Routes in Spain & Portugal

When people talk about the Camino de Santiago, they often mean the Camino Francés.  However there are, and always have been, a network of routes spanning the whole of the Iberian Peninsula and leading to Santiago.  The routes can encompass anything from mountain paths and green cycle/walking trails to farm lanes across the meseta and forest tracks, to Roman roads and tarmac highways to beaches and bustling city streets.  Every route has its unique cultural, historical and spiritual treasures, and the comparative slow pace and reflective nature of pilgrimage allows you to appreciate these in detail.

In order to assist you in choosing the right route, please see the route FAQ below and click on those which match your requirements the best.  Clicking on a route name will take you to a detailed overview with more in-depth information.  Don’t forget to see the general FAQ to answer other questions you may have.

I want a coastal route

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I want a mountainous route

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I want solitude

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I don’t want to walk alone

The Camino Francés is the obvious choice as you will rarely be out of sight of other pilgrims, unless walking in the depths of winter, or very early in morning or at night.

The Camino Portugués is also popular (from Porto).

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I want a route with lots of accommodation/infrastructure etc

The best developed is the Camino Francés, but the sheer numbers of pilgrims can make it difficult to get accommodation at times, at least you may not be able to stay at your first choice of albergue.

The Camino Portugués (from Porto) and the Camino del Norte are also quite well-developed.   Many other routes are gradually being populated with albergues, or at least have sufficient hostales etc, please look at detailed route overviews.

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What if I don’t speak Spanish?

The Camino Francés is probably the easiest route to do without any grasp of Spanish.  All others are made more enjoyable by at least having the basics to order food, ask directions and get a bed for the night.  Some of the remoter routes require you to phone ahead to book accommodation so a good degree of fluency is helpful for these.   Please look at the detailed route overviews.

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Where do I start to walk the minimum 100 km?

In 2016 25% of pilgrims started from Sarria on the Camino Francés.  This makes the last stages of this route very busy and we suggest that you consider quieter alternatives:

  • Camino Inglés starting from Ferrol (or from A Coruña with proof of distance walked in the UK or elsewhere)
  • Camino del Norte starting at Vilalba (joins Camino Francés at Arzua, about 39 km before Santiago).
  • Camino Portugués starting from Tui
  • Camino Primitivo starting from Lugo (joins Camino Francés at Melide, about 53 km before Santiago).
  • Camino Invierno starting from Monforte de Lemos

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I want a challenging route

All the longer distance routes are challenging by virtue of the fitness and endurance needed to walk for weeks (if walking the whole route).  Some routes are not particularly taxing in terms of terrain, but can have long distances between accommodation.  Some routes are very solitary.

  • Vía de la Plata – walking itself not that difficult until Astorga, but long distances between towns and villages, strenuous climbs entering Galicia
  • Camino Mozárabe – very strenuous in places, crosses uninhabited areas at times
  • El Camino de Levante – long stretches are uninhabited, food and water needs to be carried
  • Tunnel Route – hilly and strenuous climbs/descents in places
  • Camino Primitivo – hard mountain walking, plus a lot of tarmac walking
  • Camino de Invierno – hilly with long isolated stretches
  • Camino del Salvador – crosses the Cordillera mountains
  • Camino Vadiniense – crosses the Picos de Europa mountains

(more…)

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How long are the routes?

This gives the distances from the route starting point to Santiago (in some cases the route finishes before Santiago, linking with other routes – most usually the Camino Francés –  in order to finish in Santiago).  Don’t forget you can start anywhere you like along a route, the minimum requirement to qualify for a Compostela is 100 km for walkers/horseriders and 200 km for cyclists.

See Where Should I Start for some of the major routes with starting distances to Santiago from the larger cities along the way, and links to other useful planning websites and information.

Route Start Point Distance to Santiago
Catalan Caminos various in Catalunya up to 1329 km
Camino Mozárabe Málaga 1190 km
Camino Mozárabe Granada 1163 km
La Ruta de la Lana Alicante 1157 km
El Camino de Levante Valencia up to 1140 km
Vía Augusta/ Vía de la Plata Cádiz up to 1139 km
Camino Sureste Alicante 1071 km
Camino del Sur Huelva 1013 km
Vía de la Plata Seville up to 977 km
Camino Aragonés Somport 853 km
Camino del Norte Irún 825 km
Camino Francés St Jean Pied de Port 779 km
Camino Vasco / Tunnel Route Irún / Hendaye 763 km
Madrid Route Madrid 696 km
Camino Portugués Lisbon 634 km
Camino Vadiniense San Vicente de la Barquera 536 km
Camino del Salvador León to Oviedo 130 km (444 km to Santiago)
Camino Primitivo Oviedo 314 km
Camino Invierno Ponferrada 264 km
Camino Inglés Ferrol 119 km
Finisterre Santiago 88 km (to Finisterre)

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