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The Camino de Santiago is a life changing experience, that attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. They always have diverse motivations: religious, cultual, social, live an adventure…
There are different Camino de Santiago routes. Each one of them with its own benefits and challenges: the French Way (or Camino Francés), the Portugués Way (or Camino Portugués), the Portuguese Coastal Way (or Camino Portugués de la Costa), the Primitive Way (or Camino Primitivo), the Finisterre Way (or Camino de Finisterre), the Northern Way (or Camino del Norte), the Winter Way (or Camino de Invierno), the Vía de la Plata…
If you are thinking about walking or cycling the Camino de Santiago, but your are unsure about which route to follow, please see below some information about the most popular ones:
-The French Way: it is the most popular Camino de Santiago route, in number of pilgrims. The Camino Francés starts in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (France), in the border with Spain.
It is a very long route, more than 800 km, across different regions of Spain: Navarre, la Rioja, Castilla y León and Galicia. But most of the pilgrims walk the last 100 km, from Sarria to Santiago. It is the minimum required to get the Compostela (Pilgrim Certificate).
-The Portuguese Way: it is the second most popular Camino de Santiago route, in number of pilgrims. The Camino Portugués starts in Lisbon (Portugal) but most of the pilgrims prefer to avoid the first sections, and start in Porto instead. It is an spectacular route, that was first walked by Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, who did two pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela.
Which is why the Portuguese Way became so popular at the time. Along the route, we can find many traces and legends from that period.
If you only have a couple of days available to walk the Camino Portugués, and you want to get your Pilgrim Certificate, we would recommend you to walk the last 100 km: from Tui to Santiago de Compostela.
-The Portuguese Coastal Way: it is an alternative route to the traditional Portuguese Way, but along the coast. Even if it is a fairly recent route, the Portuguese Coastal Camino is becoming an increasingly popular walk. In fact, it is the fastest growing Camino de Santiago route.
The path starts in Porto, and runs in parallel with the traditional Portuguese Camino, up to Reondela. From Redondela to Santiago, both routes join together on the same path.
The Portuguese Coastal Way will allow you to enjoy the spectacular sea views of Northern Portugal and Galicia region. You will pass through its charming finishing villages, where it is always a pleasure to taste its gastronomy and enjoy the traditions.
-The English Way: the name of this route comes from the origin of those pilgrims coming from overseas. In the Middle Ages, pilgrims coming from England or Ireland, used to arrive by boat in the ports of Ferrol or A Coruña. From these cities, they started their pilgrimage towards Santiago de Compostela.
The Camino Inglés is one of the shortest routes of the Camino de Santiago (just 100 km approx, from Ferrol to Santiago). Some of the stretches are really nice, particularly the one into Pontedeume (the sea views are amazing).
-The Northern Way: it is one of the longest routes of the Camino de Santiago. The itinerary starts in Irún (Basque Country) and it is more than 800 km long.
It is quite a challenging route in terms of terrain, with many ups and downs (particularly in the Basque Country area). However, the landscape is amazing, as you will be walking all along the coast.
This route will allow you to discover four different regions of Northern Spain: the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia.
-The Primitive Way: also known as Original Way. As we can understand from its name, it is the first Camino de Santiago route.
We can find the origins of this walk in the IX century, when King Alfonso II of Asturias turned into the first pilgrim of the Camino de Santiago. We the remains of Saint James the Apostle were discovered, he decided to walk from his home, in Oviedo, towards Santiago de Compostela.
The Primitive Way is on of the less walked routes, and it is recommended to those pilgrims who have previous hiking experience, as it is quite challenging. Even if it’s the first known Camino de Santiago route, it is not the most popular ones, because of the level of difficulty and accessibility.
-The Winter Way: this path represents an alternative to the French Way, on the section from Ponferrada to Santiago. During the winter months, it was difficult to walk trough some areas of the French Way, due to the snow. Particularly, the path close to O Cebreiro (in Galicia). This way, the Winter Camino is born, an alternative path to avoid the snow. Perfect for those pilgrims willing to walk the Camino de Santiago in the winter months.
The Winter Way passes through very popular areas, like las Médulas (in León), the Ribeira Sacra (in Galicia)… In it is one of the less known Camino de Santiago de routes, but becoming a bit more popular each year.
-The Finisterre Way: it is the only Camino de Santiago route that does not finish in Santiago de Compostela, but starts there.
The Finisterre Camino has a pagan origin, even before Christianity. The Celtic tradition considered that Finisterre was a mystic place, like a sort of altar to the God of the Sun. Same happened during the Roman Empire, they considered that Finisterre was the westernmost point of the world, the End of the World (the name Finisterre comes from Finis Terre, meaning End of the World). It took a while to integrate this route inside the Jacobean tradition.
Nowadays, there are many pilgrims who decide to keep walking towards the sea, after reaching Santiago de Compostela.
There, it is possible to see the milestone that marks the KM 0 of the Camino de Santiago. It is very common to see all the pilgrims close to the Finisterre lighthouse, contemplating the spectacularity of the Atlantic Ocean.
Other than Finisterre, there are other magical places that can be visited in the Costa da Morte region (Coast of Death). One of them is Muxia. It is said that this region witnessed the apparition of Virgen Mary on different spots, like the Sanctuary of A Pedra da Barca.
Whatever your motivations are, at Galiwonders we will offer you all our expertise and enthusiasm to create an unforgettable trip. Do you have any questions about the best Camino de Santiago route to follow? How long will it take to walk the Camino de Santiago? Where does the Camino de Santiago start? Here you’ll find practical information and tips to get ready for the adventure.
We are local experts in organizing tailor made tours on the Camino de Santiago. Despite other travel agencies, we are based in Galicia region, and we have many years of international experience in the tourism industry. We organize tailor made tours on the Camino de Santiago both for independent travelers and groups. Guided Camino, or self-guided Camino.
As we always say, there are as many motivations and routes on the Camino de Santiago, as pilgrims walking them. Please do not hesitate to contact us with all the questions and requirements you might have. We will work to create the best experience, adapted to your travel needs. We will transform the Camino, into your Camino.
Discover your own way!
At Galiwonders, we want to help you to organize the best tours and experiences in Galicia region.
As travel local experts in the region, we offer all our experience and passion so you can take the best of our traditions, culture, gastronomy…
We offer tailor made tours in Galicia region: the Rías Baixas, the Costa da Morte (Coast of Death), food and wine tours in Galicia (where you will be able to taste our delicious Albariño wine in the best wineries)… The Beach of the Cathedrals, the Ribeira Sacra or the thermal spring waters in Ourense… these are just examples of the many tourism attraction you will be able to enjoy in Galicia region.
Please do not hesitate to contact us, and we will create a tailor made itinerary, so you can discover the best of Galicia region.
La Via Francigena is one of the longest walking trails in Europe, as it is more than 2,000 long. It starts in Canterbury (United Kingdom) and passes through France, Switzerland, Italy, until its final destination: the Eternal City, Rome. The whole itinerary would take at least three months to be compleated.
The origins of the Via Francigena date back from the VII century. Due to the constant controversies between the Lombards and the Byzantines, the route was created to conned the Northern and the Southern kingdoms. This ways, it was safer to travel through the region (both for merchants and pilgrims).
With the peak of the pilgrimage trails in Europe, the three main destinations started to be very popular: Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela. However, it wasn’t until year 990. when the Via Francigena started to be know. It was when the abbot Sigeric the Serious walked it: from Canterbury in England (where he was ordained by the Pope John XV) to Rome. We can still see his manuscript describing the details of his journey.
Since 1994, the Via Francigena was declared by the Council of Europe as a Cultural European Route. Even if the number of pilgrims is much lower compared to other pilgrimage routes, like the Camino de Santiago, the Via Francigena keeps growing year after year.
The Via Francigena is a very long waking trail, but there are two sections that are quite popular. The stretch from Lucca to Siena, and the one from Viterbo to Rome.
The section from Lucca to Siena will allow you to walk or cycle through the Tuscany region in Italy, and enjoy its wonderful landscapes, gastronomy and culture. The final section, from Viterbo to Rome, passes through spectacular rural areas of Italy, ending in Rome. This part will allow you to get the Pilgrim certificate, if you walk at least the last 100 km.
At Galiwonders, we organize tailor made tours in La Via Francigena. Both for independent travelers and groups.
Please do not hesitate to request your tailor made itinerary!