Where does the Camino de Santiago start?

One of the most popular questions we receive from pilgrims every year is: where does the Camino de Santiago start?

As we always say, there are as many Caminos de Santiago as pilgrims walking them. There is more than one route leading to Santiago de Compostela, final destination of this pilgrimage, and the starting point will depend on which one we choose. In fact, according to the ancient tradition, the Camino should be started from our own home! If you want to know how long it takes to walk each Camino click here. First of all, there are different aspects we should take into account to determine the starting point of the Camino de Santiago:

Are you looking to get your Pilgrim Certificate?

where is the start of the Camino GaliwondersTo begin with, if you want to qualify for your Pilgrim Certificate (Compostelana) after walking the Camino de Santiago, then you need to walk at least the last 100 km of any of the official routes. Of course you can walk way more than that, but 100 km waking (and 200 km if you choose to cycle) is the minimum required.

Do you have a limited period of time to walk the Camino de Santiago?

Secondly, you have to bear in mind that some of the most popular routes of the Camino de Santiago are really long. For example, if you want to walk the full French Way, from its very beginning, you would need to devote at least 1 month to do so. Same with the Portuguese Way or La Vía de la Plata. Please note that there’s no need to walk the whole route to get the Pilgrim Certificate. In fact, 100 km is enough, and this distance can be done in 1 week approx.
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    Are you looking to walk an official Jacobean route?

    Although, each pilgrim can start anywhere really the Camino de Santiago, there are some reasons why we always recommend to choose an official route: 1) You will qualify for the Pilgrim Certificate. 2) The path will be really well marked, with indications all along the way. 3) You will find many other fellow pilgrims on the way (particularly on the French Way). 4)There will be facilities for pilgrims on the way (Albergues, restaurants, stamps…). Now that we have all this information, let’s find out the starting points of the Camino de Santiago routes (the official ones).

    Where is start of the main routes to Santiago de Compostela?

    On one hand, if you are looking to walk the full French Way, then you should start in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, in France (right in the boarder with Spain, in the Pyrenees). On the other hand, as mentioned, the whole walk would take at least one month, that’s why most of the pilgrims choose Sarria as the starting point. The Km 100 of the route is a small village called Barbadelo. It would be possible to start in Barbadelo and get the Pilgrim Certificate, but Sarria has been traditionally considered to be the beginning of the last 100 km of the French Way.  The start of the Camino Portugués (or Portuguese Way is the capital city of this beautiful country, Lisbon. However, those who don’t have that much time or energy to walk more than 600 km, could Where is the start of Camino Galiwondersstart in Tui or in Oporto. Tui is located in Spain, right in the boarder with Portugal, and it is the starting point of the last 100 km of the Portuguese Way. In addition to this Camino, in Portugal you can also walk the Portuguese Coastal Waywhich is also a very popular route. You can either start in Oporto (2 weeks duration) or in Baiona (1 week). Moreover, there is another long and beautiful route that will take you to discover all Northern Spain: the Northern Way. The whole walk would take at least one month (the starting point is Irún, in the Basque Country). If you are only looking to walk the last section, you can choose Vilalba as the starting point.

    More itineraries to Santiago de Compostela and their staring points.

    Since the English Way is one of the shortest routes is also quite popular: it starts in Ferrol for everyone (114 km to Santiago de Compostela). There is also an alternative route starting in A Coruña (77 km to Santiago de Compostela).  What about the Primitive Way? Those willing to walk the route from the beginning, would need to devote at least two weeks, since it starts in Oviedo (Asturias). If you do not have that much time available, you can start in Lugo instead (do not forget to visit the Roman Walls before heading off). Now, did you know that there is one route of the Camino that connects Seville, in Southern Spain, and Santiago de Compostela? In fact, this route is called La Via de la Plata Yes, it looks quite estrenuos, but you can start in Ourense instead (starting point of the last 100 km of the route). Moreover, this town is very popular because of its thermal spring waters, what about taking a relaxing bath before starting the walk? Also, there is a very beautiful route that is called the Winter Way. This is the itinerary chosen by those pilgrims who want to live a more solitary experience because it is one of the less walked. You will start in Ponferrada to walk the 200 km to Santiago or in Monforte de Lemos if you have a week to complete the Way. Eventually, in the last years, pilgrims wanted to go even further after their arrival to Santiago de Compostela. Thus, many of them decide to walk until Finisterre (considered the end of the world already by the ancient Romans) and sometimes they even go after this point, walking until Muxía.

    start Camino santiago galiwondersThe Camino as custom-made experience

    As you can see, it is not so easy to answer all those questions about the start of the Camino de Santiago. Therefore, each pilgrim can create and organize his/her own path. Do you have any doubts about where to start your Camino de Santiago? Did you choose a different route that we did not mention? In Galiwonders we would love to hear your stories.  Would you like to receive a tailor made itinerary on the Camino de Santiago? Please do not hesitate to fill in the form below. ¡Buen Camino!

    French Way Starting Points

    The French Way is the best known and most traveled route of the Camino de Santiago. It is the route chosen by more than 60% of pilgrims, and the protagonist of many books and films. This itinerary was also the first to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The complete French Way starts in the French city of Saint Jean pied de Port and crosses the Iberian Peninsula along almost 800 km (499 miles) from west to east until it ends in the holy city of Santiago de Compostela.

    Saint Jean Pied de Port, start of el Camino de Santiago Francés

    Nestled near the Pyrenean border with Navarra in the South of France, Saint Jean Pied de Port is where the first stage of the French Way begins. This small fortified village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasts narrow cobbled streets and distinctive architecture. Beyond its Jacobean significance, a few kilometers away lies Ostabat, the convergence point for three major routes through French territory: Le Puy, Limoges and Tours.

    Saint Jean Pied de Port

    Roncesvalles

    Located in the Navarrese Pyrenees, in northern Spain, Roncesvalles is a Camino de Santiago starting point steeped in history and an example of French Gothic architecture. During the Middle Ages, Roncesvalles played a crucial role as an important stop on the French Way, specially, due to the establishment of a hospital catered to the needs of pilgrims, offering them assistance and lodging.

    Roncesvalles

    Burgos

    Located in the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León, the city of Burgos, one of the most important starting points of the Camino, has its roots in the Middle Ages. Burgos boasts a wealth of historic buildings and castles, including its iconic cathedral, a beacon of Spanish Gothic architecture. The city played a vital role in the early centuries of pilgrimage, hosting around 32 hostels for pilgrims, earning Burgos the reputation as the most hospitable city in Europe at the time.

    Burgos

    León

    Capital of province of León, León is one of the favorite starting points for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, as this city marks the halfway point between Saint Jean Pied de Port and Santiago de Compostela. Beyond its role as a strategic point on the route, León has a rich historical and artistic heritage in which countless stories and legends resonate.

    León

    Ponferrada

    Situated in the province of León and capital of the region of El Bierzo, Ponferrada is known as “The City of Templars” because of its majestic castle, recognized as one of the most spectacular fortresses in Spain and declared a National Monument.

    Ponferrada

    Sarria

    Located in Lugo, Galicia, Sarria stands as one of the pivotal starting points on the Camino. Each year, thousands of pilgrims choose this Galician town as the starting point, as it is located about 100 km from Santiago de Compostela, the minimum distance required to obtain the Compostela.

    Sarria

    Portuguese Way Starting Points

    For pilgrims seeking a serene alternative to the French Way, the Portuguese Way appeals with its captivating charm on the Camino. If you crave an experience that allows you to detach from the noise and rediscover the soothing embrace of nature, the Portuguese Way is your path to tranquility.

    Porto, one of the most important Camino de Santiago stops

    Nestled at the mouth of the Douro River, Porto is the third most populated municipality in Portugal, and one of the most famous starting points of the Camino. Porto’s strategic location made it a frequent stop for French ships since ancient times. In 2029, 11.32% of pilgrims undertaking the journey to Compostela chose Porto as their starting point of the Camino, marking the city not only as a maritime getaway but as a vibrant center of pilgrimage and history.

    Porto

    Tui

    Located on the opposite bank of the Miño river, Tui, the beginning of the Portuguese Camino in Galicia, emerges as a small town with a colossal historical footprint. Despite its size, Tui played a fundamental role in the history of Galicia, as it was the capital of the Swabian kingdom and one of the provinces of the Kingdom of Galicia. The Diocesan Museum of Tui, once a hospital for pilgrims, is a testament to Tui’s enduring connection to the Camino.

    Tui on the Portuguese Way

    Vigo

    Nestled on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Vigo is the most populous city in Galicia, with great economic and maritime importance. The city’s architecture reflects a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity, inviting pilgrims to explore the many facets of this vibrant Galician gem.

    Vigo on the Portuguese Way

    Other important starting points of the Camino on this route are Lisboa, Coimbra, Barcelos and Valença do Minho.

    Northern Way starting points

    The Northern Way is a scenic route that winds along Spain’s fascinating northern coast, known as “Green Spain” and offers pilgrims an enchanting journey through its diverse landscapes.

    Irún, start of el Camino del Norte

    Irún, located on the border between France and Spain, stands as one of the most important starting points of the Camino and a crucial nexus for trade, rail and logistics, fostering a dynamic and strategic role in the region. Irún’s roots go back to pre-Roman times, with references by Roman historians to Oiasso, one of the ancient cities of the País Vasco. Over the centuries, Irún has witnessed epic battles that, while destroying part of its heritage, have woven a tapestry of more than 2.000 years of history, leaving behind an architectural legacy worth exploring.

    Irún on the Northern Way

    Bilbao

    Nestled in the País Vasco, Bilbao offers a captivating mix of modern and traditional establishments, providing pilgrims with the perfect setting to recharge their batteries before embarking on their Camino adventure. Known for its innovative Guggenheim Museum and picturesque waterfront, Bilbao’s streets serve as a canvas, blending contemporary art with historic architecture.

    Bilbao on the Northern Way

    Vilalba

    Vilalba, located in the province of Lugo, Galicia, extends a warm embrace to pilgrims traveling the Camino del Norte. This medieval jewel, steeped in history and tradition, invites weary travelers to wander its cobblestone streets and unravel the secrets hidden in its ancient walls. This town, with timeless charm and rich historical tapestry, invites pilgrims to pause, reflect and absorb the essence of their journey.

    Vilalba on the Northern Way

    Other important starting points of the Camino on this route are San Sebastián, Gijón and Ribadeo.

    Primitive Way starting points

    The Primitive Way is a route where historical authenticity intertwines with natural beauty, offering the challenge that every pilgrim seeks. This path is an immersive experience that catapults you back in time, following the footsteps of the first pilgrims who dared to travel to Santiago de Compostela.

    Oviedo – Start of Primitive Camino de Santiago

    Nestled in northern Spain, Oviedo is the beginning point of the Primitive Way and the distinguished capital of the Principality of Asturias. This modern and vibrant city seamlessly intertwines its rich historical heritage with a lively urban atmosphere, creating a captivating destination for pilgrims and visitors alike. Among its treasures, Oviedo boasts architectural marvels such as the Cathedral of Oviedo, Santa María del Naranco, the Royal monastery of San Pelayo and the Aqueduct of the Pillars. Each one of them bears witness to the city’s passage through time, reflecting the diverse cultural influences that have shaped its identity.

    Oviedo on the Primitive Way

    Lugo

    Located in the province of Lugo, Galicia, the city of Lugo unfolds as a captivating tapestry of history and contemporary vibrancy. As you explore the streets of this city, you’ll find yourself immersed in a seamless blend of past and present. Lugo’s contemporary allure is complemented by the echoes of its medieval splendor, creating an enchanting destination for pilgrims and enthusiasts alike on the Camino de Santiago.

    Lugo on the Primitive Way

    Other important starting points of the Camino on this route are Tineo, Berducedo y A Fonsagrada.

    English Way, a short Camino de Santiago

    Embarking on the English Way unfolds as a voyage of discovery through a variety of captivating landscapes: seas, coasts forests, inland areas, historic cities and monuments. This route, accessible and comparatively shorter than other roads, invites pilgrims to savor the tranquility it offers and enjoy each stage at their own pace.

    Ferrol, start of English Camino

    For many pilgrims, the Camino has its starting point in the history port city of Ferrol, in the province of A Coruña. This city’s attraction goes beyond its role as an embarkation point for pilgrims. Endowed with a safe harbor thanks to its orographic configuration and the Ferrol estuary, the city has one of the safest ports in the world that invites pilgrims to delve into the maritime legacy that has shaped this coastal jewel.

    Ferrol on the English Way

    A Coruña, start of English Camino

    A Coruña, nestled in the far north of the Galicia region, shares a unique link with the English Way, serving as one of the fundamental starting points of this revered pilgrimage route. As the second most populous city in Galicia, A Coruña offers a captivating atmosphere, allowing pilgrims to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Galician history and culture before embarking on their journey to Santiago de Compostela.

    A Coruña on the English Way

    Finisterre Way

    The Finisterre Way has its starting point in Santiago de Compostela, unlike the rest of the Camino routes. This route is the extension of the Camino that links Santiago with the amazing Costa da Morte, in the northwest of Spain. On this route, the ocean becomes your companion and the rhythmic lullaby of the waves, the immensity of the sea and the coastal landscapes create a backdrop for introspection and discovery.

    Santiago de Compostela, the most important Camino de Santiago stop

    Santiago de Compostela, a place where spirituality, history and culture converge, is one of the most important centers of Christian pilgrimage along with the cities of Jerusalem and Rome. Its historic center of cobbled streets was declared a World Heritage Site in 1985, and is home to numerous monasteries, temples and stately manor houses that reflect the very essence of the city.

    In the heart of the Old City you will find the emblematic Obradoiro square, the end point of the Camino, this is where all the pilgrim routes converge and is a meeting point for pilgrims and locals alike. Here you will find the Cathedral of Santiago, where the remains of the Apostle rest.

    Santiago de Compostela on the Finisterre Way

    Other Camino de Santiago starting points

    There are other routes of the Camino de Santiago. Here is a list of their most popular starting points.

    Portuguese Coastal Way: Lisboa, Coimbra, Porto, Baiona and Vigo.

    A Orixe Way: Corrubedo.

    Winter Way: Ponferrada and Monforte de Lemos.

    Via de la Plata: Sevilla, Mérida, Cáceres, Salamanca, Zamora, Astorga and Ourense.

    Muros and Noia Way: Muros and Porto do Son.

    The Route of Father Sarmiento: Pontevedra.

    Camino de Santiago planner

    Once the route and the final destination has been chosen, it is essential to draw up a detailed itinerary that includes the daily distances covered, possible rest days and overnight stays. Remember that as a Camino de Santiago Travel Agency we design tailor-made itineraries adapted to your needs, preferences and budget and we book all the services for you. 

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      - Data controller: Galiwonders, S.L.U.

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