Finisterre (Fisterra in Galician) was both the end of the known world until Columbus altered things and the final destination of many of the pilgrims who made the journey to Santiago in past centuries. There are various explanations as to how this continuation came about (one such is that is was based on a pre-Christian route to the pagan temple of Ara Solis in Finisterre, erected to honour the sun) but is it also known that a pilgrim infrastructure existed, with “hospitals” in Cée, Corcubión, Finisterre itself and elsewhere. Pilgrims in past centuries also continued northwards up the coast to the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Barca in Muxía, 29km north of the “end of the world” itself.
The Route. Starts from the Cathedral in Santiago and leads in a fairly straight line through the mountains via Negreira, Cée and Corcubión to the port of Finisterre and then on to the lighthouse (89km). It is possible to walk this in three (long, tiring) days but four are preferred, with an extra day for the (recommended) extension to Muxía. From Finisterre pilgrims can continue directly north to Muxía (29km) or, alternatively, go there directly after leaving Hospital (also 29km) and then walk south to Finisterre. The long-awaited bridge over the Río Castro at Lires is now open, alongside the former, mainly submerged stepping stones, so that the long, 4km detour to cross the river in bad weather is now unnecessary.
Waymarking. Some yellow arrows, as on the Camino francés, but also waymarked throughout with concrete milestones bearing the blue and yellow stylised Council of Europe ceramic star, whose rays normally indicate the direction to be taken. Many of these also show the distance remaining to the lighthouse in Finisterre, others to the Santuario (by the edge of the sea) in Muxía. The waymarks leading the pilgrim from Santiago to Finisterre and from Hospital to Muxía are in one direction only while the route from Finisterre to Muxía (and back) is waymarked in both directions (though without indicating any distances).
Terrain. Undulating and with many ups and downs. Much of the route is shady, passing through eucalyptus and other woods. Many of the paths are old walled lanes and woodland tracks though in the last two of three years many of the older well-used forest paths in the earlier sections of the route have now been tarred. The continuation to Muxía by either route is (at present) much quieter.
Weather/When to go. The route is practicable (through not necessarily recommended) thoughout the year. As it rains a great deal in Galicia no particular season is best in this respect but from May to September pilgrims have the advantage of long hours of daylight.
What to see. Something of the real Galicia, away from the big towns. A number of interestng small churches, pazos (large Galician country houses), hórreos (raised granaries), old bridges, cruceiros (wayside crosses), examples of typical vernacular architecture and various pilgrim, St. James and St. Roch references.
Accommodation. Refugios in Negreira, Olveiroa, Corcubión, and Finisterre itself and Muxía. Pilgrims can also sleep in the old school in Vilaserio and the sports hall in Cée. There is hostal accommodation in Negreira, Cée, Corcubión, Finisterre and Muxía. All of these places except Vilaserio also have regular bus services to Santiago every day.
Distinctive features of the route/General. Very peaceful route and very different from the crowded route prior to Santiago. Only a very small proportion of all those who make the journey to the “City of the Apostle” continue on to the “end of the world” but with improvements in the waymarking and the availability of pilgrim accommodation the numbers are increasing each year.
- A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino Fisterra, a Practical and Mystical manual for the Modern Day Pilgrim, by John Brierley, Camino Guides (imprint of Findhorn Press) 2014, 96pp. ISBN: 1-84409-535-3 Route finding information, colour maps. acommodation and sevices, some historical material. Available in our Shop.
- Finisterre, by Alison Raju (Pilgrim Guides to Spain # 3), Confraternity of St James, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-906364-06-9 Route finding description, historical material and guide to accommodation and services, updated regularly. This is available as:
- an A5 size guide with laminated cover from our Shop.
- a free PDF version from our CSJ Guides and Updates page. Please consider making a donation to help us cover the costs of making this available.
Any available updates for this guide can be found on our CSJ Guides and Updates page.
- Camino de Fistera-Muxía, booklet in the Caminos de Santiago in Galicia series published (in English as well as Castilian and gallego) by the Xunta de Galicia. Historical material but only very brief route-finding information.
Please note that various guides to the Camino francés also cover the route to Finisterre, if you are walking the Camino francés it is worth checking to see if your guide extends to Finisterre.
Discussion Forum. Visit the Camino de Santiago Forum to join in the current conversation.
Fisterrana. A certificate offered to those who have walked the route from Santiago, available from the refuge in Finisterre. A similar
Pictures. The picture pages of the Camino gives stage-by-stage picture pages of the route to Finisterre and Muxia.
Thanks to AR, 2011; MM 2014