The best place to start the Camino de Santiago will depend on the time you have available to walk and also on your preferred route. There are many wonderful places along the different Camino routes where you can start your journey.
Keep in mind, if you would like to request your Compostela certificate, you will need to walk at least the last 100kms into Santiago or cycle at least the last 200kms of any of the official routes. Sarria, Porto and St Jean Pied de Port are the most popular starting points.
These are the 15 most popular starting points on the Camino de Santiago, according to statistics from the Pilgrims Office in Santiago de Compostela*. To help you plan we have included the distance to Santiago and the estimated time to walk from each specific place:
1-Sarria – Camino Francés
27.66% of all pilgrims start their Camino journey in Sarria, which is a small town in Galicia, on the Camino Frances route. Sarria is located 111kms from Santiago de Compostela and it will take you approximately 5 days to walk that distance.
Sarria is the best place to start the Camino if you would like to experience the famous Camino Frances but have limited time and you’d also like to request the Compostela certificate.
2-Porto – Camino Portugués and Coastal Camino Portugués
Approximately 11% of Camino pilgrims pick Porto as their starting point. 8% take the Camino Portugues route while another 3% take the Coastal trail. It takes approximately 12 days to walk all the way from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, which is 260kms along the Coastal route.
Porto has become one of the pilgrims’ favourite starting points in recent years. It is the best place to start the Camino Portugues or Coastal trail if you are looking to experience the Camino across two countries in a relatively short space of time.
Manageable in just two weeks, on this route you will have the opportunity to enjoy quieter trails, superb food and explore fantastic towns, villages and cities in Northern Portugal and Galicia.
3-Saint Jean Pied de Port – Camino Francés
The picturesque town of Saint Jean Pied de Port in the French Basque Country is picked as the best place to start the Camino Frances by 9.55% of pilgrims. Many Camino routes coming from France converge with the Camino Frances in Saint Jean, the starting point of the Camino Frances for those looking to walk the entire trail.
It takes approximately 35 days to walk the full 800kms of the Camino Frances, although taking rest days every week or so is highly recommended.
4-Tui – Camino Portugués
Tui is a lovely historic town by the River Minho, on the border between Galicia and Portugal. It is 116kms away from Santiago de Compostela and takes approximately six days to walk this last stretch of the Camino Portugues.
5-Ferrol – Camino Inglés
On the North coast of Galicia, the city of Ferrol is the favoured starting point for pilgrims on the Camino Ingles. The route is 119kms and takes six days to walk, approximately.
6-León – Camino Francés
Another popular starting point on the Camino Frances is the city of León, approximately 300 kms away from Santiago de Compostela. It will take you 14 days to walk.
7-Valenca – Camino Portugués
Valenca do Minho is, as its name suggests, a town by the Minho River in Northern Portugal, which is the natural border between Portugal and Galicia. Just across the International Bridge from Tui, it takes just 6 days to walk this stretch of the Camino Portugues.
8-Oviedo – Camino Primitivo
Oviedo, in the Northern region of Asturias, is the starting point of the Camino Primitivo, which is the oldest Camino de Santiago route. It is the best place to start the Camino Primitivo to experience it in its full glory and if you are up for the challenge.
9-O Cebreiro – Camino Francés
The mountain village of O Cebreiro is another popular starting point on the Camino Frances. From here, it will take you seven days to walk 150 kms to Santiago de Compostela.
10-Ponferrada – Camino Francés
200kms away from Santiago, walking from the city of Ponferrada, also on the Camino Frances, will take you 10 days. Ponferrada is home to the impressive Templars Castle (pictured).
11-Irún – Camino del Norte
The border town of Irun in the Basque Country marks the starting point of the Camino del Norte, which is 820kms long. It takes approximately 35 days to walk from Irun to Santiago de Compostela.
12-Roncesvalles – Camino Francés
The village of Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees will save pilgrims the big climb up the Napoleon Pass. It is 790kms to Santiago de Compostela and will take approximately 34 walking days to complete.
13-Astorga – Camino Francés
From Astorga, on the Camino Francés, it is just over 250kms to Santiago de Compostela and it will take you 12 days to walk from here.
14-Lugo – Camino Primitivo
Another popular place to start the Camino Primitivo is the walled city of Lugo, famous for its impressive UNESCO listed Roman Wall. Lugo is the best place to start the Camino Primitivo if you are looking for a relatively easy trail.
15-Ourense – Vía de la Plata
It will take you six days to walk from Ourense, on the Via de la Plata Camino route, which is 115kms away from Santiago. It is possibly one of the quietest Camino routes.
Bear in mind, there are many possible starting points but these are the most popular ones as recorded by the Pilgrims Office when issuing Compostela certificates for the year 2019.
We hope you find this article useful, don’t hesitate to contact our Camino travel experts for additional advice on the best place to start the Camino and a free quotation for your trip.Contact Us