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Camino de Santiago

Embark on a life-changing experience

Experience personal transformation by walking the Camino de Santiago. Discover new perspectives, connect with pilgrims from around the world and find inner peace as you walk towards the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

All the routes of the Camino de Santiago

Saint James Way Routes, Stages, Distance, Difficulty, History...

French Way

The French Way is the path chosen by more than 60% of pilgrims, and the protagonist of many books and films, such as “The Way”. The route of this ancient pilgrimage route starts in the French city of Saint Jean de Port and crosses the Iberian Peninsula for 800 km from west to east until it ends in the holy city of Santiago de Compostela. If you want to take a shorter route you can also start in: Pamplona, Burgos, León, Ponferrada or Sarria. + Leer más
Camino Francés

Distance

740 km

Starting point

Saint Jean P.P.

Stages on foot

34 Stages

Stages on bike

15 Stages

Stages of the French Way

Número etapaNombre de la etapaDistanciaDificultadDuración
1Saint Jean Pied de Port-Roncesvalles2457h
2Roncesvalles-Zubiri2135h15m
3Zubiri-Pamplona2014h30m
4Pamplona-Puente de la Reina2425h45m
5Puente de la Reina-Estrella2225h
6Estrella-Los Arcos2125h
7Los Arcos-Logroño2826h15m
8Logroño-Nájera2926h30m
9Nájera-Santo Domingo de la Calzada2114h45m
10Santo Domingo de la Calzada-Belorado2215h
11San Juan de Ortega-Belorado2425h30m
12San Juan de Ortega-Burgos2625h45m
13Burgos-Hornillos del Camino2025h15m
14Hornillos del Camino-Castrojeriz2024h30m
15Castrojeriz-Frómista2525h30m
16Frómista-Carrión de los Condes1914h15m
17Carrión de los Condes-Calzadillla de la Cueza2024h32m
18Calzadilla de la Cueza-Sahagún2526h30m
19Sahagún-El Burro Ranero1824h
20El Burgo Ranero-Mansilla de las Mulas1924h15m
21Mansilla de las Mulas-León1814h15m
22León-Villavante3127h40m
23Villavante-Astorga2125h9min
24Astorga-Rabanal del Camino2125h50m
25Rabanal del Camino-Ponferrada3246h 30m
26Ponferrada-Villafranca del Bierzo2425h30m
27Villafranca del Bierzo-O Cebreiro2847h30m
28O Cebreiro-Triacastela2124h45m
29Triacastela-Sarria1824h15m
30Sarria-Portomarín2225h
31Portomarín-Palas de Rei2525h45m
32Palas de Rei-Arzúa2836h45m
33Arzúa-O Pedrouzo1924h30m
34O Pedrouzo-Santiago de Compostela1924h30m

How to plan the Camino de Santiago?

Do you dream of a perfect holiday without the stress of planning every detail or do you prefer to organise the trip on your own?

Specialised travel agency


If you decide to trust a travel agency specialised in the Camino de Santiago you will save time and effort, thanks to local experts who know the Camino and have exclusive access to suppliers and special rates.

You will be able to save money while enjoying a carefree trip. From accommodation, transport or luggage transfer, to extra activities and assistance at the destination.

At Galiwonders we will tailor your experience to your tastes, preferences and budget, offering you local advice and authentic experiences. With the peace of mind of being in professional hands, your adventure will be unforgettable.

All you have to worry about is following the yellow arrow and feeling the magic of the Camino.

Planning the Camino on your own

Organising the Camino on your own gives you the freedom to choose your itinerary, accommodation and activities. You will be able to explore the Camino de Santiago at your own pace and personal style. However, it will require time and careful pre-planning and organisation to ensure that your pilgrimage is safe and successful.

Backpacks in the Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago organised

We help you to organise your trip! More than 2,000 pilgrims walk the Camino de Santiago with us every yea

Pilgrim with cows on the road to santiago

Alone

Discover the freedom of self-discovery by walking the Camino de Santiago alone. Experience deep introspection and personal connection with the Camino, as you move at your own pace and immerse yourself in a unique and intimate experience.

Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago

In group

The Camino de Santiago is a perfect route to do in a group. The memories shared, the lasting friendships and the lessons learned make this journey an unforgettable experience. It is a journey that is not only done with your feet, but also with your soul.

How to do the Camino de Santiago?

The Camino can be done in different ways, allowing pilgrims to tailor the experience to their preferences and needs.

There are as many routes as there are pilgrims. The Camino can be done in different ways, allowing pilgrims to adapt the experience to their preferences and needs.

 

 

The Camino de Santiago on foot is the most traditional way, already used by the first pilgrims in the Middle Ages. Currently, approximately 93% of pilgrims walk this route, reflecting the continuity of a centuries-old tradition that represents the authenticity and spiritual connection that walking the route offers.
All of the routes of the Camino can be done on foot, each with its own charm and difficulty, with the French Way being the most popular, followed by the Portuguese Way and the English Way.
In addition, walking the route is a more social experience. Walking will allow you to chat with other pilgrims of different nationalities, meeting and sharing experiences, feeling part of the community.

Routes and Signposting on the Camino de Santiago

Don’t be afraid of getting lost! Cairns, arrows and other signposts will help you to find your way and follow the route safely.

The Mojones

They are stone and concrete constructions that mark the remaining distance to Santiago de Compostela. On them you will find the iconic scallop shell and the yellow arrow indicating the Way to follow.

Scallop shell

It is one of the most representative symbols of the Camino. The most common representation is the yellow shell on a blue background. Although you will also find it in hundreds of formats (stone, metal, paint…) in the towns and cities along the Camino de Santiago.

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Yellow arrows

They are present in all the Jacobean Routes and indicate the direction that the pilgrim must follow. They can be found on the ground, on stones, on churches, trees, urban constructions…

What is the best time to do the Camino de Santiago?

Our recommendation is to do the Camino de Santiago in spring or autumn. Although it is possible to do it at any time of the year.

Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago

The Camino in spring / autumn

These are the best times of the year to walk the Camino. They are characterised by mild temperatures, between 18ºC and 25 ºC, occasional rainfall and more hours of daylight for walking. The trails are less crowded, making it easier to find accommodation.

Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago

The Camino in summer

Summer offers higher temperatures than other seasons (25ºC-35ºC), less chance of rain and more hours of natural light for walking. It is the most popular season for pilgrims, so we recommend planning and booking your accommodation in advance.

Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago

The Camino in winter

Winter is characterised by low temperatures (5ºC-10ºC), although in some colder regions it can be below 5ºC and there is a greater chance of rain. The Camino is lightly travelled, so you will find peace and quiet and enjoy the beauty of the winter scenery.

The Compostela and the Pilgrim's Credential

So much effort deserves a reward! At the end of the Camino de Santiago you will receive the Compostela. The certificate that certifies the achievement and commitment of every pilgrim who walks to Santiago.

The Compostela: Official Certification

It is the certification awarded to those pilgrims who have completed any of the official routes of the Camino. To be eligible for it, you will have to meet certain requirements such as walking a minimum distance and stamp the credential correctly. You can pick it up at the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago de Compostela.

The Pilgrim's Credential

This is a document, also known as a pilgrim’s passport, which must be stamped at each stage of the Pilgrim’s Way. You can get it at the Pilgrim’s Welcome Office in Santiago de Compostela or at one of the many Jacobean associations authorised by the Cathedral, such as parishes, Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino or hostels.

Reasons to do The Camino de Santiago

What is yours? Each person has his or her own motivation for embarking on the Camino de Santiago.

Shell and yellow arrow on the Camino de Santiago

The opportunity to do a pilgrimage

Although its origins are religious, today the Camino has evolved in the same way as the interests of those who walk it: spiritual and social motives, conection with nature, history and traditions… There are as many ways as pilgrims.

Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago

Meet people from all over the world

The Camino de Santiago consists of several routes, some of them very popular. It can be a very social experience, where you can enjoy the company of other pilgrims from around the world, and share experiences. There are as many routes as there are pilgrims.

Coast on the Camino de Santiago

Natural beauty

The Camino de Santiago crosses spectacular and diverse landscapes: mountains, green fields, coasts, rivers, charming villages… it will take your breath away.

 

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

History and culture

The Camino de Santiago has a large historical background. Through its different routes you can access its inmense artistic, cultural and gastronomic heritage.

 

Pilgrim and shell on the Camino de Santiago

Living the adventure

The Camino de Santiago is a way to get out of the routine. A trip out of the ordinary, one of those that leaves a lasting impression.

 

Pilgrims on bicycles on the Camino de Santiago

The physical challenge

The Camino de Santiago can be a physical challenge for many pilgrims, as it requires walking (or pedaling) many kilometers, for several days in a row.

History of the Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago is a historic route to Santiago whose origin dates back to the 9th century. It offers a rich heritage of authenticity and tradition.

Apostle Santiago

The Apostle Santiago

Considered the patron saint of Spain, the Apostle St. James has been a symbol of faith and devotion for millions of pilgrims for centuries. His remains are located in Santiago de Compostela, giving rise to this important pilgrimage route around the world.

Codex Calixtinus

The Codex Calixtinus

This is the most famous medieval manuscript of the Jacobean pilgrimage, considered to be the first guide to the Camino de Santiago. The codex, which includes historical and liturgical accounts and practical advice for pilgrims, is housed in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

The Xacobean Year

It is a special period in the Christian calendar that is celebrated when the 25th of July, the feast of St. James the Apostle, falls on a Sunday. The Año Xacobeo is a vitally important moment in the Camino de Santiago and is celebrated with events, festivals and activities.

Frequently asked questions about the Camino de Santiago

Here we solve some of the most common doubts when you organize your trip. If you have more, do not hesitate to contact us.

Depending on your tastes and preferences, you can choose between the various routes that the Camino de Santiago has to offer.
The French Way is the most popular, followed by the Portuguese Way.
There are also other routes such as the English Way, La Vía de la Plata, the Lighthouse Way or the Northern Way, which stand out for their scenic beauty and gastronomy.

It is essential to train and prepare yourself physically before undertaking the Camino. Taking long, regular walks at least two months beforehand will help to improve your endurance and physical condition.
Remember that you can also hire luggage transfer between stages.

As for footwear, we recommend waterproof trekking boots with good cushioning. In addition, you should not wear new ones to avoid chafing.

The duration of the Camino will depend on several factors, such as the route you choose, the starting point or the walking pace. To do one of the great Jacobean routes in its entirety, such as the French Way or the Northern Way, you will need 4-5 weeks to complete it, as they consist of approximately 35 stages.
If you are worried about the stages being too long or if you prefer a more relaxed pace, remember that our itineraries are totally flexible, so we can split them in two or add extra nights for you to rest.

Santiago de Compostela is the final destination of all the different Camino de Santiago routes. The name “Santiago” of course refers to the Apostle (Santiago is James in Spanish).

And the word “Compostela” comes from the latin expression “Campus Stellae”. What does it mean? Campus means “field” and Stealle means “star”. The field of the star. But, why? According the the Christian tradition, the remains of the Apostle where discovered because there was a star on that field, illuminating its location.

This is probably the main issue that pilgrims find when they walk the Via Francigena.

On the one hand, the St James Way is a very well indicated path, almost on all its variants. On the other hand, the Via Francigena still lack of precision on this aspect.

Consider that in France hasn’t sign-marked yet, while in Switzerland it is marked as a long distance walking route.

camino santiago logo galiwonders

Symbol St James Walk galiwonders

While for the St James Way the signposts are always the yellow arrow or the yellow scallop, on the via Francigena is much more complicated.

Many pilgrims get confused along the route because they can’t find the signs and sometime they get lost at some intersections (there are several signposts as you can see here below).difference st james way via francigena signmarks

Both paths are walked every year by thousands of pilgrims but there is still a lot of work to do if we talk about the Italian signalization.

Difference in the number of routes

st james difference francigena galiwonders

One of the main differences between these two pilgrimages is the number of itineraries you can choose among.

In both cases you can decide where you want to start, how many days and how many km/day you want to walk.

map st james routes galiwonders

The majority of pilgrims does the walk in different years.

They walk about a week or two and then they leave parts for future experiences.

In the St James Way, there are many official routes, and there are many variants (especially in the northern ones).

On the contrary, on the Via Francigena there’s only one route to follow, even though for what refers to Italy the two main sections are the one in Tuscany and Lazio regions.

difference st james way via francigena signposts

However, we have to consider that there are some alternative routes along the way, but they’re just short pieces.

Having more choices in the St James Way, it means that pilgrims have a wider offer of routes to decide among, in relation to their preferences.

Thus, they can choose a more popular or more quiet route. Also they can choose based on the landscape, if they prefer a coastal or a mountain itinerary.

Walking the Via Francigena pilgrims can also decide what piece they want to walk (crossing vineyards, historical cities, natural landscapes, mountains, etc.).

The difference is that the Way is always the same one, from Canterbury to Rome.

On the other hand, as you can see from the map below there is a route that connect Spain to the Via Francigena and viceversa. Eventually, isn’t it true that: ” All the roads leads to Rome”?

Mapa_Via_Romea_Arles.svg-min

The difference in prices along the St James Way and the Via Francigena

Another big difference, and related with the previous point, between the St James Way and the Via Francigena are the prices.

In general it’s cheaper to find accommodation in Spain than in Italy. Even though when we talk about the St James Way we have to consider many different routes and some parts will obviously be more expensive than others.

Along the St James Way, apart from few places, the costs for food and accommodation are quite affordable, especially in Galicia.

Italy is much more expensive, also because the Via Francigena is always passing through one unique way so you can’t get too much of variety in the offer. In addition to this, you might already know that Italy is one of the most touristic destination in the world.difference st james way via francigena prices

If you sum up that pilgrims usually walk in spring/summer time, you will easily get to the conclusion that prices will be mostly higher than along the St James Way.

The difference in the number of pilgrims along the St James Way and the Via Francigena

When we talk about pilgrimage routes, we can easily see how the St James’ Way is the most important in terms of chosen destination.

You might be surprised to know that in 2018 alone, 327.378 pilgrims were registered in the Pilgrim’s Office of Santiago de Compostela to ask for their “Compostela”. This means that we can count only those pilgrims who asked for this certificate, but there are still many other pilgrims who didn’t request it and can’t be counted in the statistics.

We don’t have such a precise statistics for the Via Francigena, since it’s much “younger” in terms of development but we know that are less than half than in St James Way.

Via Francigena easy viterbo to rome galiwondersWhere are the best sceneries?

Whereas these two countries are very different they both boast excellent natural and historical heritage sites.

There are lots of World Heritage Sites in Europe and luckily both the Camino and the Via Francigena cross many of them.

In either case, the variety of landscapes on a short distance is so amazing that you won’t believe to be walking in the same country.
This is, probably, one of the most surprising things if you are a visitor from a foreign country. difference st james way via francigena landcsapes

In Europe, we all breath a similar atmosphere since our past is still so alive in our walls, castles, churches and historical centres. We are sharing a common identity even if each country has its own past and traditions. For this reason, it is quite hard to say what Way is the most beautiful.

How could we say that the Wall of Lugo (in Spain) is less impressive than other Roman ruins (for example in the city of Sutri, in Italy)?

They are simply different but unique at the same time and we can (and should) just enjoy these wonders.

And, How about food?

difference food st james via francigena galiwondersSpanish and Italian gastronomies are two of the most famous in the world, and the reason for being so important is due to the freshness and quality of their ingredients.

Also, these two cuisines have a great tradition that dates back sometimes up to thousands of years! Not only we should consider these two countries alone, but we should mention that each region offers a unique variety of recipes and local delicatessen.

Again, we can’t choose what Way will offer you the best food and wine. However, we can assure you that neither of them will disappoint you.

Difference in the origins of St James Way and Via Francigena

The beginning of the St James Way

According to the legend, the first pilgrimage along the St. James Way took place in 9th century when King Alfonso II decided to walk from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela (from here the name of this route ” the Primitive Way”). Under his reign, a shepherd found the rests of the body of the Apostle St. James, in a field in Galicia.

The King decided then to walk this Way to pay his respects to the remains of the Saint, buried in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, according to the legend.santiago apostle galiwonders-min

Across the Middle Age, this became one of the most famous pilgrimage route, at the same level of importance as Jerusalem or Rome’s ones (or the less known Saint Olav Way). Mainly, pilgrims started to choose these two European destinations because in 640 Jerusalem fell under Islam.

Nonetheless, this Way was already walked before the Christianity started to develop in Europe.

Thus, it seems that we could talk about a pre-history of the Camino where this same route was followed to arrive until the End of the World (Finis Terrae).

This was due to the idea that in that place pilgrims could get to know the magical world of the after death. To walk this route they were following the Milky Way, much before the 8th century!

Do you know when does the Via Francigena date back to?

This Way is first mentioned in a document in the abbey of San Salvatore al Monte Amiata in 876 AD. According to the legend, the history of the Via Francigena dates back to the conflicts between Longobards and Byzantines for the control on their lands and their need to create a route to connect their kingdoms,

Certainly, this routes knew a great improvement under the reign of Charlemagne and the name became Via Francigena “Route of the Francs”.
via francigena history galiwonders-minNonetheless, only with the Archbishop Sigeric in 990, we get a real documentation on this route.

As often happen in history, the religious meaning of this walk started to spread out in all Europe and this became one of the main pilgrimage route in the Middle Age.

Thanks to the detailed diary of this incredible pilgrim, we could have the first description of this itinerary. Later in centuries, many other investigators could study the Via Francigena based on his legacy.

The following centuries along these pilgrimages

St James Way

Due to the political and economic problems, there was a decrease in the number of pilgrims in the XIV century. This was a consequence of the Christian Church crisis of that time.Papa_Clemens_Quintus-min

In order to reconquer its power, Spain decided to start a war that will bring many negative consequences. All along the XV century, the country suffered for hungers, plagues and diseases.

As consequence, the Way lost relevance among pilgrims until the XVII century when the St James Way came back to be popular again.

Via Francigena

The Via Francigena later changed its name for Romea. This route started to develop enormously, because of its commercial importance. In XIII century this was the main route to connect the East with the North of Europe mainly for the carriage of the most popular goods (like silk and spices).

We see here a first difference, between the St James Way and the Via Francigena.

Italy has always been an important place for its strategic position and commercial role. Therefore, the economic interest was the main reason to develop this path.

In relation to the Via Francigena, the anthropologist Giovanni Caselli started to study and investigate this route in 1985.

He rebuilt a complete map of the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome, crossing the 4 countries involved in this walk; England, France, Switzerland and Italy.

As Caselli explained in an interview, the part of this route related to Tuscany region was already known before the II World War. Also, in the 70’s and 80’s two historians published a book about the Via Francigena, but never walked the road.

His commitment was much deeper.

He wanted to survey it on the ground so he walked the 80 stages recorded by Sigeric. Thanks to his effort he could complete a precise map exactly 1000 years after him with the help of technicians of the Italian Military Geographical Institute.

Many people consider Caselli the “father” of the Via Francigena. In 1990 he published the first modern guidebook for the Via Francigena, entitled “Via Romea, cammino di Dio” “Romea Route, Walk of God”.

What do these routes mean today?

Nowadays, after the XIX century scientific discoveries, the religious value of the Way has been replaced for other meanings.

Today, thousands of pilgrims walk the same route (more than 2000 km in total) either by foot or by bike. Beyond the religious meaning, many pilgrims follow these paths for several different reasons.

Pilgrims are not only moved by a mystical reason, but want to travel in a different way, get benefits from their walk on a physical and mental level and mainly meet people and share a common experience.

We can find a big similarity between St James Way and The Via Francigena in relation to this aspect.
The motivation to walk for one or two weeks (sometime even more than a month) in full contact with the nature, at your own pace, and mostly isolated,  is very significant for many travelers.

As for the St James Way, the main reasons for walking the Via Francigena today depend more on the single individual.
difference trip st james way via francigena galiwondersFurthermore, we have to consider that a new kind of tourism is growing up pretty fast.

Today people choose a Slow Tourism, which allow them to cross an entire region, discovering the local traditions and gastronomy and talking to locals.

When we talk about this walk, we consider to live an experience at a different speed and with deeper attention to what happen around us.

That’s what these two routes mean nowadays.

Are they really so different in the end?

Although the differences between the St James Way and the Via Francigena are mentioned when we try to explore the logistic factors (signposts along the road, prices, numbers of pilgrims, ect..) the similarities are probably more than the differences.

Both these pilgrimages are a clear demonstration of the incredible past, culture, heritage and tradition that we want to discover and experience.

In conclusion, we could summarize that St James Way is the best option if you want to meet a lot of other pilgrims from all over the world and get a social experience at a more affordable price. However, if you are more likely to follow a quieter route, with less people for discovering one of the most touristic places from a different perspective,  there is no doubt that the Via Francigena is what you should choose.

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