Every Camino Route Leads to Santiago
The Camino Frances is the most traveled way to Santiago de Compostela. In English it’s referred to as The French Way and it’s definitely the most popular Camino route. It runs from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles on the Spanish side before making its way to Santiago de Compostela through the major cities of Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos and León. If you ever walked that Camino it might be time to start thinking about your next adventure in Spain. You never know when the Camino is going to call you again, right?
Let me introduce you to other, less known, Camino routes in Spain so you can start thinking about it. You can find them all in the featured map (source: caminodesantiago.consumer.es).
El Camino de Finisterre
The Camino Finisterre ends in Cape Finisterre and is the final destination for many pilgrims on the Way of St. James. Cape Finisterre is about a 90-km walk from Santiago de Compostela. It is a recent tradition for pilgrims to burn their clothes or boots at the end of their journey at Cape Finisterre. I recommend to not participate in this activity. First of all, it is a very recent tradition and not based at all on the original pilgrimage. In ancient times, the pilgrim’s clothes would be burned on the rooftop of the Cathedral in Santiago.
El Camino Portugues
The Portuguese Way begins at Lisbon or Porto in Portugal. From Porto, pilgrims travel north crossing the Lima and Minho rivers before entering Spain and then passing through Padrón before arriving at Santiago. It is the second most popular way, after the French one. The Camino route is 610 km long starting in Lisbon or 227 km long starting in Porto. There are two traditional routes from Porto, one inland (the Central Way) and the Coastal Way (Caminho da Costa).
The Camino winds its way inland until it reaches the Spanish border through Valença, which is also a popular starting point for a 108 km walk to Santiago on the Central Way, passing through Tui, Galicia. There’s a special alternative camino route from Pontevedra to Padrón called the ‘Variante Esperitual’. As part of this route you can opt to do a stage in a boat, following the same route as in The Translatio (the transport of Saint James’ remains by boat to Padrón).
El Camino del Norte
The Northern Way runs from France at Irún and follows the northern coastline of Spain to Galicia where it heads inland towards Santiago joining the Camino Francés at Arzúa. This Camino route follows the old Roman road, the Via Agrippa, for some of its way and is part of the Coastal Route – Ruta de la Costa. The route passes through San Sebastian, Gernika, Bilbao, and Oviedo. It is less populated, lesser known and generally more difficult hiking. Shelters are 20 to 35 kilometers apart, rather than there being hostels or monasteries every four to ten kilometers as on the Camino Francés.
El Camino Primitivo
On the Northern Way, arriving at a small village of Casquita there is an option to continue on the Northern Way to Gijón, or to continue the journey on the Primitivo Way, to Oviedo. El Camino Primitivo will lead you through the inlands of Asturias and Galicia via the gorgeous city of Lugo. It continues its way to the South, joining the French Way in Melide.
El Camino Inglés
The English Way is traditionally for pilgrims who traveled to Spain by sea and disembarked in Ferrol or A Coruña. These pilgrims then made their way to Santiago overland. It is so called because most of these pilgrims were English though some come from all points in northern Europe.
El Camino de Invierno
The Camino de Invierno is an alternative for the last stages of the Camino Francés. The advantages are that it bypasses the heights (and snow in winter time, hence the name) of O Cebreiro and the crowding of hundreds of pilgrims starting at Sarria. Approximately 210 km from Ponferrada through Monforte de Lemos and A Laxa and Lalín, this alternative joins the Via de La Plata / Camino Sanabrés, to Santiago. It’s not an easy hike though. There are plenty of elevations and definitely less accommodation facilities.
La Vía de la Plata
The Via de la Plata is sometimes incorrectly known in English as the Silver Route or Way – “Plata” is a corruption of the Arabic word BaLaTa, meaning paved road. The Via de La Plata (once a Roman causeway starting in Emérita Augusta (Mérida) and ending in Asturica Augusta (Astorga)) starts in Seville from where it goes north to Zamora via Zafra, Cáceres and Salamanca. It is much less frequented than the French Way or even the Northern Way. After Zamora there are three options. The first route, or Camino Sanabrés heads west and reaches Santiago via Ourense.
El Camino Sanabrés
The Camino Sanabrés is the 368km route that officially starts in Granja de Moreruela and passes through Ourense. For pilgrims that want to do the last 100K of this camino, Ourense is a great starting point! If you want to know more about the stages of these routes and how to get to certain starting points, check-out our dedicated free information on our website by following the links above to each individual Camino route.
For even more Camino routes you can check-out this page. You’ll find a short description and relevant links to the following routes: El Camino Aragonés, El Camino Vasco, El Camino Catalán, El Camino Baztanés, El Camino de San Salvador, El Camino de Madrid, El Camino del Ebro, El Camino de Santiago de Soria, El Camino de la Lana, El Camino de Levante and El Camino del Sureste. Now, if someone asks you next time: what’s the Camino? You will never say ‘It’s a pilgrimage route in the Northern of Spain’, right? We’ve listed enough Camino routes here to last you a life-time :-).
Did you walk any of these less known routes?
Please do let our readers know in a comment which one you did and what your experiences were on that particular Camino!
If you have a special story you want to share with fellow pilgrims, please feel free to mail us your adventure (and pictures) and we’ll dedicate a post to it in this blog (anonymously if you prefer).
This post is also available in: Dutch