If you have reached this post is because you are planning to do the Camino de Santiago, but you have no idea where to start. The world of the Camino de Santiago is an intricate and complex adventure that invites us to ask ourselves questions such as: how do we prepare for the adventure? Which route to choose, how do we prepare for the adventure, what will be our necessary equipment for each route, or what sites we may get to see on this journey. For this reason, and because we want to answer all possible questions about this adventure, we bring you a complete guide to the Camino de Santiago, so that you can solve your doubts.

Historia del Camino de Santiago

Behind the Camino de Santiago on foot hides a legend that has overwhelmed Christianity since its first dawns in history. According to the story, the Apostle James the Greater, son of Zebedee, travelled to the lands of Roman Hispania, in order to preach the Gospel throughout the peninsula, to finish his evangelization in the nowadays holy lands of Galicia. In spite of his efforts, he had little success and his disciples were not too numerous, so he decided to return to Jerusalem, only to be imprisoned, tortured and executed in Palestine.

In addition to being executed, it was forbidden to give the Apostle a Christian burial.So his disciples, in the secrecy of the night, loaded the marble tomb of St. James into a boat, and sent it, unmanned, to the sea, where it would be transferred to the Roman port of the river Ulla, to be taken by cart to the forest of Libredon, where the oxen stopped by themselves, and there he was buried.

A shell on a wall and a red text of Camino de Santiago

There it was submerged in oblivion, until in the year 813, Pelayo, the hermit, saw a star in the forest and reported it to the bishop of Iria Flavia, where later the tomb of Santiago would be found in a Roman Compósitum. In response to this, the the first pilgrim in history, who was none other than the King Alfonso II the Chaste, who, faced with such overwhelming news, wanted to leave in the direction of the holy tomb of the Apostle with his court, where a small church was erected, in order to give the history the origins of the first Camino de Santiago.

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From here, it did not take long for the Christians to add their grain to the mountain of history, when, in order to protect the tomb from the Arabs, then with their empire on the rise, they began to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, thus becoming pilgrimage center back in the year 821 A.D. under the guidance of Emperor Charlemagne.

Thus, from the 10th century onwards, the signs of pilgrimage multiplied, spread and reproduced throughout Europe, where pilgrimage routes emerged from all corners of the continent, as well as from Christendom, who contributed their own customs to the already historic pilgrimage, making it one of the most important in Christendom.

However, with the arrival of the 15th century, the pilgrimage suffered an evident decline, as fewer and fewer Christians undertook the journey to visit the Holy Sepulchre, becoming almost forgotten after the wars, epidemics and famines of the time. However, in the last century, the path has been revitalized, to end up being, once again, one of the most visited places in the entire peninsula, and one of the most frequented trips by believers and agnostics who seek a journey of self-discovery and adventure, which have been contributing with their new customs and their infinite habits their grain of sand to what is already one of the greatest mountains in the history of mankind.

Why do the Camino de Santiago?

There are many reasons to do the Camino de Santiago and these do not necessarily have to be the most typical ones. Of course, we can do the Camino de Santiago to reach the goal and enjoy what awaits us there. But we can also do it to enjoy a long hike with our friends, to see how we can survive being nomads for a few weeks, to visit places we have never seen before in a way we have never experienced before, etc. We bring you here a guide of the Camino de Santiago.

Person with a backpack on a forest

Doing it with friends is a lot of fun, yes, but some people choose to do it without anyone. The reasons that someone may have for doing it alone are also very varied, but they all have to do with the fact that the person wants to find themselves on the Camino de Santiago and get to know themselves better. Seeing how we can manage on our own in unfamiliar conditions makes choosing to go it alone a great show of courage and self-confidence.

Regardless of the reasons and motives we have to embark on this wonderful adventure, the truth is that walking the Camino de Santiago is a unique and unrepeatable experience that deserves to be lived by all of us.

Where does it start and how many kilometers is the route

The truth is that there is no fixed point where to start walking, and, therefore, there are no specific kilometers. Perhaps one of the most popular places to start the Camino de Santiago. en Roncesvalles which is located in the French Way. This road is 139 kilometres long until we reach Logroño, which will take us about a week to cover if we organise ourselves in the right way. In this guide of the Camino de Santiago, we recommend that if we choose the French way, we would have to go out by Saint Jean Pied de Port

A french sign of the Camino de Santiago

However, we can also choose other routes or paths depending on whether we want to do it on foot, on horseback or walking. In this way, we can choose routes such as the Primitive Way the Silver Route or the The Northern Way.

What are the stages of the Camino de Santiago?

In the Camino de Santiago we find a great variety of stages that will transmit us different sensations and diverse landscapes. Which one will be the best? We can’t agree on this guide for the Camino. For this reason, we wanted to make this classification for you:

  • Camino de Santiago with coastal stages: the greatest exponent of this type of Camino is the Camino del Norte, in its route we can observe the beauty of the Cantabrian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The beauty of this type of trail lies in achieving an unforgettable experience. On the one hand, we can observe how the Camino changes our life experience and on the other hand, we can admire unparalleled landscapes.
  • Camino de Santiago with rural stages: this type of road is characterized by a strong presence in the countryside. They are ideal if you want to have a strong connection with nature.
  • Historical Camino de Santiago: this path was the one taken by Alfonso II the Chaste in the 9th century. For this reason you will be reliving history as it is the first known Camino.

The Camino de Santiago along Castilla

The most famous routes

The best known route is the French Way, also the busiest. Moreover, it is not only of religious interest but also of artistic, scenic and historical interest. However, this route poses a problem and that is that it can be overcrowded so sometimes we can not find a free bed. The second best known is the Portuguese Way which is not so crowded and, in addition, we will have the benefit of knowing Galicia in depth. It is signposted in a correct way and we will not find problems with the accommodation.

Roman bridge of Puente la Reina

The Way from Santiago to Finisterre and Muxía does not end in Santiago, it ends in Finisterre and it is something that can upset us, but it does in Finisterre, better known as the end of the world. The Vía or Silver Route is known for the fact that it is an ancient Roman road linking Astorga and Merida. It is a quiet route, but it is somewhat demanding so it is only suitable for people who are really fit. The English Way is ideal to do it in summer as the temperatures are not usually very aggressive. The Primitive Way is the oldest and happens to be the original route. It is not the most massive and therefore, it is a quiet way to make and is recommended especially for those who want to do it on foot.

Guide to the different Pilgrims’ Roads to Santiago de Compostela

map of the different ways of santiago

Guide to do the Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago can be done both by bike and on foot, obviously the use of other means of transport such as car or motorbike is not allowed. If you do it by these means you can have a good time, but you will not be able to certify that you have done the tour.

In addition, it is convenient that you set yourself challenges of self-improvement when doing the Camino de Santiago. Think that the Camino was an odyssey in ancient times for those who could afford it, so it should be for you too. This does not imply that you are compromising your safety. But, for example, if you feel you can do two stages in one day, do them. This is very attractive for young people and athletes as they can see their limits. Remember that you are in the countryside, not in the city, so take care of your physical condition and hydration.

Two pilgrims wearing raincoats in the rain

A good tip is that if you can do it on foot (for time more than anything else, as it is slower) do it. You will enjoy more of the scenery and have a much more authentic experience of the Camino de Santiago.

Guide to organize and prepare the Camino de Santiago

When it comes to the Camino de Santiago you have to take into account a lot of tips and factors. It is not the same, for example, to do the Camino accompanied than alone and if you do it accompanied it is not the same to do it with your family than with friends or your partner. However, these four tips are basic to succeed in your challenge.

Two pilgrim backpacks with their shelves

Collect all the information about your route

Information is power and the more informed you are, the more you will enjoy the road. Although the essence is an unknown route and an adventure, the information will allow you to enjoy all the monuments it houses. This will make sure you don’t miss a single one. Also, you have to keep in mind that you can not be uninformed because that can mean getting lost and if you have never done a tour of these characteristics can cause you a good scare.

"Buen Camino" writed on the floor

Calculate the distance of your stages

You can’t do a 40km stage one day and a 10km stage the next. Your body needs regularity and therefore you have to calculate well the distance between each point of the Camino. In other words, you have to calculate the distance of your stages well. The Camino can be a very pleasant experience, but it requires a certain amount of calculation and planning.

How many days you need to do it

To do any of the Caminos it usually takes a few days to walk it unless you are a professional athlete. However, not all of us have the time to do the whole tour. Holidays in Spain are certainly not as long as they should be. Therefore, the ideal is to travel it in 5 days or a week. If you want to obtain the Compostela, you will have to walk at least the last 100 kilometres of the Camino de Santiago. The distance of 100 kilometres is not too long to cover in 5 days and not too short to cover in a week, so it is the ideal distance. This way, you will be able to wear the Compostela and, moreover, do it in a short time, in 5 days or in a week. You will even have days left over to visit the rest of Galicia.

A pilgrim descending a hill

Guide Camino de Santiago: By bike or on foot.

It must be taken into account that 80% of the people who do the Camino de Santiago do it on foot. However, many people give up because of over-exertion. Normal people aren’t used to running so many kilometres. This does not mean that cycling is a guarantee that it will end, because, for example, you can get a puncture,

Person pedaling on a bicycle

However, if the route is long and complicated to do on foot, it is best to do it by bicycle. Doing it by bike will make you do less physical effort. As we have mentioned before, perhaps going by bike makes you lose the authentic and original experience of El Camino de Santiago and therefore, it is not the general recommendation. But, above all, enjoy, the Camino is a unique and unforgettable experience, so the most important thing is to live it and, of course, to complete it.

Design the Camino to suit you