The south-east route from Alicante to Santiago de Compostela.
This ancient and traditional route is arguably the quietest of all the Spanish routes although it is adequately developed for pilgrims to travel it. However, increased use of the route will encourage further development which would be advantageous to pilgrims and to those living on the route and working towards its growth.
The Route. Five major cities link this route beginning at the start of the Sureste in Alicante on the south-east coast, the Costa Blanca, then there is Albacete in Castilla-La Mancha, Toledo south-west of Madrid and Ávila, north-west of Madrid. It then travels up to Benavente where pilgrims decide whether to take the route north to Astorga and the Camino Francés or to head north-west via Ourense on the Camino Sanabrés. Between Alicante and Benavente the Sureste covers approximately 800 km and there is very mixed terrain from cactus and almond to vineyard and olive to the poplar trees of the north-west. It also travels through Don Quixote country with its many windmills and the famous El Toboso, said to be the place where the inspiration for Cervantes’ character Dulcinea came from. None of the terrain is too challenging for an averagely active person although there are places where bicycles are not able to pass. Road routes are always possible where this occurs. It is truly beautiful and at this time an extremely quiet route.
Waymarking. Generally speaking the route is well waymarked although there are one or two places where this is not the case. Details of how to avoid these parts or overcome the problems are included in the book. All updates are most welcome.
Weather and when to go. The weather in the south-east round the Alicante area can be extremely hot in the summer months and the area round Ávila can be extremely cold at almost any time so layers could be necessary and if you have no gloves, wear spare socks on your hands when it is windy. The north of Spain can be wet at any time. However, the variety of weather need not put off any potential pilgrim because this route can be walked at any time of the year with care. Take sun cream and carry plenty of water when it is hot and dry.
Accommodation. There is a huge variety of accommodation along this route and pilgrims get to stay in sports halls, swimming pool buildings and even a bullring and all for free. Occasionally it may be practical to stay in a hotel for a night but the fact that so many places are free more than balances the cost. Where there are pilgrim albergues these normally cost in the region of 5 euro. Prices were correct at the time of writing.
What to see. A multitude of historical sites including the castle and coast in Alicante, hills and mountains and flat barren areas, a large variety of regional food and wine, a vast array of beautiful windmills, the immense assortment of beautiful architecture in Toledo and the ancient & intact city walls of Ávila are just some of the diverse attractions along this Camino.
Guidebook. The Camino del Sureste by Lewis Roxby Mairis (2017) available from our shop.
More information. In Spanish, also available from Asociación de Amigos del Camino de Santiago en Alicante. www.encaminodesdealicante.org
Discussion Forum. Visit the Camino de Santiago Forum to join in the current conversation.