Different Camino Routes in Spain

The shells and arrows that mark the Way can be found everywhere on the Camino | Sue Finn
The shells and arrows that mark the Way can be found everywhere on the Camino | Sue Finn

Different Camino Routes in Spain

The endpoint of many Camino journey's is the city of Santiago de Compostela, which is the capital of an autonomous community in Spain's northwest. Naturally, Spain has the majority of Camino routes snaking their way through the countryside to reach this spiritual destination. The umbrella name for a Camino trail in Spain is the Camino de Santiago.

The main Camino de Santiago trails in Spain are the Camino Frances, the Camino del Norte, the Camino Primitivo, the Camino Ingles, the Camino dos Faros (the Lighthouse Way), the Camino Sanabres, and the newest official route, the Camino de Invierno.

In this article, we'll describe the different Camino routes in Spain. This information should help you choose the best Camino tour to walk or cycle.

Camino Frances

Pilgrims crossing the Pyrenees near Roncesvalles |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i>

Pilgrims walking across the Pyrenees from France, or beyond, typically followed a route similar to what is today known as the Camino Frances, or the French Way.

The Camino Frances is by far the most popular route. The full trail starts in the charming French town of St Jean Pied de Port and continues for 36 days. On average, over 60% of all people who walk along a section on any of the seven main Camino pilgrimage routes follow this path to Santiago de Compostela.

The Full Spanish Camino map

These numbers are bolstered by the fact that the most popular starting point for today’s travellers is the delightful town of Sarria, which conveniently sits 115km from Santiago, just enough for people to earn their official Compostela certificate and complete within a week.

The Camino Frances is also the longest of all the widely recognised Camino routes, offering hardier pilgrims and walkers a tougher challenge, and a more complete Camino experience passing by a multitude of churches and famous towns, such as Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos and Leon, as well as a variety of landscapes from the mountains of the Pyrenees to the Rioja winefields, the vast meseta and the rolling green hills of Galicia.

Camino del Norte (Northern Way)

Pilgrims on the Camino del Norte, Spain |  <i>Andreas Holland</i>

The Northern Way follows the northern coast of Spain through dynamic cities such as San Sebastian, Santander and Bilbao. This Camino travels to Santiago via the towns of Gijón and Ribadeo, however many early pilgrims preferred to connect with the Camino Primitivo in Oviedo thanks to King Alphonso II making it a safer and more well known path. The full Camino del Norte starts in San Sebastian and takes 41 days to reach Santiago de Compostela.

Full Camino Norte map

Given its coastal route, the Camino is also referred to as the “Ruta de la Costa”, Route of the Coast, and it became an important way for Christian pilgrims when the Camino Frances became dangerous due to the Moorish invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. Following the coast was also deemed easier than trying to traverse the Cantabrian Mountains and it provided a cooler option in summer.


Camino Primitivo (Original Way)

On the Camino Primitivo near Oviedo |  <i>Andreas Holland</i>

The Camino Primitivo is thought to have been the very first pilgrimage route to Santiago, hence it is also known as the Original Way.

On hearing that the bones of the Apostle James were miraculously unearthed in Santiago, King Alphonse II of the Asturias made the treacherous journey in the 9th century from Oviedo via Lugo to Santiago and eventually was accredited with confirming the relics.

Map for Pilgrims trail to Santiago trip

This pilgrimage path has always been considered more challenging, crossing mountains and passing through dark woods. The Full Camino Primitivo takes 17 days to complete.

Today, the Camino Primitivo links the Northern Way with the French Way, joining it in Melide. The path offers a quieter trail through beautiful natural settings and gorgeous rural farmland, passing through the authentically friendly villages of northern Spain.


Camino Ingles (English Way)

Local sign post along the Camino Trail |  <i>Scott Kirchner</i>

The Camino Ingles, or English Way, came about in the 12th century when boats of pilgrims from England, and Nordic countries, arrived in the north of Spain to embark on their pilgrimage to Santiago. Those that came via the ‘seafaring way’ would land at A Coruna, which is the shortest and most direct route to Santiago (96km). This is not long enough for today’s pilgrims to earn their Compostela hence most begin from Ferrol, which is 110km from Santiago.

EWS English Way to Santiago

The Camino Ingles is the least travelled at an average of only 4% of all pilgrims taking this route. There are no major cities along the route, just tiny villages where locals often speak Galician over Spanish.


Camino Finisterre

The Camino’s kilometre zero is not Santiago, it actually lies on the Galician coast which was considered the ‘end of the world’ in the Middle Ages. Finisterre derives from Latin, ‘finis terrae’ translating to ‘end of the earth’.

Many early pilgrims would continue the extra 90km from Santiago to collect the scallop shell to prove their successful pilgrimage. Traditionally, the Camino Finisterre concludes at Cape Fisterra however many who choose this option hike the extra 6km along the coast to Muxia to enjoy the wild Atlantic coastal views.
Santiago to Atlantic
If you've got the time, it's worthwhile adding the Finisterre stage onto your Camino journey. There's something quite unique about walking to the edge of Spanish land, and to reach the 0km mark!

Camino Sanabres

Walk one of the oldest Camino routes that actually predate Christian pilgrims, going back to when Celt, Phoenician and Roman traders travelled the lands. 
Idyllic walking along the Camino Sanabres in Spain
The Camino Sanabres starts in Ourense, a historic old city full of bustling tapas restaurants and therapeutic thermal springs. Follow quiet lanes through rural hamlets, view the impressive Trappist monastery in Oseira, and be warmly welcomed at your cosy lodgings. Walk the final stretch past charming chapels and picturesque vineyards before arriving in Santiago, where you can collect your Compostela (completion certificate) and reminisce about your journey on foot over plates of Galician delicacies.
Camino Sanabres to Santiago

Camino de Invierno (Winter Way)

The Camino de Invierno, or Winter Way, was created by pilgrims who were walking to Santiago during the winter months and wanted to bypass the high elevation and snowfall at O Cebreiro. It is the newest Camino route to be recognised as official (in 2016) and offers vineyrads, rivers, remote landscapes, rural scenery, and off the beaten track encounters with the small villages and townships along the way.
Steep vineyard terraces of the Ribeira Sacra |  <i>Andreas Holland</i>
More Camino Information
> View all Camino de Santiago tours
> View all Camino tours.
> View more Camino information.
> Join UTracks' Active Travel Community.
Which Camino route will you be making your pilgrimage along? Let us know in the comment section below.
Camino, Spain, Camino de Santiago, Spanish Camino

Comments (4)


Hello. I’m interested in walking the Camino with a group. ,y dates would be October 14-28. Let me know if it’s possible?

last year
William from UTracks

Hi Brigitt,

Thanks for reaching out. I've passed your enquiry on to our team who will get back to you over email.

Buen Camino!

last year

Can you use a walker?

2 years ago
William from UTracks

Hi Colette,

Good question! Walking sticks are a great aid. Someone from our team will be in touch with you over email to help you further.

Kind regards,

2 years ago
Your comment will be visible after the administrator's approval.

b i u quote

Save Comment
Join Newsletter
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ADS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Adventures South"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Adventure South</div>
Adventure South NZ is unrivalled in their geographic coverage, originality and overall quality of adventures holidays in New Zealand. Choose from walking, cycling, winter or multi-activity holidays, on either the North or South Island.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/AWH.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Walking Holidays"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Walking Holidays</div>
Australian Walking Holidays specialises in small group guided walking adventures. Since 1982 we have been guiding small groups of travellers on Australia's finest walks across our tropical, coastal or red centre landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GCT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Canadian Trails"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Canadian Trails</div>
Great Canadian Trails specialises in active holidays in Canada. With both guided and supported self-guided options available, our unique itineraries draw upon some of Canada's most inspiring parks, trails and landscapes from coast to coast.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/HUM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Humac Challenge"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Huma Charity Challenge</div>
Huma enables those with adventurous spirits to challenge themselves and make a difference for a cause close to their heart. Travel, fundraise and meet life-long friends on one of Huma's meaningful and unique challenges around the world.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TAS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Tasmania Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Tasmanian Expeditions</div>
Tasmanian Expeditions is the most experienced operator of treks and adventure travel holidays in Tasmania. We own and operate the most comprehensive range of adventure holidays available across Tasmania's varied landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/UTX-new.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Utracks"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>UTracks</div>
UTracks are the active European holiday specialists. Whether you prefer cycling or walking, 2-star or 4-star, small groups or self guided, land, river or sea – UTracks can help you to explore Europe exactly the way you want.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WYA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions Schools"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions Schools</div>
World Expeditions Schools is our specialist division dedicated to organising tailor made overseas school group adventures. Specialists in Service Learning projects, choose from more destinations than any other school group provider.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/YOM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Yomads"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Yomads</div>
Yomads offers adventures for the 20s and 30s on six continents. Designed as a way to bring young and likeminded travellers together, Yomads caters to those interested in lightly structured and active trips that allow freedom to roam and explore.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ACT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Cycle Tours"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Cycle Tours</div>
Australian Cycle Tours specialises in high quality self guided and guided cycling experiences in a selection of the most beautiful regions in Australia.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WEX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions</div>
The pioneers of original, worldwide adventure travel holidays since 1975
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TJX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Trail Journeys"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Trail Journeys</div>
Self-guided cycling experts on New Zealand's Otago Rail Trail and more
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/BMAC.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Blue Mountains Adventure Company"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Blue Mountains Adventure Company</div>
The original Blue Mountains canyoning, hiking, climbing and abseiling experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GWNZ.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Walks of New Zealand"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Walks of New Zealand</div>
Explore New Zealand's most spectacular wilderness regions with the self-guided hiking experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/NAA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="North America Active"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>North America Active</div>
USA Canada hiking & cycling tour specialists, choose from self-guided or guided trips