The Camino de Santiago in reverse
More and more people are looking for an alternative route to enjoy their walking experience. That’s why today in Santiago Ways we want to propose something different to you: do the Camino de Santiago in reverse. Yes, walk in the opposite direction to the one that the rest of pilgrims walk. Be different!
All the routes on the Camino de Santiago can be done in both directions, what happens is that depending on the itinerary you choose to do the other way around, you will face more inconveniences than advantages. In this article, we talk about the best routes on the Camino de Santiago to complete in reverse and explain the advantages of doing the Camino de Santiago the other way around, on each of them.
The best route on the Camino de Santiago to do backwards
The best route to complete the Camino de Santiago walking in the opposite direction to the rest of pilgrims is the Camino de Finisterre. Most people make this route from Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre or Muxía, as an epilogue to their pilgrimage.
However, if you leave from Muxía towards Santiago, you will not only walk in the reverse direction to the rest of the pilgrims but also upon your arrival at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela you can request your pilgrim’s certificate. This route is one of the few options to complete the Camino de Santiago back to front and get the Compostela.
If you liked the idea of being different and want to do the Camino de Santiago to Finisterre, tell us when you would like to complete it and any other details about the trip. We’ll get back to you.
Joining the Way of the Lighthouses to the Camino de Finisterre
However, if you do not want to limit your adventure to the minimum 100 kilometres necessary to obtain the Compostela, or you are simply looking for a longer route, an excellent option is to combine the Camino de Finisterre back to front with the Way of the Lighthouses. From lighthouse to lighthouse and continue to Santiago!
To complete the Camino de Santiago in reverse by combining both routes, it involves a route of 286.6 kilometres. The first 200 kilometres can be done by following the path of the Camino de los Faros, from Malpica to the Cape Finisterre. You can check out our article on the Camino dos Faros to see the description of the route.
On this route, you will have the opportunity to visit Muxía (Mugia) and its famous Santuario de la Barca. At this point, you will begin to meet the pilgrims who are travelling on the Camino de Finisterre from Santiago.
A meeting of pilgrims
You’ll find three types of pilgrims. On the one hand, those who, coming from Santiago, have decided to continue to Muxía from the Cape Finisterre. They will usually take transport back to Santiago.
On the other hand, you will find pilgrims who, following the Camino de Finisterre from Santiago, have chosen to go to Muxia before going to Finisterre. With these, you will have the opportunity to share a few kilometres.
Finally, you will find the pilgrims who travel the Camino de Finisterre from Santiago backwards. These are the minority. In fact, according to statistics from the Pilgrim’s Office of the Cathedral of Santiago, less than 1% of the pilgrims who arrived in Compostela did so by doing the Camino de Finisterre backwards.
Once you have completed the Way of the Lighthouses, you can continue along the Camino de Finisterre to Santiago, where if you are interested you can request the Compostela. To see the description of the stages on this section, you can consult our article on the Camino de Santiago to Finisterre, you should only keep in mind that with this option you would only do the first 4 stages and in the opposite direction:
- Finisterre – Cee (12,2 km)
- Cee – Olveiroa (20 km)
- Olveiroa – Negreira (33,4 km)
- Negreira – Santiago de Compostela (21 km)
Reasons for doing the Camino de Santiago on the Lighthouse Way
There are many reasons to choose to reach Santiago de Compostela by following the Camino de los Faros and linking to the Camino de Finisterre, however, not many people are encouraged to complete this beautiful route. Here are some of the reasons why these two paths are worth going on:
An excellent option to discover the Costa da Morte
Doing the Camino de Santiago in reverse along this route allows you to discover all the charms of the Costa da Morte. One of the most beautiful coasts in Spain, dotted with beautiful beaches and stunning cliffs, formed by the strong sea and its currents that lash its coast.
The fury of its sea, incomparably beautiful, gives way to feelings of sadness and desolation. An emotion experienced by all those who travel this route as they discover the high number of tragedies that ships and sailors have suffered.
Because of the richness of the colours along the route
Another thing that will impress you about this route is its rich colour. On one hand, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the intense green of the Galician landscapes, the fruit of its abundant rains.
On the other, you will be surprised by the different shades that the sea acquires on this coast: blue, green, grey and white. A very lively sea that impresses everyone with its temper.
Imagine a pine forest that ends on the shores of a long golden beach, against a background of a sea of intense blue, dotted with green reflections. Do you have any idea what delight a postcard like this might be for the senses? Well, you know what’s waiting for you on this route.
If you are passionate about the world of sailors, lighthouses and waves, this is your route! On the journey you will be able to visit 7 majestic lighthouses:
Punta Nariga Lighthouse
It is the first lighthouse you will find on your route. Next to it is the stone sculpture of a ship entering the sea, a work by César Portela.
The name of this lighthouse comes from the noise of the sea when it breaks against the rocks that surround it. On site, you will find a cross in homage to the many shipwrecks and whose wreckage were washed up by the sea to this point.
This lighthouse is very similar to that of Rocundo, not to say the same. In it, you will also find a statue in tribute to all those people who have stared at the sea waiting for a ship that never returned.
The Vilan Lighthouse is one of the most beautiful lighthouses on the route. In front of it, you will find the rock of Vilán de Fora, separated by the O Bufardo pass. Its curious rock formations also stand out from this stop.
The location of this lighthouse, located in Punta de la Barca, next to the sanctuary is surprising. Its construction does not impress too much, but its surroundings do.
Although less popular, this lighthouse is located even more to the west than the Finisterre Lighthouse, making it the westernmost lighthouse in Spain. The cliffs around it are impressive.
For a long time, the sun was thought to sleep in this place, hence for many years, the altar of Aras Solis was located at that point. If you want to know more about the beliefs that the ancient settlers had about this place, check out our entry on the history of the Route to the End of the World.
For its ports and its villages
Along the route you will find several charming port villages. These are characterized by the wide range of colours of their boats that give their docks a special appeal.
The beautiful sunsets
During the time you spend on this route, you will have the opportunity to enjoy beautiful sunsets. This region of Spain is one of the best to say goodbye to King Sun.
Enjoy fresh seafood
The fish and seafood on the Costa da Morte are one of the most famous. During this journey, you can enjoy as never before the delicacies offered by the sea and also with very good value for money.
Other routes on the Camino de Santiago to do in reverse
Next, we want to tell you about other routes on the Camino de Santiago on which it may be interesting to do the route backwards. As we told you at the beginning of this article, all routes are possible to do in reverse, if you do not mind giving up the Compostela.
However, there are three routes that by their characteristics we find especially interesting to do the other way around: the Camino Frances, La Via de la Plata and the Camino Portugues Central route. We will speak about all of them.
Doing the Camino Frances in reverse
There are few pilgrims who make the Camino de Santiago walking in the opposite direction, but of those who are encouraged to complete the tour in this way, most do so following the Camino Frances. This is due to two reasons.
On one hand, it is the most popular and therefore, it is normal that within this route we find a greater variety of pilgrims. On the other, because it is the best-signposted route.
Think that if you are going to do the Camino de Santiago in reverse, the yellow arrows will be behind you. So you’ll have to constantly turn around to make sure you’re on the right track. That the road is well signposted and that you find directions every few metres, makes this operation much easier.
However, we, on this journey, would like to propose a circular route to you. How would you like to leave Santiago and later return to the same place?
If you leave Compostela walking in the opposite direction on the Camino Frances to Ponferrada, then you can deviate along the Camino de Invierno to return to Santiago. The route is more than 100 km and 200km long, so whether you do it by bike or on foot, you can ask for the Compostela on your return.
Doing the Via de la Plata back to front
The Vía de la Plata is an immense route. For some reason more and more pilgrims make this Camino de Santiago back to front, heading south. As this stone collector tells us.
We think it’s a great option, especially if you plan to start your pilgrimage in summer. This option allows you to escape the agglomerations on the Camino de Santiago during the summer, and avoid having to travel on the southern sections during the days that are warmer. The only drawback is that you won’t get the Compostela.
From Santiago to Fatima
More and more pilgrims, who, after reaching the tomb of Santiago the Apostle continue their journey in reverse, along the Camino Portugues to go to the Sanctuary of Fatima. The Galician newspaper, La Voz de Galicia published a news story about it in 2017.
What do you think? Will you try it?
What do you think of our proposals? Have you completed any of the routes of the Camino de Santiago backwards? If so, we would be pleased if you could leave us a comment telling us about your experience.
We are delighted that the Camino de Santiago is so popular, but we understand that more and more people are looking for quieter alternatives. After all, there are as many routes as pilgrims.
Remember that if you want to have the support of an agency specialized in the Camino de Santiago, it does not matter if you are going to do it the other way around or you plan to travel on the Camino de los Faros (which is not officially within the Jacobean network), you can contact us. We will help you organize your pilgrimage, no matter in which direction you choose to do it.