Introduction. This was the route used by the Christian (Mozarabic) pilgrims during the Muslim occupation and by all those coming from the south of Spain, including those who arrived in Seville by sea from North Africa and other parts of the Mediterranean. Known as the Vía de la Plata as it follows the course of a Roman road of that name (sadly not actually “The Silver Route”!)
This is a beautiful and peaceful alternative to the Camino Francés but without the higher volume of pilgrims.
The Route. One of the longer Spanish routes, 1000 km camino starting in Seville and leading north via Mérida, Cáceres, Salamanca and Zamora. After that pilgrims can continue to Astorga and from there to Santiago via the Camino Francés or go there directly through Galicia via Pueblo de Sanabria and A Gudiña and from there take either the northern option via Xunqueira de Ambía or the (slightly longer) southern one via Verín, after which the two routes meet up in Ourense. It takes, on average, 7 to 8 weeks to walk from Seville to Santiago. Alternatively you can begin in Granada, passing through Córdoba and joining the main route in Mérida, and/or continue from Zamora via Braganca and northeastern Portugal before entering Galicia near Verín.
Waymarking. Yellow arrows throughout, but a little sparser than on the Camino Francés.
Terrain. Undulating and not very taxing as far as Astorga, but the distances between towns/villages are often very long; strenuous after the border of the provinces of Zamora and the entry into Galicia, with many steep climbs and descents (for example the passes of Padornelo (1329m) and A Canda (1262m). For a height profile of the route (as well as a list of the stages), go to www.godesalco.com/iphp/perfil.php
Weather/When to go. It is not advised to try this route during the summer months. July and August can see temperatures above 40 celsius in exposed and arid environments. Pilgrims have been known to catch heat stroke on this route in summer and not survive. We recommend going in the beautiful spring or autumn months when the temperatures in the south are not as extreme.
Accommodation. There are now many more refugios along this route, both private and municipal, as well as nine albergues turísticos along the route through Extremadura so that you can now find somewhere to sleep at approximately 25 km intervals. There is also plenty of hostal accommodation, at least every 25 km as far as Mérida, and between 30-35 km after that.
Distinctive features of the route/General. Still a fairly solitary route where you are unlikely to meet many other pilgrims even though it is becoming better known (by people who live along the way too) and better used each year:: in 2017 180,737 (60%) pilgrims reached Santiago along the Camino Francés (out of a total of 301,036), compared to 9,138 (3%) along the Via de la Plata, 3,573 of whom started in Ourense (to fulfil the minimum 100km required for a walker to qualify for a compostela or certificado).
Guide books. The guides from the CSJ and Gerald Kelly are available through our online shop. There is also the Guía del Camino Mozarabe de Santiago: Vía de la Plata, Asociación de Amigos del Camino de Santiago Vía de la Plata, Seville: 2011. Covers both the route to Astorga and the northern one through Galicia, with good maps, details of accommodation and historical information relevant to the pilgrimage. Available from the Asociación, Calle San Jacinto 25 Portal 6, Local 4, 41010 Sevilla, Tel. 95 43 35 274 or 696 60 06 02.(They also have a web site: www.viaplata.org)
Discussion Forum. Visit the Camino de Santiago Forum to join in the current conversation.
Cyclists. Most of the route is suitable for mountain (though very definitely not touring) bikes.
Spanish. Pilgrims without a reasonable command of Spanish will find this route much more difficult than the Camino Francés.
Confraternity of Saint James,
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Tel: (+44) (0)20 7928 9988
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Founded in 1983 to promote the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela