When Where How
to Walk the Camino.
What Camino Route to Take.
the where of when where how.
When where how to walk the Camino is a big decision. Deciding which part of the Camino de Santiago (World Heritage Site) you want to walk is the first step you will need to take. There are dozens of routes throughout Europe that lead to Santiago de Compostela and you can choose whichever suits your needs and schedule best.
All throughout Europe, there are routes and paths dedicated to the Camino de Santiago and offer varying degrees of terrain, accommodations, amenities, breathtaking scenery, history, culture, and solitude.
The Most Popular Route
The most popular route is the Camino Frances which starts in Saint Jean Pied de Port and weaves its way across northern Spain, over the Pyrenees, through the wine region and vineyards of Rioja, along the vast Meseta, and over the western mountain range in Leon. Then ascending into beautiful O’Cebriero before descending into Santiago de Compostela.
You can get a flavour of the Camino Frances in books and movies, most recently with “The Way”, “6 Ways to Santiago”, and numerous videos on Youtube. The route is well equipped to host pilgrims along the way with numerous cities, towns, and villages with ample albergues, restaurants, culture and historical sites. When where and how to walk on the Camino is often paired with how long you have to spend on it. These things combined will determine where you start and end your Camino.
The Camino Frances can be walked in three two week sections easily from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Burgos, Burgos to Leon, then Leon to Santiago. However, if acquiring a Compostela is important to you, then you must walk a minimum of 100 km into Santiago de Compostela which will take you approximately one week (Sarria is 111kms from Santiago and is the most popular starting point).
Routes in and Outside of Spain
Most Popular Routes
Top Ten Starting Points
- Camino Frances 56.8% 56.8%
- Camino Portuguese 20.72% 20.72%
- Camino del Norte 5.82% 5.82%
- Camino Ingles 4.32% 4.32%
- Camino Primitivo 4.32% 4.32%
- Camino Portugues de la Costa 4.23% 4.23%
- Vila de la Plata 2.97% 2.97%
- Muxia-Finisterre .35% .35%
- Camino de Invierno .21% .21%
- Otros Caminos .10% .10%
- Sarria 27.04% 27.04%
- Saint Jean Pied de Port 10.05% 10.05%
- Oporto/Porto 8.2% 8.2%
- Tui 6.51% 6.51%
- Ferrol 4.07% 4.07%
- Leon 3.33% 3.33%
- O’Cebriero 2.81% 2.81%
- Oveido – C.P. 2.69% 2.69%
- Valenca do Minho 2.67% 2.67%
- Ponferrada 2.20% 2.20%
Seasons to Walk the Camino
The WHEN of When Where and How
Walking the Camino in the Spring
The spring is a lovely time to walk the Camino for many reasons.
- the weather gets warmer
- the wildflowers provide colour and beauty along the path
- albergues and facilities are generally open
- crops are growing providing beauty
- not as crowded as the summer
- easier to find accommodations
Walking the Camino in the Summer
The summer months on the Camino are beautiful, particularly in the mountains and it a very popular time to take the journey.
- summer holidays
- the days get longer affording for longer walking days
- albergues can fill up quickly finding accommodations can be difficult
- meet many new people
- the weather gets hot, making it necessary to start your day early
Walking the Camino in the Fall
The fall is the second favourite time to walk the Camino.
- the weather is comfortable with warm days and cool nights
- the grapes are ripe and plentiful
- Figs are ready for picking and available on the path
- albergues and facilities are open and less crowded
Walking the Camino in the winter
The winter is a challenging time to walk the Camino depending on your route. Caution and good planning should be taken when considering this time of year. The Camino Frances is closed over the Pyrennes January, February, March, November, and December.
- The weather is cold with rain and snow
- many albergues are closed
- paths may be closed due to snow
- take the winter route avoiding the mountains
- facilities may be minimal in smaller towns
- necessary to walk longer days to find accommodations
- fewer pilgrims on route
Walk Alone or with a Companion
The How of When Where How
There are benefits of walking the Camino alone and with others. No way is right or wrong but it depends on your comfort level and what you want your experience to be.
If you want the Camino to be an internal learning experience and if you are expecting to have solitude then walking alone might be a better option for you. There are always pilgrims not to far off so the feeling of being totally alone is not a reality. There are hundreds of pilgrims walking in your stage each day. However, if you want the camaraderie of friends, meet new people, or want to share the experience and form stronger bonds with family then walking with others is something you might consider.
The when where how decisions you make about walking the Camino are the right way for you. Everyone walks their own Camino.
Things to keep in mind when walking with others.
- Everyone’s pace is different. Meeting up at a designated place might be an option for slower and faster walkers.
- Not everyone feels the same way about the Camino and its lifestyle.
- Some might want to take a bus or taxi and bypass some areas.
- Some might want to stay and explore a city for longer than you do.
- What to do when someone in your group falls ill?
Things to keep in mind when walking alone.
- You will have to navigate the route on your own.
- You can stop and rest or explore at your will.
- You will meet dozens of people from all over the world and maybe form a small group with some.
- If you get ill you will be on your own with no support from family, however, your new Camino family will likely be there to help.
- It is easier securing one bed.
The Camino on Bicycle
Making your way along the Camino on a bicycle has become more popular over the years with many people finding it a good alternative to walking.
- fewer days required to complete the journey.
- maps routes available.
- support and supplies available in larger towns.
- Pilgrims on foot have priority earlier in the day at albergues.
- Some parts of the Camino are not accessible by bicycle.
- Minimum of 200 km ridden in order to achieve a Compostela.
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