The Camino de Santiago is one of the most popular walking routes in Europe. It is in truth a pilgrimage, made by thousands each year to the town of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Not only pilgrims walk the Camino though. There are those just in it for the walk, or those looking for a different kind of holiday.
There are several things you need to consider before you decide to go on a Camino. Some of the routes are thousands of kilometers long, while others can be as short as a hundred. Nevertheless, you need to take your level of fitness into consideration, and the time you want to spend out on the open road.
Before you make your choice, here are five of the most popular routes of the Camino de Santiago. Hopefully, our short list will help you make a prudent choice!
The French Way
The Camino Francés is by far the most popular road to Santiago. This is mostly due to the fact that the route is well marked, that accommodation options are available at every corner, and that you can meet a bunch of fellow pilgrims along the way. The walk itself will not be too exhausting, as you can rest in one of the hotels or hostels when you feel you need to take a breather. If you need it, there is also public transportation available.
The French Way is also an amazing way to see rural France. You will be walking through the Pyrenees and the magical vineyards of the La Rioja. There are also dozens upon dozens of medieval towns you can explore. After you cross the border into Spain, you will be entering Galicia, which is often incredibly interesting to the history buffs among Camino walkers.
If you would prefer a bit of solitude on the road, you should go for a different choice.
The Portuguese Way
Starting out from Lisbon, the Portuguese Way can be an amazing excuse to get to know the Portuguese capital. If you can, make sure to arrive early, and take a few days to explore the beauty that is this fantastic city.
When you do head out, the road will mostly take you through forest and countryside, so the walk itself is not too demanding. There is also much to see. Santarém and the university in Coimbra are just some of the more important sites you should make a point of exploring.
You will also be passing through Porto, where I know you will want to taste the wine. Not only that, you should also try to sample as much of the local dishes as you can. There is no better fish than that in Portugal!
The Via de la Plata
The Silver Route, as it is also know, if the longest of the Camino de Santiago routes. If you wish to take a month or two off from work and your daily life, this could be an excellent choice!
You will be walking a thousand kilometers, and set out from Andalusia, a region the name of which denotes only a part of the mystery which it reflects in person. The city of Seville, your starting line, should be explored to the fullest, so again, arrive early if you can. You will not want to miss any of the sites.
While the journey can be long, the beauty of nature will make up for it many times over. Galicia itself will make you delighted you have chosen this road.
The Northern Way
This route runs along the Northern coast of Spain. It starts at the town of San Sebastian, and runs through Ribadeo and Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela. If you chose to walk, it will take you about five weeks. However, this road is very popular among cyclists, so you can choose to take your two wheels out on a drive here. I recommend cycling before the height of the season, so in May or June.
Whether you are walking or cycling, you will want to enjoy the food. The taverns and cafes in this part of Spain (in any part of Spain to tell the truth) are amazing, and the local dishes are not to be missed!
The Original Way
The Camino Primitivo, as its name suggests, was the first road taken by pilgrims in the 9th century. It starts out at Oviedo, and is quite a picturesque one. There are many villages along the way, where you can rest and recharge.
However, the first part of the journey is quite difficult, so don’t take the Original Way unless you are sure you can handle it.
At Melide, you will be joining the French Way, and be able to get to know some of your fellow travelers.