The best guide to the Camino de Santiago

In this article we want to provide you with a brief summary of our guide to the Camino de Santiago: that of the Camino Frances, Camino Portugues, (both Central and Coastal), the Camino del Norte, the Camino de Finisterre, the Camino Ingles, the Camino Primitivo and the Camino Lebaniego.

To choose which route of the Camino de Santiago to do, it is best to know the details of each one.

Below you will find a brief description of each of the routes we mentioned. In this way, it will be much easier to choose which Camino de Santiago you want to do and from there access its stage guide.

Guide to the Camino Frances

Our guide to the Camino Frances (or Ruta Francesa) starts from Saint Jean Pied de Port, in France. This route has a  distance of 763.5 kilometres, through the interior of northern Spain.

In our guide to the Camino Frances we divide the route into 33 stages, of 20 or 25 kilometres each, approximately, if you start from France. However, many pilgrims choose other starting points, such as Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Logrono, Burgos, Leon, Ponferrada (from where you can also follow the Camino de Invierno) or Sarria.

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In order to help pilgrims who are interested in touring the Camino Frances, we have developed this guide to this route with all the most relevant and important information of this itinerary.

Difficulty

The Camino Frances is not the most difficult route, but it’s not the simplest one either. Some of its stages are quite complicated because they face steep slopes and run at more than 1,000 metres of altitude above sea level. An example is the beginning of the Camino Frances, in the stage that joins Saint Jean Pied de Port and Roncesvalles or the one that faces the ascent to O Cebreiro.

However, the route also has several sections that run basically on flat ground. These are especially located in the stages that run through Castile.

Guide to signalling and infrastructure on the Camino Frances

The Camino Frances is the pilgrim route that has the best signage and infrastructure. From the first stage to the last you will not find any problems to find places to sleep or places to enjoy a relaxing meal.

Attractions

The Ruta Francesa is a very attractive route. Not only for its rich heritage (Benedictine monasteries, churches with rich architecture, Templar castles and a multitude of legends), but also because it is a wine route.

The Ruta Francesa is a very attractive route for its rich heritage and wine route.

In addition to the above, this path crosses localities with a strong pilgrim tradition. Examples include: Hornillos del Camino, Portomarin and Arzua.

Influx of pilgrims

It is the best known pilgrim route, therefore, it is the one that registers the greatest influx of pilgrims. During the summer, the tour is usually quite crowded. Especially the stretch that joins Sarria with Santiago de Compostela.

The high density of pilgrims on this route is not only due to its popularity, but also because many of the routes that run through the Iberian Peninsula, converge with the Camino Frances in the final stages. So then, the Camino Primitivo joins this route, in Melide, and the Camino del Norte, in Arzua.

Who the Camino Frances is for

As you can see in our guide to the Camino Frances, this route is ideal for people who need to do short stages, since its extensive infrastructure makes it easier to shorten the stages. This fact also makes it highly recommended for people with reduced mobility.

We also recommend this route to people who seek to make friends during their pilgrimage and have decided to do the Camino de Santiago alone. The Camino Frances is a route where you will always find people.

Guide to the Camino Portugues Central Route

The Camino Portugues Central Route starts from Lisbon. This route has a total of 618.9 km and crosses the northern half of Portugal.

In our guide to the Camino Portugues Central Route, we recommend dividing the itinerary into 28 stages, if done from Lisbon. The distance of these varies between 15 and 25 kilometres of travel daily.

However, many pilgrims prefer to start from other points. Some of the most popular are: Santarem, Coimbra, Porto and Tui.

El Camino Portugues Central Route starts in Lisbon.

If you want to know more about the routes on the Camino Portugues, with Santiago Ways you can consult all the information of both the Camino Portugues Central Route and the Camino Portugues Coastal Route.

Difficulty

The Camino Central Portugues Route is a fairly simple route. It does not face large climbs and descents and does not have high mountain stages.

Guide to signalling and infrastructure on the Camino Portugues Central Route

To complete the first stages of the Camino Portugues it is advisable to have a guide, since the signage is somewhat lacking. From Porto, both the signage and the infrastructure improve quite a bit.

Places of interest

This route allows you to discover much of Portugal. On the tour, you will have the opportunity to visit the beautiful cities of Lisbon, Santarem, Coimbra and Porto. Another of the attractions of this route, is that in Porto it crosses with the Camino Portugues Coastal Route, so you have the opportunity to deviate along it, to complete some stages walking by the sea.

Popularity of the Camino Portugues Central Route

Although within Portugal, the Camino de Santiago competes with the route that goes to the Sanctuary of Fatima, this route is the second most popular pilgrimage route. The section in which you will find the greatest number of pilgrims is the one that links Tui with the Cathedral of Santiago.

Who the Camino Portugues Central is for

Given the characteristics of the route, it is highly advisable for those who want to do the Camino de Santiago in winter. However, it is also a tour that we recommend to all those people who have an interest in discovering Portugal or who want to do the Camino de Santiago, but without too much effort.

Guide to the Camino Portugues Coastal Route

The Camino Portugues Coastal Route joins Porto with the Cathedral of Santiago, following the Atlantic coast of Portugal. The route has a  distance of 265 kilometres of travel.

In our guide to the Camino Portugues Coastal Route, we divide this route into 12 stages, if done from Porto. However, many pilgrims choose Bayonne as a starting point. You can consult more detailed information about the Camino Portugues Coastal Route in the related link.

Difficulty

The Camino Portugues Coastal Route is a very simple path. Its profile is basically flat. In addition, much of the route is made along boardwalks.

Guide to signalling and infrastructure on the Camino Portugues Coastal Route

The Camino Portugues Coastal Route has good infrastructure and its signage is adequate. It is especially easy to follow the route, thanks to the boardwalks that have been placed.

Places of interest

On the Camino Portugues Coastal Route you will be able to visit the city of Porto, known for being the city of bridges. Also, you will have the opportunity to get to know beautiful towns such as Bayonne, Caldas de Reis or Padron. In addition to the above, if you do the Camino de Santiago in summer or spring you can enjoy the stunning yellow sandy beaches on the Portuguese Atlantic coast.

Influx of pilgrims

This route is one of the least traditional on the Camino de Santiago. However, over the last few years, it has become quite popular, especially among European pilgrims looking to enjoy the sun and the sea during their pilgrimage.

Who the Camino Portugues Coastal Route is for

We always recommend this route to all those people who want to do the Camino de Santiago by bike, without having to face great challenges. We also advise people looking to do the Camino de Santiago in a comfortable and pleasant way, enjoying the sea.

Guide to the Camino del Norte

Our guide to the Camino del Norte (or Camino de la Costa or Ruta de la Costa Norte) starts in Irun. The guide describes a path that crosses the north of the peninsula, from east to west, following the Cantabrian cornice.

In our guide to the Camino del Norte, the itinerary is divided into 34 stages which face travelling a total of 833 kilometres, if you depart from Irun.

Some of the most popular routes in the north are: the Camino de Santiago from Bilbao, or from San Sebastian, Santander, Ribadesella or Vilalba.

However, many people choose other starting points to do this route, as it is a fairly long path. As we tell you in the guide, some of the most popular routes in the north are: the Camino de Santiago from Bilbao, or from San Sebastian, Santander, Ribadesella or Vilalba.

You can find out more about the Camino del Norte by clicking on the link. You can also consult a brief description of this route in the article that we dedicate to the stages on the Camino del Norte.

Difficulty

The Camino del Norte is considered as the second most difficult pilgrim route. The route faces steep slopes. In addition, some stages are quite long and cannot be shortened because there is no intermediate infrastructure.

Guide to signalling and infrastructure on the Camino del Norte

The Camino del Norte is one of the oldest routes, so its signage is quite good. However, the same is not true of its infrastructure. There are many stages devoid of intermediate urban centres that can offer services to pilgrims.

Places to visit

This pilgrim route allows you to enjoy numerous fishing villages and stunning beaches. If you want to know more about the beautiful coast that awaits you on this route, you can consult the guide of the beaches on the Camino del Norte.

In addition to its maritime environment, this route offers you the opportunity to discover the culture of northern Spain. You can visit the main cities in the Basque Country (San Sebastian and Bilbao) and the capital of Asturias, Santander.

This route offers you various opportunities to deviate onto the Camino Primitivo. In addition, its last stages are completed following the Camino Frances, so taking this route can allow you to enjoy a little of the main attractions of each of the pilgrim routes.

Popularity of the route

The Camino del Norte is the third most popular route. Since the route runs along the coast, in summer it is when it registers its best numbers, but without being too crowded at any point.

What kind of pilgrim this route is for

The Camino del Norte is ideal for those who have some physical shape or who have previously trained to do the Camino de Santiago. When pilgrims with good physical condition ask us for a route to do during the summer, in Santiago Ways we usually recommend the Camino del Norte.

Guide to the Camino Ingles

The Guide to the Camino Ingles starts from the Galician town of Ferrol. The route has a total of 122.3 kilometres and in our guide to the Camino Inglés is divided into five stages.

In this blog post you will find a guide with the stages for the Camino Ingles.

Difficulty

The Camino Ingles runs entirely through the interior of Galicia., but as we explained in the guide to the Camino Ingles, it is not a very demanding route. The route faces unevenness, but of an easy character.

Guide to the signalling and infrastructure on the Camino Ingles

The Camino Ingles has good signage. However, its infrastructure is not so plentiful and sometimes difficult to find housing.

Attractions

One of the advantages of the Camino Ingles, as you can see in our guide, is that this route does not join the Camino Frances in its final stages. Therefore, it is ideal for those pilgrims who seek to avoid the crowds found on the final stages of the Camino de Santiago.

Following the guide to the Camino Ingles, you will have the opportunity to discover the most rural Galicia. One of the biggest attractions on this route is the intense green nature of its landscapes.

Who the Camino Ingles is for

It is a route that we recommend especially for people who have a few days to complete the Camino de Santiago. Also for those people who have completed other routes and are looking for less popular routes.

Guide to the Camino Primitivo

The Camino Primitivo was the first route on the Camino de Santiago. This route starts from the Cathedral of Oviedo and has a distance of 316.2 kilometres.

In our guide to the Camino Primitivo, the itinerary is divided into 14 stages. Of these, the last three are made following the Camino Frances.

Many pilgrims choose Lugo as the starting point for this route. If you are interested in this route you can access the guide to the Camino Primitivo with all the detailed stage information and details of this route.

Difficulty

The Camino Primitivo is one of the most difficult routes on the Camino de Santiago. Its early stages face hard and continuous uneven stages. Starting from Lugo, the path is smoother and the slopes are more moderate.

In addition, the route runs at quite an altitude. So it is a little recommended path for winter. If you are going to do the Camino Primitivo by bike we recommend that you consult the article that we dedicate to this topic, in it we explain how to complete the Camino Primitivo by bike.

Guide to the signalling and infrastructure on the Camino Primitivo

The Camino Primitivo has good signage. However, its infrastructure is not so abundant and you will find very long stages with hardly any intermediate services.

Attractions and places of interest

Pilgrims who are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Alfonso II will especially enjoy this tour, as it is the route that has the lowest number of kilometres of asphalt. Therefore, it is an ideal route to do on foot, but it is less advisable for cyclists.

Who does the Camino Primitivo

The Camino de Santiago Primitivo is the route that we always recommend to those people who are looking for a physical challenge, since it is the most complicated itinerary. On this route, we always highlight two pieces of advice: do not do it in winter and if you are going to do the Camino Primitivo by bike, take a good mountain bike with you.

Guide to the Camino de Finisterre

The guide to the Camino de Finisterre covers the route linking Santiago de Compostela with Cape Finisterre and Muxia. The peculiarity of this pilgrim route is that it does not go to Santiago de Compostela, but begins there.

Most pilgrims do this route after reaching Santiago de Compostela, following one of the pilgrim routes. For this reason, it is considered an epilogue to the Camino de Santiago. However, some people travel to the Galician capital, to do, specifically, the Camino de Finisterre 

The tour can be made both from Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre and to Muxia. It is possible to link Finisterre and Muxia without having to walk back on the path. The full route has 114.6 km in total. Our Camino de Finisterre guide is divided into 6 stages.

There is a route that joins the Camino de Finisterre, the Camino de los Faros.

There is a route that joins the Camino de Finisterre, the Camino de los Faros. If you are interested, you can consult the blog post in which we provide you with a guide to join up the Camino de Finisterre and the Camino de los Faros.

In the guide, we detail how to start your pilgrimage along the Camino de los Faros and follow the Camino de Finisterre to reach the city of Santiago and get the Compostela. There are few guides dedicated to explaining the Camino de Finisterre in reverse because, as we mentioned above, it is usual to do the Camino de Finisterre starting from Santiago.

Guide to signalling and infrastructure on the Camino de Finisterre

The Camino de Finisterre is very well signposted and the route is very intuitive, so you hardly need a guide to orient yourself by it. It also has an extensive infrastructure to meet the needs of pilgrims. As we mentioned in the Camino de Finisterre guide, this route is one of the most popular.

Guide to the Camino Lebaniego

The Camino Lebaniego has a route of 72.7 kilometres, from San Vicente de la Barquera to the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liebana. The route is marked with red arrows and sometimes you will also find a red cross.

Today, most of the pilgrims who do the Camino Lebaniego do so after completing various stages of the Camino del Norte. The most common starting point is Santander.

Once the pilgrimage to the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liebana is completed, you have two options if you want to continue to Santiago de Compostela. Return to the Camino del Norte or link up with the Camino Frances, following the Camino  Vadiniense, in Mansilla de las Mulas.

We hope that regardless of whether you do the Camino de Santiago Frances, Portugues, del Norte, Finisterre, Ingles, Primitivo or Lebaniego, our guide will be useful to you. To say goodbye, just to remind you that if you want to have the support of an agency specialized in pilgrim routes, do not hesitate to contact us.

You can call us, write to us on our Facebook or leave us a comment on any blog post. Our team will be happy to assist you and help you resolve all your doubts about the Camino de Santiago.

Buen Camino!