Today we walk talk about the 10 main Camino de Santiago routes. Do you remember the saying “All roads lead to Rome”? In fact, we can also state, in a sense, that all roads lead to Santiago de Compostela. With many years of tradition, the Camino de Santiago is one of the most popular pilgrimage routes in the world. As we know, the objective is the Camino itself, finding the St James the Apostle, or even ourselves. And there are many routes to arrive into Santiago de Compostela.
Do you want to walk the Camino, but you are not sure about the route to follow? Let’s discover the 10 main Camino de Santiago routes.
The main Camino de Santiago routes
- 1 The main Camino de Santiago routes
- 1.1 1. The French Way or Camino Francés
- 1.2 2. The Aragonese Way (or Camino Aragonés)
- 1.3 3. The Portuguese Way (or Camino Portugués)
- 1.4 4. The Portuguese Coastal Way (or Camino Portugués de la Costa)
- 1.5 5. The Northern Way (or Camino del Norte)
- 1.6 6. The Inland Basque Way (or Camino Vasco del Interior)
- 1.7 7. The Via de la Plata
- 1.8 8. The Primitive Way (also known as Camino Primitivo or Original Way)
- 1.9 9. The Finisterre Camino (or Camino de Finisterre)
- 1.10 10. The English Way or Camino Inglés
Below, we will go through our list of the 10 main Camino de Santiago routes. There are many other paths that are part of the network of Jacobean Camino, but we have selected 10 routes for several reasons. Their importance, popularity among pilgrims, history and origins, and other particularities. Shall we start
1. The French Way or Camino Francés
As mentioned, this route starts in St Jean de Pied de Port, and the main stops are: Roncesvalles, Zubiri, Pamplona, Puente La Reina, Estella, Los Arcos, Logroño, Najera, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Belorado, San Juan de Ortega, Burgos, Hornillos del Camino, Castrojeriz, Fromista, Carrión de los Condes, Calzadilla de la Cueza, Sahagún, El Burgo Ranero, Mansilla de las Mullas, León, Mazarife, Astorga, Rabanal del Camino, Ponferrada, Villafranca del Bierzo, O Cebreiro, Triacastela, Sarria, Portomarín, Palas de Rei, Arzúa, y Pedrouzo (about 20 km far from Santiago).
2. The Aragonese Way (or Camino Aragonés)
The Aragonese Way is one of the less known routes, but at the same time one of the oldest.
It is about 140 km long, divided on 6 stages: Somport, Jaca, Arrés, Ruesta, Sangüesa, Monreal y Puente la Reina. The end of this route is considered to be Plaza de Obanos, in Puente de la Reina, where it joins together with the French Way up to Santiago de Compostela.
Because of this, the Aragonese Way is also known as the French-Aragonese Way.
3. The Portuguese Way (or Camino Portugués)
The Portuguese Way starts in the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon, which is about 600 km far from Santiago de Compostela (but most of the Pilgrims start in Porto or directly in Tui, the town that marks the boarder with Portugal). It is the second most popular route in terms of number of Pilgrims, just after the French Way.
The main stops, starting in Lisbon, are: Santa Iria, Vila Franca de Xira, Azambuja, Santarem, Golega, Tomar, Alvaiazere, Ansiao, Condeixa a Nova, Coimbra, Mealhada, Agueda, Albergaria a Velha, Sao Joao de Madeira, Grijo, Porto, Fajozes, Arcos, Barcelos, Ponte Lima, Rubias, Tui, O Porriño, Arcade, Pontevedra, Caldas de Reis, Padrón and Santiago.
This last stop before our destination, Padrón, is the place from where the remains of St James the Apostle were transported to Santiago.
4. The Portuguese Coastal Way (or Camino Portugués de la Costa)
It is one of the most recent routes (it was made “oficial” only a couple of year ago). But, at the same time, it is one with a fastest growth. The Portuguese Coastal Way runs in parallel to the traditional Portuguese Way, from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. However, as we can understand from the denomination of this route, it is a coastal walk. From to Porto to Pontevedra, the trail passes all along the sea (all the time, almost!).
From Redondela to Santiago de Compostela, the Portuguese Coastal Camino meets the traditional Portuguese Camino. They both merge together, on the same route. For this reason, the number of pilgrims is higher from this point up to Santiago de Compostela.
5. The Northern Way (or Camino del Norte)
Another popular route is the Northern Way, that has been recently declared Unesco heritage site. The starting point of the route can be Bayonne (France), Irún (Spain), but most of the pilgrims really start in San Sebastian. There are more than 800 km to Santiago, and more than 30 stages.
Some of the main towns on the way are Bilbao, Santander, Gijón, Avilés and many more.
From Arzúa, already in Galicia, the path is the same as the French Way, up to Santiago.
6. The Inland Basque Way (or Camino Vasco del Interior)
With regards to the Camino Vasco del Interior, it was one of the most popular routes during the Middle Ages. It has 8 stages, from Irún to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, and about 203 kilometres.
Because of its location, there is usually snow, but the panoramic views of the Spanish relief are stunning.
In Santo Domingo de la Calzada, just like the Aragonese Way, the itinerary finishes and pilgrims will need to join the French Way to arrive to Santiago.
7. The Via de la Plata
The Vía de la Plata is another way of getting to Santiago. This route starts in Seville, the capital city of Andalusia, and some of the main stops are: Zafra, Mérida, Cáceres, Carcaboso, Salamanca, Zamora, Puebla de Sanabria, A Gudiña, Ourense and finally Santiago.
There are more than 40 stages, over 1,000 km approximately.
8. The Primitive Way (also known as Camino Primitivo or Original Way)
This route starts in Oviedo, and the stops are: Grado, Salas, Tineo, Pola Allende, Berducedo, Grandas de Salime, A Fonsagrada, O Cádavo, Lugo, Ferreira, Melide, Arzúa, Rúa and finally Santiago.
From Melide, the path is the same as the French Way, and pilgrims using both routes will walk together until Obradoiro Square, in Santiago.
9. The Finisterre Camino (or Camino de Finisterre)
It is the only Camino de Santiago route that does not finish in Santiago de Compostela. It starts there!
The Finisterre Way is part of the Jacobean routes, but it has many particularities that make it different. On the one side, it is the shortest Camino de Santiago route (less than 100 km!). On the other side, the route has a pagan origin, even before Christianity itself! Both the Celts and the Romans found Finisterre as a mystical place, and many cultures considered it as an altar to the God of the sun. Also, the Finisterre Camino has its own credential and its own Pilgrim Certificate: the Finisterrana.
There are many pilgrims who after finishing the Camino de Santiago, decide to continue towards Finisterre. Both to see the sean, and to contemplate the sunset from its popular lighthouse. There, we will see the milestone that marks the KM 0 of the Camino de Santiago.
Despite all these particularities, the Finisterre Way is still one fo the main routes of the Camino de Santiago.
10. The English Way or Camino Inglés
The English Way is one of the shortest routes of the Camino de Santiago. And it has two different starting points: Ferrol and A Coruña.
This is because both cities used to be the main entrance doors for those travelers coming to Galicia region. Those pilgrims coming from England or Ireland (that is why it is called the English Way) used to arrive to these ports. From there, they continued walking towards Santiago de Compostela.
Nowadays, Ferrol is the most popular starting point of the Camino Inglés, because from there it is possible to walk 100 km (the minimum needed to get the Compostela certificate). If you want to depart from A Coruña but you would like to get the Compostela (Pilgrim Certificate), you should know that you have the option to walk the 25 km stretch in your own country, or place of origin, until completing the 100 kms.
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