Spain draws millions of tourists every year.
But marvelous Madrid and beautiful Barcelona aren’t the only enticements the country has to offer.
El Camino de Santiago is perhaps one of the most rewarding activities to undertake in the country. It’s a popular destination along the road less traveled, but it’s not really a road.
El Camino is a more of a journey. It’s a pilgrim’s path snaking through hundreds of miles of breathtaking mountains, quaint villages, and picturesque countryside.
There are many different routes to take and many adventures to be had before reaching the destination at Santiago de Compostela.
This site is the focal point of the famed pilgrimage. It theoretically houses the tomb of Saint James the Elder, an apostle of Jesus Christ.
However, the value of the Camino extends far beyond a religious one.
It allows its users to travel back through time and discover a part of themselves within the past. Many use the trail for self-exploration, understanding, and acceptance.
For them, it’s more about the journey than the destination.
Discover the History and Heritage of El Camino de Santiago
Though the Camino is now a popular Christian pilgrimage, it can trace its origins to a time before Christ.
It began with the Celtic and Iberian peoples, who made the trek from the European interior to witness the glory of the Spanish Atlantic coast.
Around 200 BC, the Romans began to occupy the peninsula and used the path. They actually paved parts of it, building a road between France and Spain.
You can still see some of the original Roman pavement from thousands of years ago on the Camino today.
During Moorish rule in the 19th century, the tomb of St. James was believed to have been discovered in Galicia. After that, people began walking the Camino to make the visit to its capitol to see the tomb.
More than a way to connect city to city, El Camino de Santiago is a way to connect people to people. It’s a way for visitors from all walks of life to come together and share language, information, and friendship as they make their personal journey.
The Many Trails of El Camino de Santiago
The Camino consists of six main trails, all of which lead to Santiago, Spain.
- Camino Francés: The French Way is the most popular among travelers. This trail starts at St. Jean Pied de Port in France. It’s the easiest on the legs, and will take you through some amazing scenery. This is one pilgrimage you must make time for. Tripsavvy recommends allowing yourself between a month and 35 days to complete it.
- Camino del Norte: The Northern Way starts in Irun on the French border. It will take you around the north of Spain through 510 miles of gorgeous coastline. Be warned that though many consider this to be the most beautiful part of the Camino, it can be quite tough.
- Camino Portugués: The Portuguese Way begins in Lisbon and will guide you through 380 miles of relatively flat terrain. You’ll see beautiful coastline and picturesque forests. Keep in mind that some of this route converges with major highways.
- Camino Inglés: The English Way requires a boat to arrive at A Coruña or Ferrol in Galicia. These walks range from 62-70 miles, depending on your starting point. The route is beautiful, if solitary. It offers the chance to escape among seaside inlets, but you’ll still have access to buildings and highways in parts.
- Camino Primitivo: The original Way begins in Oviedo, winding through some pretty challenging terrain before joining up with the French Way in Melide. From there, the walk to Santiago is a short one at around 40 miles.
Keep in mind that though these are some of the most famous routes, there are many other routes you can choose as well.
Preparation and Information for El Camino de Santiago
No matter which route you take, you’ll want to be well prepared.
Consider a training regimen beforehand to get yourself in shape. Though is no limit to how much time you may take, though most people walk 11-19 miles per day on the trail.
When the day is done, you’ll need a place to rest.
This can be done in any number of albergues along the Camino de Santiago. These places are built especially for pilgrims. They are inexpensive and offer dorm-style accommodations.
If you want to stay somewhere more comfortable, you’ll have to stop in a village and get a hotel room. No matter where you stay, you can rest easy knowing you’re getting an authentic Camino experience.
El Camino de Santiago Provides an Awesome Escape for the Courageous
El Camino de Santiago is a road on which you can be both lost and found.
There are no “rules” for embarking on the trek. As long as you respect the trail and yourself, you’ll have one of the most amazing experiences of your life.
They say the Camino begins from your very own doorstep, so go ahead and step outside.
Your journey awaits you.