So, you want to walk this ‘Camino’ everyone is talking about, but all the options are leaving you more confused. If this sounds like you then our Camino Cheat Sheet should certainly help.
Sunset over Cape Finisterre at the very end of the Camino: Santiago to Atlantic section
HOW MANY CAMINOS ARE THERE?
There are literally pilgrim trails all over Europe that lead to Santiago however the following are the most commonly referred to when discussing the Camino.
Spain is the most popular country because the famous trails all lead to the cathedral city of Santiago. Within Spain the most popular route is the French Way, or Camino Frances, which extends from the Pyrenees to Santiago. You can travel the entire length or do smaller sections of the Camino Frances or try one of the other routes; the English Way from the Atlantic (the route pilgrims from England walked), the Camino Primitivo (the original pilgrimage route to Santiago) or the Camino Norte (follows a northern, coastal route).
Beyond Spain there is the Portuguese Way from Lisbon and the French Way of St James from Le Puy to the Pyrenees. Again, you can travel the full length or these trails can be broken down into smaller routes.
BUT I’M NOT RELIGIOUS?
Just fewer than 10% of all walkers who collected their Camino certificate reported that they did not walk for religious reasons in 2015. Only 38% walked purely for ecclesiastical reasons, so despite the theological nature of this walk you don’t need to be a person of the cloth to enjoy it.
I WANT TO FOCUS ON THE HISTORY
The whole trail is a trip back through time, with historic relics scattered across the trail. But if you’re the type that likes to get into the nitty gritty of a trip, tease out the origins and understand its evolution, the original trail taken by King Alfonso II, the Camino Primitivo
, should satiate your thirst for knowledge.
Finishing the Camino provides both pilgrims and non-pilgrims with a great sense of achievement
I WANT TO EXPERIENCE THE MEDITATIVE NATURE OF THE WALKING
Did you know that Spain is the second most mountainous country in Europe? The meseta, or plateau region, provides the ideal landscape for walkers wanting to experience that walker’s rhythm on the Camino. Feel it on the Burgos to Leon stage.
I’M MORE OF A FOOD PILGRIM
You’re not alone! The food traditions have evolved a long way since the first pilgrims walked the Camino. With a refined gastronomy scene that includes Michelin Star restaurants, you’ll want to combine your passion for food with our selected walks on the Food Lover’s Spanish Camino.
I’M SHORT ON TIME
It’s no accident that the most popular starting points are Sarria and Tui, which is near the Portuguese border. Both provide the minimum 100km distance required to qualify for a Compostela certificate and to finish a stage within 8 days.
I’M MORE OF A HIGHLIGHTS KIND OF PERSON
There’s nothing wrong to want to tick everything off your travel list. You may never get back to this part of the world so if you don’t want to miss out on anything ‘important’ check out the Best of the Camino.
I DON’T WANT TO MISS A THING
And why should you?! Annual leave allowance might be your only reason not to do the full trail but if it isn’t sign up for the 36 day traverse from the Pyrenees on the French/Spanish border all the way to Santiago across northern Spain.
Then – add our Santiago to Atlantic extension to make sure you covered it all!
Pilgrims on the trail on the Camino del Norte, Spain
I LIKE TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY
Introducing the Camino Norte. Less than 7% of all walkers take this trail, but when you consider the route takes in classic cities like San Sebastian and Bilbao, and follows some gorgeous stretches of coastline, you’ll be scratching your head as to why the trails seem so empty.
I CAN ONLY TRAVEL DURING THE WINTER
Cast your attention to the Portuguese Way, which departs daily (except for a week over the Christmas and New Years break). As you can imagine, the summer months of July and August are very hot, and if you actually have the luxury of experiencing walking into Santiago on a cooler January’s day, do it.
I WANT TO DO THE CAMINO, BUT I DON’T LIKE WALKING.
Hmmm. You can also cycle the Camino, seeing alot more in a lot less time, but the days will overall be a little harder and longer.
So many people think that walking is not their ‘thing’. Maybe test the waters with a short 5 day trip like the Le Puy to Aumont Way of St James in France. If your legs don’t suit that walk with its stunning scenery and pretty towns, then you could be right, walking isn’t really for you.
I LIKE MOUNTAINS
Trekking the mountainous border from France to Spain, crossing passes and taking in isolated churches and monasteries that few of the 200,000+ pilgrims will ever see, is what you can expect on the Camino – Pyrenees walk.