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Explaining the Stages of the French Way of St James Camino

Stages of the French Way of St James Camino, Explained

The French Way of St James is often described as the most beautiful of all Camino routes, and because it stretches across the scenic villages of France, it's easy to understand why it deserves this title.

In this article, we explain everything you need to know about the French Way of St James. Learn about the different stages of the trail, the different names used, and the highlights of each section. Of course, if you would like further information or advice, just get in touch with our friendly team of experts.
 
Chely de Aubrac

What is the French Way of St James?

Pilgrims seeking to walk the Camino de Santiago across Spain needed a route to get to the start point in St Jean Pied de Port, Spain. For pilgrims coming from countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Poland, they needed to walk across France. So the French Way of St James was established. It is also known as the Way of Le Puy or the Via Podiensis.
 
The earliest recordings of pilgrims on this way dates back to 950AD, the popularity of the Via Podiensis today can be traced back to more recent times when the long distance GR65 hiking route was created in the 1970s. As more modern day travellers began to seek ways to Santiago, the French Way of St James stood out as the most spectacular, taking in some of the most scenic parts of France.
 
Picnic in Conques

Where does the French Way of St James route go?

This Camino journey takes pilgrims across France, beginning in a beautiful French town called Le Puy en Velay. The route then travels across the high plateaus of the Massif Central, the volcanic highlands of Velay, through rustic villages, past impressive castles, quaint villages, a myriad of monuments and through the picturesque French countryside. For today’s travellers, the Via Podiensis provides one of the most beautiful of all the ways. Unlike the Camino Francés, it avoids major cities and towns.
 
the full french way of st james
 
Once pilgrims arrive in St Jean Pied de Port near the border of Spain. they have finished the French Way of St James. They can then continue on to the Camino Frances, or French Way, to reach Santiago de Compostela. This is the most popular of all Camino routes. 
 
Rush hour in Le Chaze

How can I walk the French Way of St James?

We've broken the French Way of St James into 7 sections. These are:
We offer self guided walking tours for each of those stages. Due to its popularity, we've also combined stages 1 and 2 into a single tour, the Le Puy to Conques trip, and if you have the time and energy you can complete the whole journey on the Full French Way of St James tour.
 

Which Stage of the French Way of St James Camino is best for you?

While each section of the French Way of St James has plenty of beauty and local charm to offer - and really the best experience is eventually walking them all - we've highlighted the standouts for each stage.

Stage 1: Le Puy to Aumont Tour

Overlooking Le Puy

On this 5 day self guided walk you experience one of the prettiest sections of the trail - marked by magnificent architecture, crosses, statues and grain silos. Plus you will learn about the tale of the “Bête du Gévaudan” (Beast of the Gévaudan).

> View the Le Puy to Aumont stage of the French Way of St James.

Stage 2: Aumont to Conques Tour

The medieval town and Romanesque abbey church of Conques |  <i>Maurice Subervie</i>

Enjoy the camaraderie of other pilgrims on this self guided, 8 day walk. Cross the rugged countryside and the Aubrac plateau, the oldest European volcanic massif and walk through picturesque towns, past the roadside crosses, chapels, and looming fortresses that marked the way for the faithful in centuries past.

> View the Aumont to Conques stage of the French Way of St James.

Stage 3: Conques to Cahors Tour

The Valentré Bridge in Cahors

From the pretty town of Conques, traverse the Lot Valley and cross vast limestone plateaus covered in forests of oak, chestnut, boxwood and Montpellier maple and dotted with megaliths and other historic relics. The plateau, cut by the Lot and Cele rivers, is home to interesting villages and a rich gastronomic tradition. Explore the Champollion museum in Figeac and tempt your tastebuds at local markets brimming with local culinary specialties on this inspiring walk through timeless scenes.

> View the Conques to Cahors leg of the French Way of St James.

Cahors to Lectoure Tour

Lectoure aire sur Adour

This part of the French Way of St James journey takes you across limestone plateaus cut by small valleys, then on to the plain of the Garonne. The trail is lined with ancient stone walls. After Moissac, the landscape changes to rolling hills and lush valleys where fields of corn and sunflower are intermingled with plum orchards. This is a 7-day self-guided walk.

> View the Cahors to Lectoure section of the French Way of St James.

Lectoure to Aire sur l'Adour

Hikers on the trail between Lectoure and Aire sur l'Adour

This stage between Lectoure and Aire sur l'Adour is through the heart of the Armagnac region. Leaving the limestone coloured landscapes surrounding Lectoure, the trail weaves through the Gers with its open farmland interspersed with historic villages dominated by their cathedrals and churches, bullrings and bastides. Markets with an abundance of local products and fields of corn and vines lay testament to the areas deep connections to the land and the strong gastronomic traditions of the region.

> View the Lectoure to Aire sur l'Adour stage of the French Way of St James.

Aire sur l'Adour to the Pyrenees

Basque Country passed through on the Compostela Trail

Walking from Aire sur l'Adour offers an insight into the contrasting Béarn and Basque regions of France which have a unique culture, language and cuisine. The landscape is inspiring as you walk between woods and open fields, past a multitude of chapels and historic sights and take time to absorb the history of the villages passed, once resting points for thousands of pilgrims during the Middle Ages. Arriving into St Jean Pied de Port through the Porte Saint-Jacques is a highlight and a rewarding end to the journey along the Via Podensis.

> View the Aire sur l'Adour to the Pyrenees final section of the French Way of St James.

Do you want to cycle the French Way of St James?

Discover the Way of St James Way by bike
If you're a cyclist, you can cycle the entire Le Puy route in just 16 days on our The Way of St James by Bike tour. This 16 day self-guided journey takes pilgrims from Le Puy en Velay to the Pyrenees at St Jean Pied de Port, passing a multitude of churches and monasteries, resembling a travelling museum of Romanesque art. With some steep climbs, followed by fast descents, this trip is ideally suited to fit cyclists keen to extend their experience to an iconic route. At night your hosts in the guesthouses and small hotels will ensure that you are well fed and immersed in their particular region with its culinary specialties.
 
 

Do you love food?

Group lunch in South West, France |  <i>Mary Moody</i>

Who doesn't love food! Given the popularity of divine French cuisine and the equal popularity of pilgrimage walking in France, we've created the Food Lover's French Way of St James tour. 

Beginning in Le Puy en Velay in the Auvergne, the journey on foot is a rich sensory experience taking in the best sections of the Camino between Le Puy and St Jean Pied de Port, including time in the historic and beautiful towns of Conques, Rocamadour, Saint Come d'Olt and Saint-Cirque-Lapopie. The foodie highlights are endless, with tastings of delectable cheeses, wines and truffles, interspersed with the rustic cooking style for which the region is renowned. From lunch at a small 100 year old family restaurant, to wine and Armagnac tasting, market visits, truffle hunting demonstrations and fine dining, this is a full-bodied experience.

> View the Food Lover's French Way of St James tour.


More Information about the French Way of St James

 
Are you inspired to do the French Way of St James? Let us know which section takes your pick in the comment section below.
 
  
 
Different Camino Routes in Spain

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) and the Camino Sanabres.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.
 
    
Walking the Sarria to Santiago Camino: 3 Tour Options

Walking the Sarria to Santiago Camino: 3 Tour Options to Walk the Final Stage of the Camino de Santiago

 
If you want to do the most popular walking tour of the famous Camino de Santiago trail, you will undoubtedly need to walk the Sarria to Santiago section. 
 
The Sarria to Santiago stage is the last part of the longer Camino Frances route (also known as the French Way). This route starts in St Jean Pied de Port in France and winds through many charming Spanish villages before reaching the holy city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
 
Arriving in the beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela after completing the Camino Trail |  <i>Edwina Parsons</i>
 
Most pilgrims choose to walk the final stage from Sarria to Santiago because it's the minimum distance required to earn your Compostela (Pilgrims Certificate). Sarria is 115km (72 miles) from Santiago which covers the 100km (62 miles) minimum. If you're interested in how to get a Compostela for other Camino routes, read our detailed article on the final stages of the Camino de Santiago.
 
Note that all UTracks trips (self guided and guided) include the following benefits:
At UTracks, we offer three unique ways to walk the Sarria to Santiago final stage of the Camino.
 
Pilgrims walking the Camino in Spain |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

1. Camino: Sarria to Santiago Self Guided Walk

Our most popular Camino tour is the self guided Sarria to Santiago walk. This tour takes 8 days to walk the distance which is ample time to enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow hikers and soak up the atmosphere and scenery along the trail.
 
 
Walking along the Camino de Santiago trail in Galicia |  <i>@timcharody</i>

2. Guided Camino: Sarria to Santiago Walk

The guided version of the Sarria to Santiago tour adds in the great advantage of a local guide who will provide you with a wonderful appreciation of the historic significance of the route and really bring the Camino to life. There's also the benefit of travelling with a small group of like minded people with whom you'll undoubtedly form friendships. This is an 8 day tour of moderate grade.
 
 
Pilgrims walking the Camino in Spain |  <i>Sue Finn</i>

3. Camino: Sarria to Santiago Self Guided Rambler

Our popular rambler option increases the time and shortens the daily distances to be walked, giving you more time to walk at your own pace and smell the roses! This relaxed pace tour covers between 10-18km of walking each day and maintains the quintessential experience of hiking the Camino de Santiago. This is one of the easier Camino tours to walk as well, with the Rambler graded as introductory to moderate according to our honest trip grading system. This is an 11 day walking experience.
 
 
Is walking the Camino de Santiago on your list? Let us know when you plan on hiking the Camino in the comment section below!
  
Other Camino Trails & Alternative Pilgrimage Routes

Other Camino Trails

 
This article is designed for pilgrims who have already walked the Camino de Santiago trail and are looking for a different Camino route for an alternative pilgrimage experience.
 
The majority of people who walk the Camino de Santiago do so along the Camino Frances trail, which is an 800km trail starting in St Jean Pied de Port. And of this trail, most pilgrims walk from Sarria to Santiago because it's the minimum distance required to earn the Compostela (Pilgrim's Certificate).
 
Does this sound like you? If you've already walked the Camino de Santiago and entered the holy city of Santiago de Compostela, had a great experience (of course you did!), you're probably looking for alternative Camino trails to walk.
 
Well, you're in the right place! Join us as we describe other Camino trails and different pilgrimage routes to explore in Italy, Japan, France, and beyond.
 
The road markers and other signs make it easier for self guided walkers on the Via Francigena

Via Francigena Route (Switzerland & Italy)

One of the world’s most rewarding walking trails, the historic Via Francigena is an ancient road and pilgrim’s route stretching more than a thousand kilometres through Switzerland and Italy, finishing up in the Eternal City of Rome.
 
At UTracks, we offer the Full Via Francigena tour that stretches from the Great St Bernard Pass in Switzerland to Rome in Italy. We admit this epic 50 day tour isn't for everyone (it's actually the longest tour we have!) and we've broken the Via Francigena up into more achievable sections. The most popular route is from Orvieto to Rome, which qualifies you for the Testimonium (Italy's equivalent of the Compostela). 
 
In Switzerland, walking the initial stretch from the Great St Bernard Pass to Ivrea in Italy, is an exceptional way to experience walking in the Alps.
 
 
Walkers on the route from La Verna to Caprese Michelangelo

St Francis Way (Italy)

Another pilgrimage route in Italy, the St Francis Way is an Italian Camino route inspired by the life of St Francis of Assisi. It connects the Renaissance town of Florence with Rome and rewards pilgrims with a picturesque section through eastern Tuscany and northern Umbria, the ‘green heart’ of Italy.
 
The St Francis Way is a multi stage walk and we offer attainable self guided walking options.
 
 
Hosshinmon-oji, a gate of spiritual awaking on the Kumano Kodo hike

Kumano Kodo (Japan)

Take a break from Europe and try the Kumano Kodo, Japan's version of the Camino de Santiago. It's actually recognised as a sister trail, and pilgrims of both can become certified as Dual Pilgrims.
 
There's a self guided walking tour and small group guided walking tour run by World Expeditions and explores one of Japan’s most remote, forested mountain landscapes and home to the centuries old pilgrimage trails leading to the three Grand Shrines of Kumano.
 
 
Pilgrims at Estaing

French Way of St James (France)

The French Way of St James is a pilgrimage route that connects France with the Camino Frances (the Camino Frances is in Spain, confusing we know!). It follows an ancient path from Le Puy en Velay to St Jean Pied de Port and explores many of the prettiest French villages. This alternate Camino trail is often regarded as the most spectacular of the Camino routes as it rewards hikers with some of the most scenic parts of France.
 
Note that this Camino trail is also called the Via Podiensis and the Way of Le Puy. UTracks offers a comprehensive range of self guided and guided walking tours as well as culinary tours and cycling tours.
 
 
 
Hiking along the Kerry Way |  <i>Arthur Ward</i>

Kerry Camino Walk (Ireland)

The Kerry Camino is an inspiring pilgrim route along the Dingle Peninsula in south western Ireland. At almost every turn on the Kerry Camino, there are breathtaking views enhanced by the sounds of the Wild Atlantic lapping or crashing against this ancient shoreline. You will be enchanted by the awesome scenery and historic preservation that this region has to offer. Read more about Ireland's Camino tour in our in-depth article.
 

Have you walked any of these alternative pilgrimage trails? Let us know in the comment section if you have, or if you have any other Camino routes to add to the UTracks range.
 
 
  
Training for the Camino de Santiago: 11 Essential Tips

Training for the Camino de Santiago: 11 Essential Tips

 
You've decided to embark on a Camino journey - well done! Now they say half the fun of travel is in the planning, and this can also be said about the training. 
 
Follow these 11 essential tips for training for the Camino de Santiago and you'll find yourself walking the Camino with comfort and confidence. If you have any other questions about training, be sure to get in touch with our friendly team of Camino experts or post a question in the comment section below.
 
Here are our 11 essential tips for training for the Camino de Santiago.
 

1. The Fitter You Are, The More You Will Enjoy The Camino

This rule holds true for any type of active travel trip. While the Camino is never going to be just a walk in the park, you’ll have greater confidence and performance if you have been training in the lead up to the Camino.
 

2. Break In Your Shoes

Make sure you don’t start the Camino with fresh new shoes as this will result in blisters and pains. Instead, be sure to train in the shoes you will wear on the Camino to attune your feet to your shoes.

Note some pilgrims choose to change their footwear during the Camino. For instance, you might start the day wearing walking boots, and change to running shoes for flat sections. Whatever’s comfortable for you.
 
Hikers on the Camino in Spain |  <i>@timcharody</i> Decorative signage along the Camino |  <i>@timcharody</i> Along the Way |  <i>Dana Garofani</i>
 

3. Gradually Increase Your Distance And Time

The old saying, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, can be applied to the Camino. From the outset, walking the 800km of the full Camino Frances can seem like an impossible journey – how can anyone ever train for that!? But when you break it down into sections it becomes achievable. The same applies to your training schedule. 
 
Don’t go straight from the couch to attempting to walk 30km, you’re only going to hurt yourself (and probably be deterred from walking the Camino!). Instead, walk 10km one day, then when you feel comfortable walking that distance, increase it to 15km. Once you’ve built up your endurance you’ll soon be walking 30km confidently.
 

4. Train With A Day Pack

Get the feel of the Camino by training with a day pack filled with the things you’d take on the real journey. As daily luggage transfers are included on all UTracks trips, you only to need to bring the essentials for your day’s walking. Things like a light jacket, water bottle, lunch, sun screen, or a book if you enjoy reading on your rest stops.
 

5. Stick To A Schedule

We recommend starting your Camino training at least three months in advance, with the aim of walking three 1 hour sessions a week. A month before your trip, even earlier if you can, put a day walk in each weekend into the mix to build the endurance you’ll need for your walk.
 
Alto de Perdon artwork |  <i>Dana Garofani</i>
 

6. Include Some Hill Training

The Camino de Santiago is generally along flat terrain, although there can be hills in some sections of the trail. We grade most Camino routes as moderate. If there is a hill or incline in your local area, it is worthwhile including this in your training schedule. Walking up hills strengthens different muscle groups to those you use on level surfaces.
 

7. Dress Rehearsal

Like all great performances, a dress rehearsal is a good way to discover any quirks before the big event. When training for your Camino pilgrimage, we recommend spending some sessions pretending you are actually on the Camino! Don’t hold back: fill your day pack with what you’ll carry on the walk (see our top recommendations here), wear the shoes you will use, find a route of similar length to what you will eventually cover in Spain, even hang a shell onto your bag.
 

8. Know Your Pace

While doing your training for the Camino you will get an understanding of your pace, i.e. how many miles or kilometres you walk each hour. This is good information to help with making decisions about your trip. For example, if you find you prefer to walk less distance over a longer time, a gentler Camino Rambler tour may be better for you. There are plenty of smartphone Apps to help analyse your walking data, such as Strava.
 
Pilgrims on the Camino |  <i>Dana Garofani</i>
 

9. Prepare For The Weather

Be sure to train for your Camino trip in different kinds of weather. It’s not necessarily going to be days of perfect sunshine on the Camino trail, so you need to be comfortable walking in various conditions. Not only is this helpful for strengthening your body, but it’s helpful to know what gear is necessary in wet weather. We recommend keeping a poncho and spare pair of socks in your day pack, just in case.
 
 

10. Manage Your Food And Water Intake

It’s good to get into the habit of constantly taking sips of water to stay hydrated. Along the Camino, there are many water fountains where you can fill up your water bottle for free. 
In terms of food, it’s important to remember to snack during your walking to keep energy levels high. Look into carrying muesli bars and fruit for your Camino training. There are also lots of bars, restaurants and grocers in the small villages you pass along the way.
 

11. Don't Forget To Stretch!

Stretching before and after a long walking session is integral to keeping your limbs warm and injury-free. Get into the rhythm of including stretch sessions into your Camino training regime. This can take the form of a simple stretch routine, a yoga work out, or however you like to stretch your body.
 
> Find out more Camino information, including FAQs, videos and traveller stories, here.
>> Download our free Camino Guidebook.
>> Join the UTracks Active Travel Community.


When do you plan on walking the Camino de Santiago? How are you training for the Camino? Let us know your methods in the comment section, or ask a question if you have any.
 
   
Understanding the Camino: Camino Glossary

Understanding the Camino: Camino Glossary

 

For a first time pilgrim looking to walk the Camino de Santiago, it can be quite daunting to fully understand the various terms and routes of the Camino. There's a complex network of phrases and walks that have evolved over many years. To help you on your way, we've created a Camino glossary so you can better understand this iconic trail. If you have any further questions, please write a comment or get in touch with our friendly team of Camino experts.

Camino Glossary

Camino:  This Spanish word simply means a path of travel, or route. When written as ‘el camino’ it translates to ‘the way’.

Santiago: The name Santiago is linked to the Apostle James (Saint James meaning Santiago). He travelled to the most north-western part of Spain to preach and convert people to Christianity.

Very happy Camino walkers in France |  <i>Allie Peden</i> A marker along the Camino |  <i>Allie Peden</i> Finding the perfect shelter during the Way of St James |  <i>Allie Peden</i>


The Way of St James: The origins of the Camino began in the 9th century when the tomb of the apostle St James was unearthed in the city of Santiago de Compostela. Early Christian pilgrims to Santiago began their ‘Camino de Santiago’ (Spanish name), or ‘Way of St James’ (English name), from their front door.

Santiago de Compostela: Also known as Saint James of Compostela, it is a Spanish city, the capital of the region of Galicia. 

The Compostela: the official accreditation proving one's pilgrimage to the tomb of St James in the 9th and 10th centuries. It was originally provided in the form of a scallop shell badge which proved easy to forge and was eventually replaced by the Compostela certificate.
 
Compostela certificate: A document one receives from the Pilgrims Reception Office in Santiago. To receive the certificate you must make the pilgrimage for pious reasons (or at least have an attitude of search), walk (or ride on horseback) the last 100km or cycle the last 200km, and collect stamps in the Credencial del Peregrino from places you pass through.

Certificate of distance: Document on parchment paper certifying the numbers of kilometres walked, which can be provided in addition to the Compostela certificate. A small payment is required to receive this certificate.

The Credencial del Peregrino: In the Middle Ages the document was provided to pilgrims as a safeguard. Also referred to as the Camino Passport or Pilgrim's Passport, today the document can be collected from various authorised places and is used to collect stamps along the way so one can prove their journey when collecting their Compostela certificate.
 

Do you have any other questions about the Camino? Visit our Camino FAQ page or write a comment below and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
 
  
 
Walk Ireland's Camino: the Kerry Camino

Walk Ireland's Camino: the Kerry Camino

 
Bring your pilgrim passport with you to be stamped as you walk along one of the most beautiful ‘caminos’ in the world, the Kerry Camino in Ireland.
 
The Kerry Camino is an inspiring pilgrim route along the Dingle Peninsula in southwestern Ireland. Saint James Church in Dingle used to be the farewell point for Irish pilgrims, as they set sail to Finisterre in northwestern Spain to continue their walk to Santiago de Compostela. 
 
Hiking along the Kerry Way |  <i>Arthur Ward</i>
 
During four days, you will walk from Tralee, the largest town in County Kerry, along the southern shores and on to Dingle; on the final day, the trip reaches Slea Head, Dingle Peninsula’s westernmost point, overlooking the historic Blasket Islands. 
 
Unfortunately, on this tour there is no boat to sail you to Spain to continue your journey! Although if you would like to see how pilgrims in the past would traditionally sail from Ireland to Spain, you can watch the inspiring Camino Voyage documentary. Here's a fun trailer.
 
 
 
Have you walked a Camino trail yet? If so, which route did you complete? Let us know in the comment section below.
 
  
Camino de Santiago Tours for Seniors

Camino de Santiago Tours for Seniors

 
Many people choose to walk the Camino de Santiago in their senior years. It's often at this stage of life people have more time to travel and to accomplish lifelong goals. 
 
However, it must be emphasised that the community of people walking the Camino is not restricted to a certain background, age or motivation. To get an idea of the variety of people walking the Camino, watch the inspiring documentary Camino Skies.
 
On the Camino Primitivo near Oviedo |  <i>Andreas Holland</i>
 
If you're asking yourself: "Am I too old to walk the Camino?", you should consider that many pilgrims who walk the Camino are 65 years old and older, even in their 70's and 80's. It's said that the oldest person to ever walk the Camino de Santiago was 93 years young (she walked it with her 60 year old daughter!). Thus proving you are never too old to walk the Camino!

Having said that, there are some advantages of using a Camino tour company that will help seniors accomplish a Camino pilgrimage. We provide: 
  • daily luggage transfers so you only walk with what you need for the day (water, light jacket, fruit); 
  • provide comfortable accommodation full of local character; 
  • give you peace of mind with 24 hour support and back up; 
  • and, if you're on a guided tour, the local guide will reveal cultural quirks not found in a guidebook. 
  • Click here to read all of the benefits for an organised Camino tour.
 
In this article, we'll describe the best Camino de Santiago tours for seniors that are affordable, accessible, and above all, achievable.
 

Slower Paced Rambler Camino Tours

Pilgrims on the trail to Santiago in the Galicia region |  <i>Erin Williams</i>
 
If you're a senior who wants the luxury of extra time to smell the roses along your Camino pilgrimage, our Camino de Santiago rambler tours are perfect for you.
 
Choose to walk the most popular Camino section: the Sarria to Santiago Rambler walking tour. This is a self guided walk that completes the classic final stage of the Camino de Santiago (115km or 72 miles) in 11 days. This section is normally walked in 8 days, however, an extra 3 days have been added to allow it to be walked at a more leisurely pace. Walking this slower paced tour also qualifies you for the Compostela (Pilgrim's Certificate) once you arrive in the city of Santiago.
 
There is also the Leon to Santiago Rambler walking tour that covers more of the iconic trail. This section begins in the magnificent city of Leon and can take just 15 days to complete the 245km or 152 miles, however for your added convenience we've extended this walk to 20 days. This reduces the daily walking to between 4-6 hours a day and ensures you can be fully immersed in the surroundings.
 
 

Best Of Camino Tours

Jorge regularly leads our 'Best of the Camino' tours
 
Our 'Best Of' Camino tours are a popular way to experience the entire length of a Camino trail if you're a senior who doesn't necessarily want to walk the whole distance (which can take up to 50 days if you walk the Via Francigena!). Join a small group of like minded walkers and a local guide as you walk the highlights of the Camino trail. 
 
Each day a vehicle will transfer you to a start point where you'll then walk the best section of the trail, whether it's historically significant or renowned for its beauty. Then you'll be transferred to one of the Camino's atmospheric towns, including Pamplona, Burgos and Leon, with comfortable accommodation and ample leisure time to explore the charms of the town. Note that the vehicle will be on hand to provide constant support during the walk (rest your feet if necessary!).
 
There are Best Of Camino tours for each of the main Camino routes:
 

Food Lover's Camino Tours

Group lunch in South West, France |  <i>Mary Moody</i>
 
If you want to explore the regional gastronomic delights of France, Italy or Spain, as well as walking the world famous Camino de Santiago, our Food Lover's Camino tours are for you.
 
Like the Best Of Camino tours, the Food Lover's Camino tours utilises a support vehicle to drive you to walk the best sections of the Camino trail. Between this enjoyable walking and exploring the towns you overnight in, you'll get to experience first class dining experiences featuring Michellin starred restaurants, cooking classes, winery tours and fresh farmer's markets.
 
There are Food Lover's Camino tours for France, Italy and Spain:
 
If you still have questions or some doubt that you are too old to walk the Camino, feel free to get in touch with our friendly team of Camino experts. We've been helping youths, seniors, and the young at heart all make their Camino de Santiago pilgrimage since 2006. 
 
And of course, it goes without saying that anyone of any age can experience our Camino tours. Have a browse of our affordable and comprehensive Camino trips.
 
Are you planning to walk the Camino de Santiago? Do you have any queries? Let us know in the comment section below.
 
  
Final Stage of Italy's Via Francigena: Tours & Information

Walk or Cycle the Final Stage of the Via Francigena: Tours & Information

 
If you want to experience the last stage of the Via Francigena, also known as the Italian Camino, you're in the right place. Here we explain what a Testimonium is, how far you need to walk or cycle to be eligible for it, why the final section of the Via Francigena is so popular, and we'll provide two affordable walking and cycling tours for you to complete the Via Francigena.
 

What is a Testimonium?

A Testimonium is the Italian equivalent of the Camino de Santiago's Compostela, or Pilgrim's Certificate. It signifies that the holder has walked or cycled the necessary distance to complete the Via Francigena. According to the European Association of the Via Francigena, it certifies that the pilgrimage was undertaken in a religious spirit.
 

How Long is the Final Stage of the Via Francigena?

To be eligible for the Testimonium, pilgrims need to walk at least 100km or 62 miles of the Via Francigena. This typically starts in the beautiful hilltop town of Orvieto and finishes in the eternal city of Rome, Italy's capital.
 
For pilgrims who choose to cycle the Via Francigena, the minimum distance is 200km or 124 miles. Cyclists need to start in the medieval town of Siena and follow the route to Rome. Note that these distances are equivalent to the Camino de Santiago.
 
Superb shot of Orvieto in the distance as seen on Via Francigena
 

Why is the Final Stage of the Via Francigena so Popular?

The last stretch of the Via Francigena is thoroughly enjoyable for these reasons:
 
  1. Being able to collect the Testimonium, i.e. the certificate of completion, is a rewarding sense of achievement.
  2. It's a beautiful walk. Even for those not interested in a 'pilgrimage', this journey highlights Italy's medieval villages, postcard perfect countryside, and charming local hospitality.
  3. The entire Via Francigena route takes 50 days to walk, as it begins in the Swiss Alps at St Bernard's Pass. The final stage is understandably more practical in terms of time and physical exertion.
  4. The final stage of the Via Francigena showcases the spirit of a pilgrimage. You get to experience the day to day walking, the social atmosphere of your fellow pilgrims, the changing landscape, and get to enjoy the delicious regional cuisine.
Hiking along the Via Francigena on the way to Pavia
 

Which Walking Tour Covers the Final Stage of the Via Francigena?

Via Francigena: Orvieto to Rome

This is a self guided walking tour that takes place over 10 days. Starting in the magnificent hilltop town of Orvieto, you'll venture to the lake town of Bolsena, the medieval village of Montefiascone (famous for its wine), and continue along the trail until you reach Rome. View this affordable tour here.
 
 

Which Cycling Tour Covers the Final Stage of the Via Francigena?

Cycle the Via Francigena: Siena to Rome

The Siena to Rome stretch of the Via Francigena makes for fantastic cycling. Daily marvels include the rolling hills of Tuscany, the beauty of Lake Bolsena, the intriguing villages of Umbria, and plenty more. The cycling is of moderate grading and it takes just 9 days to complete this spectacular ride. View the tour here.
 
Cycle Italy's Via Francigena
 

 
Have you collected your Testimonium or do you intend to? Let us know in the comment section which route you want to do.
  
  
Final Stages of the Camino de Santiago: Tours & Information

Final Stages of the Camino de Santiago: Tours & Information

 
Many Camino pilgrims choose to experience the final stage of the Camino de Santiago. This article will explain why the last section of the Camino is so popular, how far you need to walk or cycle to collect your Compostela (Pilgrim's Certificate), and present eight affordable walking and cycling tour options for you to achieve this goal.
 

How Long is the Final Stage of the Camino de Santiago?

According to the Pilgrim's Reception Office, the official service behind Camino credentials, pilgrims need to walk at least 100km or 62 miles of the Camino de Santiago to be eligible for the Compostela (Pilgrims Certificate). The general starting point for walking the final stage of the Camino Frances (the most popular route) is the town of Sarria, which is actually 115km or 72 miles from Santiago. 
 
Pilgrims who cycle the Camino need to cover 200km or 124 miles to be eligible for the Compostela. For cyclists doing the Camino Frances, this starting point is in Leon, and for those riding the Camino Portuguese, the starting point is in the delightful city of Porto.
Walkers on the Camino Primitivo enroute to Santiago de Compostela |  <i>Andreas Holland</i>
 

Why is the Final Stage of the Camino de Santiago so Popular?

Travellers enjoy walking or cycling the final section of the Camino de Santiago for several reasons.
  1. By completing the final stage of the Camino de Santiago, pilgrims are eligible for the Compostela (Pilgrim's Certificate), which is an official document certifying the Camino has been completed.
  2. It's ideal for those travellers who are short on time, as the final stage of the Camino de Santiago takes 7-8 days.
  3. The final stage of the Camino highlights the essence of a Camino pilgrimage. You get to experience the day to day walking, the social atmosphere of your fellow pilgrims, the changing landscape of northern Spain, and get to enjoy the delicious regional cuisine.
Arriving in Santiago de Compostela on the final day |  <i>Sue Finn</i>
 

Which Tours Can I Walk the Final Stage of the Camino de Santiago?

There are four routes and six tours that cover the final 100km stage of the Camino de Santiago trails leading to Santiago de Compostela.
 

1. Sarria to Santiago: Camino Frances

This is the most popular section of the Camino to walk and covers the last 115km of the Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago. With UTracks, there are different ways to complete this
Arriving in the beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela after completing the Camino Trail |  <i>Edwina Parsons</i>
 

2.Tui to Santiago: Portuguese Way

Follow the famous scallop shells from the Portuguese town of Tui on this final section of the Portuguese Camino. This is the last of four stages of the Portuguese Way Camino.
Enjoying a quiet stage of the Portuguese Camino along Portugal's coast.
 

3. Ferrol to Santiago: The English Way

Walking the route from Ferrol to Santiago along the English Way isn't just completing the final stage of the English Camino, it's the entire trail! This is a naturally short Camino as it follows the trail English pilgrims walked from the historic port town of Ferrol, after arriving from the United Kingdom, to the holy city of Santiago de Compostela.
Colourful scallop shells on the Camino trail in Spain |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i>
 

4. Ourense to Santiago: Camino Sanabres

The Camino Sanabres is one of the oldest Camino trails, actually predating Christian pilgrims. This is a short Camino trail that, like the English Way, has no final section and can instead be walked in its entirety. 
Idyllic walking along the Camino Sanabres in Spain
 

5. Baiona to Santiago: Camino Portuguese

Walk the final stage of the Portuguese Coastal Route and absorb one of the quieter, less busy Camino paths, with ample reminders of past pilgrims offering an insight into its religious significance.
Pilgrims on the trail to Santiago in the Galicia region |  <i>Erin Williams</i>
 

Which Tours Can I Cycle the Final Stage of the Camino de Santiago?

If you prefer to pedal, these cycling tours will reward you with a sense of achievement for having completed the Camino.
 

1. Leon to Santiago: Camino Frances

This is the second and final stage of the Camino Frances cycling pilgrimage. Starting in the cathedral city of Leon, this tour includes breathtaking scenery, typical Spanish villages, and a few challenging sections that you can reward yourself with the delicious regional cuisine and wines of northern Spain.
Cycling along the Camino
 

2. Porto to Santiago: Portuguese Way

The first half of the Portuguese Way for cyclists begins in Lisbon, Portugal's capital, whereas this journey starts a bit further north in the stunning city of Porto. During this fantastic ride, you can expect coastal views, divine port wines, and the laidback local culture of the area.
Admiring the view on the Camino Portuguese stage between Porto and Santiago de Compostela |  <i>Pat Rochon</i>
 

> View all of UTracks' Camino tours.
 
Have you collected your Compostela or do you intend to? Let us know in the comment section which route you want to do.
  
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