FAQ

FAQ Camino de Santiago

Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions page of Camino Comfort. We are growing this database of questions continuously. If you have a specific question, please don’t hesitate to forward it to us and we will get you an answer and publish it here. The database consists of Q&A compiled during our own walks, but also include frequently asked questions found in other fora to be able to provide you with a one-stop FAQ experience. We hope you like it and wish you a Buen Camino!

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  • 1. What kinds of transportation are available on the Camino?
     

    The public transport in Spain is good.

    In general, the links below will get you started. Also check the applicable page of the Way you have chosen (click here) and check the tab 'Where to start' where you will find alternatives to get to your starting point.

    Taxi: you can ask in any bar, cafe or at your accommodation to order a taxi. It's relatively cheap compared to other parts of Europe, but as almost anywhere, it is far more expensive than bus or train. For short distances ('please take me to the albergue, my feet are killing me' - kind of situations) a taxi is the easiest and fastest way.

    Bus: depending on the region you are walking in, you'll be dealing with different bus operators. A very useful site is  movelia (link to English version). The browser will let you find any available itinerary within Spain. If you are looking for city bus itineraries the best way would be to ask around how to go about (specially in small villages). All middle to major cities have a dedicated bus station and most smaller villages are well connected with a bigger city in the area.

    Train: although there are a couple of other private train operators, the most important one in Spain is Renfe. They have a good browser you can use to check available itineraries on their site:  www.renfe.com.

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  • 2. How do I get from the airport to my starting point?
     

    Check out the answer to this FAQ.

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  • 1. Can I walk alone or should I go with a friend?
     

    If you are worried about safety issues, please check the answer to this question.

    If you are worried about whether or not a companion is a good idea or not, read on.
    You should talk about the mutual expectations before starting your walk (and continue to do so during your walk). You can do this by trying to figure out your mutual thoughts around these questions:

    What do we do if one of us wants to 'give up'?

    What do we do if one of us wants to stop for the day and the other can still continue for at least 5 more km?

    How much do we want to spend on our meals? Does one prefer a complete meal and is the other okay with just having a sandwich?

    How do we go about with our budget? Do our budgets match, or has one more to spend than the other?

    Who determines the pace? (the slowest one!!)

    What happens if one gets injured? Does the other stop too or continue the way?

    What are our goals? Meeting people? Seeing places? Will it annoy one of you if the other is constantly talking to others? Will it annoy the other if you are always deviating from the main trail for sightseeing?

    It's important to talk about these things. It can be a huge problem and lead to unpleasant discussions if a sudden reality is not meeting mutual expectations. Keep it a buen camino!

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  • 2. How long will I be walking?
     

    Mmm, well.. that depends. If your goal is to walk the complete camino Francés you'll need to have a bit more time available than your usual summer holiday.

    You should be calculating based on how far YOU can walk. One other thing to take into account is resting days. They are quite important to avoid injuries and blisters.

    On average, pilgrims complete the CF in 30 to 35 days. If you think you will have problems in doing an average of 20 km daily (EVERY day) you would be wise to reserve more time.

    Most of us don't have the luxury of having a 1 month summer holiday, so let's focus on all of you that have less days.

    Say you have 20 days vacation. You'll need at least 1 to get to your starting point and 1 more to get back home. You might want to put an extra 2 days in to account for relevant logistics, initial jet lag preventing you from walking the first stretch normally, and assuming you want to do some sightseeing at your destination. Reserving a day for emergency situations (extra rest, other problems) is wise to take into your calculations.
    With 15 days of actual walking time you can start doing the math according to your needs. What is the primary goal? Arriving in Santiago? Seeing as many monuments on the camino as you can? Relaxing? Having fun? Meeting people? It's your call, but take every need into account. You can't see all monuments in a relaxed way and walk 30 km every day (most people can't anyway).

    Say you want to do it in a relaxed way, you want to be sure you arrive at a decent time in the albergue, and you don't want to walk after 2 pm (to avoid the sun and to relax in the afternoons). You'll probably walk between 15 and 20 km per day. That leaves you with a total distance of 225-300 km.

    If you're new to the camino, the Camino Francés (more pilgrims) and the Camino Portugues (less difficult) are probably your first two options.

    Visit our 'The Way' pages to pick your itinerary.

    You can also simply start walking.... and see where you end up. Return home, and for your next holiday simply start where you left off.

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  • 3. Where should I start?
     

    Where you start will depend on how far you want to walk probably. Check the answer to that question here.

    Additionally you can pick a place to start and use that as a baseline for the total stretch you want to do. On 'The Way' pages you can read per Camino what the popular starting points are and how to get there.

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  • 4. Which camino should I follow?
     

    It all depends on what you want and of course on what you are capable of. If you are not an experienced hiker, doing the Camino Primitivo may not be the best choice. You might want to look preferably at the Camino Francés or the Camino Portugues. Maybe you are a sea and beach lover: the CP along the coast is a good choice in that case.

    Maybe you only have little time and you don't want to do the (too) popular stretch of Sarria-Santiago. Every thought of simply flying in to Santiago and doing the Camino Finisterre as stand-alone walk?

    There are however a lot of alternatives and the combinations are also nice. Check the map in 'The Way' page, it can offer you a visual support in your choice.

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  • 5. Is the Camino well marked?
     

    In general, yes. On the less frequented ways there might be parts that are less well marked but once you start investigating that particular route you will come across comments from other pilgrims (of even in the guide books you will probably consult) that will tell you which parts you should be paying specific attention to.
    Taking a map with you, or having at least a smart phone with Google maps at your disposal is a wise decision, just in case.

    In bigger cities it can be a bit of a pain in the neck to find your way out. Just ask around; any local will be able to point you in the right direction.

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  • 6. Where can I get stamps (sellos) for my credential?
     

    Your main stamps are the ones you get when you check-in/out of your accommodation. Having a stamp of the location where you spend the night is most important one since it certifies that you passed through that specific location. Per the rules of the pilgrim's office, you'll need an additional stamp (with the same date as your check-out date) from a location along the route, since that will certify more or less that you have walked that day. It may seem a bit strange, but there are actually people that just walk a little bit, take a taxi to the next stop and basically do that the whole way. Although the rules of the Pilgrim's office (to have at least 2 stamps per day) is not a 100% sure check that you completely walked the camino, take them seriously because there have been occasions where they have refused to issue the Compostela certificate.

    Most pilgrims don't have any problem in gathering the required stamps. On the contrary: you will probably experience the stamp-collecting urge yourself. On the Camino Francés it's 'stamp-collector heaven'. Cafe's, bars, churches, shops, and even some individuals that love pilgrims and have created their own stamp: you can find them all on your path.

    Camino Comfort Stamp

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  • 7. How difficult is it to walk the Camino?
     

    That's a very subjective question and the answer therefore will not be objective either.

    Do you hike regularly back home? Did you ever do multiple-day hikes? The Camino will be absolutely no problem. Remember however, that walking 3 or 4 days in a row is not the same as walking a month in a row.

    Never hiked before? You should train at least a little bit at home until you are comfortable with walking at least 15 to 20 km in a day.

    Will it be a major problem if I can't walk 15 km per day? No, you will simply need more time to complete a certain distance, that's all.

    We started our Camino experience with the Camino Portugues. We only walked  5 or 6 km the first day. At a certain point we were doing 15 km per day and we decided that, to keep things relaxed and be able to enjoy the local food and local culture with plenty of time, we would never walk more than 15 km on average.

    Is it wise to be able to do a bit more in case of emergency? Yes. If you can't find any accommodation after walking 15 km, it's very nice to be able walk an additional 5 km without pain in your feet. Having said that, it's just a matter of planning...

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  • 8. Statistics
     

    You can find some statistics on our 'History' page and you can find the most recent and archived statistics at this link: Official statistics issued by the Pilgrims Office (Oficina de Acogida al Peregrino).

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  • 9. Will I be walking in the rain?
     

    Don't forget to check the climate conditions in the applicable different parts of Spain for the season / month you are travelling in. It can be very rainy in Northern Spain. In the months of June through September it usually does not rain a lot. In the other months though, the right rain jacket is a must. Breathable and Lightweight are the key words here!

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  • 1. Do I need a visa?
     

    Well, that would depend on what your own nationality is.

    You can check the website of the consulate of Spain in your own country to make sure you know what you need to know and have the proper documents. Here's the link to the consulate of Spain in London which gives you a perfect (international) summary.

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  • 2. Where can I get cash while I'm on the Camino?
     

    You can find all information you need on our Travel Documents page. In addition, don't forget you can search for ATMs in Google maps so you can plan ahead. There are plenty of ATM's along the Camino.

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  • 3. What is a credential or pilgrim's passport?
     

    The ultimate pilgrim’s passport. You need it to sleep in albergues along the way and you’ll need to show it at the Pilgrim’s Office to obtain your Pilgrim’s certificate “La Compostela”. You can read all about ‘La Credencial’ here.

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  • 4. What is the compostela?
     

    The Compostela is a certificate issued by the pilgrim's office. To get one, you'll need to complete at least the final 100 km (walking) or 200 km (cycling/horseback) of a camino. You'll need to show your pilgrim's credential so they can check if you have the necessary stamps (sellos). The importance of the Compostela is very subjective. It is important to realize that every pilgrim is different: are pilgrims who walk 100 km and are proud to get the Compostela and on the other end of the spectrum you have the pilgrims that walk 800 kilometers (or more!) and don't even collect their certificate. Respect everyone's Camino: whether it was a short one or a long one compared to yours: you don't know what the other has been through. Don't judge others: that's the true Camino Spirit. Read all about the credential here.Compostela

     

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  • 5. Where can I get stamps (sellos) for my credential?
     

    Your main stamps are the ones you get when you check-in/out of your accommodation. Having a stamp of the location where you spend the night is most important one since it certifies that you passed through that specific location. Per the rules of the pilgrim's office, you'll need an additional stamp (with the same date as your check-out date) from a location along the route, since that will certify more or less that you have walked that day. It may seem a bit strange, but there are actually people that just walk a little bit, take a taxi to the next stop and basically do that the whole way. Although the rules of the Pilgrim's office (to have at least 2 stamps per day) is not a 100% sure check that you completely walked the camino, take them seriously because there have been occasions where they have refused to issue the Compostela certificate.

    Most pilgrims don't have any problem in gathering the required stamps. On the contrary: you will probably experience the stamp-collecting urge yourself. On the Camino Francés it's 'stamp-collector heaven'. Cafe's, bars, churches, shops, and even some individuals that love pilgrims and have created their own stamp: you can find them all on your path.

    Camino Comfort Stamp

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  • 1. How much will the Camino cost me in terms of money?
     

    Check out our estimates in this page. If you really keep to the municipal albergues, eat bread, cheese and fruit during the day and only take a 10 Euro dinner at night, you can make it with a daily budget of 25 Euros.

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  • 2. Where does one eat?
     

    You will not have any problem in finding food in Spain :-).

    For all you food lovers we have a special page where we tell you all about eating in Spain. We even selected our preferred Camino Foodies and ordered them by type of food so you can take your pick and get informed about what you can be expecting. So, whether you are a vegetarian or a full blown carnivore: no issues in Spain.

    As vegetarian / vegan pilgrims, you might want to check also this website: www.happycow.net.

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  • 1. Where should I stay at night?
     

    The most obvious would be albergues. However, if you want to sleep well (no snoring, no early morning awakenings) you can consider a lot of other accommodation types. Read all about it here.

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  • 2. What alternatives are there to the albergues?
     

    You can read all about albergues and other alternatives in our sleeping gear section.

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  • 3. How much will the Camino cost me in terms of money?
     

    Check out our estimates in this page. If you really keep to the municipal albergues, eat bread, cheese and fruit during the day and only take a 10 Euro dinner at night, you can make it with a daily budget of 25 Euros.

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  • 1. Can I mail a package ahead to myself?
     

    Yes you can. You can mail any parcel to a post office of your choice to your own name.

    Check the post-office locations and conditions on the official post office pages (in English).

    Be aware of the opening hours. Post offices are usually open on working days from 8.30 to 14.30, on Saturday from 9.30 to 13.00, and on Sundays and public holidays they are closed.

    A very useful discussion can be found here where you will find information for other alternatives as well.

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  • 2. Can I have my pack transported?
     

    Sure, no problem. Just a few things you have to keep in mind:

    1. you'll have to plan your trip (your next day's stop) since you will need to know where to have your pack transported to. Keep in mind that most transport services cover only a maximum distance of 25 km.
    2. you'll need to stay in accommodations that allow reservations and are open all day (to receive your pack and keep it safe until you arrive). This usually means that municipal albergues are out of scope.

    How to use the transport services:

    Once you arrive at the albergue you tell the receptionist or owner that you wish to send your pack ahead to a certain location (for which you made reservations).
    They will contact the luggage transfer service of your choice (they usually have a list from which you can pick from). Make sure you write down the telephone number of the provider you pick.
    The receptionist will give you an enveloped form or a ticket form and you'll need to fill in your name and your destination of choice. Pay the fee (~5 Euros usually) by putting it in the envelope and attach it to your pack. You can leave the pack in a designated area when you leave in the morning. It will be picked up during the day and dropped off at your destination of choice (probably sooner than your estimated arrival time). Once you arrive, you pick it up and check in at your new accommodation for that night.

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  • 3. Do I have to carry a backpack?
     

    No. But if you are not planning on sending your luggage ahead you'll need something to carry your belongings in. A backpack is probably the only right choice, unless you want to travel by horseback, donkey, or go cycling.

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  • 1. Is the Camino safe?
     

    The Camino is SAFE. Like in any other place you should be aware that there can always be folks around that have less nicer plans on their mind with you or your possessions. So just like anywhere, you should use your brains and your gut. Read all about general safety and scams on our Safety page and take the tips & tricks into account.

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  • 2. How can I keep in contact with my family back home?
     

    Communication in general is important. Keeping in contact with your family will make sure they are not worried about your whereabouts but it also adds an additional layer to your safety in general. The camino is safe, but it is always good to have people around you knowing where you are and where you are going to be. The cheapest way is to get a local SIM for local calls and to communicate with your family and friends back home via Wi-Fi. Read more about communication on the camino here.

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  • 1. How can I prepare physically?
     

    If you don't prepare upfront, no worries: the camino will prepare you on your way.
    Physically, this will mean you'll travel shorter distances in the beginning, since you will need to see the first part of the camino as training.
    However, it is of course wiser to train upfront at home. There are many training schedules out there. It all depends on your own physical status whether a training schedule will work for you.

    Here are some simple training effects that you can use:
    - Don't take any backpack with you the first time and see how long you can walk before your legs and feet start to get tired. This is a good indication of what your baseline is. Track the distance you have walked.
    - For your next walk, wait at least 2 days to give your body the chance to upgrade your strength by recovering 100% of your first training. This is very important to actually get results from the training.
    - Try to walk every 2 days that distance until you feel very comfortable with it.
    - Increase the distance with 2 km every week.
    - When you reached a distance of 15km at a minimum, start taking a backpack with you. Put in less weight in the beginning. Let's start at 2kg for instance.
    - When you feel comfortable with the new distances and/or weight, upgrade them with 1 km and/or 1 kg to work towards you goal.
    - You determine the maximum goal, but it's good to be able to do a bit more than you are planning to do so you can get to the next town (e.g. 2 km further) when the albergues are full. So, if you plan on doing an average of 20 km a day, it's wise to train for 25 or 30 km.

    You will notice that your training continues on the camino. Listen to your body. It's really totally unnecessary to get blisters and other injuries. It's not a race!

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  • 2. Should I carry a first aid kit?
     

    Yes. Make sure your kit is equipped to meet hikers' needs. Blister treatment is your main thing here.

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  • 3. How can I prepare mentally?
     

    Take 100 persons and you will see 100 different ways to cope with difficulties in life. Take the same 100 persons and tell them what they can expect, and you will see more similarities in how they deal with it. "A warned person counts for two" is a wise proverb, so let's see what fair advantages we have for you.

    1. Train enough to experience the mental difficulties that are secondary to being physically exhausted.
    2. Train also when you are in a less good mood, so you know how you will be feeling and dealing with it on the Camino when you're not Mr. or Mrs. Sunshine.
    3. If you are going to walk the long trail of hundreds of kilometers, be prepared to experience the post-camino 'depression'. This feeling will start probably already a few days before you arrive in Santiago, and your brain will be asking you questions like 'What next'? This is usually the moment some pilgrims decide to walk on to Finisterre ;-).
    4. Once you get into Santiago you will miss (VERY MUCH MISS) the friendly 'Buen Camino' call-outs. You're warned.
    5. Plan ahead and meet up with fellow pilgrims in Santiago to have a goodbye dinner together. Closure is important.
    6. Book us for a few coaching sessions where you will be guided in how to take the life lessons learned on your way, back home. We can guide you in how to apply them in your daily life.
    7. If you don't want real coaching sessions and you have a tremendous amount of self-discipline consider this 'trick': write down the lessons you learned along the way. Analyze each lesson and make a top 3 of situations from your daily life where that lesson could be applied to. Write everything down. Once home read them through and try to keep them alive. More practical exercises can be obtained via our coaching sessions. Contact us for a free meet & greet.
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  • 4. Should I worry about bedbugs?
     

    The Spanish word for bed bugs is ‘chinches’. Learn this word by heart, since it will come in handy if you overhear someone at an albergue talking about bed bugs. It will also help you to explain your issue in case you encounter them. Read everything you need to know about them here.

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  • 5. What kind of medical services are available on the Camino?
     

    Having a traveler's insurance is something to consider. If you live within the European Union, you need to remember to bring your European Health Insurance Card with you.

    Another option would be to get a Camino Card. They offer discounts at a multitude of affiliated accommodations/services on the Camino in addition to a whole set of health care services.

    Hopefully you will not encounter any problems, but to offer you some peace of mind: for a lot of the minor problems you may encounter there will be help available for pilgrims (free) by the Spanish health services. In addition you must know that pharmacies can help you out with a lot of other minor problems. See also our page on medications in the health section.

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  • 1. How can I keep in contact with my family back home?
     

    Communication in general is important. Keeping in contact with your family will make sure they are not worried about your whereabouts but it also adds an additional layer to your safety in general. The camino is safe, but it is always good to have people around you knowing where you are and where you are going to be. The cheapest way is to get a local SIM for local calls and to communicate with your family and friends back home via Wi-Fi. Read more about communication on the camino here.

    More
  • 2. I don't speak Spanish, will that be a problem?
     

    Learning Spanish is not essential. Knowing a little bit of pilgrim Spanish will however come in handy. Check this out.

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  • 3. What is the Holy Year?
     

    Saint James's Day is on 25 July. A really great day to be in Santiago (if you don't mind the crowds). Whenever this day falls on a Sunday, it is declared a Holy or Jubilee Year. Depending on leap years, Holy Years occur in 5, 6, and 11 year intervals. The most recent were 1982, 1993, 1999, 2004, and 2010. The next will be 2021, 2027, and 2032.

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  • 4. How much will the Camino cost me in terms of money?
     

    Check out our estimates in this page. If you really keep to the municipal albergues, eat bread, cheese and fruit during the day and only take a 10 Euro dinner at night, you can make it with a daily budget of 25 Euros.

    More
  • 5. Where can I get stamps (sellos) for my credential?
     

    Your main stamps are the ones you get when you check-in/out of your accommodation. Having a stamp of the location where you spend the night is most important one since it certifies that you passed through that specific location. Per the rules of the pilgrim's office, you'll need an additional stamp (with the same date as your check-out date) from a location along the route, since that will certify more or less that you have walked that day. It may seem a bit strange, but there are actually people that just walk a little bit, take a taxi to the next stop and basically do that the whole way. Although the rules of the Pilgrim's office (to have at least 2 stamps per day) is not a 100% sure check that you completely walked the camino, take them seriously because there have been occasions where they have refused to issue the Compostela certificate.

    Most pilgrims don't have any problem in gathering the required stamps. On the contrary: you will probably experience the stamp-collecting urge yourself. On the Camino Francés it's 'stamp-collector heaven'. Cafe's, bars, churches, shops, and even some individuals that love pilgrims and have created their own stamp: you can find them all on your path.

    Camino Comfort Stamp

    More
  • 6. Statistics
     

    You can find some statistics on our 'History' page and you can find the most recent and archived statistics at this link: Official statistics issued by the Pilgrims Office (Oficina de Acogida al Peregrino).

    More
  • 7. What kinds of people walk the Camino de Santiago?
     

    The Camino is, in one word, diverse. Young, Older, Poor, Rich, all races, all colors, all personalities. Enjoy the intercultural and interpersonal encounters! Buen Camino!

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  • 8. Electricity
     

    Electricity:
    Spain, like essentially all of Europe, uses 230V, 50Hz electricity. On World Standards you can check if you will be needing an adapter.

    It's wise to take a multi-cube so you can share you connection with other pilgrims and don't need to worry about taking the 'last' one for the night.

    Alternatively, you can buy a solar-based system. During the day you'll carry it attached to your pack so it can fully charge. Once you're at our accommodation, you can plug in your phone and re-charge it for the next day. Remember that it is mostly being connected to Wi-Fi which consumes your battery so make sure you only have Wi-Fi on when you want to use it.

    If you have devices with you that work on batteries, here's a little tip that will lessen the burden you carry: light-weight batteries.

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  • 9. I will be walking the Camino in France, but I do not speak French. Is this a problem?
     

    French people will always try to help you, even if they do not speak English. However, for your own comfort and an even more interesting Camino,  it is a very good idea to enroll in a compact training at Bonjour Camino before you start walking the Camino in France. Visit their website for more information, you won't get disappointed:  www.bonjourcamino.nl.

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  • 1. What is the Holy Year?
     

    Saint James's Day is on 25 July. A really great day to be in Santiago (if you don't mind the crowds). Whenever this day falls on a Sunday, it is declared a Holy or Jubilee Year. Depending on leap years, Holy Years occur in 5, 6, and 11 year intervals. The most recent were 1982, 1993, 1999, 2004, and 2010. The next will be 2021, 2027, and 2032.

    More
  • 1. What are the most typical Camino symbols?
     

    You can read all about the most important Camino symbols here.

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  • 1. Will I be walking in the rain?
     

    Don't forget to check the climate conditions in the applicable different parts of Spain for the season / month you are travelling in. It can be very rainy in Northern Spain. In the months of June through September it usually does not rain a lot. In the other months though, the right rain jacket is a must. Breathable and Lightweight are the key words here!

    More
  • 2. What are the best months to walk in?
     

    If you don't like walking in rainy conditions but you want to stay away from very high temperatures too, there are two months we can recommend: June and September.

    If you want simply to avoid the colder months you can start walking from mid April/May (10-15 C) and the season continues until approximately end of October (10-25 C).

    Most pilgrims will be walking in July and August (simply because of the summer holidays). Don't underestimate the high temperatures. It's really not okay to be walking after 1 or 2 pm in those months. Learn from the locals: they do the siesta during the warm hours of the day for a good reason!

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This post is also available in: Dutch