The year-on-year increase in the number of pilgrims, particularly on popular routes such as the Camino Francés, does inevitably affect the environment negatively. However, all pilgrims can do their bit to minimise their impact.

  • Stick to the path to avoid eroding the surrounding area.
  • Keep a small bag with you to carry all rubbish, including fruit peels and cores, to the next bin. Even if it is natural it takes a long time to break down. Recycle if you can.
  • Always take the opportunity to use toilets as there may be a distance to the next one. If you do get caught short, try to find somewhere discreet with bare earth and bury any faeces. Take a few dogwalkers' bags for use if burying is impractical. Used toilet tissue should be bagged and disposed of appropriately.
  • Don't collect flowers/seeds/vegetation/rocks/shells or introduce such material from outside the area. Leave wildlife, livestock and local pets undisturbed and do not feed them.
  • If you are intending to camp, only use official campsites, or land with the permission of the owner. Wild camping is not permitted in Spain. Use a camping stove where permitted not a ground fire (Spain has very strict rules on starting fires). Using albergues or official campsites puts money into the local economy which can help to maintain the environment for all.
  • Respect churches and historic monuments. Keep silent, particularly during services or if people are praying, and dress appropriately (take off hats, no bare upper arms/shoulders or micro shorts). Avoid flash photography, walking on raised areas (normally designates holy spaces) and touching any artefacts. Consider donating as generously as you can as building maintenance is a heavy burden for small villages. Talk to any attendant; they will appreciate your interest and will usually be glad to offer you a stamp in your pilgrim record.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Playing music or loud conversation will not always be appropriate. Particularly be aware of the disturbance caused to others late at night or early in the morning by head torches, rustling bags or loud talking or the tapping of metal walking poles through sleepy villages.

For more detailed information on the 7 principles of "Leave no trace", click here.

Additionally, consider how you travel to and from the Camino.  There is a great public transport network through France and Spain.  If you have the time and budget, we recommend minimising your carbon footprint and travelling by train, coach or shared car to your starting point and back from Santiago.

French National Rail website

Spanish National Rail website

Spanish National Coach service website

Blablacar (carsharing) website