The main routes on the Camino de Santiago
In this article, we want to talk about all the routes and sections on the Camino de Santiago, that you can walk or bike. There are many pilgrims who come to us wanting to complete the Camino de Santiago but do not know which is the best itinerary to follow.
When we explain to them all the options available to make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, many of them are surprised and ask us: “But… how many routes does the Camino de Santiago have?“
There are several routes to do the Camino de Santiago, we do not like to say that almost as many as there are pilgrims. If you consider all the different ways of the Camino de Santiago, including those that run outside Spain and Portugal, as well as their variants and the different sections within each of them, the options are almost endless.
Therefore, deciding which route of the Camino de Santiago to do is not always easy, and all itineraries have their charm. Next, we talk about the most important routes on the Camino de Santiago in Spain and Portugal and its sections.
As you know to make a pilgrimage it’s not necessary to complete a full route, you can choose to walk only one section. We hope that this article will help you to choose your route for the Camino de Santiago.
The French route
In France, different routes on the Camino de Santiago enter Spain. Most cross Spain along the Camino Frances, the most popular and crowded route that leads to Compostela.
So, although some of the European routes that cross France to enter Spain follow the Camino del Norte, such as the itinerary that comes from Bayonne (France), the route that crosses the Castille regions, is known as the French Camino de Santiago.
Next, we will talk about each of the stretches on this Camino de Santiago. The one that leaves from Saint Jean Pied de Port and crosses 763.5 kilometres to finish in front of the Cathedral of Santiago, after spending 33 days on the Camino de Santiago.
The first stages on the Camino Frances
The section of the route of the Camino Frances to Santiago that runs between Sant Jean Pied de Port and Pamplona is made up of three stages. It is one of the quietest and most beautiful paths of this crowded pilgrim path, but also one of the most difficult sections.
As we explained to you in our article on where to begin the Camino Frances, at first, the stage is particularly demanding on a physical level. For this reason, many pilgrims prefer to begin their pilgrimage from Roncesvalles.
In these three stages on the French route, you will enjoy excellent views of the Pyrenees and the French Aquitaine. This section of the Camino Frances to Santiago ends in Pamplona, a famous city around the world for its well-known San Fermín bull runs, which take place from 7 to 14 July.
The section from Pamplona to Logroño
The stretch of the French itinerary that goes from Pamplona to Logroño is much easier than the previous one. The only great challenge during these 4 stages is the ascent to the Alto del Perdon mountain pass, from where you can enjoy excellent views of the city of Pamplona.
This part of the French route is marked by wine. In the stage that runs between Estella and Los Arcos is the Irache Fountain, where the tradition is to offer a glass of free wine that emanates from its source.
The tour concludes in Logroño, capital of La Rioja. A region that is internationally known for its exquisite wine.
From Logroño to Burgos
On the 5 stages of this third section of the Camino Frances, the route continues becomes easier. The routes on this stretch of the Camino de Santiago are very interesting for the ever-changing landscape.
It begins by walking or pedalling between the vineyards of La Rioja and, little by little, these are replaced by the characteristic golden colour of Castilla-León. On the tour you will also find authentic medieval castles and impressive monasteries.
One of the stops of this section that interests many pilgrims is that of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. This charming town is the scene of one of the most well-known legends of the Camino de Santiago: The rooster and the hen. If you want to know more about this miracle, and also the Portuguese version, do not forget to read our article on incredible stories on the pilgrim’s route.
This section of the French route on the Camino de Santiago ends in Burgos. A city known for being the Gothic capital of Spain and for being the land that saw the birth of El Cid Campeador.
From Burgos to León on the Camino Francés
The stretch of the Camino Frances that runs between Burgos and León, passing by Sahagún, is one of the pilgrim’s favourites, as it is the easiest part of the Camino Frances. These 8 stages run through the Castilian plateau and therefore the route is practically flat.
The first stage in this section ends up in Hornillos del Camino, a town with great importance on the Camino de Santiago. Then it continues through charming localities such as Carrión de los Condes, to end up in León, with its imposing cathedral.
From León to Ponferrada: The French itinerary
The section from León to Ponferrada becomes difficult once more and the Camino Frances returns to the mountains. This stretch reaches the highest point of the Camino Frances, At Cruz de Hierro, where tradition tells us to leave a stone.
Then, already in Galician lands, crosses the region of El Bierzo, known for its wines. This part of the route ends in Ponferrada, where an impressive Templar castle awaits you.
From Ponferrada to Sarria
In this section on the route of the Camino Frances, the path becomes even more difficult and faces one of the ascents most feared by all the pilgrims: the ascent to O Cebreiro. This mountain pass is surrounded by an air of mystery that it confers on both its landscape and the famous legend of the Holy Grail.
The 4 stages that run between Ponferrada and Sarria are the last kilometres of the Camino Frances where you can enjoy the tranquillity. With your arrival in Sarria, the flow of pilgrims increases considerably.
The last kilometres on the Camino Frances to Santiago
The last 100 kilometres of the French route on the Camino de Santiago is the busiest stretch. Not only because 27% of the pilgrims decide to start their pilgrimage from Sarria, but also that in these five last stages of the Camino Frances converge with the Camino del Norte, Camino Primitivo and some of the variants of the Via of La Plata.
On the route, you will have the opportunity to visit two of the most interesting pilgrim towns on the French route: Portomarín and Arzúa. On the fifth stage of this section, you will finally arrive in Santiago de Compostela. Check out the links to find out what to do in each of these stops.
The Portuguese routes on the Camino de Santiago
In Portugal, you will find two routes of the Camino de Santiago. One begins in Lisbon and crosses Portugal in the interior, known as the Camino Portugues Central route. The other is the one that departs from Oporto, following the coast, and which is called the Portuguese coastal route (or Camino Portugues coastal route).
If you want to learn more about the Portuguese itineraries, you can also consult our article on the Camino de Santiago Portugués.
In this article, we only tell you that the route from Tui to Santiago de Compostela is the most popular, as it makes up the 100 km minimum to obtain the Compostela. If you want to know more about these last 6 stages of the Camino Portugues Central route you can read the post that we publish in our blog about the route from Tui to Compostela.
We also take the opportunity to tell you that the route of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago that runs along the coast is an excellent alternative for those pilgrims who want to walk by the sea and who do not want to face the challenge posed by the Camino del Norte. You can read more about the two coast itineraries in this article about doing the Camino de Santiago beside the sea.
The northern route
The northern route is the third most popular route on the Camino de Santiago. Its route borders the Cantabrian mountain range, so it is quite demanding but it is full of wonders.
We will not stop to talk to you about this itinerary because, since it is one of the routes to Santiago that is more difficult, but also more surprising, in our blog of the Camino de Santiago we have dedicated various articles to it. If you want to know more about this route you can start by reading our article about the Camino del Norte, In it, you will find other articles related to this magnificent way.
Other charming routes on the Camino de Santiago
The Camino Frances to Santiago, with the northern and the Portuguese trails, are considered the main routes because they are the most popular. However, the Camino de Santiago is made up of other itineraries that are also very charming and worth discovering. Now, we will talk about other pilgrimage routes.
The English route
The Camino Ingles route runs entirely through Galicia. This is one of the shortest routes to Santiago on the whole of the pilgrim route. So it is ideal for those people who want to complete one of the entire routes of the Camino de Santiago but only have a few days. If you want to know more about the English itinerary, you can see our article on the Camino Ingles to Santiago.
La Vía de la Plata
The Via de La Plata route is a road used since the time before the Roman conquest and crosses all of Spain, from south to north. It is the longest route of the Camino de Santiago and has several variants.
If you want to know more about the different sections of this Camino de Santiago you can see our article on la Vía de la Plata. Today we will talk only about the two variants that you can follow from the municipality of Granja de Moreruela, in the province of Zamora: the Astorga route or the Camino Sanabres.
The route of the Camino Sanabres departs from Ourense and ends in Santiago de Compostela. On the route, you will find several hot springs with medicinal properties, thick oak forests, as well as a rich historical heritage to visit.
The Camino de Astorga route
If arriving at Granja de Moreruela do not divert onto the Sanabres Road, you will continue along the Camino de Santiago that passes through Astorga. This tour, unlike the other variant, joins the Camino Frances on the section that goes from León to Ponferrada.
The Camino Mozárabe runs through the south of Spain. Strictly speaking this route on the Camino de Santiago could be considered as part of the Via de la Plata, since it is part of a set of roads that unite Al-Andalus with the Spanish north since the Middle Ages. However, given this route, the main cities of the Andalusian Mediterranean (Malaga, Jaén, Córdoba, Almería and Granada) with the Vía de la Plata, in Mérida, have given the itinerary the status of being a route in its own right.
On the route of the Camino Mozarabe to Santiago, you will advance surrounded by olive trees and oaks, crossing cities with a strong Arab influence. The passage through Granada and the visit to the Alhambra, as well as the Córdoba Mosque, are, without doubt, two of the main attractions of the itinerary on the Camino de Santiago. If you want to know more about this route you can consult our post about the Camino Mozarabe.
The route to the End of the World
The Route to the End of the World is known as the epilogue of the pilgrimage since it is the only stretch that is not directed to Compostela but starts from the city. So it is a route that pilgrims use as a way to close their experience.
This itinerary of the Camino de Finisterre has several variants. Starting from the Cathedral of Santiago, you can head directly to Finisterre or Muxía.
You can also do the complete route Compostela-Finisterre-Muxía or Compostela-Muxía-Finisterre. In this circular itinerary of the Camino de Santiago, you will find sections indicated in both directions. If you want to know more about this route, you can consult our publication on the Finisterre section.
The Camino Lebaniego to Santiago: The route of the Lignum Crucis
One of the most beautiful pilgrimage itineraries on the Camino de Santiago is the one that begins from Santander and ends in Santo Toribio: the Camino Lebaniego. This itinerary is considered a branch of the Camino del Norte and emerged in the 8th century to venerate the Lignum Crucis, a piece of the cross on which Christ was crucified.
It is a stretch of 155 kilometres, characterized by its toughness and extreme beauty. The tour ends in the Monastery of Santo Toribio, popularly known as Little Jerusalem. This route has its own certification, called La Lebaniega.
El Camino Primitivo: the first Camino de Santiago
The Camino Primitivo is the most difficult path on the Camino de Santiago. The tour starts off in Oviedo and is divided into 14 stages. If you want to know more about the Camino Primitivo and some of the other ways that we have commented on in this article you can also consult our article on characteristics of the main routes to Compostela.
We have provided you with a lot of information about the different routes of the Camino de Santiago, and for each one of the itineraries, we have recommended some related articles so that you can obtain more information if you wish. As always, we invite you to if you have done any of the sections of the Camino de Santiago that we have talked about, share your experience, by leaving us a comment.
Finally, before saying goodbye for today, we want to remind you that all the routes of the Camino de Santiago that we have described can be done with the support of an agency. In this article, we provide you with information about what it means to make a pilgrimage with the help of an agency. If you prefer, you can also call us and one of the members of our team will explain it to you personally.