
The Camino Ingles is the shortest of the Camino de Santiago routes and has two possible starting points: Ferrol or A Coruña, both port cities in the North West of Galicia. This was the route preferred traditionally by pilgrims from the British Isles and Ireland, hence its name.
Pilgrims would typically travel by boat and land to one of the two port cities and continue their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela on foot.
6- CAMINO PRIMITIVO
The Camino Primitivo is the oldest Camino de Santiago route, since this was the route taken by King Alfonso II of Asturias when he went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in the 9th century.
The first section from Oviedo to Lugo across the Cantabrian Mountains is one of the most remote of all the Camino routes and of extraordinary rugged and wild beauty. The Camino Primitivo is ideal for those looking for a less known and more challenging Camino route.
The second section from Lugo to Santiago is really manageable for walkers of all levels and gives pilgrims the chance to admire the impressive UNESCO listed Lugo Roman Wall.
7- VIA DE LA PLATA
Starting in Seville, the Via de la Plata is the longest of the Camino de Santiago routes in Spain as it crosses the whole of the Iberian Peninsula from South to North.
This route is quite challenging because of its length and some of the stretches are best avoided in the Summer months due to the extremely high temperatures.
Spring and Autumn are the best seasons to experience this historic and epic Camino route. The route joins the Camino Sanabres from Granja de la Moruela to continue to Ourense city. The last stretch from Ourense into Santiago is one of the most rural, peaceful and wonderful of all the routes.
8 - CAMINO TO FINISTERRE AND MUXIA
This is the only Camino de Santiago route that starts in Santiago de Compostela and takes pilgrims west towards Cape Finisterre and teh fishing village of Muxia by the Atlantic Ocean.
It is believed to be a very important place since pre-christian times as it was believed to be the ‘end of the known world’ and the place where the land of the living got closer to ‘the other world’.
Many pre christian pagan traditions and myths are still really strong in the area, in many cases, mixing with religion resulting in fascinating rituals.
MORE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO ROUTES
There are many other routes from France and beyond, such as Le Puy, Vezelay, Via Turonensis … which join up with the Camino Frances.
In recent years, other Camino de santiago routes have been rediscovered across Spain and other countries in Europe.
Talk to the JWT team for advice and to start planning your Camino de Santiago journey!
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Introduction to the Camino de Santiago TALK
JWT Travel would like to invite you to join our Introduction to the Camino de Santiago talk taking place in Dublin City on Tuesday 16th May at 6pm.