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All you need to know about the Camino de Santiago

Are you getting ready to do a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela but you are in two minds about it? When is more convenient to go, what to bring, how not to get lost… Don’t worry, here we explain you everything you need to know about the Camino de Santiago.

When is better to do the Camino de Santiago?

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High temperatures can be a problem, so the best choice is to avoid them. And in winter there are some stretches as the climb to O Cebreiro in the French Way, that are especially hard because of the snow and the cold. For these reasons, it is convenient to plan your route when the weather is benevolent.

The average temperature in Santiago de Compostela is usually 25 Celsius in July and August, two of the most popular months among the pilgrims. If you prefer to take some precautions and not to be exposed to heat strokes, in spring the average temperature is around 20 Celsius even if the mornings are cold. In case the temperatures are high and you are on the way, we advise you to drink plenty of water, to avoid the sunny areas and to protect your skin with a good sun cream. Furthermore, during spring there are many rainy days, so we recommend you to bring a waterproof raincoat in your backpack.

Autumn months are characterized by the cold and the rain. Most of the pilgrims plan their trip between April and September. Because of this, it is easy to find closed hostels, bars and restaurants from October. This is not a problem if you book in advance.

Snow, water and cold are part of winter. This is a hard time to walk not only because of the meteorological conditions but also because there are less pilgrims with whom to share the experience. Nevertheless, a lot of those that choose the Winter Way, for instance, claim that this is one of the incentives. If you are motivated and your material is appropriate, winter is not a problem at all to arrive to Santiago.

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    What clothes do you need to pack for the Camino de Santiago?

    It is important to remember that it doesn’t matter the season you choose to walk or ride the bike to Santiago de Compostela, but to be sure about the clothes and shoes you will wear. In addition, it is advised to use sun cream even if it is not a sunny day.

    T-shirts, trousers, socks… try to look for hiking clothes that are good for perspiration. The best choice is to bring short and long trousers, or even one that can be dismantled. There are many pilgrims that prefer the leggings rather than hiking trousers. This is a matter of taste, bring what you feel more comfortable with.

    You should try to avoid socks with seams in order to help to keep away the blisters. It is enough with two or three t-shirts, three pairs of socks and three underwear. If you go to walk during winter, remember to put in your backpack thermal t-shirts to be protected from the cold and a raincoat for the rainy days. If you want, you can include a pair of trousers and a t-shirt in order to have some street clothing for when you arrive to the hostels. Also, you can take a hoodie in case it gets cold.

    We highly recommend you not to wear your shoes for the first time during the Camino de Santiago. At least, you should wear them a couple of days before starting the trip to make them softer and prevent the blisters. The most advised shoes are the hiking ones, mostly those with short leg that allow the feet to sweat. Besides the shoes to walk, remember to put a pair of flip-flops, very useful at the hostels.

    what to pack galiwondersBesides the clothes, what else do you need to include in your backpack for doing the Camino de Santiago?relax galiwonders

    Appropriate clothes and shoes are fundamental in order to do the Camino de Santiago. Nevertheless, there are other things that can be useful during your peregrination.

    It is recommendable to bring a small first-aid kit with some basics: plasters or dressings for the blisters, disinfectant for the injuries, cream for the muscular pain and some painkiller. In addition, you can include a small towel and a swimsuit in case you feel like taking a bath in a river. Also, it is useful if you are doing a coastal route near the sea or your Way is the Sanabrian or Via de la Plata that cross Ourense, famous city because of its thermal baths. Lastly but not less, put also a toiletry bag with some small bottles of shampoo and shower gel.

    Many times, before starting a trip, we believe that we will need a lot of things and we start to fill our luggage with some useless stuff. Try to be practical and think that you are going to do a peregrination in the middle of nature, so it is important to be comfortable. Moreover, there are plenty of restaurants, supermarkets and all sorts of shops you can visit during your Way if you need to buy something.

    Even if you test your backpack on your shoulders before leaving your home and you think it doesn’t weight too much, remember that you will have to walk with it for a lot of kilometres. There are some days 15 kilometres long, but on the other hand there are some more than 30 km long! For this reason, experts recommend to bring between seven and nine kilos, the most. But if you want to avoid carrying the backpack with all your things, Galiwonders helps you to plan your trip including luggage transfer.

    Everyone can walk the Camino de Santiago

    The Camino de Santiago is suitable for everyone if you feel like doing it. The age, the sex, the origins… there is no factor that can be a problem when the moment of starting this adventure arrives.

    camino de santiago

    For example, it is an activity that women do as much as men. In all the routes it is possible to find travellers from both sex that decide to reach Santiago alone or with the company of their family or friends.

    Age is not an obstacle. You need to know that the time and the stages of the Camino de Santiago are flexible, so each person can do it at her or his own pace. There are some days more than 30 km long, that can be split in two. And some short stages that can be put together in case you fancy walking more that day. Babies and kids, of course, should go accompanied by an adult, but  of course, they will also be able to say: I walked the Camino!

    Even though for walking the Way it is not necessary to be an athlete, it is better to be as much in fit as possible. There are some stages that go across a mountainous land or have no asphalt, that can pose a problem. But no worries! It is enough if you train a bit before doing the Camino. We recommend you to walk daily in a different type of land and walk some extra kilometres each time. That will help you to increase your resistance and to strengthen the legs. Nevertheless, remember that there are many official routes and some are easier than the others. Don’t hesitate to write or call us to get more information about our tours.

    One Camino for each pilgrim

    mountain Faro camino Santiago

    The Camino de Santiago has many official routes. Before deciding to do one or another, get some information about them and think about what interests you the most. Do you like the sea and you fancy a coastal Way? Choose the Portuguese Coastal Way. Do you love being surrounded by people? The French Way is the most popular among the pilgrims. Aren’t you afraid of the difficult stages? Dare to walk the Primitive Way.

    Although each person can start her or his own peregrination from their houses, you don’t need to walk so much to get the Compostela. Pilgrims that want to obtain this document should walk at least the last 100 kilometres or ride the bike for the last 200 kilometres of an official route until reaching Santiago de Compostela. There is also another requirement: to have at least two stamps per stage, one at the beginning and one at the end. donkey camino santiago

    Precisely, the amount of pilgrims that arrive in Santiago de Compostela by foot, is the biggest of all the categories. Around the 90% of the people that decide to do any of the routes arrive by walk. The second option regarding to the popularity is the bike, while the third is the horse-back riding. The Pilgrim’s Reception Office in Santiago de Compostela includes in its annual report the number of pilgrims that arrive in wheelchair and those who choose the sailboat.

    Nevertheless, each pilgrim can do the Way of Saint James as he or she prefers. For this reason, it is easy to find in the Camino people with a tractor or riding a donkey.

    All you need to know to avoid getting lost in the Camino de Santiago

    galiwonders miliarioIt is very easy to follow the signals on the Way. Along all the routes, you can find different signals that will guide you to reach your final destination: Santiago de Compostela. The most common are the yellow arrows drawn in many places and the milestones. Those are perpendicular stones placed at the crossroads where you can read the number of kilometres left to Santiago. The milestones were used by romans and nowadays indicate where to go; it depends on the direction the scallop shell is pointing to.

    If you choose any of the most popular ways you will walk most of the time near other pilgrims, and that will help you to orient yourself. People from the villages of the Camino are always there to give a hand if it is necessary, so you can also ask them if you get lost.

    Santiago’s festivity: July 25th

    July 25th is Santiago Apóstol (St James Apostle) festivity and Galicia’s Day. During the night from the 24th to the 25th, it is possible to see on the front of the Santiago’s Cathedral a story through projected images and the fireworks over the building, visible from different spots of the city. It is, probably, the moment of the year with more people in Santiago and a good chance to enjoy the outdoor concerts and the attractions of the fair.

    The celebration of Galicia’s Day the same day as Saint James Day, and it started in 1920 thanks to the Galician association called “Irmandades da Fala” (Language Fraternities). During the dictatorship of Franco, this festivity was banned. In 1979, the Xunta de Galicia (Galician Government) established July 25th as the official day of the region.

    And if you still feel like having more…

    … carry on until Fisterra. Romans believed that this was the last populated place on earth and many years later here was build the Finisterre Lighthouse. This is the most popular destination of the Camino for those who don’t stop in Santiago de Compostela. Going to Finisterre means walking four days more, six if you decide to reach Muxía. The reward is to enjoy the landscape of A Costa da Morte and see the ferocity of its see.

    friends camino santiago

    If after reading this post you are sure about when to do the Camino de Santiago and which route to choose, contact us.

    And if you still have doubts, send us an email and we will help you to plan your perfect Camino.

    Plan The Camino de Santiago in 5, 10, 15 days

    Let’s see which are the ideal Ways to do in 15, 10 or 5 days so you don’t have to worry about anything but enjoying this unforgettable experience. And remember, all itineraries are approximate and depend on the pace and stamina of each pilgrim. Our itineraries are flexible and can be adapted to your time, so if you don’t find anything that suits you among our recommendations, contact us to find out more about how we make our tailor-made Ways.

    Recomended routes to do Camino de Santiago in 15 days 

    French Way – From León to Santiago

    The most classic Way with a spectacular beginning: the views of the Cathedral of León. Known as Pulchra leonina (Latin for “Leonine beauty”), its imposing presence, its walls decorated with stained glass windows dating from the 13th century stand out, filling the Leonese monument with thousands of shades of light. You will not regret choosing León as the start of your French Way: 15 days and 300 kilometers full of symbolic monuments of the Jacobean history await you. 

    Those pilgrims who, in addition to living a unique experience, want to meet travelers from all over the world, get to know the most beautiful cities of Northern Spain, and soak up our culture, traditions and gastronomy, will undoubtedly enjoy the French Way.

    Portuguese Way – From Porto to Santiago

    Whether you decide to do the inland or coastal variant, Porto is the start of this popular route. And it has a lot to offer: its bustling streets make Porto one of the most beloved cities among our pilgrims. Its colorful buildings on the banks of the Douro River are home to multiple cultures, and its diversity makes this original Celtic village the cultural nerve center of the entire Portuguese territory.

    Do not miss the opportunity to visit the Sé do Porto Cathedral, a few meters from the tourist area of Ribeira. Let yourself be amazed by its quiet stone cloisters before starting a journey that exceeds 200 kilometers and will take you for 7 days through the Portuguese country and another 7 days through Galician territory.

    Primitive Way – From Oviedo to Santiago 

    The Primitive Way is little known among the most novice pilgrims who decide to make the French their first experience. And we believe it deserves special mention, since there is no Way with more history than the one that runs between Oviedo and Santiago.

    The Primitive Way is the oldest pilgrimage route, hence its name, and one of the most important in the early years of the Jacobean cult. In fact, no other route is known to date older. Its origin dates back to the 9th century, when King Alfonso II of Asturias began his pilgrimage. It is because the tomb of the Apostle had just been discovered so he decided to leave Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela to visit it.

    It was not much later when the construction of the Cathedral of Oviedo began, in a Gothic style similar to that of León, which we mentioned previously. This monument will be our symbol of departure, with a great tower that seems to touch the sky on clear days. 

    This will be the beginning of a Way in which you will travel 313 kilometers during 15 days, in which its nature and history will transform your trip.

    Northern Way – From Gijón to Santiago

    Who hasn’t dreamed of walking through the green north of Spain? With some of the most breathtaking scenery among the Jacobean routes, the Northern Way is characterized by its spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. From the cliffs of the Cantabrian coast you will be able to capture the best sunsets in some stages before entering the Galician community, from Ribadeo, the point where the route begins to move away from the coast to head to your destination, Santiago.

    It is quite a popular and well-known Way, and many of its pilgrims opt to do its full version from Irun but that would take us a total of 35 days that only the most experienced pilgrims can achieve. Therefore, we opted to start in Gijón, an old coastal town that has grown to be a reference of the Cantabrian maritime heritage. It separates you 347 kilometers and 16 days from the Galician capital, full of contact with the wildest nature of both lands.

    Winter Way – From Ponferrada to Santiago 

    The Winter Way is probably one of the most unknown of all the Jacobean routes. It does not help that its name is misleading, because this Way is ideal for all seasons except -curiously enough- winter. It owes its name to an alternative route that was taken in Roman times to avoid the snows of O Cebreiro. 

    It is the only Way that crosses the four Galician provinces, so you can see the full potential of this wonderful territory and discover treasures such as the Bierzo, the Ribeira Sacra or the Deza region. 

    Starting in Ponferrada, with 263 kilometers ahead, this Way is usually completed in 11 days. But from Galiwonders we want to encourage you to do its Easy variant in order to enjoy 15 days of pure paradise that you are about to discover. 

    Recomended routes to do Camino de Santiago in 10 days

    French Way – From Sarria to Santiago (Easy variant) or French Way from Ponferrada

    If you don’t have that many days but still want to get away from the classic version of the French Way from Sarria, we recommend that you start in Ponferrada. You will enjoy the opportunity to start your trip with the views of the Templar Castle, which attracts the attention of visitors and locals alike. You will also be able to see the region of El Bierzo, which originally contained both Galician and Leonese lands within its borders, and which is characterized by its undulating landscape of endless pastures bordered by centuries-old vegetation. 

    In addition, you will have the opportunity to visit the Médulas, a fantastic natural artifice accidentally created by the ancient Roman legions and that today looks like a scenario taken from Mars. In addition, you will learn all about the busiest Way in the world, since its route perfectly preserves architectural and cultural vestiges of the history of one of the most crowded pilgrimages in the world. All this and more during 10 days in which you will walk a total of 205 kilometers.

    Portuguese Way – From Barcelos (Interior route) or Esposende (Coastal route)

    Whether you decide to do the Portuguese Inland Way or the Coastal Way, both are excellent options for those who have already done the French Way and are looking for a popular but different Way.

    If you start in Barcelos, your visit will show you an important part of Portuguese culture. From the famous Portuguese galo, iconic representation of the Portuguese country, to its gastronomy and architecture, which highlights its precious oil and the Matriz de Barcelos Church.

    A spectacular start for the Interior route that will take you through 186 kilometers and 9 days of charming Portuguese and Galician villages where you can marvel at its nature and locals.

    If, on the other hand, you decide to do the Coastal route, you will start in Esposende, a coastal village known for being the favorite summer destination of the neighboring towns. With winds and miles of beaches, it is ideal for water sports such as surfing. For pilgrims, however, it is an idyllic and tranquil start to our Way for the next 211 kilometers and 11 days of travel.

    Atlantic Way – From Ferrol to Finisterre

    From Galiwonders, the English Way was not enough for us and we decided to join the English Way with the Finisterre Way to create the Atlantic Way, a route that offers the best of the north coast of Galicia. From Ferrol to Finisterre, passing through the city of the stars Santiago, this route will allow you to get to know both the Galician interior and the incredible cliffs of the province of A Coruña. 

    Do not miss the opportunity to visit the Fragas do Eume Natural Park as you pass through Pontedeume, or the ancient city of Betanzos, which keeps secrets about the Galician history among its narrow streets. But above all, enjoy 10 days and 206 kilometers of travel in which the destination is not only Santiago, but the end of the world.

    Padre Sarmiento Route – Pontevedra to Santiago

    The Route of Padre Sarmiento is a wonderful route of 190 kilometers that runs through the municipalities of Pontecesures, Valga, Catoira, Vilagarcía, Vilanova, A Illa, Cambados, Sanxenxo, Meaño, O Grove and Poio along the coast. In its final stretch it joins the spiritual variant of the Portuguese Way, following the itinerary that Fray Martin Sarmiento made to Santiago de Compostela, on his return to Galicia on the occasion of the Holy Year of 1745.

    It is a route that can be done in just 10 days, with spectacular views of the Rías Baixas and highly recommended for groups looking for something very different from the classic French or Portuguese Ways. Of course, avoid it in high season because otherwise you will not be able to avoid tourists soaking up the sun on the beaches.

    Recomended routes to do Camino de Santiago in 5 days

    English Way – A Coruña to Santiago

    The English Way is one of the shortest routes of the Camino de Santiago and, at the same time, one of the most traditional.

    It has its origins in medieval times. Devotees from England and other parts of Northern and Western Europe (Scandinavians, Scots, Irish, …) arrived by boat to Ferrol or A Coruña, from where they undertook their way overland to Santiago de Compostela. The pilgrimage became a mass phenomenon in the 11th century, about 300 years after the discovery of the tomb of St. James.

    You will start in the noble city of A Coruña, which in itself contains countless monuments and places not to be missed. It is a short Way, only 73.8 kilometers, so it is ideal for those who want to know corners of Galicia and pilgrimage to Santiago but do not have so much time to do the more classic versions of the Camino de Santiago.

    Finisterre Way – Santiago a Finisterre

    The Way of Finisterre is an extension of the road from Santiago de Compostela to Cape Finisterre or to Muxía. It is the only route with origin in Santiago de Compostela.

    Finisterre was considered the last habitable stretch of the world, before the discoveries took place. It was also believed to be the westernmost point of Europe. The Romans and Celts used to contemplate, from Cape Finisterre, how the sun went down in the immense ocean. Nowadays, it is the pilgrims who put on the skin of the Romans and Celts, enjoying the sunset as they did.

    Many pilgrims opt for the Way of Finisterre and Muxía, to know the incredible stories that hide these two municipalities and enjoy both sunsets. Besides tasting the delicious seafood of the Costa da Morte, of such intense flavor and great quality. Only 4 stages separate Finisterre, passing through places like Negreira and Cee. And two more to Muxía. In total, 111 kilometers full of views that will leave you with your mouth open. 

    Vía de la Plata – From Ourense to Santiago 

    The Vía de la Plata was an ancient Roman road connecting the cities of Mérida and Astorga. By the Middle Ages, the route had been extended to the Andalusian coast and served as a means of communication between the south and north of the Iberian Peninsula. The variant of the Way that follows this route begins in Seville; this is the most important of all the routes that bring pilgrims from southern Spain.

    This is undoubtedly the longest Way: Seville and Astorga are separated by 700 km. To get to Santiago, you have to add about 300 more. However, if you do not have the time it takes to do this route, you can start in Ourense and reach your destination in 106 km and 6 days.

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